Winter Solstice Party!

Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Eid, Christmas, Samay Ki Pukar…All present and accounted for!

Today was Nishad’s last day of school before Winter Break. I recall it when I was a kid, it was called “Christmas vacation!” Times have changed, though, and I feel for the better. In order for a child to grow-up and thrive in our world, to their fullest potential, they need to be aware of ALL cultures, ALL celebrations, ALL religions…which, simply put, are now represented in the United States. It was a wonderful celebration for the children. They spoke of how they all celebrated in various ways according to their religions or culture.

I volunteered to speak about the Winter Solstice. Ashish worked from home and baby Arun was his little assistant! We met up at P.F. Changs for lunch and then headed to the Border’s to let Nishad pick out something. The weather cooperated! It was beautiful outside…which may the afternoon all the more perfect!

There were about 45 children present, though there are only 10 children in Nishad’s class. I read a book, spoke a little about hibernation, the longest day of the year, had the children act out an impromptu sunrise filled with colors, sang a song and danced with streamers in the colors yellow, orange and red- symbolic of the suns rays. Of course, I had to hand out sunglasses to all as well. We must prepare for the longer days ahead! The children also learned a Caribbean dance. That was a lot of fun!

Every time I walk into Nishad’s school I thank God that we are so fortunate to send him there.
One of the reasons we applied for Nishad to be at the school he is at, is because the children enrolled in the school reflect our global society. The world is a lot smaller now. In order for our next generation to compete in a global market, they need to know multiple languages, not just English, or even Spanish. Spanish is good in the sense that, if taught early enough, children will develop an ear for language. Spanish is limited in regards to where growth and commerce will be happening. However, the truth lies in those that will be speaking Japanese, Chinese, Hindi and French. Yet another reason why public school doesn’t make the cut. You get what you pay for.

At one time, public school may have been sufficient, but it’s time has since passed. It’s sad that in one of the wealthiest nations on earth, in order to give your child the best education, you need to pay out of pocket. I’m not talking about taxes either. I’m referring to $6,000-$19,000 a year for a top-notch program starting from pre-school until Senior year. Yes, even before you pay for college tuition, your kids are already in an academic whirlpool.

Unfortunately, so many resort to ECFE and public funded programs that offer little more than “play time” by inadequate staff. This goes for community education classes as well. Believe me, I’ve given them several attempts to redeem themselves by enrolling in different classes with my child. However, in order to get a quality gymnastics class, I need to venture to a real gym and a real swim school… 20-minutes away, paying 6 or 7 times as much. How frustrating, disappointing…and such a waste of time! I recall teaching dance and meeting new students that came from such ‘recreational’ programs. Some of them had such potential, but already, at such young ages, formed bad habits because of poor instruction through community education classes. It was double the work for them (and me) to re-teach the basics. That’s where some parents and I differ. This experience has taught me that if you do enroll your child in something, invest in them now, when they are little, so they don’t form those bad habits. Let them nail the basics, whatever the subject may be, as they can only grow and build stronger from there. It’s not about convenience…it’s about being your child’s advocate and arming them with the tools they need.

I understand that you do what you have to do, or know- and yes, exposing your child to something is better than nothing. However, there has to be a better way to educate society as a whole. I’m incredibly impressed in a pre-school in which every head teacher has their Masters degree, and every assistant, their bachelors. This on top of Montessori training.

We have our priorities in life. Our kids, and any reference to them tops that list. We make sacrifices- we must.