Hot housing your child

(98 Posts)
Kenlee Sun 13-Oct-13 05:52:05

Although, I disagree with it. I really want at the end of the day is it worth it ?

I don't really care if your at an Indie or public. I would love to hear success stories..

I have seen to many burnout so my views are bias...

Bonsoir Sun 13-Oct-13 07:15:48

The cases I have seen where DC burn out are the ones where parents expect their DC to overachieve in a wide range of activities (not just school, but music, languages, performance etc) and are never themselves there because they are out overachieving at work.

richmal Sun 13-Oct-13 09:43:54

It depends on the definition of hot housing. I've never quite been sure what it means. There's lots of time in the day and, provided there is a balance of other activities, you don't have to spend much of it teaching for a child to progress quite quickly compared to just going to school. Is this hot housing? Or do you mean those who never do anything but learn?

Kenlee Sun 13-Oct-13 09:50:09

I mean only learning no fun...

If they play an instrument they are taught to be better than anyone...

If they compete in a sport they are expected to win and train obsessively to that aim.

Obviously also being tutored in tje academics too..

78bunion Sun 13-Oct-13 10:42:31

It sometimes comes from the child - some vie to do the least and could not care less about coming last and low marks. Others have a personality which means they always have to be the best.

I think we have had a balanced attitude to this. Supervise some music practice most days, make sure homework is done, a few hobbies in school, very few or none out of school and then example example example. If your parents love debating, reading and have interesting hobbies, work hard and love it and mothers do well and earn a lot children tend to do so too. This is a lot better than hot housing.

lljkk Sun 13-Oct-13 10:52:32
nicename Sun 13-Oct-13 10:57:41

Is it just competativeness though? DH is competative - I'm sure he wasn't brought up like that. So if he played violin, hed have to get to top grade. If he swam, not getting into the school A team would mean that he was rubbish.

I'm the opposite - the least competative person you'd ever meet!

I'm not really sure what hothousing is either. Is it being pushy?

78bunion Sun 13-Oct-13 12:01:00

Sometimes hot housing is used by lazy parents who never even read to their children to describe what is normal parenting for others just to deride those who put effort into children. Sometimes it's used to describe parents who push so much they damage the children. I don't think it has a standard definition.

If you did not make most children they would never even go to school each day never mind do homework so most parent do find a bit of a push is needed just to get children out of bed each day.

Kenlee Sun 13-Oct-13 13:11:15

Im really looking for a real life success story from hot housing. My daughter was Tiger trained from the age of 3 until eentering boarding school. We did it to keep up with her peers. To be honest it was a lot of arguments and unhappy nights. Although she can play the piano swim very ballet and get top marks in all her exams. What I saw was a shell. she didnt have a spark that children should have.

Now that she is at boarding the spark in her eyes seem to have returned. She seems to do well without the push and is quite happy to be competitive but on her own terms .

The thing is my friends son .....was hot housed and dropped out of Uni because he said it just got to much. He stays at home now just playing on his PS..He does not engage in any conversation.

It was actually him that made me send my daughter to boarding away from the pressures of HK.

FormaLurka Sun 13-Oct-13 14:33:13

Your solution was to send your child 3,000 miles away, to live with strangers? And you are complaining about other people's parenting? The old saying about the kettle and the pot springs to mind.

creativevoid Sun 13-Oct-13 14:37:37

FormaLurka I think that is a bit unfair unless you understand the reality of the Chinese education system and how much time these kids spend in school.

Kenlee Sun 13-Oct-13 16:57:05

Actually It is 7,000....and yes I was decision we made together.

She is happy...and your issue is?

whendidyoulast Sun 13-Oct-13 17:12:41

Agree with Forma, it's a bit odd to criticize other people's controversial parenting choices when you have made one yourself.

Bonsoir Sun 13-Oct-13 17:57:19

Kenlee - I do know parents who "hothouse" (in my opinion, and I am not a particularly slack parent myself smile) - DC do ballet, violin (at conservatoire), four languages (three European plus Mandarin), competitive hockey/swimming/gymnastics... all at primary school. Some DC thrive on it, others less so. I think the real key is knowing when to stop and it sounds to me as if you realised that your daughter needed something less demanding than the society around her/you expected, in order to be happy. Sounds like a good decision.

I think you were right to look at it together and make a decision together, the private school where my Dp works have a lot of children from china and Japan and they have their own competition within the school, they will still be pushed by each other to achieve but probably not under the same pressure as at home.

They also seem to have a whale of a time at boarding school, they don't all look like hogwarts btw

antimatter Sun 13-Oct-13 18:41:03

I am curious what do you want.
You said you withdrew your daughter from competitive environment.
Do you want to take her back there or not.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sun 13-Oct-13 21:01:11

I was hot-housed and I was miserable. I was the longed-for only child born after many years of marriage, and there was nobody to divide the pressure with. Not saying all parents of onlies are like that or all parents who deal with infertility are like that, by any means. Just that my parents used to justify their sky-high expectations by pointing out that they'd tried for so long for a child, and I was the only one they had. It make me very resentful.

Where was I? I was pushed from an early age to not only exceed academically, but to be the best in ballet, in piano, etc. etc. Anything less than the best was not good enough. I skipped a year in school even though I was late born for my year, so I was always far the youngest. It left me feeling like a perpetual disappointment. I had a nervous breakdown at 16 and dropped out of my selective private school. I eventually went back to a public school (what you would call a state school in the UK) and completed my education. Took another gap year after that before going to university (a good university, but not Ivy League. When I was in school, it was always expected that I wouldn't go to some inferior Canadian university but to an Ivy).

My relationship with my parents eventually recovered, but I still found myself very resentful at times. I've been in and out of therapy since I was 16. My nervous breakdown scared the hell out of them, and they actually lightened up, but it always felt like too little too late. To this day I can't watch ballet without getting tense, because I was never very good at it when i did it as a kid.

I've tried not to hot-house my own kids, but I'm not sure how successful I've been.

