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March is that time of the year when you feel so good about everything. The weather is perfect. It’s the beginning of spring and flowers are in full bloom. We are all excited about festivities and celebration around Holi or Easter. But for a number of kids it also marks the beginning of their Annual Exams. An official test that shows your child’s knowledge or ability in each subject. This usually translates into extra study hours, cut down on free play and a few kids also go through a certain degree of anxiety.
Is a 7-8 year old really needed to take a two-hour written examination to show her knowledge? Must she cram-up everything which has been taught over past 360 days and produce in those 2 hours. What if she is not able to reproduce it fully as she may only remember snippets of what was taught?
After all how many children want to take these exams?
Luckily for my daughter, the school or rather the curriculum doesn’t believe in Annual examination at the primary level.
So instead of exams, they have periodic assessments. When my daughter gets a diary note that there is an English assessment of ‘eu’ words, she merely says – ‘Mamma, can you please make me spell out these 20 words for an assessment tmrw.’ There is no sign of anxiety or nervousness as the concepts have been done recently.
Often when she does well she comes back and proudly announces ‘Mamma, you know I got all right this time and I have been given a star on my class chart today. I just loved it!! We will prepare again next month and get another star.’
When she got her first Themes aka Science assessment, she said ‘Mamma, would you help me come up with the model of a forest, I have already thought of what to say in my speech based on the notes I have taken on my data chart.’ I do see signs of ownership and an excitement around learning new concepts when there is no burden of a formal assessment.
Can we expect a 7 year old to remember something that was taught 11 months back, unless it was experiential learning? The answer unanimously is NO. The only way left then is to cram up everything before the exams.
One day when she came back from the park she said, ‘Mamma, Pia is so scared to go for her PTA because her rank in class may not be same as last time. You can't come first everytime right!’
Doesn’t this whole ranking system put a lot pressure on such young kids? And is it needed at this age? If teachers assess the kid periodically or say at the end of a topic and make the progress report isn't it a better model?
When it comes to secondary school, one can understand the importance of learning all the concepts and sealing before moving on to the next grade. However at the primary school level, children learn more about life skills, they experience and play around with various aspects of child development. This is the age for them to enjoy simple joys of childhood, to taste the ‘Holi Pakwaans’ and burst the water color bombs, to enjoy the Khuljaye Bachpan moments!!
Do share your views in the comment box below as I love to hear as much from you as you do from me.