Wow, what a day yesterday turned out to be. The Kids Strike against the new SATS testing saw parents up and down the country taking their kids out of school for the day.
I was one of those parents and although one person was out to target us with comments about having nothing better to do and how some of us have to work for a living and how we’re damaging our children etc. Most people were very supportive.
An opportunity to highlight what learning at aged 7 should be all about
My decision to take part in the strike wasn’t taken lightly. In fact, it was almost a last minute thing. I wasn’t sure what a day out of school would achieve, but with the THISislearning campaign running alongside the strike day, I realised I had an opportunity to highlight what learning at aged 7, or even for KS1 should be all about.
I’ve already given my reasons for supporting this campaign. It’s felt as though the children have been cramming for these exams all year and have therefore missed out on valuable opportunities to learn real-life lessons.
Yesterday was my chance to highlight that.
My son has sailed through this year without any problems. He is my youngest and perhaps more robust for that. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an issue with these ridiculously over-expectant new tests though. My eldest daughter would have really struggled with them. By year two, she was asking to move to a new school. She was already starting to feel as though she wasn’t good enough and the rest of her primary years were spent with her feeling this way.
Enjoying your time at primary school
I regret that she didn’t enjoy her time at primary school. She was labelled as one of those anxious children. Some cope better than others, they say. Her crying over homework and constantly saying she was rubbish at school was put down to the way she was, not the system.
Seeing some of the stories told by parents has changed my view on that. She wasn’t the only one. Children up and down the country are trying to cope with anxiety caused by worrying about school.
I loved my time at primary school and cried when we left. My daughter won’t even set foot in hers.
I looked forward to moving on to high school and getting homework because we didn’t get any at junior school. Getting homework, taking books home, having a school bag, were all part of moving on, showing to other kids that you were growing up (that novelty wore off of course. but that’s not the point).
Yesterday was as much for my daughter and all the children like her as it was for my son.
So what did we do?
A special day of learning
The day had to be about learning, that much I was sure of.
Let’s just say, we were both exhausted by the end of it.
This is what we did:
We built a volcano out of mud (our soil has a lot of clay in it, so it was perfect for doing this). Then we pushed a small plastic lid in to the top, added baking soda, washing up liquid and vinegar and watched it bubble over the top just like the lava of a volcano.
We added Mentos to various sodas to see which would explode the highest. In doing that, we found Lilt doesn’t explode very much at all, but Sprite and Coke do (we didn’t try the diet version because I know that can be particularly violent).
We set up an experiment with cabbage leaves and coloured water.
By the end of the day, had a very pretty blue cabbage leaf.
We made butter in jam jars.
And found that if you add a marble to the jar, it makes the process much quicker. Interestingly, adding two marbles didn’t make it quicker still. Thanks go to Maxine for this idea.
We made a box of interesting words and objects.
First of all, we picked out three words and tried to connect them for a story idea. My son picked ‘zoo keeper’, ‘toilet’ and ‘London’ and his story was about a zoo keeper at London zoo who got locked in the toilet by a monkey, who stole his keys, let out all the other animals and they all had a big party!
Next we chose an object and drew a spider graph about the imaginary character this object would belong to. Words such as scrolls, wizards and magic were flying around the room at this point and one very enthusiastic 7 year old filled up a whole page with his ideas.
We ended our day with a story, but not before we consulted the Lego Ideas book and made our own version of a mini-figure display stand.
Yesterday was not an extension of our Bank Holiday weekend. We did not take the opportunity to go on a cheaper holiday.
We spent the whole day learning.
Yesterday was an educational day.