Last night I was busy writing a post and whilst I was writing I could feel my blood beginning to boil so this morning when I saw @mummybarrow’s linky #rantyfriday it felt like kismet, the perfect release for my annoyance.
What’s been making me mad? The pressure we put on very young children in this country to perform academically and the impact that has on me as a parent.
I have always been proud of my relaxed attitude to parenting. Before the big boy went to school he didn’t know much about phonics and couldn’t count to 100 but he could make a mean Duplo Lego space base, had a healthy relationship with the garden and was full of joi de vivre.
School changed things. When he got there his reception teacher was pretty grumpy about the fact he hadn’t a clue about phonics she gave me the strong impression that I’d let him down by not getting him up to speed before he got there and wondered why his nursery hadn’t bothered. I had apparently the wrong notion that school is where teaching takes place and home is where a kid gets to be well a kid.
To cut a semi-torturous 11 months short it transpired at the end of his reception year that my son still didn’t know very much. He’d had hearing problems, which were resolved mid way through the year and although he’d done an amazing job to re-engage with the class and to build friendships, academically he wasn’t where the Government targets wanted him to be.
But here’s where my blood pressure begins to rise, at that time HE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD!!!! At an age where most other countries haven’t yet started formal education he’d been subject to scrutiny of his academic abilities by a teacher found wanting and was marked as failing the Government’s targets!
I’ll admit it, I was outraged, first that we do this to our children and secondly that I cared so much about silly targets but then as a loving mother of course we care when someone tells us our kids aren’t up to scratch. When I confided my concerns to parents with older children they consoled me by saying that Year 1 is where it’s at and by the end of Year 2 he’d be just fine.
When I confided further in some other friends one told me that I shouldn’t worry because there are plenty of non academic jobs he can do as an adult… I think/hope she was joking?! Not because I disagree about the range of jobs out there but because at 5 years old how on earth can you judge what your child will be? Maybe he won’t want to do anything academic and that’s fine but its far too soon to have any sense of what career he will choose.
As the twins come up to starting school I realise I have changed how I parent. Yes they still get plenty of play time but I am also coaching them on phonic sounds, counting up to 20 and doing basic sums. I read the other day that too much formal education at a young age is a turn off and I may be doing them more harm than good but I now feel trapped in this strange world of wanting them to ‘perform’ so they are also not judged wanting even though I know its daft.
I realise it sounds like I blame the teachers for this but I don’t. The real focus of my rant is the Government targets that prevent our children from being treated as children and instead turns them into number targets for schools. What also grates is that primary education seems so constrained by these curriculum targets but perhaps that is a rant for another Friday…
As always I’d love to hear your views and if you have something yourself that you need to get off your chest please go and visit Mummy Barrow and join in with #RantyFriday