I find it fascinating when I see the term “age-appropriate” or when I come across restrictions based on age. Like the Chicago Public School’s rule of starting Kindergarten at age five. And the standard, driver’s license at 16 and drinking at 21. Not to mention the PG-13 and NC-17 movies.
I rather imagine that these stipulations assume we would be better at handling certain situations when we are at a specific age. Regardless of the fact that we may be ready long before they say we are. Or when we’re not, the rules try to convince us we should be. I don’t know which is worse.
I understand the need for regulations to govern the masses, but some of these can be rather arbitrary and not always in the best interest of the individual. I never really gave this much thought until my own recent encounter with an age-based restriction.
My daughter is only three, but because she’s been in the three-year-old preschool class for this school year since her November birthday, she has been invited by her principal to move up to the four-year-old classroom after the summer. We’re proud of her, but mostly, we’re happy that she will be able to join her friends, many of whom will already be four, turning five.
We’re also relieved that Little Miss will not have to repeat the curriculum. That is, until the next year, when everyone in that class will attend kindergarten but her. Because she won’t be five by the time the school year begins, she’ll have to wait an entire school year before she gets there.
Nevermind that she did well in a school-readiness study of her this spring. Nevermind that her teachers say she can keep up with and sometimes surpass her older peers. Nevermind that she knows and writes her letters and numbers through 100, when she’s only expected to know up to 5. Nevermind that she may be able to do everything a five-year-old can. Because the system is blind to the individual, and because it says she can’t, she won’t be joining her friends in Kindergarten.
Since homeschooling and montessori are not options for us, she may have to repeat a year of the same stories, same songs, same lessons. My daughter isn’t Doogie Howser here, so it’s not like I’m asking her to be accepted into college. I’m just trying to make sure she continues to be interested and to be challenged in school. There will be many reasons for her to hate school in the future - I’m just hoping it won’t begin this soon.
But the rules are set, and the odds are against me.
And it defies logic.
Like it was fine for me to leave Malaysia at the age of 19, leaving behind my friends and family, to pursue an education and live on my own in a country where the culture is completely alien to me, but it was illegal for me to drink.
Like I could get married and buy a car, but I couldn’t rent one on vacation because I wasn’t 25.
I started my post saying age restrictions are fascinating, but after my rant, I’m going to go with stupid.
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This is part of Momalom's Five for Five series, where a group of bloggers write about the same five topics in five days. This post responds to the fourth topic, Age.
image from vintagegoodness.