While my parents started school with Class 1, my brother and I did two years prior to that with LKG or Lower / Junior Kindergarten. My son started with Playschool at 2.5 years of age. He was already reading his books at the age I started learning alphabets!
In retrospect, it was a mistake. I should have waited some more. Enough research floats on the internet that proves when it comes to formal education, the earlier is not the better.
I admire people who homeschool or unschool. In fact, I’m in awe of them. But in my child’s current circumstances – that he is an only child and that he has a socially awkward mother – I believe he needs the social experience and exposure that a school provides.
Now, what is a good school? Are their 100% results or world-class infrastructure or focus on making every child an all-rounder make them good? It depends upon your own expectations from the school. Are you expecting the school to do everything for you? Personally, I see school as a place which complements learning that happens at home and in the outside world.
You cannot stop learning. It happens all the time; unless we create an environment that doesn’t give time and space to the child to pursue his curiosities and instead expects him to know a whole lot of other things. When learning becomes a chore, it puts off the child.
My expectation from the school is to create a stress-free environment for learning, to stop hurrying up, to focus on fundamentals and not encourage rote learning just to ‘know’ a lot of things, to not give so much importance to home works, to let them be free to pursue their interests, to encourage responsibility and independence, to be fearless to question authority, to nurture individuality over uniformity, to nurture their unique talents.
I’m willing to take risks. I’m willing to give alternate schools a chance. I was clear I don’t want the conventional schooling for my son, and I don’t think alternate schools are for slow learners. I listened to a lot of other parents. Many dream of a different kind of schooling for their kids but when it comes to taking decisions everyone gets afraid of going against the tide. Why are we so afraid? Why don’t we have confidence in our kids? Kids are exceptional learners. If a school teaches them numbers till 100, what will stop them from learning beyond?
Which Board is the best? Which schools have classes till Grade 10 and 12? What will my child pursue when he grows up? Those are least of my concerns right now. My priority right now is to encourage him to learn and be curious like he has always been. It will be a nightmare for me to make him sit down and ‘study’ because we have never done that, and have no intentions of doing that. Home works are also his responsibilities; I neither volunteer nor get involved in those.
We can keep dreaming about the change in education system but if we don’t take some necessary steps ourselves, things will never change.