School Admissions: The Saga Continues

December 22, 2008

So we got back from Lakshadweep this morning. I haven’t had time to download photos or write it up yet, that will be coming up in the next few days. Meanwhile, here’s a couple of posts I wrote earlier, but didn’t have time to publish.


The search for a suitable school for the twins is still underway, and things are hotting up. A couple of weeks ago, for some reason now lost in the mists of time, we decided to apply to the Gear foundation. The website said to apply early, so we thought we’d already left it too late, but we put in our application anyway and we got a call the very next day. Could we please register before 4 and attend the parent interaction session at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow?

We could, and we did. It seemed that getting invited for the interaction indicated that you were through. That seemed too easy to be true, but at the interaction the reasins became clearer. Gear was starting a new school and wanted the first batch of enrolments for a session starting in mid-December. Normally, the school year starts in June, though in the Montessori system kids join whenever they turn two-and-a-half. Gear, for its first batch at this new school, would take kids upto about 4 years old, try and get all the kids accustomed to the Montessori method by April, then close for the summer holidays and re-open with a fresh batch of admissions in June.

While getting into the very first batch of anything always has some problems, this particular situation had several problems over and above that. First, the only infrastructure currently in place was a large, bare room. This was situated 20 km from home and 13 km from civilisation (as defined by me, in this case a significant traffic intersection). Third, this bare room would serve for the Montessori years, up to M3, but where the primary, middle, and senior school(s) would be, or when they would be, or how, or even whether they would be… was not known.

So: send my kids 20 km down a lonely country road for the benefit of a large bare room and an uncertain future? I don’t think so.

Having said which, however, I must add that the Principal who addressed the parents in that large, bare room, was most persuasive and quite subtly so. He gave a good pitch, and he put some gentle pressure and told you how lucky you were to have this opportunity for your kids and how he could make no guarantees about being able to give you a seat even one month down the line, should you be fool enough to let this opportunity pass. By the end of it, you actually felt that you were being offered a gold mine on a platter, not a single bare room 13 km from anywhere and a dream for a future.

We actually agreed to meet the Principal 1:1 (with the kids, that is) within the next week, but we finally chickened out. A 20 km commute each way every day? Give the kids a break!

Meanwhile, we got a call from another school. This was one we had applied to first, and not having heard anything, had given up on. I will not name the school right now, but it’s a school that everyone we’ve talked to has praised very highly. And, it’s only 7 km away (seems almost walking distance, compared to some others).

The weekend after the Gear meeting, we were at this other school. It has a small and quiet building tucked away in a noisy part of town. The gate was locked and we were allowed in only after our name was verified on a list. We were made to wait outside the Principal’s office and fill up forms. The girls naturally had to use the toilet, and I have to say, it was the cleanest toilet I have ever seen – you could have eaten out of it. Yuck! But I mean, it was really clean.

We waited about 40 minutes, but we arrived about 20 minutes early, so that wasn’t too bad. It was good to see only about 3 families waiting at any given time. We let the girls run around as much as we could, so they wouldn’t be cooped up and cranky and it turned out they were in great spirits.

When our turn came, we went in and found three women at a table and a couple of chairs for us. For the kids, there was a mat on the floor with a couple of toys scattered on it. We were told that the girls were free to go and play there, if they wished. At first they stuck to us, but in a few minutes they had got their hands on the toys and were asking us for help and advice. A few minutes later, they were off doing their own thing.

We were spoken to by three women, who explained the school philosophy etc to us. I noticed that at least two of them were always obliquely observing the kids. They said nothing to the kids directly, made almost zero attempt to interact with them, but just watched them at their work.

That whole approach made the interaction so very easy. The kids were relaxed and happy and so were we. I don’t know what they were looking for in the kids, and I don’t know what they saw, but I know that whatever they saw, it was most likely what is true of the kids, not some different persona brought on by heat, stress, strangers or other environmental factors.

Overall Amit and I both liked the place, the people and the whole feeling of the school. Let’s hope it works out – we’ll know soon enough.

Meanwhile, Head Start is still pending. If, perchance, that also comes through, we’re going to have to make a tough decision.


PS: The admission at this school came through when we were in Kochi, and then we had the task of organising the fees, no small feat, while we were on the ship and without much access to the world at large. The last date for making the payment was today! Well, with some help from our friends, and some setbacks courtesy yours truly, we got everything done by lunch today, so now it’s official. The kids will be joining in June!

PPS: What’s more, this school takes a sensible approach to the matter of twins being in the same class. They let the parents decide and then see how it pans out.

Indivisible by Two

December 22, 2008

Apparently the trend in Indian schools nowadays is to split twins into different sections. Mandatorily.

Apparently this has been the trend in the US for the past so many years and psychologists are now questioning the wisdom of this and some states are even reversing their policy.

The rationale for separating twins is that they need to develop as individuals and this can only happen if they are kept physically away from each other.

I have strong feelings on this matter, so I’m just going to say up front: what crap! What utter nonsense!

Twins will develop individually, they will develop their own personalities ANYWAY. The time will come when they will find their own niches and make their own paths. It might be sooner for some and later for others, but, apart from a small minority of maladjusted twins, most twins will cut their umbilical cords with each other to some extent at some point. Meanwhile, if they have an extra special bond, if they can provide each other comfort, support, strength, why should society at large try to take that away from them? What right have we? Just because we unlucky singletons, even when we have siblings, don’t have twins, we want to deny twins the pleasure of being twins???

I don’t say, either, that twins must always be kept in the same section. Maybe for some twins it actually works better to separate them. Maybe it works one way for some years and then the other way. I don’t think one size fits all.

What I say is, if the kids are old enough, let them say whether they want to be together or not. Trust them on that. And if they aren’t old enough, let the parents decide. Or at least let them decide in collaboration with the teachers. This is not something parents and teachers need to be at loggerheads about – they both want the same things. They want the kids to be happy, comfortable, and secure. I don’t at all believe that if being together helps them be that, then it is a bad thing because they will not be able to face the world individually. Of course they will – but that comes later. They might even end up being more secure and confident due to the early support and strength they get from each other.

This is a matter I feel strongly enough about that I would reject a school that forces twins to split, no matter how good the school might otherwise be. I hope I never have to see the twins forcibly separated, by school or anything else. They will go their own ways when they want to – until then, I hope they always have each other.

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