My heart was so overwhelmed today, that I cried. Not a sad heartbroken sort of cry, but one that springs from a heart overflowing with gratitude. My children just started their first day at a new school and had a great first day! If you are thinking that is definitely no reason to be crying about, then let me show you a little peek into our lives and the journey we have been on with the Indian education system.
First of all, I am not a huge fan of our education system. The only reason I enjoyed going to school was because I had amazing friends and a few teachers who made it bearable. There were few subjects that I enjoyed and excelled in, but since I was from a South Indian family, I was coaxed and cajoled into the math and science group (terrible mistake). I had no clue why I was made to memorise the Pythagoras theorem and the periodic tables.
It still baffles me that we had to know about the insides of a frog and the sayings of great hindi poets by heart. Then, having scored 200/200 in computer science in high school, I was advised to pursue that line and get a degree in computer science (oh boy what were we all thinking back then?). Anyway, I really did not enjoy what I studied and gritted my teeth through high school and college.
Fast forward to 2016. My children are in school now and for the sake of this article I will mention their schools as school A and school B.
When we first moved to Delhi we stayed quite close to school A and the logical decision was to put our first child in that school. It turned out to be a good fit for her and she excelled. Three years later we moved to another part of Delhi and the distance to school A became significantly long, so the logical decision again was to find a school closer to our new place. By this time our son was ready for school too. So we put them in school B.
Right from the beginning we knew that school B might not be a good fit for our kids. Our daughter managed somehow, but our son struggled. It did not help that we had just moved to a new locality, had a new baby and that my husband was in and out of hospital for six months. By the end of that academic year my husband suggested that we move the kids out of that school. But since I was not convinced yet, I thought we should give the school another year to see if things would 'settle down' for my son.
But things did not 'settle down', it steadily became worse. Everyday he would cry and whine and complain about how he hated school and how he hated writing. I felt like I was reliving my childhood nightmare of school through him. He told us that most days he would have to stay back during recess and finish his writing work because he was slow. He told us that he didn't understand what the other kids were saying because they all spoke Hindi. Everyday at home whenever it was time for homework, it was a huge struggle because the portion was so vast and he felt like he couldn't get a grasp of anything. We never caught a break. I felt like every time my son came up for air he was pushed back down into the ocean called education. We would pray that things would get better for him, but we knew that it was also time to start looking out for a new school for him, one that would cater to his educational needs.
And so the hunt began. And if you didn't already know, the admission process in Delhi is a nightmare. Most schools that we tried, in and around our area, either told us that there wasn't any vacancy or they would just get our admission forms and we wouldn't hear back from them. So we decided to take them back to school A. I thought it would be a breeze getting them back in, but boy oh boy it was so difficult.
Through this whole admission process there are a few lesson that I learnt:
* To trust God on a whole new level- To trust God with your life is one thing but to trust God with your kids lives, is a whole different ballgame altogether. I mean, he is the one who gave them as gracious gifts to us in the first place, but somewhere down the line I felt like I was the final authority in their lives. When I came to a point in the journey saying, "Lord you know what is best for my children whether they should continue in school B or move to school A, you do what is best for them." The moment I surrendered my ideas thoughts and plans for my kids, I felt like God did things in his way. And his way leaves me standing humbled and amazed. We eventually moved them back to school A.
* Advocate for your child- I realised that my child doesn't have to suffer the way I did. If I don't speak up for my child no one else will.
* Ask for help- Just as much as I knew that my child needed help, I realised that I needed to be adequately equipped to help him. I realised that it's ok for mom to ask for help too. I had older moms walk through the whole of last year with me coaching me professionally and encouraging me from Scripture so I could help my son better.
So on the first day when I went to drop off my kids at their new school I had huge butterflies in my stomach. Had I made the right decision? Would my grumpy little daughter forgive me for moving her yet again for the sake of her brother? Would her old friends remember her? Would my son fit in? Would they have good class teachers? There were a million other questions buzzing through my head. But the minute his class teacher walked in and put her arm around him and told me, "Don't worry ma'am I am going to take good care of him," half my worries were over.
When she worked out a plan for his writing issues along with the school counsellor and me, we knew that we had found a good fit for my son's educational needs. But I was still concerned about my daughter, and those fears were also put to rest when I met her class teacher and some of my daughter's old friends recognised her. There was one little girl (not so little anymore) who ran up to me and said, "Aunty your daughter is in my class and I am going to take care of her."
God knew I needed to hear that my kids were being taken care of even when I was not around them.
And so my kids have successfully finished day 1 at their new school with high-fives and comments like, "This school is awesome!" But I know that our journey with the Indian education system has still only just begun.
For parents of little ones who struggle with this system of education my prayer is that God will give you and your little ones extra grace and strength to plod through this time. May His peace guard your hearts and may His joy give you strength!
Photo Credit: Flickr