At this year's prize giving, we are all achievers


It’s prize-giving season. The time of year kids are awarded for their academic and sports prowess.

Schools celebrate their top achievers. It’s cutthroat, you either make the grade or you don’t.

I have never been a huge fan of these ceremonies, but I get it. A little healthy competition never killed anyone – but I am not sure it is warranted at foundation phase level.

It’s a confidence killer I believe. When your child asks, with a quivering lip, why his seven isn’t good enough, how am I meant to respond to that? I could say, well, you need to try harder, apply yourself etc. 

But he is only 7. He is only in Grade 1. And, as far as I am concerned, he has done super well, and I am proud of him.

But I speak for my own child.

What about the kids who haven’t done Grade R – because our education system has dragged its heels when it comes to early childhood development?

But that’s another debate.What about the kids who are doing a second and third language for the very first time?

The child who progresses from basically falling down flat, to being able to hold his or her own? The child who has been ill due to no fault of his or her own, but with dogged determination is determined to catch up?

We should be celebrating all of these victories.

All of them, because they all come with their own unique set of circumstances. And I am not saying don’t celebrate your top learners, by all means please do.

But don’t celebrate just that! Because that is very easy to do. 

It is easy to grill and grill and grill a child, especially when they are so young and you have the time. But also, at the same time, how much pressure are we putting on our kids by doing this.

Never mind the pressures we put on ourselves as parents.

The challenge lies in making every child who is starting out believe that they matter, they are capable and their achievements are recognized. Find something you can reward them for, surely it can’t be that hard.

They are too young to understand why they are being excluded, as far as I am concerned. I know a good few schools do subscribe to making the little ones feel included, and to those schools, I laud you.

To the more traditional schools, I think you are missing a trick here – and possibly sending out the wrong message. We should be celebrating all of our kids as they start out on their learning journey.

It can only be to their benefit.

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