I have observed many changes in my now 3.5 year old daughter in the past 10 months, precisely the time since she started her pre-school. It can be due to many reasons, the exposure that she receives to new environment, new people each with a unique behaviour, the fact that her own personality is now developing from her experiences. From a baby who was cocooned in the love of her immediate family, she is growing into a child who now reflects what she has absorbed from the 30 people she has been interacting with on a daily basis.
Here’s my observation-
1. Making her own choices- She now establishes her preferences for food, drink, clothes, cartoons & people. When probed further, the child will actually explain to you why exactly she likes a particular thing. I attribute this to their growing communication where they can find exact words to express themselves.
2. Standing firm on her decisions- She is strong in her assertion & its tough to make her budge from her decision, right or wrong. Giving the toddler a logical explanation if you want her to see that her choice is not correct, will work most of the time. A strong headed child can become a tough adversary though & you’ll risk a tantrum, so try distraction instead. When the moment has passed, then gently bring the topic up & lovingly explain the reason for your intervention.
3. Copying the behaviour that she has seen works- Children are smarter than we give them credit for! They pick up cues from everything & absorb their surroundings like a sponge. If making a cute face gets her what she wants, she’ll do it when she needs to you behave in a certain way. But if she sees a crying sibling getting the favour, that’s what she will resort to. Also, interestingly & to my surprise, their choice of behaviour is also people dependent. They choose how they behave with different people, the way they have figured out what works best!
4. Imitating our behaviour- Very often you will see your toddler use the same words that you have used, in similar situations. If you say, ‘I am busy right now’, ‘Mamma is doing something important’, ‘This is bad behaviour’, trust me, you will be on the receiving end of these words soon enough, in a situation mirroring the instance when you had used them.
5. Comfortable in newer surroundings & with newer people- Like a lot of children her age, my daughter loved her personal space, familiarity & schedule. She would get very upset when she met strangers or was taken to a new place and it would take a lot of time & effort to calm her down. One very welcome change that a school ingrains is the ability to accept this unknown environment & people with ease. They are introduced to so many new faces and places in the school in a controlled fashion, that their little personalities are not threatened, and they start embracing the unknown.
6. Confidence- Ok, so this was quite expected, but its enormity still took me by surprise. I am amazed at the level of confidence that a school instils in kids. They are nurtured and guided to be able to speak in English, face an audience & engage in a conversation with elders with ease. They are confident of putting their tender thoughts forward & engage in a debate.
7. Skills- Pre-schools these days are doing a good job in exposing the children to a lot of activities these days. You will soon see the child develop better communication, memory, vocabulary, drawing or painting, or some such skill. They will be more co-ordinated in their efforts & have a tad more patience than they started with.