It’s truer than true when I say that this week, I’ve been given a hundred and one reasons to be proud of my children and the progress they’ve made so far this year. Thursday was parents evening, a day I look forward to rather eagerly. I kind of feel as though we’ve whirl winded our way through the cold and dreary months and finally arrived in spring with a bit of a bump and one huge sigh of relief. Months of home learning, reading and spelling tests juggled with my own responsibilities both at home and at work has taken its toll and quite frankly we’re all exhausted.
Having taken this week off work, I felt like I could slow life down a little, spend more time at home, go and pick Riley and Sonny up from school and even try to squeeze a little ‘me’ time in there too. So parents evening came like a breath of fresh air, a perfect ending to the school term and on no better note to start the Easter holidays.
I sat down to look with their school folders and nosied my way through all of their work this term. Riley’s writing always makes me laugh. Last year he wrote a piece on how he had a monster in our house which had us all in fits of giggles. This year when learning about Astronauts, he wrote ‘If your missing your home, just get over it, space will make you happy.’ He has such a way with words. Feedback from Riley’s teacher was brilliant. His Reading and Writing is soaring, with him moving up another reading level today. His maths however is just exceptional! He has even been moved to the top class for maths, something he certainly didn’t inherit from me. He is generally more settled as the year has progressed, despite having it pretty hard being the eldest of three boys.
Sonny’s learning journal always makes me smile, he just looks so incredibly happy. In most of the photographs, he is seen grinning from ear to ear while clutching his toys from home, often his dinosaurs. When you have a child with Autism, you come to understand that progress is progress, no matter how small. Sonny is achieving in the band below his peers but that doesn’t upset me in the slightest. We spoke about how when he started Reception 7 months ago, he was a scared and angry little boy who didn’t understand his surroundings and was not coping with what everyday schooling brought. He carried tension in his body and was shutting down frequently throughout the day. While he was overwhelmed in this way, he was simply not able to access learning of any kind. The environment wasn’t right for him and it was an uncertain transition trying to work out what Sonny needed to feel safe and secure in his surroundings. His teachers smiled warmly in our direction and I could feel they were equally as moved as we were when comparing that same little boy then to where he is now.
This time last year, Sonny was nearing the end of Nursery and was struggling the entire way through. He couldn’t come to terms with what was expected of him and couldn’t regulate his emotions. I was at a loose end because I didn’t feel anybody understood him the way I did which wasn’t helped by his lack of speech. I did not think Sonny was in anyway capable of coping in a mainstream school. Things all changed when he went into Reception and we had the support of the SENCO team. They put so many provisions into place despite not having an official diagnosis, including a personalised time table, free access to ‘the den,’ to snack and drinks during the day (including waffle Monday.) Sonnys daily speech and language has taken him from barely stringing words together to speaking fluent sentences. Not only this but his lovely 1:1 supports and enables him to access the curriculum in his own learning style, now that he is calm and settled.
All of us sat around that table sighed and smiled, thanking and acknowledging each others hard work. His teacher said…
‘This has been a real team effort…’
…and she’s completely right. It takes a village to raise a child and not in the way that comes to mind when you think about other cultures and in times gone by. A parent alone can not do it all, it’s tiring, it’s exhausting and we need the expertise of others to help guide and teach our children. We have Grandmothers, Mothers and Aunts. Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles and even older siblings that share some of the parenting, each with their own important role. Beyond our circle of friends and our family unit, we have doctors, other healthcare professionals and we have teachers. Teachers do an amazing job and they really do care for and invest a lot in our children.
Today I am feeling proud.
You could even say I’m feeling hashtag blessed.
I am grateful for the village that raises my children with me.
I couldn’t do it all without them.