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!