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Re-defining the ‘Successful Child’… Why NOW is the time!

There’s a good reason nobody’s ever tried working & parenting young kids simultaneously, let alone chucking a full-time job in as well.

The stresses & anxieties about ‘falling behind’ are breeding like Covid; in parents, in teachers, in children themselves…

On the approach to Children’s Mental Health Week, we heard many reports about Covid’s impact and, although it makes for depressing reading, I personally can’t help thinking AT LAST!
Are people finally waking up to the unseen reality that’s playing out in classrooms & homes up and down the country?

Will it finally be recognised that creating emotionally well kids takes more than a list of ‘things I’m grateful for’, drawing ‘what makes me feel happy’ or 30 minutes of Friday afternoon ‘Golden Time’?

It’s not rocket science; Brains that are suffering the ill-effects of toxic stress CANNOT LEARN well and; as children and teachers alike face the stresses of ‘accelerated learning’ and ‘catching up’; these tokenistic gestures (that weren’t even cutting it before!) are now woefully inadequate.

But catching up with what?
Of course, I’m not saying the National Curriculum doesn’t matter, but what are children actually ‘behind’ in?
Is there a 100% or 10/10 that’s helped one child cope with this pandemic, and the impact that it’s having on every aspect of their young lives?

Of course, nobody could have seen it coming, but we can now see how much more valuable a competency-based curriculum might have been in helping young people adapt to their new reality.

And I don’t just say this as a practitioner, but as a parent too.

We’re almost a year into this pandemic, and I can’t not question why learning about Victorian toys takes precedence over children learning about their mental health, their strengths & preferences…

The curriculum doesn’t give teachers any freedom to cultivate the unique characteristics that every child has; the attributes that aren’t valued by the system because ‘soft skills’ can’t be measured like maths & spellings can.

But what a different experience all children-and their parents, teachers, and wider support networks-might have had if competencies like resilience, divergent thinking, self-responsibility (NOT ‘soft’ skills!!) were already at the heart of their learning?

When it comes to deciding what a child’s ‘success’ looks like, shouldn’t fulfilment & self-belief be more highly valued than numbers, letters & the ability to recall facts serve no meaningful purpose?

Personally I’d like to think this is a golden opportunity to re-define what success looks like (for all of us).


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