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Folly of pushing kids to excel is back among parents in Kolkata

With the lifting of restrictions, activities have made a comeback and with it the social pressure

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 08.07.22, 07:21 AM
Representational image

Representational image

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The resumption of physical school has also restarted a gnawing “social and peer pressure” among parents on how many activities their children are enrolled in.

In Kolkata, parents are in a race to see their child excel and as a result, they put the child in three, four or five activities from as early as five or six years, said teachers. 

In the last two years, activity classes were limited because of the lockdown. 

But with the lifting of restrictions, activities have made a comeback and with it the social pressure.

Physical school gives parents more time to interact beyond school hours. They gather at functions or on other occasions and compare the achievements of each other’s child.

Parents should not be persuaded by such social pressure and force their children into multiple activities because if a child is good at something, the teachers will spot it, said Hilda Peacock, director of Gems Akademia International School.

“When people around you are putting children in so many activities, one wonders if the parents are ignoring their child’s real talent,” said the mother of a five-year-old.

Teachers said it was difficult to stand apart but one had to try.

“There are parents who put their children in music, karate, painting classes and summer camps. But children need a break so that they can play on their own or with their friends,” said Peacock. 

“A parent has to stand against this social pressure and try to spend more time with the child and read out stories to them. We are gradually losing the tradition of storytelling.” 

After the pandemic, a section of parents is getting their children into activities almost with a vengeance, teachers said.

“They feel children have become lazy or they have too much screen time. So, to keep the child busy and away from gadgets, they put them into activities,” said Amita Prasad, the director of Indus Valley World School. 

But there are some parents who believe that if they don’t enroll their children in multiple activities, they would not know what their children are good at.

Even mothers get trapped in pressure situations because they have to take the children to various activities to keep up the “social status”, said Aruna Gomes, principal of Loreto House.

“A child can be made to do one activity at a time and parents can observe how they are doing it, rather than putting them into multiple activities,” said Gomes.

Putting a child into too many activities can wean the child away from his or her favourite activity, teachers warned.

“Sometimes a child pushes aside an activity that he or she enjoys as he or she has too many activities to do,” said Gomes.

Prasad said children should be allowed to participate in a sport or activity in school.

“When we come across parents putting enormous pressure on their children, we tell them that they should let the child enjoy the activities in school,” said Prasad.

Last updated on 08.07.22, 07:21 AM
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