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Diary of African mother: Implications, effect of hurrying a child

By Hanatu Enwemadu

My child is matured, big in body size, old enough to face the pressure, brilliant and academically sound. These were a few of the reasons a couple of ladies I met in a store gave as their reasons for encouraging their children to skip certain classes in primary or secondary schools. ( In my mind I was wondering to myself “what’s happening here”)

Child growth and its efficacies
Children in a classroom

I believe a lot of us want to be celebrated like the parents of the 14-year-old Prodigy a Nigerian called Joshua Beckford who graduated from the university of oxford, but I can’t help but wonder how he would manage his educational achievements, attention taking into consideration his age.

I am here crying silently and wishing I could turn back time and make my children become babies all over again( without having to bear them in my tummy for 9 months), I am indeed marveled at how time flew.  Nowadays I intentionally take advantage of every opportunity I get to listen, talk, bond, dance and do stuff with them. My angels are growing up, someday they will all leave, start their own lives and face this tough world.

Some of these children end up being stuck in a situation they aren’t ready for or matured and experienced to handle. Some parents decisions are based on financial constraints ( personally I rather take the pain than mortgage the developmental stages of my child’s life and rob them of their childhood). The bulk is just based on what I call “PARENTAL PEER PRESSURE”( Yesss adults also have trouble with peer pressure).  A lot just want to brag about how young their children attained their educational achievements. We are not concerned about exactly how they feel or if they actually understand exactly what they are up or in for.

I recently engaged a single mum in a discussion, who does menial jobs to cater for her two sons. She shared how she was encouraged to allow her son to skip a class but declined. She was told that her son was brilliant and would do well if he skipped to the next class. If a mother with little to no education and a meager source of income could take the decision and pain to ensure her son stayed back for the full 6 years in primary school, what’s happening to those of us whom I believe should know better. Does anyone truly understand the pain, struggles, confusion these children deal with?  Is every child suddenly a prodigy or genius like Joshua Beckford?

I decided to do a bit of research on prodigies, how they grow and turn out when they eventually become adults. I took a particular interest in violinist and conductor named Julian Rachlin,this were his views in an article I read.

“Being told you’re a genius at 11 years old can wreak havoc on a child’s mind.”It’s very dangerous to be portrayed as that sort of prodigy because 99 percent of those prodigies don’t last very long,” says violinist and conductor Julian Rachlin. “I have never been treated by my friends and family as a prodigy. I have been treated as little Julian who loves making music, so I never felt a prodigy. the life of a child prodigy can either go one way (the bad way, in which all the pressure leads to failure and a lifetime of misery) or another, in which you’re Mozart and people still buy your music 200 years after you die”

What happened to all the motherly love, instinct, affection, bond? I know a dad would most times give consent to the mum when it comes to taking a decision on the child but how does a Mum feel sending off a child at such tender ages to face pressures that are not age-related. ( i feel a lot of hopelessness whenever I think of such a child)

A parent shared her frustrations on how companies request that applicants should not be more the age of 21 with a minimum of 3-year experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at our system and policies, I encouraged the mother to positively engage her children. This they could achieve by finding out what the child is passionate about, Overtime, experiences would be gained and also documented. But I left her with this mindset, “Are you working hard to get your child educated only to end up becoming someone else’s employee or are you grooming your child to become an employer of labour”.

Take a look at some of the financial giants around who honestly made their money from hard work, read their biographies and find out how they all started their journeys. In as much as I don’t support the age limit that some companies are requesting for, In terms of experiential requirements, I believe they are asking for individuals who can think on their own, are solution-oriented with the tenacity and ability to function on their own without little to no supervision. Bottom line, every company wants to hire the best hands to their business so that it’s growth could add to its a bottom line.

Parents need to understand that they are busy grooming half baked children. My advice for parents deciding to allow a child skip classes, ensure you conduct proper research to find out the advantages and disadvantages of the step they are about to take( read articles on the web, it’s swimming with a lot of information).  we are busy stealing their childhood all in the name of wanting them to be competitive or finish at a young age. Seek the opinions of the lecturers in our universities and they will share their daily experiences on students who came into school to early. Such children have been groomed to believe that such steps taken are in their best. They have been taught to be proud of themselves as they are ahead of their peers. (What happened to all our moral obligations)

We recommend, recognize, appreciate the laws and polices other countries practice and put in place. As a country, we earnestly yearn for a nation where such orderliness is observed and practiced. But with this act and attitude are we making or breaking the educational system in our country.

In the course of my research, I engaged a school placement consultant in the Uk, she just couldn’t understand or comprehend why a parent would want to engage in such a hideous act. She didn’t even believe such were actually going on.

We have policies guiding and stating what age a child is supposed to start school, Please I plead with every member of every policy enforcement agency existing in the education sector. I need for you to personally take time to find out the impact of hurrying a child. Go into the heart and mind of a child and know exactly how they feel. God help us and help humanity.

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