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Let your child stay a child

Updated on May 19, 2015

I have heard it said time and again, among parents often that they plan well in advance to ensure that they conceive a child at the right ‘time’. I took it to mean that some amount of financial planning was of course important, as was readiness to take on the responsibilities of a child. However, I soon learnt, that the right time involved a lot many more variables than I was aware of. The academic year in India, in terms of schooling begins in June. For many parents it meant that they had to by all means conceive a child in early Jan-March to ensure that the child does not miss out on a year. Regulations about eligibility in terms of age for admission have been changing and I hear that in the UAE, where I have more than a few cousins, the age for admission to school or preschool is 4 years. I heard many an aunt complain and worry about ‘losing a year’ and considering putting their child in a hostel at that young age, in India, only to overcome this loss.

I understand each parent has different ideas about schooling, but for me the idea of letting my kids go to school too early was in itself one I wasn’t comfortable with. I hear many parents cry about the syllabus and work load and ‘exams’ right from kindergarten and honestly I think I would be happy if schooling were to start a year ‘later’ than when it did for me. The pressure is something I find abominable, as is the competition to urge the child to score a little more than the neighbours. Often caught up in the madness of mindless competition, the interests and innate talents of the child are either killed or lost. There is only a withdrawn, grumpy, tense and often worried child heaving heavy texts and notebooks back and forth and running to attend this tuition or the other.

For me, the idea of alternative schooling methods is highly appealing. I cannot say I consider myself highly competent in all subjects and wish to completely home-school my child but I do like the idea of homeschooling and skipping this concept of ‘play-school’ or schooling until formally required. Everyone seems to have a new excuse for rushing their kids to school even before they can voice their discomforts and get used to having independent bodily functions. Children talk faster when at school, or my child isn’t socialising enough and the neighbour’s kid is already counting to 100 at age 2 are common cries. I would much rather let them play, and count from 1-4 and then jump to 10, if that is what they feel like doing at age two. I am also quite content even if they lisp through half the rhyme they learnt on their own off a video they enjoy watching. I want them to love the outdoors, master the art of climbing some trees, wade into open waters, eat the fresh drop of rain off a leaf in the open outdoors, watch a snail or butterfly flit or crawl across the seemingly endless road before it, before they are confined to the four walls of a classroom. I find this concept of losing a year ridiculous, lose a year as opposed to what I wonder. It’s about how you enrich their years, and there will be enough competition through high school and college without adding to their worries when they should simply be a ‘child’. Free of burdens, free of constraints, free to explore.

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