Kenlee Sun 13-Oct-13 22:48:27

I think Amy Chua also admitted it didnt work...when her youngest couldnt deal with it....

Btw I sent my daughter to a private because she enjoys it. She has responded well to the you can do it attitude. Instead of the thats not good enough that is synonymous with hot housing.

I dont want this to be a post on private indie versus public sector...nor boarding versus day. I just want to genuinely hear success stories from hot housing.

canucksoontobeinLondon I am so sorry for your past but hope you have a bright future. I know that it is normal to rebel in the teens. Although it is good to play the piano....once in a while ....

Alexandrite Sun 13-Oct-13 23:27:58

I think that's very sad that the pressure you applied to her from the age of 3 left her a shell and that she was happier once sent away to school.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sun 13-Oct-13 23:37:00

Thanks, Kenlee. It wasn't all miserable, although parts of it definitely were. I went on to have fairly good relationships with my parents in adulthood, believe it or not.

I was thinking about your request for success stories, and one of my best friends would count as one, I think. She's very gifted, and her parents put a lot of pressure on her to excel as a kid. She ended up having the oh-so-tough choice when she was finishing high school of choosing between a world-renowned music school and a world-renowned academic university. She picked the academic side, decided she wasn't passionate enough about music, and she's now a STEM professor at a really good university. I think it all depends on the DC's individual personality whether they'll thrive on parental and school pressure or find it too much.

Mumzy Sun 13-Oct-13 23:45:23

I think it's hot housing when you are forcing a child to perform beyond their natural developmental pace. A few children will come through the process needed to achieve this relatively unscathed but most will have some long lasting psychological issues. I always think its sad when extracurricular activities such as music and sport become all about grades and competition rather than enjoyment. There is a very fine line between supporting your dcs education and pushing them too hard.

Mumzy Sun 13-Oct-13 23:52:30
IHaveA Sun 13-Oct-13 23:59:38

Meh! Some of my DCs are natural mathematicians and chess players

We didn't hot house in the slightest, in fact they never had ANY extra tuition in anything and I didn't do much other than normal Mum stuff. They didn't play instruments and apart from doing averagely at various extra curricular sports they didn't do many things other than normal school. We further hindered their education by moving to countries where we sent them to 'local' private schools where they had to learn pointless 2nd and 3 rd languages (pointless because they only did them for a few years)

Guess what! Our relaxed approach didn't make our children stupid. They stayed brainy and are now doing exactly what they want to do at great UK universities. Which is, sort of, the whole point isn't it? grin

We saved them hours and hours of 'extra' work and we saved ourselves loads of hassle and loads of money too. The main thing we saved was our children's childhood and happiness.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if we had hot housed them. They would obviously been 'cleverer' but the end result would have been the same. They are proud of themselves as they believe that they have got where they are through their own hard work rather than because their parents pushed them.

One of my DCs got to know the under 19 reigning chess champion of a big chess playing country who practically had a mental breakdown and hated chess. His patents were proud of him though - for what it's worth. hmm

IHaveA Mon 14-Oct-13 00:08:55

Oops sorry for typos,

And to clarify the 19 year old chess champ is about 25 now blush I don't know what he does now. I think I will google him.

exexpat Mon 14-Oct-13 00:12:46

Can't share any success stories, I'm afraid, just horror stories.

A good friend of mine at school in the 80s had a very pushy mother. She was hothoused academically, musically and in ballet. She made it to Oxford, but hasn't spoken to her mother in years, and has not had a stellar career.

Another friend was pushed to become a piano prodigy at primary school age; she became selectively mute, until she was allowed to drop the piano. She is now a happy and well-adjusted adult.

Norudeshitrequired Mon 14-Oct-13 07:01:27

I think it's about balance. Helping your child to reach their potential without overloading them and pushing them to always be the best.
I think to not recognise a child's ability in something and nurture it is as bad as pushing them too hard.
Research has shown that Gifted children who are allowed to Coast along at too easy a level fail to thrive when work becomes more challenging and they actually have to make an effort. They get used to things coming easy and don't know how to raise their game to find solutions when things are no longer easy.
However, pushing children too hard and insisting that they must be the best is damaging to a child's self esteem and confidence and will leave them feeling that they can never be good enough.
It's about finding the right balance between helping a child reach their own level of potential without pushing them.

nicename Mon 14-Oct-13 08:43:32

Its all about balance isn't it? A friend was a very good pianist (her mum taught piano) so she was drilled pretty hard, although she is very talented. At 20, with a career up and running, she decided one day to lock the piano. 20 years later she says she might 'tinkle' again. She wasn't unhappy, I think it was more that she hadn't found her own path and hadn't anything else to fall back on. She just didn't know if the piano was 'it'.

Most people think that she is crazy! Talented, a career, etc but she is happy with her decision. No fallout with her family either.

I think there is so much pressure for parents to push - at mini music lessons you hear mums saying that they have to rush to take their small child to mandarin or mini mind gym. I'm sure the teachers are wonderful and make it fun for the children, and its the parents choice, but sometimes you can feel the competitition to push in the room.

Kenlee Mon 14-Oct-13 09:08:21

I like this idea of balance.

If the child can cope with it. Im sure its all good. I just had some happy news my friends son has just taken his grade 8 viloin. In his lucky shirt...He says should pass with distinction. I love him and he loves to play . BTW he is only 9....

What is good ia that he loves to get all the kids to play with him. Yet when they play badly he would teach them. He will never get angry saying music is for fun.

This I hasten to add is not hot housing its just fullfilling his ability to have more fun.

nicename Mon 14-Oct-13 09:11:57

That is wonderful news! Congratulations to him!

antimatter Mon 14-Oct-13 10:33:44

Grade 8 violin at the age of 9
that means he passed grade 8 music theory as well
that is true talent, this child I believe won't crack as it must be his ability what helps
parental support only enables his talent
an average child won't be able to play to that level - hence hot housing would stress such average talented child

also ballet - you are writing about ballet as if everyone was able to progress and achieve high grades in dancing

if you ever danced or played instrument you would know it isn't possible

getting to know what your child's strengths are that is your job, not pushing them where society thinks he should be

DeWe Mon 14-Oct-13 10:52:12

It is difficult to get the mix right for your child, but also hard to tell with other people's children.

