BENGALURU: Play schools that were originally meant for children to play, eat and sleep have been converted to pre-schools, where they are introduced to formative learning as soon as they are able to speak. Today, with multiple pre-schools at every corner of the city, and with each claiming to teach children to be smart, write and win in every field, has only resulted
This is nothing but the result of the pressure that is there in schools in the later years, for the child to excel, that has trickled down at the elementary stage. At an age where the child should be allowed to just be a child, the toddler is given a pencil to hold and begin the process of learning his/her ABCs.
According to professor of Penmanship and calligraphy maestro, KC Janardhan, the child develops mentally and physically and is able to absorb information only after the age of five-and-half. “That’s what the Indian culture forgot. If you look at play homes in western countries, they were built from the concept of a creche. It came in the early 1900s and was used to just eat, play and sleep, hence the name.”
Talking about the increasing competition in play schools in the country, he says, “In the last few years in this country, play homes are competing with each other, teaching the child how to write and how to speak. Some of them say they teach personality development and public speaking. Let a three, four-year-old be a three, four-year-old. Why do you want to teach all of that at such a young age? I’ve heard of parents even claiming that their children are able to send e-mails at the age of two. They don’t realise they are robbing kids of their childhood.”
There is a need to understand the importance of knowing the right age to start and how to start, and Janardhan says that there are many who started the process before five years of age, which is why they develop an aversion to writing.
“Parents and play homes don’t realise the harm they are doing when they force the child against the natural biological development. Many push this learning on the child, all to make money. I have students in the past who have said they hate handwriting practice and have even burnt their handwriting books.”
Dr Megha Mahajan, child and adolescent psychiatrist says there are different schools of thought with regard to the age a child should start the learning processes.
“In India, we start at the age of three, there’s a lot of importance given to writing here. It is beneficial also, as a large part of the brain gets stimulated with writing. However, it is important for the schools to introduce it sensitively. Every child has a certain age in which fine motor skills are developed. Tripod grip typically develops between four-and-a-half and seven years. Before that they only have a modified tripod grip.”
The doctor further suggests that before introducing writing, the child should be allowed to colour and engage in activities like scribbling, doodling, and the likes.
Curriculum in India demands that children are taught early
Children as young as one are introduced to letters, numbers and colours at playschool. After completing playschool, they move on to nursery at the age of three, when they are made familiar with these numbers and alphabets, they are given pencils to start the writing process. Speaking to City Express about the reason behind starting the writing process early, Suchita Vasanth, coordinator at Kidzee, Kalyanagar, says, “In India, that is what is very important. In foreign countries, they do not insist on writing activities.
They work on hands-free material, they go after nature and start writing only after the age of five. But in India, the situation demands for the child to start early. In the first standard, they expect a lot of writing. That is why we try to incorporate it in our school so they find it easier when they go to primary school.” She further adds that they, however, ensure that the introduction to writing is done slowly, making sure that it is simple and attractive. “We give them a lot of material like colour pencils and crayons which is easy for their hand movement, so their hand motor skills get developed,” she says.