Child Care: When to Start Schooling for Your Child?

School readiness involves a physical, social and emotional capacity to cope up with an alien environment. The demands are many. The child should have bladder and bowel control, should be able to overcome stranger anxiety and be away from his mother at least for some time. He should have a fair expression of language, both receptive and expressive.

Although there are individual variations, usually these abilities are not present before the age of 3 years. It is not essential that you should send your child to school at the age of 3 years. You can wait for 1-2 years more i.e. till the child becomes 4-5 years old. The school should be an informal play type of school where the child learns while playing, and not a formal school where they have the classical school type strict protocol and discipline.

Some of the reasons why a child should be sent to school at 3 years are given below:

1. The child starts getting bored at home at the age of 3 years+. This is the time when he yearns for company, particularly of children of the same age group, with whom he can play and have fun. A play school is ideal for it.

2. The child starts learning the concept of schooling. The child learns to interact with others, becomes disciplined and learns social and mutual co-operation. He learns that everyone has his own rights and independence, including himself.

3. He learns a lot of things in play school like A-Z etc. while enjoying himself and takes justifiable pride in it.

4. The parents get some free time when the child is away to school!

I think that informal schooling should continue till the child is more than 5 years, after which only formal schooling (i.e. from Class 1) should begin. Formal schooling requires the ability to read, write and do arithmetic (popularly called as the three R’s). These involve control over the fine muscles of the hand and fingers, a fine eye to hand co-ordination, comprehension and abstract reasoning. Since these faculties are not developed before 6 years of age, hence children below 6 years are not mentally and developmentally geared for formal schooling (i.e. learning the three R’s).

A child should be put in a class, the standard of which he is able to cope up with, i.e. the syllabus should not be beyond the child’s comprehension. It doesn’t matter that the child goes to school one year late e.g. he is put into class 1 at the age of 7 years. One year doesn’t make any difference in the overall life of a child. But inability to cope up with the lessons and always struggling to “stay afloat” definitely will have adverse psychological consequences for the child.

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