WHICH SCHOOL TO PREFER IN THE INITIAL STAGES?
The ideal school at the age of 3 years is one where there is a lot of fun and joy for the child, along with learning of the basic and elementary things like knowing A-Z, names of common things, animals, colours etc. This learning should be in the spirit of play and fun; and not disciplinary where the child is made to sit at one place in the classroom for 3-4 hours and then taught things formally. The teachers over there should have a genuine fondness and love for the children and should be able to interact with them at their level.
They should also enjoy taking part in fun and games with the small children and not have the attitude of just going through the motions, without being involved with the children closely. A child should like the teacher as a friend rather than having a feeling of awe or terror for him. Parents should make efforts search for a school that meet these requirements. The reason is simple. The child should not be put under pressure at a small age. He should learn things in the spirit of playing. This way there is a positive development of the child.
A good school should stress on the all round development of the child rather than focussing only on academics. Schools take great pride that 90% of their students achieve 1st division, and this is also the main factor that the parents consider for decision making. It is praiseworthy that the average academic level of a school is very good, but schools should also see to it that each child develops to his full potential. All round development doesn’t mean that the child should be taught all things sundry like music, sports, debates, paintings, acting in dramas etc. They are desirable, but much more important is that the child is ingrained with a basic sense of value, self-confidence and positive self-esteem.
An important dictum of any school should be “democracy builds discipline.” A good teacher knows that if he/she acts in a dictatorial fashion, he/she is enforcing himself/herself upon the children without letting them freedom of self-expression. So a good teacher strives to do collective project work, entailing the co-operation of all the students, listening and discussing with them various ways of approaching and solving a specific problem so that the children are stimulated and thus develop to their full potential. The teacher should also be able to pay individualised attention to each and every child, and therefore the size of the class should be less than 30 students ideally.
SHOULD EXAMS BE HELD FOR PROMOTION TO NEXT CLASS?
Personally I am not in favour of burdening the child and hence the parents with formal exams, at least till class 3 and preferably till class 5. Exams place a lot of stress on the child and the parents. The child, if he is unable to cope with the mental pressures of exams and doesn’t do well, may land up feeling depressed and inferior. If the child fails, the parents undergo a lot of anguish, may feel guilty plus consider that their child is not intelligent, which may give them sleepless nights.
How to judge whether a child should be promoted or not? His full year’s general performance should be taken into account and if satisfactory, the child should be promoted automatically to the next class till class 5. The teacher should monitor the progress of the child, have meetings with the parents, and point out to them the strengths and weaknesses of the child. They should tell the parents in which fields and subjects the child requires more attention and care, so as to iron out any shortcomings in the child.
Alas, this is not the state of affairs today. Modern day’s schooling means that the child is over burdened with books, studies, homework, exams etc. As a result, schooling becomes a dreary task that has to be undergone as there is no other choice.