An excited 6 yrs old Kannan ran out to the sunny balcony, thrilled to see the round red sun in the horizon. Just as he was telling his grandma, “Look! Look, Ammamma! The sun is looking like an orange, was this how it looked when Hanuman zoomed to catch it?” Even before he could complete his sentence, his mother Lakshmi came bustling up to him and said, “Come on, Come on, let’s run through “Suraj Chacha” once again. “Not again!” was Kannan’s reaction. There followed a 25 minutes exchange between the mother and the son during which she coaxed, cajoled, threatened and finally bribed him with the promise of a doughnut if he recited the Hindi poem properly ….! All the joy of seeing the orange sun evaporated as Kannan got ready to recite “Suraj Chacha” during the Hindi online class (not his favourite at most times) under the gimlet eyes of his mother.
I am quite sure this is happening in many Indian homes today thanks to the online classes (an offshoot of the Corona pandemic and subsequent Lockdown) which are being beamed directly to the homes, exposing the teacher, the children and their parents to each other. Classes are taking place five days a week and to benefit from these classes, students are using a variety of devices.
A virtual survey was conducted between Friday, May 15 and Sunday, May 17, 2020, to assess the experience of 5 - 18 yrs, old school children, using a questionnaire of about 40 questions, distributed through WhatsApp and email. Data received from 155 students across 13 states evenly distributed across the country, revealed that 87.2% of the respondents are studying in private-run schools and only 12.8% are either from the Centre and state-run government or government-aided schools. During these classes parents, who are required to be around children during the session (especially of the younger children) face the greatest challenge. This also poses another problem for the children since the parents cannot be just observers but try to become loco magister or adjunct teacher.
A survey of more than 1800 Australian parents and guardians by Australian Scholarships Group and Monash University indicated that 80 per cent of Indian as well as other Asian parents have high expectations for their child’s educational accomplishments. According to Bapat, urban Indian parenting practices mostly belong to the class known as "helicopter parenting", "hover-parenting" or "intensive parenting” characterized by deep involvement in every aspect of their education, extra-curricular activities and free time. Such parents do not assist in the development of their children’s freedom since they tend to supervise, help or control their schoolwork, tasks at home as well as their social interactions physically or mentally. Indian parents, in general, get hyper about their children’s academic performance.
In the pre-Corona days the children escaped this helicopter parenting during their school hours though the mothers and sometimes the fathers exhorted them to be “first in the class” though they know full well that all the children cannot be first in the class and someone has to take the second, third and other places. Earlier their skills of the 3Rs, asking and answering questions, reciting or orating were witnessed by their classmates and teacher – with whom they were comfortable. Their performance would vary according to their mood, physical conditions and other factors.
Now their performance is under scrutiny being watched as they are by their parent, other parents, classmates and teacher, who cannot even offer encouraging smiles (as happens in a typical classroom situation). The child would surely experience stage fear but some stressed parents start berating the child about every mistake he may have made. This upbraiding of the child is due to their high expectations aggravated by watching other children, who may have performed better as also by the common syndrome of “keeping up with the Joneses”.
If the parents are not supportive, it may leave an everlasting scar on the children’s psyche. It is important for parents to realize that they are not meant to be homeschoolers in conjunction with the teacher who is the guiding force in the subject matter. A parent should know when to bend in and bend out of their child’s learning experience. Parents should be the greatest boosters and motivators of their children.
“Child development does not mean developing your child into the person you think they
should be, but helping them develop into the best person they are meant to be.”
― Toni Sorenson