Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The School Saga

I mentioned in an earlier post that Ayaan will be going to a new school this year. This basically means that he will move from his current playschool to a playgroup section in a big school, where he will stay till Class X, if we stay in Mumbai. This post is about my experience with the whole process, my final decisions and my current (though constantly evolving) views on the subject of schooling.

A good place to start is always the beginning and in my typical wannabe-supermom style, I began by making a detailed excel sheet which covered all the schools that I could possibly consider sending Ayaan to and then proceeded to populate said sheet with all the necessary details for each school like the address and contact number, board of education, whether it was co-ed, starting age and application dates. After talking to friends, colleagues and a random selection of friendly mothers at the park, I narrowed my shortlist down to three schools (with a couple of back-ups in case none of those worked out).

The funny thing with the schools on my ‘Wanted’ list is that they were all very different from each other, the only common thing tying them together being the universal feedback that these were ‘good’ schools. At one extreme, there was School A, founded and run by one of the premier industrialist families in India and that came with all the frills of the IB curriculum, air-conditioned classrooms and international school trips in the later years. Then there was School B that was supposed to be really good but notoriously hard to get into, unless you knew someone on the board of trustees or a well-placed politician at the very least – and as a consequence, ended up with a fairly large percentage of students from rich and celebrity families. It’s also known for a very high emphasis on academics right from the very early years (read: lots of homework from kindergarten onwards). And finally, there was School C - which was probably at the bottom of my consideration set when I started out because in general, it is a more old-fashioned, simple sort of a school and, I am a little ashamed to admit this, ‘less famous’ (for want of a better word).

Now the real twist to the story came when I realised that School C accepts kids a whole year before the other two do. This put me into quite a quandary because:

  • If I applied to School C and Ayaan got in and went there for a year, it would make his chances of getting into the other (and at this point more desirable) schools pretty slim since they prefer not to take in kids who have already been admitted to another school.
  • But the flip side was that both Schools A & B are really hard to get into so I would be taking a pretty big risk by not trying School A at all because then it would mean that I would have to go for one of my back-up schools instead.

So when the registration process for School C was announced, we decided to postpone the decision by a couple of months by applying anyway and taking a call on whether to send him there closer to time, if he got in.

Anyway, we applied, he got through and we will be finally sending him there. And we won’t apply to the other schools at all. As you can see, it was quite an about turn and it’s something that grew on me gradually as I went through the process of applying and admitting Ayaan into this school. The tipping point was an interesting chat with a colleague at work about his decision to send both his daughters to this school. And he was very clear that his reason for it was peer group. He didn’t want them going to a school where even the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ on birthday presents and parties could threaten to bankrupt him. This is something that I never thought about before since it’s not an issue I faced in my schooling years but various conversations with other parents added to my belief that this is something that is becoming a big part of how your kid relates to his friends and feels about himself... Here are some examples that I have heard in the last couple of months:

  • About a kid telling his parents that he felt embarrassed that his mother dropped him to school in a small car while his friends came in big cars
  • About another kid who actually went up to the birthday girl’s mum and gave the return gift (a set of crayons and a colouring book) back because ‘she didn’t like it’
  • And while on the subject of return gifts/ party favours, anecdotes of kids getting iPods and remote-controlled cars to bring back from the parties they attended (and if this sounds like a stretch, Ayaan went to a birthday party last month and came home with a Build-a-Bear teddy, and those are definitely not cheap!)
  • Of birthday parties at 5-star hotels (even for two-year olds), organised by professional party planners and replete with magicians, fire-eaters, DJs and pony rides.

