Tuesday, April 29, 2008

School Thoughts

It is a sad reality that education nowadays has become more of a privilege than a right, as what it ideally should be. With the sky-rocketing school fees of private school education, most families who could not afford it either settle to enroll their children in public schools, or just skip education altogether.

This thought keep running circles in my mind as I face the challenge of plunging into the world of big school education. From small school to what I consider the big and real world of education.

The little lady took the entrance exam last week in a private Catholic school a ride away from my office. She is 6 years old and an incoming Grade 2 this school year.

Too Much, Too Soon

Everybody thinks she is too young to be Grade 2, as most students normally start elementary education at the age of 7. She started Nursery at the age of 4 and skipped Kindergarten because she passed the qualifying exam for Preparatory. I was lucky to save a year’s worth of tuition fee.

Still, there are times when I think if I made the right decision. Of course, I was thrilled when she was accelerated to a higher level. It only meant that she is intellectually capable and well advanced for her age.

That was undeniably a certified proud parent moment! But what I am more concerned about is the fact that she has advanced to a level where she needed to study more and play less.

As I go through her subjects and homework on a daily basis, I am always surprised with how much lessons they take up in a single day. Lessons that were taught to me as a 5th grader are now being taught in Grade 1!

How time really flies. I remember struggling with multiplication when I was in Grade 4, now my daughter is expected to memorize it earlier (Sheesh. I am having another flashback about how much I loathe every Math subject in school).

I always let the little lady play after school and we do all her assignments before going to bed. I do not want to put too much pressure on her, as she might get tired and bored with studying. I know kids’ brains are like sponge, but they also need a squeeze every now and then whenever they get all soaked up, or they won’t be able to absorb more.

I think schools today give kids too much academic work. I also noticed that younger kids are now being pushed to attend school by parents who worry too much that their kids might be lagging behind other children their age.

So what is the rush anyway? In my time, I did not even attend Nursery and I turned out just fine.

Schools have even invented a number of levels that they tout as a pre-requisite before attending formal elementary education - Kinder 123, Pre-K, Junior Casa and Senior Casa, to name a few. They have become ingenious in creating a need for society to succumb to. And they have so far been successful, harvesting huge profits in the process.

Small School or Big School?

Small schools are ideal for preschoolers who need to test the waters first before plunging into the big school arena. They need a place conducive for both learning and play. A fun place where they can be comfortable, not intimidated. A quaint place they will look forward to visiting again on a regular basis.

Although the little lady studied in two good small schools where she learned a lot of things apart from the basics, I decided it is time for her to continue her education in a private Catholic school, just like I did.

My dilemma was actually more on what school to choose. I had to consider proximity, safety, curriculum, values and of course, the price tag. As much as I want to send her to the most expensive school in the country, I have to be realistic. Spending an amount more than enough for a house and lot down payment is just too much, in my opinion. But of course, if you have the means, then go for it.

The school that I chose fits perfectly into my standards. It costs 150% more than the last school, but I am crossing my fingers that it will all be worth it.

Education is a very important investment. A good quality education can give a child a bright future ahead, but still there are no guarantees. Sending your child to the most expensive school may give you status symbol, but it does not assure him of a successful future. It is just one of the major components that make up a success story. Apart from that, parents have to continuously nurture their children’s gifts and potential and guide them all the way, to help them achieve their goals.

It still remains to be one of the best gifts that we can give to our children.