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Overprotective parenting and private school admissions

Private school admissions officers pay close attention to how you interact with your child

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Don’t run! Don’t touch that! Put on a sweater! Be careful! Have you overheard other parents constantly cautioning their children? Or perhaps you have caught yourself saying these phrases over and over again to your children? As parents we naturally want to protect our children from any harm. But do we ever stop to think that we might be protecting them from too much, worrying constantly about them, and not allowing them to explore, to fall, and to make mistakes? Are you an over protective parent? Could being overprotective do more damage than good for your child?

Because private schools teach and value independence, their perceptions of your babying your child will hurt his or her chances.

Children learn best through discovery, trial and error, and, of course, by watching others. In fact—and you no doubt have heard this beforefailure is one of life’s greatest teachers. As has been famously stated, it is not about falling down and scraping our knees, but rather the fact that we pick ourselves back up and continue on. Oprah Winfrey said it best during her commencement speech to Harvard’s Class of 2013: “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction…Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, is there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.”

It does seem though that in this increasingly-competitive and busier world, many parents have become overly protective of their children. Some children and young people aren’t allowed to fail and are at the mercy of helicopter parents. In some cases, overparenting has gone to such extremes that there are now stories of parents following their children into job interviews!

Private schools, by their very nature, aspire to build students who are self-reliant, independent, confident, and responsible.

While your child’s first job may be many years off, perhaps you’re thinking of enrolling him or her in a private school. How do private schools view overprotective and overly-involved parents or those who do everything for their children?

First off, think about the missions and core values of private schools. Private schools, by their very nature, aspire to build students who are self-reliant, independent, confident, and responsible. In the words of the director of admissions at one of Canada’s most competitive private schoolsspeaking about admissions to Grade 1the school isn’t looking for babies. Admissions officers and the school’s teachers are careful to observe a child and his parents. What impression does it leave on the school if a parent is seen helping take off the child’s jacket or holding his bag for him? What message are you sending when you are seen catering to and doing everything for your child?

Because private schools teach and value independence, their perceptions (or perhaps misperceptions) of your babying your child will hurt his or her chances, especially when it comes to the most competitive schools. Thus, it is important to give your child the space and freedom to allow him or her to make mistakes, to experience consequences, and to learn about the world.

If you shelter and overprotect your child it could result in the following:

So, how do you stop overprotecting your child?

Yes, it can certainly be a daunting—and even scaryworld out there. It’s never pleasant to watch our children experience pain or discomfort. However, these are a part of life and as a parent your responsibility is to prepare your child for the realities of this world, which include both the successes and failures in life.


About the Authors

Jennifer Chaloner is the Head of Early Childhood Education at KEY. Holding an Honours ECE Diploma from Vancouver Career College, Jenn has more than seven years of ECE experience, most recently having served as the director of an award-winning daycare program in the BC Lower Mainland. Bryan Ide, KEY’s Education Director, graduated from St. George’s School, in Vancouver, BC, and holds a BA from Cornell University and an MA from Columbia University. He has spent most of his professional life in education having worked in institutional advancement at both St. George’s School and the University of British Columbia. Also, he is the past chair of Cornell University’s alumni admissions committee for British Columbia.

About KEY | Admissions Strategy & Learning Enrichment

At KEY, we say that the first 15 years of a child’s life determine the next 50 years. We take a long-term, strategic approach centered on the individual student’s best interests. We are Western educated and raised with global backgrounds and viewpoints. From our KEY Early Years early childhood education through to our KEY university admissions guidance, all our programs and services are designed to give each of our students the best opportunity to thrive within their current education environment and beyond. We help lay essential and formative foundations for our students to help them create their own legacies and find success. We endeavor to teach our students to be deep learners, not superficial ones.

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