After this conversation, I suddenly started looking at this school decision from a completely different lens and School C slowly started moving from being at the bottom on my list to the top. And what I have been seeing of the school and its approach crystalised my thoughts in the same direction. Stuff like:

  • When we went to pay the fees and also at the first parent meeting, we ran into atleast 7 people whom we knew from work/ college. It generally gave us a sense that we were amongst ‘people like us’.
  • The school itself is very down-to-earth and by that I mean very like the schools I went to when I was growing up. The classrooms are simple. They allow the kids to distribute no more than two boiled sweets on their birthdays and when I went to buy the uniform from the authorised shop, we spent a princely amount of Rs. 1100 for four sets of shirts and shorts, 5 pairs of socks, 1 pair of shoes and 10 identity cards – Jai was understandably bugged with me for making him go to the ATM to withdraw cash before we went...
  • There was no interview as a part of the admission process – there’s nothing I find more ridiculous than this practice of evaluating three and four-year olds on their ability to communicate with a bunch of complete strangers, something that kids at that age are actually quite averse to doing. So I liked the fact that this school hadn’t fallen prey to that particular temptation. In fact, their first criteria of selection is your pin code because they don’t want kids commuting, followed by the parents’ backgrounds (I have heard that they give preference to kids of professionals).
  • This also reflects in approach they take to education in the primary school. There is no homework, no tests or exams and in general a very relaxed and play-based approach to teaching for atleast the first 2-3 years.

But there were some pretty significant downsides as well:

  • Lack of space: this school is basically just a building with barely any space for kids to play. But that’s Bombay schools for you. The other schools are a little more spacious but you can forget about the basketball courts and football fields we grew up with in other towns and cities.
  • This is a religious school, unlike the others which are more or less secular. Given Ayaan’s mixed parentage, I think I would have been much more comfortable with a school that did not have overt religious communication as a part of their curriculum. But then I thought about it and realised that a lot of my (Hindu) friends went to convent schools and could mouth hymns and portions of the Bible with practised ease but it was just something that they learnt and not necessarily internalised as a belief. In any case, I do want Ayaan to know as much as he can about both our religions and the school is making it easier for me by atleast telling him about one of them.
  • My last niggling concern (which is also a source of comfort) is that Ayaan will have a pretty traditional kind of education – the kind that most Indian kids in my generation had. On the one hand, it is reassuring because I know what it’s all about and we all did turn out fine. But having been part of the same system, I also know how the approach (especially in the later years) sa lot more on learning by rote rather than interacting with and internalising the knowledge. And also how it can be quite restrictive and can stifle the creativity/ edge out of the mavericks. I did consider this school for a bit but in the end, it all boils down to this – I don’t have the guts. The temptation and the comfort of sticking to the tried and tested path is too high.

Just one last point (in case, any of you are still awake after that endless, meandering account). There have been a lot of words flying around the blogosphere on what kind of education is best for kids. I think we often post-rationalise these things. Three months ago, I was just as likely to have chosen one of the other schools I mentioned and then, I suspect this would have been a very different kind of post. And that too would have been a good and valid decision... so I think we should stop being so hard on ourselves and on others for the choices we/ they make. We are all doing what we believe is best for our kids and like it or not, circumstances and luck have a pretty big role to play in the whole thing.

42 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:18 am

    Good luck. Good decision. I've read some of your posts but hardly ever commented.

    I knew someone who sent their son to the Steiner school till he was in Class 4 or something (at that time, the Steiner school had only till Class 4 or something). The kid is now in AVM and thriving.

    You must be in Bandra, judging from the schools you are considering. I'm sorry to see that the old schools - Carmel Convent, St. Josephs, St. Stanislaus and St. Andrews are no longer considered respectable schools! In my time (twenty years ago!) Bombay Scottish was the only nearby posh school - a sort of Cathedrals wannabe. As the SSC types we envied them. But then we walked to and from school and they could only get to school by cars, so maybe it wasn't all good!

    n!

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  2. I'm totally inspired by you! I'm going to get down to list making by this, um, May? That's ok, innit?

    I still think you should go to the schools where your parents feel comfortable. That's what my brother and I did, from our Hyd years onwards, and I think it paid off well.

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  3. Thought out with your usual balanced thoroughness.

