Each parent has different ideas on the level of tests and assessments their child should face. We asked our blogger Lizzie for her views. Thank you to Lizzie for this article. “Devoted wife and momma of two beautiful girls, with a mostly wonderful husband and two bats**t crazy dogs.”, Lizzie runs her own blog at http://www.lisforbridget.blogspot.co.uk/ with her “product & place reviews, recipes, opinions and my musings on parenting, being a grown up, and life in general”
“No matter how old your child is, it seems that they must be tested. Examine. Measured up against some non-existent, picture-perfect child that the government has invented in some poorly veiled attempt to make you feel like a useless parent.
What Apgar score did they get at birth? What centile are they on for their height and weight? Could they stack blocks at their eighteen month assessment? Do they sleep through the night? Could they write their own name before going to school?
It seems to be an endless circle of comparing your child, and making you feel inadequate.
As if this isn’t enough, when your child reaches school age, they are then faced with yet more tests. How bright is your child? Let’s publicly humiliate them if they don’t know how to work out how completely made up words might sound at the end of year one (the dreaded phonics test). Let’s make them undergo tests to see how their teachers are performing, but dress it up so that the children feel that it is them being tested.
My eldest is one of the extra unlucky ones, who fell into the academic year that started Reception on the old curriculum, and entered year 1 on the new one. So essentially, everything that children were expected to have learned by the end of year 2, she was expected to understand and be fluent in a year early. Hardly seems fair!
We had parents’ evening at school recently. I have always loved them as it really makes me feel like I am doing a great job; hearing how my little R is a polite, happy and popular member of her class, working hard and doing exceptionally well.
But this time, it was different.
R was still all of those things, but due to the changes in the curriculum and the way the government has misguidedly designed the SATs papers, almost no child will come out with a result that states that they are where they should be. Most will be underperforming, according to these ridiculous tests.
How do I tell my beautiful, hardworking seven year old daughter that the test she took, that she worked so diligently for, says that she is not where she needs to be? Sorry R, you’re a failure according to our government. You’re not up to scratch.
No parent can do that.
As parents it is in our very nature to shield our children from anything that can upset them, anything that makes them feel anything less than the absolute, utter perfection that they are in our eyes.
I was brought up by parents who instilled a sense of competition in me, I must always push myself as hard as I can and then push myself more, I must always be the best. I’m bringing my children up the same way.
So when R comes out with a result that is “less than satisfactory” according to the government, I know that I will be crushed. I will be disappointed, I will be hurt, and ultimately I will feel irritated. My daughter is worth so much more than that. She is exceptional – she can count in French, she is kind hearted, she’s an absolute bookworm, she writes beautiful stories with incredible conviction that I genuinely love reading. She’s a problem solver, she’s logical, she’s incredibly intelligent.
And yet, she won’t be good enough.
I understand the need for examinations later in life – after eleven years of constant education, there is clearly a requirement to demonstrate your grasp of everything that you have learned before you take a leap into the working world, or go on to study for A Levels and potentially university.
But why test our babies so much? Why put that pressure on children who are at such a delicate age? R takes it to heart when she is struggles to read a particularly difficult word (onomatopoeia anyone?), so how on earth will she react to her almost inevitable SATs result?
We need to leave our children to be children. Let them learn, let them play, let them experiment and push boundaries and explore their very being in a natural way that enables them to express their personalities without trying to squeeze them into unrealistic and unfair boxes. So what if a four year old isn’t dry at night? So what if a five year old can’t read?
They will get there in their own time. Let them make their journey at their own pace, with support and encouragement, and above all – love.
Love your babies. Don’t test them.”