My child is 4 and in nursery at a school we chose for its generally relaxed style of teaching. Recently, my child’s teacher called to say my daughter is not interested in daily assignments, such as colouring. She said she has seen a regression in development and is worried. But we are worried about how strongly we should react, given my daughter’s age. A part of us feels that if she doesn’t want to colour, then we should let her do something else. Are we wrong? Would you address it with the child?

First, no, this does not need to be addressed directly with the child right now—not in a “there’s a problem in your school" way. As you say, it’s really okay if she hasn’t taken up colouring and wants to do something else.

However, you also say that the school has a relaxed attitude. If, in spite of that, the teacher thinks there is an actual “regression", then you need to check for two things. One, rule out any physical problem—it could be something as simple as her needing to go to the restroom but being unable to indicate this to the teacher. Or that she’s thirsty or hungry at that time, and is low on energy and concentration. These factors can be easily remedied and you can get the teacher to help you in this. The second thing you would need to check out—and I feel this is the most likely explanation—is whether she is under-stimulated. While pushy schools tend to overstimulate kids, relaxed ones can fall in the zone where they take things so easy that kids get bored.

Switched off: Routine activities such as colouring can be stifling.

There is, of course, merit in doing things every day, especially when the school is getting the kids to learn particular skills. However, if your child is showing reluctance in some areas, you will have to figure out how she can be switched on to other things, without disrupting the larger class routine too much. So, one thing that you could do (diplomatically, and without stepping on the teacher’s toes) is check out if there are enough different things for your child to engage in, if she tires of something like colouring.

Frankly, that I have never understood the merit of colouring inside pre-drawn pictures—yes, perhaps it improves hand-eye coordination and a sense of physical boundaries on the paper, but that’s about it. So I wouldn’t be too worried about the child giving it a skip at times. But, yes, if there is a generalized unwillingness on her part to work on anything in school, you need to check out why that could be happening.

Gouri Dange is the author of ABCs of Parenting

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