    I'm just trying to picture having to choose Jabin's school already, and even my very creative brain gets a little overwhelmed at the thought. Yikers!

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  4. hi rohini, ive been reading your blog for some time now and i really enjoy it. i live in bombay too and im expecting a baby soon and this problem of finding a good school is already bothering me!! im from madras originally and there's a school here that everyone wants to get into, where you actually have to register when you're pregnant! this seems so ridiculous and far-fetched but when you think of the immense pressures on limited resources in a city like bombay, you wonder whether its all that ridiculous.

    But I really think you've made the right decision. i understand your concerns about the lack of space (always a concern for people from outside bombay) and the traditional mode of learning, but hey, it worked for us. i am a Hindu and I had a complete convent education - we did learn hymns and so on but that was just a nice part of school life and nothing more. it was a solid school that i truly believe instilled some strong values in us.

    the incidents you mentioned are really worrying and I wouldnt want my child to face such pressures on a daly basis. i wouldnt want him or her to value people based on what they own, where they live, and where they holiday. anyway - good luck with everything!oh - and is there some way you could let me know the name of your chosen school? would really appreciate it. thanks.

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  5. hey rohini,
    great post. definitely fodder for thought for when my turn comes around.
    i'm sure school C will work out perfectly for you and ayaan. and with that last sentence, you really hit the nail on the head.
    "We are all doing what we believe is best for our kids and like it or not, circumstances and luck have a pretty big role to play in the whole thing."
    Bang on!

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  6. Hey Rohini - been reading your blog for the last year or so, finally delurking.

    (I think we spoke to each other ONCE on the phone years and years ago, btw - set up by our parents who wanted a transfer of CAT fundas :-))

    Great post - I completely agree with what you say about post-rationalizing decisions after the fact, and there being several "best solutions" depending on how things pan out.

    Mala

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  7. [n!] The schools you mentioned are basically less desirable now because they have continued with the SSC board and nowadays ICSE/ CBSE are seen to be better.

    [Sue] Well, that is reassuring. Inspired is better than bored, and I was left with the feeling that I had rambled on too much in this post...

    [Talena] Probably easier in your parts... here in India, there is a basic shortage of quality schools so the admission process can be quite tense.

    [Nina] Hi. Thanks for de-lurking with that supportive and reassuring comment. I don't want to give my son's school name out on this public forum but would be happy to do so if you mail me at rohini_haldea@yahoo.com

    [Mona] Thanks.

    [Mala] We did? Well, your fundas must have worked because I did make it ;)

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  8. Actually, it was the other way around..I was the funda recipient, and luckily they worked :-)

    Mala

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  9. Hi Ro,

    Great post as always. You are one heck of a balanced act (sorry for making you sound like a trapeze though). I am totally saving this post for future reference and forwarding link to the husband. Thanks for writing this.

    Parul

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  10. Will read later and comment.
    Tagged you. Pls go four post below on my blog for the tag.
    Got a little zapped here...:-(

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  11. Anonymous7:00 pm

    Glad you decided on a school that you as parents felt was good for your boy. Those examples you quote are just parents trying to fortify their ego and false sense of superiority.

    R

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  12. Anonymous9:15 pm

    Can I tell you something? This is the best decision that you have taken. This school seems very much like the school that I attended, peer group is very important. What I really loved about school C is that they do not conduct these so called interviews and tests, I don't understand how they can guage a 3 year old kid's intelligence by asking ridiculous questions like - where does your father work? What is your home telephone number? etc etc. I am sure Ayaan will be very happy in this new school. You give me so much hope, we are in US now and are planning to move back in 2 years and will start looking for schools soon, hubby and I very much want our kid to go to a school like school C. My husband and I went to such schools and have done quite well academically and professionally. Please do a follow-up post once Ayaan starts his school.

