Sunday, 21 June 2009

The wall

A few of my friends have kids who have just joined school. Or play school as it's called.

The problem is that the kids are a year and a half old. Now I know that I am not a parent and therefore am not in touch with what's happening in the under two feet category. But the way I see it is that school is the end of one's free life. From then on, you are in the rolls somewhere or the other - at play school, at school, at college, or at work. The only break is if you don't work or if you are a freelancer. And that's rare.

My friends assure me that these are 'play schools' - kids come and 'swim' in buckets full of beach ball, watch puppets, eat popcorn, make friends. I wonder if the poor kids know that. Do they see it as fun and games. Or do these translate into discipline and rules in their world?

I guess this is how things are today. Perhaps I am over reacting. There is no doubt that parents have their kids best interests in heart.

What is the hurry to make kids grow up? Why is the system in a hurry to put them in system? Will this reduce to school at six months soon? And then like Arjun, will school start while you are still in the womb?

There is the argument that kids learn social skills better in school than at home, fawned upon by doting parents and grand parents. I don't see a lot of social deviants amongst those of us who grew up at home ... cuddled and pampered.

Is this just a trick to build an industry - schools for sub toddlers?

It's really scary. School before you begin to walk. Cricket and music becoming classes rather than hobbies. Ninety five per cent plus being the cut off for college.

That's when you appreciate being in the right side of your thirties.

I would love to know what the parents feel on this. And more than that, what do the babies think as they get into the bus in their school uniforms.


Miri said...

I am a recent entrant to the under two feet club ;)

My daughter started to go to play school when she was about 2years and 4 months. She loved it - didn't even look back and I was sent back home after the second day and told not to wait for her.

I was apprehensive about whether she would be fine - but I guess she was ready. She loved seeing other kids and having all those activities like painting, clay, blocks, songs, dance etc.

Is 2.4 better than 1.5? Maybe. I guess it depends on the child in question. Some children are just not up to leaving home even when they are 4 and are starting "big school".

Personally, I would plump for school after 2 years when they can actually express themselves a bit more than at 1.5 yrs. Also, I am assuming that when we talk of playschools we are talking of the ones like my daughter went to - no formal "teaching" /"rules"/"forced activities"/"scolding" etc etc. Not some archaic schools which are focused on prepping the kids to be mini geniuses!

And when you talk about cuddles from parents and grandparents, you assume that they are there at home. We, like many other couples today, are a working couple with grandparents in another city. So, between spending the whole day with the babysitter and spending a few hours of it at a place with other kids where she gets to be with trained professionals who speak to her in English and stimulate her - I would definitely plump for the latter. While I did wait till she was more than 2 years old, maybe the other parents are thinking the same at ag1 1.5 itself?

The knife said...

@Miri, thanks for writing and sharing your experiences.

I love comments and am normally not so tardy in replying.

I think I went to play school at two.five too. But i think 'fun' schols are still new to India. We are probably speaking of the more up market schools here. I saw the difference when i shifted to an ICSE school from International School. Traumatic.

But if the schools are good then there is a lot of merit in what you are saying - nuclear families, maid dependent, working couples a must in big cities...I guess its the same Email destroyed letter writing debate.

Times are different and different things work in different time

Miri said...

I think many play schools today manage to adhere to the "learning should be fun" concept and don't push the kids.

It's when the kids reach 1st grade that everyone caves into the pressure of our education system and starts harassing them! BUt I have also learnt I am in the minority...there were parents at the playschool who complained about a teacher who apparently wasn't teaching the alphabet "phonetically" - when they asked me to support their complaint, I told them I had no academic expectations from my 3 year old at this stage and definitely none whatsover related to phonetics et al-she was as it is learning from listening to us speak, what more did one want!
I have also been banned from speaking to my nieces and nephews because I encourage them to choose courses which match their aptitude instead of counselling them on the merits of preparing for their IIT entrance exams....;)


Pinku said...

I dont have a child but this topic is something i feel very strongly about.

so please do let me share my two bits.

first of all - what age a child goes to school any school should be dependant on the child's wishe and not the conveinience of the parents.i.e working therefore no time, stay at home therefore need some me time.

secondly parents should make children because they really want to, not because the society expects them to. That way they will FIND the time to stay with the child.

Why i am saying this?

cause a couple I know had a baby cause the in-laws expected them to however with a clear condition that the in-laws will look after the child. soon after their son was born, he was given away to the in-laws (living in another city) to look after while they continued with their lives.

I pity the child who grew up knowing that my parents dont have time for me beyond the infrequent weekend.

The knife said...

@Miri...your comment reminds me of the stories of prep schools which would prepare kids for 'good' schools. It's so competitive out there that parents must be really hyper. Imagine that even a 90 p c doesn't get you anywhere. I don't think I got ninety even in any individual subject at tenth or twelvth. I guess everyone wants their kid to do well and very few have the guts to take the risk to let their kid be.

By the way I have an aunt to thank for encouraging me and the rest in my family to let me take arts and sociology after a miserable two years in science in plus two.

I sometimes woder about how life would have been if I'd stuck to my sub ed's job in Asian Age after college instead of doing my MBA

The knife said...

@Pinku...that's a sad story. Problem is that how many people led kids follow their wishes. And this is often with the best of intentions. I was lucky that I was allowed to follow socio in college way back in cal in the nineties...where the done thing if you had good scores was to study science, if you were slow, then commerce, and if you had to arts, then for God's sake English!!!

Sonia said...

My 3 year old started school at 1.5too. I just thought it better than him staying home all alone with the house help and waiting for us to return from work.
Atleast in playschool he gets to meet some kids around his age. What with nuclear families and metros.

The knife said...

Sonia, thanks for dropping by. i can't tell you how thrilled i get to see comments. I was just wondering if I'd bitten off too much by trying to maintain three blogs. Your comment inspired me to write a post here after ages

A colleague of mine mirroroed exactly what you said about her son who has just started school