Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeNewsHelen Bates: My six-year-old works to rule. The school day is long...

Helen Bates: My six-year-old works to rule. The school day is long enough for her


I am a full time mum to my two girls. My husband and I always knew we wanted children and we always knew we wanted to have me based at home with them. In our view, after longing for children, why would you give them to someone else to look after?

I have a daughter in year one at school, aged nearly six, and her sister who is two and half years. My eldest is eligible to take part in after-school clubs since starting in year one but in the reception class they are considered too young for such a long day.

I wanted to be led by my daughter. If she wanted to attend an after-school club I would have supported her. However, she knew immediately that she didn’t want to even though many of her friends do go to one club at least. My daughter said that she just wanted to come home and play.

She did ballet on a Saturday morning for a spell when she was four but decided she wanted the freedom to go to the park when it was sunny instead of a dance studio!

She did swimming lessons after school and did well, but when the lesson time reached 5pm she was upset and didn’t want to continue, so we stopped.

At the moment my daughter does no extra-curricular clubs. She is in the minority for her age group but I believe in allowing her to choose what she does in her spare time.

When I think back to my time at primary school I didn’t do any after-school clubs as there weren’t any. For good reason! I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be doing them either. Why make little ones grow up so fast nowadays?

In addition, from reception, we do reading with our child outside school. In year one, she received a homework diary to learn spellings, reading, number bonds, handwriting and now times tables. I want to have the time to help her with her homework and still allow her maximum wind-down time.

I am always happy to pick up my daughter from school and this important especially if she has had a difficult day (most days she is beaming when I pick her up).

I am there to take her home and accept her lashing out at me, before the tears and then she is able to tell me about it. This is just the way she works.

Yes kids do “deal with” what is expected of them at school, and it’s not until they come home they can gradually relax and be themselves knowing they are unconditionally loved.

I see children who have mums who have gone back to work and they are going back home with a different mum or to an after-school club each day.

Those children are often moaned about among the mums who look after them, saying, “Oh she was horrendous yesterday she cried and screamed.” I feel sorry for that child/ren. They simply need to go “off duty” at home with the family who loves them but are unable to do so. I believe that the school day is quite enough for most children.

I find it a little worrying that since I was at school in the 1980s after-school clubs in primary education have become the norm.

People ask me when are you going back to work, I say I don’t know yet, I’ll know when the time is right.

My husband backs me 100 percent and his employers know that unlike couples who both go out to work full time and have young children getting ill frequently and having to take it in turns to take unscheduled time off to care for their sick children, they (my husbands employers) know that he can be 100 percent focused on his work.

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Helen Bates
Helen Bates
Helen is a full-time mum

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