    Raji

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  13. [Mala] Oops, have a terrible memory with these things. Well, as you might have figured from my blog, there's nothing I like more than giving gyan... glad it helped :)

    [Parul] Check your mail

    [JLT] I know what you mean, I felt that when I re-read the post... it does ramble on, doesn't it...

    [R] That's one way of looking at it but I think many of them do it with good intentions of making it special for their kids and I guess spending a lot of money is the easiest way to do it...

    [Raji] That's nothing. I heard of a school interview where they placed w hole bunch of veggies in front of kids and asked them to identify which ones grow above ground and underground - I am not sure I could have got all those right!!! Will surely keep posting...

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  14. wow. the examples are positively scary.
    congrats for crossing one big parenting milestone - finding a school.

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  15. Rohini--Writing the comment late. Was caught up in something. I appreciate your decision to take ur baby to school C. I seriously believe that if the child is having a good support system at home and is destined to achieve something, they will do it no matter which school you send. I am sending my son to a public school (this is the US version of non private schools) which is close to my house, so that he can attend the same day care for the after school program and will have the least commute. I don’t know if I am write or wrong, I do not make conscious efforts to teach him the names of fruits, but I know he knows where strawberries are stored in the patel grocery store and where he can find the bananas. Sometimes I really wonder where will we end up in this mad race of getting the best of everything. Best school, best neighborhood, best clothes etc. may be we should teach them to make best out of the given conditions. I donno if I am making any sense.
    Well at the end of the day I can appreciate your decision of sending him to school C.

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  16. Hi Rohini 0 am amazed when I read these posts - I really just don't know India at all feels like. My god - an ipod for a return gift?! Who are these people?! Is every one rich all over Bombay - that's what it feels like when I read your/Kiran's posts! Has this sort of grand birthday bash thing been going on for a long time or is this a recent phenomenon?
    Anyway - back to your actual post. Your decision sounds great because I feel a parent has to give importance to his/her gut feelings when it comes to this decision. If not, I am sure both you and the child will feel out of place in which ever school you choose.
    When I read your/MM's posts - I am just glad I don't live in Bombay or Delhi - the stress would have killed me!

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  17. I want to talk to you Ro, I think I feel the same way as you do. But I'm also confused. A few months ago, I thought that my alma mater (a regular traditional convent girls school that is 50 years old) would be perfect for Poppin.

    But now I'm confused. I feel that my mom put me in a convent school because it was considered premium at that point and I certainly benefited from it. Now shouldn't I put my kid in a world school type thing so that she reaps the benefit? Isn't the aim of every generation to make the next generation better?

    Then there's the third type too, the alternative schools, but like you said I wouldn't have the guts either. Although I wish I did.

    To top it all there's all these posts coming over in the blogosphere and I'm nervous as hell.

    BTW I left you a little note at Kodi's place (regarding potty training). Take a look sometime.

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  18. ROTFL at the excel sheet - the MBA disease. My husband and I did the same thing when we were deciding between two different car brands a couple of years ago, and even calculated the net PV of the money saved on fuel(!)

    But the school you picked sounds nice - in these days with so many people flashing so much newfound wealth, it's important that the school have and pass on sensible values to the kids.

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  19. Nice one, as usual, Ro. Ditto Mona and Parul.

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  20. Dammit, I HATE when Mona and Parul get here before me and say what I was going to. Prescient Copycats!

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  21. [Choxbox] Yup, relief is the predominant emotion!

    [Jayashri] Completely agree. I know parents who send their kids to schools at the other end of Mumbai because they are the 'best' schools. Imagine kids commuting two hours to go to school for five hours - it just does not add up!

    [Noon] Thankfully, these are not universal examples but the fact is that there are enough of such people around that our kids are bound to run into them... more at some schools than others. And also, I think this is a more recent phenomenon because I never heard of anything like this when we were growing up.

    [Poppins] Thanks for the potty training tip. Though I don't think Ayaan was particularly embarrassed about his accident at school today - he was actually quite excited that he was wearing a 'new' pant!

