Few days back when I was in a function and was talking to some friends while having food.when our attention was drawn by a child who was about four years of age and he was also having food on another table. He was quite free to talk to everyone around him whether known or unknown to him. Initially, I was impressed by the confidence and the behavior of the child and really wanted to talk to him about his family and the school he was studying in. I moved to his table and was about to talk to him when he asked me (without looking at me) to get some water for him. The waiter around so I asked him for water for the child. He brought a bottle of water and placed it on the table and the child immediately asked him to open the same. His parents were not around him but he was not bothered about anything. I stood there for a while and in the meantime the child finished his food and left the table without bothering about the used plate or the half filled water bottle left lying on the table. My enthusiasm to meet the child was cut short by his leaving the place even without looking at me. This made me think whether the child`s behavior and the action should be appreciated or something was not really right with him. I would like to share my opinion and then look forward for your feedback. Another question which triggered my thoughts was- if the children of the day had become too intelligent, too early with respect to their age? Or should we understand that the schools are also responsible to make children learn or know certain things which are beyond their comprehension and age? The other question that came to my mind was for certain activities which are done in the school to make the children aware about various concepts that do not seem age appropriate. One activity related to the mode of transport, was done for the children of the age group three to four years. The teachers were very happy with the manner in which the activity was done and as per their thinking and the children also enjoyed the activity. But my worry is that, would the children of the age group mentioned above were mature enough to understand and comprehend the whole activity or was there really any need to teach them about the mode of transport ? Another activity done for the same age group was based on milk and milk products and how were these produced. This was practically done and shown to the children. This activity, to me, also seemed to be inappropriate for this age group. I must be corrected, if I am wrong.
The two examples stated above are the ones which make us to believe that our children are learning certain things and also are exposed to them,quite early in life. Also, the first example makes me to believe that the child was very confident who could eat food without the parents being around and could ask for help from others wherever he needed that. But my worry is his attitude. Being confident and self dependent is very good but then behavior with other people is also equally important. This boy was not bothered to look at the person to whom he was talking and also was not probably taught by the elders to say thanks to someone who had done something for him. He was also not taught to remove the used plates and keep them at the place specified for them. I think he was taught everything else but the dignity of labour and respect for the others perhaps was a miss somewhere. We should be careful while we teach our children etiquette and manners which make us feel proud in front of the relatives and the friends. As mentioned above, being confident and knowing things more than anybody else might be alright but knowing too much before time would not be good for the child in the long run. I guess that the child probably must have been flooded with all the facilities and he was not exposed to manage his own tasks and there must be many helping hands available to him at home that he did not learn the most basic thing of demeanour and that is courtesy. I am still not able to understand whether I should feel happy for the child or should be worried about his future.
In the other case, it has been found that the children are being forced to learn certain concepts which do not seem to be age appropriate. They might have felt happy because the activity was planned well but that activity would not have taught them to retain the concept for future. The same activity could have been very good for the children of the age group of seven to eight years. Similarly, the other activity was also good for this age group. This should also be considered by the educators; what to teach and when to teach, so that the children learn it without any stress and are not forced to do the rote learning of remembering the things for the sake of doing that. The topics and the activities should be such that the same help the children as per the age group. The children who are in pre-primary classes should be exposed to more auditory and psycho motor activities. They should be made to learn to communicate in a more effective manner and the same should be done first in their own language and then in English, but they may not learn the language not spoken at home so easily,so consistent efforts should be made. Though most of the public schools are English medium but that should not mean that the children should not be good at their own language. If they are good at the basic language, then I am sure they will learn the other language also,easily . For this, more of storytelling (which should be related to the things and the people around the children and not the ones from some other culture or the land) should be taken up in different ways. This I am talking in relation to the children of pre-primary schools. In the name of making them learn too much too early, irrelevant things should not be taught. The children should be exposed to good environment both at home and in the school. They should be left to learn naturally and all activities should be planned in a manner so that they even do not feel that some efforts are being made to teach them something different. This should be the part of their daily routine. The children in this age are really innocent and let us try our level best to keep that innocence intact for as long a period as possible. Let us make them learn to be confident and self reliant but at the same time the chapters on compassion,love,respect,honesty etc, should not be forgotten. This will help them become better human beings who would help the people around them and also others. Let the children learn the lesson of universal brotherhood and not of selfishness. The parents and teachers both can help the children in this endeavour to a great extent.