I remember being in complete awe of my niece’s school in Manhattan, New York. A few years ago, while I was visiting New York, she had asked me to accompany her to school on Special friend’s day which is a day for grandparents and other family members to visit and interact with the children during the class sessions. This was a time much before my elder son was even thought of so schools, teaching methods, learning styles etc. were not even remotely present in my mind-space, however I knew they were details that would arise soon. My visit to this private school was my first exposure to a very different kind of education than the one I had grown up with. Needless to say it was one of the most fascinating and enlightening experiences I have ever had. It was refreshing to able to string the words happy, fun and learning in the same sentence. I left the school with one thought – “When the time comes, I somehow need to try and give my children a similar educational experience.”
The very first thing I noticed as soon as I entered my niece’s classroom was the exceedingly stimulating environment. The class room was covered with the work done by the children and teachers were focused on finding exciting new ways to encourage thinking and learning. The level of interaction and engagement with the students was something I had never seen before and I was astounded by the speed with which the children were learning. Math integration was being done through games and problems solved collaboratively as well as independently. The children were encouraged to ask questions along with each thought they had being used as a learning opportunity. I noticed that the teaching method was targeted less towards the children memorizing and more towards application, where they were taught to develop the skills and self-discipline they will need for a life-time of learning. I wondered at that point whether there would ever be a similar style of education in India. Sure enough, a few years later I heard about the IB (International Baccalaureate) board and I had a replenished sense of hope that maybe I could after all provide a similar educational experience for my children.
My school years were the best years of my life. I was lucky enough to attend a school which focused on all round development. It was a school with a larger than life campus, a big field and playground area, clean classrooms, well-trained teachers in that board of education, exceptional extra-curricular activities and so on. The friends I made in school are still some of my best friends today. No complaints. The academic curriculum was a rigorous one and the school had a reputation for creating top level achievers with students getting into colleges of their choice in the blink of an eye. While for many of my fellow alums the memory of school now includes good grades, mine does not. At that time as my parents nor I knew any different, my school years flew by with above average grades. It wasn’t until much later when I started looking at options for schools for my elder son, did I realise that it wasn’t the lack of focused studying leading to average grades, but while the knowledge had been present, the application was absent. I realised that for many people memorising doesn’t automatically mean understanding and I had been one of those people. That was the problem right there.
So here is one of the main reasons I chose to expose my elder son to an IB board right from pre-school. It was not about my likes and dislikes for each board, but rather about what kind of an environment I believed my son would thrive in. It was about the International standards and style of education that I wanted him to have the opportunity to experience. In the beginning like most parents, IB was an alien system to me and I had a million questions. I was not comfortable with my son attending a school which followed a board I had zero knowledge about. However, as my husband and I both had really liked the pre-school that my son is in now, we made the decision to take a chance and wait and watch the preliminary effects of the IB board. In a very short period of time, we were astonished with the progress. This pushed me to dig deeper into the underlying aspects of the IB board.
What each parent wants in a school differs. For me, the teaching method and learning style that the board utilized was at the top of the priority list because that is the sole factor that would determine the way my son would tackle life. This was followed by details about the school itself like safety, cleanliness, expansion plans and so on. It was very important to me that my child be taught in a way that would boost his imagination, creativity & curiosity. This is the definition of the IB board right there. From what I have seen, the IB board keeps up with present times. It creates a strong foundation by helping children build on not only their physical skills but also emotional, social and cognitive. It encourages children to understand who they are in relation to the world around them. Learner Profiles which are at the heart of the IB board puts the child at the centre and are attributes (Example- Risk-takers, Reflective, Knowledgeable, Inquirers etc.) which help children understand who they are. Teaching is done using age appropriate developmental activities. Rarely will you see a child being pushed to do something he/she is not ready for. The letters of the alphabet are carefully introduced using jolly phonics, an approach which motivates kids to want to learn more. Even before reaching the Lower Kindergarten level, children are familiar with most if not all the letters of the alphabet and how to write them. Numbers are taught using a child-centric approach. Some even start reading. Concepts are demonstrated and reviewed through various forms of arts & crafts. The assessment of whether a child has understood the concept is done through work books. Learning through play is encouraged. We often are under the impression that when a child is playing, he/she rarely learns anything concrete and of use. I have learned over time that exactly the opposite is true. As I always say, HOW they learn is far more important than WHAT they learn. What I love now more than the fact that my son can put letters together to create words and write them, is the way he applies what he was taught in school. For example, we will be passing by in the car and he will see the sign board of a shop with letters he recognises. While waiting at the traffic light, he starts to apply jolly phonics and puts the word together one letter at a time. No memorising, only recollection of the concept taught paired with his understanding.
While the decision to try out the IB board for my elder son was purely based on what I wanted for him, the decision for him to continue with this educational system was based on him. He is the type of child who needs to see, touch, feel and play to understand something. I saw that his imagination, creativity and curiosity was being nurtured every single day and this was an especially crucial factor for me, since a large part of the brain development happens during the first five years.
The IB board makes learning fun at the same time preparing our children for the real world. So, to all the parents out there who are searching for that one board of education which will be a good fit for your child, take time out to sit in the classrooms of an IB school. I promise you it will be well worth it. At least you know that the decision that you need to make eventually, will be an informed one.
Do you ever close your eyes, lean back in your chair and wonder what life would be like if you were not a mother and had chosen a different path in life? Do you sometimes silently listen to someone making brunch plans or trying to schedule a meeting without having to think twice about what time they need to be home to take their little ones to a class? I think it’s safe to assume that 9 out of 10 mothers have thought about this at one point or another. This is a common thought running through the mind of any new mother who is trying to come to terms with the fact that in terms of priority she now comes behind her child. It is even a passing thought in the minds of veteran mothers. How many times in frustration and anger have you wished that you were not responsible for anyone and could just pack your bags and go on a long holiday? Nostalgia takes over and you reminisce about the good old days when you could live a care-free life. I know I did many times during the first few gruelling months of motherhood but now when I think about what life would be like without my two boys who are my everything – my mind draws a blank.
