Mother: “Son where are all your belongings – your uniforms, the pair of sandals and slippers I bought for you? What of the designer’s canvass, I bought the last time we travelled? Where are the dozens of singlet and boxers, you took to school two months ago”? asked the bewildered mother as she opened and closed the once full box which now beheld just a bed sheet and blanket.

For the umpteenth time Mrs Thomas fumed,” Charles are you deaf? Where are your belongings?”

Charles: With head bent low staring at his pairs of different sized shoes and praying that his mum doesn’t discover, he muttered “Mummy am very sorry, I lost everything, what you see in the box are the only personal things I can find, I promise I will be more careful next term”.

Too angry to say anything, she flung the box and started moving towards the administrative block of the school. She could not explain or understand how her son lost all that was bought for him within a space of two months plus!

Charles was just eight years old when he did a trial (as the parents claimed) entrance examination into secondary school and passed. What started as a trial examination turned into a reality, so at a young age of eight years plus, Charles was enrolled into secondary school as a boarding student. When most of his mates were still in Basic four or five, he was far away in boarding school struggling with maximizing his time on academics and other expectations.

The case above is just one out of many where parents for reasons best known to them whisk children to secondary schools at a premature age without taking into consideration the adverse effect of such decisions. A child of eight years on entering secondary school has classmates of nine, ten, eleven, twelve and in some cases thirteen and fourteen year olds, how will such child cope? In the boarding house, the abuse underage children experience is worse as he/she does not understand what life outside home means.

With so much confusion and homesickness, he loses concentration in academic work, and sometimes without strict supervision, lessons are missed, assignments not done, notes not properly copied and personal belongings lost.

Do we really blame the child? Doing so will be like sending an army for a combat with ill equipped weaponry, the result? Your guess is as good as mine. Yes agreed that the era we are in demands a lot from everybody in terms of knowledge, yet it is even more appropriate to have a solid foundation in preparing the education base of our children. Leaving the primary school for secondary education with their brain not fully developed for such depth of learning and other responsibilities will result in disillusionment on part of the child and waste of resources by parents due to the child’s inability to take care of his belongings. A child might be academically intelligent but other aspects suffer. How mature is the child? How independent can the child be?

In the above scenario, you will agree with me that if Charles was given two years or even more he would have understood better what it means to take care of personal belongings.

Considering the fact that such child is prone to peer influence and parents or relations who naturally have genuine interest in him are not there to answer his many questions, he has no other choice but to go to his mates in school who of course are older and more matured than him for advice which in most cases is not the best. This issue is not peculiar to only children in boarding schools; those who go from their houses equally face same challenges- the daily trauma of jumping from one bus to the other etc.

While we want the best for our children and on time too, we must remember that the quality of what we sow determines our harvest! If we send children that still need grooming in primary schools into secondary schools, we run a great risk of producing children who are disgruntled and less enthusiastic about the future. However, if we have made the mistake of sending them to secondary schools too early we can correct that by slowing their university education to avoid permanent damage.

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