Book Review: Heads You Win

School admission experiences

With the school admissions for academic year 2015-2016 around the corner, I thought it may be good to share our experiences of last year.   We live in Bangalore so mostly this applies to those in Bangalore, but others will find similarities elsewhere.

In my generation (yeah, that is the right thing to say), all I knew about classes in schools were LKG, UKG, 1 to 10 standard (I had Pre Degree Course in college - equivalent to Std 11 and 12). Typically the minimum age to admit to LKG was 3 years and 1st standard was 5 years.

Things are different now.  So, first

Types of Primary Education

Today, in most Bangalore schools, you are eligible for LKG only if you are 3 years 8 months old.  By extension, the eligibility for 1st standard is 5 years 8 months. Perhaps the academic pressures have forced this.

Now there is also the Montessori system of education, where you have 3 years of Montessori classes before you go to 1st standard.  Here you end up going to school (or start Mont 1) when you are 2 years 8 months.

A combination of the higher age for 1st standard and the Montessori system has created a new "class" called Nursery, which comes before LKG.  This is the equivalent of Mont 1 in a Montessori system.

Now why is this relevant here?  It is because now the admission process is no longer for LKG, but for "Nursery" and "Mont 1".  Whoever does Nursery automatically continues to LKG, UKG, 1st and so on...

LKG has become a "lateral" admission and not the first class that you admit your child to.

There is a hue and cry in the media on Right To Education (RTE) and how schools are not complying.  But what has gone unnoticed is that RTE is for 1st standard, while virtually all school admission these days is for Nursery.  Thus schools have circumvented the RTE rules perhaps with the concerned Education Department officials closing their eyes as well.

Ok, so we reconciled ourselves to the fact that it was either Mont 1 or Nursery for our kid, who would turn 3 in May 2014.   Like most others, we did not want to risk waiting for a year to admit our child directly to LKG (or Mont 2).

The next step was to identify the schools.

School selection criteria

These were the criteria that we identified to select a school for our kid.

1. Proximity to home

We did not see the point of sending our kid to a school 10-12 km away.  With the ever-increasing traffic in Bangalore, we thought we should spare our kid the travails of daily travel at least to school.

2. School bus

Related to 1 above, some schools did not provide transport for Nursery.  Potentially we could drop the child one-way, but the return would be a challenge based on the location.  We preferred a school, where we had the flexibility to pick up and drop our child ourselves.

3. School time

In fact, this is related to 1 and 2 above.  Classes in many schools commence between 8 AM and 8.30 AM.  Getting a 3 year old ready by that time is no mean feat.

4. Food at school

Again, this is related to 1, 2 and 3 above.  Some schools provide food at school, while most don't. Imagine getting your child to eat at 7 to 7.15 AM before the school bus comes!

5. Syllabus

CBSE vs ICSE.  Perhaps the single biggest topic of discussion among parents.  At the age of 3, how would one know how good the child is in studies, let alone  which syllabus is better?  Our logic was, if the child studied reasonably well, the syallbus did not matter. If the child did not, any syllabus would be a problem.

6. Fees

Fees did not rank high in the factors simply because at the end of the day, pretty much, all the schools charge high fees.  Do you know of any school, hospital or temple, which does not runs as a business?

7. Facilities

Some schools have a large playground. Many schools have basketball and other courts, auditoriums.  Some have swimming pools.

These would not matter for small classes, but based on the child's interest, would be relevant in older classes.

8. Age of the school

There are old schools and there are new.  There are pros and cons of both. Older schools have older buildings and possibly less facilities.  Newer schools may have air-conditioned classes and more features.

While some say, the teachers in old schools are good, there is a conflicting view that newer schools attract better teachers with better pay.

One fact is, typically older schools are within the city, while newer schools are outside (simply due to availability of space). In that sense, it would be related to items 1,2 and 3 above.

9. Reputation of the school

This is essentially a combination of many things, including the age of the school, the academic records, what people say and so on.  No school is above rapproach.  Ultimately, reputation is only as relevant as your individual experience with the school.

10. Upto what class

Each school charges a bomb during admission.  So, moving a child from one school to another is a costly affair.  So it makes sense if the school that you put the child in has class up to Standard 12.   In some school, some classes are held in one facility, while other (higher) classes are in other facilities.  Some schools have approvals upto certain classes (because they are just coming up).

In the second part, I outline the schools we shortlisted and our experiences with the admission process of each.


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    I find your blog relevant and informative to me even after so much time.
    I stay abroad and was planning to return to B'lore with my kid once she has to start school.
    My hubby is still in old mindset of direct LKG admissions as it happened during our times. He is very critical of Pre-K schools. I'm​ trying to convince him to let me return to India for nursery as my kid is 3.3. But he wants me to go next year for direct LKG admission.

    I'm sharing your blog with him to strengthen my case. Thanks a lot for your write-up.

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