Linda's blog: Please Can We Stop This Madness?
When the new term starts my daughter will enter her final year at primary school. The years have flown by and I can hardly believe the small, shy and still cute 4-year-old has become the tall, opinionated and slightly moody 10-year-old we now live with.
Year 6 presents lots of exciting opportunities: the lead roles in the Christmas and Summer shows, a residential trip away and starting to go to school by herself. But, before any of that, it also presents secondary school open days, applications, lots of tests and the 11+ exam.
Since the beginning of Year 5, the discussion and debate among parents about schools has increased in frequency and ferocity. At all times my husband and I have done our best to avoid or re-direct questions. We’ve sought to limit discussion in our house and in our daughter’s hearing we have repeated our core mantra: “try your best”.
The school has made valiant efforts to minimise the noise but it seems that on this, parents are unwilling to accept the expertise and experience of the trained professionals and the incessant discussion has continued apace.
At sports day I side stepped multiple school chats and I have lost count of the number of conversations I’ve shut down. At a recent child’s party, one mum, whose son goes to a different school, introduced herself and within seconds had explained how stressed she is about the exams, how important they are and how worried she is about the result. All while both her child and my child were at our sides. I walked away wishing the madness would stop.
I’m not sure if parents genuinely believe their children can’t hear what they’re saying, or think their words have no impact, or hope that they will. Knowing my daughter both listens and thinks about what she hears, I have no interest in doing anything that might increase the pressure or fuel the fire of anxiety many children already feel.
And so, on we continue, forging our own path and hoping to reassure, support and encourage our daughter on this journey. Whatever happens, I am looking forward to being on the other side!
Linda is a lawyer who has two primary school-age children. She and her husband work full time and juggle the school run and everything else between them.