First off, you’re a great parent! You must be because you spend your free time reading blogs like this rather than much more pleasurable or pressing things. I know you don’t feel like it. None of us do. We are wracked with mummy guilt. We hold ourselves to ridiculously unachievable standards.
But desperately trying to keep up with the pointless tasks from school should not be another source of guilt, angst and friction with your child.
Here are my top four reasons why I think you should stop:
- Most teachers aren’t doing these tasks with their own kids/teens. Teachers in the UK are stifled by an over-stuffed curriculum, a mad testing regime and targets, targets, targets.
Yes, teachers are stressed about trying to retain their own job, so are desperately setting work to try to make their pupils jump through hoops. But, no, most aren’t making their own kids do most of the questionable work set. Because they are teachers, they have the inbuilt confidence to ditch most of it. I think that you should too.
2. Your relationship with your child/teen is vital. If you do nothing else, please use this time to strengthen it.
You are more important than a teacher. You are their champion, their shoulder to cry on. We want them to come to us with their worries and wobbly areas. Then we can meet their needs.
Some parents hope that school will provide everything their child/teen needs, but that is very rare in my experience. For years to come, your kid needs you – if not you, then who?
3. Take the hard-won knowledge you have learned from this super stressful time home-schooling them and now use that to really focus on what they NEED. It sure as heck won’t be the same as the 29 others in his/her class or set.
Your time, energy and goodwill is precious, as is your child’s. 5 mins targeted here and there really will add up to a massive difference. It is the base hits that win the game.
“But they have to do all this work, otherwise they’ll fall behind!” We have a toxic culture of presenteeism, whereby the only thing that matters is putting in the hours. I think they should work smarter, not just harder and harder.
4. Lastly, prioritise movement. They do not get enough of this in school and yet all academic learning rests on their gross motor foundations. Without tonnes of continued work on key things like balance, strength, hand-eye coordination and cross-body work, their attention, memory, handwriting, reading and Maths will all suffer.
This diagram neatly shows that whilst schools are working on the roof, many children simply don’t have a complete house to rest that roof on. Soon schools will sit them down and work them to death, with long days, fewer breaks and extra catch up sessions.
Chores: watering the plants, baking, sweeping, mopping, scubbing, hoovering, gardening, cooking dinner, carrying shopping, taking out the rubbish, laundry, washing the car, kneading bread, changing the bedding, pegging out the washing, help organise or declutter heavy items, carrying buckets of water, walking or bathing the dog etc. will all give them ‘heavy work’ which will help them get rid of all that adrenaline and cortisol sloshing around and help ground them.
Need something more fun that still gives them strong foundations and genuinely ‘sorts them out’? Try pillow fights, chewing gum, push ups, riding their bike, sucking on a straw or water bottle, wrestling, play instruments, punch bag (or a big beanbag to pummel), crunchy foods, races, trampoline, skateboarding, playground, push a child on a swing, playing with a big ball, clay, skate park, climbing trees, build a fort, parkour, gymnastics moves, monkey bars, crunchy food,
Above all, trust your gut! Remember, you are the expert on your child/teen. Aim to educate them with love, laughter, imagination and care.
I believe in you! You’ve got this.