Saturday, May 29, 2010

Peanut Hates School

When I put Peanut into her playschool last year, she had a settling period of a few weeks. She was barely two at the time, but after she settled in, it was mostly no issue getting her there for a few hours everyday. I would drop her on my way to work, and it was pretty cool.

Then, a few weeks ago, the protests began. She started informing me 'The gates are closed' very firmly, and made up all sorts of excuses to not go.

Her teachers usually write progress updates as short notes in her diary, and a day too late, I noticed that the timing for her 'Swimming pool day has been changed' because 'She has been moved to another class'. Another class? Why would they do that, I thought. That day, I went and checked with them about it.

Turns out Peanut is one of the few 'advanced' kids who was developing faster than the others and was therefore automatically shifted to a class which was a few months ahead. Unlike a couple of the other kids of this type, she didn't kick up a bloody racket and therefore they assumed she is settling in fine over there and just merrily kept her there.

Ummm. Isn't this the kind of thing that should usually be discussed with a parent, I thought.

I informed them that the changeover probably wasn't going as smoothly as they thought, considering that she now was disliking going to school. She was used to the the kids in her class, and had made a couple of close friends there over the last year, and the other big plus was that her fantastic teacher from the previous year had also moved into the higher grade when she moved a few months back. I requested that she be put back to her old class.

They made a fuss and tried to talk me out of it. They insisted it was for her own development. Would eventually help her when she went for admission to the 'big school'. Each child had to be given time to settle in. I felt a bit guilty, a parent who was holding her child back. I said maybe we'd give it another couple of days. After all, a kid does need to face changes in life and has to adjust anyway, I told myself reluctantly. Also, I knew at least part of my reason for wanting a shift was my personal bias for the old teacher and the slight dislike for the new teacher.

The next couple of days were still an issue getting Peanut to school. She started saying 'That boy she pushed me'...and 'That uncle is bad uncle'...and all sorts of things, including at night, dreading sleep. I had no idea if the issues were related, but I knew this wasn't working out right.

Vijay and I went back there again to talk to the principal-in-charge - she listened but was mouthing pretty much the same words about 'giving a child the space to adjust'. While we were talking to her, all the kids were outside singing something in some sort of morning assembly, right outside the office. I saw Peanut standing there in a corner, in line with her classmates while her old classmates and teacher merrily sang along at the other end. She looked around confusedly, and her face began to crumple, and her eyes filled up with tears. She finally caught sight of me staring from the principal's office and the tears started streaming down her face. I pointed this out to the principal, she looked out and immediately went and brought her into the office. While Peanut sobbed into Vijay's shirt, the principal agreed they would put her back.

The issue was that there were now only a few days left for school to give out for the summer holidays. We still had to face reluctance taking Peanut to school in the morning ( reluctance is a mild word), although she was happier when she came back. But the episode ruined our chances for Happy Summer Camp Time - as soon as school ended, summer camp in the same premises - with the new teacher supervising, unfortunately - were to start up. I had enrolled her for the first two weeks, but I think she ended up going only for six days. So now I've given up, and she's going to be at home till the 4th of July.

I just think that that's about the time the twins are coming, and there's going to be plenty to adjust to in any case. Not really looking forward to re-selling the idea of school to her. Even now, after a week of not going to either school/summer camp, she still starts blubbering at the idea and says 'I no want to no go to no school' and reaffirms 'The gates are closed, Mama'. I've told her she's not going for a while. But eventually, of course, she has to. And all this is before the saga of the 'big school', which I've merrily put off thinking about, even begins. This parenting stuff is great.

Anyway, I somehow had a feeling about some of these teachers. While the playschool overall is great, I've heard some of them being a little snappish with the kids. Very...teacher-like. Not warm, like the old teacher, who really is a sweetheart and who at the last PTA meeting, actually welled up while talking affectionately about the development of the kids in her class in general.

