Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Education, Childhood,Exposure to latest trends...

Over the past couple of months I have been thinking about play school and school for Chutku and having conversations with lots of collegues about which school, what to look out for etc etc; And sometimes I feel the needs I have from a school is not sufficient when I hear from the other parents. Or am I outdated?

Sometime back I was talking to a collegue who proudly said that she had admitted her 3 yr old daughter to pre-school in a really big school which was a long distance from her home. The travel time itself was around an hour. So I asked her if the poor child wouldnt get tired of the travel itself and how she can always  change the school at a later date... So her response was she was shelling out a cool 1lakh for the child's admission (donation) and the annual school fees was about 30K at that point in time which was subject to change year on year and admitting the child in pre-nursery itself gets them some discount(?!) too. And why so expensive - Because they teach everything there - yoga,karate,skating,swimming and guess what - even horse riding itseems!!

And a college friend of mine who had come to Chutku's 1st Bday party also commented the same "Hey RS, start saving for his school admission from now only..."  All these got me thinking and thinking real hard.

Personally, I would put Chutku is a school that is closer home, even if it is a smaller school with lesser number of children to ensure individual attention. Also, closer home means lesser travel time and more time to do other things. For me, other things would be playing on the streets in the evenings like I used to and after a couple of years or whenever he shows any interest - an hour of some hobby class... I wouldnt care for the swimming/karate/skating lessons, I would rather have PT classes or SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) or Art classes for the kids like we did where the kids got to just relax and play - play in the grounds, run around or just learn to use their little fingers... Im not even going to mention horse riding here - I really find that ridiculous in Bangalore.And its definitely not about the money either. What matters to me is my child is learning something in the school, is happy to go to school, making friends and participating in other activities. Extra curricular for me means the elocutions/debates/essay writing/singing/drama/Painting competitions that we had and I always participated in. Even Band Set and March Past for that matter! Do they even have a bandset in schools these days? *Mental note to check* As for the other activities - There is always summer vacations and hobby classes - for which I would definitely encourage him if he shows the least bit interest and yes, the onus is on us parents to expose him to all these things and let him decide. Also, in such a discussion like a cousin pointed out - having these activities in school releaves the parents from taking time off their busy schedules to ferry the kids to these classes, but at this point in time I think Im ready to do it. I admit I might end up eating my own words later, though!

*Digress - I used to be an active member of the bandset and played the flute for about 5 yrs - from 4th std to 8th std and then the Cymbol for the last 2 yrs in school. And I remember my Band Master and PT master making me do the marchpast in  the school grounds to show everyone else how it is done!! Also, since the marchpast music NEEDED cymbol - there have been days when bandset practice was cancelled because I was on leave.I also used to really enjoy the zilla and district level competitions we used to attend for these. *End Digression.

So you all tell me:

Am I still behind the curve in giving more proirity to the proximity of the school to home/day care?
Am I wrong in thinking that swimming/karate/skating lessons are all not really that important when I search for a school?
Will I be depriving my child if I dont really insist that he needs to go to all these classes even if he is not interested?
Will I become a negligent Mom if I insist that my child go out and play in the evenings after school instead of tutions and running around from one hobby class to another? If he is interested in anything then thats a different matter but I would still say that he has to have some play time...
Will my child become an under achiever if I dont push him to all these things?
Will he be laughed at by his friends (Peer pressure) because his parents are OK if he is not a topper in class all the time or he is not pushed off to some class or the other? (Im just hoping him to be an average student and I will be ok with it I think)
Im not even talking about the quality of teachers here because no matter how much you pay and where you go - there will always be good/bad/average/strict/favourite teacher... And that again depends on the student/teacher relationship that will build on its own I think...*Digress here - I used to be very fond of my kannada teacher though everyone else thought she was strict.And our Neela Ma'am who was our english teacher was loved by one and all*

Would love to know what you all Mommy's (Non-Mommys too) think/feel about this - what would your preferences for your Child's school be?

Edited to add on 15th Sep:
In response to Sangi's and RM's post: http://rushmechatter.blogspot.com/2011/09/happy-going-to-school.html


  1. While I am not the right person to ask these Qs...I will tell you from my experience

    1) R's school is about 15 minutes from our house, but for my selfish reasons so that I catch my office bus, I put her onto her school bus which takes about 45 minutes to reach her school. Am I wrong? Pata nahi! Her day care is far from our house about 6 kms or so...but its the best option available and she is used to it now. She comes back late in the evening from her daycare and does not play in the building..but she does spend about 1.5 hours doing unconstrutive play in her daycare...which is pretty decent I feel

    2) R's school has swimming classes after Sr.kg I think..while I do believe that these classes will help in the all round development of the child, you can always take them additionally right? you dont need to search for a school with the classes. Search for a good school with good teachers nearby your house or workplace and you can teach him all this stuff additional if you want.
    R's school as no such activities as of now, and I am not too bothered honestly!

    3) Of course not..while some kids do need a push, its stupid to force your child into anything..Initiate, gauge his response, if he doesnt like it forget it babes..

