Many people think that school is a place where the child learns to read, write, do arithmetic, memorise facts about geography, history and science. It is much more than this. A school is not just a place where the child learns these subjects. It is also a place where he learns to get on with people and is thus preparing for adult life. Going to school for many children is the first experience outside their home. The child begins to be part of a group outside his family. School forms a very important part in the character building of a child. Experiences in the schools are wide and varied. The child comes into contact with other children of different religions, beliefs and values. Schools are the building blocks of your child’s future.
Which school to choose?
When parents decide that the child is ready for regular school and they wish to choose one for him, they should not only look at the school’s results but also the type of students the school has produced. It is also important to see the extent to which the school has helped prepare the children for their future.
For younger children, schools should preferably be in the same locality or neighbourhood. Long travel in the school buses or city transport for an hour can tire and exhaust the child leading to apathy, headache and many other illnesses.
Different schools have different mediums for education. The medium of language is very important. A good student in an English medium school may find himself at a disadvantage if the medium is changed. Parents sometimes debate about sending their children to a boarding school. There may be special reasons for this. It is important to note that in the early years, the child needs the warmth and security of being with his family. After ten or eleven most children are independent and can look after themselves. Children who are difficult to manage at home or undisciplined are often sent to a boarding school to reform them. This is not correct way as the child takes it as a punishment, and develops further hostility or guilt feelings. They distance themselves from the family and may have adjustment problems later.
When to put the child in school?
There is no harm in sending a three-year-old to a nursery school in the neighbourhood where there are other children to play with, to talk with and to have fun. Such schools enable a child to be on his own and to face problems without the protection of parents. The nursery school is primarily meant for playing, learning and to be social. If you feel that your child is happy playing at home and with children in the neighbourhood, it is not necessary to push him to school at an early stage. You can wait until he is five years old to put him in the kindergarten class or a regular school.
What are the problems that children face while going to school?
Some children feel nervous or even scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. When a child first starts going to school, he may feel reluctant or cry when you leave him at the school gates. Not every child is prepared to accept school at the same age. A lot depends on her experiences in playing with other children and meeting strange people. A child who plays with other children will not have much difficulty in going to a school, whereas a child who is always playing with his mother or does not have too many children to play with, will resent the idea of separation from the mother. Normally, the first child usually has school problems. In such cases, where there is strong resentment, it is best not to push the child, otherwise he is likely to develop permanent aversion to school. Go with the child to the school for a couple days and give him the reassurance that you will not disappear, but will meet him when the school finishes. Slowly he will adjust to his new environment.
In an older child, the reluctance to go to school may be due to bullying or teasing at school. Sometimes it follows an illness or a prolonged absence from the school or punishment by the teacher. He may start having problems like headache, pain in the abdomen, vomiting. Changing the school is not usually helpful in these cases. At times teasing at school can be excessive and cause unhappiness. Teasing is usually done because of social class, inability to pronounce words correctly, clumsiness, obesity and in children who try to please the teacher. Such children are usually over-protected at home and lack the normal aggressive behaviour.
What is the role of parents?
A parent should be concerned, though not overprotective about her child. Take active interest in his school activities, in his examination results, and discuss school with him. Find out how he feels about being in school and who his friends are. Most schools have parent-teacher meeting once a term and parents must make it a point to attend such meetings. Many parents are ignorant about which class or section their children are. Most parents visualise the child at school from their own experience. This may not be the best way. They should look at the school from the child’s point of view, and how he relates to his surroundings and feels about the different issues.
What if the child is performing badly at school?
When your child is doing badly at school, do not blame the school or the teacher. There may be many causes for it. He may have been put into school too early or he may be too young for his class and may have to compete with older children. The other reasons may be that he has missed many days at school because of illness in early childhood.
At times it is the home environment, which is responsible for the child’s bad performance in school. Quarrelling parents, or a home where the child does not get enough love, or the birth of another child which takes away the attention of parents, can also be responsible for the child’s poor performance. There is also the possibility that he may not get along well with his teacher. If you suspect this, have a talk with the Principal and discuss the problem with him tactfully.
Some parents give the wrong age of the child to the school authorities in an attempt to push him to a higher class. This attitude is not healthy. If the child is a year or two younger than other children in the class, he may have difficulty in adjusting. A child who is four years old will be much less mature and have far less understanding than a five year old. Similarly, a double promotion saves a year but taxes the child. A child doing well in one class may not be as good in the other class. This creates unnecessary resentment, pressure and a feeling of inadequacy in the child.
How to help the child cope with examinations?
These are the days of competition. The child has to succeed in many competitions and examinations. The importance of examinations has increased to such an extent that the years between ten to twenty are spent in constant fear of them. Parents, instead of helping, invariably increase the fear psychosis in their children, resulting in serious personality problems. Parents should reassure their children regarding examinations and not increase their anxiety. They should help the child in his schoolwork when he has any difficulty. Although you can help him with his homework, you cannot take the examinations for him. In the long run it will only make things more difficult for him. You should help him when he cannot understand or comprehend something but do not make him over dependant on you for things and he should be encouraged to do his homework regularly.