Anyone backpedalled on pushy parenting and changed course?

(257 Posts)
AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 17:55:19

Am having real second thoughts about applying for highly selective /academic senior schools for DS even though he is quite academic ....... I feel already there is too much teaching is to the test and confess I have contributed to that pressure at home too in an effort to improve his shot at getting into these schools ....but there seems to be little creativity in it all ....I am wondering if it is having the opposite effect of fostering a genuine joy of learning, and the prospect of having him spend several more years of being hothoused at senior school and then having to follow that through at home to keep up in a highly competitive place where everyone needs to get A * or they feel a failure could backfire... the constant testing even at 9/10 years old is making him lose perspective of what he really used to love about a subject and he is starting to question the point of it all. Am curious if others having got into these highly selective schools (aka intensely competitive exam factories/hot houses), regretted it and then pulled their DCs out for similar reasons. Plus you read stories of child geniuses whose parents hothoused them even giving up their own jobs to home school (so effectively 1:1 tutoring) who then grow up to say they feel they lost their childhood and would never put their own children through it (Ruth Lawrence for one). Is it really worth it in the end?

lljkk Tue 25-Jun-13 18:00:43

I think Amy Chua wrote a massive pisstake of herself to say it wasn't worth it, but that's just my take.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 18:02:08

look at the predicting Oxbridge in Year 7 thread below ....that is what I mean ....the intense competitiveness/ paranoia is infectious ....

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 18:05:06

i have done that to my DS though...oh you came third or second...ok that's good but why don't you try harder and come top next time...like i said it's infectious ....

isitsnowingyet Tue 25-Jun-13 18:08:04

I wanted my boys to be at the best school in the area. So far, it has been a good experience for them both. It is competitive and being a selective grammar, the competition for them is stiff, but why is that a bad thing? I don't think they will be getting 10 A* at GCSE and wouldn't push them for that, but I do think they will get better results than if they had coasted through at the local comp ( and they would coast all the way, given half a chance!)

teacherwith2kids Tue 25-Jun-13 18:14:21

Anna, I changed my view when DS, at 6, became a school-refusing selective mute with pronounced ASD traits exacerbated by extreme anxiety.

Up until that point, my concerns about him had been about 'fulfilling his [very high] academic potential'. That episode convinced me that perhaps other things were equally, if not more, importnat.

I should point out that the problems were NOT cuase be over-pushing him, BUT their profound effect on my value system has led to me puching him less IYSWIM?

Flicktheswitch Tue 25-Jun-13 18:20:42

Hi OP, DD1 is at a highly selective indie and is very happy. It has a bit of a reputation (legacy, I feel) for elitism and hothousing but the reality is that they just get the best out of everyone. She has just had year end exams and they went okay (about 12% above average on aggregate), wasn't particularly stressed by exams, studied a bit but didn't go overboard.

I'm NOT pushy in any way.

Homework - down to her
Exam revision - down to her
Extra curricular - fine if she wants to, not a problem if she doesn't

There are, obviously, extremely pushy parents and very high achieving pupils at the school. That's fine, whatever works for them..there are also many parents who are more relaxed (lazy?) like me.

She is bright and probably could make top sets if she worked her butt off but I'm happy with the balance she has between academic, arts, sports, fun and friendships...she knows there is more to life than just academic grades.

I feel we have put her in the best environment we can with the best opportunities we can. What she makes of that is down to her. I do realise this is just our personal experience and we made some very bad choices before we ended up here. Not all private schools are worth the money.

Flicktheswitch Tue 25-Jun-13 18:25:36

Also, fwiw I don't necessarily think all highly selective schools are hothouses or exam factories. DD definitely doesn't feel that way - she hates missing even a day of school because she loves it so much (she is 12 btw)

lljkk Tue 25-Jun-13 18:33:02

I honestly don't understand how pushy parents don't burn out very very fast. I haven't the energy for something like that.
I don't feel guilty about it because I see self-motivation as an innate trait, has to come from within.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Jun-13 18:35:24

Children all require different things - it is up to you as a parent to set expectations and then to adapt both your objectives and the execution in accordance with the reaction of your DC to them.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 19:01:18

I like your approach flicktheswitch...I probably need to be more like that ...problem is when you are in that kind of environment ...it's so easy to buy into ...well it's a lovely sunny day but my DS needs to do 3 hours of algebra on Saturday instead of climbing trees or going out on his bike so he can stay 18 months /2 years ahead and stay at the top.....

lljkk = they do burn out fast I am sure ...I saw one of those chid genius programmes and the Asian parents at least were honest about it - unlike some who pretend their children are born knowing quadratic equations ....they acknowledged had given up their social lives to advance their children at academically ...five hours a day of maths every Saturday and Sunday ...no let up in holidays...sure their kids have to have the aptitude and willingness but it required that kind of 1:1 study to get them A* star GCSE at a ridiculously early age...how much of that achievement is intense 1:1 coaching and the hours put in vs true giftedness I don't know, but it goes on and the children get noted for their genius and setting records.

Bonsoir - I agree- need to keep a watchful eye on the reaction in case it backfires.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 19:26:53

Perhaps coloured by my own experience, I was loved learning at junior school, was one of only two that got into a very conformist selective hot house grammar which made me thoroughly miserable and lose my self esteem, turning me into a rebel and turning me off, messed up on A levels by getting mediocre grades and I only got the learning bug again when I went to (a non RG) uni and enjoyed the freedom of "slow learning" with little exam pressure except at the very end where I scraped a 2:1 (only with an English degree ...spending 3 years reading Shakespeare, novels, poetry and writing essays on subjects like DH Lawrence's depiction of the female orgasm and I got a grant for that ! ).

wordfactory Tue 25-Jun-13 19:33:33

I changed my mind...a bit.

