Why are we hothousing our children?

I’ve noticed that every time I meet up with other mom’s, the conversation inevitably strays towards schools and getting into schools. S is at the age now where I have started considering schools for him and so I’m very open to discussing the different schools in our area and what might be the best fit for him.

However, what I do take issue with is the hothousing that appears to be part and parcel of getting your child into a “good” school. I say “good” because really everyone’s definition of the word is different. But to generalise, parents usually refer to good schools as those that prep your child for the top prep schools, followed by London’s top secondary schools and then on to the best universities this country offers.

Children as young as 3+ are being “assessed” before they are accepted into said good schools. At that age I don’t even think the children care so much where they go but I’ve seen it come as more of a blow to the parent’s whose little cherub didn’t get into their choice of school. In case you haven’t gathered, I’m anti-assessment at such a young age. Although it’s not lost on me the fact that I’m partly anti-assessment, not just because I don’t want my child to be put through that, but I also don’t want to be made to feel like my child is not good enough.

S can sit down and do a 35 piece puzzle on his own but put him in a room full of strangers at this age and I doubt he’ll want to show off his skills. My child shouldn’t be judged for essentially just being a toddler.

I recently went on a school tour and at the end the headmaster pointed out that this school (which takes children at 5+) don’t assess the children anymore but rather they have a “get to know you” session. As my friend B pointed out…”So when your child doesn’t get in, it won’t be because they weren’t up to assessment level, it’ll be because the headmaster didn’t like them in the ‘get to know you’ session?!” I’d like to see how they answer to that one.

The fact is, although many schools have come under scrutiny for assessing such young children and have now changed their terminology, parents are still having their little toddlers prepped for these meetings with the schools. School assessment tutors are very common and growing.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I want my child to do well and will put him in the best school I can in order for him achieve that. However, I believe there needs to be more of an emphasis on the child and not just their ability to read, count or write their name by the time they are 4.

In today’s day and age, what is more important than that grade A is a child’s good social skills, self-esteem and emotional intelligence. Hothousing is a new term which refers to the undue pressure that parents put on their children. Although many schools claim that children should learn through play, their curriculum shows otherwise.

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I want S to thrive academically as well as in a sport he chooses but it’s about finding the line between him wanting to do it and me wanting him to do it. As parents we should always be encouraging our children to be the best that they can but knowing when not to overstep the mark. When parents all around me are enrolling their children in football, rugby, piano and drama, it’s difficult not to question whether I am doing right by S by not putting him in a different class every afternoon but I constantly remind myself that all children are different, as are all parents, and as long as he’s thriving doing what he enjoys, then I’m happy (and more importantly, so is he).

I read a really interesting article about how Finland is changing their teaching methods. You can read it here.

I was really impressed and I think we’d do well in the UK to start adopting this method of learning. Because I can tell you I learnt trigonometry but I don’t remember the last time I ever had to use it. I wish I knew more about the E.U. though!

What’s your views on schooling?

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2 thoughts on “Why are we hothousing our children?

  1. I agree. It is so tough. My son is 8 months and already schooling has come up as a topic of conversation with my NCT group. He has only just learned to sit up. I agree that at that age emotional intelligence and social skills are by far the most important thing. Kids also need to enjoy being at school otherwise they won’t want to go and if they don’t want to go they are not going to learn anything. Too much assessment will put them off. xx

    • Exactly but schools don’t seem to see it that way. I’m not anti -assessment, I just don’t believe in assessing at such a young age and of course trying to fit a round peg into a square hole…

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