Schooling choices – Related considerations


Image courtesy : inclued.wordpress.com
Image courtesy : inclued.wordpress.com

This post deals with one of the most critical but one of the most under-appreciated and technically difficult topic of choosing the right school for your children. I have dealt with this topic in a bulleted manner, ie, have jotted down my thoughts based on broad categories to be considered when selecting a school for children. Please note that these categories are not prioritized in any manner and are in a random order.

Read the rest of this post here … [Link to post]

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Sakshi Nanda, who I personally believe is a wonderful writer/blogger and an even more wonderful human being (evidenced by the topics she posts and the absolutely refreshing honesty and genuineness in all her posts) has been kind enough to publish this guest post of mine on her blog, Between Write and Wrong.

Do hop over and read some of her other posts as well, they make for really interesting reading.

Guest Post : Bringing up children nowadays


This is a guest post from one of my previous managers, somebody who I consider a role model, mentor, guide and friend all rolled into one. Given that he has two daughters aged around 12 and 9 yrs old, his words and views on parenting are precious pearls of wisdom to me.

And his writing skills are second to none as this post proves.

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http://www.readingreview.com/
http://www.readingreview.com/

The Parent-Teachers meeting just concluded for both my kids. The school informs us that they are implementing an IT system to display kid’s performance records over the net and we are supposed to log in and track the kids’ performance online. So, no more progress reports and no more meetings… I secretly hope the system crashes and we are back to the good old way of discussing kids’ performance in-person with their teachers.

The school my kids go to is a fairly conservative one with parents from all walks of life. Some of the challenges which the teachers face and report are –

a. Kids talking a lot in class because they have no one to talk to at home.

b. Kids who are hyperactive and who get distracted quite easily.

c. Kids using profane language with other kids and with the teachers.

d. Kids indulging in bullying, damaging school property & other such aggressive behavior

e. Kids who are super-competitive and who do not hesitate to hide other children’s note books during exam time, cheat in exams and will do anything to get a grade.

f. Kids making inappropriate and in some cases very offensive posts in Facebook.

We are talking about kids who are in primary or who are pre-teens! Teachers report that though these numbers are less, they are growing these days.

My most anxious moments are seeing my kids off to school and waiting for them to come back safely. I don’t claim to have figured out all about parenting. It is still very much work in progress! Some pointers from my journey so far –

1. Girls are as difficult to bring up as boys. In fact, things tend to be difficult with girls as they tend to cry very quickly!

2. Grandparents are good care-givers but very poor role models for the children. My kids return with a lot of currency notes every time they visit their grandfather. Their grandmother cooks whatever the kids want. So what if it is Maggi everyday!

3. Parents in IT industry beware! Many of the problems I have listed above are from families in the IT industry. We folks in this industry are generally awash in liquidity, foreign holidays happen like clock-work and frequent shopping visits are the norm. I am sorry to say this, but our kids know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

4. Put a budget or an upper limit on everything – dress bought for Diwali, a sleepover at a friend’s place, buying a new toy or game. Don’t make it obvious that you are earning so much!

5. Some parent tend to ask their children to mix with their own social class. Merc owning families with Merc owning families only! As long as your kids friends seem to be good kids, their background should not matter to you.

6. Too much of religion and fantasy is also a bad thing. My younger one had sleepless nights when she read too many stories about gods and goblins.

7. Avoid watching TV serials (especially Tamil soaps!) with your kids. After watching one such episode my elder one wanted to know if I have a second wife. (Managing one is good enough!) Families depicted in such serials don’t exist in real life.

Life @ office is a lot easier. Our company buses run on time, food in canteen is bland but safe, our promotion processes are slow but predictable and there is a method to everything. Life outside is a lot more chaotic!

When my kids grow up and raise families of their own, I will put my feet up and I will then write a book on parenting.

