Play Schools: A structured learning environment Contrary to what the term connotes, play school, unlike some facilities in the malls, is not just a place where you can drop your children off and they play in an unstructured and erratic sort of way. There are prepared lesson plans, structured activities, and goals set for learning.
According to Moira Bulan-Bunyi, a mother of three and a toddler and preschool teacher, “Play school is a good place for kids who don't receive much stimulation at home, especially if both parents are working. Children are very curious, and putting them in such a setting enhances their development”.
Play-based lessons and activities Why, then, is it called play school? Because the lessons and activities are play-based. Very young children learn best through play, an activity that they are experts on. Concepts such as numbers, letters, shapes, and colors, sharing and taking turns, etc. are introduced via fun games and activities and through dramatic play. Therefore, although it seems trivial, it is still important for parents to monitor what their children do in play school to be able to assess their progress and development. After all, you are paying good money for this service and you need to make sure that it is worth it.
Most play schools do not have report cards or a grading system, but have some kind of assessment report. It may be a narrative or a checklist of skills that children of a certain age can do. Either one of these is a good gauge of children’s progress in play school and these are usually given at the end of a term during the parent-teacher conference. It is quite key for parents to attend the PTC as this will give parents an overview of their child's performance.
According to Rosette Robles-Palmario, a lead instructor for The Little Gym’s Preschool Program and Amelita Cruz, a Montessori teacher, this is where you and your child’s teacher talk about areas that need more work on and the next steps or goals. Bulan-Bunyi also uses this opportunity to ask for tips on how to help her children so that she can tailor-fit how she helps each one based on their learning styles.
You don’t have to wait for the end of term, however. Here are some things that you can do as suggested by some very experienced teachers:
1. Talk to the teacher in between PTCs. As Robles-Palmario puts it, the teacher is your professional ally. Get to know how the teacher works, her methods of discipline, her expectations for behavior, and her teaching style. You also discover many things about your child and how best to progress their skills when parents and teachers communicate regularly, according to Marie Bartolome, a former Montessori teacher and Casa Coordinator.
2. Be aware of what your child is doing at school. Do some activities at home and incorporate the themes and lessons in your child’s school in your everyday routine. This will help your child understand retain concepts better as well as further the training and values learned in school.
3. Get involved by checking and helping with assignments. Don't depend on yaya to do this as there is a greater probability that your child will not listen to her. Attend fieldtrips and special occasions such as Christmas parties and the like.
4. Talk to your child. At this young age do not expect a clear enumeration of what they did in school, rather, you prompt them by asking questions, creating play time that replicates what is being done in school, and observing them. Not only will you get a clear picture of their school day, you also help sharpen their memory and recall. Most importantly, Bartolome says to, “Always listen if your child has something to say. You might think it's not important, but it's very important to her or him”.
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Sources: • Teresita M. Tolon, prep teacher at Ann Arbor Montessori Learning Center for 30 years. Received her BSEED from Arellano University • Riza M. Rodriguez, Junior Casa teacher at Ann Arbor Montessori Learning Center for four years. Received her BSEEd from Bukidnon State University. • Amelita T. Cruz, Casa Coordinator at Ann Arbor Montessori Learning Center with 38 years of teaching experience. Received her BSEEd from UST. Married with three children and two grandchildren. • Maria Isabel S. Bartolome, former Casa coordinator at Ann Arbor Montessori Learning Center with 34 years of teaching experience. Received her BSN from St. Paul College of Manila. Married with four children and three grandchildren. • Sara Manguiat. Sara has been a Terrific Tots preschool teacher for 2 years now. She also teaches gymnastics to preschool children. She has worked as child photographer and store manager at The Picture Co. After college, she worked as a toddler teacher and had a little bit of theater experience. • Moira Bulan-Bunyi, Lead Instructor of gymnastics and preschool classes at The Little Gym for about four years now. She has a degree in Broadcast Communications and a Masters in Family Life and Child Development from UP. • Rosette Robles-Palmario, Lead Instructor of gymnastics and preschool classes at The Little Gym for two years. She has a degree in International Studies from UE and a Masters in Special Education from De La Salle University.