Lessons From Parents' Evening

This week has seen parents' evening in my school, which has meant me working until 8pm two nights. I'm not going to lie, it's exhausting, especially when one of those days fell on a work day and I'd been in school since 8am. However it's part of the job so I deal with it. As a parent now I realise how important these sessions are, and am far more compassionate than I was pre-child.

However, as The Boy is also in my school now, it meant that we weren't able to have our own parents' evening on the same day, and therefore saw his teacher on Tuesday after school. Yes, he had a good report and yes I am proud of him, but yesterday when I sat down to talk with him about his targets, I had an epiphany.

He's five.

Five years old.

Of course I'm unbelievably pleased with his reading age of 8 years and 5 months, and spelling age of 8 years 3 months. Of course I am. And I am unbelievably pleased that after weeks of perseverance and trying as hard as possible, he finally managed to do his seven sums within the twenty second time limit. The cursive handwriting he's using is wonderful, and I'm so proud he's beginning to master it, particularly as he's left-handed.

But he's five.

I realised this wholly when I had laid him back in my arms to talk with him about the fact that one of his teachers would like him to write more than the eight sentence targets she sets him. I looked at his face, at his hair that I'd smoothed to the side as I was talking to him, and I looked into his eyes. And I stopped. Because in those eyes, I saw a flicker of future concern, the whisper of potential anxiety, a hint of hidden defeatism, and there is no way on this Earth that I will allow them to surface and take hold of my son.

There is no way that I will allow our child to think he's not doing well enough. Not when I have spent my life trying to please others and prove my worth. Not when my husband was once asked where the other 3% was in test results. Not our son.

The Boy is doing well enough, because he's enjoying school. He's got a close circle of five friends, and they are funny, friendly and confident boys who have welcomed him with open arms. He comes home and he tells me what he's done that day, something he's never done before. I watch him from my classroom window while he's laughing and playing tag, and I feel so content in the knowledge that he's enjoying life.

So what am I taking from this term's parent's evening?

I'm taking from it that he is happy, engaged, fulfilled and friendly. And those targets? Well, that's what the teachers are for. Me? I'm here to cuddle and reassure him. To play with, cook with, kiss him before bed, and be there when he wakes. I'm a teacher but I'm not his teacher; I'm his mummy.

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Comments

  1. says

    I agree with you 100% and what is more, from what I have seen you are the most amazing mum and you do so many things that enrich his life, I often envy you. Yes I see the value of targets and as long as we support school as much as we can, you are so right that we need to get on with parenting. That can be hard when you're teachers too.

  2. says

    This is such a great post, because I think so many schools are target driven and it can take the fun out of learning if we let it. The Boy sounds like a wonderful child, full of interest and life and I hope he stays that way

  3. says

    I understand this so well, it's so tough as you want to encourage them but not push them. You're much better at this parenting malarky than you give yourself credit for, as I know myself I've not quite got the don't be pushy v. encourage them balance right. xx

  4. says

    I think you're right to be concerned as a parent that too much is expected of your son at such a young age. He's already doing brilliantly as it is and I think it's essential that kids don't lose their passion for learning by being pushed too hard.

  5. says

    Do you make a habit of writing emotionally deep posts like this? Wow next time I will bring tissues. Having a little wee cry as I type this. The last couple of sentences in particular got me.
    Wouldn't have at all related to this before Aaron started school, but now I see all the struggles that making friends requires (there's only 1 boy Aaron wants to sit next to) and his HUNGER for learning that just floors me, despite me being so academic myself, I just read this post with a whole set of new eyes.
    Love your mindset in this,
    L x

  6. says

    What a wonderful post, I completely agree. As someone who was also asked 'but where's the other 3%' far too often I try very hard not to do the same to my children, not always easy when you want them to do well, but it's far more important that they enjoy school and want to learn. It's my job to make sure they are happy x #brilliantblogposts

  7. says

    Good for you. And well done the Boy too, those are all great accomplishments. It's a hard line to tread isn't it between wanting to challenge children to stretch the elasticity of their minds and not wanting to leave them feeling that nothing they do will ever be good enough. It sounds like you've got the balance just right :)

  8. says

    What a lovely post and so true. He's doing so well. Sod the targets. He's way ahead of them anyway and he's just a little boy who should be enjoying life.
    (I remember when SATs were mentioned to me in relation to my eldest's handwriting when he was 5. Grrr!)

  9. says

    The fact he is happy and enjoying school is the most important thing of all, that he is doing so incredibly well is the icing on the cake! Well done to you both x

  10. says

    I work really hard at not being a teacher to my kids – but it's so hard when it's ingrained in you. Obviously I do his spellings, reading, homework etc with him & I can't help but ask questions & "teach" him as it comes naturally however like you say – when it comes to targets & the like I shall be keeping my mouth shut. As long as he is happy, settled & trying his best I'm not getting involved :) x

  11. says

    The is such a lovely post, I honestly don't know how they expect 5 year olds to understand targets of education.
    You are doing exactly the right thing, let him be set targets by the teachers at school and let him have fun with you at home.
    He's 5 he has years ahead of him for meeting targets and being pushed to do that little bit extra x

  12. says

    Quite right too. Thankfully they don't seem too obsessed with targets at my daughter's school but now she's in year one the amount of homework she's getting has increased massively. Think your approach is 100% correct. #brilliantblogposts

  13. says

    This is something I am struggling with already. I love being a part of my son's learning and worry that I'm going to push him too hard. Im always looking for fun ways to encourage his excitement about phonics and now he is speaking to me in french and I'm like I need to learn these French songs too! Eek!

  14. says

    Such a moving, spot on post, wow those targets seem so unfair on young children. Your son and you are simply a credit to one another but you're so right, these pressures are unfair on children, you are a wonderful, wonderful mother. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

  15. says

    Brilliant blog post. It's hard for me as a parent but must be harder for you as a teacher and a mummy. I sometimes have to take a step back and try not to push Aly too much otherwise she'll end up not enjoying school and that's not what it's all about

  16. says

    Such a well written post. An honest post which is beautiful. We have all this to come when Lil G starts school next September. I completely agree with you, enjoy being his mummy rather than his school teacher as I am sure there will be a time when you have to take on that role for just a short period. I hope your long nights are now done with for another term is it? #BrilliantBlogposts

  17. says

    Fantastic post. As a teacher and a mum I know how much pressure is put on kids about targets and results and I've seen too many kids crack under it all. The thought of my son entering all that scares me so much but I think you've out it perfectly, I need to remember I'm his mum! x

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