The children of today suffer from the on again off again switch. They are either struggling or they are not being encouraged enough. Schools attempt to meet the individual needs of the child and they want the parents to take responsibility for educating their children at home as well, but they do not necessarily take into account each parent’s view on what their child needs.
The school system needs to be more transparent. To give the parents a chance, in really concrete terms, to know what their child is expected to achieve over the course of the year and to let them see the high pressure times and the more relaxed periods.
Children these days are never given a chance to relax and enjoy the learning process. For the kids who are struggling, the normal homework and curriculum are hard enough without extra work lumped on top and the kids that should be excited that they have learned a word list or have had major achievements should be given a breath before they are loaded up with the next level.
In our children’s education, we have forgotten how to pause and how to breathe. Our children do not have enough time to complete tasks and adding more of the same task is not always the answer. Children need to understand concepts and problem solving. Sometimes they need less work and more focus on their understanding. For some children, they are not going to ‘get it’ until they ‘get it’. For these kids it’s just a matter of time.
We have at the moment a situation where children are burnt out before they even reach the school system.
How do our children unwind? They have no places that are safe to play anymore and no opportunity to be out of the watchful eyes of their parents. They suffer from anxieties and stress and the school system does not seem to be encouraging a love of learning but rather, is just showing them how to jump through academic hoops at younger and younger ages. This does not make for confident students, it makes for tired ones.
These children are completing homework and readers and spelling lists on a daily basis, on top of the regular school curriculum and, in many cases, weekends are taken up with activities designed to reduce stress. Kids who were previously bursting with creativity and energy sit lethargically complaining that they are ‘bored’ when what they really mean is ‘I am too exhausted to think of something fun to do’.
Our children are wanting to connect with their friends and as parents we are always trying to find the balance between ‘socialising’ our children, whilst regulating their peer group so that they are associating with the ‘right’ friends, whom ever we determine these people to be, whilst trying to make sure that they are not playing too much because there is homework to be done or meals to be had.
We are struggling to be in control of everything. If we didn’t we would probably be inclined to go the other way and not regulate anything. It is an all or nothing approach to life and parenting but we cannot maintain either approach, and so our children get very inconsistent variations of parenting.
Some days mum is in control. She runs a tight ship. Meals are prepared and homework is enforced. Play time is limited.
Some days mum doesn’t even see me through the glaze of exhaustion. She doesn’t care and she lets me do what I want. She yells and half heatedly tries to put in place consequences.
I don’t think I prefer either of these mum’s. My in the middle mum is the best. She is kind of good enough, most of the time. She is normal and fallible but she doesn’t beat herself up about it. Sometimes we play more than other times depending on what needs to be done, but on the whole she is aware of what’s going on around her and what she would like us to be doing as a family.
We need to find safe places for our children to play and we need to let them play without our constant supervision. We need to allow our children to develop their skills at their own pace and extend or assist them as they require it. Sometimes more work is not better, more time is. Sometimes we need to push a little but mostly we don’t.
As parents we ourselves, need to remember how to play. We need to get our own anxieties under control and we need to start role modelling this new relaxed paced, but still productive life.
It is possible, because we have asked for it. When we are ready to ask how? The answers come to us.
Refuse to allow your life to become busy. We think that this is impossible but actually this is under our control.
If life becomes busy then do not let this be a permanent fixture of your life.
Establish your family’s priorities. Take note of the lyrics from the Circle of Life from the Lion King “There is more to see that can ever be seen and more to do that can ever be done.”
There is always more to experience in this world than we could ever hope to experience in just one lifetime. Rather than letting this overwhelm you or paralyse you, consider the experiences that you find most important and enjoyable and focus on these.