What Social Studies exam taught me…….. The mid-term exams this time had a good many lessons for me. Here goes the story of one of them…… I’ve always believed that spoon-feeding spoils the young learners. The only way to make sure the children put in their best efforts to grasp something is to be attentive in class and brush it up later at home, with some help from a parent, when needed. “How long can one guide them? It’s not the right thing to do after they turn six,” I’ve reasoned, scoffing at the idea of hand-holding for as long as it can be done.
My son, Advaita, did get the message (partly, of course!), and did try to capture something from his school teachers, constrained by factors like – he is a chatty child, gets fidgety now and then, lays his hands on any story book his friends have brought to school and has a limited attention span typical of nine-year-olds. Recently, he began writing the mid-term exams, with me getting involved to the extent of giving him a few tips to retain the knowledge gathered from his curricular books, emphasizing he understood the facts there before he went into storing it all in his memory cells and making him write partly some of the review papers the school had kept ready as a kind of ‘pseudo-exam’ papers. And then on a Friday, he returned home very sick, threatening to bring everything to a standstill!
With hospital visits and medicines, things did come under control, but a big question loomed large before me – How to help him prepare for his Monday exam, with he not being in his element? After all, it was Social Studies (Geography of our times!) and badly needed last-minute memorizing, unlike Mathematics and Language involving concepts.
A neighbour, a younger mother, suggested wisely, “Read out to him from the book, let him just listen. I did it the other day, when my son was too tired and sleepy to study for his weekly exam.” So our marathon Social Studies exam preparation began – aloud I read and read and read whenever Advaita was receptive enough to listen to what I read – and ended after two days! You can imagine how much I spoke! And I could imagine how a teacher feels at the end of a weekday at school! And I also realized how my writing jobs that I had planned for the week-end had silently and automatically got shelved (luckily I had met my commitments because I work in advance).
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All because a mother wanted her son to perform as well as he could with the handicaps of sickness and a subject that needed cramming! It was the typical case of a stay-at-home mom whose attention is not divided between demanding work schedules and her children, the story of a perhaps-overdoing-mom who strives to be a super-mom all the more, but rarely succeeds! A lot was at stake – the assessment of the child by the teacher that would follow the exams and for me – Let me continue to have the courage of my convictions that this was one of the reasons for not going back to work yet (for Advaita is a typical boy who doesn’t pay enough importance to marks and grades yet)! And for the time-being, it even outweighed the joy writing gives me (my oxygen since I separated from my IT job)!
But the whole episode had its downside too that I was completely unprepared for and had not foreseen (no other option even if I had foreseen it!)! Following his Social Studies exam (he had recovered by then), when I reminded Advaita he had to begin brushing up his Hindi for the exam two days away, pat came his reply, “We’ll study together, Mom!” as he galloped away to the park! So much for an involved mother who had been a very sincere student all through her academic life and could not think of letting her happy-go-lucky son bring home unsatisfactory scores!
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