    On the schooling thing, call/ mail anytime. In a nutshell, I have two problems with the world schools. Firstly, from what I know they are not completely accepted by Indian universities (at least not yet) and are more oriented towards prepping your kid for an international education. Secondly, I think kids there grow up in a very rarefied atmosphere and can end up being quite disconnected with the realities of the country they live in...

    [Bird's Eye View] Take away PPTs, excel sheets and bullet points and you'll take away my ability to function!

    [Y] Thanks :)

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  22. oh God you and the OA and the damn excel sheets. It makes me want to scream!!! :)

    and thank you. this is exactly what i've been talking abt with ppl not understanding why i object to the expensive schools. what kind of child returns the crayons because she doesnt like them?!! and ditto - a couple of days ago the brat came back from playschool with almost a sack of return gifts including - hold your breath - an alarm clock like a cartoon character. what on earth is one thinking of, giving 2.5 year olds alarm clocks!!!

    am so happy the peer thing is important to you too. i have no time for arguments that say - oh, balance it out at home. sure you can balance things out, but does one really want to have their child exposed to iPods as return gifts!!!!

    i am so jealous. our school hunt is nowhere near over. next year is the big one.

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  23. Lovely article Ro, and very informative as well. By God, the return gifts in the parties here, are got from dollar stores :) and I returned the IPOD my husband got for me for XMAS :) !!.

    In the movie 'Cheaper By the dozen -2 ', it talks about the differences in income between 2 couples and kids, as impressionable as they are, it is tough. My son has spiderman bedding and he goes to X's house, he has Superman bedding (all cost the same ), and now he wants that and tomorrow he sees batman backpack , he wants that :), they are so young and so impressionable, sure you can reason them out, but better not to expose when they cannot yet understand !!

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  24. Very interesting, though I don't have kids. I went to an "alternative school" for the last years of my school life and wished I had been sent there earlier. Husband went from a very young age. I think we've turned out fine :)

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  25. Ro: LOL. I guess its not the schools, its the people in them. Anyway, even with the school the brat goes to, admission was decided on postal code to determine distance from the school, no interview, and uniforms are like 100 bucks a tshirt, but yes, they do have Adidas shoes, which had us parents in an uproar. They also allow only a homemade cake with no icing for a birthday celebration, and if one invites one child, one is to invite the entire class or not at all. The school seems to be sane, its the nouveau riche crowd that is going mad with the money they have to throw around. But there are groups of sane, sensible, professional parents within the school too. And that helps.
    I guess, this phenomenon of showing off has become such a disease its scary. No, havent been to any buildabear or ipod return gift parties yet (thankfully) (Noon, my return gifts were humble crayon and colour pencil sets, and that seems to be the average norm amongst all the birthday parties I've attended from school mates in the past couple of years), but I know that such do exist, a rare party had the hostess hand out customised towel, bedsheet, pillow cover and bathrobe sets with the guest child's name on it. That was scary enough for me. Where do you draw the line, and how far do you cocoon your child?? I've been seriously considering tridha too, but chickening out because of the distance and the fact that they dont have affiliation yet...am planning to give them a year more and then make my decision.

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  26. Anonymous12:11 pm

    While going thru the school details what I feel is we City parents are overlooking one major fact which is the shift in the family system over the years & certainly linked to it what is eventually the meaning of successful parenting

    During our school days, we came back home to a family; any issues, any troubles any momentous happenings were discussed with family members or somebody was out there to ask if you were looking unhappy.

    Zoom to today
    ...Both parents working…. kid comes home to a maid....whose interest (if you are lucky) is ensuring that all the routinal aspects ...feeding, changing, etc where the kid is concerned is accomplished. Maybe a few words of “Baba/baby school kaisa tha" will be shared but mostly it will be listen to me/ do this else your mama is going to shout at you. Else, the older the child, the more involved will he be with his TV or Computer post school hours & if not that then the phone.

