Monday, 11 May 2009

Rainbows is enough!!

Daughter went back to Rainbows tonight. She nearly didn't as she fell asleep in the car on the way home from school (that fact is pertinent to my story). Anyway, she got her tabard and her baseball cap and she was so excited! She can't wait to make her Promise.

When I went to collect her I started chatting with another mum who lives on our road. She asked me which school my daughter went to, as it obviously wasn't the local primary that her daughter went to. There were some raised eyebrows when I said the name of a posh, private school until I explained that I work there. ("That's okay then" said the expression on her face)

"So, what else does your daughter do?" she asked.

At first I didn't understand the question, I nearly answered "plays out, reads her books, paints, bakes, etc" but then I twigged - she meant, "What other activities does she do?"

"Just Rainbows", I said, "She's only just five and she needs to go to bed at about 6.30pm"

"Sarah does, but she does something every day" and she proceeded to reel off a list of Rainbows, Football, Swimming, French Lessons and Dancing.

"Oh, she's quite busy then" I said, trying to maintain a pleasant smile and hoping it wasn't a grimace.

"Well, otherwise she gets bored" she said.

"So what's wrong with getting bored and learning how to amuse yourself?" I thought.

I know this is the same topic I published on Saturday, but I can't believe I had this conversation this evening after what happened on Friday. I also can't believe I've been oblivious to it happening around me. It must be because I'm not one of the mums at the school gate at 3.25pm so I haven't had these conversations before now. At last, one advantage of being a Working Mum!

I thought Reception children did their reading and went to bed! How naiive I was!

At work today I mentioned this phenomenon of filling your child's every waking moment with an organised activity and one of my colleagues made an interesting point:

"Those are the children you try to teach that can't sit still and concentrate on their work on their own; they want to be directed every minute"

Interesting theory; if they never have time on their own, how do they become independent learners?

Could she be right?


Kelloggsville said...

yes! (I could expand on this endlessly)

ps: You know in the films they say "don't go to the old house on the hill", well I say "don't go to the school gates"

gigi said...

Yes! You both are right!

OMG Pregnant said...

I actually find the concept of filling a child's time with such activities odd. What about making things from mud and petals in the garden? drawing? playing make believe with toys? my sisters and I amused ourselves for hours with such activities.... and to this day, i swear i made the best petal perfume ever!

Maggie May said...

She is right WM, very right.
No time for imaginative play. No time to be thoughtful. No time to read. No time to be bored!
You can tell these fidgety children who never seem to be able to concentrate on anything for any length of time. They want to move on and taste yet another experience! Something always better round the corner.
I come across it all the time.
So unlike MY childhood!

Strictly said...

I said it before and I'll say it again if you keep worrying! One after school activity is enough for a reception kid. I'd expand that to include swimming lessons plus one other activity but that is absolutely and totally it.

I know from watching my own reception kid that they need time to build houses from boxes and get sad when their sunflower seed doesn't grow and ram things into your ankles and create lego towers that crash down and devastate them.

Working mum said...

Kelloggsville - sound advice

OMG Pregnant - unbelievable you said that, daughter made petal perfume on Sunday!

Strictly - I'm not worrying, I know that one activity is enough for my child. I'm just amazed that this is going on!

auntiegwen said...

Ignore the Mummy Mafia and do what you think is right for Izzy.

I trusted my instinct and all of mine can walk and talk, some of them have GCSE's and a levelbloody12 swimming certificate too !

There are years ahead of you when Izzy will want to do all these things and you will be demented trying to fit it all in, wait till it's something she wants.

Moannie said...

This is a phenomenum that is beyond my ken, of course. We amused ourselves, outdoors most of the time, and my own children, though more entertained than I, with the beginnings of TV, still had few toys and were encouraged to 'find something to do if you're bored'. There is an element of 'keeping up with the Jones's to the detriment of the child.
Don't know what the solution is...too late to go backwards.

Claire Sutton said...

I have a theory that it's the Mums that are bored and not the kids.

Perhaps this is to do with the fact that they don't know how to play with their own kids after school, or maybe they don't like them getting dirty in the park, or maybe they just like the fact that someone else is looking after/amusing their kids so they can have a coffee and chat.

And if it goes on for a long time, then yes, the kids won't know how to amuse themselves and they will become boring teenagers and borish adults and then they will do it to their own kids.

So sad.

PS I used to make petal perfume too! Boys don't do that, they tend to dig in the soil with Bob the Builder toys or try to make a wigwam with an old sheet and my clothes airer.

Working mum said...

Claire - You speak a lot of sense. I don't think these mums know what to do with their children. When one mum said she sent her son to Kumon Maths (ultra boring repetition of arithmetic), and asked me if I sent Izzy, I said that I play number games with her in the car - the mum looked puzzled!

