Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Dresses and trousers…

Four weeks ago we got a puppy, and one of the biggest pieces of advice I have received ever since is how important it is for me to socialise my dog. Everyone who knows anything about dogs has said that it is vital to introduce him to as many different people as possible. Men with beards, women with glasses, hats and thick coats…boys in dresses.

Yep, you heard.

And yet if the interview I just watched on the TV is anything to go by, some people don’t think even socialising their children is important. In fact, they think that introducing their child to a boy who wears a dress to school is dangerous.

Are you kidding me?

This couple believe that sending a boy to school in a dress damages the other children in the school through a mix of confusion and horror. They think that a boy in a dress is so damning to their children’s upbringing that they have decided to home school their children and are taking the school to a tribunal to force the transgender boy to wear trousers. They think he is unwell and needs medical attention. That what he is doing isn’t fair because he is challenging views on gender and forcing other children to come into contact with something unnatural.

And I think they can fuck right off.

We live in a world full to bursting with diversity and to deny any child experience of that is dangerous in my opinion. How about teaching children to accept everyone? And that there are no rules about clothing and gender? That the world could be full of empathetic and supportive human beings if only we taught children right from the beginning to empathise with others. Not teach them instead to be close-minded and run away from anything they don’t fully understand.

To criticise the child or the parent for allowing him to wear a dress to school smacks of fear. You are not giving that child any credit. You are not allowing them to be themselves. To trust their instincts. To accept who they are. To accept others. Why not use it as an opportunity to teach your children to accept everyone?

We are talking about children. Children who are all special and unique. Why not embrace that? What are you teaching your children by removing them from this school? From isolating them away and making their decisions for them and controlling their experiences? You are doing them no favours. You are merely excelling in inciting close-minded thinking.

Stop saying how it’s going to affect all of the other children in the school. It’s not going to affect them in a negative way if a boy comes to school in a dress. What are you scared of? That your son may come home and put a dress on? Would that really be so bad?

When I was a primary school teacher I often saw bullying and its effect. Bullying that stemmed from lack of understanding of something, or someone different. Singling out a child who is clearly already facing confusion and opposition for his choices is beyond unkind. And as parents if we don’t teach our children to be more open minded, understanding, empathetic and more accepting then we are failing future generations.

I applaud the parents of the boy in the dress and his school. They are truly child focussed and letting the child lead them. They are not enforcing gender constraints or out-dated rules on anyone and that should be celebrated. Childhood is magical. There should be no judgement. No rules. If a girl likes pink and princesses, then that’s ok, just like it would be if super heroes were her favourite toys. If a boy chooses to play with cars then there’s nothing wrong with that either nor is there if he pushes a pram around his house.

And if one incredibly brave child wants to wear a dress to school then bring it on!

The world is changing and evolving and it is time we all went with it instead of judging and criticising.

Right, I’m off to find a beautiful mix of different humans to help socialize my puppy. He doesn’t care what you wear.



Homework should go in the bin. End of.

Yes homework should be banned. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – children need to be allowed to be children. The school day is jam packed enough with academic and educational lessons, and in my opinion that is where it needs to stay.

Homework is a complete and utter waste of time. It helps no one, least of all the children and I can say this with absolute confidence having been a primary school teacher and assessment leader who has monitored the impact of homework on children’s learning and their knowledge retention. Homework is often fought against by the children and then it creates tension, which leads to huge battles that only serve to make exhausted and tired children feel even worse about themselves and their learning.

Children are naturally inquisitive and motivated. They just are. But the pressure piled on by the government and schools with regards to their education stamp this out of them bit by bit, until they no longer want to learn and are no longer enthusiastic about school.

Home should be the place where children are allowed to relax, play, and be taught age appropriate skills that serve a purpose in their lives. Swimming, bike riding, cooking to name a few. They do not need to sit down at the dinner table and spend the precious few hours after school with their parents struggling with yet more work.

Homework takes away quality family time. There is no time to go to the park after school, or go swimming or bowling or do anything, because the school day does not stop at half past three anymore. And on top of that, many parents often feel inadequate because they don’t understand homework set and cannot help their children. How great is that, setting something that makes the entire family feel like a piece of crap.

I wish now, just like I have wished for the last few years, that people would realise that children are not work horses good for nothing but doing academic work until they leave school and then have to go out into the real world. They don’t deserve to have their childhood sucked away from them by people who truly believe that bringing a horse to water will make them drink. Throwing extra work down children’s mouths will not turn them all into geniuses. Ask a fish to climb a tree and it will fail, yet breathe underwater and it will excel. What about those children who are destined to be creative? Those who could be inspirational artists or award winning designers? What about those who will excel in the West End or inspire the next generation somehow? How does homework help them?

Being academic is not for everyone. And making parents force their children to consolidate the learning they have done at school is unfair. That is not a parents’ job. As parents yes, of course, we want to and can encourage and support our children through their time at school, but we do not need to become their second teacher. We are their parents. Their carers. The people responsible for helping them grow into independent and confident adults who are not afraid to chase their dreams.

When will this obsession with academia being the sole focus for all children end? When will education teach them skills they could not survive without at adults? Allow for individuality? Allow for creativity?

When will children be allowed to be just that…children? Without a fear of failure. Without pressure. Without stress.

Children are the most magical and wonderful human beings on this planet and they are the only things that can offer hope and inspire change. And change is what we desperately need because the current state of the world is one that is going to require resilience, empathy and compassion in bucket loads.

Take your child to the park. Show them the world if you can. Open their eyes.

And throw the damn homework in the bin.

The Next Chapter

Chapter: Chapter (books), main division of a piece of writing or document.

End of one part,
On to a new.
Different routine,
Changes anew.

Time to start school,
Now you’re four years old.
The next chapter for you,
New stories to unfold.

You’re ready and excited,
Brain absorbing many things.
Craving fresh challenges,
Soaking up all they bring.

Beginning a new journey,
An adventure will flow.
One that will shape you,
Change you as you grow.

I worry as mums do,
Of what your future holds,
But you have to experience it,
Not the same being told.

I wish you embrace it,
The good and the bad.
So it moulds you to being,
A confident, happy lad.

Be the best that you can be,
Enjoy as you learn.
You only get one go,
And now it’s your turn.

Forget the assessment,
Forget all they test.
For me if you’re happy,
Then my worries can rest.

I’ll be here beside you,
And love you each day,
So for as long as possible,
You can be a child, play.

School is a big step,
For you and for me.
What the next chapter holds,
Will be exciting to see.

Prose for Thought