How to identify the right school on the basis of curriculum
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Apr 14, 2020
It is common to hear parents talking about how a certain school is good because of the balance it provides between academics with extra curricular activities, or how they are going out of the way by taking their child for a hobby class to give her the right extra-curricular exposure, but the same thoughts lead to many questions. What is a good balance? Or how do we look for a balanced curriculum? What is the right blend of extra curricular activities and academics—is it only sports or does not-so-popular faculties such as dramatics also contribute towards that right balance? In this question and answer blog, we explore with the help of an Education Expert, why is it important to balance the extra-curricular activities with academics.
Q. Are extra-curricular activities important for holistic development of the child?
A child learns and develops well in an environment that conducively stimulates all this senses and interests, be it solving math sums, dancing spontaneously to music, or watering a plant. Nitin Pandey, Founder parentune.com, Child Development and Education Expert says, “Surroundings, social interactions, play and music have a lasting impact on a child. These have an impact on the physical, social, emotional, intrapersonal as well as cognitive development of a child. Imagine if a child gets an exposure to a positive stimuli, inclusive of these aspects, from an early age. Won't it be wonderful for the overall development of the child? I feel that these should be an integral part to any preschool or school curriculum.” Every activity the child does will come with its own set of benefits, for example gardening will induce a sense of nurturing, responsibility or wonderment in a child.
Q. How do extra-curricular activities help a child deal with the pressure of academics? In fact, don’t they add to the burden in a school curriculum?
Any sort of activity that encourages the child to step outdoors, or even indoors to explore her creative side or gives her thoughts and actions an expression, helps create a balance and keeps the stress levels in check. Nitin says “Hobbies, dramatics, play, or music give a form of expression to each child, help a child be better self aware, and gain confidence from what they enjoy doing. Confidence, once surfaces in a child, is a great feeling and does wonders while the child deals with challenges, be it of any nature. Interest, Involvement and enjoyment are precursors to confidence, and play a positive role for the child even while dealing with academic challenges.”
The problem arises when a choice of extra-curricular activity is made keeping in mind competition or future attractiveness overlooking the real interest of the child. It doesn’t really work when a child is forced into an activity for which he has no interest or aptitude. Most schools nowadays have quite a vast selection of activities to choose from. Let your child take the lead here and help him make the right choice.
Q. What are the commonly available extra-curricular activities available in schools?
Like mentioned earlier, schools are now focusing on giving the child exposure to a multitude of outdoors and indoor extra-curricular activities. Most schools, which have a good infrastructure, provide children with the option of sports including swimming, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, horse-riding, soccer, golf, archery, combat, martial arts, chess, etc. while also encouraging students to relieve stress through yoga, art and craft, and traditional handwork skills such as embroidery and knitting or cooking and baking sessions. On a cultural front, the popular activities are classical and western music, dance, dramatics, debates, and foreign languages. Some schools are also opening up to the idea of robotics, mountaineering, rock climbing, astronomic labs, nature clubs, photography, and even community service as a part of extra-curricular activities. For a holistic development, parents can choose a blend of these activities, keeping in mind what their child’s natural preferences.
Q. How to judge the extra curricular activities that the school provides?
One leading factor that should give all parents a clue into the importance the school gives to extra-curricular activities is the infrastructure and the staff. A school can only give sustained exposure to activities if it has its own swimming pool, grounds for outdoor activities, play areas, labs and also trained staff members who are regular on the schools roster. Also, feedback from parents is a good starting point.
Q. What should be the balance of extra-curricular activities versus academics?
Nitin explains, “ I feel 20% of every day duration at school should involve extra currics, and that too with a diversity in activities.” Parents can speak to the teachers to find out how the school schedules activities in a week (for eg: Monday for sports, Tuesday for dance etc.) and can also judge from the timetable as to how much percent of time, on a typical day at school, is spent on non-academic activities.
Q. Can we judge a school only on the basis of their approach to learning or the curriculum it provides for its students?
While the learning approach is an important factor for the parents to consider, it is not the only factor. There are some more equally important factors for the overall growth of a child. Parents would like to check on the school by checking for the reputation the school carries, and how effectively the school manages to impart education while preparing a child for tomorrow. A good learning system should equip a child with life skills, including risk-taking abilities; enrichment programs; orienting and partnering with the parents for a positive approach towards a holistic child development.
Q. But how to decide when enough is enough? What about parents rushing children from one activity to other in the evening/hobby classes?
The purpose of extra-curricular activites loses weight if they too become pressure points for the child. It is common to see parents shuttling children between hobby classes and/or summer camps in an attempt to give ‘maximum’ exposure to the child, but what the child perhaps misses out here is the entire idea of self exploration and self discliplining that he would, perhaps, get from activities where he himself takes intiative, rather than being prodded into. Nitin adds, “It's utmost important to have a good mix of structured as well as unstructured time for a child. It's becoming more and more common to see a high proportion of structured time for children today; moving from one hobby class to the next. But, it is equally important for them to have unstructured time, when they could do anything they want, or perhaps even nothing. Just being together with their friends, family or doing their favourite pass-time is equally important for a balanced lifestyle for a child.”
Q. But will the child learn enough through unstructured activity? Why is free play important?
Going back, a couple of decades, it was perhaps unheard of a child to say ‘I am bored!’ A child was left to his own devices—when the child had nothing to do, he was supposed to figure out his own ways to engage himself, but now with parents managing his day’s timetable, it hardly leaves the child with time to do anything on his own thinking. This in the long run, may suppres the child’s own instinct and make him uncomfortable and at a loss when he has free time on his hands. Nitin explains, “Group activities are helped with some structure; while that is good, it is not the end goal. The objective is to foster each child's development in varied areas, and not finish a lesson/activity plan. This approach needs to be understood and appreciated as we go on juggling between hobby classes for a child. Social unstructured interactions, free play are equally important as they foster the interpersonal, emotional, intrapersonal development and empathy in a young child.”
As parents, where we need to appreciate the balance that extra-curricular activities provide in a child’s development, we also need to learn to respect this delicate balance.
Disclaimer: This blog, aimed at helping parents take the right decisions for their child, is a special initiative by Mount Litera Zee School and parentune.com.
| Jun 11, 2015
Good article. Well written. So true for nowdays parents who rush into all sorts of classes for child with end result of d child hetting exhausted by the end of the day. Try to udentify what interests ur child n enrol him/her for only that class or classes. I even know of a parent who said taking my 4 year old child to a park for me seems like a waste of time!! I was baffled!!
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