I found an old blogpost of mine from 2017 and it made me reflect and hope: given many of our children are absent from school right now, I’m hoping that a change might finally come for the school system.
Maybe, things will evolve in line with the world our children live in. Education is so important and how we offer that to children makes a HUGE difference to their long-term outcomes.
My youngest is missing school, she enjoys learning and definitely enjoys socialising, but it wasn't always like that for her. A summer born, creative child she struggled with the structure of the school day in the early days. As a result we didn't complete any homework, I never forced her to read but read to her daily and when it came to SAT's she did no extra homework or revision. This was because she would cry over how tired she was after a full day of learning, a full day of forcing herself to sit still and remember to put her hand up before sharing her ideas. I honestly believe that if I had made her do more academically during this time she wouldn’t have this love of learning now. On the other side of the coin, before I specialised in emotional development, I pushed and pushed my eldest and it was at a cost.
Now, no 2 children are the same, what works for one doesn’t work for another, they’ve all different talents, strengths, weaknesses, ways of learning, development pathways, home lives, experiences and that’s the point - we can’t expect them all to thrive in the current system. All children deserve to thrive.
I hope that when we return the government listens to the research on trauma, window of tolerances, relationships and brain development and uses this to inform schools and train every team member in these vital areas.
I hope when we return the government learns to trust, value, support and respect the teachers in our schools and allows them to create environments that ensure all children feel the same in return. Valued and respected.
The post from 2017:
“Time after time I get asked “My child is struggling at school and I want to know how to best support him. He’s struggling with Math, what can I do?”, as you can imagine the content varies but the basic question remains the same. Very often when probed the parent will reveal that the child has just left foundation stage and entered key stage 1 (from reception to year 1). This never, ever surprises me.
Our children leave the wonderful, child led environment of early years, that has been designed around their development, and then enter an outdated system that was created when we still believed that ‘children should be seen and not heard’. It has no support system in place to help with this transition and the fact that they need one speaks volumes about the education system we entrust our child's education and development too.
Let me be clear, this is NOT the teachers fault in anyway whatsoever. They are also thrust into a system that means that the actual ‘teaching’ comes way down on the agenda compared to the ticking of boxes and preparing children for assessments. Teachers usually become teachers because they care, they have ideas on how to support children’s learning and want to make a difference but they find themselves in a system that offers them little flexibility and support. Funding is dramatically cut and teachers with classes of 30+ children are spinning all the plates without even a valuable and much needed teaching assistant. This system FAILS SO MANY CHILDREN.
We are behind in the league tables so why not look at the education systems of our European friends that finish so much higher in the league tables; why not follow suit? Instead we make young children do more classroom based academic learning earlier and earlier and then wonder why we do not get the same results.
Children learn through play, through experiences and by doing so they develop holistically, in a way that is of upmost importance in today’s vulnerable world. We need creative thinkers, good listeners, children who can empathise and problem solve as much as we need the mathematicians and scientists; in fact a creative scientist and mathematician should be nurtured and encouraged. We can teach children most other things by letting them be children, letting them explore, think critically and figure things out for themselves, by creating an atmosphere in school that encourages curiosity and taking chances, making mistakes and we can model how to problem solve and teach them how to understand their emotions.
Our children’s mental health is in jeopardy, serious mental health issues are on the rise and when we are continuing to squeeze them through holes they just don’t fit through are we really surprised? Our world is very different from 100 years ago so why has our education system not evolved accordingly?
So when I get asked the question “What can I do to support my child’s education” I respond “By doing everything at home that they are NOT doing at school”. Take them to parks, talk, play games, LISTEN and communicate. Keep their confidence and self-worth high so that when they get knocked down by feeling frustrated at school they can be resilient and have another go. Bridge the Gap for them, be the difference that they need and enjoy them; because our children are special, and deserve to be seen, respected AND heard.