    And this for the child after a harrowing day in school
    -in the midst of 40+ kids crammed in a classroom,
    -with one harassed teacher who knows that paying attention to each child is a Herculean task follows the traditional path asking kids to keep repeating each lesson endlessly till it gets into the heads of at least a few children if not all, else gives a big bag of HomeWork for the child & parents to later have a squabble over it.
    -with equally stressed out friends on the lookout for victims to vent their frustration
    -with minimal supervision as the Teacher child ratio is an alien concept in most Indian schools

    Don’t you believe as parents we owe our children in the least a school environment
    - which maintains a strict vigilance on the number of children per class
    (Most progressive schools like Dhirubhai, Vibgyor are strict about this 25- max 30 to a class & till primary two teachers per class of 24 kids) ensuring at least individual attention in school so that the child has a relatively stress free day
    -that ensures kids are never physically punished & teachers under no circumstance shout or make personal hurting comments to the child. In the progressive schools kids are counseled if they have a discipline issue.
    -wherein kids are encouraged to talk to teachers not just for studies, hence in the face of any kind of harassment the child feels confident to talk to his teacher..

    We parents should not contribute to the child’s stress with our narrowed down perceptions based on days gone by or life’s experiences which are no longer valid.

    Today’s world is much different. We as kids didn’t have the media or the communication channels for the kind of exposure the kids of today get.

    The good, the bad, the ugly; everything is staring at today’s kids faces every waking hour. Even channels such as Jetix & AXN are stressful with their extreme & out of the world ideas. Hindi TV serials that constantly play in every Indian home in the evening are no better- ideas of family life & reality are warped & presented.

    Folks teach your child responsibilities & values, DO NOT control their environment- it’s a losing battle. Parents must teach children how to handle their environment instead of themselves taking care of every aspect or putting an embargo on some things or sticking by an education system which should have become redundant when the Britishers left India.

    So instead of controlling the environment, for the child the safety rules & guidelines should be clear cut as also it should be clear what comes under Adult bracket & Child bracket. If you say No to abuse, the child will use it, if you say “if you feel angry & want to vent it say silly (or list similar words) but a bastard is an adult world to be used only after sixteen (you rationally decide the age)”, the child will understand because he has the intelligence & you as a parent ensure that he understands what’s correct and what should be left to explore only when he is ready for it as an adult. Similarly he should be made to understand what is unacceptable in his home environment may not be so in his friends environment, hence the other child’s attitude to his toys, friends …whatever. Explain every house hold, family & Individual is different same as no two trees or face or fingers are same. As I said prepare your child, make him understand responsibilities & his environment instead of controlling, as you can be aware only what’s in front of your face maybe the kid has been exposed to something that you never even thought he could be at his age.

    You are a SUCCESSFUL PARENT if you teach your child to be independent & inculcate in him a value system that helps him to decide what falls under black or white or gray shades in life; initially in small measures as a child & eventually decisions as a teenager hence preparing him for adulthood

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  27. Well written post. (Yeah, I actually read the whole thing.) I enjoy posts about daily life in other countries. We have some religious and private schools, but most kids just go to the closest public school in their neighborhood. I think we turned out alright.

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  28. Very well written as usual Ro.....i am amzed by the thought process that you put in such posts :) ok..coming back to the post...i think the last para sums it all up...i guess we take ourselves too seirously in these conditions....we are stressed beyond limits when it comes to our kids..and i dont doubt that we shouldnt...but after all that stress there are lot of other environmental,external parameters that judge our decisions and we end up taking decisions that might e completely opposite to what others thought...but what we want for our kids is the best in this world...so we take decisions stick to it and be happy!

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  29. riddhi6:33 pm

    hi rohini,
    i'm a journalist with the hindustan times working on a story about parenting. i'd like to talk to you about it - can't find your email address anywhere, so can you email me at riddhi.s@gmail.com. or you could call me at 9821390409. i hope to hear from you soon. thanks!
    riddhi, ht

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  30. Hi Rohini,
    I came by your blog, whilst I googled.

