I was afraid of vicious dogs getting out of their yards and chasing me as I walked home from the school bus stop. I was afraid of being kidnapped. I was afraid of the world being destroyed in a nuclear war.
But what are 10-year-olds today afraid of? Well, I can tell you what my 10-year-old daughter’s classmates fear.
There’s a series of posters stuck up outside my daughter’s classroom. On the posters, the students have shared their dreams for the future and their fears. I started to read them, thinking they might be cute. Instead, as I read my way through them, I found myself becoming sad. Really sad.
The kids had a range of fears – insects, wild animals, clowns – but there was one that kept turning up over and over: failing a test.
“If I fail a test my parents will yell at me and they will take away all my toys,” one child wrote.
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These kids are 10. They’re not even in their final year of primary school yet. But already they’re terrified of getting a bad mark?
I remember getting really stressed about marks when I was in school. But I’m sure that was only in the last few years of high school.
Nowadays, kids do the Best Start assessment before they begin school, and then NAPLAN in Years 3 and 5. I can see from the number of NAPLAN workbooks on sale at my local supermarket that plenty of parents are determined for their kids to do well in the tests. I’ve heard of little kids being tutored in preparation for their Best Start assessment, too.