"My son's school gives an award for sitting still at assembly. I think it's disgraceful."

My seven-year-old son was complaining about school assemblies to me last week. Of course I sympathised with him.

I’ve been to a couple and they drag on and on, as every kid in the entire school makes their way up to the stage to get an award for “walking safely in the playground” or “listening respectfully to other students” or whatever.

I’m sitting up on the back on a chair, on Facebook the entire time, and I still find it excruciatingly boring. But then I realised my son was complaining about something else: how much his legs hurt by the end of assembly.

I understood what he was saying. Maybe I have unusually poor circulation or something, but I get pins and needles after sitting with my legs crossed for anything more than a few minutes.

It quickly progresses from that to a completely numb leg. I can remember, in primary school, standing up after an assembly to find out that there was no feeling in my leg anymore… and then when feeling returned, it hurt.

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“Oh, just keep crossing and uncrossing your legs,” I told my son. “Just don’t sit in the one position for too long. That should do it.”

“But I can’t move my legs,” he told me.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

It turns out that my son’s school gives an award to the best-behaved class at assembly every week. My son told me that it’s not just about keeping silent, it’s about sitting still and not wriggling around.

Apparently it’s a highly coveted award. There’s a trophy, and the winning class gets to keep it for a week.

“I can’t move my legs because I want to help my class win the award,” he told me.

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My poor kid, who always tries to do his very best at school, was putting up with pain every week in the hope that his class would one day be given some cheap, tacky trophy? I wanted to tell him to just wriggle around as much as he wanted, but I knew he wouldn’t.

Okay, so I get that teachers don’t want kids to be chattering away all through assembly. That’s fair enough. But what’s with the whole obsession with sitting still? How many actual adult jobs require you to sit in one position without moving? Artist’s model, and, um…

My reason for wanting my son to be allowed to wriggle around at assembly is a very specific one. But I’m sure there are other kids who feel the urge to wriggle around for reasons of their own. Surely it’s natural for kids to wriggle, anyway?

We’re talking early primary school here. At the age of five, these kids are being encouraged to run around outside, making mud pies. Then when they’re six, we’re expecting them to suddenly be able to sit still for hours on end at school?

Assemblies are already tough. They’re so long and boring. Kids are set up to fail. Every week, you see teachers telling off kids for not doing the right thing (and we all remember how humiliating that feels, to be told off in front of the whole school).

I just wish my son’s school wouldn’t make assemblies even worse by handing out that bloody award.

Do you think it’s fair to give a sitting still award in schools? Tell us in the comments section below.

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