By Archana Natraj
(Archana is a Shishuvan parent delighted about what her children are experiencing in school. Her daughter Janani Balaji is a student of Std. II and her son Ragavan Balaji is in Nursery.)
As a parent, we strive to make the right choices for our child. Time and again, I remind myself of Khalil Gibran’s famous verses
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
Being a Shishuvan parent has made me truly realise how much more I need to imbibe from these verses.
I started out screaming about the bright yellow and green uniform. “Not Smart”, ”Needs a Tie?” …then I hear my daughter proudly telling her friend..see my uniform, so bright and happy.. we are sunflowers! I realised how much we are still enslaved by the British. Instead of being proud that we are the only school that wears Khadi popularised by Gandhiji, we still remain in awe of the West and want to wear a tie to look polished and acceptable.
I look at my daughter’s English notebook and see her page of adjectives…stunning, favourite, glamorous she lists and looks for more with zest ..she is not put off by a writing exercise that asks her to list adjectives, Shishuvan has set her off on a learning adventure by asking her to describe her dear Barbie doll with the best adjectives she can find!
To learn the five senses, Shishuvan has not resorted to a teacher putting down a list..instead they joyously make popcorn ..simply SEE it grow, SMELL in its yumminess, HEAR it popping , TOUCH their creation and then TASTE it . What better way to play and learn!
I questioned the discipline in the school as I heard the roaring noise of screaming kids, until I stopped to listen and hear the thousands of questions that were pouring out of their curious minds, without any fear, fuelling a beautiful session of learning. While I see other Nursery kids from other schools crying in the morning as we await the school bus, my little boy jumps up with a ‘Yay, it’s time for school!’
Slowly but surely, I have learnt to see it is often us as parents who are so rigid in our views that we may stifle our children’s soaring minds by trying to direct their flight . From telling her how we knew our multiplication tables at her age to marvelling at how they conducted a survey of trees, classified and put tally marks with ease doing multiple subjects at once.
From telling her how we participated in competitions and wrote exams, to seeing how much responsibility she had shouldered with ease in remembering her slots to perform at the school fair. She kept asking…Is it time for my play now, even as she was in the middle of playing fun games at a stall.. and I marvelled ..is this the same kid I have to tell “It’s time to get the bus” everyday?
From looking at the school from our days where we learnt many subjects and memorised content without any context, I see my kids learning every concept thoroughly and placed in context beautifully, in a no-stress, fun way. Then to add an icing to this cake, she is also being moulded as a responsible citizen and human being. She talks about the anti-bullying campaign to her cousins, describes the ‘Save the Tigers’ posters to our neighbour and the TetraPak Recycling we must do… as I look on in amazement.
As I get her report day card, I realise how I have grown from flipping to stop and look at her grades first. Now I slowly read the detailed story about my child at school written painstakingly by the teacher and I know Shishuvan really means it when it says ‘Every Child Counts’. Funnily enough, since I enrolled my kids at Shishuvan, the school’s magic has managed to reach out and been a teacher to me as well in many ways.
Thank You Shishuvan for standing your ground, in being different and believing in our children and letting them blossom in more ways than we have asked for.