The much talked about SATs will take place across the country this week for our Year 6 children.
Never out of the news, and the subject of much debate, I do wonder what job, as parents, we should have played here. And what qualifies any of us to have an answer to that.
Our 10 year old daughter will be sitting her SATs this week along with her peers across the country.
Well – we’ve taken a very hands off approach here.
Is that a massive parenting fail on our part?
Or perhaps a healthier way of looking at things?
It’s our first and only time out of the traps. We have no benchmark of an older sibling on which to hang a decision or a lesson learned.
One of the reasons for taking the stance that we have has been partly due to the amount of use that the words ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’ have had alongside these tests.
Our concern is that if a child spends too much time around a situation that becomes ‘labelled’ as stressful, they may feel that they are doing something wrong if they aren’t also having those feelings. That it may become a learned behaviour.
And given some of the devastating effects of stress that we see alongside exams in older children at this time of year, as parents of ‘littles’, we must surely counsel against this?
There is no doubt that our daughter may have felt these these emotions if we had kept banging on about how important these exams are. Had we not given her the freedom to practice in her own way and told her it would be the end of the world if she didn’t get the ‘grade’.
Of course, we want her to do well – her best. That is all we ask.
Because kids will surely latch on to what they see and hear around them – our home is a perfect example of that. As the primary carer in our home, my strengths lie firmly in the English department. Maths never floated my boat. And guess where my daughters strengths lie? Guess which subject was the most problematic at homework time?
You got it. Had it not been for a mammoth effort in the maths department, we would never have turned that belief around. But that shows how easy it is.
If we had spent the last few months fretting about SATS, I know precisely where we would have been.
And we aren’t going there. Other than making sure everything is available to our daughter and having the support of a school that is, in our opinion, doing the right thing.
There has been a lot of hard work put into preparing the children for these SATs during the school day. We are well aware of that fact and also that many of the teachers have put in their own time to support the children to do their personal best.
As a young child, I was given to be a little bit of a geek. With English being my strongest subject, I always enjoyed a spelling test. With no parent intervention (as tended to be the way), I had my own desire to do well. The luxury of having that feeling is not to be underestimated. Not to have any external input in wanting to do well. To be bothered oneself.
This really hit home last week during a conversation with a friend on this subject where we discussed the fact that you can’t make a child care.
You can give them all the help, advice and guidance within your reach but there has to be a desire to be involved in the process.
I have come to the conclusion that the children that come complete with a hunger for homework, revision and taking tests are probably a gift.
But I do know that we have a little kid that has actually got a bit of inner geek in her. From both of us. If that continues to blossom into a desire to do her best, then she is on the right track.
These little tests – and that is precisely what they are – could perhaps be enjoyed in the old-fashioned way if we allow them to.
Give children the tools they need and let them do their thing. Taking tests in this way for children aged 10 and 11 is a learning process in itself. A process in which they will learn the importance of showing up and preparation. They will have more of an insight into what works for them, what they liked, what they found difficult and what they wish they had done more of. The list is endless. It is an exercise from which they can learn more about themselves. The all important life skills of getting involved and being a part of something with your besties and your year group.
To me that is the greatest learning that should come from this week.
And if the most exciting thing for our kid this week is finding her seat in the hall and having the thrill of using a new pen and pencil, then our work as parents of a 10 year old has been done.
Here’s to carefree kids.