Ava is 5 and in Grade R. It’s a big leap from Grade 00 to Grade R and I’m often left wondering what the impact is on her mental well being of all this additional pressure. In Grade R at her school, she is learning basic mathematics, reading and writing. And while there is no home work this grade, there is weekly Show & Tell which she is required to participate in. After Show & Tell as a reward, they get to participate in tuck shop. But no Show & Tell means no tuck. The school believes that making them participate from such a young age is important for confidence and public speaking later on. At age 5, this would have BROKEN me and I wonder about the shy and timid kids in her class and how they cope with this weekly pressure!
I just want to say again… she’s 5!
This means that Show & Tell is homework, mostly for us parents. Between the ages of 5 & 6, the kids in her class are not able to prepare for Show & Tell on their own. It requires that we do some preparation with her each week. It’s not like play school Show & Tell where they take a toy and talk about it. Each Show & Tell is like a mini project. It requires, at the very least, printing of pictures and creating of something that relates to each weeks theme. In the past, we have made volcanoes, we have made under sea creatures out of recycling, we have created family trees.
So last week, with Monday being a public holiday and me in Durban for a very long day on Thursday, our routine was a bit messed up and I completely forgot about Show & Tell. I remembered just as I was waking up at 5am on Friday morning. I panicked a bit and then thought I’d have to wake Ava up so that we could prepare something for her to talk about transportation. As I got out of bed, the power went off! And I knew there was no way, in the pitch dark, we were going to be able to prepare for Show & Tell.
I messaged her teacher explaining that we had no electricity and that I’d been in Durban the previous day and hadn’t gotten home till after 9pm and long after Ava had gone to bed and that we hadn’t prepared anything for Show & Tell. I asked her to please excuse Ava from Show & Tell that week and to not punish her by not allowing her to participate in tuck. It was, after all, my fault that she was unprepared, not hers. She’s 5! It’s not as if she could have prepared by herself, logged onto our computer and printed some pictures, she can barely read, never mind operate a computer!
The response I got ….. astounded/infuriated me. Basically sorry, not sorry, rules are rules, no Show & Tell, no tuck.
I get that there are rules. And I understand the purpose of the rules, but there is a time and a place for bending them and making allowances too.
So my child is going to be punished for something I did because she’s 5 and can’t do it on her own????
What message does that send her? Does that form of punishment build her up or does it break her down?
Seriously! She’s 5!
I was totally ok with them punishing her by not allowing her to participate in tuck, after the stealing incident, but this? No, this for me is not ok! And it’s not like we just didn’t bother and just sent her empty handed. There were legitimate reasons behind why it wasn’t done. (Turns out her amazing Dad had remembered the night before and done it with her, I just couldn’t see it in the frikkin dark, so a catastrophe that would have broken her heart was averted) But that’s not the point, the point is she’s FIVE!
Not 10! Not 11! Not able to help herself on her own without parental assistance and yet she was going to be punished because I had failed!
It’s really got me thinking a lot about our modern education system and whether we’re building kids up or breaking them down? And how much pressure they’re under.
At age 5, Ava can do basic maths, basic reading, basic writing. She is also learning Afrikaans and Zulu. Not to mention the extra mural activities. It just seems like an awful lot of pressure for a 5 year old!