PS Izzy does the wigwam thing too: two patio chairs and her blanket!

family affairs said...

You are very lucky if you have so far managed to avoid the helicopter school of parenting - it's everywhere Lx

Jacki said...

I am not sure if it happens over in Britain, but here in the US some parents are afraid that their 4-year olds won't get into prestigious colleges, and so they hire tutors for them. At age 4!

But yeah, there are days where I think I should be teaching Emma to do things and all, but like right now she is playing outside using her imagination, and I think that is just fine.

Expat mum said...

My little one is my third child and the sib of much older kids. I have neither the time nor the inclination to enroll him in a million and one activities, and he is happy to come home after school and be with me. Sometimes you'd think I was forgetting to feed him, such are the looks of horror I get when I tell people he doesn't "do" anything after school. He's knackered when he comes home.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

My Amy spends a lot of time on her own and she doesn't mind at all. Unfortunately, she needs support and supervision so isn't able to join in all these endless activities such as gymnastics, Brownies, football - all out of school clubs. It's a shame but she's doing fine where she is, with me.

CJ xx

Mummy Cow said...

She is SO right. Even at 10 years old I only let my daughter have two week night activities - swimming and Guides (Brownies until recently - help, she's growing up!). That means that we can have the kind of evening we had tonight - a bike ride, followed by cooking tea together, then reading. We also had time to chat. While I'm blogging now, she's entertaining herself with drawing and writing her diary.

She does spend Saturday morning at Stagecoach, which she loves, but that's it. She can entertain herself, concentrate for hours and still find time to indulge her mum.

And anyway - I want to spend time with my daughter - not farm her out to other people!

Mean Mom said...

This is nothing to do with the other child getting bored. It's simply to do with oneupmanship. ie 'My child does more activities than your child'. It's irritating, isn't it? You are, of course, doing the right thing in ignoring the current 'fashion' for children's activities and simply doing whatever seems sensible. Bet there's hell to pay, if the other child ever turns round and tells her mother that she doesn't want to go to this or that activity on a particular evening!

Suburbia said...

Still feel sorry for the poor things! And only 5! What will they have them doing when they're 10?!!

Maternal Tales said...

I have had the exact same anxieties wondering whether my Reception child is doing enough activities - but she does two and even if it isn't enough for her, it's enough for me...!! Besides, she has a younger sister to play with and a big garden to play in and her favourite past-time at the moment is snail-racing and it occupies her for hours (and it's free)!!

Don't you worry about a thing - you're doing just fine xxxx

Iota said...

We got a note home from our 8 year old son's teacher saying "make sure your child has at least 20 minutes a day of free time - you'll be amazed at how much his/her creativity and imagination is stimulated". I thought that was a sad reflection on the pressurised over-scheduled lives of lots of children. I can't believe that parents need to be reminded to schedule in 20 mins a day of free time. He has way, way, way more than that (and then, of course, I started feeling guilty and worrying that he wasn't doing enough).

I agree with Claire Sutton. It's the parents, not the kids, who are bored at home. It's easy to take your child to an activity, have a bonding conversation with another parent about how your role has been reduced to that of taxi driver, ha ha ha, and then head home. It's much harder work to entertain them yourself at home, or to provide an environment where they are encouraged to entertain themselves.

Working mum said...

Jacki - that's awful, but similar things happen here with parents taking their kids to 'Kumon' maths and english lessons after school. I think Emma will be just fine; playing in the fresh air and using imagination is much better for them than being stuck in a church hall doing extra sums!

Expat Mum - we can weather the looks of horror together then!

CJ - I'm sure Amy is doing very well with your love, support and attention.

Mummy Cow - your after school time sounds like mine; we were gardening yesterday until pyjama time!

Mean Mom - there was definitely an element of oneupmanship. I also think that there is an element of insecurity when it comes to the more 'academic' activities; I don't think parents have confidence in the school or themselves to educate their child and they feel the need to fill non-existent gaps. Hence the puzzled look I got from one mum when I said I play number games with my daughter in the car.

Maternal Tales - snail racing! Haven't tried that one!

Iota - that is dreadful that the teacher had to tell parents to make sure their child has free time! Isn't it commonsense to 'play'? Perhaps not, my mum had to hold classes for her nursery pupils' parents to teach them how to play with their children. I kid you not.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Of course, I'm going backwards here, but I do so agree with your comments. If children aren't given any time to themselves, they can't develop self-reliance. Sad, but true. I was never at the school gates either, being a working mum too, and I think it was for the best, all things considered. M xx

scrappysue said...

over-stimulated and bored. that's what we're raising

what ever happened to playing on the street...