Monday, 15 December 2014

Great expectations?

I vaguely remember being 6 years old.  I have some memories that I know are truly mine and others that may have been padded out by nostalgic stories of the good ol' days.  Either way I remember being happy. A playful, carefree childhood growing up in the Caribbean running around and swimming in the sea. Idyllic really. But whether I was on the beach in the Caribbean or not, all that would have mattered to me was that I was happy and secure.

I went to school, did my homework, participated in activities and had to toe the line where expected behaviour was concerned - but there was balance.  I was only 6 after all. If you can't have fun at 6, when can you?

Now that I am a Mum to a 6 year old and two 4 year olds all at full time school I have been thinking a lot about my childhood and just how different it was to theirs. They are all in fantastic schools and have access to opportunities I never did, but is it all a bit too much? Too many after school clubs, too many effort charts, too many spelling tests (I even struggle with some of the words) - too many expectations?

There are so many eager parents wanting more and expecting more from the schools and from their children.  It is very easy to get swept up in all the madness.

Little D, the youngest in his year, spends full days at school, learning, following instruction and minding his P's and Q's. On top of this he has extra tennis, football and violin lessons.

He turned 6 in August. Not 15.

I am quite happy for him to do the bare minimum outside of school, but he was the one keen to do all these extras, mind you, what does a 6 year old know about overload?

I sometimes look at him and feel like he doesn't have a chance to just be a child. To run around, build lego, climb some trees.  I worry about any underlying pressure he may feel.  His expectations of himself are so high.  Hand on my heart, we never push him to be the best or to win every time. These expectations seem to come with the territory.

Real life is hard.  Getting a job, a good job and one you want, is hard.  We all know the next generation has their work cut out for them and we are trying to prepare our children to succeed from the moment they are born. There is nothing wrong with determination and wanting to succeed but there is something wrong with pushing a child to the point where they feel their self-worth is determined by their success.

We should be nurturing these little souls and helping them discover their full potential without harming their belief in themselves.

I have made the decision to slow down, to cut back the 'extra this' and 'extra that'.  To have down time after school. To build a lego tower, play musical statues. To sit and chat and cuddle. To let them know that their best is good enough.

This is their childhood, it only happens once, and I want them to remember it and smile.

1 comment:

  1. You speak from my heart. This is one of the main reasons why we moved to Sweden. After a year of hot-house reception in London, Lil L is now at dagis (kindergarden). She will start preschool after next summer. She was amazed to find out that she's the only one in class who can read and write, and that most of the kids don't know the alphabet. But they do know how to climb trees, they visit the recycling station in town, they go the the natural history museum to learn about the human body and dig for dinosaur bones... She's changed so much since we moved here in summer. Gone are the tantrums (well, most of them), gone are the extreme mood swings. I think the British school system really is not child friendly. I had a childhood similar to my daughters now. And I am very determined and ambitious. Climbing trees and having time to be a kid didn't take that away from me. xxx


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