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The danger of expecting ‘the best’

By 04/12/2018No Comments

Often parents are driven to want their daughter to be ‘the best.’ At Prep School level this is only ever short-lived – how often is the tallest girl still the tallest by 14 or the top scorer still the most academically successful later on in their schooling? Rarely is this the case, since development is not linear and there are peaks and troughs along the way.

It is impossible for everyone to be the fastest swimmer, the quickest at mental arithmetic, to have perfect pitch, to be the life and soul of the party or the best listening ear. In fact, we have to be careful sometimes what we wish for. Being ‘the best’ is an incredibly stressful position and can lead to a feeling of isolation and a fear of failing. The fall from dizzy heights of success can be a painful experience and undoubtedly it can be lonely at the top. Our job is to ensure that the girls are ready and armed to cope with such challenges and the inevitable ups and downs they will face.

Girls at Prep School should be in the phase of discovery and still able and encouraged to take risks and build their natural resilience. In doing so they will be encouraged to be the best that they can possibly be and find out for themselves where their own strengths lie. What we don’t want is Annabel to be more like Emily – we want Annabel to be more like Annabel – the best and truest version of herself.

Learning often happens when we are taken out of our comfort zones. Young children do not fear failure, in fact they relish it – how many of your daughters loved to play ‘peek-a-boo,’ or later on ‘tag’ but really aimed to be caught, not to get away? They are playing out success and failure and enjoying that moment when their building brick tower tumbles to the floor.

It is only as children become slightly older that they begin to grapple with the complexities and demands which come with being successful. Our job is to be the gentle palm in the small of their backs to guide and lead, to inspire and support and to catch when the occasional but necessary fall comes about. The key is for us to tap into what motivates, excites and stimulates the girls in order that they can find pleasure and satisfaction in meeting the challenges they face. In doing so, they will develop a lifelong love of learning. Truly creative and original thought requires failure. Every girl has a distinctive set of drivers and talents; if we spend time discovering what they are we have gone a long way in encouraging their failure and ultimate success.

St Catherine’s Prep School, Bramley extends a warm welcome to parents who would like to visit the school.
Open Mornings: Friday 16th November, Friday 1st February 2019 and Tuesday 5th March 2019.
Taster afternoon (Year 1 – Year 6) Thursday 22nd November.
Please contact Sally Manhire, Prep School Registrar, on 01483 899665.