Your kids are not your mates
Something I’m starting to hear with worrying frequency within the primary school setting is “my daughter’s my best friend”. Often, this rings alarm bells. Your kids aren’t your mates. You’re their parent, and your responsibility is to provide them with guidance and boundaries, not to drag them into your own disputes. Your nine-year-old doesn’t need to know about your bitter feud with his friend’s mother, or which dad you’ve got the hots for at the school gate. In the years to come he or she may realise that some of their own problems (social alienation, in its various forms, being a prime example) might have something to do with exposure to that sort of talk at an early age. Continue at your own risk.
Data levels aren’t everything
Here’s one to think about for the start of next term. At the autumn parents’ evening my agenda tends to look something like this: “How is settling in to her new class? Is she happy?” And so on. All being well, our conversation will move on to your child’s preferences about this subject or that activity and the sorts of things we might work on together to ensure a successful academic year. Except you were told your child was a level 3a writer in her school report in summer and you’re now demanding to know why she’s not a level 4 yet. Naturally, it’s a similar story for reading and maths. Before I respond, can I just ask if you settled down and were on an even keel in no time whatsoever after every major event in your life? Give everybody some time to settle in – new children and new teachers can be just as daunting for each other at the start of an academic year. It will take time to establish positive relationships, let alone pinpoint progress levels.
Let them go a little bit
It’s always tricky to bring up, as it’s the child who dictates when this needs to happen. And that could be at any moment, regardless of year group or academic ability. And I empathise, as both a teacher and a parent. Our children are, of course, the most precious things in our lives and we will naturally fight to protect and provide for them. Independence, and the desire for it, however, comes to us all sooner or later and you would do well to recognise the signs. Is your child suddenly starting to produce independent pieces of writing or artwork, and then look to you for acknowledgement/praise? Or maybe following recipe or model-making instructions to a tee? Try setting a few tasks. Left to his own devices, you’d be surprised how well your 10-year-old can remember to pack his homework or get his own breakfast. Even seemingly basic routine chores will help foster his sense of worth and help him cope with life at senior school. In the years to come, he’ll probably be more grateful than if you were still spoon-feeding everything to him at this age.