I think I’m missing a special gene or something. The gene that tells you that a 5-year-old child should be over achieving and focussing solely on maths and English and little else. I don’t know why I don’t have it but I sure as hell am VERY VERY glad it’s missing.
I have had my eyes opened to the competitive parent this week. School reports were sent home on Monday and it was very exciting for me and the hubby. Our little girl’s first report. New education measures have meant the reports have changed (although having not seen a report for a good 20 odd years, we didn’t really know what we were missing). For Reception children there is a new grading system of 3 grades. These are listed as “Emerging”, “Expecting” and “Exceededing”. I think I’ve got a pretty bright little girl, she comes from pretty bright stock, but I’m not really one to start shouting it from the rooftops, or for that matter put a load of pressure on my daughter. We’ve spent our first year in school focussing on the enjoyment, understanding how homework fits into homelife, learning to read (woo hoo) and being creative with the ways we learn (numbers with cooking, reading street signs, counting in twos on the house numbers). I’ve not wanted anything more as I really wanted Pickle to get a thirst for learning, the joy of passing on that knowledge either to me or her brother and the understanding of what needs to happen in a classroom, how to conduct yourself, follow instructions, be kind to your classmates. At any rate, her report had her at “Expected” on every level. I was happy with that. It was her first year. She’ll find a subject she really likes and I’ve no doubt she’ll get a few “exceeding” scores in years to come. I just liked reading her teacher’s comments. Glowing comments about her being a joy to teach and her social skills. She has a good grasp of everything. Well rounded I’d say.
However, being in the school grounds on Tuesday was apparently not for the faint hearted. Hubby was there for an end of year picnic and the other parents were up in arms!! Over what, you might say? Well there were two things specifically. Firstly, the wishy-washy scoring system. “What does it mean, exactly”? spouted one irate mother. “So she is exceeding. By how much?”. “What is it she isn’t doing that means she gets “expected”” shouted another. Geez!! You’ll note that these were all mother’s of girls. They happen to be my daughter’s friends parents. I’ve never been so glad that they are all being split up in Year 1. Hallelujah.
The second thing that one such mother talked to me about this morning was about the comments on the report. “I don’t want to know how she’s feeling or about how she moves her body” she complained, rolling her eyes. I want to know what maths problems she’s working towards. FGS!! These are 5 year olds, people. 5 YEAR OLDS!
When I was 5 in Australia, I was doing water play and playing in the sand pit in pre-school. I hadn’t touched a book. It was fun. I learnt to read very quickly from the age of 6 and as I got older, some grades slipped and some went through the roof. I somehow muddled through it all. I got there. I came out the other side an intelligent woman. I’d like to think I could do anything I put my mind to. I’m still learning now. It never stops.
I loved all the stuff in the report about Pickle’s social skills. At this age, it’s so important. All the bloody high scores in the world, but if you can’t actually conduct normal relationships with people then how will you ever be fulfilled? I loved hearing about her PE skills too. Nice to know she is coordinated and enjoys it. All of it was heart warming, comforting and demonstrated to me that she will be a good student.
Clearly it’s just me though. I have yet to find a parent in her class who isn’t fuming. I’m actually gobsmacked, truth be told. I appear to be one of the few parents with a child that didn’t get an “Exceeeding” score on one of the areas. I had no idea people started getting so worked up about grades at this age. As if these grades set the scene forever. If Pickle had got “emerging” for everything, maybe I might have been a little concerned. Maybe I’d have chatted to the teacher about getting her up. How can anyone be upset that their child has achieved set goals though? At this age?
The mother I spoke to this morning informed me that her and her husband had spent all night on the internet downloading homework for her daughter to do over the summer break. I looked at her aghast. “Really? I’m letting Pickle have a well deserved break”. She replied “Oh no. We are getting on with this. She did some homework this morning before she came to school. She loves it. She gets bored otherwise. I’ll let her have a week off when we are on holiday and then she’s back on it”.
I feel incredibly sad for her daughter, because if this is what her parent’s are like now, what will they be like when she’s 8, 10, 11?
I’m clearly in the minority. Education IS important but enjoying learning and doing so in a measured way, at your own pace, surely that’s important too. I WILL be doing homework with Pickle. I will be teaching her over the summer break, but it’ll be accidental. She will be reading books she has chosen and enjoy and exploring her new knowledge by using it in everyday settings. I’ll probably be teaching her without even realising.
She’s 5 FGS!!