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As a foreigner, I’m new to the British education system, and what a learning curve!

I picked the school (well, nursery at the time) where Mellow and Jed are going to mainly because of the opening hours (7:45 to 5:30) and days (51 weeks a year) which suited a working mum. And I’d never come across anyone who had anything bad to say about that school. Well, I did hear it was academic (nursery becomes school up to 6-7+) but I was not sure what academic meant. French schools are also knows as very academic so I thought: “It will be fine and if I was in France, I would go to the neighborhood school like anybody else and it would be fine, so any school will be fine, really”.

Now I have a 5 year old who has reading homework everyday and extra homework twice a week. Already I thought there was little time to play with my children after school, this is now the end of play I guess!

And it’s getting a bit pushy on his reading part, I can read quite a few times over the last 6 months “very distracted”, “does not listen”, “won’t sit still”… Well, what can they expect? When he started reading, he had just turned 4! And even now, he wants to do his homework lying in bed and there is no way he is not going to be distracted. And after a full day at school, I understand why he does not want to sit at the table.

He also read the same book for a couple of months when he first started, the comments were: “needs help, read again”, “read again”, “read again”…what about “Mellow is not ready for reading yet, let’s give him a break”?

Only over the last couple of months, I have seen improvements (finally), and he’s started to really love reading, but it could also have gone the other way: “I hate reading and never want to read again, it’s too hard”.

In a way, I’m proud that he can read. I think it is pretty amazing at that age, but after one year of hard work, he does not seem to have achieved that much. I think the first 10 months were wasted. And it’s still hard work now, soon he will get spelling tests, math tests and by the age of 6, he will have been more stressed with school work than I ever have been until I was at least 10 years old. Of course, I went to a small village state school (reception/Y1 and Y2 in the same class – a total of about 15 kids!!) so that does not compare to a London academic private school!

Mellow still loves going to school, so maybe I should not worry too much, but when I hear the pressure goes up as they move to Y1 and Y2, I’m getting very worried.

And I find it hard myself to manage the homework.

I get home from work just before 7pm, brush teeth, read books, give Little T his bottle, put him to bed, give Jed a cuddle, put him to bed. It’s already 7:30pm ish and we still have to do homework with Mellow. I’m never going to manage as he is getting more and more homework.

I want my children to have fun but obviously I want them to be succesful, or at least to have a choice in their career. It’s all a vicious circle really, I’ve even heard of tuition for 2.5 year olds, crazy! But if you don’t do that, does it mean your child won’t be successful, won’t go to a good school, won’t have the grades for a good university (or not as good as the others) and then won’t have the same choices for his/her career? Shall I do tutoring on top of that? Shall I push him to do work that was not required so he is THE BEST? And then if he thinks he has to be the best, what will happen the day he won’t be? Or will he become a horrible over-confident person? Too many questions and no answers.

Let’s just see how it goes, he is only 5 and might want to be a train driver or a mechanic later, his choice, not mine.

What a nightmare though!

Me & The Boys.