    4) Of course, unconstructive play is the most constructive thing on earth..dont bother about tuitions and classes..if he is interested send him, definitely initiate him at the right age, he wants to continue great, he doesnt want to, find out the reason why (sometimes a bad teacher or a bad batch mate can be the actual cause of dis interest) otherwise let him enjoy his childhood

    5) Err...people of laugh at average students are crazy!

    6) Yep every school has good/bad teachers..the key is to get the most out of them :)

    Take care babes, I did go through these feelings..now I am happy with R's school despite of it being a very average middle class school..thats all I could afford also

  2. Hi.. All your Qs (except the last one) go with a big 'NO' as an answer from me. And for the last qn., there could be 'peer pressure' but then, as kids, even we faced some kind of pressure from our friends and we did turn out the way we wanted to, right??

    I'm also very averse to the idea of making very little children travel for hours together to go to a 'good' school. Bringing up the children is the primary responsibility of a parent; schools just aide the parents in shaping a kid's future is my opinion.

    What's precisely the point in hammering the child with 'these' many classes? I would rather let the children take one thing at a time and the one thing will be which they like or prefer the most.

    I would prefer a happy average go-getter any day to a stressed-out excellent genius.

  3. You know this is something I agree strongly with. I feel like you do. Luckily right now, daughter's school is a 7 min walk away - we walk to school, and she has a ball running around on the way back. She does go to classes - but things she enjoys - dance classes and other things she loves. The thought of sending a child to a school which is 1 hr away feels so cruel. Plus when you live near school, most of the school friends are close by, and it is much more fun to plan to meet up.

    And also, she loves walking - sometimes we take a longer route - just for the fun of it.

  4. I am with you on all these extra activities. They are just that 'extra'. No way would I base the decision of sending my kid to schools with them.

    For now our criteria for Buzz's daycare is that it is good and close to our work so that we get to spend even the commute time with her. It was either that or someplace closer to home.

    We will see how things change as she grows up but for now we are happy with the place she goes. :)

  5. RS, this is a huge topic and obsession in Hong Kong as well. When Benji was a 12-week blob in my belly, my gynac told me: "Ok, looks fine. You can put him down for a school place." This is how competitive it is apparently. It is complicated by the fact that English-medium schools are in limited supply. Apparently, to get into some of the best schools at around age 4, kids have to have a portfolio of activities (now piano is not good enough because all kids play piano so another instrument is required). So apart from their own obsession with giving their kids a headstart, parents put their kids in all these activities at the pre-school age so they can have something for the portfolio. I find it all very ridiculous.

    I understand if parents feel they must do it because an increasing number of schools require a portfolio (as English-speaking expats we get priority in the International stream and so hopefully can avoid this). I also understand if parents are at a loss with what to do with their kids all day and so enroll them in these activities. But let's not argue it's for the greater good of the kids. Unstructured play that allows kids to use their imagination is very important and if kids go to so many structured activities where do they get the time to do that? Most HK kids look exhausted.

    For me, a school within a reasonable distance from home is important. I would rather compromise on school or shift home (this is possible in HK) than have my child expend energy on a commute. My other priorities would be teachers who are not physically abusive of the kids (so common in India) and clean toilets. These latter two would be givens in Hong Kong but have a feeling that in India, one would have to choose the more expensive schools to fulfill this (please tell me I'm wrong).

    I don't think your kid will suffer from not being at the 'best' school or doing hazaar activities. Neither my husband nor I went to the best school and we did more seemingly timepass playing in our freetime than extracurriculars. I find we are more than able to compete globally with people who had a much more prestigious education.

  6. @ RM: 1. OK let me correct my sentence - The school can be close to office (Mine or spouse)or home - just so that 1 parent atleast can be reached in case of an emergency.And I think I read in a previous post that RD's office IS closer to R's school - na?
    And she IS getting more than an hour's play in the day care with other kids and perhaps lots more toys and exposure to just being herself - what more do you want? - Tahts the best...
    2. Exactly my point - why search for a school with all these
    extras' which can be learnt outside otherwise and without a time constraint -for eg:why should I push my child in water at age 3 if he is scared just because its compulsary or other kids are doing it? I would rather wait until he is 6-7 and decides for himself that he likes water and wants to learn to swim...
    3.Agree-no pressure- but ensure that the child gets enough exposure - say 5 classes of any hobby before deciding yes/no - but if those 5 classes need a push - I will do it...
    4.Thats a good point - to figure out WHY he doesnt want to do something - a point to keep in mind...Thanks!
    5/6 - I know :-( Sad but true...

    As long as the child is happy going to school everyday - I think thats the best measure of how good the school is for your child...

    @S&S: Thanks for dropping by here :-) I Love this sentence: I would prefer a happy average go-getter any day to a stressed-out excellent genius.

    @Smitha: You walk to school with your daughter? Wow! Im so J!! :-) I can imagine the one-one time you get to spend with her.And welcome here...

    @Comfy:She happy - you happy na? And I understand the commute part - That is my one-on-one time with Chutku too - the 1.5 hrs of travel one way every day...

