School system – helping kids cope

Parents are often quoted in newspapers saying that the System, rather than themselves, are to be blamed for the intense pressure children are under.

What stops a parent from being a buffer between her child and the System? Here’s an example: Mrs. R’s little daughter is upset because she has been told by a teacher that her punctuation is bad.  How can Mrs. R protect her little girl from feeling miserable? By telling her that punctuation gets better with practice, like reading, handwriting and drawing do, and maybe reading a story aloud to show how punctuation works. She can appreciate the parts the child has punctuated correctly, restoring the child’s confidence.

Harassing children about marks serves no purpose. They are merely a guide to help us see where our child needs to focus a little more. It is the teacher’s way of quantifying a child’s progress, not a judgment.  A child’s test papers should reflect his grasp of concepts, never mind the marks. The purpose of education is to ensure that a child grows up to be an independent thinker, not someone who is only capable of carrying out the instructions of some other parent-figure when he is an adult.

An offshoot of this preoccupation with marks is the practice of packing children off for ‘tuition’ every evening after school for two to three hours. Does this help children, or is it counterproductive? Meanwhile, children lose out on getting time to relax, play outdoors or do things that interest them. Apparently some children are sent for tuition as their parents cannot get them to do their school work. This raises another question: Isn’t it possible to put systems in place so homework is done as a matter of course? While it makes sense to send a child for tuition if he needs extra help with a particular subject, making him spend all evening at a parallel school does not seem fair.

If a child has excessive difficulty with a subject it tells us something important. It tells us that his strength lies elsewhere. If we take this further, we notice that he has a flair for some subjects, things that interest and, therefore, come naturally to him. This observation should serve as the basis for two important processes: one, the child’s discovery of his strengths, from which his belief in himself as a smart kid will begin, and two, a glimmer of a future career based on what he enjoys doing. If we do not jam his thought processes by obsessing about the subjects he is not good at, he ought to find his way towards suitable college courses in due course.

A System is meant for a group to function in a fairly orderly fashion; it is not perfectly tailored for each person in the group. This applies to our school system too. Every parent has to use it to his child’s advantage while attempting to minimize its negative impact on his child.

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6 thoughts on “School system – helping kids cope

  1. Even though we as parents know all this we tend to forget. Get caught up with the marks.
    What do you have to say about kids who themselves fret about marks, who naturally are competitive.

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    1. Maybe go over the answer paper with her and see exactly where she lost marks . . . maybe that lesson/chapter needed more attention than she gave it. There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, but setting benchmarks for herself independent of other kids’ marks is something useful to learn over the years, if she’s the sort who finds direct competition stressful.

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  2. I have always never believed in tuitions until my daughter had a meltdown and insisted I send her for tuitions as everyone in her class was going and hence were doing much better than her. So now she spends her whole evening going from one class to another that she claims helps her! I think it definitely needs to be a balance between marks and being hands off – especially if the child is not self motivated. Some level of pressure is required.

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  3. As a parent i feel yes marks are important, very important for a child to move ahead in this competitive world. But at the same time i tell my child that marks don’t define ‘YOU’. They don’t define the person you are nor will they affect our love for you. Believe me this helps, they will have a clear perspective towards studies and performance and it will be much easier to rectify their mistakes plus take care of the teacher’s complaints, if any. If we concentrate more on building the self-esteem and self-confidence of the child, lesser will be the dependence on tuition.

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