A school has tried to engage parents of many primary and pre-primary section students, who wait outside the campus while classes are on, in a meaningful activity by conducting a workshop on drawing alpana.
‘Alpana’ traditionally means the art of drawing designs using a paste of ground rice to beautify everyday spaces.
During the workshop held recently at Sanskrit Collegiate School in north Kolkata on March 8 and 9, the parents used pencils, brush and acrylic colour to draw patterns on art and buff cartridge papers.
Two art teachers from the school and the adjoining Hare School helped the parents with the strokes.
Parents of students from pre-primary to Class II attended the workshop in a hall on the ground floor of Sanskrit Collegiate School, while their children were attending classes on upper floors.
The workshop was organised to help parents better cope with the stress resulting from managing the children within the confines of their home almost throughout the day during the pandemic over the past two years.
Now that the schools have reopened, the parents are being stressed out for a different reason, teachers said.
“They are anxious that the children quickly make up for the loss suffered over the past two years. Driven by that anxiety, they are overburdening the children with tasks,” a teacher said.
Debabrata Mukherjee, headmaster of Sanskrit Collegiate School, off College Square, said parents were at times being rough with students because they thought the children were failing them.
“Over the past two years the parents could not spend time on themselves as they were too busy managing the children. Now they are anxious over how the learning gaps could be plugged. The alpana workshop was held to provide the parents some relief from the stress. This has to be done so the parents can bond with their children in a mature way,” Mukherjee said.
The school will periodically hold such sessions, said Mukherjee, who has a postgraduate diploma in guidance and counselling.
Farishta Dastur Mukerji, a mental health professional, said such initiatives were necessary for parents to cope with stress.
Over the past two years, she said, a mother had to play multiple roles at home because she had to manage the household and teach and manage her child at the same time.
“She could not devote any time to herself to relax. Now that in-person classes have started, she is taking on too much stress thinking what could be done to help the child make up for the loss. In such situations, unwinding oneself in creative pursuits could help in calming the mind,” said Dastur Mukerji.
“Once the mind relaxes, she won’t be so demanding while interacting with her son or daughter.”
At the Sanskrit Collegiate School workshop, the art teachers apprised the parents about the history of alpana before giving them drawing tools.
The parents drew designs spontaneously and added colours to them.
“I enjoyed the session. This was absolutely different from what I do. This sheet of paper and motif of colours no doubt have brought a variety to my life,” said the mother of a Class II student who earns a living by cooking.
A teacher said many parents were worried because the digital divide came in the way of their children attending online classes over the past two years.
“But they have to understand that their child requires time to settle down because he or she was away from class for two years and needs the time to adjust. Parents have to accept the reality and then conduct themselves accordingly,” he said.