I met the parents of one of the children who attended summer camp at Jhoola Activity Centre in one of the shopping malls. The mother knew me already and introduced me to the father as the teacher at Jhoola. After exchanging pleasantries, the father told me that in four years this is the first class that his child is happy about coming to. The child who has innate interest and talent in drawing refused to go to even a drawing class is what the father further told me. The mother had already told me that they never force the child to go to any class and that if he is unhappy they pull him out, which most parents don’t understand or realize.
Unfortunately, when it comes to children, we don’t think about happiness enough. We think about success, we think in comparisons, we think about trophies, prizes etc. We want the child to excel in everything that we end up enrolling the child in multiple extra-curricular activities that the child has absolutely no interest in. Little do we realize that most of these do not make our children happy in any way.
Once upon a time, childhood was nothing but endless time spent outside just playing. We played, learned, socialised and most importantly had fun. Today’s children have their life so mechanized that they do not have time to explore or have real fun. Life is far too scripted today. Plans are made. Classes are attended. Gone are the days of free play and creating something out of nothing. Many children today are simply following a script that they would free themselves from if given a chance.
Not all children have interest or aptitude in music or dance or chess or other routine fine-art classes but most children are enrolled to one or two of these classes. We somehow try to link everything with academic success and enroll children in handwriting classes, abacus and what not! Everything ends up becoming mechanical and stressful for the child that he/she no longer enjoys the most beautiful of life’s seasons – Childhood!
They are not just let be! How can we change this? Let us try to let them decide what they want to do in their free time, to let them play, to let them socialise, to let themselves be just themselves, to let them explore, to let them think and last but not the least, to let them just have fun! And in this whole process, children reinvent themselves, find out their passion, identify new hobbies and LEARN!