By Sandy Hooda 

The world tends to define success in narrow terms. Success is often defined based on financial, reputational or power based parameters. Happiness tends to play second fiddle.

Parents and educators tend to overlook happiness as the most important ingredient of success.

In the past, we were usually afraid of the principal and of our teachers, at least of most of them. The school culture was built around individual achievement, fear and (externally imposed) discipline. This often prevented us from taking chances, experimenting and making mistakes.

School principals and teachers who value happiness usually begin by forming great relationships with their learners. Learning takes place best when relationships are good. Happy learners enjoy learning and tend to be more motivated. Their high motivation levels lead to increased attention and retention levels. Retention improves exam scores and makes children lifelong learners who end up enjoying learning.

With all kinds of gadgets and falling attention spans, stoking the love of learning has become critical. Counsellors regularly report that one of the biggest issues being faced by children of today is lack of motivation and drive, especially when it comes to academics.

For parents looking for schools in Gurugram, or elsewhere, be it a pre nursery school, kindergarten or a primary school, they need to carefully assess the school’s culture.

A happy school will have warm, smiling and happy faces everywhere, right from the guard to the receptionist, the teachers and all the way to the principal. It is impossible to fake a culture and perceptive parents will pick up the happiness quotient as soon as they enter the school.

A visit to the top 10 schools in Gurgaon indicates these schools are doing a lot to create and preserve a happy culture. Nothing speaks better than data. Really good schools conduct annual happiness surveys where they ask and measure happiness levels of all their learners and publish these results.

Once a child joins a school the parent should regularly ask if the child is finding learning interesting. It is important to make a distinction between a child who likes going to school because of recess, sports, friends or extra curricular activities. Or they like going to school because they love their classroom experience. This is a very important distinction since joy is the fuel to motivation and drive.

Happy schools conduct a lot of formative assessments which are generally non-threatening. These assessments are constructed to make children keep learning and growing. Growth in Learning is measured regularly, rather than how much a child hasn’t learnt at the end of the term (summative assessments). Children who haven’t learnt a particular concept are tracked and special attention is given to them (also known as differentiation). It is a fact that all children learn differently and therefore need to be taught using a variety of techniques.

When we define success in broader terms and prioritize happiness from a young age, especially at school, we will ensure our child grows to become successful in the true sense of the world.

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