Fears of a parent whose child is in Primary Years!!!
Standard 1, ICSE… the grade and board of my 6-year-old. My little one was stepping into the Primary! During the pre-primary years, I was ecstatic when my son clearly enjoyed school from Day 1. My initial thought was, “This is going to be a breeze. He enjoys school. It will be easy managing his studies as well as activities”. Boy, was I wrong!!! Pre- primary was all fun and games. The teachers were lenient, kids got away with small mistakes, and the focus was more on creative and extracurricular activities. Two years of Junior and Senior KG just flew by.
My son’ s school has a system of changing divisions every two years till Grade 2. Junior & Senior KG have the same division and Grade 1 & 2 also have the same division. However, the transition from Pre Primary to Primary brought a change of division along with the first disappointment – the best friend was transferred to a different division. Instant mood change from cheerful to tearful! After a lot of drama eventually we found a few kids from his pre-primary division in his class. All settled to everyone’s relief!
Soon, the vacations ended and it was time for Grade 1. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t expect such an uphill battle. The school follows a system of bench bags i.e. all books, even textbooks are kept in school and sent home once in 15 days for review. My son is one of those silent ones who never tells me anything that happens in school. So, I am a clueless mother most of the time.
School started. The number of subjects increased. A 2nd language was introduced. The studies commenced and they started with a bang!! Kids who used to be pampered by their pre-primary teachers, suddenly had strict teachers who expected them to finish everything on time. No grace time. No waiting. Very often, stomach cramps or aching legs suddenly appeared, just to skip school. With an increase in the studies, appraisals also commenced. Primary grades do not have exams, but they have ‘appraisal’ worksheets on par with exams but with a grading system. There is no pass or fail (Whew!!!) but there is also no schedule for it. The ‘appraisals’ can happen anytime without warning. So we know about the appraisals only once they have started. There is no timetable, no dates, no timings. It can happen anytime, any day and during school hours. The first appraisals just happened before we could even gather our thoughts! Finally, the results were out. Surprisingly, my son’s results in Math and the second language were super. But then came the dreaded English, EVS and ICT (Information & Computer Technology- yes, we do have that subject). Disaster!! I gave him a stern lecture, there were a few tears and then we came to an understanding where he had to tell me daily what he learnt. I learnt survival tactics – I learnt to photocopy his books as and when they came home and to connect with other parents!
At present, we are through 6 months of Grade 1. The results of the Round 2 appraisals (again a surprise) were much better than the first one. The only problem with the system of keeping books in school is that, most kids do not have the habit of discussing at home about what happened in school. Parents are expected to make their children study but if we don’t know how and what to do.
The current trend for modern parents is to believe that their kids should excel academically at the cost of everything else. So, children attend classes for abacus and phonics at an early age and they have no time to play! As a mother, I worry about how my child will cope with the increasingly complex levels of the syllabus. But I believe strongly that focusing only on studies is not right for any child. They also need a break. If we are so anxious about academics at the Primary level, we will become paranoid by the time our kids are in secondary years! I think that there should be an equal focus: 50% study and 50% play. This way, there will less pressure on the children and the parents are also satisfied.
I have understood the secret of managing the difficult school years – balance!