Are we allowing our children be children? 

The summer holidays are here! My kids couldn’t have been more ready for them.

Just a few days before our kids broke up from school for summer, all three of my children were starting to flag. They were tired, weary, and in desperate need of a break.

Towards the end of term they got to the point where they didn’t want to go anywhere at the weekend. They wanted to stay at home and relax. This goes against all my natural instincts – when the sun’s shining we go out, but they were so tired and it’s unlike them not to want to go somewhere. They’re 9 and 7, and they’re exhausted!

I don’t remember being so exhausted as a child, but then I don’t remember the sheer amount of homework and additional pressures at such a young age either.

When did being a child become so exhausting?

Any parent with a child in Year 2 or Year 6 will know, May marked the month of the dreaded SATs. My middle child is in Year 2 and so faced the KS1 tests this year.

There seems to be a general consensus amongst the Year 2 parents that the exams are providing an unnessary stress to our little ones. Ben’s teacher is wonderful, I can’t praise her enough, and she goes out of her way to tell the children that all they can do is their best. But a class of six to seven year olds aren’t daft. They know from the mock tests during school hours, and the practice papers they are sent home with, that the school wants and almost expects them to do well.

It’s causing unnecessary upset and for what? Teacher and school targets. That’s all. The teachers know the children enough to determine where they are in the class; they don’t need standardised tests to show them what they can and can’t do. I don’t blame the school for this, this is a nationwide issue. Thankfully it looks like they’re going to be scrapped.

It’s made me think though, are we allowing our children to just be children? The amount of homework the children get was a surprise to me when they started school. Even from Reception they were expected to read daily, and have Maths and English homework, or a research project. When are they supposed to just have fun?

It seems to me we expect far more of our children than we did in the past.

After school activities, school work, standards of behaviour… the expectations of them seem to be much higher than when we were kids.

The youth of today get a bad press and they’ll have you believe that children these days are surly, unruly entitled brats. But that’s not my experience of them.

If anything I find that we expect too much from them. I’ve written before about my son’s behavioural issues at school (which thankfully seem to have taken an upward turn). But in the past he has been criticised for being too silly in school. I completely agree if he is being disruptive then it’s gone too far, but surely kids are supposed to be a little bit silly? They’re not mini adults – they’re children!

I found myself constantly apologising for his “silly behaviour” throughout his various parents’ evenings until he had a new teacher. She was newly qualified and full of enthusiasm and charisma. When I launched into my usual “I know he can be silly at times” she interrupted me with a “he’s a child, he’s supposed to be silly”. I could have kissed her. His behaviour came on leaps and bounds during his lessons with her and I think in the most part he was relieved he didn’t have to constantly pretend he was someone else.

I’ve learnt to be less harsh on him. Despite being the eldest, he’s also the silliest of my three. He likes to make people laugh and it’s a defensive thing. We’re not raising robots here.

I know people say it’s preparing them for adulthood, but they have the rest of the lives to worry and stress. They’re children for such a short time. My eldest is already over halfway through his childhood. We’re not going get those nine years back. I find it a constant battle between giving him some independence and allow him to still behave like the child he is.

I need to remind myself to take a step back. Let them enjoy their childhood. Let them run around, let them shout, let them get mucky. Listen to them when they say they’re tired.

This summer I’m going to take my cue from them. Heaven knows they’re not the only ones in need of a break!

 

 



13 comments

  1. There are some good points here. I used to be outside all the time as a child but now as an adult, I just want to stay in on a weekend and relax! I know it’s not really relevant to the stresses children have but it’s hard to find the motivation to get up and go out after a long week at work x

  2. I think it is good to have a balance of days out and days to chill. Mine relish being able to kick around the house, making dens and building lego

  3. I think as parents we tend to be over critical of our kids, and I am guilty as charged as my son is the same and loves to be silly. I can’t help apologizing after him although I know I don’t need to

  4. I can see this every day around me. Children are very exhausted most of the time. The amount of pressure they deal on day to day basis, from school and then parents, is not healthy.

  5. I really feel that the SATs are a truly unnecessary stress to be putting on primary aged children. At that age (and every in all honesty) children should be praised for their uniqueness. They should be encouraged to develop their interests. Some kids may well be great at maths, or they could be the next great musician. Children fail because governments spend to long trying to get them all to fit

  6. What a great post. We send out kinder to a school specializing in progressive education. It allows kids to be kids, in a world that tries to steal childhood from them. We make many sacrifices because this is so very important! #dreamteam xoxo

  7. I really agree with this. Some of the kids in my son’s class have an activity after school every day and then do at least two on a saturday. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with that never mind the kids. I always feel like they don’t have enough time to play so the holidays are all about playing for us. Some of the games might be educational, but it is all about fun. Thanks for bringing this to the #DreamTeam

  8. I completely agree. Our school handled the Year 2 SATs beautifully, no mock tests or papers sent home, they were just told that they were going to do some work in a quiet area and got on with it. That aside though the pressure on young children is still so intense. I feel that I have to apologise if one of my boys gets loud when we’re out but like you say, they’re children, not adults, they should be able to enjoy themselves before they are faced with jobs and bills and so on. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with #Blogstravaganza 🙂

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