In my last post I talked about my expectations from schooling. I then reached out to my friends – mothers, some of whom are professionals, some who have paused their careers for their children, some in India, some abroad, mothers of boys and girls asking them why they sent their kids to school.
This is what they told me:
Social Interactions and Social Etiquettes: This was on top of the list. Kids learn to make friends, engage with kids their age, learn how to socialise and find their space in the social ladder at school.
Access to Resources: Schools provide easy access to opportunities we would struggle to provide others. Be it subject matter experts, facilities, infrastructure or access to co-curricular activities, there is no replacement to schools.
To provide them a structured Routine: Structured schedules in a structured environment. Timetables, figuring what to carry to school each day, working around timed assignments, managing their resources, books and the discipline that comes with it is a crucial life skill they pick up at school.
To learn Independence: Kids step out of a protective space and find their own voice at schools. They are introduced to competition, learn about consequences and figure their individuality as well as their role in the community. They learn to deal with their problems and find solutions for themselves. They learn tools and ways to express themselves and even work out what emotions to hide.
Me TIME: This was a big one for moms. A time away from their children to feel more sane, do adult-stuff and just get a break from the drama of managing kids and their affairs is what schools gift the moms.
This bit we all can connect with.
But it was surprising how just one parent talked about school as a place for ‘learning’ or knowledge building. No parent said I send my kids to school learn Maths, Science, Languages or any subject they actually have books for.
The space for education no longer seems to be the go-to for actual learning. That, most often, happened at home, with tutors, parents and in classes away from actual school time.
Yet, the pressure continues on children to do well in tests we could not care less about.
It is important to rethink what we do and why we do it.
If our priority for children is happiness and human interaction, then what we should be assessing is the Emotional Quotients of their lives and not just what they know.
If our need is for them is to grow up into better humans, our questions to them should centre around them.
So today, change the dialogue from “what did you learn” to “how was your day?”
“What questions did you cover in class” to “were you kind to others?”
“How are you feeling? Did something upset you? Is something or someone bothering you?
Did you share a meal? Did anyone need your help? Did anyone help you with something?
Do you need help with anything?“
In these questions, they see what matters.
And in these conversations, they learn that what matters to us most is THEM.
Their wellbeing above any and every grade they get home.