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“Very young? Let them do things at their own pace”

“Very young? Let them do things at their own pace”
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First Published: Sat, Apr 19 2008. 12 06 AM IST

Milk menace: Don’t insist on an empty glass.
Milk menace: Don’t insist on an empty glass.
Updated: Sat, Apr 19 2008. 12 06 AM IST
My four-year-old son is in junior KG. At the last portfolio meet in his school, his teacher said that while he is excellent with his concepts, he is very slow when it came to finishing his worksheets. He wants his work to be neat and so is usually the last to finish. They advised us to give him some time-bound activities at home. My wife and I have set a time frame of a year for him to achieve the desired results. So, the concept is extended to everything he does—finishing milk, meals, worksheets. But, the deadlines usually don’t work. Morning milk times are the worst. Are we really expecting too much from him?
Milk menace: Don’t insist on an empty glass.
As I read about your son, I have an image of a meticulous, serious, sweet little boy! How I wish the school system didn’t require “compliance to the norm” so early in life. Even the words “portfolio meet”, “one-year time frame” and “worksheets” sound like they’ve come out of some corporate meeting and not from the school visit of the parents of a four-year-old.
Your son is really very young, and just about figuring out the world around him, what he is required to do to “impact” that world, and how that world impacts him. Surely, we can allow our kids a little leeway to bloom at their own pace?
While there may be nothing you can do to change the way the school deals with these issues, I would strongly urge you to let him function at his own pace at home. I would suggest that you avoid extending the time-bound task plan to all activities, or limit them to the worksheets the school requires. But, please let him do things at home at his own pace at least up to the age of 6 or 8. Hurrying him now and then to dress up or do something is okay, but this kind of all-round campaign is not advisable at all.
We run the risk of taking away all the wonder and joy in our children if we get so caught up in “getting the job done” and that, too, in prescribed time frames. Granted, part of growing up and joining the school system means having to adhere to some norms, a certain degree of uniformity and compliance. But let’s not get so carried away as to start regimenting them from when they’re so young.
As far as the milk drinking is concerned, can I make a radical suggestion? Many paediatricians agree with my point of view: If he doesn’t like it, just don’t make it a daily “must-do”. See if you can substitute it with chhaas (buttermilk) or curd (if he likes either), fresh fruit juice, even a piece of good quality pure milk barfi (sweet) through the week. Children who dislike milk get awfully stuck with our insistence that they down one glass of it. And, parents seem to think that big-time nutrition comes from this, even if it has to be virtually force-fed to the child. I have serious doubts about whether this “finish your milk” nightmare could be doing any good at all—nutritionally or emotionally—for either parents or children.
So, while you will have to take some cognizance of his school’s advice about having him hurry up a bit, please do let your son move along at his own pace for another couple of years at least. Cherish your child for what he is and not for what the system wants him to be.
Send in your queries to Gouri at learningcurve@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Apr 19 2008. 12 06 AM IST
More Topics: Children | Young | Milk | Home | Sweet |