While other parents come away from parent evening talking about academics and how clever their children are I come away proud that we have hard working children who try their best. I walk away hoping we are doing all we can to teach life skills so our boys have the opportunities to be independant and as successful as they can be. I used to think being clever was important, I used to think that my children would be gently nudged towards college and university. Then my children were born and I saw the reality of being a parent and then the added complexity of having children who don’t and can’t learn at the speed and intensity of the ‘average’ or neurotypical child. I couldn’t care less nowadays about whether they get GCSEs or A levels, all I want is for them to be happy and healthy and we have worked damn hard to be able to say they are all happy and moderately healthy.
We can’t have a generation after generation of robot children, we need the free thinkers and the creative children. We need a sytem that celebrates this not pushes each child to fit into the curriculum box.
So now i sit and listen to my son saying he doesn’t understand what his teacher wants him to do in lessons and i hear his anxiety about getting detentions for not completing work when he didnt understand what was expected of him in the lesson. I wonder if the education system will ever be able to be flexible enough for children like him. I have two children who I am confident will go out into the world and while they may have not achieved academic success i know they will make a life and achieve things and be happy. I have one child who in all probability will go out into the world and find it is a confusing and difficult world to navigate and he will not find it as easy to be happy and social. As a parent you want everything for your child and want them to go into the world and experience all sorts of things, I want this for all of my children but with Robin I know that for him this will be hard.
Robin is anxious a lot of the time, he is 8 years old and he worries more than a lot of adults, he works hard and still feels the weight of knowing he is not doing what the teacher expects of him. I hate more than anything the unfairness of that. The knowledge that he feels already that he isnt good enough, that his inability to fulfill the curriculums expectations and understand what is expected of him in lessons is already having an effect on how he feels about himself. In truth he is a joy, he is funny even more so when its unintentional, he is honest, he is brave , he is inquisitive and he is caring what more could a person need to be. He doesn’t need to be clever or keep up with his peers he needs to be secure and happy and loved but that doesn’t matter to the education system. Having the words ‘low self esteem’ and ‘learning disabled’ attached to you from such a young age doesn’t fill you with confidence that his life will be as easy as some childrens. As much as we need these words to get support and the correct input for our children I have to wonder how much damage these labels can do when used to decide a child is limited and therefore it is acceptable not to try to get their best capabilities from them.Does anyone else other than his family care that by trying to push him to the required level he is having his self esteem damaged, he is already beginning to feel he isnt good enough and I can tell you he is more than good enough.
How do I teach my child that to me it really isn’t important how well he academically achieves and if he doesn’t hit targets as fast as an archaic educational sytem expects him to that it wont change how much I love and admire him. How do I teach him that being kind and brave and working hard at everything is enough. The whole system is set up to test, examine and grade a child on their ability to remember and put into practice things that on the most part they can get by without. Maybe getting by isn’t what most parents want for their children but it is enough and for some it is everything. I want to tell him not to worry about the school work but its still there and he still has to take part in the education system if only for the social skills he gains.
I will teach my children to love, be kind and spread happiness because in all honesty that is so much more important than academics. I hope that against the negativity they may sometimes feel from not achieving as expected that the world will see that being good and kind is enough.
‘It is more important to be kind than clever’