“I disagree”, I exclaimed.” I don’t think getting a progress report for a 3 year old kid is the right thing to do”. Naina did not react. She knew I was right. But women are women. She began to defend herself and shot at me, “Listen Khushi, it is not about the progress report, it is about Nihal’s lack of attention in the class. His teacher has been continuously telling me that he is naughty and just dances around. He sings songs and refrains from writing even a single alphabet.” Before I could even speak, Naina had already started crying. I couldn’t believe it. Naina was crying at her 3 year old kid’s progress report? I tried to pacify her and told her that Nihal was just 3 and this is the time when he should and must dance and sing around. Not sit in the class like an attentive nerd. Somewhere deep within Naina agreed but the mother in her was still upset.
This incident certainly triggered the thought that always runs at the back of my mind. In this hi tech age, do our children really enjoy their childhood? Are the schools in today’s world open to newer ways of teaching and learning? Are we looking at our children like lovely little buds who need time to grow up into a beautiful flower? For some this may sound very bookish / filmy. But the ones who agree with me know that our children are simply victimized. Yes, I reiterate, VICTIMIZED.
Last year my sister was running from pillar to post to find a suitable school for my little niece. The scenario was pretty frightening. Either the schools would demand a hefty donation or torture lovely little kids while conducting interviews. Yes, kids are getting interviewed. Sad. I always ponder, what are these school authorities going to ask the kid? And if the kid has to know everything beforehand why are we even sending our children to school? I am sorry if I sound rude but this idea of interviewing these lovely bunches of kids (Laddoos) makes me sick, really sick. Finally my sister found a school which neither burnt her pocket nor interrogated my niece about her capabilities. My sister (please read the entire family) heaved a sigh of relief. But then all good things come to an end. Very soon we realized the school was running a race, the race to make its kindergarten students “NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS” (It may sound like a super exaggeration but I somehow believe it’s true). End result? We are hunting for another school.
The other day a very close friend laughed and shared a very funny incident. She told me her son’s teacher was very upset because her son talks a lot in the class. He looks outside the classroom and dances around the classroom. My friend just laughed at it and said,” What does she expect out of a 4 year old bachha (child)?” This reminded me of my school days. I was a naughty kid, in fact very very naughty. I was so talkative that my kindergarten teacher nick named me as “Grand Ma of the class” (Yeah, yeah you can laugh at it). But the point is this never bothered my teacher so much. I am sure with so many children in the class my teacher must have been troubled with my non sense questions. Then why didn’t she ever moan about it? Instead I remember she would often encourage my questions. She motivated me to participate in story telling competitions (with my not so great English). This boosted my confidence and my trust in my teacher. When I would make mistakes she did punish me but at the same time corrected me. In today’s scenario, I believe everyone wants a disciplined kid.
Please do not get me wrong, I am neither asking the “teacher clan” to baby sit kids nor trying to teach people to do their jobs. I understand that it is every parent’s right to know about his child’s progress. But then that should not take away the child’s innocence from him.
Kids are meant to be naughty and playful. It is okay if they don’t learn something fast. Give them time, they will learn. It is alright if a nursery rhyme is sung differently. It is alright if a child doesn’t get good grades (the question still remains, what is a good grade?). I think it is unwise to even label them with grades. There is always a next time. In fact there is always time. Let them play pranks, let them be mischievous. Once they get in to the grind of life these memories will keep them going.
Some parents would disagree with me and think I believe in spoiling children. No, that’s not true. It is important to discipline children. It is important to teach those manners, good manners. It is necessary for your child to learn things in school. But how he learns it and at what pace should be decided by your child.
Well, at times I believe schools and teachers are only partly responsible in this act of “LEARN EVERYTHING NOW BECAUSE THERE IS NO TOMORROW”. Parents play an equal and sometimes more than equal role. There are parents who want their children to speak in English right from the time when they are born. I doubt if they wish they had given birth to SHAKESPEARE? Oh, I feel sorry for such kids. There is nothing wrong in teaching your children the global language. But tell me, is it right to keep a condition that THE GLOBAL LANGUAGE should be the only language spoken? Once while I was picking some grocery on a lovely weekend a kid came running to the vegetables section and shouted loud, “Maa, aam khana hai (Mom, I want to eat mangoes)”. The mother embarrassed for no reason replied, “Aam nahin beta, IT IS MANGO (It is not Aam my son, its MANGO)”. And I thought, may be calling it Aam makes it less nutritious. Grow up parents, if he has learnt Aam today, he will certainly learn MANGO tomorrow.
Sometimes parents are running a race too. They love to compare their children with the other children (sometimes of the same age and most of the times elder to them). Once a relative from Delhi told me, “My daughter is 5 already and she still can’t speak fluent English. The kids in her class are so fluent with it. I don’t know what to do?” I looked at her and thought to myself; thank god I was born 27 years ago. And thank god (again) that I was born to my mother because I started speaking English only when I was 9 and believe me I am still struggling with it.
What we lack in the so called competitive world of today is the courage to accept each kid as he/she is. Some have the capability to learn a new language with the snap of a finger, while some can cook up wonderful tales. Some can play video games pretty well while some love to run around the class. Some can sing songs and some can add subtract and multiply at the age of 5. Each kid is gifted. Each child is lovely, unique, wonderful and special. Love them, care for them and accept them. That’s all they need. Our children have to study more than just books; they have to study the world.
Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource - the minds of our children – Walt Disney.