Almost 2 years ago when I was selecting a school for my child, I confused myself silly wondering what I really wanted for her.
I remember thinking, “do I want her to perform well in school? Do I want her to become a high-achiever who is always up for a challenge? Do I want her to be curious, always looking to increase her knowledge about people, places, and things? Do I want her to be academically average but an all-rounder otherwise who never shies away from an opportunity? Or do I want her to become a ‘good human being,’ compassionate about all living things in the world?”
Since then I’ve been talking to other parents, listening to educationists discuss the importance of creativity and individuality, encouraging my daughter to explore the things that intrigue her and reading up everything I can about how to make her future ready.
I’ve come to realize that these 9 gems are crucial for every child’s upbringing and must be a joint effort between parents and the school. The understanding here is that it isn’t about what’s more important and should be prioritized. Each has a different role to play and a child will innately excel in one or the other to become who they’re meant to be.
- Academics – children are quick to grasp letters, numbers, practical and theoretical concepts when taught using different learning methodologies. I remember my tuition sir presenting me with Physics can be Fun, which didn’t increase my interest in the subject but did help me to clear my exams. Personally I believe, science is as important as maths or geography and history. A general understanding of each builds a broad repertoire for children to access whenever necessary.
- Digital Connect – let’s face it, technology is no longer an option but a necessity. In our times it started with learning basic computer skills in higher classes but today children grow up with smartphones and other handheld devices. Information is literally at their fingertips and that’s their world. Their interpretation of connection (including that with friends and family) is very different and we must embrace that.
- Personality Development – children need basic structures and guidelines to navigate their world effectively. In an attempt to assuage our insecurities we sometimes jump in to protect them even when it’s too early for any intervention. Allowing children to explore for themselves the outcome of their own choices supports them to become responsible adults.
- Creativity – is essential to experiment in order to add value to one’s life. Our generation (mostly because of our upbringing) had to be taught the mantra, think outside the box. It was about affirming that the box is there and one must add, re-mould or break out of it. Today, there are no boxes and nor any right or wrong way to do something. Instead what’s important is encouraging children to express their voice and evolve in their own unique way.
- Leadership – the traditional definition is no longer applicable. Today it involves allowing children to excel in whatever they’re keen to do and giving them every possible opportunity to learn a new skill. It’s about teaching them to take ownership of their lives.
- Strong Values – as Indians (not necessarily but mostly), we’re keen that children have a strong value system to help shape their thinking. To value what is important it helps to encourage them to question without fear and create their own understanding of acceptable behaviour.
- Life Skills – help to live well in a demanding world. A child’s social and emotional well-being is dependent on our ability to provide them a nurturing environment. Some say it is good for children to be bored and unhappy because that pushes them to think for themselves and find ways to be entertained. The challenge is to change the parental mindset “make children happy”because loving a child also means allowing them to fail while teaching them how to cope with the stress of failure.
- Community Connect – children cannot live in isolation and teaching them to live in harmony is needed to build global citizens and make the world a better place. The basic “need to belong”encourages children to reach out and touch another life.
- Sports & Fitness – over and above being healthy, supporting children to play sports enhances their ability to be a team player, respond to competition, deal with their emotions and value their contribution. It builds their self-image and confidence.
As a parent, I understand that it’s natural to be torn between our own insecurities about our child’s future and wanting to be lenient so they can explore life for themselves. I know it’s difficult to be a by-stander while watching our children fail but I’m beginning to accept that children mostly need our openness and strength as we stand by their side as their strongest supporters, always.