Category Archives: School

End of year acronyms

End of year at school again and it feels like one just went by. There was a time I was impatient for her to complete primary school. It seemed to take for ever to graduate from Grade 5 into middle school, if you include the time they spend at Kindergarten. Some kids also go to a preschool for a whole year before KG! Akank was one of the lucky ones who did 6 months of it.

Now, middle school seems to fly past so quickly! She is already going to be in Grade 8 in August and in final year of middle school. I complain now about how fast time flies!

This year again Akank brought back her year book that had the individual photographs of all the students in different grades and group pictures with the tutors. The year book also had a few pages at the end that was meant for autographs. Typically, the book gets passed around between friends and frenemies across sections and grades.

I flipped through some pages, read a few messages and my vocabulary of acronyms is update with what teens use today!

The messages in Akank’s year book

HAGS is short for Have a great summer!  LYLAS is short for Love you like a sister!  KATS is short for Kick ass this summer (inappropriate according to Akank!) and YOLO is short for You only live once!

I look back at my school days and I recall that we only had autograph books at the end of Grade 12. We were extremely shy to ask people to write in our books, unless they were our ‘besties’ ( yeah, that is what best friends are called today) and the most you would get to read is an innocent rhyme about violets and roses, sugar and you!

Times have changed. What is your experience with the NexGen kids?


Posted by on June 14, 2012 in contemplations, School, updates


End of school year…yet again!

This must be the most repeated title in my blog. I am sure there are eight other times that I have talked about it. That is how long I have been blogging about Akank. So much happens during the year at school that I really look forward to blogging about the end of the school year, every year.

This year has been a difficult year for Akank. The challenges have been many.  Beginning with a new school, in a new country with new methods of teaching, new culture, new schedules, new subjects, new accents, new cliques to contend with. The first two terms were pretty traumatic and shook her confidence and self esteem. From a popular, liked, influential individual to almost being a non entity is a big change. She managed alright but only barely. She has learnt that not everybody needs to be friends, has become self reliant with school work and become more assertive with speaking her mind.

We have had our share of mother daughter tiffs, but that has helped us learn about each other better. She is independent, confident, restrained and surefooted. Her sense of humour is sharp and that helps in a big way.

At school, she has had fantastic exposure to the performing arts and global services through out the year. Apart from academics where she learnt to make her own presentations and models, she has been a part of the developmental swimming team, the choir and the junior band. She learnt to Irish dance and unicycle. She went camping, cleared a high ropes course and was part of the dragon boating team. She raised money for charity at bake sales and by playing her piano. She auditioned for roles for drama (Never won the part though), took active parts in the day of sport, the disco, the talent show. She hosted a few play dates with people she wanted to be friends. She continues to acquire skills in piano and classical music.

That in a nut shell tells you what was up the whole year in Akank’s life. Next year, she moves to a sprawling new campus (I will need a GPS to find my way around that campus!) and she is very excited with the prospect of being a buddy to the new kids who will join the school next year. Good luck, Akank!

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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in School, updates


The birds and the bees in Science

This term Akank’s grade is learning a very touchy lesson in science. The Human Reproductive System (HRS). I recall my school days when the boys and girls were separated into two groups just for this lesson. Of course, I am talking about 30 years back in Trichy, where I grew up. I think it was in a higher grade too, maybe in Grade 8 or 9 when we were much older and could digest some hard facts of life. Things have changed, I accept, from what it was 30 years back in a little town to now. Akank said her science teacher played them a video of the HRS to introduce the lesson to the class. She said the whole classroom erupted with a war cry like objection, voicing how they felt about the subject. She feels insulted to be in the same classroom with the boys when they discuss the finer details of a female body. To add insult to injury, her home assignment was to colour and name the parts of the HRS of both the male and female body.

But that is not all. Akank’s English teacher was not in class last week and so the Science teacher stepped in to keep the grade busy with an exercise in poetry. He chose a topic for them to write a poem on- Science this week! Akank said that while they wrote their poems, he whistled and waited for them to come up with their thoughts. This is what Akank wrote –

Science this week, Was worse than bleak
It was sicker than a lizards suction, we were learning reproduction!
It made our teeth grit, even the ones with wit
I went totally red, like when I was one and wet the bed,
All the girls had closed their eyes,
We wished we had been separated from the guys.

Akank also asked me to observe if she become quieter of late. When I wondered aloud why she had asked me the question she blamed it on the poor lesson.


Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Emotions, School


Learning by doing

I love the learning methodologies that Akank is being exposed to in the new school system.  In Humanities, they took the lesson on development a few steps ahead. Akank was asked to read a book by an author who wrote on the subject and she chose Minfong Ho’s “Rice without Rain“. I can tell you with conviction that Akank would never have ventured into reading books like those if it had not been for the school. The best part of the deal was that she loved the book and reviewed it on Shelfari.  At school, Akank is learning to write book reviews in the format followed world wide.  The Grade 6 students were invited by the tutor to open accounts at Shelfari to review books that they have read and share it with the others. The Humanities lesson on development began with the hunger banquet, the role playing of families from different parts of West Africa and it progressed to building shanties with recycled material. Akank took rags, shoe boxes, milk cartons and everything she could find her hands on that qualified as scrap to contribute to building material for the shanty that her group had to build. Last week, they were taught to make envelopes from newspapers using home made glue, that they could trade off to the teachers to break away from the poverty cycle. It is as real as it gets. I think this methodology of learning the concept of what it means to have less makes a huge impact on learning and retaining what is learnt.

I wish more schools in India could teach subjects like Social studies with more creative approaches that will change the way our children comprehend social studies instead of regarding it as just another subject one has to learn till Grade 10.

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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in School, updates


Roleplaying to the hilt

Akank’s class is discussing Poverty in West Africa in humanities this term. They have been divided into teams and each team represents a country from the African continent. Akank and her team represent a family from the Ivory coast (Côte d’Ivoire). Each day the teams are presented with a stack of cards that have situations described for crops, family, disease etc. Each team gets to choose one card from each stack that dictates the situation in their representative country. The kids are then asked to reflect on the situation and write down their thoughts into their Humanities work books. Akank is the geriatric head of family with a drug addicted son in law, a grandson with worms in his stomach ( as though that is ghastly), an unmarried depressed young man who is her son in law’s brother and as of yesterday a refugee from Ghana where the crops failed. Each day she gets a new situation to reflect and write. On day one her situation card read a very grave message ” You hate your son in law because he is an addict. Your daughter died at childbirth, the grandson has worms, the crops are failing”. Yesterday the situation changed to ” your country is disease free, you have a refugee from Ghana, he is young and energetic, your relationship with son in law has improved”.

I am waiting for her to get back from school to tell me what the new twist in her life in West Africa is!  What a way to learn social studies!

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Humour, School


The morning after

Akank gets better organized with her work, eats her lunch till the last scrap, completes all classwork, enters homework in her school organizer and updates me on her lessons at school, the day after we have an encounter at home. I have read articles, received advice from family and friends, on how children have to be treated as responsible people, how it is not advisable to ever raise your voice or be annoyed at them. Major pooh-pooh. I call that methodology impractical. I have seen it not work with Akank. There have been days when I have been blessed with immense patience, understanding and good humour and on such days home work lasts over 3 hours. Then there are days when I am short fused, irritable, crabby and easily annoyed. Home work and revisions get done in half the time.

Two days back Akank and I had a face off after school. The next day, she came back with completed classwork, lunch and entries in the organizer. Even the books that she had collected for deprived children in Bintan, that was rotting in our library for weeks on end, were dropped into the collection box at school. When I asked Akank what brought about the change, she shrugged. I observed that the show down seems to have worked well and she was quick to say this –

‘ Not really. I was sitting in the school bus thinking about it. Then a thought occurred to me. Piece of cake. As soon as I got to school, I completed everything on my check list. I realized that I was delaying it all because I didn’t really want to do them. I even stuck the cover of my portfolio that was falling apart. My teacher had reminded me of it a few times last week ‘.

No, I am not celebrating yet. I have a strong sense of deja vu about all of this. I know this will happen again. And yet again. Till then I hope to have more days filled with immense patience, understanding and good humor.

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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in Conversations, Humour, School


Scavengers and Brokers

Last week, Akank began learning a new concept in Math that needed her to keep tabs on the ‘stock market’ at school. The assignment is supposed to run for two weeks at the end of which the kids would be assessed for data management and bar graphs skills. They have been given a set of 12 stocks of various values to track and a sum of 10,000 dollars as portfolio capital.  The teacher posts a daily update of the price list and once in a while , a piece of news about a few companies from the list. The children are expected to understand how the news affects the value of the stocks and accordingly make decisions to buy, sell or hold stock.

This week, she is also going on a Scavenger hunt to China Town. The Chinese New Year celebration is on full swing this time of the year, and that is the theme of the hunt. The kids have been divided into small groups and given tasks to complete. From picking up something from the New year market and explaining its significance, to identifying characters and phrases related to the New year, to creative photographs to writing her observations, she has a packed 4 hour trip tomorrow afternoon!


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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in School, updates