When my first born turned two, I posted a question on one of the most popular mom’s group on Facebook,
“What is the appropriate age for a child to start school?”
And to my surprise, instead of helping, EVERYONE started questioning my mental condition and criticizing me for not being an aware/concerned mom.
“Haww, tum ne abhi tak apne bachchay ko ghar baitha ke rakha hua hai kia?”
I found out with time that every parent I knew put their child in pre-school either before or right after they turned 1.5 years. Yes! 18 months! That’s just a little, helpless baby, right? Well, clearly not. And I’m not talking about a daycare facility but a proper pre-school, with a fixed routine, time slots for each activity, attendance and so on. To be very frank, I thought it was almost cruel to put a child that young in school and in my heart of hearts, I was opposed to this idea. I mean what is the purpose of putting a child in school before he/she has even uttered his/her first word?
But unfortunately, I did the same with my child!
I found out the hard way that in Pakistan, if you want to send your kid to a pre-school, you have to start the enrollment process before your child is six-months-old! While I was still trying to digest the idea of sending my little toddler to school, one of my friends mournfully stated that I had missed the registration period of a lot of ‘good’ schools already.
So, obviously being a concerned mother, I jumped to action.
What mother wishes to deny her child a ‘bright’ future and hence, I dove in head-first into the rat race. From getting the forms to attending Open Houses and interviews, I could hardly get a good night’s sleep until I got to know that my child has finally secured admission in one of the best schools in town.
Children generally start pre-school anywhere between the age of 1.5 to three years but the obsession of securing admission begins even before they are born. Rather than making good memories with our children, we fret over standing in long queues outside one of the most prestigious schools in the country to secure admission. And this is just the beginning of the nightmare we, as parents, have to face for a good 10 years. I understand that slots in the city’s top schools are limited and one has to do what they can to ensure their child’s admission. But I still believe that there should be a better alternative to all this stress.
As far as I understand the reason behind this blind obsession is that attending a ‘good’ pre-school will be a child’s gateway to a ‘good’ school later. Most parents, including myself, do it only because they are scared that their child will be left behind. Yes, the fear is real but one has to understand that a child will certainly get into a school, considering that there are so many of them!
I would have ideally kept my children at home till they turned four but I am guilty of succumbing to the rat-race and in retrospect, I’m glad I did otherwise they wouldn’t have been attending one of the city’s top schools today. Or would they? Who knows!
And that’s just it – whether we like it or not, whether we agree or disagree with the age of registration; we HAVE to do it amidst all the social pressure. It’s anxiety-inducing, mind-numbing but ‘you gotta do what you gotta do’, right?