I'm sure some people think I've hot housed my dc, because they were all fluent readers by school age and will choose to sit down and do a maths worksheet, and they do quite a few outside clubs.
But the reading, dd1 was keen, so dd2 and ds wanted to read too because big sister was enjoying it. And maths worksheets again they all find fun (I did too!)-it's something they'll ask for as something to do. We use it as a bit of a joke too. If they're messing round when out, I'll tell them they'll have to do some maths when they get home as a punishment. And they all chorus back "oh yes please"-and start putting their orders in as to what they want it to be about. Gets strange looks that one. wink

But I think it's important to do some things that they do for fun and aren't going to be top. The clubs they do because they enjoy. They choose (within reason and practicalities) and stop if it's no longer fun. They're all stickers though, so they don't tend to stop unless they're certain.

And for those who are complaining at the OP for sending her dd to boarding school. I was at schools who had a number of HK children sent over to board. In fact, my best friend in the 6th form was from HK. It was an accepted thing to do, and most of the children enjoyed it-I can think of one who was very homesick, and she was actually living with cousins not boarding.
I would not say that my friend had been hot housed-but she was very keen to do her best, because she wanted to pay her parents back for the sacrifice they had to make to pay the fees. So she did work very hard. People probably thought it was her parents pushing her, but it came from herself.

You didn't need to pity her for coming to board: She had a great way of looking at things:
Her delight at the first time she saw snow.
Her telling me with great excitement that her parents had moved to a really low down flat now. I think it was floor 26!!!
She used to call me by the Chinese for Yellow Hair-"Wong Mo" I think it was. She tried to teach me to write it, but my attempts were terrible.
And her English was mostly brilliant. I remember two mistakes. She once asked me if I stayed in a hospital on holiday. She couldn't stop giggling once I'd got her sorted out on Hotel and Hospital. And she got common and popular mixed up. I remember her asking in a form discussion whether "pneumonia was popular", again she did find this very funny, but she did get them mixed up at different times.

notagiraffe Mon 14-Oct-13 11:21:51

Langlang is a wonderful pianist, but at what cost to his personal happiness and stability? What his parents did was harsh. Perhaps they had very little choice. It was their way for their son to get out from poverty, and he clearly had huge talent. You tube is choc-full of tigered tinies plonking away very efficiently at Grade 8 Bach aged 6. But they have no connection to the music's emotional range. Langlang's playing is very engaged emotionally.

Imho, the best pianist ever is Alfred Brendel. He taught himself from scratch aged 17, because he wanted to. It shows in his expression. No one has ever mastered Beethoven better than him.

I think hot housing is soooo wrong. Long term it doesn't matter if a child has A* A level maths aged 10, because once he's 18, his grades are no more impressive than others who attained the same grades at the expected age, but who also had a childhood. And those who progressed without hot housing - their social skills will be advanced and may lead to them getting better job offers, having better personal relationships and better lives all round, long term.

My DC are encouraged to do their best, but not pushed, and certainly never at the expense of having a life. Their lives are full of films, friends coming over or dropping by, visits to relatives, trashy tv, playing club rugby for fun, you tube etc, and they get good marks. They're not top of the class, but they're near enough that if they want to put their backs into it when exams are near, they'll make the grade.

Then again, some people think tweekly utoring for 11+ is hot housing. I think that's taking cool-housing wink (for want of a better expression) too far. If 1-3 hours per week extra effort from a 10 year old, to ensure they get into a really top academic school is too much, then I think parents are discouraging their children from ever feeling the healthy discomfort of making an effort.

It's a question of balance, isn't it?

OP sounds like you did the right thing. how lovely that the spark is back in her eye. Music, sport, art, specialist study should all be pleasures. Excellence in anything should be led by the child. Lots of kids are driven to overachieve, and that can be supported without being driven by the parents.

notagiraffe Mon 14-Oct-13 11:23:22

tweekly utoring? grin sounds nasty. I meant weekly tutoring

Kenlee Mon 14-Oct-13 12:07:16

Actually after reading many threads on here. I dont really like the 11+ because it forces children to be tutored for the sake of an exam.

Although I have to admit my daughter and I had a good laugh doing the NVR and VR as she was actually better at it than me.

I asked my daughter this weekend if she was happy...The reply was I'm busy because she was going swimming with her friends.

I agree with all the posters on here that making friends and enjoying your childhood is more important than getting really good results. Yet Im fully aware they may need to get a RG uni degree. To get in most jobs. After that its the social skills you learn at school. That gets you promoted up the ladder .

wordfactory Mon 14-Oct-13 13:56:30

OP, I think many people assume (wrongly) that all high achieving DC are hot housed!

Here on MN many posters believe that homework in primaryis hot housing. That all selective schools are hot houses. That extra curricular activities are hot housing.

There is also an assumption (again a wrong one imvho) that all the DC living in these circumstances are being forced into it by their parents and are unhappy.

But I look around me and see lots of high achieving well balanced kids who, frankly, still seem to have enough time to watch endless episodes of The Big Bang Theory, fiddle on their phones and eat lots of crisps!!!

And yes lots of success stories, by which I mean DC who have had a happy childhood and achieved highly.

rabbitstew Mon 14-Oct-13 14:08:33

I hothoused myself. grin

Kenlee Mon 14-Oct-13 14:17:15

I agree word..some families are lucky and have children that are capable. They can deal with advanced academia. In fact most dont need to be hot housed because they do it naturally.

I have always said let them take an intrest and they will hot house themselves.

I just disagree with hot housing if the child does not have that ability. I know my daughter may not get 10 A* but she will get somewhere close. Thats good enough to get her into A levels of her choice . Therefore being ccompetitive herself she will do as well as she can. Then get into a good Uni hopefully. I do hope by the time she graduates she would uave made good friends and has enjoyed life.

