Experts say undue pressure from parents does not help and may cause additional stress

Police may attribute class XI student Sundar Babu’s suicide on Thursday to his disappointment over poor scores in the quarterly examination. But the principal of his school, S.B.O.A Matriculation, Reita John, said that though his scores were low, his performance had improved from the mid-term examination in July.

“He was a cheerful child. He made a genuine attempt to try and improve. Even recently, he told his teacher about his difficulty remembering problem-solving methods. She told him that for maths, practice is key,” Ms. John told The Hindu on Friday.

For class XI students like Sundar Babu, it is natural to take the academic year a bit easy, teachers observe. “Students slog it out in class X and they know that class XII will not be easy. Batch after batch, we see students’ performance drop in class XI. Parents and teachers should let them be that one year,” Ms. John said. In January, however, students buck up and score considerably better in the annual examination, teachers said.

Principal of Lady Andal Matriculation School, Shalini Pillai, said undue pressure from parents almost never helps. “No point in nagging children. We need to realise that it is a fine line between caring about children’s academics and causing stress.”

Unfortunately, some teachers and parents – often anxious about the class XII examinations the following year – tend to pressure students from class XI itself.  Common threats and punishments include cutting the cable TV connection, or a strict ‘no’ to internet browsing, according to students. With tuitions and coaching classes taking up almost all the time outside school hours, many are left without any time to play a sport or pursue a hobby, they said.

But there are some like Nirav Gadre who have clear ideas. “I was neither very happy nor very sad about my 70-plus score in my quarterly examination. I know I can do better in the final, and even better in class XII,” said the student of PSBB Millennium School. Parents too have their share of anxieties. When college admissions are based entirely on a student’s class XII marks, one cannot take a chance, said S. Venkatachalapathy, a parent. “Only if she [his daughter in class XI] scores a total of about 850 now will it be possible to get more than 1,000 marks next year,” he said.

In addition to parental involvement, it takes some strategising to deal with children. “Depending on their attitude and performance, we may have to alternate being stern and considerate. We have make our point, but in a sensitive way,” he said.

A range of factors determines performances in class XI, say teachers. Subjects chosen in class XII also matter. Often, students who willingly go in for a particular stream enjoy learning those subjects, as against students who are forced by their parents to opt for a certain group. “When they [students] have the choice, they tend to be quite responsible,” Ms. Pillai said.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012

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