It’s well depressing for the them, isn’t it? Just look at their mugs on the photo.
Gawd help ’em. Having to go back to a life of riley where they receive a free education, free nosh (well…if they’re attending an infant school – from this term onwards) and free access to a whole host of adult educators – whether teachers, teaching assistants, admin and secretarial staff, reading helpers, lunchtime supervisors, cooks and caretakers. Crazy folk who seem to want to hang out with the the little critters from 9 am till about 3 ish.
Mad as a bag of frogs these people may be, but they spend their lives educating our children and they deserve way, way more than a medal. ( And the next time that I’m off on one – moaning about how ‘the summer holidays are too long….’ please poke me in the eye and remind me of this.)
Because from what I hear from my teaching professional mates and relatives, these days bringing education to kids in the western world is harder than ever. The all-availability of non-stop TV channels for kids, the never-ending drizzle of the internet and the fact that so many of our bairns have screens all over the show in their homes and carte blanche to do whatever they want to whether it be the X Box or tablet or Playstation or iphone app game gubbins…
Well, it all seems to lead to one things. A nation of kids who are expecting to be entertained with the ‘Wow!’ factor, every second of the day. And generally speaking, learning and retaining information is -and should be – a long and laborious process – both for the pupil and the teacher. The important lessons in life take a bit of time chewing over.
So I reckon that in 20 years time, we might well be beating ourselves up badly as we reflect on how we didn’t police our nippers’ use of screen time effectively enough. How we didn’t take the time to repeat repeat repeat and to use some of the more old-fashioned methods that involve less stimulation and immediate reward. And how we ourselves as adults, perhaps got too hooked, too quickly into soundbite and wow-factor instantanous habits in terms of electronic communication.
My kids – and my family – have been lucky enough to see the extremes of ‘lack of access to’ media stimulation for children. (See the blogs below where me and my mini funny lass chat about kids, education and life in Africa.) What I didn’t write about in these posts were just how amazed we were to realise how we could cope for several weeks without phones, TVs, internet access and all of that. Sure – I had done this before in Africa – but last time round and living there, it was sans kids. When you have the nippers – its so much easier to reach out for Mr Tumble or Walt Disney to babysit the little varmints…
So, back to why the kids are looking like miserable little critters in the photo. This was actually meant to be a HAPPY photo. It was meant to be a “look – we are sending our first parcel of comics to the kids in namibia and aren’t we proud of ourselves and everyone who has helped us!” shot. But we were all rather weary by this point. This was the last day of the school holidays. Following on from our African experience, the kids have had a no-TV and no screen time during the weekdays rule imposed on them. And only limited access at the weekends.
Actually, it really has worked very well for all of us. Time in the garden, time playing with friends and grandparents, time making up games and plays. Best of all – time READING BOOKS. But please don’t think that I have turned into one of those sanctimonious parents who wants to tell you what a wonderful job of parenting I am doing. That the TV is evil etc etc. The simple fact for me, is that I actually much prefer the company of my kids when their brains haven’t been mashed by the screens. They are nicer. They are less wound-up. They are less gobby. We have less arguments about moving them away from the screens.
My other half actually calls this approach our ‘Reverse Psychology Summer Strategy’. i.e. “We don’t let them have access to anything quick and fun. We give them loads of dull ‘down time’ like we used to have in the summer holidays when we were kids. We ignore them. We take them on boring shopping trips to Boots. We tell them that we have important work to get done. We make them clean cupboards. And at the end of the six weeks they are utterly sick of the sight of us and desperate to get back to school.”
So the photo above? They were pretty much sick of the sight of me by this point. And also – I was rather at my wit’s end too – having just shrieked “This is a Post Office for God’s Sake! It’s not a playground! Everyone in the queue is staring at you! Just behave yourselves! Our entire village will be down the police station trying to get you ASBO’d if you don’t pack it in!’
Ah the bliss of packing them off with a an un-ironed jumper and an illegal Twix bar in the lunchbox this morning…