    It was reassuring reading your post on schools. I have a 5 month old. Recently I bumped into a parent of a 1.5 yr old who mentioned that she was very disappointed that she could not enroll her kid into a "mother-toddler program". What?! what was that again I remarked. Apparently it is a program for children in the age group 6 months to 1.5 yr....just prior to play school.

    I was completely taken aback and disappointed with what 'education' is veering towards. A complete mockery. 5 yrs of training before a child enters class 1. Is that not a bit much. And then they talk of early burn-outs.

    Sorry for taking up so much space in your blog...but I had to share this with someone who thought along similar lines.

    Cheers :)

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  31. And just an aside - "Build a bear" just closed down all three of their workshops in Mumbai. (source : Splurge - HT)

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  32. Long-time lurker here. De-lurking to congratulate you for a wonderful post.

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  33. [Alan] Totally impressed that you read the whole post! And am totally in line with your 'we turned out fine' approach to the whole schooling thing...

    [Riddhi] Sent you a mail.

    [GP] You have no idea! In Mumbai, there are actually coaching classes that supposedly prepare 3-4 year-old kids for interviews for school admissions. It leaves me speechless, and not in a good way!

    [Mystic] Thanks for delurking :)

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  34. Mridula6:49 pm

    Ro,

    Raman recently sent me the link to your blog... heard you'd been awarded a best-blogger award and all! Your blog really struck a chord... keep up the fab work!

    Raman's son and my daughter are classmates... we went through the whole school thing a year ago, and Nadia did make a spreadsheet too :)I think the whole peer concept is really important; I definitely don't want my daughter going to an air-conditioned school (15 years back, Bangalore schools didn't even have fans - but the weather here is great :)

    Things I like about this school
    - class sizes are small (2 teachers for 30 kids till Grade 1)
    - they follow the Montessori system (Arundhati has taken to it like a duck to water!)
    - they are not 'alternate'; yet they are not 'conventional', so you have a strong focus on academics, but not much homework till Grade 4; every child gets opportunities such as public speaking etc which may not be feasible in a larger school
    - Kids actually enjoy going to this school. My cousin's kids and some of Kuldeep's colleagues' kids go there too, and had great things to say about it.
    - 'People like us' send their kids there (we bumped into Raman on first day!)
    - No admission test for the kids, or even the parents... don't know how they select children!

    The not-so-nice things:
    - Fees are horrendous! We pay 80K per annum, I used to pay Rs 144 per year at LSR! The good thing is that fees here increase for every subsequent batch, but they stay frozen for each batch
    - Even though the school primarily has professionals' kids, it is a bit 'elitist'. My nephew's school trip meant they were staying at the Taj in Chikmaglur, which I thought was OTT for 12-yr-olds

    But as you said, it depends to a great extent on luck and circumstances. I grew up in a moffusil school, we conversed in Hindi all the time (even in English class :) but turned out fine.

    Love to Jai. Ayaan looks adorable,lots of kisses to him! Let us know the next time you are in B'lore, let's meet up.

    PS - On the b'day thing, we just celebrated Arundhati's 4th, and I did go a bit overboard because this is the first year she was so excited about it. But next year, definitely no cotton candy man. Though the examples you've cited make me feel almost sane :) IPods?!! Personalised linen?!!!

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  35. I am glad you made your decision. This process sounds even more scary than applying for college here in the US. Birthdays here are getting out of hand too. I would not fret too much aout the "traditional" schooling. We went through it and turned out just fine. School is a lot more than academic learning and am glad you chose one where your peers go!

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  36. [Mad Momma] See? We don't disagree on everything ;)

    [Taamommy] Yup, more than anything else, I want him to grow up thinking of himself as a 'regular' kid - no inferiority or superiority complexes!

