We are living in a fast paced world. Gone are the days when a fresh graduate started his career as an apprentice, worked his way up the ladder, saved money to buy a car, then his dream home, etc. Now fresh graduates start work with fancy salaries, take up certifications / jump jobs to move up the ladder, buy a car and house using bank loans and pay back the loan for the most part of his life.
This style of moving ahead quickly has trickled down every where, even to raising children and educating them.
Fast paced early starters:
New born kids are encouraged to reach development milestones earlier than expected. A B C D flash cards are brought for one year old children. The recommended age to start would be 3 years.
Kids are sent to (pre) schools as early as 2 years. At 2 years, kids do not have ability to understand happenings at school or outside.
So, are early starters better achievers than other kids? Yes.., and No. Results of this early start varies from child to child. It helps children learn alphabets and numbers one or two years earlier.., but affect their over all development in the long run.
Consider an ideal setting:
Imagine a slower and normal lifestyle. New born kids should be cherished and treated as “new born” children till their first birthday. The new mother deserves relaxed life for a year to recuperate from child birth and get her hormones to work properly while feeding her new born.
From the age of 1 to 5 years, focus on physical development of the child is essential. A stable caretaker (parent) is needed for every child. Rolling over, crawling, sitting, standing and walking antics enjoyed by the whole family.
One to five years is a crucial time for the child to explore and understand the world. This is the age when they learn about men and women, family, social structures, feelings, owning and sharing things, animals, life, nature etc. Neuro sciences say that every new experience in this early age develops the child’s brain.
This experience can be given only through a daily life with ample opportunity to explore the society. A closed class room,cute and colourful, is not the perfect place for early social understanding.
6 years and above:
Around 6 years of age, every child has the natural instinct to understand numbers and written language. A 6 year old’s brain is bigger and more capable. Physical co-ordination between the brain and other body parts is well developed. The child can now draw, write, read and count with confidence. Irrespective of schools and teaching methodology, he has the physical and mental strength to understand and absorb the knowledge he needs.
Early starter vs Normal starter:
Imagine a 3 year old being taught to write alphabets in pre school. His brain is busy exploring feelings and owning things. He cannot understand why alphabets and languages exist. His hands are not fully developed to handle a pencil and write letters.
To overcome these difficulties and get him started early, we devise creative methods of teaching like alphabet songs, cartoons, teaching tools, flash cards etc. There are also schools that give assignments of writing an alphabet multiple times to fill pages.
The child will master alphabets early in pre school. But, the time and energy spent in mastering letters should not compromise his effort to understand the social world around and develop psychologically.
A child learning the same alphabets around 5 – 6 years of age will find it easier and more interesting. He can remember alphabets quickly. Identify the learnt alphabets while looking at his story books, mobile games and cartoon names. His hands would find it easier to write letters as they have better co-ordination with the brain.
Less time and energy spent in learning the same alphabets when taught at the right age. The late (err… normal) starter has the added advantage that he had spent enough time exploring and understanding the world at 3 years of age.
Early class room education is not needed. It does not guarantee a successful future. Good exposure to family and social life in the early years is important. It gives children a fair chance at becoming balanced and sensible adults.
Academic enrollment should not be at the expense of physical and mental development. It is important that children build a good attitude at the right age. They should start their education as self learners.