Why we should just let kids be kids

I was pleased to read recently that new Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, is in favour of putting goal-setting to one side and allowing kids to daydream...

The bestselling author of titles including the hugely successful Charlie and Lola believes that it’s essential for youngsters to stare into space and dawdle in order to get a sense of their own personalities.

I wholeheartedly agree.

My oldest child is currently in his first term of juniors and, already, there’s a very noticeable difference to him.

He’s much less effusive than he once was when talking about school and the topics he’s learning about. He also seems to be losing his enthusiasm for reading and doesn’t seem happy.

Of course, going from infants to juniors is a big deal and it’s early days but I’m convinced that the increased pressure to achieve X, Y and Z is to blame.

There has been a significant rise in homework since last year and he's required to complete a couple of reading quizzes every week. Furthermore, he's expected to average above 85% in these each term.

While I agree that it’s important for children to read every day from an early age, I think there are better ways of nurturing a love of education than applying scores to everything.

I’ve never been a fan of homework for younger kids yet he and his brother – who is still in the infants – have had regular assignments since reception year. In my view, this is too much too soon.

Similarly, the Sats that take place in year two are more about testing schools than students so this is another example of unnecessary pressure on young kids.

Kids should be allowed to be kids. While it is, of course, important to have a structured education, there should be time for dithering and doing things just for the love of them rather than as part of an assessment.

Demanding too much of them is counterproductive. It stifles creativity and creates a real risk of failure – or at least fear of failure.

This, in turn, can result in them losing enthusiasm for educational and extracurricular activities. And it’s completely needless.

I very much hope that Lauren Child’s stint as Children’s Laureate will inspire changes in approaches to how we encourage kids to learn and thrive.

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Guest Friday, 22 January 2021

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