At 11 I wanted my DD to either attend a highly selective independent school or a grammar.

She had other ideas. She wanted to attend a non selective independent school which had a heavy focus on the performing arts.

I got her to sit for all three. And she got offers form all three, then against my better judgment I let her make the final decision.

It was a fabulous decision. DD is incredibly happy. Best decision I (n)ever made grin.

That said, I still expect her to perform academically. And she does. I also sent DS to an absurdly selective school. So I wouldn't say all my tiger teeth have disappeared grin.

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:05:36

My DCs get about 90 minutes of homework most days. They get at least one test a week. With some of the core subjects they finish the GCSE syllabus at age 14. They then do a year of revision and mocks before taking the exam at 15. Is this what people mean by "hot housing"?

If it is then I don't understand what the fuss is about since my DCs and their friends don't seem to be pulling their hair out with stress.

Taz1212 Tue 25-Jun-13 20:07:38

DS will be attending a selective school next year. Our attitude is similar to flicktheswitch. I will admit to being pushy, however, but in a rah, rah, academics are exciting kind of way- I even have DS convinced that learning Latin is going to be so much fun! (disclaimer- I loved Latin and DS is even more enthusiatic about school than I am).

Right now DS wants to be a vet and to study at either Edinburgh, Glasgow or Cambridge. I know he's only 11 and will probably change his mind 142653571 times before he leaves school, but I view his new school as providing the opportunity to go do whatever he wants so long as he buckles down. If he went to our catchment state school the opportunity to study veterinary medicine would be closed to him. The local school doesn't even offer the advanced highers required (there's obviously lots of other reasons for our decision, but that gives one example).

At the end of the day, I don't care what DS ends up doing, but I want to make sure he's had every opportunity that we can provide for him and that does mean being a bit over the top enthusiastic about academics while he's young and easily motivated/influenced. So far it's working. He bounced out of the entrance exams declaring how much fun they were and he can't wait for the new school year to start (though we'll see how long that lasts come Aug!).

wordfactory Tue 25-Jun-13 20:20:57

Habba I think it depends on the child.

There is no doubt that not all children would or are thriving in highly selctive schools. Some have been shoehorned in by their parents and hate every second!!!

I'll admit that I was almost that parent...I know quite a few who now are that parent, but can't back peddle...

Different strokes for different folks.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 20:24:34

habbadabbadoo

No it is not. what I call hot housing..the schools i have in mind are those where you are told you will get culled by end of 5th form if you don't get 6 As or others where I hear pupils work til 1 or 2 am in a regular basis ...and working 90 minutes may be fine if you finish at 4....but I am talking about the amount of effort it takes to stay towards the top of the top set or come 1, 2 or 3rd in most subjects ...or in a place like Westminster College to make it to that 50% who go to Oxbridge every year

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:42

Taz1212

I have also managed to convince my DS that Latin and Maths are fun...so far he is buying it .......and it's producing the results but it doesn't work for every subject ...others need more "cajoling"....or as wordfactory puts it "shoehorning"

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:00:40

I'm a middle way parent. I want my DDs to do well and work hard, but I don't want to push them beyond their potential. To my mind that means not pushing them so far that they are always working flat out, I don't think that's healthy.

Coasting isn't allowed though, school has made it very plain that they have high expectations of DD1 (in Yr7) - her class are working towards A and A* in all the core subjects.

britishsummer Wed 26-Jun-13 22:49:58

OP, it is a real dilemma for parents, out instinct is to gift our DCs as much as possible with a carefree childhood, it would be really sad if all they remembered was a daily grind from one target to another. We also worry that by not encouraging / pushing them at the right time they might miss out by ending up in schools / careers which don't inspire them. IMO the time spent doing school work for getting the exam results (rather than fostering interest) may sometimes be important but should n't be at the detriment of having sufficient time and space to discover for themselves what makes them tick and enjoy life.

bico Wed 26-Jun-13 23:11:30

Habba if they have finished the GCSE syllabus at 14 and take the exam when they are 15 then of course that is hot housing! They are finishing the syllabus before other schools even start it and taking the exam a year early. Does that mean they then spend 3 years studying for A levels?

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 23:27:21

Bico, you could argue that they are not hothousing IF they arrive at the school at such a level that a normal rate of progression through the syllabus would, given their starting points, naturally mean that they arrived at GCSE level at an earlier age than some children at less selective schools.

Hothouseing implies forcing children to make faster progression than they are capable of. If children - as I think habba has said - arrive in Y7 already at Level 6 (nationally expected for Year 9) then taking the GCSEs only a year later is in act slower than expected progress as your 'average' child is expected to do GCSEs 2 years after reaching Level 6.

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 23:31:27

'GCSEs only a year EARLIER than normal' apologies.

I mean, back in the day I did Maths O-level 3 years after starting my secondary education - because I arrived ahead so skipped a year, and took the exam a year early. Hothousing? No, just taking the exam when ready rather than artificially 'waiting until the conventional time'.

Hothousing would be taking children at the nationally expected level of Level 4 and then putting them through GCSEs at 14 or 15 - that would be genuine acceleration.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 26-Jun-13 23:49:09

Yes

Dd goes to an independent school that feeds an academically selective senior school

She had a place for September and we accepted.

At the last minute we changed our minds and she's now going to dance school as we feel shell fit in better there & it's what she wants to do.

bico Thu 27-Jun-13 08:12:27

I'd be surprised if the entire year were a year ahead. Of course you will always get a couple of more able children who will sit exams out if their year group.

When I was at school the LEA did an experiment if moving the 11+ to be the 12+. Mine was the first year and we ended up doing an extra year at primary as a result. We did next to know work in that year and I could have easily been moved up a year early (I was top of the year throughout primary) but it wasn't something that was ever done.

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