If your clever there is no such thing as being hot housed.Its when your forced to over acheive day in day out at the expense enjoyment thats hot housing.

wordfactory Mon 14-Oct-13 14:34:30

How does it work in HK Kenlee?

If everyone expects their DC to come top, then the overwhelming majority must be disappointed?

Or does the competition to be top fuel an endless improvement?

ohnoimnot Mon 14-Oct-13 14:59:10

If you want to do anything to a very high standard you will have to sacrifice something.

Personally I think children should enjoy their childhood and by doing a lot of one particular thing ie academic work wont round them or make them interesting or a team player later in life.

Having just looked round lots of different schools the most academic schools stood out as having the most dullest, boring children I have ever come across.

78bunion Mon 14-Oct-13 15:14:48

(Anit - on grade 8 at 8 you mean grade 5 theory is needed, not 8. You only need 5 to do the higher grades and indeed some easier exam boards do not require theory).

Kenlee Mon 14-Oct-13 16:28:06

hmm....most kids are tutored to get 100%. So Yes I suppose academically they are doing well. Although if you ask them two weeks afterwards they don't have a clue. Most are tutored to exams rather than understanding.

If that is what you call improvement then I suppose it works.

The only trouble with this over tutored society is that schools starts looking at extra curriculum activity to separate the children. So most schools expect a musical talent( piano playing is not an option all kids play the piano), an art and a sport. So on top of academia tutoring. Kids are also expected to be coached to come top in these too...

This is now common place . So the schools have introduced interviews for the children. Its so sad because kinder gardens are starting to interview the kids...So children are now interviewed coached too..

Well I suppose that is improvement.

but as other posters say at what cost..??

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 14-Oct-13 17:31:50

Yikes, Kenlee! Sounds like your DD is well out of that system.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Mon 14-Oct-13 18:07:09

Oh, this is the sort of thread I love MN for.

Canuck, I admire your openness, and Kenlee and others make some good points.

I am trying to find the right balance myself.

DS1 does not respond well to pressure, stress and competition. DS2 gets spurred on by it and loves being pushed and pushes himself.

All kids are different and I think it is very important to allow them to be who they are and encourage them, especially in the things they love and have aptitude for.

notagiraffe Mon 14-Oct-13 19:17:24

grin grin rabbitstew

Mumzy Mon 14-Oct-13 19:26:58
78bunion Mon 14-Oct-13 20:38:03

You have to do what feels right to you and by that individual child. We tried to help at home, listened to them reading a few flashcards as babies etc; they got into top 10 schools. They have pretty happy balanced lives and quite high incomes in their 20s, not quite £100k a year but getting there.

If children are 70% or 50% genes and the rest environment depends on two things - parental IQ of course but also the support at home.

So not a huge amount of pressure on ours compared to the worst of their hot housed peers who mostly have Asian or Chinese parents yet ours come good because of that intellectual environment at home, probably a natural intelligence and the English laid back approach which is quite successful for encouraging original thinking and ideas.

Kenlee Tue 15-Oct-13 00:52:30

I hope people will not think that I am agaisnt tutoring. Im pro tutoring especially if a parent does not posses that skill set of understanding or is unable to teach their child for whatever reason.

I do not like tutoring to pass papers and rote learning the answers.

I think tutors should have a responsibility to engage the student so that they want to learn. My daughter hated Chinese as its rote learning. Until we found the one that worked for her. So not all tutors are bad.

I think all children need to be encouraged to reach their full potential. I just think we have to becareful that we don't push to hard to get results that will mean nothing after they have gone to university.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Tue 15-Oct-13 07:31:54

78bunion, you sound JUST like Xenia

olguis Tue 15-Oct-13 10:29:55

A view from outside: from a foreigner

There is (vast simplification) a tradition in Britain where hard work and professionalism (also intellectualism) in themselves are somewhat derided, because true "high class" didn't have to work. So best is to be amateurs and not take anything too seriously. You can say this gets translated to children's education.

I've lived in a number of countries in the EU and I've never encountered such a bizarre mix of ideas that I see, basically, as total confusion. To achieve anything, one needs to put work into it.

Yet, here, putting work into something equates with putting pressure. Then, no work put in -> little outcome = low achievers. That's another thing I've never understood. You first don't teach children and don't have them practice the skill; deride those that do it (hothousing), and then if they haven't mastered it, - oops, low achievers!

Every child would find some areas of study easy and some more difficult. It just means they need to put a regular amount of work into it and gradually become better. What they can and can't do easily at the age of 7 has little to do with the potential and what kind of talents they might discover they have when they are 14-16 (with exception of some things, when you need to start young to be able to discover antyhing later on).

I think if there was a systematic education, which I am yet to encounter, when, e.g. children are introduced to a column calculation method, and have it practiced for a few days (and not just one hour) until some proportion of them get it and then move on and have it being practiced here and there, there would be much less talk and frustration about hothousing.

I teach my son instead of the school, and for others, I am sure, I appear as hothousing. But this word means nothing, I just give him education that his school doesn't.

ZZZenagain Tue 15-Oct-13 10:39:39

THat's sad about Vanessa Mae and her relationship to her mother (the link below). Despite all the pushing from her mother, she must have still been exceptionally gifted to have done so well at such a young age. I am shocked that in Britain she had music tutors who slapped her face if she was not good enough.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 10:43:13

olguis - I agree wholeheartedly with your post at 10:29. There is something distasteful to some English people about being seen to work hard at school and for teachers to teach, explicitly.

wordfactory Tue 15-Oct-13 10:44:42

olguis your post certainly rings true.

I find the complacancy in the UK quite breathtaking.

The middle classes seem to have very little comprehension of how the world is changing. They think their position in society and the world at large is set in stone!

Parents treat their DC like fragile flowers and protect them from all forms of potential disappointment or failure. Hard graft and boredom are viewed as the enemy, to be avoided at all costs.

Crikey, here on MN you'd think DC will spontaneously combust if they come within sniffing distance of homework, revision, rote learning, selection, competitive sports, music practice...

