Parents are unsure about right age for nursery admission

Waiting outside a private matriculation school in Perungudi, Maheshwari is pleased talking about all that her child has learnt since he joined the pre-school four months ago. “He can write letters from A to L and numbers from 1 to 50,” Maheswari beams, talking about her son who turns three this May. “It would be the right age to continue with LKG in the same school,” she says.

While the rush for nursery admission has started in schools, many parents are still in a fix about the age when their child should be admitted to school and whether the child would have an age-appropriate curriculum. Many schools have different age criteria.

Most matriculation schools consider admission for students who have completed three years as on May 31 or June 30, while CBSE schools want the candidates to have completed three-and-a-half years. There are exceptions such as the Kendriya Vidyalayas where the minimum age for admission to class I require that the child be of minimum five years as on March 31 and maximum of seven years as on the same date. With the mushrooming of play and pre-schools and no regulation on them, experts say much of the concern is if the child is being robbed of his/her childhood in the new environment by loading too much curriculum.

In most matriculation schools, LKG curriculum seeks to teach the child to write the alphabet and numbers and recite rhymes. In UKG, three-letter words are initiated and cursive style of writing is taught. If the child has already been to a play school then much of all this has already been taught. Experts say the time spent by a child in a play school (two-and-a-half to four years) should be minimal, with no formal writing. It should be a place to socialise and play.

A primary school teacher from a matriculation school says parents today are demanding and some of them compare between Boards, so they are forced to revise the curriculum.

According to A. Shahin Sultana, Reader, Department of Social Work, Pondicherry University, much of the problem is because there is no consensus among states about the age limit to be followed. If an age limit can be arrived at, then a national curriculum can also be framed, based on which states can adopt and make changes to suit their needs, she says.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012