    @Bride: :-O 12weeks and school already? I shudder to think how much stress the kids go through :-(

  7. Wrote a long comment and then blogger said error! Darn it! Shall just post now, I think and link in. Because there's drafts that get saved. Seriously....thought I said everything I wanted to in the right words. Darn it!

  8. Wrote the post. Not sure if I will be welcome here hereafter....but here goes!


  9. Hi RS,
    I am also looking for a pre-school for R that is closer to home and am not interested in fancy stuff. They need unstructured activity at this stage. Extra-curricular activities are important but not when they become a burden for the child and the child does not enjoy them. The key is probably to recognize the aptitude of the kid and hone the skill accordingly. What is best for the crowd need not be the best for our kids. And S&S's last line- I would prefer a happy average go-getter any day to a stressed-out excellent genius- sums up my opinion too.

  10. @Sangi - Your post is awesome! And Im going to link it here too! And ofcourse I was waiting for your opinion and of any other Moms too! :-D Thanks for that post!

  11. I read this yesterday and went into some introspection. Finally, I come back here to day to comment :)
    Firstly, my twins go to a school that is barely 5 mins away by car.
    Secondly, it must be the cheapest school in this city :D
    Thirdly, there are no extra-curricular activities like swimming/skating/yoga, etc.
    The kids go for 3 hours a day, spend time playing in the campus, do some random crafts, and sometimes, even go off to sleep.
    For the record, my kids are nearly 3yrs old and are in nursery.
    My objective of sending them to school may differ from that friend of your's who spent lakhs on her child. I want my kids to learn to stay away from home/parents and get used to the idea that we may not always be around to keep them busy.
    I want them to learn only things within their means. Skating will come when its time, I'm not aiming at entering my children into any contest for the youngest skater or anything.
    I'm satisfied with the school because -
    1) The kids like going there.
    2) They have learned to make friends and enjoy their company.
    3) They have learned to respond to authority and yet claim their class-teacher is their best friend.
    What else should I expect from 3yr old toddlers??!!
    As for the rest of your worries (regarding chanelling their time into arts/music/painting,etc) I think you are the best judge as to when the kids should be initiated into them. I make my twins discuss/talk about what they feel. I keep asking them questions (not the GK kind :) ), so that they learn to express themselves well. I sit down with them and pallettes of paint and let them do what they want with the colours. I sing them songs and rhymes (though they usually beg me to stop :D ). In Oct, when it is hot, we plan to initiate the twins into swimming, not the formal kind, but just to let them enjoy the feel of water on their bodies.
    This is just my way of doing things. And I personally feel satisfied with the progress of my children :)

  12. @Uma-I agree with S&S too...
    @MomOfRS - Hey! Thats what I am looking for Chutku too - a place he can be himself away from home - comfortable and happy.But looking at the parents going to such extents as to put their kids in such schools and their reasoning is what made me put up this post in the first place - am I outdated? sochke...

  13. Hey RS,

    My mind went through so many thoughts to be jotted down as a comment to this post. But damn! My work place internet policies are strange... I can read your posts but somehow unable to comment from there. Anyway, I try to come home and drop my comments here but missed it... Honored to know that you value my feedback... You made my day!!! Yayay!

    Anyway, here goes...
    1. I too am of the opinion that the school has to be either close to home, or one of the parent's office. Travelling really sucks out all the energy out of me. Well, even if I need to travel an hour or more a day, I would then perhaps go for a school near to my work place. So that I can spend that valuable time with my kids. You are certainly not behind the curve lady!

    2. I too wouldn't absolutely care if the school had no superficial activities. The current school that my kids go to conducts random events now and then based on occasions which they enjoy. They had a fruit salad party today and we were asked to send one fruit each. They got together and cut fruits (ofcourse the teacher did) and arranged cut pieces on toothpicks. They even brought one fruit toothpick each for me and hubby. I am content with these small pleasures.

    3. No you are not depriving him of anything as long as you try to initiate and give the required push and like RM said you must also know where to stop pushing! You will discover his likes and dislikes soon. I can distinguish between Mantam already... The very fact that you are brainstorming in this direction itself is a proof that you will do the best for him.

    4. Playtime is very important for a child. Nowadays I see that recreation for children is mostly restricted to indoors. That too they are addicted to TV and video games. I cannot send them out to play as yet coz there are no kids in our apt. So I make it a point to spend a quality 1 hour with them where we sing, dance, play, draw, colour, photoshoot, just have some fun!

    5. No I don't think so. There are kids who need that extra push, you need to figure that out. For ex, Mannu daily comes home and asks me if any homework was sent. She will diligently bring pencils the pencil box and insist on doing the homework. But Tammu is a lazy bum. I have to motivate her to do her homework. She does it only when I give her that required push...

    6. No he will not be laughed at by his peers. Infact I think his frenz would be jealous of him for having such cool parents. :-D

    And most important of all (as you said in the other post) is that at the end of the day if your child is happy going to the school and you see positive developments in him, you can be rest assured that you are on the right path baby! Aha!