I have a confession: this week I messaged a fellow parent at my daughter’s school and asked if she knew when our kids were doing their SATs. “I should know this, but if I message the ‘Year 2 Parents’ group chat, everyone will judge me for not knowing,” I said.
“LOL,” she replied. “Yes. They’ve had three English papers already, spelling, reading and grammar, and are doing two maths papers, one today and one tomorrow.”
I’m forever grateful for friends who are more switched on than I am, but this also provides the perfect example of something I’d already suspected: my seven-year-old is so chill about the SATs, I didn’t even realise she was doing them.
By the time kids are in Year 6, they reportedly spend the entire Easter holidays cramming for SATs, with surveys showing children suffer more mental health issues around the time of taking the exams. But what comforts me – now I know my daughter is doing them literally at this very moment – is that they’ve caused her so little stress that she hasn’t even mentioned them.
The SATs have long been a contentious issue – with campaigners suggesting they should be scrapped entirely due to the pressure they put on kids. In September 2017 it was announced pupils would no longer have to sit these exams from 2023 – but new “baseline” assessments would replace them.
I have a talkative child, and when I say talkative, I mean I usually get a blow-by-blow account of what all her friends ate for lunch, what they talked about in class, and the interesting snail they found on the playground wall.
I’m up to speed on who’s got “a boyfriend” or “a girlfriend”, and the kind of conversations prompted by my daughter usually lead to wider discussions about what love is, LGBTQ+ relationships, and whether or not she’ll grow up to be a professional singer, climber AND an astronaut – all at the same time.
[Read More: How to help your child cope with exam stress]
But SATs? A breeze, apparently. Not even worth a mention. I should’ve guessed, because when I asked her last month how she felt about them, she said: “It’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to them.”
I’ve seen parents on Twitter saying similar, with one mum recounting how her son’s “only worry” about SATs is that he might “get the giggles”.
And other parents have said similar.
Thanks have to go to the teachers, of course. By treating SATs as nothing more than a new and exciting classroom activity, they’re vastly reducing children’s stress levels.
But it also reminds me how grounded and resilient kids can be. And we could probably all take some tips from six- and seven-year-olds, starting with one thing many of them seem to have in spades: self-belief.