In a few weeks time I will be attending Rufus’s Reception Graduation ceremony. First let me say that I think a Graduation ceremony for Reception is ridiculous but this is the Instagram world we live in so count me in.
The last year of Rufus starting school has been quite a ride. We’ve had the ups of making new friends (one of whom he is planning to marry one day), learningto read, learning to write and generally having the world open up for him. I have always been determined that I would not ‘teach’ my children but that I would aid their desire to learn. This sounds extremely hippy dippy but in fact it’s quite simple. I answer questions that are asked and only what is asked. When Rufus asks what happens when we die, I say that no one knows for sure. When asked if police officers are good, I say yes. Of course with every question he asks there areextremely complicated answers I could give as the world is a complex place. But what Rufus needs, what he’s looking for is certainty and as he grows he will explore these topics further and I will follow those thought trains happily. He doesn’t need me to explain the laws of physics when he wants to know why it is that things fall down, he just needs to know that things fall.
There have also been some downs in the year. Rufus has struggled to handle other children getting told off. From a very early age, the threat of being in trouble has caused huge anxiety in Rufus, to the point where we would have to fast forward bits of movies where a character did something bad because Rufus could not watch the fall out from that action. Of course it has been good for him to get more practice in accepting that he can’t control the behaviour of others but these anxieties have caused him to cry most mornings when told to get ready for school, it has caused IBS every Monday and has caused nightmares of people yelling at him.
Education and more specifically learning is a fantastic thing. It opens our eyes to the wider, bigger, more interesting world around us that would be easy to miss if not exposed to it. However formalised education has its flaws. It does not bend to the individual. It expects all children to follow the same path both physically and mentally. I have two children so far and even between them I can see that they way they learn is entirely different from one another so why would 30 children in a class all learn in the same way and gain the same benefits from the system we have?
Next year, Rufus will move from a play based learning environment into a much more formal learning setting. One which will expect the children to sit most of the day at tables, working from books. Rufus is a sweet compliant child so from that point of view he’ll do well, but he’s thoughtful. A restful time for Rufus is spent sitting quietly, staring off into space and thinking and this usually results in a slew of questions for me, but it helps him rest. In a formal schoolroom setting, there is no time for that, all time must be used in a way that the government deems productive. So I’m concerned. I’m concerned that Rufus will find this unrelenting pace too much, I’m concerned that he will lose his opportunities to explore the big questions that rattle around inside his head.
So what can I do? I can’t change the education system overnight but I can control his home life. So Rufus will not do homework, he will not revise for tests and if I can in any way control it, he will not take part in any testing. I want him tolearn because he enjoys it, not because he has to.