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Projecting parental expectations


andertoons.com
andertoons.com

I love my Michael Jackson songs, McDonalds French Fries and lounging around in my boxer shorts at home. I hate rap songs with explicit racy music videos, self help books and people who spit in public places. The above is a small subset of my likes and dislikes and how I perceive the world. But the question is should my little two year old daughter also share the same likes and dislikes as me?

To find out my thoughts on this topic, please visit this blog where my guest post has been put up today [Link to post].

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Sakshi Nanda, who I personally believe is a wonderful writer/blogger and an even more wonderful human being (evidenced by the topics she posts and the absolutely refreshing honesty and genuineness in all her poets) has been kind enough to post a guest post of mine on her blog, Between Write and Wrong. Do read her “About me” portion of her blog here and you will realize that she is not a person to be messed around with given her stint with English literature and publishing houses.

I sure hope that I am leaning more towards the “Write” side of her blog rather than the “Wrong” side 😀

Thanks once again Sakshi for hosting my post on your wonderful blog. Truly appreciate it.

Jill of all trades


Jill_of_all_trades

We all want our children to excel not only at academics but also at various extra curricular activities as well. So much so that as soon as the kids are a little old enough, we enroll them in various classes, Summer Camps, institutes which specialize in imparting special skills to children and the like.

That being said, do we even pause for a moment and think about what the right way of identifying and encouraging our childrens’ talent is.

Every once in a while, my wife and me get around to talking about some of the hobbies that we have developed and how our parents were not particularly enthusiastic about our extra-curricular pursuits. Not to say that they discouraged it, but they didn’t put in any special efforts to try and identify the hobbies that we were good at or did not go the extra mile to encourage us to pursue a hobby to enjoy it completely.

While my wife at least had the luxury of learning the violin and later on learn the basics of Carnatic music, for me it was more of my parents trying to generate an interest in music, which due to the ignorance and innocence of childhood, I completely ignored. They did not push me enough to get exposed to any new hobby or creative pursuit at all and were content to let me be, just playing gully cricket with other boys my age.

Based on our childhood experiences, both my wife and me have decided to let our daughter (who is all of 2 years old now) have an exposure to as many extra-curricular activities as possible at an early age itself. And then, based on her interest levels and relative skills in comparison to her peer group, pursue one or maybe two hobbies seriously. Rather than put her through the grind of enrolling into various summer camps and talent workshops, we would rather that she gets the basic exposure required to figure out what activities she really likes and enjoys doing and then letting her pursue the same.

While, this approach brings with it the risk of her taking up an activity seriously initially, and then gradually losing interest in the same. It also allows her the freedom of being independent at a very young age itself and doing things which she is genuinely interested in rather than something her parents want her to do. After all, we are not anticipating another Saina Nehwal or Shreya Ghosal in the family (although that would be kind of nice, given the amount of adulation, adoration and appreciation that the parents of such superstars get in India, today :D ).

During our walks in the neighborhood during May and June, both my wife and me noticed the proliferation of summer camps which offered training in things as diverse as craft making to sports coaching. And, we also noticed that quite a few kids were enrolled in these and the classes went on for a good part of the day for a substantial portion of the summer vacations of kids. And this phenomenon is among one of the many things that completely turned both of us off of the summer coaching camps.

Per our reasoning, one of the main reasons for so many summer camps cropping up and loads of kids lining up to enroll for the same is due to the fact that most families today are double income families, i.e. both the parents are working and they have no other choice but to enroll their kids in these camps in the summer, so that they don’t trouble their grandparents too much for a large portion of the day. That being said, our personal opinion is that this will end up with the kids being “Jacks of all trades, but master of none” and that is something which is good in the short run, ends up being somewhat detrimental in the long run. Kids are better off pursuing one or maybe two hobbies which they enjoy and take up seriously and excel at, aren’t they?

I would really love to hear other parents’ viewpoints on this topic, as this is something that both my wife and me continuously grapple with almost once every fortnight.

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Image courtesy : likethedew.com

Overparenting….yes, there really is such a term


helicopter

Yes, there is such a term called ‘over-parenting’. Read this Wikipedia article about the same.

