‘In a world where there is always going to be someone better, faster, stronger, we need to make sure that they do not measure themselves against some impossible yardstick of expectation.’
In this book, author Mathew Raggett deals with simple yet powerful concepts that parents face in everyday lives. Raggett’s credentials as a teacher/guide/mentor with over two decades of experience interacting with students across the world, authenticate every perspective that he has on different issues. Be it in selecting the right school for kids or creating a healthy atmosphere for kids at home/making them do chores, to name a few, the author has thoughtfully woven together very helpful tips for parents.
There are lots of pointers for parents to ponder over—the chapter focused on reading talks about a very simple concept of reading aloud to a child and how it yields a lot of value. His narratives are practical as he also goes on to share his perspective on speaking and writing next. There is no doubt on the natural journey that any child has to undergo. However, he makes it a point to emphasize that it is perfectly fine for a child to take his/her own time to master these basics. This narrative reassures many parents who might be worried or concerned if their child does not start talking at a certain expected age. There are thought-provoking ideas that could become conversation starters over tea with fellow parents and teachers and if incorporated in a family’s daily routine, can help resolve a lot of issues that the current generation of parents go though.
I particularly enjoyed the part where parents are encouraged to let children ‘play’—‘about pretending, trying things out and making mistakes without having to lose anything’. The sentiment expressed by the author—the antidote to embarrassment is that magical combination of curiosity and enthusiasm that some of our best teachers are able to hang onto got me thinking about how I deal with my children, especially my four-year-old daughter with her never-ending questions about the world around her.
The book discusses parents’ endeavour to create that perfect balance of school teaching and healthy home environment. In that journey of constantly trying to get the best for their children, the parents sometimes ignore the most fundamental element which is ‘TIME’—the time that we could spend with soon-going-to be adults of the next generation! The responsibility of fuelling a child’s imagination by either undertaking a family beach vacation or a mountain trekking lies on us, the parents. A simple chore for them taking care of their belongings, such as a doll or a bicycle, can lead them to turn into fine adults of tomorrow. The ‘how’ of execution, rests with each family and there is no right or wrong answer to it.
The drill a parent goes through—from finding the right school—to getting the child enrolled is a topic of exasperation for a lot of parents, especially in and around the capital of India, Delhi. It is heartening to see that the author delves into aspects of finding the right school, a favourite topic of discussion for any parent of a three-year-old child. What we forget sometimes is that finding the right school is just the beginning of a long process in preparing the child for the future, it is not the end. The book thoughtfully articulates what parents need to consider before opting for one, besides the board the school is offering, the school’s infrastructure and extracurricular activities. Parents’ interaction with class teachers to understand a teacher’s motivation to teach children would also help throw light on what values the school intends to impart to its students. A well-researched work for parents, the book shares tips which could go a long way in deciding whether the school chosen by a parent is the right one for his/her child!
The book challenges us as guardians to give good thought to the notion of choosing the right school—more so from the perspective of a child and not from what the school is offering (read selling).
My favourite part of the book, which I believe would also excite a lot many readers, is the ABCs of Learning! This was a delightful section, where simple yet critical concepts of growing up are discussed and the author presents a whole world that each child traverses in his/her growing up years. A child goes through the same dilemma that his/her parents would have gone through, even though the times have changed. The onset of technology has changed the outlook for most of us, yet the evergreen concepts of making a choice, collaborating as opposed to competing mindlessly, family having dinner together to bring the day to a close to the day, can immensely help a child understand the nuances of transitioning into an adult.
Readers can relate to the simple definitions of integrity and empathy and in fact, these abstract yet dominant themes could easily feature in their conversations with their own children post reading the last section of the book.
As a parent and also as a working mother grappling with day-to-day issues with my kids, the book gave me some scope to reflect upon my own style of parenting.
This is one of those books (though the author mentions the book is not a self-help book) can help ease a lot of difficult conversations between parents and children. It could seamlessly become the talking point of various social media groups (mommy groups, reading clubs and baking classes) that one chooses to be a part of these days to know what is transpiring in the world. For all the wisdom the book imparts on parenting and more, this is a must-read.
A refreshing book with delightful parental talking points!!
Shalini Jayaswal Singh is a senior Corporate Human Resources and Organizational Development Professional, with close to 15 years of work experience. She is currently working with HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and is a mother to two girls aged four and eight years. She loves to travel, read and explore the ever-evolving human behaviour and personality.