The amount of pressure on the shoulders of our children and young people is a big concern of mine. Finding the right balance between encouraging my children to do their best but not pushing them too hard is something I think about (read: panic about) quite frequently.
Thinking back to my own childhood and teen years, there was so much pressure to study and do well, that by the time I got to my GCSEs – the time where things were actually beginning to matter – I was just tired. I stopped caring. Again and again, I had been told that this or that exam was so important, only to find out that really, it wasn’t. So why should I care this time around? It was only becoming pregnant with my first that gave me the drive to try and do well again.
I know that schools are under a lot of pressure to get good results for statistics and tables purposes. It’s not their fault. The fault is with the entire system. Schools are supposed to be put under pressure to ensure the children are being educated well. It’s for the children’s sake! But this has become so warped over time that now the pressure is being passed onto the children, and that is, in my opinion, detrimental to their wellbeing.
So, what sparked this rant?
Last weekend, Frog was sick. She threw up quite spectacularly several times, and was most certainly not herself. She did not eat for a whole day, and she spent most of her time sleeping. As a result, I kept her off school until she had stopped spewing vomit and managed to eat and keep down a couple of decent meals. I let her school know why she wouldn’t be attending. On Thursday, she managed to go in, well fed and feeling herself again. She bounced off, happy to go back and catch up with her friends. When she was walking back home with Curly Dad, she confided in him that she felt disappointed, because while the other children had been enjoying films to celebrate the end of term, she had been given work to catch up on that the other students had done earlier in the week. Curly Dad cleverly spun it be saying that when she had been at home she had been able to watch TV while her friends had been working at school, which made Frog feel a bit better.
My feelings on it were mixed.
I think it’s important that children learn good discipline from a fairly young age and get into good habits. Later on in life, she will be required to catch up on study/work regardless of whether she was sick or not. However, it was the end of term and the other students were enjoying films, and I can’t help but think that at five years of age she shouldn’t have to feel excluded in the way that she did. There is the possibility, of course, that she is not telling the full story. There have been times when she has done this in the past (unintentionally). So perhaps it wasn’t so bad, but it has had me thinking on this issue all the same. I don’t think that at her age she should have missed out on anything. If there was something she needed to catch up on, they could have sent it home with her to do over the Easter break.
I don’t baby my children. I expect a lot from them in terms of good behaviour, manners and consideration of others. I expect them to be mature, kind, good little people. They are children, though, and it fills me with dread the thought that in a few years time there will just be more and more pressure placed on them by school to study, by society to fit in. It’s one of the few times that I wish I could just hold them close to me and hide them from the world forever.
Does this sort of pressure worry you? What do you do to ensure your children are encouraged but not weighed down?