Even as Chennaiities celebrated Vijaydasami with special pujas at home with their family, it was a day for many parents to enroll their little ones in preschools.
Hundreds of preschools in the city were buzzing with activity as parents walked in with their wards to initiate them in to learning.
A visit to some preschools in the city saw smiling faces playing with wooden toys or driving small cars or little brats running around giving a good chase to their parents. There were also those shy ones not willing to budge while a few toddlers began crying the moment they saw a large group of new faces.
While some of the parents had previously registered with the schools, some randomly walked in to check out the facilities and enroll if satisfied.
Nehal from T Nagar came to Little Millennium near Valluvar Kottam with her daughter Hiya and was quite happy with the facility provided. But it was not before a visit to 10 other preschools for 15 days that she was able to zero in on one. “I was very concerned about how the children will be taken care of. My daughter is only one year and eight months old and I was also looking for the safety aspects too,” she said as she sat with her ward and helped her play with the toys.
Many preschools admitted children who are as young as 18 months old, letting them learn through the play method. “We let them play and they don’t use pencils or crayons. After a year, they go to the next stage which is nursery where they learn curves and lines. It is the stage before lower kindergarten,” said Sujatha, a relationship manager in a preschool.
A minimum of 10 children were enrolled in a batch as these preschools let their students spend 30 minutes extra every day to complete the syllabus and make up for the time lost, because they have been enrolled in the middle of the academic year.
Many preschools conducted special Vijayadasami pujas with Akshar Abhyaas, a way of getting the blessings of Goddess Saraswathi, the goddess of knowledge. A priest writes the word Srihari on the tongue of a child with honey continued by the parent guiding his or her little one to write alphabets on a plate full of rice grains by placing him on their laps. The ritual is conducted before the children are enrolled in preschool.
Some parents prefer taking their children to a temple to perform Akshar Abhyaas. Over 500 parents were gathered at the Ayyappan Temple at Mahalingapuram as priests performed the ritual. While most preschools enrolled toddlers as young as 18 months to 54 months, a few admitted kids in LKG too. No matter which class though, the students will have to spend extra time to make up for the rest of the year.