It's the dreaded EXAM time of year again for our eldest. She is eleven (today). I can see this situation only steadily worsening since I have three children, the younger ones will soon have to do exams too, and as each year passes, the 'exams' (didn't they call them tests in my day?) get ever more serious.
The question is, how best for parents to tackle this thorny issue? Camps are divided.
1. Make sure they do the revision, offer incentives (TV, pizza, cinema, trip to the shops) but don't get involved in the actual work.
2. Don't get remotely involved either in encouraging revision or your micro-managing child's workload.
3. Hire a tutor. (the school protest that they hate it when parents do this... but do they?)
4. Get heavily involved, revisit your own childhood and go step-by-step through all the books testing your child until you both emerge screaming wrecks.
I prefer the first option - but many covertly adopt the third which makes the playing field a little uneven don't you think? We all are guilty of dabbling in number 4 when time allows - help! Last January, mid year exams, were a case in point. 2 weekends of endless testing and shooting questions at our daughter (plus parental in fighting over what really was the answer to question number 5) nearly translated into catastrophic family meltdown. It is panic attack inducing.
I wonder if our poor eldest will ever emerge a balanced human being?
For past weeks, all the parental playground talk is 'revision'. Worse, when your child goes to school in Kenya, many parents tend to beef up their offspring's credentials, imagining they are all in line for top scholarships to UK Independent schools (after all, how could we ever afford it otherwise?). It's nuts, but true.
Our eldest is not what you might call 'scholarship material' but she does okay bouncing along the middle, plenty of friends, no learning difficulties that we know of etc. On balance, we are very lucky. I imagine that if she was scholarship material we would have been summonsed into a huddle by some key teaching staff by now, who might have been ready to propose a plan of action - secret extra lessons etc. If we had selected a UK private secondary school for the next stage and done organised things like 'put names down', we might already be talking 'tactics' to get through individual entrance exams. But no, we continue to make like an ostrich and keep our heads in the sand.
Then there are the 'extras' designed to portray your small darling as a genuine 'all rounder' to the eyes of the world. With extra curricular interests comes more competition. Music exams, speech and drama exams, riding contests, dance grades. Don't get me wrong, we are horribly guilty. Because our eldest is not particularly sporty or musical and hates horses, she spends an hour or two on saturdays doing dance (she does actually enjoys this... I think...) and she is also about to take her third London School of Speech and Drama exam (still level one curiously) - which requires so much parental input that quite honestly, it seems like a total scam to me... though the teacher said last week LAMDA points can count toward university you know?!? (or something along those lines).
Parents this week have abandoned the school bus, preferring to drive their ten and eleven year olds into school in order to make doubly sure that they arrive at the school gates on time. Our daughter was the only year 6 braving Nairobi traffic on the bus this morning... and it was her birthday - they joy was that she didn't mind very much - I am so proud of her!
Note to self: must go to bed every night repeating the mantra:
'I do not care what other people do, I have my child's best interests at heart. Do not bow to peer pressure, do not buckle, do not fold...and by the way - you have your own life to live....or rather....just get a life!'
On a cheerier note -
KPLC turned up today, I think as a result of following up on the blog comment I received from Kevin at KPLC customer service!! Wonders will never cease. They are doing the work of re-routing our power lines tomorrow, but still the issue of us stupidly/ridiculously overpaying for the work is not resolved. They said, 'file a complaint, there are channels you can follow - but let's just get the work done.' We are all too weary to argue. I felt a bit sorry for the 3 chaps that turned up because they looked a bit scruffy and down at heel. It would seem that Samuel Gichuru took all the KPLC profits to Jersey leaving an impoverished work force - roll on his extradition to face money laundering charged in UK.
Continuing along the theme of sticking my nose into other people's lives: I also took my house help's daughter down to the new beauty salon to be interviewed as an intern today (..the one who is interested in following a career in hair and beauty). She got quite a grilling from the owners' I can tell you! She was shy too which was a little awkward, but not surprising in the circumstances. I had to stop myself from answering all the questions for her! Anyway, there's a job there if she wants it, let's hope she's willing to put in the hard work/long hours required to get her foot in the door. At least they offered to pay her bus fare and possibly give her a 'bonus' if she works hard. Watch this space.