Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of school admissions and such

Wow what a morning we had - me and my child - I tell ya! Totally filmy. Started with me learning last night that one of the popular schools in our area (NPS) is giving out admission forms for Montessori and LKG starting today. And as you've read in my previous post how I've learnt that you really have to know where you want to send your child even before h/she turns 2 so that you can start the entire process in time. Gosh - little did I know what's in store for me this morning.

So first of all, some background on my rationale here. I was always of the opinion that I am not too crazy about these bigger schools yet coz my daughter is really too little right now. And even in June of next year she'll only just be 2 yrs 9 months. So still a little early for me to start worrying about her admission to LKG. The only reason I would even think of applying to big schools like NPS would be coz they have a Montessori stream of education where they take kids who turn 3 in June (give or take a few months). This way the kid gets a Montessori education and automatically goes to the 1st grade from there. So not only does the kid get the full benefit of the Montessori system for 3 years but the double benefit is that the parents do not have to worry about admissions to a bigger school again after their Montessori education is up. That was going to be the only reason that would make me even turn my head towards big schools like NPS. But again, in my mind, the school had to be very close to where we live and it had to have a warm and fuzzy feel for my kid. So when I came across the NPS HSR website last night and saw they were giving out forms starting today, I called one of my other friends who is also in the same boat as me. We both decided to drop our little ones to their playschool the next morning and then co-ordinate collecting forms from the 2 schools - NPS HSR and NPS Koramangala. Sounds simple so far right? Little did I know how huge a deal it would be for everyone that there would be a queue for miles and miles for such things. I had decided that I'll not get worked up like other parents, and coolly walk into one school and stand in line. If I get the form till 11:30 great, if not, I will leave the line, pick up N from school at 12:15, come home and try the next day. That was my plan since the start.

But reality had something else in store for me. Here's what transpired this morning. After an early start in the morning and several co-ordinating phone calls later I learn that my friend's dad has already gone to NPS HSR to collect forms for her daughter T. So reshuffling of plans hapenned amidst all the craziness of getting the little ones ready for school. I finally got out of the house, dropped N to school at 9:45am and co-ordinated with this other friend A who offered to give me a ride to the school. Reached NPS HSR at 10 and almost fell off my feet on seeing how long the queue was!!! I was almost ready to turn around and leave coz there was no way I would get even near the school gate till 11:30. And they were only giving out forms from 9-11am according to their website. Yet I tentatively dragged my feet towards the end of the spiral never ending queue and asked the lady at the tail end of the queue if this was the line for admission forms. As she turns her head towards me we both exclaim! She turns out to be my classmate from school (we'll call her S) whom I haven't met since I left school 15 years ago! Now isn't that really just like out of the movies! I said to her if this was one of my ex-boyfriends I would be meeting like this, it would be really really filmi! :-D Oh we start excitedly catching up on every little detail...which hugely helped the 2 hours go by much sooner than it seemed. All the while we just couldn't get over the way met. Turns out she does not live too far from our place and has bought a new place even closer to ours now. I again digress. Back to the 'eventful morning details'. So I have most of my neighbors/friends calling me to give me real-time updates from the queue at the other school (NPS Koramangala) and such almost every 15 minutes. When the clock struck 11:30, we were in a panic mode coz we weren't too far away from the office in the queue but weren't so close that we can get the form and leave in the next 5 minutes to pick up our kids. We kept staring at the clock and at the queue. Finally both S and I made a call and asked our friends to pick up our kids from playschool. Now I've never done this before and I could not stop imagining N's little face wrinkled up in tears on not seeing mommy after school. I have seen it happen to other kids when their mommies were running late and felt terrible for that one minute of panic and sorrow the little ones find themselves in. But this call had to be made coz just the next 5-10 minutes of patience would get us those much coveted forms or else we'd have to repeat this all over again the next day for the same school and the day after for the other branch (NPS Koramangala). My friends convinced me saying she will be not be in strangers' hands...atleast she is with friends whom she knows pretty well. So she will get over it pretty quickly and will be fine if they put on Dora and prop her in front of the TV. And I would be with her in a matter of minutes anyways. S even said that there is always a first time like this...they'll have to learn to survive such things or else we'll never be able to go back to work! I kind of agreed with this thinking but obviously us moms are always full of guilt. So it killed me to stand there...but I did. I finally grabbed the form at 12:15, rushed out with S and reached home by 12:30. Went to my neighbor's to pick up N and found her in the lap of neighbor's kiddo's grandmom propped in front of Dora playing on TV but crying away saying "Let's go home!" It melted my heart and somehow convinced me that this little baby of mine is definitely not ready to go to a huge school like NPS yet. I will be sending her to one of the warm and fuzzy Montessoris nearby until she is a year or two older. Gosh! The only saving grace out of all this was that this nice friend/neighbor was able to somehow manage getting an extra form for me from NPS Koramangala as she was standing in that line this morning...thus saving me from doing this all over again tomorrow. Huge thanks G. And A and S and all of my other girlfriends who came up and offered me some much needed support without me even having to ask for it today. Such times really make me wonder - what would a girl do without such wonderful girlfriends!