Now I'm sure there are some DC who are particularly fragile. And their parents know them best. But the majority ought to be seeding the skills of flexibility, robustness, determination and grit. All achieveable within the confines of a happy childhood.

ohnoimnot Tue 15-Oct-13 10:46:44

I see hothousing as teaching children that are not that bright. Really clever children understand the first time and move on, they also research and learn things for themselves.

My DD got into one of the top schools in the country without any preparation whatsoever, my DS didn't, he was/is not right for that type of school and would have struggled the whole time at school.

Im not against helping at home but I am against ruining a not so bright child's childhood in making them be something they're not.

wordfactory Tue 15-Oct-13 10:48:55

Bonsoir people seem to consider that anyhting achieved through graft is not comparable to things achieved through raw talent.

You see posts here all the time stating that the only DC that should go to selective school/get good qualifications/attend top univeristies are those who can manage it easily.

Appearnetly anyone who got there by graft will crash and burn. That grammar schools and top universities are full of young people failing miserably. It's like The Toweing Inferno at Oxbridge apparently...except it's not of course wink.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 10:52:12

Hard work is nouveau riche, doncha know? grin

My DSS1, who has excellent French lycée work habits, has quickly made friends with a boy from Hong Kong on the same course as he is and in the same hall of residence. We are deeply relieved glad to know that he has found another grafter from a grafting tradition to keep him company rather than get waylaid by English student drinking culture...

wordfactory Tue 15-Oct-13 10:53:14

ohno I don't think anyone would advocate shoehorning a child with low ability into a highly academic environment.

However, I don't see anyhting superior about a child who got into a selective school without trying, versus a child who had to make some effort.

The later knows what he will have to do and will do it!

wordfactory Tue 15-Oct-13 10:57:44

DD's school is not selective, yet in many ways it's more of a hot house than DS uber academic one.

DD's schol get all the girls, whatever their natural ability, through their exams. The girls have to graft. And they do!

The girls are also expected to take part fully in school life. Sports, music, drama etc. Every single girl will sign up for DofE.

The girls leave knowing how to get to where they want to be!

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 11:08:59

"Every single girl will sign up for DofE."

<shudder> Yes, I know it suits some. But my nephew, who was on a DofE weekend last weekend, told us that some of the girls had a very hard time of it and needed the boys to help them.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 15-Oct-13 11:19:16

word I completely agree. We found out yesterday evening that DD2 has done sufficiently well in the 11+ to be certain of a place at her preferred school (Dd1's school). Well. Failing any CAF completion cock up by me, alien invasion or similar I suppose. Apparently this morning in the primary school playground there were mutterings about 'hot housing' and also a comment that at least somebody else's child 'has a life'. These people don't actually know anything about DD2, clearly, because if they knew how she spent her time outside school they wouldn't think she had 'no life' (actually they probably would because I suspect their idea of having a life doesn't align with Dd2's ideas).

DD2 works very hard. She isn't lazy, and she likes to learn. There's a difference between taking stuff seriously and hot housing though.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 15-Oct-13 11:21:01

Bonsoir, word - sorry, but I do agree with Bonsoir about the DofE thing. A monumental waste if time IME and mainly useful as a signifier of being posh. And not dyspraxic.

ReallyTired Tue 15-Oct-13 11:26:02

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

Thomas Edison

The sooner children learn that lesson the better. I don't want my son to aim to be top of the class, but I want him to give of his best. Intelligence is all relative and even Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Issac Newton had to work to achieve sucess. Having a good brain does not automatically led to weatlth and happiness. Lots of people who did badly at school do well in careers if they are prepared to put in the graft later on in life.

However it is much harder to get a good job with poor academic qualifications than with a good education. Extra curricular activies help develop social skills which are important as well.

I think in the UK we over praise our children. I feel a little pissed off when my children get given a sticker for saying "thank you" to the dinner lady or sitting nicely in assembly. Somtimes schools expectations on behaviour are far too low. Praise needs to be given in a meaningful way, for example there is no point in praising a child for being clever. Praising a child for sticking at a task that difficult is benefical. I believe that music lessons give the child the opportunity to see that difficult things can be mastered by blood, sweat and a couple of tears. (In moderation)

In countries like China parents are painfully aware that there is no welfare state. They know that if their children are not sucessful then the entire family will suffer. In the UK we have forgotten what is like to be cold and hungry.

Kenlee Tue 15-Oct-13 11:36:42

Word .....I think evevryone has to graft to get to where they want to be. I think even the most natural raw talented people need to work at it.

I think most kids do revise by themselves and are spurred on by their peers to do better. Its when the parent equation comes in that changes this status quo.

Whereby the life of the child is used to enact the fantasy of the parent . In some of the most extreme cases children are used as status symbols . This is hot housing at tje extreme. It becomes less about the child abd more about the prestige.

pointyfangs Tue 15-Oct-13 11:38:34

What an amazingly sensible thread full of sensible people. smile
By MN standards I hothouse. I make sure my DDs do their homework properly and thoroughly - and yes, if they're slapdash about it I will make them do it again. That has only happened once with each of them so far - lesson learned.

They don't do a lot of out of school stuff because our working hours don't allow it, but now that DD1 is in secondary she does drama, netball, basketball and football, playing for the school. DD2 is interested in athletics and football and will be taking that up when she starts secondary. They both do archery too, but that's weekends and not every weekend (our garden is too small for practice, those arrows are sharp...)

I also still read to them every night, take them to museums and heritage sites during the holidays, we have family meals at the table and talk about culture and current affairs.

However, I don't see that as hothousing. Hothousing to my mind is about two things:
1) Making a child what they are not - i.e. the expectation that everyone can be a world class musician if only they work at it hard enough. Those Chinese 6-year-olds are a case in point; they can play the music well in a mechanical fashion, but they have no understanding of its emotional impact and how to convey that in their playing.
2) Making a child do something for the gratification of the parents, i.e. it isn't about the child's wellbeing at all but about the parent showing off what a wonderful parent they are. IMO that is the most damaging thing a parent can do (other than outright and obvious abuse and neglect).

