KOCHI: I had heard that the transition from kindergarten to Class 1 is a huge leap for a child. They would have a time-table, different subjects and tests. But, according to me, the biggest leap was that she would be moving from a four-hour to a seven-hour working day. Also, she would have to get used to having lunch in a 25-minute break.
What I was not prepared for was that the weight of her school bag would increase from a mere 1 kg in kindergarten to 5 kg in Class 1.
My confusion over why this ferrying of all text books and notebooks to and from school was happening was cleared in a morally debilitating parents-principal meeting.
At the Q&A session, the question came up. The principal said that till the previous year, the bags were light because of a teaching method that encouraged activity-based learning. So, books were sent home only if there was homework. However, parents of the previous year’s batch had voted out that method because it was not doing a ‘good job’. Instead of rectifying the glitches, the school reverted to the regular method of teaching. In the principal’s own words, the earlier method would encourage the students to ‘think’, and the current method gave no such option. This is when I exposed my deficiencies as a parent. I asked the principal what the need was to insist on sending all six text books (each nearly 100 pages) home every day.
She looked at me aghast and said, “Don’t you want to know what the child has learnt in school every day?” I said I didn’t think it was wise to expect working parents to revise every single thing that is taught every day.
Instead, would it not be better to send, say, two every day, and revise thoroughly? At that moment, I lost the support of the majority of the parents too. Amid the murmurs of disapproval, I sat down, defeated.
My idea of kindergarten and primary school was fun and learning. I get some validation from the draft National Education Policy 2019 which says, “It is important that children of ages 3-8 have access to a flexible, multifaceted, multilevel, play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based education.”
And the architects of the policy reached this conclusion because, “the most current research in Early Childhood Care and Education shows that children under the age of 8 do not tend to follow the linear, age-based educational trajectories that are prescribed to them by policy or by any present timelines for curriculum…”
(The author is a professional and single parent. The views expressed are of her own)