Anyway, after N saw me she couldn't stop telling me to take her home. So I hugged her tight and brought her home. We cuddled on our couch and surprisingly she started telling me between her sobs how she saw Dora and Tiko and Isa and Swiper the Fox at T's house! Gosh and I thought all she did was cry out there :-) Then she asked to see Dora on her 'own' TV which I promptly obeyed. There we sat hugging each other tightly for a while and watching Dora thanking God for simple pleasures. I tried getting up to get some water for the child but she pulled me back saying "No...don't go". I was holding back tears on seeing how shaken up she was. After 5-10 minutes of cuddling, she had a bottle of milk and like a peaceful baby fell asleep cozily in my arms. I love you my little child and I am soooo not ready for you to get lost in a huge school yet.

The irony of this while episode is that I was the mom who used to crib in the US saying how everyone rushes to send their kids to school at such a young age in India...and that I'll never fall prey to that madness. And here I was this morning doing the exact same thing! Yes...I can always justify it was solely for the Montessori and what not...but part of me still knows that in the end it is a big school and she will not get the one on one attention she might get in a small or mid-size preschool. But knowing me, I am positive I will still end up filling the form and dropping it off anyway. If she does end up getting accepted, that will be another debate with self...and I don't want to even think about it right now. Will cross that bridge when I come to it. But tell me folks...isn't this falling prey to the exact system I did not want to get into in the first place? What would you have done? Would you have stuck to a mid-size Montessori and gone through this entire madness for getting admissions in the 1st grade? Or would you tackle it all right now and not have to worry about their admission process again in 2-3 years? I personally was always inclined towards not having children go through unnecessary stress so early in their lives. But still can't fail to wonder how I had almost started falling prey to this madness myself! Views? Opinions?


Shruti said...

awwwwww.. Lotsa kisses to ur lil 1.. First time is always tough.

Hmm abt ur post, I totally agree that kids don't really need to go to a BIG school for nursery. But Things work differently in India. Its less stressful for the parents & kids too (trust me) to get into a school for nursery than at any other grade. Depends on the area that you stay in also... like Kormangala, HSR there are very few options.
Having said that, every mother feels that her kid will be lost in a BIG school.. Frankly it doesn't matter if the school is BIg or its a small playhome. The student to teacher ratio is important. Like in VH, for prenursery & nursery the teacher to student ratio is 1:8.. Its actually soooo much better than any montessorie in HSR.
NPS is a lottery game :) n u just crossed the 1st hurdle.. do fill in the form & submit. If u get it .. don't hesitate to put your kid in. Best of luck :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Divya,
The earlier the better. At first I was wondering if NPS is National Public School. Looks like it is. My cousin (koramangala resident) put her kids there some yrs ago when she moved back there from here. Very good school. I can vouch for it coz I went to their Chennai branch school all my elementary years. We (my family,cousins) were early adopters from 1970s and I guess Bangalore branches were found later. Really loved that school!!! Good luck :)
- Nithya

Poppins said...