ReallyTired Tue 15-Oct-13 11:46:26

These young guitarists are amazing.

"I think most kids do revise by themselves and are spurred on by their peers to do better. Its when the parent equation comes in that changes this status quo. I think most kids do revise by themselves and are spurred on by their peers to do better. Its when the parent equation comes in that changes this status quo. "

Depends where your child goes to school. If your child goes to a school in special measures in a socially deprived area then more parental input is needed. I remember having a conservation with a mother who had bought a house in the catchment area of one of the best comprehensives in the country. She had no need to be pushy as the school did all the necessary pushing.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 11:49:43

pointyfangs - "Making a child do something for the gratification of the parents, i.e. it isn't about the child's wellbeing at all but about the parent showing off what a wonderful parent they are. IMO that is the most damaging thing a parent can do (other than outright and obvious abuse and neglect)."

Yes, I agree very strongly with everything you have written. When a child's education is all about the parents, a sort of status symbol for them, rather than developmental opportunities in which the child is a willing participant, it all tends to go wrong later on.

richmal Tue 15-Oct-13 13:36:03

Really clever children understand the first time and move on I have a completely different view of education. I would never expect dd to understand things first time and would not think her not clever if she did not. In fact if I do a new topic I make it clear I'm just telling her about it and don't expect her to understand it yet.
Not everything comes naturally to children, but I does not mean it is beyond them to understand with a bit of teaching.

ReallyTired Tue 15-Oct-13 13:53:04

Really clever children understand the first time and move on

Children have different strengths and weaknesses and no child is good at everything. It is damaging to expect a child to always understand first time as one day they might hit up against something difficult. A child might struggle to learn to ride a bike even if Maths comes to them easily.

I believe that if you praise a child for being sucessful then they may give up and become insecure whe suddenly the are faced with something difficult. Sometimes an activity starts off easy and then the child hits a difficult obsticle. My son got to grade 2 guitar in 18 months, but he has been doing grade 2 standard pieces as he can't manage the jump to grade 3. Progress is often in fits and spurts with children.

wordfactory Tue 15-Oct-13 18:21:59

Russians is DofE really a signifier of being posh these days?

See, I'm slowly breaking the bastards down wink.

To be honest, I don't think it's a huge thing either (and frankly Mr Shankley DD needs another skill and another sport like a whole in the head)... I was just giving it as an example of the girls in DD's school all doing lots of other stuff besides academic work. The idea that they can't work hard and have fun, is such a daft one.

Also, as you say, having fun is very subjective! One of DD's mates is training with the national lacrosse squad. In goal! Now having balls hoofed at me, head height, at speed, aint my idea of fun...but hey ho.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 15-Oct-13 19:18:21

Costs a lot of money to do, dunnit. Lots of money != posh really, as we know, but it certainly signifies not ordinary.Actually, to many people it signifies lots of other things too but I quite appreciate your DD and her friends are being forced to do this - and the person who made that decision doesn't get that he or she might not be helping the kids as much as they thought they were. Although obviously it all depends on what sort of career they want to go into and what sort of life choices they make later.

notagiraffe Tue 15-Oct-13 20:33:14

Wordfactory said: having fun is subjective.

This is true. At primary, DS1 enjoyed piano, but it was always something he treated like another lesson. Now he's really working hard he goes off and plays jazz piano for an hour and comes back rejuvenated. He's realised that relaxing doesn't have to mean endless reruns of Family Guy.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 20:34:38

Russians - you make a good point. Whenever schools try to engage their pupils in non-core activities, it is always worth examining closely who the beneficiary is. Some things can be more about the school or a particular teacher than the DC and while I support the idea of being part of a community etc etc it is still worth examining what is really in it for your DC...

Kenlee Wed 16-Oct-13 00:36:11

I think if the child fairly well off hot housing is not really needed. In fact I would be as bold to say it pays to have family friends who are hot housed. Thus giving impetus for your own child to want to compete. My daughter learnt the piano simply because he friend was taking piano. We had 1 lesson a week and she practiced at home to get it right on her own ready for the next lesson. Her friend was taught 1 hour a night. The friend has now gone through several tutors as she is stuck at grade 3. My daughter gave up at grade 5. At the time she had to knuckle down for the academics.

Hot housing does not necessarily mean your child is successful. It just means she is attending and not enjoying. O btw she is really really good at Tennis. She loves Tennis.

I asked her do you like the piano the answer was yes If XXX plays together with me. I hate my teachers though. I introduced my daughters tutor who refused saying the parents had an unrealistic view of what their child can achieve.

Kenlee Wed 16-Oct-13 00:56:01

I also want to reply to reallytired as I think its a worthwhile point. That socially disadvantaged famlies often hot house as they themselves want their children to succeed. I have seen our low earners go without lunch and wear the same clothes so they can afford tutors. They dont hot house but are selective in finding tutors.

Then there are others who don't give two brass farthings. These are the children who really need a mentor.

MrRected Wed 16-Oct-13 01:02:01

I think that a distinction needs to be made between nurturing ability/ encouraging your child (which sometimes means making the hard decision on behalf of your child to keep them on track) and "hot-housing".

Some would say I hot house my son. He is 12, he practices his chosen sport 10 hours a week, plays in his age division, as well as with next division up. He also plays at state level. He knows that we will be attending state championships next April and that his performance will be judged with a view to a slot at the Australian Institute of Sport which is the development path for Olympians.

This is what he wants. Yes - sometimes he doesn't want to get up at 5.30am for training but we make him go. Yes - sometimes we all want a weekend off but we drive miles to get him to a match. We support his dream to play in the Olympics without hesitation. Travel, ensuring his nutrition is top notch and endless hours on the side of a court are not the easy option. Sometimes sheer hard work isn't such a bad thing.

LittleRobots Wed 16-Oct-13 01:28:23

I think it makes a huge difference what your child's peer group are doing as to whether you are thought to be hot housing.

I would dearly love my children to attend a school like words, where sport, art and music are all just seen as a normal part of life.

