Shaurya is about to start his kindergarten years this June. After he turned 2, we enrolled him into a playgroup in the December batch last year. The batches were for 2 hours. He is continuing in the same pre-school for Nursery as well. Shaurya loved going to the playgroup, in fact it was extremely difficult to get him home after his batch was over. He would continue playing there and we had to literally carry him out. Now that summer vacations are on, he is eagerly waiting for his school to start again.
I still remember the doubts and concerns we had when we first decided to put him into Playgroup. He is a very active child and had gradually started looking forward to playing with kids his own age. We needed a way for him to play some more and spend some time with his peers, it would help channelize all of his energy as well. This was one of the main reasons for us to put him into playgroup and not directly enroll into Nursery. There was another factor - both I & M are working and Shaurya stays at home with his aunty, hence we wanted him to learn playing and sharing with other kids as well as give a little breather to aunty so that she can relax a little while. Taking care of an active child or any child for that matter is exhausting! :-D
Since Shaurya has always been with me, M, aunty and my sister (who was studying in Pune till last year and was with us), we were the ones he considered family. He would play and interact with others, provided one of us was with him. When he started Playgroup, I or M would be with him inside the classroom for the entire 2 hours. Later on, aunty started going with Shaurya. Since the December batch was new, there were many parents/caretakers who used to be with their kids as well. We wanted Shaurya to get used to the new place, people, routine and get comfortable, so that he gradually starts staying alone as well. After the first 2 days, when we tried leaving him inside and going out, he started crying and the teachers told us to stay in. I am really thankful to his Pre-School teachers for being so flexible and understanding with him and all the other kids. It's difficult for a parent to leave their child with someone else even though they know that all kids initially cry but get used to it soon, however I appreciate it if the school shows flexibility instead of having rigid rules. In the beginning, Shaurya wouldn't leave our side or play when we participated as well. After few days, he started playing with other kids but would look at us time to time to confirm that we hadn't fled. :-D. We also started telling him that he needs to go to the school alone, tell aunty bye at the school gate, say Good morning to his teachers, etc. Given time and patience, in about a month, he got comfortable and stayed in the school all by himself. It was a big milestone for him as well as us.
We have seen some positive changes in him since he started Pre-school - he has become more social (he was social but had a little shyness, we see that decreasing day by day), he has started sharing his toys with others (though I still a long way ahead), he has learned many new things and words, he has become very very talkative (don't know if I should call it positive change). With his summer vacations getting over in about a month, I hope he enjoys his Nursery classes as well. Till now, it was all play but starting June, he will have to learn things as well. As of now, he looks interested in his ABCs, 123s and rhymes. Let's see what happens when the kindergarten year begins!