First day of school.
Daunting, emotional, painful, heart-wrenching, guilt-inducing, exciting, really bloody difficult.
No matter how much people love to mock it, the day your little one first ventures into Big School is hard on children and parents alike. I remember how I felt when I went through it last year and this week thousands of people across the country have had to go through the same pain of letting go of their hand.
The pain, guilt, and trepidation that parents across the country have felt this week are why the latest Clarks campaign has me raging.
Like many parents, my Tiny Idiot was only four when she started full time education last year. She looked even smaller than she normally does in her brand new school uniform. She could write her name (ish) but not much else. She couldn’t read. She couldn’t add. She definitely felt a bit too small for school.
But what allowed me to cope with the idea of sending my baby to school was understanding that while I didn’t feel it, she was ready. She was ready to grow and learn and take this next step in her life. She was ready for adventure. Adverts like this don’t encourage this kind of thinking. They simply add more guilt to already guilt ridden parents.
From the first time I saw the adverts they made me feel uncomfortable. They brought all the feelings from this time last year rushing back. They made me question her being at school even now.
While I am sure Clarks weren’t trying to make parents feel like this, they definitely went the wrong way about this campaign. Why not ‘mummy thinks I’m a bit too small for school but…’? Why not give reasons that the tiny people in our lives are more than ready for this big step? Why not encourage a positive association with school?
Also, why not use children who look more school age? In uniform. Another aspect of the advert that makes me very uncomfortable is how both children look ready for pre-school, not school. Which is a necessity for many, many working parents. A group that doesn’t need more shaming than they already receive.
If you want to see an example of brilliant back to school advertising, check out this George from Asda advert. They nailed it. Excitement, adventure, actually wanting too be in school. Things we should be showing. For children and parents; children starting school don’t need advertising to make them more nervous than they already are, and parents don’t need it making them feel more guilt than they already are.
I know where I’d rather buy school shoes. (And they’re cheaper)