I was one of those children who could pass exams without trying. However I had such a curiosity and desire to learn I think it was such a shame my parents never encouraged or supported any out of school activities or extension learning. I would have flown!

I'm regularly conflicted with regards to my children. They're still young but I would love them to have the opportunity to play a sport well, learn an instrument etc. Money will be an issue. Also it just isn't the culture at her school. Now she will try anything and loves learning but I fear as she gets older it will be harder to be different from those around you.

wordfactory Wed 16-Oct-13 08:17:56

Russians I've given the wrong impression. Apologies. DofE isn't an obligation at DD's school.

It's just that the girls en masse take it up. And that's always encouraged by the school - at least give it a try. If you hate it, fair dos.

I suspect the numbers thin out after Bronze!

The HT has always been adamant that the girls achieve more academically, if their lives are full. So there's lots of other stuff on offer and lots of encouragemnet to at least give it a whirl.

The HT is also a big fan of girls getting out of their comfort zone as she feels it teaches them to be robust. Gotta love that woman.

I shall be extremely sad when my DD leaves after GCSEs. It will be the right move for my DD, but I shall be sorry.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 16-Oct-13 08:32:41

Have you decided to move her then? Is she going to a specialist school (how wonderful. Our drama school head is making noise about why not send DD2 to the Brit school (he knows my sister still lives in Croydon) but there is just no way José. If I was going to send her to a school in Croydon it'd be to my school)?

Mumzy Wed 16-Oct-13 08:34:57

Definition of Hot-housing (OED): "an environment that encourages rapid growth or development, especially in a stifling or intense way"
Interestingly most hot housed plants don't do well outside of this environment.

wordfactory Wed 16-Oct-13 09:26:30

The decision was sort of made for us Russians DD was spending so much time in London perfroming, and DS goes to school there, and DH works there, and one of my jobs is there...we were staying in our place there, more than not!

It just seemed obvious to DD that she wants to go to sixth form in town.

Plus we're selling our other house and have bought another country pile (of shit wink). It needs a lot of work doing to it. So whilst it will be nice to decamp there some weekends and holidays, it will be better not to be living there full time in piles of dust and bricks!

Where DD actually goes is currently moot. Surprisingly, she's not pushing a specialist school. I think she's spoken to so many actors who are all telling her to get a good education first (at least decent A levels), it's sunk in. DH is mightily pleased of course!!!

We've had a few chats with DS' school (which takes girls at sixth form) about how flexible they would be if she carries on performing and they've made all the right noises...But we'll have to do some looking around elshwere too.

antimatter Wed 16-Oct-13 09:38:27

LittleRobots - re:music (as my kids excel in in outside of school) - I think it shouldn't be your worry if your kids do it outside of school
look out for Music service in your borough/county, they offer discounted lessons and most have great number of orchestras (some have choirs too)
most popular instruments are oversubscribed, but go with your child's choice - then they will be happy to practice, orchestras invite within first few terms of learning and then kids love making music together
my daughter plays percussion instruments and have been playing with our local Music Service orchestras for the last 4 years, in fact this is one of activities she doesn't want to drop whilst doing her GCSE's, she says it relaxes her smile

TheAngryCheeseCracker Wed 16-Oct-13 09:38:46

Kenlee, what you say strikes a chord with me.

I think part of is the fact that people have a different idea what "success" is.

For some it means being the best at something ( sports, academia, music) and for others it means having a balance in life ( being financially independent and being " happy" or content).

My brother is very gifted in a sport and in music. When he was 17 he was selected for the national olympic team, that was exciting. Then a year of "hell" ensued, his coach calling him every night at 9 to tell him to go to bed, he had to lose weight to stay within the Lightweight category. My brother was stressed and deeply miserable. My mum encouraged him to pull out. He did and never regretted it. The price was too high.

He is also a talented pianist, and age 15 started winning competitions. He loved playing but the increased pressure meant he enjoyed it less and less, he "cracked" at 16 ( just before he then was selected for his sport) and did not touch the piano for years.

He now has a career he enjoys (science, this fude has maybe more talents than average!) and a happy balanced life.

The high pressure stuff wasn't for him, and I am glad my parents never pushed him to go on. In the end he did not need any pressure to succeed in life.

lainiekazan Wed 16-Oct-13 09:40:08

ds has a very good brain. But he doesn't make any effort. He is now doing his GCSEs and has finally found that just winging it is not going to cut the mustard. I also had a stiff talk with him about not swallowing his friends' talk of how they did "absolutely no work whatsoever" and got A*s in the GCSEs they did early. As others have said, there is the snobby thing (and it was rife when I was at school in the 80s) of concealing any effort and making out you just tipped up at the exam and aced it on natural ability.

Dd's friend (Chinese) does an activity every night - sometimes two. As well as at weekends. I just couldn't be arsed with that, I'm afraid. Her mother tells me that her Chinese acquaintances are all doing a sort of "Renaissance Man" (or in this case girl) on their dcs - having them tutored in approved sports and art as well as music and academic subjects.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Wed 16-Oct-13 09:44:33

Also, maybe relevant, he was the fourth child. My sisters and I were all tutored through grammar school, music lessons etc. little dude was allowed the last 5 minutes of my piano lessons. I was pushed and did the scales and never loved it, it was a chore, something I HAD to do.

Little dude saw music lessons as a privilege and a treat, something he was allowed to do if he was lucky.

It sparked something inside him.

My parents were fed up with grammar schools and tutoring by the time he came along, so he went to the comp. and got better grades than all of us.

Some lesson in there, somewhere I wonder

BumbleChum Wed 16-Oct-13 10:01:35

I have a friend whose 9 year old son is at national standard in a particular sport (for his age group, obviously). He practices 5 days a week, which requires him to be driven an hour each way to the training facility after school and on weekends.

Most people would think he is hot housed. Except that my friend and her DH would rather he didn't do this, and they worry about how much it restricts his ability to do other things (see friends, try other sports etc. etc.).

