The passage to what is popularly known as the “senior college” is a complicated process for many families. The first stage of Early Childhood Education, from 0 to 3 years, usually has palpable differences with the second, from 3 to 6 years. Uncertainty, doubts about educational methods and obtaining a place are mixed in the concerns of those who have to make that leap.
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The little ones will go, for the most part, to centers where discipline begins, they are expected to be seated at their desks, and there is a certain tendency to take the stage as a preparatory for what comes next, the Primary. Children have to control their toilets sooner or later, they will not have the support of their parents in class even for a little while, they may even have their first contact with a textbook. Furthermore, for some it will be their first foray into an educational center of any kind. And this year, like the previous one, as if all this were not enough there is a pandemic.
María, mother of a three-year-old boy, finds herself in this situation, on the verge of starting a new school in the center of Madrid after going through a municipal nursery school. “I think that the rhythms of children, their peculiarities and needs are not taken into account,” he told elDiario.es. One of the most common examples of this thinking has to do with toilet training. There is no common methodology and it depends a lot on the educational center and the personnel they have.
“Our son will wear a diaper. There is a person hired as an assistant to change him, but they also tell you that there are a few months of grace in order to remove it. You are under pressure. It is a bit unnatural, to force the processes so that all children and girls are exactly the same. We are worried about what will happen, we do not know how much hurry they are going to put us, “adds María. Another concern also has to do with the adaptation period in the first days. It is not frequent to be able to spend with them until inside the classroom. Less now with the pandemic situation. “I’m afraid there is going to be inevitable drama as we part,” says María. In addition, he criticizes that in his educational center they have been informed that they will not take a nap due to “COVID protocol”. It is something that is also happening in other centers without the reasons being specifically explained. “It is a problem because for many creatures the nap is still fundamental. by COVID protocol It has already become a cliché that serves to settle an issue without giving many explanations, “says María.
In the same situation was Isa, David’s mother, a boy who is now four years old, last year. In their case, they did the first stage in a private nursery school in the Madrid district of Arganzuela. From there, to a school in the Centro district. “We were trying to adjust expectations, our nursery school was very different. In this school the system is to make half files, half projects. There is no other option but to adapt,” he says. A relevant problem, especially in cities like Madrid, is the lack of places. It is therefore necessary to make conjectures with the scales and the requests. In the case of Isa, they gave up other centers that they liked better for fear of running out of them and that they would get a worse one. In addition, with the pandemic, they were unable to visit the educational centers in person during the open days.
“The toilet training part overwhelmed us a lot. We managed, with a lot of effort, to start controlling them in August. We arrived just right. David would pee from time to time,” Isa explains about other common problems. In your school there is an auxiliary person and they can wear a diaper. But at lunchtime it is gone and they are not changed during those two hours. David’s adaptation, in any case, was good and a few days before the start of the course he is “really looking forward to coming back.”
The discipline with three years
Other families choose alternatives to minimize these sudden changes in their children. Within regulated education there are few exclusive nursery schools from 0 to 6 years old. Pablo, four-year-old father of Naya and pedagogue, talks about them. “We have not taken her to a school because disciplines of sitting or being quiet are usually introduced, things that do not correspond to their evolutionary moment. Many students need movement, they go from having been free and many start school and it is a shock,” he explains . Naya also came from participating in a very special project called El Arenero.
Pablo directly rejects the tendency to consider the first stage as a period of “nurseries”. “The schools have been eating land from Early Childhood Education, which has very little power, is very invisible. This is also reflected in the profession of early childhood educator, we are poorly trained. What is done is that in Early Childhood Primary is imitated, it is the hegemonic tendency, that in Infant they begin to do things that boys and girls will learn in Primary. They are seated at a table, the numbers are taught, to read, there is an aspiration to bring them closer to Primary “, says Pablo. In his opinion, schools like that of his daughter, Zofío in Usera, propose other types of projects and developments more in line with age.
Belén is a second-stage early childhood education teacher in a public school in the Madrid district of Villaverde. It recognizes that each educational center does the adaptation period in a way, although the law establishes that it must last at least one week. “I think it is clearly insufficient for a link to be obtained with a strange space and person. I have never been in a school where families are allowed into the classroom. The most normal thing is to leave the child at the door,” he says.
Regarding the methods, this teacher believes that the main difference is the schools that have a textbook and those that do not. “In the latter, you have more freedom to follow the child and his rhythms. In theory, in theory the first trimester of three years the only thing that should be worked on is knowing the space and starting to implement some routines. That I do think is enough homogenized “. The teacher considers that regarding toilet training there is an obvious problem of logistics or lack of personnel. “There should be a figure of fixed form,” he says. And he adds that in places where it does not exist, it depends a lot on the teacher, whether or not she changes it “under the hood.” “It is not a question of not doing it, but that as a teacher I cannot leave 20 children alone to go to the bathroom with one,” he concludes.