Another day, I was in class with my students when one of them said something like “Oh, come on, Teacher! no more homework, I have many stuff to be done this weekend” and he continued telling me his errands. When he finished, I told him “wow, what a weekend! hum, let’s do something, at the end of the class we talk again, ok?”.
This group was about 14 students, their age 10-11 years old, full of extra activities besides english class. During one of their moments in the class, I sat and stared at them and, it was the moment that I realized –“It is pretty hard to be a child today”. They have to study for exams and tests, football, ballet lessons, swimming, gym, therapies. Their parents pushing them to be brilliant, successful and on…
Well, my mother enrolled me at school I was 2 years old. So, I can only remember my school routine when I was 5 years old, it was drawing, singing, playing… That time, I mean in the 80’s, I had 5 subjects, including music education (I started playing an instrument around 7 years old) but it was just that. However, when I take a look on my students agenda, it is something to worry about. They spend more hours doing things than playing around with their friends. Maybe, that is why some children are too stressed out and losing their childhood.
However, some people might say “who are you to say that?” Ok, I am not psychologist but before being a teacher, I am a mother of two children so that I started to look around my kids life and their routine, and I felt guilty – sincerely, too guilty. My daughter, poor girl, she “does” more things than I do. She has activities during the whole week, even at the weekend. That’s awful! She is just 8 years old.
Moreover, there is pressure all over the place, starting in our home, school, friendship and society. If your kid is not in a football team, he is out! or if your girl is not in a piano or ballet classes, the same feeling
Thus, I decided to talk to my daughter, and asked her How does she feel about her routine? Her answer it was astonishing “mom, you have to slow down, if you work less, you will be happier”. That Subliminal Message was a warning to me.
When she told me that, I was leaving home to travel to Europe. I kept this on my mind for about 2 weeks. During these 2 weeks, she was out of her activities. So, she just went to school (no extra activities, english class and gym). Meanwhile, my mother was monitoring her and keeping me update about everything.
When I got home, the first thing that she told me “mom, you’re not gonna believe it. I had the best time of my life. Please, tell me when you’re going to travel again and, when you travel, please Can I do the same thing?”
OH, MY GOD! I was full of “saudades” (the most beautiful word in portuguese) what it means, I miss them with all my heart and soul and, when I got home, she wants me to travel again! Something was totally wrong with my kids. I cried a lot. I blamed myself for it some days. I have questioned myself since then. I stopped to reflect my kids’ excessive routine – they have to get up so early to do many activities everyday and also the school exam time were making my child sad, not motivated and bored.
With all these questions on my head, I remember my students. “They are a pretty stressed-out generation” we (parents, teachers and society) are raising children to become adults full of frustrations, anxieties, insecurities, afraid of failure, depressive and on. And we must stop and reflect now. According to Lord Richard Layard study about “emotional health in childhood” is the key to future happiness, I am rethinking some attitudes with my students and specially with my kids.
Although I cannot change the educational system that over testing and pushing them all the time, helping my students not being overwhelmed with their routines might be one of the alternatives to engage them using creativity, imagination during their classroom activities and also with their homework to smooth their daily tasks.
I believe that motivating and engaging our students to express what they feel in ludic activities might bring them satisfaction on doing their duties without pressure, what in my opinion is the best way to flow the learning process. On the other hand, making students to focus on things that they do not like or do not believe, it is a waste of time for both side (teachers and students).
With all these questions from students and also from my child, I understood what they are saying …
‘the secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less’. Socrates
That’s my new route…