Tell me about it - ofcourse the queues in NPS rajajinagar weren't bad at all, but sometimes I ask myself the same questions - what am I doing? Am I really serious about enrolling my child to 12+ years of rote learning? But we looked at alternative schools and we have put our child in a small hole in the wall montessori (and we love it).

I'm not one for peer pressure, I'm the woman who flew down along from the US in her 7th month because I wanted an Indian passport for mu daughter (when so many attempt the reverse)

It's just that this territory is new to us, we are paranoid about doing the wrong thing for our children and jeopardizing their futures and there IS some comfort in doing what the junta does (akak bowing to collective wisdom).

I don't have any answers, I'm hoping I'll find them as I go along, for now we're going with convenience and some good advice from those who have been there before... If it doesn't work out, we're not afraid to take difficult decisions.

Divs said...

@Shruti: Sigh...I guess you're right that every mom feels her kid will be lost in a BIG school. I just wish we had all the answers always :( My brain kinda agrees with your philosophy but my heart tells me that getting a 2.5 yr old admitted in a big school just takes away their 'khelne koodne' ki umar. I think VH in HSR is very unique in terms of their one-on-one attention factor coz they r so new. (If we ever move that side, that is THE school I'd choose too). But schools like NPS are run like professional institutes where the feeling of 'home away from home' is probably lost. Oh well...I still filled the form and submitted it today.

@Nithya: Yes NPS is National Public School. Didn't know you went to NPS too! Yes they do have branches in Chennai and other places like Singapore. Did your cousin put her kids there in Montessori/LKG or a higher grade? I have no doubts it is a good only dilemma is whether N is ready for a big institute like this at 2.5 yrs of age.

@Poppins: So lemme get this stood in the NPS lines but decided to send your kid to a Montessori is it? I am not one for peer pressure or being so paranoid too...and yet I found myself standing in the queue for NPS this year! Strange isn't it? I guess you're right...sometimes it does make us wonder whether there really is some comfort in doing what most folks do. Afterall, experience does matter doesn't it? But again...our parents didn't have many choices and we didn't even have options like Montessories in our childhood. Yet we turned out to be pretty okay didn't we?

Anonymous said..., you stood in a line for that long for an admission form.
Out here in SIN, they have schools for kids aged 18 months +, usually its a 2-3 days a week for only 2-3 hours thing. I want to send Ash for something like that, as she will get a chance to interact with other kids her age and learn to participate in group activities. Also, for pre-school, KG etc, I don't think I'm going to look for one associated with a big school. I'm going to take it very easy about her schools etc. But it might be a different scene in India.

shalu said...

I also came back from US in my second trimester. All i am saying is it makes more sense to send your kid to a big school right(if she gets admission)because then you and your child can relax till they reach 10th std. This is the only time when the kids don't have to give interview and written test. Otherwise more you delay the child will have to cross these hurdles as well. And, the child will be under lot of pressure to pressure to perform and learn all the rhymes and alphabets and what not. Even i have filled NPS HSR and kormangala for my little one. In case any one of you come across any other good school near by do let me know.

Divs said...

@memyhubbynbaby : Yes things are quite different in India but I am seeing a lot of changes now. A lot of people are delaying sending kids to a big school since the start and there are a lot of playschools and Montessories around now. Thank god!

@Shalu: I agree with your funda that's probably why I filled the NPS forms. But on the other hand I think you and your child can relax till they reach 10th ONLY IF you remain in the same city forever na? I mean...who knows where we'll be 5 years down the line. So why stress them so early in life? Well...we'll see how we tackle this dilemma. Only time will tell :-)

Poppy said...

Nope, I meant that I am looking at alternative schools - montessori is what she is enrolled in (that too a really small, no name brand one)

NPS queue in Rajajinagar (which is where I'm moving) were not huge.