Competitive parents

Teddy on an adventureIs it just me or have the school gates become more competitive than the boardroom? I notice it a lot when I pick up my nephews from school and also when I’m supply teaching or doing playground duty.

At one of the schools I work at there is a teddy bear that goes home with a different child each weekend. When he returns he has to give an account of the time he has spent with that child. It’s a tradition that has been going on for years and it’s terribly sweet. In the old days Teddy would visit granny, pop along to the garden centre, play in the park or bake fairy cakes with mummy.

Now, though, Teddy’s life is more like something you’d see in Hello magazine. Each week he goes from one exotic outing to another. He’s visited theme parks, spent a weekend in Marrakech, had lunch at the Ivy, been to a charity gala and on it goes.

Poor Teddy must be exhausted. And it’s not only him. When I began teaching, children would go to Brownies or Cubs one night a week and perhaps have tea at a friend’s on another day. If they were particularly sporty, they might belong to a football or netball club or go to judo once a week.

Now, each of my charges seems to have a diary that requires a PA to manage it. They learn violin at four, have extra French lessons at three and there are even classes for babies to learn Mandarin before they’ve even begun to speak English. The world really has gone quite mad.

Children now have iPads while they are still in a pushchair and beg for mobile phones when they begin primary school. It’s common practice in some of the schools I teach in for children to have calling cards that are passed to mothers or nannies so play dates can be arranged.

I worry for Teddy’s sanity and frankly for that of the children. Both need time to relax, be creative and just play. After all, how can a young imagination develop when there’s no time to just sit and daydream.

Let me know if you think we should return to a slower method of parenting…

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4 Comments

  1. Posted March 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Send Teddy to our place, he could bake cupcakes, play in the sandpit, jump on the tramp and fight with the kids here : )
    I agree wholeheartedly. We have no TV!

  2. Posted March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I can see what you are saying and I do know some kids who do something different every night of the week. However, mine do a mixture of brownies, piano, netball, multisports , swimming, trampolining and horse riding and manage to have 3-5 clear days a week. I think it’s nice for them to try out as many things as they can before they hit secondary school. Mine have plenty of time to play, watch TV or read, and they do, often.
    Ours do have iPads, their father keeps upgrading and the lesser models are released for the kids to play on. They aren’t all bad, some of the stuff is quite educational and we limit their screen time to 2 hours a day, during the week at least.
    No mobile phones here, not until secondary school and those will come with rules.
    As for the school teddy bear, that is quite embarrassing. DD3 wrote to the teacher as soon as she started Year 1 to ask if she could have the bear for Xmas. Unbeknown to her, we were going to Lapland to see Santa, so teddy came alone. Now we’ve booked a trip over easter to Jordan to see Petra. We didn’t realise that DD3 had again written to the teacher and asked if we could have teddy again. She wants him to come to Petra with us and ‘ride a camel’.
    We are not doing it to ‘show off’, it’s just the way it’s happened!

  3. Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I was lucky in that even all those years ago I got to do dancing, brownies/guides, music, sport in and out of school. I’d hope I’d be able to do the same for my son, but unless I give up work I wouldn’t be able to get him to and from anything during the week until he was older. Then if I didn’t work, we wouldn’t be able to afford for him to try these things. I think as long as you give them opportunities to do what they want (within reason), not burn them out, and not be an annoying pushy parent, extra activities can only be a good thing.

    Oh and I’ve tagged you for a blog award over at my blog

  4. Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    you are a lady after my own heart, I love technology, but I also really believe cjildren should play with there mind, when a cardboard box becomes a fort or a walk in thewood is a work in Fairy dell. We need to let children be children. Have a great weekend.

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