“24.FEB.14. Please meet me tomorrow in the class at 1:00 in the afternoon. Thank you. M. Grover.”
Tanav, my five year old son’s teacher, Mrs. Grover, had written this note in his diary.
Curiosity could have killed us so we sent Mrs. Grover an SMS right away.
“Hello Madam, Good evening. I will meet you tomorrow but why do you want to see us?”
It’s funny how extra-careful we are with the spellings while communicating with our children’s teachers.
“Tanav’s performance in class!” Mrs. Grover replied.
We had just got free from two close family weddings. The mood of excitement and fun suddenly changed into one of somber.
Deepti, my wife, met Mrs. Grover at 1 PM sharp.
What is also ridiculous is our highest levels of punctuality when it comes to meetings with children’s teachers.
I expected Mrs. Grover to be considerate. Perhaps she was. Following messages were driven home:
- “Students can count up to 100. Tanav can’t even write correctly up to 20!”
- “Tanav doesn’t listen no matter how loudly I shout!”
- “Tanav hasn’t learnt anything in Prep!”
This last point added insult to injury. After all, he was just one month away from getting to next grade.
She also said, “I hope everything is okay at home?”
Her question was asked with such a conviction that I was tempted to think,“What was wrong at home?”
Well, all was right at home. We were busy with the weddings. Tanav had missed school. Excitement at home had left no room for studies. That’s it.
Ping-Pong Blame Game
Self-blame soon gave way to blaming the teacher.
Mrs. Grover’s tone could be better.
Is that some kind of joke? At the end of the session, you tell us that our child hasn’t learnt a thing!
If the child hasn’t learnt, that means the teacher hasn’t taught.
(This last one is my Dad’s favorite. Tried and tested on me when I was in Primary school.)
Well, all that boiled down to one thing. We had to change something and soon.
What to do?
The obvious solution was to make Tanav study long hours. Show him the stick perhaps. We did that for a while and all it led to was more frustrations.
Obvious solutions are usually the least effective.
Our solution was flawed. For one, it was against the law of nature.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished so beautifully.
Second, the stick may or may not lead to success but it would certainly lead to pain. The last thing I want is that Tanav has good grades at the cost of him being sad.
We learn best in the moments of enjoyment.
We decided to change just a little. 2% perhaps. We identified the 2% which could change the game for Tanav:
- 30 minutes of daily study
- Friendship with the teacher
We had to work our butts off to make Tanav stick his butt to his chair. He would be thirsty or would need to use the loo. You know the feeling.
Children are turned off the moment they hear the word, Homework. Homework is shown as a villain in cartoon programs they watch. We decided to call it 30 Minutes with Tanav instead.
Studies are boring. Learning is fun.
Have you noticed that the Google servers have slowed down in last few months? It is because Deepti has gone bananas searching online to find the most interesting ways for Tanav to learn.
I’ll take some credit too. See, if I can make daily chores interesting, you can’t even imagine what I can do with learning.
Yesterday when I reached home, I saw Tanav writing something. Being the over-enthusiastic-over-nothing types, I yelled, “Hey Tanav! What’s up?”
“Papa, please don’t disturb me. I am doing 30 minutes with Tanav.”
“No problem. I will speak with you after I am done.” He said.
I was glad.
It has been a little over a month since Mrs Grover’s note. Tanav can count up to 100 and backwards. He can write the before and after numbers. He has made friends with Mrs. Grover and that isn’t even the best part. The best part is that he is loving it all.
Sometimes, we think we want to change our whole life. But all we really need to change is the 2%. That 2% which, in turn, can change everything in our life.
For Tanav, it is 30 minutes of daily learning. (2% of 24 hours is ~ 30 minutes). Where is that 2% in your life?