Ella asked me today out of the blue:
Ella - Mum, why are there so many rules at school?
Me - That is a very good question Ella. I was thinking about this only yesterday. I think there are too many silly little rules at school.
Ella - But why?
Me - I think it is because there is only one teacher for every 20 kids. So they invent all these silly little rules to make it easier for them.
Ella - Make it easier for who?
Me - For the teachers. And you are allowed to break some rules sometimes if you need to.
Ella - [Looks puzzled}
Me - You don't always have to follow the rules without thinking about them. For example, I give you permission to break the 'no running in the corridor' rule if you have to go to the toilet urgently*. And if anyone tells you that you are in trouble over that, you can send them to me.
Ella - How do I send them to you? I can't walk home with them?
Me - Very funny. You know what I mean. I will tell them that I gave you permission to run in the corridor because you had a good reason to do so. And not having an accident is more important than following the rules no matter what.
Ella - And not do whole body listening when I have to go to the toilet too!
('Whole body listening' requires the kids to always sit with their legs crossed. So if Ella has to go to the toilet urgently, she cannot sit in a position that allows her to hold on longer while she waits for her raised hand to be noticed by the teacher.)
Me - Exactly! You can sit however you want if you have to go to the toilet. And if anyone says anything, you just say that you had a good reason to do so. I know you are a good girl and in general it is good to follow the rules. But you can break the rules if you have a good reason, but not just for the sake of it.
It felt really, really good to say this! It's only the first year of school and I already feel like rebelling against the overkill of rules and regulations that they submit these kids too. I assume that lots of them are there to allow the teachers to more easily control the group. Which is understandable up to a point, but it's not the bleeding army! And don't even get me started on all the liability-related rules that they/we are subjected to!
I trust that my child can make decisions for herself and I want her to learn to assess which rules are important and which are not by applying her values and principles and common sense. I don't want her to be turned into a robot. Rules are there to be broken. Amen.
* Ella's had issues with not getting to the toilet on time in school all year.