Sending a child to school too early can be very dangerous. Why parents, especially Pakistani mothers insist to send their children to schools at too early ages. What is the practice in others countries including India, England, Finland, France, United States etc. and why Pakistan do not take beneﬁt from the research studies already conducted on the issue? This scribe considered all these questions in this write-up for The Educationist.
People are confused, as some parents send their babies to school at merely 18 months of age and they expect them to start reading and writing. It feared that with this trend, parents may start sending 12 months old babies to school soon! According to a study of National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, a child should be at least 4 years old before being enrolled in a school.
The major problem with starting school early is that such kids do not have the privilege of being nurtured under good parenting skills because they are forced to start school early, they have to face issues like low self-esteem, lack of conﬁdence and many more. Children under 4 only require love, affection and parental attention – that is what they need to experience and learn at their younger age instead of alphabets and numbers. Parental attention, care and love go a long way in building the foundation of a solid individual. Need of the hour for kids is to have good parents, but sadly we are looking for good teachers outside the home. Unfortunately, neither the government nor the society around us supports this line of thought. Most schools start accepting children at around age 2 or 2 ½ but that doesn’t mean your child is magically ready for school at that age. Readiness for school has more to do with development of child. Is the child socially, emotionally and physically ready to participate in a daily, structured educational program with a group of other children? A study by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development found that children do best if they’re handled by someone who is genuinely concerned about their well-being and development, and who makes sure they’re doing a variety of age-appropriate activities.
Here are some steps through which you can check whether your child is ready to be enrolled in school or not:
1. Has your child spend some time away from you? Parents want to develop a habit in children to spend some time away from home. If your child hasn’t had many opportunities to be away from you, you
should schedule some like a weekend with grandma or a day with your sister and her kids. Many preschools will allow you to drop off your child there for an hour or two
2. Can s/he work on projects by his own? Creativity is the most important thing. Schools usually involve lots of arts and crafts projects that require concentration and the ability to focus on them. If your child likes to draw at home or gets engrossed in puzzles and other activities by his own, he’s a good candidate for school. But even if he’s the kind of child who asks for help with everything, you can start getting him/her ready by setting up playtimes where s/he can entertain her/himself for a half hour or so.
3. Is your child ready to participate in group activities? Many preschool activities, like “football” require that all the children in a class participate at the same time. These interactions give children a chance to play and learn together. Always encourage them
to play outdoor games. If your child is not participating in group activities, you can help him to make new friends, take him to the park and introduce with new people.
4. Does your child have a physical stamina for preschool? Whether it’s a half-day or full-day program, schools keep kids busy. There are art projects to do, ﬁeld trips to take and playgrounds to explore. Does your child have a physical stamina to do activities like these or he faces trouble doing all these?
5. Is your child have certain basic skills? Schools require children to have certain basic skills like your child to be potty trained. Your child should also be able to take care of some other basic needs like washing his hands before and after eating something, painting, eating his lunch without assistance and sleeping alone.
What our educationists say about this?
Chairman Department IER Punjab University Prof. Dr. Rafaqat Ali Akbar quotes the sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. According to the studies of physiology, the education of child is started in mother’s wombs. Secondly, he said, according to Jean Piaget, who presented the Theory of Cognitive Development, cognitive development means
the growth of a child’s ability to think and reason. This growth happens differently from ages 6. Piaget proposed four stages of cognitive development, i.e.
3. Concrete operational
4. Formal operational period
In Sensorimotor stage, infants progressively construct knowledge and understanding of the world by coordinating experiences (such as vision and hearing) so day care centers are the best options if mother of child is working woman.
Piaget’s second stage, the preoperational stage, starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven.
The concrete operational stage is the third stage of Piaget’s theory. This stage occurs between the ages of 7 and 11 years.
The final stage is known as the formal operational stage that starts from adolescence to adulthood, roughly ages 11 to approximately 15–20.
In Pakistan parents become happy when they send their kids to school with a heavy bag on their shoulders but in developed world school is considered as a social and character building institution. Our leaders are not concerned about educational system. The decisions are in the hand of illiterate people. Those who are concerned are not associated with the department of education or law making process. Government should develop think-tanks with the help of professional teachers and researchers. Secondly funding agencies give their own agenda, syllabus and policies so expertise of our own experts are not catered in the structure of education. Lack of policy making, expertise, foreign funding and inconsistent behavior are the basic reasons of our educational collapse.
Punjab University Secondary Education Chairman Dr. Abid Hussain Chaudhrysaid “in Pakistan parents try to enroll their kids in schools at very early ages because they want their kids to learn something which they can’t learn at home”. He said, in some cases, mother and father both do jobs and they cannot fully concentrate on their kids. There is no formal system at homes due to which parents enroll their kids in schools. It is somehow beneﬁcial for them because they learn discipline. But in Pakistan those parents who are doing jobs and they are not highly educated due to which can’t teach their kids normally they enroll their kids in schools at very early ages. The biggest issue is that here people don’t go for character
building as they only believe in scoring good marks so they may get admission in medical colleges or engineering universities. In developing countries people consider school as a social and character building institution they do not take any examination in school. The kids have no pressure of exams and they feel relax and only concentrate on practical activities. The only solution we have is to improve the economic condition of our country. The mothers have to fully concentrate and educate basic etiquettes to their kids. I want to give important message to all the mothers that they should not marry their daughters until they get basic qualiﬁcation.