Tuesday was unofficially Nayaz's first day in preschool.I am thinking of enrolling him in a school called "Y'kidz Montessori Enrichment Centre" which my daughter has been attending since the last one year.
Nayaz went for a trial session last Tuesday and I was with him the majority of the time. When I took him inside the school, he was very apprehensive and clingy.But once we were inside, his eyes twinkled with excitement as they devoured all the colorful toys inside the classroom.
There were around 8-9 toddlers and two teachers and two assistants. The class began with floor activities.Teacher asked each child to get a mat and sit and then to get any toys that they were interested in. The class was quite organized and toys were grouped and labeled.......like one shallow tray had all toy vegetables and another shallow tray displayed fruits.Puzzles and books were neatly stacked.There were also trays in which there were one bowl of dry uncooked macaroni and other bowls and a soup spoon.I noticed that some children took the tray and were putting macaroni from one bowl to another with soup spoons.
The teachers asked me to let Nayaz roam and choose his own toy.This is in line with the montessori method of education which allows children to experience the excitement of learning through their own choice. He looked around and chose a toy orange from the fruit tub and brought it to me. I guess he chose the orange because he is fond of playing with balls.Then, before I could stop him, he banged a child's head with the orange who was sitting with her back towards him.The teacher moved towards him,caught his hand and told him very firmly that he should not hit other people.He looked at the teacher wide-eyed and seemed to understand.
Afterwards the teacher gave him a tray and he was very absorbed in the activity of putting macaroni from one bowl to another bowl with the help of a soup spoon.The teacher showed me that the way he is holding the spoon is the way in which he will hold the pencil.And he showed Nayaz how to grip the spoon.I was sure that he would continue to grab the spoon but to my surprise he actually could follow the "pencil grip". This activity, the teacher explained, develops their fine motor skills.
Before beginning each new activity the children were asked and guided to put back the previous toys.This was something I really liked and would like to implement this at home....haven't been able to teach Ibnat to keep the toys in their places after she finishes playing.
Next it was lesson time and all the toddlers were taken to the next room, which I supposed was the "lesson room".There was a large table surrounded by chairs in which the children sat one by one. Nayaz sat on my lap.The teacher said aloud particular numbers and passed around flashcards.The numbers were etched in sandpaper on cardboards and the teacher passed on the cards to each child for them to look at and "feel" the number.Nayaz was more interested in the "1,2,3 songs" and moved his body to the rhythm whenever the teachers sang.After some time Nayaz wiggled out of my lap and went into the play room again.I wanted to bring him back but the teacher said it was ok to let him roam.
Next it was "lego" and "building blocks" time. Nayaz was more interested in taking off the legos rather than building anything out of it.Soon he got the naughty idea of throwing the legos but the teacher put a stop to it by catching his hand and covering the legos to send the message that "if you do this then no more legos". I am using this idea at home to limit undesirable behavior and it actually is working!
The children were given some snacks and they fed themselves.It was a bit messy but the teachers told me that at home also I should let him feed himself (but I feel that at sixteen months he is too young for that!).
In the last half an hour I sneaked out of the class into the waiting room.When he saw me leaving, he was a bit distressed, as I could see on his face, but the teacher quickly diverted him with something. I later asked the teacher how he was without me and they said that he was perfectly fine.Surprising, isn't it?