School Admissions and Assessment – Are we doing it right?

School Admissions and Assessment - Are we doing it right?

Bilna Sandeep

Bilna Sandeep is the founder of this blog. She is a Civil Engineer by profession who is currently on a career break to enjoy the joys of motherhood with her almost 2 year old naughty little boy. During her free time, she loves to write, blog and speak up for the causes she care for in the society. Read More About Bilna Here

As I walk out of the principal’s office, I try to hold back a tear waiting to escape. Had he mentioned, their seats were already full, I wouldn’t have felt anything wrong. But his words kept echoing in my ears. “Our school does not have specially trained teachers to take care of kids like your son”. Myself and my husband did not say a word to defend our son. To prove to him that our son was perfectly normal. We were shocked to hear those words.

#SchoolAdmissions So its almost time for the legendary school admissions for my boy. While I am busy searching for our options, I happen to take a step back and think about the kind of childhood I had in India. Back in those times, getting admission in a school wasn't any tedious process or stressful times for the kids.. we played..we had fun.. we made the best of our childhood. This pic was clicked during our #keralavacation vacation at #Kozhikode beach..I was just happy to see this pic in my gallery with the little kindergarteners on a picnic to the beach..look at adorable and disciplined they look.. . . . #uaemombloggers #uaebloggers #abudhabiblogger #mydubailife #dubaimoms #abudhabimoms #uaekids #dubaikids #igersdubai #igersabudhabi #igersuae #traveldiaries #matadornetwork #streetclick #desi_diaries #igramming_india #kerala #godsowncountry #iloveindia #indiapictures #indiaclicks #keralatourism #childhoodunplugged #candidchildhood

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The last two hours we had spent at the school waiting for the “lucky lots”, to be among the 50 students who were to get admission into the Kindergarten for the next academic year. And we got the lot. And in the busy rush of worried parents and even more stressed kids who were each given a maximum of 3 to 5 minutes to prove their “skills” to the teachers who were going to access them for “Kindergarten Readiness”.

Like every parent, I was worried too. My boy was throwing in his usual tantrums before entering for his assessment (because he was hungry). And my boy surprised me. As soon as we entered the busy classroom with 3 to 4 separate counters for assessments, he walked confidently and sat next to the teacher. ( I truly wasn’t expecting that) When the teacher pointed at an educational toy on the next table, he went and picked it up, though a little shy and reluctant. But he soon got comfortable and started counting those colored blocks and arranging them. He named all the colors of those blocks correctly. And he counted all the blocks. And then he identified all the letters of the alphabet the teacher showed him. (Boy! I was a proud and shocked mom). I must tell you I am a guilty mom here. Because I did not teach him any of those. He learned it all himself from the Youtube videos he puts on the TV and maybe from his playschool.

Then came the next round in the next room. As he started crying, we asked the teacher and went out and gave him his lunch. Once we got back after the break, he was given his next round of assessment, where he picked up the correct fruits they asked him to pick from a bowl. Then a few colors and blocks again. But when they started asking him his name, fathers name, mothers name etc. he kept quiet. He had almost lost interest by then and was already fussy.

And then they asked me, “when did he start talking?” This was a question I was expecting and was scared of. He started only recently. In fact, he is still in the developing stage only. He has had an issue of speech delay. But after he started play school and in the last two months he has started improving drastically. His vocabulary has shot up the graph in the last two months. I did not send him to a speech therapist. Because I wanted him to learn it all without a “special” help. And I was happy that my vision was right. He has picked it up very well in the last two months.

So we were into #SensoryPlay last week. I made him a #SensoryBottle with colorful bouncing balls and a few colored fridge magnet numbers floating in the bottle. I was expecting to use the bottle as a calm down activity for my boy. However the moment he saw the numbers in the bottle he started shouting "theee" (his word for 3 or any numbers) and he wanted to get them out of the bottle.. after failing to convince him those numbers looked lovely floating in the bottle, I had to let him take all those out and play the way he wanted it. But then isn't it what play is meant to be?? I let him get all messy soon..but he enjoyed #exploring the numbers..The colored balls and playing with the water from the bottle…Thanks to @johnsonsmiddleeast for the lovely set of activities!! Everyday we are discovering new ideas around!! More stories coming soon on the blog..

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I told the teacher about his speech delay. But he has been improving in the last two months drastically. There is still 4 more months for the school year and I am sure he would pick up well by then. After we left the assessment room, we were again asked to wait for more than half an hour to meet the Principal. And we did. To hear those words – “Our school does not have specially trained teachers to take care of kids like your son”.

A little about my boy:
  • He says and identifies all the letters of the alphabet.
  • He identifies and names all basic colors.
  • He identifies and says all numbers up to ten. He counts correctly when you give him a group of objects.
  • He is potty trained. He doesn’t go to his Play school in his diapers.
  • He identifies a few number of Fruits and Vegetables.
  • He follows all instructions in English and Malayalam.
  • He identifies most of the car brands (well not a Kindergarten learning benchmark)

And in just a few minutes of assessment, they concluded he was not worthy of getting an admission there.

But the same school, started another branch a little far away from our home. They had already given him admission two months back. When his vocabulary was not even half of what it is now. But the teacher who assessed him over there was very good. I do not say this because she let him in. Because in just a few seconds she realised my boy loved cars and vehicles and he loved outdoors (well which toddler doesn’t?). She took him outside in the parking lot. She was walking around with him between the cars. And she got the real attention of my boy. And she realized he is a little gem.

So when the Principal said those words, I did not say a word against it. Not because we felt our son was not worthy. But because I knew the school did not deserve to be the Alma mater for my boy, who is sure going to grow up and prove to the world, he is “Special”. Not a kid who requires any Special Education, but a kid who’s going to prove himself special to the world.

 My Say:

I do not blame the school or the Principal or the teachers. It is simply the system they have been acquainted with. They have a certain few benchmarks for letting in kids for their schools. And most of them prefer “easy kids”. School Admissions here is a time of big time panic for the parents. The assessments. The level of knowledge you expect from a kid who’s only going to start his school is high. And there are schools with good and bad ratings. And the parents waiting to get admission into the best schools.

As per the rules here, for admission to CBSE schools (starting the academic year in April), you need to be 3 years and 8 months in April. My boy completes 3 years and 8 months in next April. Had he been born 8 days later he would be eligible only for the next year and he would have had one whole year to improve his talking skills, which the schools here seems to consider as one of the important Benchmark. I wanted to wait for a year more. But most of the schools don’t give me a proper answer. They said he would be “age over” by next academic year and I will have to seek admission for KG-2, which would mean tougher times for him to pick up.

For now, he’s secured admission into a school. Many of them say it’s new and does not have a great rating. But for now, I am not going to panic. Kids are kids and we need to let them be kids. Give them lots of love and support and they will outgrow all their fears and develop their skills themselves. We as parents need to identify their inborn talents and interests and give them the platform to develop. School and teachers are of course an integral part of their growth. But there is no point in panicking over school admissions. If your kid doesn’t get admission in the Best Rated School, there is still so many chances for them to grow. Just be there for them.

School Admissions and Assessments - Are we doing it right?

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