It has been a tough year for both parents and kids, whether it is grappling with online classes, or missing hanging out with friends. For a lot of tenth and twelfth graders, this year was to be a landmark one, with the move to junior college and university on the anvil. But at the moment, they are staring in the face of uncertainty, with no dates having been announced for the boards and preliminary exams. “My elder son, a tenth-grader, just turned 16. This is his final year in school. I feel bad for this batch. All these years, they thought we would do this in our 10th, or that. But all plans have come to naught,” says Ruchita Dar Shah, founder of the parenting community, First Moms Club.
However, she feels this year has offered a learning curve for parents. It has given them the opportunity to imbibe some of their children’s resilience. “They have been living in the moment and adapting to this novel situation far more than the adults have,” she explains. “I honestly didn’t expect my two boys [the younger one is 11.5 years old] to understand this so quickly.”
But the parents continue to be a worried lot, with a lot of question marks ahead. For Shah, there is no clarity at the moment from the ICSE board about the exam dates. The prelims too have gotten postponed to the end of January or the beginning of February. “The one thing that my children were stressed about during the year was exams. They needed to have their laptop camera on, and another camera on the side, which showed their working space, and whether they were copying or not. Added to that was network fluctuations,” says Shah. Not only did they have to finish the exams in the stipulated time limit, but also scan and upload within a given deadline. Before this, they would go to the school, write their exam, and that was the end of it. “This was a new kind of stress for them,” she adds.
In another school, according to a parent in her community, children were made to wear masks during the online classes. This bizarre move was to inculcate a habit of wearing the mask once the school reopens. “They could have worn it for 1 period or once a week. But wearing it all the time was just not needed,” says Shah.
Meanwhile, parents in her children’s school have been wondering why the board can’t come up with a plan B for exams: for one, it could go online like GMAT. “Or, for that matter, why should children physically have to go to school for prelims? I have told my elder son not to stress about the boards, if need be, we will treat it as a gap year. This is not a situation confined to our family but a global one,” elaborates Shah. Most parents of younger kids, however, have decided not to send their children to school unless the vaccine is out or until covid-19 is gone from the world. “It’s a no-brainer for them. Going forward too, I foresee a hybrid existence. However, so much has changed this year. All that stipulation of ‘I will allow my child only one hour of screen time’ has gone out of the window. The new question is ‘should I teach my child coding at 4’?” she says.