A+ in Dreaming

A + In dreaming

My four-and-a-half year old daughter received her first report card a few weeks ago.

I scanned the boxes and ticks, my stomach tightening. My daughter’s sweet waif like spirit was being reduced to a few squares. A few ticks.

She was being marked on attendance and rhythm, and keeping beat in time to the music. It was perfectly innocent, and designed to show where her strengths and weaknesses are and where she needs to improve.

I am not ready for this.

Meanwhile, my daughter sprung around the house, legs flailing and arms outstretched as she talked animatedly about her children who live in Eng-a-land, and learning about lizards from Mr Salt in homeschool.

How do you grade this stuff? This ability to dream and create and spring around enthusiastically?

Reports and the such have been on my husband and my mind lately as we start to look at schools for my daughter.

I don’t think we are ready to have the way she holds her pen etc. and the way she keeps rhythm quantified. I try and capture some of her stories and lovingly store her creations in a Tupperware box in the cupboard, or hang them on the fridge. This stuff is not good, bad, average, weak or excellent. It just is, and as a mother, I love every bit about it as an expression and extension of herself.

I run a little Imagination School for a group of homeschoolers once a week. It used to be fortnightly, but they requested we do it every week as they love it so much. *Fills my heart.

We do simple little activities, like making mini books, or postcards from far away lands. We read, we make treasure hunts and tell stories. These boys have never been tested on their imaginative, creative ways, and so they continue to expand like the universe. Their ability to imagine is limitless.

This stuff isn’t testable, and nor should it be. But it’s the stuff that’s underpinning creative thinking, problem solving and the ability to think abstractly, which are fundamental to learning and innovation.

Even though she doesn’t attend Imagination School, my daughter counts down the sleeps until it’s on. We talk about Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, a previous life spent in Eng-a-land and Imagination School most hours of the day. On home days, we make and do with whatever is around, using our imaginations to make the world a prettier place.

For now at least in our little sunshine home, we are nurturing all those things that can’t be boxed or ticked away.

Do you have a dreamer?

For more tales from the sunshine house, book ideas and imaginative activities, visit me over at Facebook. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, which is full of sunny goodness.

Linking with Essentially Jess.

  • LydiaCLee

    I don’t think reports are bad, it’s good to know what to work on, and compliment achievements on a bad day (remember how great your teacher said you were at blah blah) – not everything is quantifiable and as a parent, you need to remember that great things will still come from those who academic report cards read otherwise. The richest (and I mean beachfront bazillionaires) people I know left school at 14…it is not the be all and end all, but I think it’s good for kids to know there is a ‘system’ and they can either excel in it, or work around it. Like everything, it’s all how you sell it to the child (and view it as a parent).

    • Yes… it’s true. I am not against reports as such though. As a parent of a preschooler they just aren’t quite on our radar yet. I see their place and I am not against systematic ways of doing things. I guess I just reflecting on the lovely unquantifiable things we get to relish in these preschool years.

  • Tigerlilly Rose

    Albert Einstein said it best, I love these three quotes: “Not everything that counts can be counted, not everything that can be counted counts”, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” & Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing it is stupid”.

  • It’s hard to see our kids ‘judged’ especially when they may fall out of what is considered ‘normal’. I do though, think schools are becoming better at recognising children’s individuality and encouraging their creativity and imagination. And I guess it’s our job as parents at home to keep that going as much as possible too.

    • Yes. Parents can do all that at home, which is great. That’s good to hear that individual traits are better recognised…But I have to raise my hats to the teachers…I bet it’s not the funnest job in the world filling out all those reports.

  • I don’t like much the way our children are graded and how impersonal it can be. I have taught in my time and I battled with the school when I wanted to include detail personal to the individual on a report and they told me I shouldn’t because it would make it “too personal”. They just preferred me to tick the boxes and included short, generalised comments. So disheartening. It goes against all that I believe in as a teacher. How can students and parents really understand the learning being achieved and give credit where due?
    So I guess I’m saying, you know how she is developing. Take little heed of those report cards, only if there is cause for concern.

    • I never knew you were a teacher in a past life. It’s frustrating that you weren’t given the option – you obviously were willing to put in that extra bit to make the comments more detailed.

      And yes, you are right. Reports will never be able to reflect how we know a person.

  • Oh such a good post Zanni, I have a love-hate relationship with reports from schools. I think your imagination school sounds perfectly amazing! Perhaps the stuff childrens books are made of, or better still, something our curriculum should be made of Josefa #teamIBOT

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Just lovely Zanni – your Imagination school sounds the stuff of dreams (well literally)! I think if you can keep alive this innate imagination and wonder at the world, through the tests, and the tests of conformity, that is fantastic and it ends up being what matters most. My daughter’s Year 5 teacher says she is confident that Miss Yin will do well later in school when creativity/visualisation/conceptualisation is more important than rote learning/formulas/language conventions etc.

    • I think these things should be given more value generally Kathy. My husband is Dutch and the northern European school system gives these much higher value than the English America system. As a result they have very high academic standards.

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    Beautiful post, Zanni. I do have a dreamer, but interestingly enough when I gathered together a few bits and pieces in a hat for her to create a story as per your suggestion last week she clammed up. She became all shy. I’m going to try again this week though as she may have just been in an off mood. I’m not yet ready for report cards either. I read a list yesterday on how to know whether your child is ready for prep or not. It listed things like holding the pen correctly, counting to a certain number etc. I’m so glad we have another year to just have fun with no expectations placed on us. Can’t wait to catch up at ProBlogger 🙂 x

    • That is interesting Renee…not all activities are for everyone. Can’t wait to catch up next weekend! X

  • This is lovely. School scares me a little. My eldest starts kindergarten next year. Her pen grip is terrible terrible terrible, and she is too stubborn to change it. It worries me a little because I know such a big emphasis is placed on writing your name and such things in kindergarten. I can see a no tick in that box for us!

    • I know this so well Carla! For more than a year my daughter throws a fit when I offer to help her hold her pen correctly. She has a very artistic signature as a result! X

  • I still have dreamers even though the older two are at school. When their report cards come I glance over the social comments and ignore the rest. I am confident that they are developing into well rounded people, and that is what matters way more than if they can hold pens correctly.

  • I have two dreamers Zanni and I wouldnt want them to be any other way. They have their own song in their head and although I cant hear it, watching them dance to it is truly beautiful xx

    • What a beautiful expression Sonia! I need that printed and framed for the wall. Xx

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