But net-net, about putting her back into the old class? All my qualms disappeared when I was looking through her recent craft work, which she apparently 'diligently and quietly' did in her new class. As against the usually encouraging and overly-enthusiastic remarks about her progress from her old teacher, the new teacher had tartly remarked on one poorly scrawled on drawing 'Needs to improve her coloring skills'.

I actually laughed out loud in disbelief. Needs to improve her coloring skills? Really? Towards what end? Eventually restoring the Mona Lisa? So what should I do? Tutor her painstakingly myself, smacking her hand everytime she wants to colour an elephant orange or her crayon goes out of line? Or maybe just send her to Special Coloring School?

Yeah, give me unrealistic and overenthusiastic and warm, anyday. I'll take that over 'advanced'. After all, the kid isn't even three years old yet!

Clearly, there's enough of that crap coming up in life later.



  1. Good call, Y... I'd jumped the upper KG when i was a child because of that "advanced" jazz... and at that time it had sucked a lot, to be with the older kids, who were quite cruel really and didnt include me in any activities. The younger kids also soon started taking me as an outsider. I was left alone mostly and that was horrible.

    Then mum got my school changed and it became okay. but yep, jumping classes in the same school is a bad, bad idea, even if the child is a whizkid.

  2. i think its a great call! am sure she will be fine in the new year once she sees familiar faces of her old classmates again!

    and seriously! needs to improve her colouring??!! gahhhh!!!

    one bop on the head for such a rude teacher!


  3. Good grief what is it with teachers these days?! Improve her coloring skills indeed, the silly hussy! I'm thinking of joining a mommy baby group with my 14 month old and I checked out a playschool nearby a couple days ago where I met this 'teacher' who went on an on about how they'd instill 'competitive spirit', 'urge to learn' and 'memorize nursery rhymes' among the kids. In a mommy baby group! I'm seriously thinking of home schooling!

  4. Silly idiot of a teacher.

    One of the things I like best about Rahul's school is how they don't push him at all. I wouldn't mind if they did a bit, but I'm fine with him not knowing how to write or colour at his age. He's not even four!

  5. First of all, congratulations congratulations on the twins. Just read the hilarious discovery post yesterday!

    I guess Cubby and Peanuts are about the same age. Except for the "advanced for her age" part, there was so much echo. We were debating between what seemed like a crazy-sexy-cool new play-school and tried-and-tested Podar Jumbo Kids, for this year. Finally opted for the latter, ostensibly so he is better prepared for "big school" which we, too, have been putting off. After reading this post, wondering if we should've sent him to the smaller but more fun school instead. Hmmmm

    Hope Peanuts has fun when school restarts. Anyway, she gonna be a lucky big sis big sis soon! Yippeee

  6. Oh, this is just so sad.. Aren't these teachers trained? I'd like to put their certificates into a paper shredder!

    I wonder what they expect out of 3 yo's!! What happened to childhood? :-(

  7. omigawd! I cannot even begin to tell you how nerve racking jumping classes was for me when I was at 4 put into first grade. The older kids(5 and 6 years old atleast) always sense that you are younger even though I was quite tall and for some reason they relished leaving me out of their "grown up" stuff. I remember bawling every single day and even peeing in nervousness trying to get out of going to school.

    Recently, when I was asked whether we would be willing to move my son up one grade because he is "Advanced"(Hmph!!!) it was deja vu all over again and my skin broke out in hives. I didn't even take a second to think and firmly said "No!" You know the fun thing that schools don't understand. Academic maturity or precocity does not necessarily translate into emotional maturity or lead to acceptance by the older kids.

  8. totally agree with you. i find it amazing that kids are pressured at such a young age. i remember a doc asking me early on when i was asking him about why my son's teeth were not out yet - "do u know of anyone who does not have teeth because they never came out ?!" . similarly, kids will eventually learn to write and colour the way they like. IGNORE the pressure and let peanut be the beautiful child she is. best for the twins as well.


  9. i heard another one recently
    My cousin (who is 3) had a note written in her prep school diary
    "isnt mature for her age"
    mature 3 yr old.


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