First things first. What does an IIT admission stand for? It stands for multiple things for the students and parents but first and foremost is pride. The pride of being an achiever not just for the student but for the whole family. The pride that this is the best possible result for a student after passing out from school. An IIT admission stands for a bunch of promises. A promise that the best minds will innovate together, a promise that the mind will opened to various possibilities, a promise that the struggle for basics is over.
So, for parents who are ambitious and sold on to the dream of their children securing an IIT admission, a frequent question in their minds is what is the right age for their kid to start preparing?
Preparing for the JEE has two aspects – readying the child’s mind to be an engineer and preparing for the JEE exam itself along with strategies.
The first aspect is important. However, parental ambition can drive students towards part 2 skipping part 1 altogether. Students who jump into JEE exams without preparing their minds are not ready. This can be disastrous both for students with border line capability and students who are well on track to secure an IIT admission.
If you are parents who have the ambition that your child should study at IIT, its best to prep your kids’ minds during the formative ages of 11 to 15. This need not be accompanied by an active exam preparation because once your kid’s mind is ready, the actual course preparation won’t take more than 2 years.
How to ready your child?
Take your child to an IIT, connect with a few professors to give your child a first hand feel of what happens at IIT. Read up about the students at IIT and what career paths
they have followed. Link it to what your child likes: travel, research, cars etc. Let the seed of a vision be created. Also make them aware of alternative career choices. The goal is that the child feels himself or herself feels that the IITs are the place to be if the child dreams of a future in technology. If the vision is clear, the path and strategy automatically get set.
But avoid too much stress too early. Don’t make your kids hate you and studying. Very few kids in class 5 would care much about JEE preparation.
Let the choice be your kids. If the child feels a need and urge to start preparing for IIT from age 11 onwards, then so be it. For children who are not ready, show patience. Your kids deserve a childhood with play; not just academics. If your child starts preparing after the age of 15, it’s not necessarily going to set her back.
If you are worried about your child succeeding, get him to enjoy learning. Educational apps have made this easy and cheap. Some of the apps follow gamification / positive reinforcement. Resources like Duolingo, code.org, Fundamentor help.
The parents’ key role is that of a mentor and a provider to enable their child’s success. Remember, JEE is not the end of the world. Life is long and most successful people in the world did not necessarily go to the IITs.
Career success is a long drawn journey and academics is one of the foundations. The other key foundation is life skills. Life skills are directly related to experience and critical thinking abilities/ cognitive aptitude. That is why cognitive aptitude is tested at various stages of life. Parents can do well to concentrate on this other key metric of career success – cognitive aptitude development.
In a nutshell, our sincere advice – Don’t force on your child more than he or she can handle!