Encouragement for children under pressure
If you didn’t know already, it’s SATs time. The SATs are a test for all children at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 (7 and 11 year olds) in English state Primary Schools. Normally the 7 year olds are only just aware of their existence, while the 11 year olds are really clear they are happening. Teachers are under pressure, children are worried while parents are unclear if the tests matter. Standards seem ridiculously high to many. I certainly didn’t know what a subordinating conjunction was age 11! So what should our response be? Hire more tutors, join in the whirlwind of anxiety, complain to anyone in responsibility or write to our MP?
As Christian parents, teachers and those involved in children’s and youth work, we may have a variety of roles we need to play. However, our wonderful privilege is to speak words of great truth and hope that should bring peace in a storm and direct our eyes to a safe harbour.
Listening to my own children and those in my Sunday School class, they speak openly of their concerns for the future,
“If I don’t do well in my SAT’s, I will get in bad groups at secondary school, get bad results, get a rubbish job and be very unhappy”
“My teacher says she’ll get fired if I do badly. I don’t want to be stupid.”
These are the messages they are picking up from the world they are in. These children need to be told a better message. Our children need to hear that they are precious to God, wonderfully and eternally loved by Him, so much so that He died to save them. He will never abandon them. They will never be a lost cause. He will wonderfully work out His good purposes in their life to bring Jesus glory.
With my own year 6 class we have been looking at the resurrection, ascension of Jesus and Pentecost. This has proved wonderfully helpful at realigning our thinking. As people who live this side of his resurrection and Pentecost, we know that, as Christians, we have God with us, His Spirit bringing new life. We are changed. He is at work in us to powerfully point others to Jesus. This is our biggest job. Next to the job of showing others Jesus, these SATs can be seen as a distraction. God is with us to help us work in a way that honours him and points people to Jesus in all things, in all you do, in every test you take. His Spirit doesn’t walk away during a SATs test until we do something like go to Church or have an RE lesson. So when we find maths hard, we ask for His help, we do our best and stick on in there.
God is in charge, he is with you as you sit the SATs, he will decide your score and it will be the perfect score for you to trust Jesus more and to point others to Jesus. You don’t despair because you trust Him for the future.
37 But in all these things we have full victory through God who showed his love for us. 38-39 Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us. Not death, not life, not angels, not ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, or anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-39 (International Children’s Bible)
There will be worry and effort made in SATs. My children and I can pray for His help to do the best they can, but we will not behave as though numbers and words on a piece of paper can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. These tests do not determine our children’s eternal destiny.
May we bring Glory to God with every struggle we face with His help – be that in our parenting or in our SATs!
Amy Smith, children’s worker Grace Church Halewood.