Traditionally children started school at 3.5 years. But with ever increasing academic demands and the inevitable competitive circus they get thrown into, experts are advising that may be it is time to catch them young. As early as 1.5 years!
There are two schools of thought and both deserve to be shared with our reader. All experts agree that education need not necessarily begin with schooling. Education for a baby begins in the womb. It starts with learning to recognize its own mother’s voice, something that can’t be taught in school. So it is important to realise that when we refer to education, we don’t mean only schooling (home schooled or otherwise)
Too much too soon? Letting children learn through play
When children play, they learn through experience and observation. They learn about important emotions like happiness, sadness, jealousy, frustration, joy and fear. Play also mimics important life situations where children develop their conflict resolution skills, arbitrations, compromise, building authority, concept of sharing and letting go.
By allowing children to learn these through play, you would be taking the most natural course of action. This will not give you immediate results, but you will see your little one master this art gradually. It is important to expose your child to situations where he gets ample opportunity to play and interact with people and children outside the home.
These interactions will form important brain patterns where the child stores this information until a similar situation arises where he/she has to use it again. Thus, it is vital to the child that he/she gets as many experiences as possible. The sponge like brain of a child absorbs everything around him/her till the age of five.
Starting school early
The definition of early is yet undefined. But children, as young as 1.5 years old are known to start school. This is especially true of children who have both parents working. With no one to take care of the child at home, a school or a day care seems to be the perfect answer.
In scenarios where the child cannot be exposed to different forms of play, it is perhaps advisable to start school early. A child will thrive when he/she gets ample opportunity to play and interact with more people. Like we said, the importance of play cannot be more stressed.
The only problem arises when school starts interfering with play time and demands that the child sits down and learns activities that are not age appropriate. This is the crucial difference between education and compulsory schooling. Play lets a child learn at his/her own pace whereas education can make demands upon the child that may not be age appropriate.
Since every child learns differently, it is important to let the child choose his play and the way he learns it. This way he/she is able to complete the whole process of play-fail-succeed-learn in his brain pattern. Any intervention, may allay short term grief, but will not help the child in learning the whole process in the long run, more importantly, on his/her own.