So my kids don’t go to top universities

My kids are not at top universities. I am well aware of that thanks!  What I am sick of is (some) other parents who feel the need to point it out …oh was that the old poly?’ (sad face), …’oh Brookes, not actual Oxford?’ (smug face). A simple congratulations will do! Stop loading me with your hang-ups about your own children’s education.

My approach to education is very considered. I have never been a parent who put a huge amount of pressure on my children, but I did it for a very good reason. They are happy, and although not top of the class, neither did they fret about life at school. They have all done very well, at a large comprehensive school, where deadlines hardly existed and getting help from the frantic teachers wasn’t easy.

Don’t get me wrong – I will always help them with their homework if they ask and I have always made it very clear that they should do their best, but as a trained nurse and ex-teaching assistant I have seen too many casualties of education obsession. No exam and no result is ever worth losing your mind over.

I try to find a balance between doing well and feeling well

As a mum, I have always teetered between anxiety about my children doing well at school and my children being damaged by the pressures. I try to find a balance between doing well and feeling well and so far it has worked.

The only bit that hasn’t worked is the parents who feel the need to judge and imply my children haven’t done well because they didn’t get straight A’s and are not at top universities.  The hang-ups lie with them – they feel the need to imply other children aren’t as clever as theirs. So do they feel threatened? How do they know that for sure? Being ‘clever’ depends on so many things other than natural intelligence; motivation, supportive school, pushy school, supportive parents, pushy parents, extra help, and so on.  Well, I can say to them, my children are massive successes because they are well educated AND happy, and amazingly they have all ‘enjoyed’ their education – quite a rarity these days.

Exams have never fazed them

For the record, my eldest is doing a masters, my daughter is about to complete her BSc and my youngest is off to uni in September 2019 after a gap year.  They may not be at top universities, they may not have pushed themselves to their absolute full potential but they have remained mentally stable up to this point and had a great time along the way.

All of these achievements have taken place without any breakdowns or excessive anxiety and exams have never fazed them. Added to which we have never had to sacrifice any chunks of childhood to do this. Amazing achievements I would say and I know which definition of success and happiness I would rather pursue.


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