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“My child is mature, big in body size, old enough to face
pressure, brilliant.” These are some reasons a couple of ladies I met in a
store gave for encouraging their children to skip certain classes in primary or
secondary schools.

I believe a lot of parents want to be celebrated like the
parents of the 14-year-old Nigerian prodigy called Joshua Beckford who
graduated from the University of Oxford at a very young age, but I can’t but
wonder how he would manage his educational achievements, taking into
consideration his age.

Some of these young children end up being stuck in a
situation they aren’t ready for or mature and experienced to handle. Some
parents decisions are based on financial consideration. But for the parents,
it’s just based on what I call “PARENTAL PEER PRESSURE”.  A lot just want to brag about what young age
their children attained their educational achievements and are not concerned
about how the children feel or if they actually understand what they are up or
in for.

A single mum, who does menial jobs to cater for her two
sons, shared how she was encouraged to allow her son 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 or no education and a meagre source of
income could take the decision to ensure her son stayed back for the full 6 years
in primary school, what’s happening to those I believe should know better.

Does anyone truly understand the pain, struggles, confusion
these children have to deal with?  Is
every child suddenly a prodigy or genius like Joshua Beckford?

In a bit of research on prodigies, how they grow and turn
out when they eventually become adults, I took a particular interest in the
violinist and conductor, Julian Rachlin. Rachlin said, “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. 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 father would most times give consent to the mother when it comes
to taking a decision on the child but how does a mother feel sending off a
child at such tender age to face pressures that are not related to this age.

Another parent who pleaded anonymity shared her frustrations
on how companies request that job applicants should not be more than 21 years
with a minimum of 3-years 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,
requisite experiences would be gained and documented.

In as much as I don’t support the age limit that some
companies request, in terms of experiential requirements, I believe they are
asking for individuals who can think on their own, who are solution-oriented
with the tenacity and ability to function on their own with little or no
supervision.

But parents need to understand that it takes time to nurture
a child and by hurrying them, they are grooming half-baked children. It is
important for parents to critically examine the effects of putting their kids
under pressure before taking steps about pushing their children forward early;
because the childhood of these children are stolen all in the name of wanting
them to be competitive or to finish at a young age.

We should encourage our children to study, play and
generally enjoy their childhood and grow up gradually and systematically. Those
who are prodigious will stand out not one-eyed kings in the class of the blind.
We should recommend, recognize, appreciate the laws and policies other
countries practice and put in place. We should continue to yearn for a nation
where such orderliness is observed and practiced. But with this attitude of
racing the child down in education are we making or breaking the educational
system in our country.

We have policies guiding and stating what age a child is
supposed to start school. It is necessary for the relevant authorities in our
educational system to ensure strict enforcement of those policies and punish
defaulters. At the end of the day, children and their future is ours to
protect. God help us to help our children and promote the greater good of our
country and humanity.

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