Thursday, May 23, 2013

Age appropriate growth

The topic I am going to discuss and share with you is perpetually debated upon, in in almost all households. There is a lot of focus on the education of the children specially the school education and many reforms are being introduced all over the world. India is no exception to that and we are also going through a series of reforms and the changes. The role of a teacher has been redefined and there are many challenges being faced by all and mainly by the parents, teachers and the students. The parents in India are more aware about the future of their kids in terms of being `secured`. They want their children to learn as much and as early as possible. The learning for many of them is good grades in different subjects and the child being prepared to crack any of the challenging competitive examination after class XII. To achieve this, they expose the children to very early coaching (I have deliberately mentioned coaching and not the education) which might make them to cram certain facts but not the real learning. The parents fell very proud when a child is able to recite a nursery rhyme in front of the guests or sing a song. I do not say that it is wrong but the question is that does the child understand anything about what he recites or sings.
We know that the scientists have tried and produced different kinds of new breeds in the field of agriculture which yields more crops, earlier than the natural ones. There if the crops are ready to be harvested early, can be understood but our children are not the crops and are to be born and grown in a natural environment. Whenever we try to get more yields from any of the crops then we certainly look at the health of the tree or the plant and wait for the right time to cut it. Similarly, the children will have to be allowed to grow and learn in their natural way and should never be pushed to learn certain things before time because that does not let the child enjoy that very particular phase of life which is very important for the natural way of growth. Many people have been discussing that some parents force the growth and maturity of their children. There have been mixed views on this but by and large all concerned agree that the  kids should not be forced or exposed to situations which make them mature before time. The maturity is required but that should be age appropriate. One friend of mine shared it with me that when they were at the place of their relative, the child of age four years was talking so much that they were amazed to listen those big words from him. The parents were very happy with the performance of their child and they encouraged him to showcase his `talent` in all the fields till the child was irritated and he bluntly said that he could not do more. Somebody might argue if it was wrong. Then my question is that if it was so then why do all educational institutes and experts in education talk of age appropriate learning. Getting fruits early may seem exciting but think about the condition and the health of the fruit. Naturally grown fruits and the ones which are produced artificially have a lot of difference which all of us are aware about and need not to be explained.
In this process we are missing one more important aspect of the child`s development and that is learning to care and share. The materialistic things including the electronic gadgets are pushing our children towards isolation and they are deprived the company of the human beings. This is further causing them get exposed to certain things which may not be age appropriate. When I talk of care and share this means that the kids are comfortable sharing the things available to them and that is not meant only in case of peer but for the adults in the family and the society. I was told by one of the parents that his son does not like sharing his things with anybody including the grandparents who care for him the most in the family. The child had his own I Pad and the grand father wanted the same for some reason and the child said ‘no’ bluntly without really feeling that the grandfather was the one who looked after him the most. The main problem was the kind of face expression the child had and the parents of the child were quite comfortable with his response. The guests in the drawing room also noticed the same and advised the parents to take care of such behavior of the child. The response of the parents was interesting when they said their child was very intelligent and was doing so well in all the fields. They forgot to realize that being polite, respecting elders and sharing the things possessed by him, was also very important in the process of learning. I would like to discuss it further with the help of an example. We have different phases of life namely childhood, adolescence, teenage and adult and this goes in this order only and not otherwise. Whenever we try to change this order there would be problems. I am not against the children learning more but what is the extent of ‘more’, is very important to understand. Should we allow our children to do all those things which he will enjoy doing when be prepared for that. In India, we used to have child marriages( this is still prevalent in different part of the country though has come down considerably) and the reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy fought against because early marriage was not age appropriate and the children would not really understand and enjoy this phase of life if married before time. Similarly, a child should not always be expected to behave as an adult of age twenty or more and if that happens, then there is something to be thought and worried about seriously. Our children are the future of the nation and the society and they should be helped to grow in a healthy and conducive environment. If we think that making them to do certain things before time makes them better than others then we are wrong because they will burn themselves early and nobody would like that to happen. All the children have potential to do well in life. Only thing they require is the right kind of exposure and the motivation from all those who are around them. Let them do things which they fell proud of doing when they cross that phase of the life  and cherish the memories of their activities and the behavior in that particular phase. In the end once again, I would like to emphasize upon age appropriate learning and development that is crucial for a proper growth of a child or any individual.