Want your child to get as little out of school as possible? Here's how.
1. Ensure they understand, from babyhood on, that learning is a competitive issue. Focus intensely on all block-building, finger-painting and shape-posting activities to make sure your child is staying ahead of other children. Point out forcefully to your child when other children are doing better than them and ensure that they feel suitably ashamed of themselves and anxious about their future performance.
2. Closely monitor every centimeter of your child's educational progress and be sure to tell your child's teacher when he or she is teaching reading the wrong way or failing to make your child understand long division. If the teacher is not receptive to your reprimands, go straight to the school principal. Ignore any pleas from your embarrassed child not to do this. At the same time, cram your child's out-of-school schedule with enough activities to ensure that any time for being bored, mooching about, finding their own amusement and discovering who they are is squeezed out.
3. Fuss over every school-related issue and rush in to complain the minute a pencil case is lost or there is some minor shoving in the playground. Complain even more vociferously if your child is ever reprimanded, punished or left off a sports team, making sure the school understands that your child could never, ever -- in any way -- be in the wrong. Be sure to use the word "bullying" as often as you can in every school intervention. Yell at your child for being secretive and sneaky if you discover there is an issue that they are proud to have solved for themselves, without involving you.
4. Police homework rigorously, making sure that your child gets everything right and never makes mistakes. Be very sure they understand that mistakes are bad things, and completely unacceptable. Jump in to do their work for them, if mistakes look likely. Nag them often about doing their work, and chastise them frequently about doing it the wrong way. Set time aside to work especially hard on any school project that involves model-building, video-making or anything else that other parents will see and be impressed by.
5. Hover like a hawk over your child's friendships. Plot and maneuver to make sure your child is in the right set. See off any friendships that you don't like, and always rush to berate other parents if there is ever any falling out between friends. Organize elaborate and showy birthday parties for your child -- even when they say they would rather go for ice cream with their best friend.
6. Go into a complete frenzy over every test, exam, match and school concert making sure your child understands that everything, but everything, hangs on how well they perform in it. Insist that you need to be involved in any preparation. Boast loudly to other parents when your child comes top, and berate your child vociferously when they don't do well. Make sure they understand that you love them for what they do, not who they are. Check to make sure their anxiety levels are, at all times, as high as yours and increase the pressure steadily, right up to college entrance, when you both fall over in a heap of anxiety, recrimination, depression and exhaustion.
Read about a better way to support your child in school in Hilary Wilce's 'The 6 Secrets of School Success' available from Amazon.
Follow Hilary Wilce on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hilarywilce