• Allison Gray

When Does the Glitter Wash Away?

At what age did your child find out about Santa Claus? 10 or 11?

How about the tooth fairy? That one might have been a little younger- maybe 7 or 8, perhaps?

Well here’s a new question about childhood, one that often gets overlooked…

When did your child stop wanting to go to school?

Personally, I have heard as young as 3. Let that sink in.

What. Is. Going. On. ?


Tears and shouts coming from my five-year-old as she wakes up on the first Monday of Winter Break. “Why don’t I get to go to school today?!” she shrieks in the kitchen as I am making coffee in my pajamas, rocking her little brother on my hip.

My kindergartener is dev-a-stated to not be in school. As a new mom of a school-aged child, this makes me think about two things:

1. Her teacher is amazing (... this is very true)

2. Being home is boring (...this is also very true, and I am okay with this).

Now, I have been teaching for six years. In that time span, I have taught second grade, fourth grade, and sixth grade. I KNOW my sixth graders were not crying about not being able to come to school on the first Monday of Winter Break. I suspect that some would rather be at school at some point, but I know that its most likely the little ones that miss school the most.

Where did the magic of learning go? When did the glitter and anticipation wash away?

Upon returning to break I told my sixth graders of my daughter’s devastation and they responded with laughs and some, even, disbelief. I asked them how old they were when they stopped being excited about school.

Their conversation turned my teacher-mom heart inside out.

Most of my students told me that second grade was when they did not want to come to school anymore. Being a teacher, I assumed it was because school started to get to hard, or there was homework all of a sudden! They clearly articulated that it was not because of the school work, but because of other kids. Kids started being mean to each other around second grade. Those babies are 7 and 8. My mommy-heart hurts for my little one. I don’t want her to ever feel like this. My teacher-heart hurts because we work so hard to create a good place for kids to be. A safe place.

What is going on? The magic of school stands no chance with a shadow of fear standing in its way.

I heard from some mommies that their babies were as young as three when they began resisting going to school. Three. Learning new rules and being in a new environment is so much for some of our little ones. School starts off as a scary monster, not a magical dream for some. Each year this anxiety grows and snowballs into a mountain of resistance that many children dread.

Can we all agree that...

We want our children to love learning?

We want our children to believe that people are good?

We want the world to be kind to our children and vice versa?

Why does the magic stop so early? What is going on?

Are we treating these little humans like adults too soon? Or is it the opposite? Are we forcing them into a mold that we experienced in school but our new generation has LONG outgrown?

Just as I see my daughter’s eyes light up when she sees the presents under the Christmas tree, I see her light up when we pull into school. I dread, and will mourn the day that stops. But I know its coming, and coming soon.

Now we aren’t talking about make-believe anymore.

We are talking about our society’s future.

This is not how things should be. It’s time to change the narrative.

<3 Allison (Empowered Teacher-Mom)

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