However, he has been set on it from a very young age, says that the best part of the week is his practice sessions, and would be devastated if they made him stop. So, they drive him there and back, make the packed meals for him to eat in the car, and his dad has begun training as a coach in the sport so he can understand what his son is doing better. I think that's great parenting.

78bunion Wed 16-Oct-13 10:07:04

Little R - yes I agree that the peer group is a key issue. In a sense women who pay school fees are buying the peer group which tends to ensure high expectations and opportunities.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Wed 16-Oct-13 10:13:36

Or a peer group with overly anxious het up parents...

There is a fine line

78bunion Wed 16-Oct-13 10:15:47

Indeed. We simply chose that our children would be with other children who had a high IQ, basic state grammar or day private school. That does not mean the parents are anxious. It just means the child is bright (and in fee paying schools the parents picked jobs which enable them to pay fees which probably means the parents are bright too). If 99% of your year group are going to good universities it is more likely Janice won't leave school at 16 to work in the local call centre or get herself pregnant.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Wed 16-Oct-13 10:22:35

I am not sure about the IQ thing.

Too many kids I know have been heavily tutored to pass entrance exams. I know too many kids who are stressed out of their minds in y6.

I can see what you say, in your snobby way ( but I am a snob too) about peer group. But I stand by my anxious parent comment.

But maybe that is just where I live. I don't know if all selective schools are like that.

78bunion Wed 16-Oct-13 10:45:32

It was academic snobbery, not class snobbery. Where we live the private schools are packed with the children of very hard working Asians, Chinese and the like, many many more than the local white population and that is another bonus as many of the children at private schools with those parents feel very privileged to obtain an English education and work hard which benefits everyone in the class.

I did not relaly mean 11+. Plenty of mothers choose to pay fees for academically selective schools at 5 or 7+ too.

Kenlee Wed 16-Oct-13 11:47:50

The thing is everyone is saying they maybe hot housing but all I see is parental support. Where parents are going the extra mile for their children.

It can't be hot housing if the kid enjoys it?.

TheAngryCheeseCracker Wed 16-Oct-13 12:20:52

I know, and it's all relative.

I would say I am not a hothousing mum at all.

But I expect my kids to do their homework, do some reading, and practise violin every day. Sleepovers only in holidays. That sort of stuff. Some parents say I AM hothousing I guess.

I really liked Amy Chua's tigermum book, as it showed that her style of parenting worked well for one child, and not at all the other. It was quite honest in a way, and shows a lot of it depends on the child.

Bad example of hothousing: DS best friend is being prepped for the entrance test of selective secondary, both at (prep) school, with tutor AND his dad makes him practice exam papers for 2 hours a day at weekends.

The boy can't come into school on Mondays due to migraines/vomiting. Every single Monday. He has become nervous about school, he is hating y6.

I hate witnessing this, poor kid. I know his parents mean well, but it seems unfair to heap so much pressure on a 10 year old, if he is the type that buckles under pressure.

AbiRoad Wed 16-Oct-13 12:34:42

The dividing line between being over-pushy and encouraging to achieve potential is a difficult one. I was having a chat with a cab driver recently as he drove me home and he has a teenage daughter who is really excellent in a sport (cant remember the sport but something like judo) and her coach thinks she has olympic potential. She has reached the age where she is more interested in boys etc and wants to give up and he cant decide whether the right thing to do is to just let her or whether he should be encouraging her to keep it up. He thinks she might really regret it down the line becuase she has always really enjoyed it. I suspect the reality is that if she does it reluctantly she wont achieve her potential anyway, but he wonders if it might just be a temp blip that she needs to be encouraged to get over. Difficult.

wordfactory Wed 16-Oct-13 16:43:32

Abi I think when DC get past the fun beginner stage of things there will always be blips, grumbles and gripes. Being very good at something usually involves a lot of practice. And often boredom and sometimes pain. If a child has talent one tries to encouragew them through the blips. But ultimately if they really no longer wish to do it, you have to let them give up, even if it is against all your inner convictions.

AbiRoad Wed 16-Oct-13 18:05:34

I think you are right, wordf. One of my DDs is a good swimmer, club level, but will never be a really top swimmer. If she wanted to give up, I would would make sure (as you say) it was not just a blip but would let it go. In this case, however, it sounds like the girl really does have top potential and the dad was battling with himself as to how hard to push the encouragement. He said he kept asking himself whether he woudl be encouraging her becuase of reflected glory but kept coming back to it being something she might really regret in life (imagine competing in the olympics). Hard to get the balance right in that type of situation (i.e. whether he should be pushing harder than I would in the case of my DD wanting to give up swimming becuase the potential is so much greater). When we spoke, he was thinking of suggesting she cut it back to hobby level for a while, so she could step it back up later but not give up completely. Maybe that will work for her. Keep wanting to get the same driver again for an update! (black cab rather than local taxi firm so pure chance).

Lizzzar Thu 23-Jan-14 17:28:42

I agree that a parent sending a child to a particular school mainly so they can boast to their friends etc about the child's achievements could be damaging, but while discussions like this do tend to imply that parents can cause success or failure in their children this is likely to happen. It would certainly be less likely if children were seen more as people in their own right, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I don't think that starting ballet or music training early is necessarily hot housing; the chances of achieving at a very high level if you don't are small, but it has to to ultimately about the child, not the parents.

Reincarnatedpig Thu 23-Jan-14 18:23:38

I really feel that hot housing parents are living vicariously through their children. My elder dd attends a school where most are tutored to get in and continue tutoring throughout their school careers. One of her friend got criticised by her parents for only getting 97% on a maths test instead of 100%. Parents decide their Uni course - it is vile.

My own dd was identified as G & T in music as an early age and I could have forced her down the child prodigy route, however she just enjoys it as a hobby and while she still has lessons; she did grade 8 in her best instrument only and rarely practices because she has loads of other interests.

I think if a child is academic or has a talent you should encourage them and obviously ensure homework is done (as best you can) but forcing kids to do things and applying a great deal of pressure is counter productive.

lljkk Thu 23-Jan-14 19:25:09


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