I first heard (or actually read) about this particular phenomenon some months ago when I read this article about the book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ written by Amy Chua. You can read enough and more articles supporting and against this particular book and its concepts all over the internet, just google “Tiger Mother” and you will find hundreds or even thousands of articles.

What prompted this post was the fact that I came across this article in Firstpost about how today’s parents put too much pressure on their kids to perform well not just at school and academics but also outside of school, in the playground, at home, wherever they are, whatever they do.

My wife and me noticed the fact that most of the lanes around where we stay in Bangalore are crowded with pre-schools/play-schools and how all of them seem to have some or the other summer camp going on. From teaching kids painting, dancing, crafts, and all other assorted types of hobbies. We have started this daily walk habit and everyday we take a different route to walk in, and everyday we notice new pre-schools and play-schools, but one theme is common, all of them are in the Summer Camp season right now. This led to both of us wondering what we used to do when we were kids. And the consensus was that we pretty much used to spend time either at home, or at an uncle’s house with our cousins doing nothing focused, playing games at random, enjoying the summer sun, and the glorious outdoors with minimum adult supervision. Yes, we might not have realized our true potentials as painters, dancers or singers, but we turned out Ok, didn’t we!!!

Having said that, our parents led less hectic and tedious lives. They didn’t have to travel 25+ kms a day to office, they didn’t have to drive through ‘road-rage’ filled traffic, they didn’t have to contend with as much pollution, they didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to get good appraisals and promotions, they didn’t have to worry too much about job security, etc. As parents nowadays, all of the above items are realities. As adult individuals, if we face so many problems, then just add the children variable to the equation and it is quite clear that today’s parents are screwed.

Today, we have to necessarily worry about our careers and the money we make simply because pot loads of money is what is required to ensure that our kids have a good future. Something as basic and simple as a pre-school costs at least INR 5000/- for a trimester, and I am not even talking about the world-class pre-schools, but regular neighborhood aunty-variety ones. A school admission in any decent school (meaning one with qualified, accredited, good teachers) does entail some kind of donation irrespective of whichever politician or policeman you know. Add to this the cost of uniforms, books, school bus, other related items such as stationery, accessories, etc, and all of this in today’s prices adds up to quite a bit.

And guess what, given the number of kids that are enrolling in decent schools, the competition for any decent degree such as a BE, B’Tech, B Sc, B Com, BA, etc has also exponentially increased. Making our kids employable is another costly story which I am not even getting into.

The above two paragraphs kind of explain why today’s parents are anxious to ensure that anything and everything related to their kid’s development and education happen without a glitch. Where today’s parents make the mistake is when they get personally involved with their kid’s learning (not education but the learning process itself). Today’s parents are not allowing their kids to make mistakes and learn from them. Yes, kids require hand-holding, but it is only when kids fall down will they learn that falling down hurts, but they also learn that when they fall down, all they have to do is to stand up, brush themselves off and continue walking once again. They need to learn that falling down is only a temporary setback and not a permanent one. As parents, our responsibility is to ensure that kids learn to stand back up on their own, learn to brush themselves off, and teach them to start walking again. We need to teach our kids how to overcome temporary setbacks, rather than taking steps to ensure that they never face setbacks or failures.

In fact, this wonderful article from The Atlantic goes on to talk about why parents should allow their kids to fail once in a while, as it makes the kids tougher, grittier and stronger to face bigger failures when they are older. This other article from The Atlantic talks about how parents from different parts of the world perceive their children’s state of mind, and it is interesting to note that American parents seem to focus more on the cognitive development of their kids whereas European parents seem to focus more on the state of mind of the kid. Europeans seem more laidback when compared to Americans in terms of how their kids develop ‘scientific skills’ compared to ‘life skills’. I personally would love my daughter to develop more life skills as I believe these will anyways help her pick up scientific skills later on an ‘as-required’ basis and thank God, my wife agrees with me on this.

Image courtesy: http://blessedexistence-blessed.blogspot.com