Monday, April 11, 2011

Why do we parents worry so much about our children's education?

I'm stumped with Sonny Boy. Today was his first day at "summer camp". His playhome is having about two hours of it spread over 15 days, so I said why not? It's his familiar environment, his friends will be around, plus some new kids...he'll get to do something in a group and will be IN THE COMPANY OF KIDS
But he went today kicking and screaming!!!

Last night, while I was trying to get him excited/accepting of summer camp, he clearly told me he does not want to go to this school again! He said he doesn't want the same teachers and the same school. He wants "hosa" (new) school. Then added he wants to go to a "big children's school". Jeeez...just when I had resolved that he'll continue in this playhome. I've been trying to ask him what he doesn't like about the place, why he won't go....I've done this before but with no great results. But his NO last night was vociferous.

So I'm in a dilemma again. Must I listen to him? Does it mean anything? Or is it just a general refusal to go to school leaving behind parents/grandparents?If I change playschool now, will he be happy? If I give in now and change school, will he ask for a change if he takes a dislike to that new place? aaargh it's frustrating.

How many of us really go through so much thinking about which school to put our kids in. I was chatting with my dad and figured when I needed to be put in school as a kid, they were clear of two things -- it had to be a girls' school and a convent at that, because, well, a "convent education" was good! It had to be nearby and affordable. So they put me in the neighbourhood convent where my older cousin sis went! That's it. It was as simple as that! My dad laughs and says they never enquired whether it was ICSE/SSLC. "I had no clue about all that" dad said. Even now, as we discuss Sonny Boy's education, my dad has simply decided he'll go to the nearest/most affordable school. That's it.

And here I am letting my brain explode worrying:
2. Does the school only stress on academics or co-curricular activities also of importance to them?
3 All boy's/co-ed?
4. criteria: nearby/good school (even if it's far off?)
5. mainstream/alternate?
6. normal-old-time-conventional/hep-with-it-modern-day
7. I worry sick if the school has a playground -- most don't!

I worry about sending him to "big" schools where kids of rich parents come, but where the "exposure" and "opportunities" are better. We're by no means affluent, and am scared if kid demands the privileges his peers have. I know that's not the point of school. But these are things that come along with school, and boy! Have i heard some horror stories. Will alternate schooling give him a privileged edge, a chip on the shoulder....what? what?

But then, am I curbing his aspirations by putting him in a school where these things don't matter much. What if he turns back at me when he grows up and asks why didn't you put me in school A/school B. Or worse still what if he asks him why I didn't give him a "better" education/opportunity?

I was chatting with my aunt's friend (a teacher for over 20 years), and asked her if her kids ever came back and asked her why she sent them to the neighbourhood school. She said yes. Her son did feel disappointed that he didn't have the confidence, neither the English-speaking skills that his friends from other "big schools" had when he went to college... he was disappointed but she pointed out that he was doing as well as the "other" kids and that he had moved ahead based on his own talent.

I'm just saying the decision making for us as parents has gotten so much more harder -- with more choice.
Like all things that leave us confused with choice, so does our children's education.

 And then again, me and Hubby wonder -- what's the purpose of all this education?  In the race of life, it's to get the marks to get into college. Then "job". Really...but the human interactions, the people around at this time of life, the sense of achievement/learning leave such a crucial impact on their life, it's hard not to worry.

Then there's the pressure not to put pressure on the child! it's that. No I'm joking. But I really don't want him to bury his face in books, doing homework and "mugging" texts all the while.

What do I want from his schooling? That's a question I'm still unable to answer for myself. I mean, if i could, then I would know for sure where I want to enroll him. Even my own expectations of the education system is complex i guess, but what it has to offer is equally complex...

I know I'm rambling and just going directionless...but then that's the point of my blog, right? What my head is crammed with i put down here because I can't drive everyone crazy with my anxieties


Garima said...

Very valid question about school/ confusions and second guessing. i admire you for being so upfront about this and so candid.
I relaly cant help in anyways, excpet supprt and say: When you go for the school tour, you'll just know. It feels clean, happy place for kids and meets your sensibilities.
Ok that really does not help.

About him not going to the summer camp. There may be something more than that:
Are his friends going to big kid school? Has he been listening to your conversations about the move? And most importantly, is there a kid/ teacher whom he does not like at all?

I am facing this with V, she hated one class terribly and would scream bloddy murder everytime we went there. By lots and lots of coaxing, i realised it was a teacher she didnt like!

uma said...

Hi..agree with Garima about the summer camp..maybe it is some kid/s or the teacher..
I share your anxieties about the rich kids atmosphere that some-or most?- schools these days have. I really dont want the flaunt-the-best-and-most-expensive attitude for my son.
choices are surely tougher for us parents today than it were for our parents..

Aparna said...

It's brilliant how you put down the questions that have been rolling around in most parents minds, and then call it rambling :).

My two cents on how we decided on some of these:
1. CBSE was a familiar medium since I studied in it, but we weren't rabidly against ICSE if the reputation of the school was good. State Board - just unfamiliar for me, and not many SSLC schools were on our list.
2. We decided no international schools mainly because of exorbitant fees and we felt needing to pay for 2 children (when our son needs to join in another 3 years) would be difficult if I continue my SAHM status.
3. Decided against alternate type of schools - As parents we weren't ready for a completely non-competitive kind of environment that you hear about in some of these schools. We strongly feel that competition is something you have to live with throughout your life, and even if not about winning all the time, getting exposed to it in school is important.
4. Co-ed - don't know how important this is but again to do with familiarity as both me and hubby were in co-ed.
5. We wanted both curricular as well as extra-curricular. Traditional but a touch of modern if possible ;).
The school which was our first priority was Kumarans - we've heard about it first-hand from cousins who've done their entire schooling there - knew the good and the bad and could take an informed decision.
Sorry for writing a blog entry in your comments :).

Anonymous said...

Hi, enjoy reading your blog... I think the fundamental thing we want our kids to be is happy, successful and good human beings and so we struggle with all our decisions... just like our parents struggled, though I like to think that we struggle more with our kids :). Today's worry is which school, tomorrow its about which university, day after its going to be which job.... never ends... in the meantime, just go with your 'parental instinct'. Surely your heart will tell you if you want your child to travel a long way to a good school; similarly with other quandaries. It will all boil down to one school - mostly. If you look at the big picture, as long as you broadly do the right things, cant go much wrong, as our parents did !

brightspark said...

The title of your blog should be what is lost in your post- what do I really want from my child's education? In my opinion that is the crucial question! Do we actually want them to become what we and society is grooming them to be?

That is why school is important but not more important than the environment at home...time spent mulling on what happens in school...

Chatty Wren said...

Hi, I think we as parents, and maybe Indians, are programmed to have this worrying thought. It's
always been education and degrees earned that set one apart even in our generation. And that meant competition. On the job front, it is only today that alternatives to engg., medicine, CA, etc are considered acceptable and lucrative careers, based on once interests, capabilities, talents. Yes, there are other issues like having a holistic approach to education and learning, extra-curriculars, sports, being encouraged to decide for yourself, encouraging individuality and so on so forth that a regular school may not be able to provide and ought to be encouraged by parents/elders at home. My thoughts. Hope you are happy with your decision.