Thursday 5 July 2018

In Support Of National Testing For Four-Year-Olds

Not happy with testing our teenagers, our tweens and our younger kids, the government is now hoping to introduce compulsory testing for sperms and eggs to determine whether they are ‘school ready’. Just kidding, the kids will actually be four years old, so that’s hugely different to being a sperm and an egg. For a start, the government won’t need to purchase as many specimen cups so that will arguably make things easier.

And, obviously, four-year-olds are definitely intellectually and emotionally ready for testing, so this proposed testing actually makes perfect sense. I don’t know if you’ve seen a four-year-old lately, but most of them look in need of a good test.

You see, four-year-olds are just a little bit too wild, in my opinion. Now, I’m no expert here, but I do think four-year-olds are currently getting away with acting like children which isn’t really on, is it? When you’ve got teenage mental health crumbling under the weight of exam revision and stress at secondary school, and you’ve got year 6 pupils in tears over their SATS, it’s not really fair that Harvey from reception gets to just piss about at a water table all afternoon, is it?

Come on, Harvey, time to grow up a little. Put down the sieve and walk away from the brightly coloured playground, son. It’s time for you to be tested. Now, as you might have predicted, people are getting quite upset about these proposed tests. Experts are warning that they might ruin childhoods and parents are up in arms (aren’t they always though?) about it all.

My daughter is now six so I feel like I am well placed to give a highly thought out and very intelligent opinion on all of this. I have used all of my brain power to think back to her first few weeks of reception to see how she would have handled the test. They’re going to do the test during the first few weeks of school so that four-year-olds immediately get the message that school is no place for fun and games, so I think that’s wise. When my daughter started in reception she really did spend too much time fannying around outside and painting. Yawn. There’s only so many craft projects I can stick on my fridge, what I really want is a good old-fashioned exam paper up there for all to see.

If I’m being honest, I pretty much forced daily exams on my daughter when she was that age anyway. Every day at pick up time, as she put her sticky little hand in mine, I would bark the first question at her. “What did you do today?” There would be a long pause as my daughter looked up at the sky in a desperate attempt to find the right answer. Unsurprisingly, the answer wasn’t written in the sky and even if it was she wouldn’t have been able to read it (the teachers were so lazy at her nursery, none of the kids had read any Shakespeare by the time they left). And so she failed. Day after day.

I asked her every single day and I don’t remember her being able to answer me once. “I don’t know.” She would say, gormlessly while I wished for my rigid national testing to solve this daily dilemma. I would then try to help her out by giving her hints, “What did you have for lunch?” I might say, but again, she would stare open-mouthed at me and shrug her shoulders. From the state of her t-shirt, I guessed that she usually ate baked beans, but even she failed to carry out this minimal detective work to answer the simple question.

I’m not sure whether it is specifically lunch menu testing that the government is proposing, but if it is I’m all in favour of it. Some people are worried that nursery children may be ‘coached’ to help them with the tests and that this may ruin their nursery experience. But my daughter spent most of her time at nursery giggling, screaming, painting, running, drawing, building and singing so she was probably pretty bored anyway. There was no structure to any of it, those poor children were just left to play at will all day long. She probably would have benefitted from a few solid hours of exam revision each day, I don’t think three-year-olds should be excused from such things just because they still pee their pants. In all honesty, I think the sperm and egg testing I suggested above would actually be hugely beneficial to the country. You’re never too young for standardised testing, isn’t that how the saying goes?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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