This Children’s Day, I would like to dedicate my post to all our incredible children who have changed our lives and surround us with the purest form of love every single day!
Sometimes my elder son catches me staring at him and he asks me why. At that point, I am very often imagining a sliding doors situation. For those of you who don’t know what that means, ‘Sliding Doors’ is a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and the story line splits into two, presented as parallel universes in which different events take place. I keep comparing my life now as a mother with a life devoid of bedtime stories or a little person clutching my hand trying to stand for the first time or a wide-eyed 6-month-old eating solid food for the first time, and the life I end up imagining is a very dull and uneventful one.
Not everyone is meant to be a mother or even wants to be one for that matter. Each person’s hopes and dreams are different and for many women, becoming a mother is not one of them. We all make certain decisions in life which affect the path we take and which determine our future. To survive life in general, evolution is important regardless of which path we end up taking. I think like me, every woman who is a mother has evolved in many ways that they never thought they would. Most of the changes in me can be attributed to my children who teach me something new every day and help me be a better version of myself. Now, four years and two children later, when I close my eyes and lean back in my chair, I cannot envision life without:
Each moment has taught me a lesson along the way. I have learned that there is joy in being an adult, from them. I have learned to slow down and play, from them. I have learned unconditional love, from them. Motherhood is far more difficult than anyone ever anticipates but what keeps us chugging along with perseverance, are the smiling faces of our little ones that we see every morning.
We are brought face to face with true love each day.
This post originally appeared on Kidsstoppress
There are times when I wish that having a glass of wine at 8 am was considered normal. How about a shot of something smooth? Just a quick one to calm the nerves. As a mother of two boys - a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, I have come very close to talking myself into that one glass of wine in the morning before starting a day where I knew a difficult or emotionally challenging situation would arise. I am sure many of you moms are quietly admitting to yourselves that you have thought the same now and then.
Just another day in a mom's life:
Let me explain how and why this thought entered my head in the first place. My best friend and I were venting to each other a few days ago, about how emotionally draining it is to watch our kids scream and cry during their first days of school. My 3-year-old who has been going to school since he was 9 months, old thinks of school as his second home. Of course, there was the initial period when he started going alone where it took two teachers and akkas (helpers) to pick him up and take him inside. But then it got better and school became a part of him.
The only thing he talked about when he came home from school without taking a breath, was school. As most schools do, it recently shut for a 2-week break before commencing Term 2. As the break came to end, I was excited for him to get back to routine. Little did I know what was in store. The “I don’t want to go to school” and crying began again and I realized the 2-week break with him being at home with me more than usual had set him back a step. His familiarity and love for the school did not seem to make a difference. However, once inside the classroom, the crying stopped and he was back to his usual self. Hearing this, I was relieved.
As a mother, my first instinct was to pacify him. Immediately, the “poor baby” and “I wonder what he must be feeling” emerged. I started to feel bad for him and tried thinking of all the reasons possible of why this could be happening. Maybe it wasn’t the 2 week break and it was something at school that was setting him off. But then I realized that he was fussing from Day 1 since school re-opened so it must be something else. If it was the separation anxiety kicking in again, how could I be so mean to send him off to school when he was crying to be with me? After a while of feeling this way and expressing my concerns to my mother, she was the one who finally put an end to the pity I was feeling for my son. She threw two simple words at me – “TOUGHEN UP!!!”
Why moms have to be emotionally strong:
What she said hit me and it hit me hard. I had always thought of myself as strong and tough and as someone who did not get affected by difficult situations very easily. However, it dawned on me that when it came to both my boys, I was faint-hearted.
I realized that if I wanted my elder one to toughen up and go to school without crying, then the toughening up needed to start with me first. I needed to throw him into the centre of the activity and walk away, no looking back.
It is also easier said than done. Whether it is a vaccination or the first day of school, we as mothers need to be emotionally strong. I remember refusing to stand and watch when my elder son was getting one of his first vaccinations after he was born. It occurred to me later, that the example I was setting for him was probably not a very good one, at the same time making me weaker as a mother.
My friends and I keep joking about how a glass of wine before an emotionally draining situation would be a saving grace, making it easier for us mothers to cope with the situation. It would most definitely result in less thinking, more confidence and a tougher heart. I have lost count of the number of times I have come home and cried after witnessing my son being taken into school weeping. In retrospect, it didn’t seem like a situation that warranted blood tears but at that time I had been close to breaking. The one thing I can say for sure is that kids are not for the faint-hearted!
The need to go beyond the comfort zone:
Kids are more resilient than we think. We tend to forget that sometimes. The need for over-protecting arises more than we could have ever imagined but the key is to condition our minds to remember that pushing them in certain situations to go beyond their comfort zone is for the best. We need to judge depending on the circumstances if pushing them to do something they don’t want to do is the right thing or not. In the cases where it is the right thing, we as mothers need to put up a tough exterior, however hard it may be. Our minds and hearts will probably tell us two very different things.
Today, I am a work in progress. The sight of my son crying when he doesn’t want to do something, does not make me go weak at the knees but instead empowers me to help him adapt and adjust to the situation. In a blog post I read recently on Babycenter, the author Stephanie Metz talks about how modern parents need to get real. She says and very rightly so that “the younger generations of today are being taught that they shouldn’t have to ever put up with anything that doesn’t make their hearts feel like rainbow coloured unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.”
Something for all us moms to think about.
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'