Right age to start education

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.

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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.

Early years:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Baby and Child Care – by Dr.Benjamin Spock

This book was first published about 65 years back, in the year 1946. It is a useful reference book for parents with children of all ages.

Dr.Spock was an American perdiatrician.  He was a pioneer in the field of psychoanalysis for children. In other words, he was one of the first people to study children’s emotional and psychological needs. His studies led to the emergence of flexible and affectionate ways of bringing up children. He stessed the importance of respecting children as individuals. His book emphasises that the best way to bring up children is to rely on understanding and common sense.

Baby and child care

There are separate sections in this book dealing with pregnancy, new born babies, toddlers, children and proceeds up to teen agers. It gives a clear understanding of what to expect at every stage of child growth. There are no mention of growth indicators or milestones. Instead there is a summary of what might be the normal growth pattern in children.

This book clearly lists reasons behind behavioural problems of children. It gives parents tips on how to handle behavioural problems. Starting from continous night time crying of 2 month old babies, to temper tantrums in 2 year olds to irritable behviour in teen agers… this book states psychological reasons that drive children and how to handle these problems without disturbing the child.

In addition, this books also has a full fledged medical reference to ailments, injuries and allergies in children. It is a handy reference to understand when your child needs medical help and how to give emergency medical aids to children. Have you fretted over your 1 year old son when he swallowed a  coin, or worried that your 3 year old ate too much of hot sauce when you were fixing her meal? This book lists all such minor ailments and injuries common to children.

There is an India specific edition of this book on the stands. It has content more relevant for parents in India. Available with all major online book sellers,  including Flipkart and Amazon. This book is definitely worth every single rupee you pay for. It will appeal to all this who are looking for a reliable reference for child growth.

This is one book that certainly makes parenting more enjoyable!

Parenting – physical or mental?

Parenting – A word very much loved by women. Almost all women I come across consider themselves experts in parenting. If you are in India, and if you happen to have a child, you will receive advises and guidance on this subject from almost every woman you come across.

I was walking down the street the other day with my 10 month od daughter sleeping on my shoulders. A woman called out to me from inside her boutique shop. Curious, I stopped only to get a long advice on how I should cover my baby’s head while taking her out etc. I had the urge to explain to her that a mild exposure to the sun will not harm my daughter, neither will a pleasant breeze. But such explanations will only earn me stares and curt replies. I have even had people call me a mindless mother and my husband, a selfish father when we refused to load our daughter will all the customary gold and silver jewellery that a new born child is supposed to wear in this part of the world.

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By parenthood, do we mean only the physical growth of the baby, and over protectiveness of it’s physical comforts? Is it not more important to bring up a mentally and psychologically mature baby? I would be proud to call myself the mother of a mentally mature, independent and sensible daughter, than to be the mother of a fair, beautiful, pretty looking daughter. Not that appearance and physical attributes are to be neglected. A good appearance is vital for a confident and happy mind. But, the point here is – physical appearance is not the only aim of good parenting.

In a society where the older generation’s view points on parenting and pregnancy are highly valued, it is a disappointment that the generations old advises and beliefs largely confirm to physical aspects like eating, massaging, sleeping routines etc. Not much is said about nurturing artistic talents or an independent spirit.

To nurture over all development, parenting needs to rest on the belief that every child knows what it needs to survive. Trust your child’s instincts to sleep, eat and live. Do not force your ideas / discipline on the child… instead feed him when he is hungry, let her sleep when she has tired herself out, let her play in the water to  enjoy her bath, let her enjoy a walk in the sun if she wants to play outside… Over protectiveness tends to make parents proud of their parenting skills, but it narrows down the child’s all-round development.

Common sense and respect for freedom is the best guide to parenting, now and forever.