Is Your Child's Future Determined by Age 5?
A recent study by the University of Exeter showed that half of pupils who get low grades in GCSEs were already behind at age 5 – at the start of primary school.
Now, a lot of people say that academic attainment isn’t indicative of a successful and happy life. We all know people who’ve been incredibly successful despite their school records. In fact, they’re often celebrated in the media as underdogs beating the system – role models for others in a similar position.
All laudable and not to be downplayed, but in statistical terms they are the exceptions. Figures from the Department of Education show a direct link between GCSE attainment and lifetime earnings. This in turn impacts many other aspects of life, such as mental health and wellbeing.
Children who are behind at age 5, in primary school, are statistically more likely to earn less and have fewer opportunities in their lifetime.
But is it about the subject matter itself, or the psychological consequences? Because education is about so much more than bits of paper containing numbers, letters and stars – depending on which new grading scheme we’re on. It’s also about confidence, determination and resilience.
How will a child’s confidence suffer if they’re behind from the start? How can their confidence grow if they remain behind year after year? And often, we’re not talking about marginal differences. Having seen thousands of children through our learning platform, we’ve been staggered by the range of abilities across a single year group.
There are many ways the education system could be improved to help children, but that’s for another day. For now, let’s assume that every subject and exam your child takes earns them a brick. Their early years allow them to lay the foundations, and they build on them every year. The more bricks they earn, the taller their building becomes. That building is their confidence, and its height is what may determine their earnings and opportunities.
It's vital to get the foundations in place
Confidence is ultimately what education is building, but it won’t come unless the bricks are in place. And for now, society has chosen those foundational bricks to be English, Maths, and Science.
Do you need to know how to distinguish an adverb from a verb? It’s probably not something that’s ever cropped up in conversation. But if it’s one of the bricks, and your child’s peers know that distinction, then your child absolutely does because their building needs it.
And especially at the foundation stage, it’s vital to get all the bricks in place, or their building will simply fall over.
So, if you’re a parent, don’t think of education in terms of subjects, think of it as a building. Your responsibility is to do what you can to help your child earn those bricks. Don't fall into the trap of thinking it doesn’t matter when they’re young. That’s when it matters most.
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