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The author discusses the common issues of school going children and offers suggestions for parents and teachers so that children learn to face various challenges.
During the early school years, a child is presented with a new social environment and a series of social challenges unlike any he has had before. At home he was mostly in an atmosphere wherein it was taken for granted that he belonged and was accepted. This gave him a natural security. But the home situation is unlike the challenge and interaction provided by the contact with twenty five or thirty classmates. Owing to this new situation, differences related to sex and age may become apparent and problems may appear in your child’s life.
Girls, when they start school, appear more mature than boys and they are, because they mature at a more rapid rate than boys. Physically and emotionally, girls are more apt to become organised and ready to work with symbolic and abstract tasks sooner than boys. Boys do indeed have much intellectual curiosity, but they more often focus their curiosity on physical, biological and mechanical areas. They like to take things apart – like old clocks and radios – to find out what the component parts are and how they work. They discover and explore things by poking around. They are liable to walk into the kitchen with wet feet and ask ‘where does the water go after it goes down the drain’. This is not to say girls do not show these interests, many do and many go on to become scientists.
No matter how bright a child may be, it makes an immense difference whether he/she is five years or almost six years of age when he/she starts school. If a child is younger, he/she would be less mature than his/her classmates and less experienced too. He/she is often at a disadvantage from the first day he/she walks into the classroom. The child starting school aged 69 months has a decided advantage over a classmate aged 57 months. An older child is better coordinated, more able to control his impulses and would be able to concentrate upon a learning task better. If the younger child is a boy, he may find it doubly hard to compete with his older classmates. Regardless of intellectual ability, many young children find that they cannot bridge the gap between themselves and their older, more matured classmates.
The real test comes in later years when school requires children to begin reading. Students often say ‘I always get stomach ache before I go to school. I go anyhow and I feel sicker because I don’t catch on and everybody knows I don’t catch on, it’s no fun’. Teachers try to anticipate this problem and sometimes ask that a child repeat a year so that he may catch up with older classmates.
School is such an important part of a child’s life that inevitably all youngsters face some problems in the course of the many years that they spend there. Therefore parents and teachers must stay in close communications with each other. Problems that have their origin in school may show up at home. For example – a youngster who operates under tension all day at school may seem an earnest, conscientious child to his teacher. The parents may be the only ones to see the outbursts which reflect the strain the child is feeling. Similarly, a youngster may appear to his parents to be working quite smoothly. The teacher, seeing him/her in a different setting and in comparison with other children of his/her own age, may be the one who first becomes aware that a problem exists. These two sets of responsible adults – parents and teachers – must have some means of sharing their insights. Only in this way can problems be spotted before they become too severe.
The first sign of a school problem may be a child’s unwillingness to go to school and some children show their fear of school openly. They cry, say that they hate school, and are unwilling to leave home. Sometimes this unwillingness to go to school shows in disguised form through frequent complaints of illness just when it is time to leave for school or through prolonged dawdling and other delaying tactics. A fear or dislike for school can be a troubling problem. All the logical arguments that parents may use carry little weight in a young child’s mind. The only good solution is the one that gets to the root of the difficulty with the particular child. One youngster may hesitate because he has not had sufficient experience in being away from home, another because his group at school is too large for him to cope with, another because he has a specific fear, perhaps of the toilets at school or the bus ride.
As a child moves further into his school career, more of his difficulties are likely to stem from his success or failure in academic work and from his personal relationships with his classmates and teachers. Children are like the rest of us, they cannot go through day after day of failure or not liking their assigned tasks and of not enjoying the people with whom they associate without feeling some dissatisfaction. Children cannot walk out of school; their only alternative is to leave mentally – to day dream, to give up in despair or to become rebellious.
Again there is no single answer to every child’s trouble. A patient, mutual search by parents and teacher is one very wise procedure. A physical difficulty, with vision or hearing in particular, may be the cause in some cases. Academic work puts a great strain on hearing and vision. A complete physical examination is wise first step in seeking further solutions.
The demands of schoolwork sometimes uncover the tension that a youngster is experiencing in his home life. The child who worries about his family or about his relationships with his brothers and sisters cannot concentrate and meet the rigours of academic work. These difficulties, probably not new in the child’s life, may well have gone unnoticed during his simpler, less demanding living before the school years. Many school systems have psychologists who are trained to spot and treat such problems.
Parents and teachers both must realize that it takes time, patience and wisdom to solve all human problems. It is so easy to believe that there are quick solutions – the teacher should assign more work in school, the parents should take away privileges until a child’s work improves. In individual cases these may be useful approaches, but they are not cures for every case. Parents and teachers both must also feel goodwill and be patient in working together if answers are to be found. No one wants a child to face an unwanted problem. Everyone wants the best for a child. It is important to recognize too that there are some problems a child has to solve himself/herself. There are even some problems that cannot be solved, but a child can be taught to live with them and gain strength from the experience.
Image Source: Facebook/Taare Zameen Par
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