School should always be enjoyable for children. When the fun goes, often so do the good grades. And students who can maintain great results despite disliking school for any reason, often eventually pay a high price. This can even develop into a growing resentment and eventual disengagement with school and learning. But does fast tracking a child at primary school always increase stress and cancel out the fun?
Listen carefully to the advice provided by the teachers and the principal at your child’s primary school. Few children benefit from skipping a whole year level. Rather than have a child skip a year, sometimes schools offer enrichment classes or additional work to students who are clearly above the level of their class in a particular subject. This is great as students don’t become bored when they finish set work much earlier than peers. Some children are academically ahead of the pack in a particular subject but are still with their peers as far as social and emotional development. Making an issue of this in front of your child may make them feel that they should be dissatisfied with school or with the teacher. This can lead to negative or uncooperative behaviour at school and this is a track no parent wants a child to head down. If you believe that your child is bored at school, discuss this with the teacher rather than your child.
There is a growing trend for parents to FAST TRACK young children even before they start pre-school or primary school. Very young children are being booked into enrichment programs, provided with classes in a number of areas ranging from learning a musical instrument (or two), numeracy and literacy, foreign language classes and on it goes. We should never forget that children need time to be children. No child should have a tight schedule of activities which leaves no time to play with the dog or the kid next door (if that kid has time in their schedule). Children need time to play, laugh and run around with other children. There is nothing wrong with children learning a particular skill before starting school but this should be FUN and not cost a child their childhood.
In the primary school years, always consult with your child’s teachers and the Principal before hiring a tutor for a particular subject. You could save a lot of money as well as making your child feel inadequate. Often your child’s teachers or Principal will be able to reassure you that your child doesn’t need a tutor after all – just a little extra help provided in a way that won’t alarm your child or be noticed by other children in the class.
Holiday enrichment programs are a big business these days. For some children they are fantastic, for others they are a big mistake. Kids need a holiday. Unless an enrichment program is something they are genuinely looking forward to, it should be scrapped. Primary school should be as worry free as possible. Children should not be concerned about being the top maths student or completing the highest level of music for their age. This can be counterproductive. Some students reach secondary school and already say that they detest playing the piano or the violin because it has been forced upon them since the age of three or four. And they have been expected to sit exams every year where a pass is simply not an option. They must receive a distinction at the very least. As a general rule of thumb, when the hard work and worry outweigh the interest and the fun, the balance is wrong.