Contrary to stereotype, for some reason my daughter, Sitara when she was younger preferred to play with cars. Even her Barbies wore overalls and sat on dumpsters. We laughed it off and called her tom- boyish and hoped that someday she would get over this phase and she would do ‘the girlie stuff.’
She did get over the phase of playing with toy cars. And she graduated to the real one, much to her father’s delight, who was a closet car junkie. His real job was in marketing, but was passionate about cars and bikes. On weekends when he fiddled around with his old Yezdi bike, Sitara always hung around, handing him tools and getting her fingers all greasy.
Again in school, she excelled in maths and physics. Now at 12, the answer to the question, ‘what do you want to become when you grow up?’ usually has only one answer – automobile engineer.
Now this is an unusual choice for a girl, but we realise that she is really serious about it. Now it is up to us to help her achieve her dream.
We started by talking to people we knew who could guide us on how we could help our daughter. After some discussions we realise that our job was two-fold. One was to chalk out a plan to help our daughter prepare for the exams that she would need to take in the future and to enrol her in workshops that would give her additional inputs to fan her passion. And the 2nd part was for us to start planning and investing for the financial needs to meet the expenses.
Though Sitara does show a natural aptitude for math and science, we started enrolling in classes that could not only help her with her regular schoolwork, but could provide more. Like mental math and abacus classes. This basically helps the mind become more agile and quick. Though it was not something we had explored earlier, a quick scan around the city of Gurgaon where we live revealed a number of science and robotics workshops for children, held quite regularly. This helps in giving her a broad understanding and perspective on physics, mechanics and basic engineering.
I was flabbergasted at some of the workshops that were being held, such as mind mapping, Rubik’s cube sessions, spatial intelligence, robotics using advanced Lego – all geared towards sharpening the mind and kindling an interest in science. There are also a number of online sites that provide interesting math and science games.
So weekends and summer holidays are now being productively spent on furthering her interests and passion.
We are also preparing for the possibility that she might want to go abroad for her studies. An engineering degree from abroad is definitely better than ones offered here. Though maybe a little early to think about it, we do spend time looking at how she could start preparing for exams such as SAT. Apparently some students start preparing by the 9th standard for such exams. And that’s not too far away.
Another thing, though we’re still not too sure about, is choosing the right education board that would help her in her quest. CBSE is best suited to score most marks and are better geared to the Indian engineering entrance exams. But if she was going to consider going abroad then an IB curriculum could help. A number of students switch schools and education boards usually after the 10th standard for such reasons. Guess we’ll look at that a couple of years down the line.
Most schools these days ensure that their children take part in externals exams such math and science Olympiads. This is an excellent exposure to different formats of testing; and participation certificates from such tests are helpful in admissions to schools and universities both in India and abroad. This is something we are going to make sure she participates in.
At the end of it, well que sara sara, whatever will be will be. But the right preparation will definitely help. And we are going to make sure Sitara get the best of it. And one day she would become an automobile engineer. And we can toot our horn in pride.
- By Sushmita Arora