We recently received the first of our 'official' school reports. Generally delighted (and relieved) with how the first year of school had gone, I suppose I was lucky to see the envelope land on the doorstep and not instantly dread it or reach for the whiskey before opening it. We hadn't had any real problems to deal with and I could only anticipate good things in the report.
But still, I surprised myself at my reaction to what I read. For some reason, I was anticipating grades, or marks out of ten for various things. Where are the gold stars, I wondered to myself as I read the comprehensive comments about how well my child had settled into school routine, how good his behaviour is and how well he is getting on with his classmates. All was well, it would seem - he was 'Good' at most things and 'Excellent ' at some.
What? I heard myself cry. Not excellent at everything? This is a disaster. What has gone wrong?
I read it through again. Yes, it was definitely all very positive and complimentary, but.........not top of the class in all aspects. A little bit of the tiger mother within me let out a roar. 'Unfair', it cried, 'there's no justice in the world.'
And then I took a step back and realised that the inner competitive mummy monster was rearing its ugly head. My child had done wonderfully well at school. There were some genuinely lovely comments about his demeanour. Why was I looking for rankings about his writing ability or reading ability - he isn't even six yet! I think my mistaken expectation of the school report format probably has a lot to do with the competitive environment parents create among themselves today, or perhaps it has something to do with blind parental faith that your child is the absolute best at anything and everything they do. Actually, the non-academic focus is perfect for this age group and shows how far education has come in trying to remove unnecessary academic bench-marking at such a young age
For me, the school report was definitely a lesson in common sense and from now on, I will not be looking for the accolades, but will be more interested in how happy my children are. For me, a little boy who skips into the school yard each morning and hugs his friends is all the report I need.