    [Mumbaigirl] I know! They really appeal to me too but I guess I am just a conventional and risk-averse bore, especially in my mommy avatar :)

    [Kiran] Customised linen?! Another anecdote to add to my rapidly growing repertoire.

    [Anon] Too many assumptions. I was brought up in the way you describe with a full-time working mom. I only know that I had a lovely childhood, loved school and would never think to describe it as 'harrowing'.
    The other assumption being that the conventional schools have not evolved. The school I have picked has a student-teacher ratio similar to what you mention in the primary school as well. Their teachers are nice and physical punishment is not permitted (I can't think of too many schools where this is permitted)
    Again you assume that we are living a blinkered existence, following rules of the past. Again untrue, I think most of us have the intelligence to use our knowledge of the modern world but also not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as far as some of the old ways are concerned.
    Lastly, I do not agree about your point about controlling your child's environment. Not at this age, in any case. Sure, he can pick his own college or career but surely at the age of 3, I need to make these choices for him based on what I know and think best.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time for leaving such a long comment. I agree with you that the schools you mentioned are good schools but everything (including my choice) comes with its pros and cons and there equally valid options that exist other than these

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  37. great u found a school u have liked
    actually i am sure our kids will fare well in any school we put them
    & we do our best in giving them opportunities that suit our idealogoies
    i don't think we will mak a mistake in our choices by that logic
    all the best

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  38. Ro, do you know this Mridula personally (it sure looks like). From her comment it seems as if she's from Bangalore.. I wish I could find out which school her daughter goes to, it sounds like she's so happy with her choice.

    @Mridula: if you ever come back to read this, I'd so much appreciate if you could let me know the name of the school at my email [poppin dot mom at gmail dot com]. Ro will vouch for me that I am NOT a pyscho :)

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  39. That was an amazing post and what you have to say makes loads of sense to me :)
    Loved the lines - 'so I think we should stop being so hard on ourselves and on others for the choices we/they make.'

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  40. Rohini
    This article was great. Have linked to this post at Desi Momz Club

    URL:http://desimomzclub.blogspot.com/2008/03/some-school-talk-around-blogosphere.html

    Also have an one liner excerpt from your post there

    If this is not ok let me know

    sandeepa

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  41. Late to the party, as always. I had bookmarked your post for commenting later and just didn't get around to doing it.

    I wish more parents thought like you and your husband. I wish parents would look at the whole picture and not just the glamour of a school, or just academic performance while making these decisions. For me, education is THE most important thing - but marks aren't.

    I read Mad momma and Kiran's post on the subject too and this all seems so scary. But like always, you made sense and sorted things out so neatly.

    LOL at the spreadsheet. One of my coworkers mentioned spreadsheets a few years ago - she said her son threw a tantrum in a store and she went crazy because it wasn't listed on her "if-then-else" worksheet on parenting :D

    OK, even though I wanted to, I can't comment on individual parts of your post because that would require me to remember what I read for more than 5 minutes, and currently I am running on fumes. No reserves allocated for memory when all your energy is being spent in getting from day one to day two. But an awsome post this is and a great decision too. Ayaan is one lucky fella to have such parents!

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  42. Hi, am glad you sent me this link, as our views on the subject are so similar.
    Increasingly,I feel all the pressure on our kids is entirely our doing as parents - when we fret over the 'best school', the 'best hobby classes'.. basically get them to believe that the 'best' in them will only come from other people and things, not themselves. That they're not automatically losers for not being in a particular group, or privileged for'making the cut' anywhere, but need to work at it, make good schoices. I've met really snotty people who've suggested XYZ schools, "..because you have a "better class of people going there"... right in front of their kids and mine!!

    Luckily, have not been to the kind of b'day parties you've described... ipods and bedlinen (Kiran's comment) as return gifts!!! But yes, don't you get a sense of innocence lost here...

    BTW, Impressed by the excelsheet approach..:)

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