Home Blogs Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XV

Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XV

Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XV

If children learn in radically different ways, why do we insist on teaching them all in the same manner? And what do we lose by teaching children in ways that are not matched with how they learn best?

A series of articles on education in the form of a multi-installment letter to the parents

By Anjum Altaf

Dear Parent,

Let us get straight away to a discussion of HOW a child should be taught in the first three years of school.

I concluded the last letter by asking you to consider how learning objectives could be accomplished: “Is there only one way to do so? Or, are there different ways of achieving the same outcome? Can some ways be better than others? Can there be some ways that are completely ineffective or just plain wrong?”

The important word in this set of questions, and on which my argument is based, is “different.” I will develop the argument from a starting point that should be obvious to parents who have more than one child. Recall, how many times you have told visitors to your home that your children are “completely different from each other.”

This drives home the (unsurprising) point that even siblings can be very different. When you move further afield and compare your child to that of neighbors, there is absolutely no doubt left. The fact is that ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT in one way or another. Once we realize this fact, we can move on to consider its implication for early childhood education.

It would help to first consider the nature of some of these differences. Quite a few are well-known to parents: Some children begin to talk much earlier than others; some begin to walk faster than others; some are hyperactive; some are relaxed; some want to engage actively with people and things; others would rather be left to themselves; etc., etc.

Such differences become obvious because they are visible. But there are other differences that are invisible and go unnoticed unless one consciously looks out for them. Some of these are important for early childhood education and educationists have devoted a lot of time and effort studying them and adapting the methodology of teaching with them in mind.

In this letter I will not go into the details of this research but mention only the one critical difference that should convince you of the case I am making:


Some children are much more visually oriented — they learn best by having something to look at. Others are much more aurally oriented — they learn best by hearing about things. Yet others are experientially oriented — they learn best by feeling things in their hands and playing with them. Some children learn best in groups, others on their own by themselves. You can imagine these ideal types growing up to become architects, playwrights, engineers, communicators, or philosophers. With hindsight, you might say your child was always destined for such a vocation because of the traits you noticed in his or her childhood. But think also of the mismatches — how many children there are who could have been excellent designers but have become indifferent doctors because schools have not uncovered their natural talents, or worse, smothered them with unimaginative teaching.

The questions that should arise in your mind immediately are the following:

If children learn in radically different ways, why do we insist on teaching them all in the same manner? And what do we lose by teaching children in ways that are not matched with how they learn best?

I am leading you to the conclusion that the first years of education should be devoted less to teaching and more to discovering how a child learns best and then tailoring his or her education to take advantage of that natural orientation and ability — haste makes (terrible) waste.

Those who have not reflected on this dimension of education will immediately throw up their hands and say it cannot be done. I will try and convince you in the next letter that this objection is without merit. Education tailored to the abilities of a child is very much possible and I will provide examples of how it can be achieved.

Your child deserves a customized education and a customized education is possible.

I will leave you with a stark analogy that may strike you as bizarre at the outset but may prove rewarding if pursued with an open mind:

A farm-raised chicken is less expensive than a desi one. Which one do you prefer? Why? What do you believe leads to the difference? Think of how the two are raised and nurtured and some mysteries may begin to be resolved.

Till next time.


Dr. Anjum Altaf

[author title=”Anjum Altaf ” image=”https://sindhcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Anjum-Altaf.jpg”]Former Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) [/author]

For previous letters, click on:  Letter 1Letter 2Letter 3Letter 4Letter 5Letter 6Letter 7Letter 8Letter 9 , Letter 10 Letter 11Letter 12Letter 13, Letter 14