Education and socialisation are essential to children's positive development, but do kindergartens really live up to what we pay for and expect from them?
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Education and socialisation are essential to children’s positive development, but do kindergartens really live up to what we pay for and expect from them?

Parents pay from small to huge amount for kindergartens to educate and help their children socialise. How well are our kindergartens doing in child care?

Educating a child is not a leisure party. For anyone who has studied early childhood development, a child passes through different stages on the way to becoming a responsible, well-mannered, respectful and respected adult. As an educator, I’ve been baffled by the way children spend their days in some kindergartens. That’s why I think parents need to be vigilant and take the time to examine the hygiene conditions, the educational environment, and the care offered by a kindergarten before enrolling their children there.

If they don’t make you feel welcome, don’t expect them to treat your children well when you leave

Parents, here are a few things to consider before committing yourself to entrusting your children to an institution. First of all, is the welcome warm, cold, detached or careless? Do the staff, including the security guards who are responsible for ensuring that your child is safe in the kindergarten environment, look and behave in a welcoming manner? Are they rude, do they frown, do they say hello cheerfully, do they help you with your child? If the answer is no, run away!

Needless to say, hygiene is crucial to children’s health and development. So, the second thing to look out for is the cleanliness, or otherwise, of the perimeter. According to the standards, all kindergartens must be clean and free from invisible and unhealthy micro-organisms. Yet I have witnessed cases where disinfection is not practised. Worse still, the children go to the toilet and then wash their hands in a simple basin containing prepared liquid soap, the same one they use after a snack. Should I tell you to run away?

Physical abuse and mismanagement of conflict between children are red flags

The third thing to watch out for is the interaction between the children and their instructors. Nothing is likely to happen to your children or anyone else’s in your presence, but watch out for signs of exasperation, shouting, irritation and facial expressions when they interact with the children. These signs are important because they predict what will happen when the parents leave. I’ve witnessed cases where the children’s attention was elsewhere and the educator’s techniques failed to bring it back to the activity at hand; she lost control. In a state of panic, she uses the stick to scare the children or, if necessary, give them a smack or two to calm them down and get them to follow her activity. We don’t pay for physical violence, do we?

The last aspect I’d like to warn parents about is the attention paid to children and the management of conflicts between them. Are the instructors on time? Do they arrive late? This is a crucial point, because you don’t want to leave a group of children unsupervised. Children on their own in a playground is a catastrophic cocktail, because the least that can happen is a conflict over toys. Who is going to manage this conflict? I remember cases where conflict management was a problem for the educators. Often, when a teacher is confronted with aggressive children who spend their time beating up their friends or taking what doesn’t belong to them by force, they lose control and punish them. In the worst cases, the educator may simply ask the abused child to beat the aggressor in return. Such abuse can be emotionally and mentally dauting for the children, both the wrong doer, the abused, and the observers. Because, educating a child requires love patience, and constant devotion, as parents you must ensure you leaving your children at the right place, with right person.

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