Saturday, August 17, 2013
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ISLAMABAD - Sadly, there is no vacation that never ends, as school-going children know all too well: with the end of summer children, teachers, parents, are all immersed in preparations to return to school. All educational institutions working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and the majority of private institutions are reopening today (Monday), after over three months of summer vacations. Despite an extension of the holidays for Eid, school-going children are still not prepared to return to their academic routines: with their sleep schedules having been massively altered, enthusiasm to return to school is virtually nonexistent.
Attia Imdad, a pre-school teacher, said it happened every year with almost every child especially, if he/she was a lower grade student. “But each child faces different problems at different levels. These might be internal or inflicted by external forces, for example friends or bullies in school, which might be causing the child stress at the prospect of returning to school. If left unresolved, there is a possibility that the child might develop irrational fears, feelings of shame and embarrassment, distrust, and having low self-esteem,” she said, adding that if the problems persist, it could lead to poor physical and mental health.
Many children, on the other hand, were excited and waiting impatiently to begin their academic year. “Going back to school, to me is always exciting and interesting, as I felt bored sitting at home all days, as the sizzling heat restricted outdoor activities. I have missed my teachers and friends, although I have been in touch with them constantly via text messages and Facebook,” said Osama Pervaiz, a 6th grader.
Besides wanting to meet his friends, he said he was also looking forward to the daily grind of schoolwork and the satisfaction he derived from accomplishing new goals.
Academicians and psychologist suggested various ideas that could be used to welcome children and create an environment conducive to learning. “Encourage your teen to connect with teachers that he likes. Having a good rapport with a teacher not only makes high school more interesting, but these teachers are also helpful in writing job, college, and scholarship recommendations,” said Prof Dr Javed Kausar.
He added that parents needed to be compassionate. “Summer breaks are like vacations. Think about what it’s like for you to make the transition back from a great vacation. Talk about the value of education. Even if school isn’t always easy, that does not mean it is not important. Emphasize how working hard at school will help them to succeed later in life,” Kausar said.
A psychologist, Dr Fahad Ali, said in such situations parents and teachers continued to have fun with kids. “Don’t be surprised if you find that your child strongly resists going back to school. That’s normal. Many kids at this age love spending time with friends and would prefer to hang out with them outside of school. At the same time, other kids really look forward to going back to school. Help your child name what he likes best about school. Even if it starts out only with lunch and recess, go with that. As the school year progresses, see which subjects begin to interest him,” he added.
Conducting a survey, Pakistan Today observed that many children and their parents were perturbed at the prospect of going back to school. Parents said mentally preparing children for school was not their main concern – rather, it was the inflation that was causing them greater worry, as the prices of all school accessories, from stationary items to uniform prices, had tripled.
Starting from Barbie stationery to Harry Potter school gear, everything in the federal capital is available at increased rates ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 350. Similarly, prices of books and notebooks have also gone up to Rs 60 to Rs 80 this season, while prices of wax crayons, oil pastels, brushes, pen, pencils, sketch pencils, sharpeners, erasers have also surged.
Parents said it was becoming a Herculean task to educate children these days as fees were unbelievably high, even at the nursery and prep levels. “We can either feed ourselves or get our children enrolled at good private institutions,” said Rehana Moazzam, a mother of three school-going children. “It is not only the monthly fee and the money spent on course books and notebooks that worries me. As a matter of fact, all school items cost me over Rs10, 000 per month. For the sake of my children and their future, I have to suffer,” she said, hoping one day, she would get high returns on this investment.
Published in Pakistan Today on Sunday, 4 Sep 2011 http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/09/04/city/islamabad/back-to-school-woes/
Mahtab Bashir is a journalist working for Daily Dunya and an independent blogger. He can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org