Hey parents, how ready are YOU for the coming academic year? Textbooks, notebooks, lunch bags, pencil boxes - is this all your list is made of? Are you missing something crucial? Find out!
June is right around the corner! And Mahima, a busy mom, is on action mode. April was a month of lazy mornings and fun-filled evenings. And come May - it is time to roll up those sleeves. Like any other parent, Mahima is gearing up to get her 'toofan express' (son Harsh), back to routine and ready to face the next academic year at school. Starting from getting Harsh used to the 'wake up at 7 AM' schedule to prepping his mindset for school and to getting the school essentials ready- her days now seem like an endless checklist of 'things to do'.
It's not too different in Janani's household either. Among other things, she is busy looking for exciting kid-friendly lunch box recipes for her fussy eater Nandu. Also, she is busy ensuring all the 'vacation homework' has been completed. Oh... and she is also busy preparing her little daughter for a series of 'extra-curricular' competitions. Poetry recitation, dance, drawing or anything else the little one fancies to participate in the coming year.
Though different in their approach to school readiness, the dynamics of both the households at this time of the year are quite similar. In fact, this is a common story in every home that has school-going kids. All in anticipation of the academic year to come.
And come June, there is a big accomplished smile on every parent's face when they wave their child off at the school gate on the first day of school. Almost a big sigh of relief? There is some kind of comfort in the mundane everyday routine that school days bring to a home.
As parents, should we rethink the idea of "getting school ready" itself? Remember the lines from Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" sonnet?
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
'Whining', 'creeping like a snail', 'unwillingly' - these are but few of the adjectives that have been used to describe a school-going kid. History stands testimony that even children and parents from the era of the wordsmith himself, were not exempted of this preparedness.
Years have passed by, but the scenario bleakly remains the same. What if we set aside our mechanical activities and bring a fresh perspective to school-readiness itself? What if we enabled school-going kids to change from 'whining' to 'cheerful'? Let's see how we can go about this!
Traditionally, part of the drudgery of getting ready for school is purchasing and covering the textbooks. Parents dread the covering-labelling routine while the child looks at it with a mix of fear and anxiety in the days to come. But what if the child made the textbook her own? How about replacing the brown-laminated paper with a plain white paper instead? And what's more? let the child design her own wrapper. Let him draw what excites him about the water cycle on a Science textbook wrapper or visualise a favourite poem or rhyme for an English textbook. The textbook becomes his own canvas then. And when a child picks a book with a smile, half the learning is done.
From waking up early to set up study tables with Avengers stickers to squeezing in an evening study routine, parents don't leave any stone unturned when in 'back to school' mode. Ever considered setting these goals and routines in cahoots with the children themselves? We often underestimate the child's ability to plan, execute and reflect. Just start with a "Hey...there are all these exciting things to do when school reopens. How should we fit them all? What would you like to do?" No matter how young a child is, when he understands his voice is heard, he will willingly take ownership of making his decisions.
Suresh starts looking out for tuition and coaching classes for his son Akshay right from the month of May. Most parents seek extra help when they feel the child needs to be taught and coached outside of school. This also offloads the homework burden to the tuition teacher. Instead, how about spending 30 minutes per day to explore and figure out ways to make subject topics interesting for your child? For example, pick some mustard seeds to explore germination, or sending the child to the corner shop to buy something to understand addition and subtraction, or probably even adopt a pet to help the child learn empathy and compassion (something no moral science textbook can teach). The ways are numerous, and all you have to do is put a little creativity and thought to it.
While all the above actionables are for the parents, the action is done for the child and by the child. The idea is to focus every action of the parent, towards making the child an independent thinker and a self-determined learner. This approach will let your child explore, and understand the infinite beauty within oneself and the world around.
Chitra Ravi is an educational visionary who has spent the last two decades crusading against mediocre practices in the educational ecosystem. In 2001, she founded Chrysalis, a state-of-the-art educational research and innovation organization with a vision to awaken the extraordinary Human Potential in every child.
Also read: Back To School Avengers Style!
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