By Hasina Khan
Disclaimer: Neither me nor my child are some super intelligent beings, with some supreme mental abilities. We just try to build ourselves upon the small lessons we learn every day. This piece of writing is an attempt to highlight some of the relevant efforts of teachers of Early Childhood development centre, and their relation with children in their early ages – that appeared to be ignored during the upbringing and development of children in Pakistan.
“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” ~ Jess Lair
It’s interesting how a child’s small brain holds a world in it. There are obviously universes within universes that a child can explore endlessly, learning something here, something there – at the very least picking up interest for specific things and growing talent and tendencies along the way. Yet, a child cannot cover a universe, or, even perhaps an ounce of what lies within it. A lifetime is not long enough (though one can try, and my daughter has been fortunate enough to have the privilege of knowing some exceptionally well informed teachers in her school); still exploration, discovery is a wonderful thing for her.
In that spirit, as I write, I keep hearkening back to a question answer session with my daughter that happened recently. Her teacher is very learned person. She is of course specialized in ECD – or one could say she has worked harder. In any case, she taught the greatest lessons to her students at school. However the recent conversation revealed something about my daughter’s schooling and I found fairly difficult to wrap my mind around – a lack of my own understanding of world map, divisions and boarders, differences in flags, the importance of it thereof, and why it has not been taught at our foundational years of education regardless of having a great significance in education process( I can convincingly talk about only the Asian states, some European states and few more but her [my daughter’s] teacher can of course teach better than I can. What I was surprised by was that this is a person who knows my child well, her likes and dislikes her level of understanding, what’s the most relevant information for her to feed and the extent to which she can learn.
Now tell me how would you feel when your 2 years kid asks you questions like; what is the capital city of South Korea?, How many continents are there in the world? Which country’s flag has a lion in it? And sometimes finding and inch tap to measure her parent’s height. Well, thrilled, overwhelmed, blissful and delighted are just very small words to describe the feelings but of course you also wonder where and how come on earth that little creature has learnt all this greatest information from, especially when you are a parent who doesn’t even know that Korea is divided into two parts [North and South], at that point your exhilaration grows folded. It offers a prospect to test your child’s learning ability and at the same time you also start knowing and exploring things. Something similar transpired for us last night. We all [my husband, I and my niece] were having dinner and my toddler interrupted and refused to take next byte before I would tell her the answers of the questions she raised. One wonder’s if she knows the answers herself or random questions arose in her subconscious mind. Well, there is no any giant within her or no any super power appeared within her for a couple of minutes and then disappeared, but it was something she was well aware of. Without amplification, I ran towards my room where I have pasted a world map – on her teacher’s request – and started finding where on earth this South Korea is located (I repeat I wasn’t even aware of South Korea, I just knew there is a country called korea) “don’t judge me I am from a different generation” was something which I was repeating to myself and the people around. Everyone was downright since they also didn’t know; otherwise we are not that patient people to wait for a child to solve the puzzle. While i was searching for South Korea on Map my daughter followed me and started giving me hints “mama baby country, small small south Korea”, my heart beat started mounting as I wasn’t sure whether it was a moment of embarrassment , guilt or delight. However, I helped myself to feel comfortable with the process of my daughter being my teacher. After some 2 and half minutes, I finally found South Korea by following the tips and hints of my daughter and to my greatest surprise she was right – Korea is divided into two parts; North and South, since she asked me about South Korea so I stopped both my sight and finger on it. But then I realized that she has questioned about the capital of South Korea so finding it was another game. I then surrendered and said “please tell me the answer I don’t know”, she proudly stated that Seoul is the capital of South Korea. I tried to act normal and asked the one I knew. Yes, you are right I asked her, ‘what’s the capital city of Pakistan’, and of course she knew it and told me the answer Islamabad. I then found a different level of inclination and exhilaration in asking questions and then getting correct answers and kept on asking about few more but then figured out then she doesn’t know about the capitals of every country in the world but few, which is also not humanly possible. So, I accepted and moved on. While the question answer session was still on I heard a voice of my husband asking us to join them again on dinner. That day brought a different level of contentment and excitement to our little world that the daycare and ECD we choose for our daughter is the perfect of all our decisions we made in our life. We realized that her teacher – who is indeed more than her mother – is doing a noble job along with her team. We then realized that there is no any specific age for a human to learn a specific lesson but it’s about the perfect things you choose to teach. Hence, we accepted that this school of our daughter is not only giving lessons to our daughter but to her whole family. This school has made my toddler capable to think differently, thus she is capable of showing interest in things she loves the most.
Let’s try not to take credit for the things you don’t do and appreciate those who actually deserve it.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the rights of children. Children comprise over 45 per cent of Pakistan’s total Population and only 66% of children are enrolled in primary education. The age of 1-5 are the foundational years for a child’s learning and development, so it’s a basic right of every child to go to school and learn the advanced study material but unfortunately that seems something impossible especially in the context of Pakistani society. People are divided into various segments according to their social statuses. Thereof, children belonging from lower classes are deprived of their basic right. Today, is the perfect time to remember those children who don’t have access to education – quality education- On this special occasion lets promise ourselves to help those children who are in need of our attention and resources, let’s try to save some resources for them and contribute our part in making Pakistan a progressive state and more importantly livable for less-privileged ones.