Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So Proud!

For all the time he's been at school, Son's SATs have been dissappointing. Gradually he has achieved decent (as in marginally above average) results for the sciences and IT, but the approach at school has been that he is an average child with a few dyslexic and attention difficulties.

Last year his wonderful teaching assistant of the time (Zoe Noble) begged approval to allow him to do some work by dictation, just as an experiment. His English work exploded from the usual four illegible sentences written over an hour, to six pages of intricate story, and the school started to wonder what they'd really got there.

The other week the whole class did a week of mock SATs ready for the real ones that they are sitting now - the year six exams that label them and decide the stream they enter at seniors school.

The deal was that Son could not be helped in English papers, where the grasp of spelling and grammar were being tested, that he could have an extra 25 minutes more than the rest of the class for papers like maths because of his need to take a question in slowly and his difficulties with pen control, but where 'knowledge' was being tested, as in science, geography etc, he would be given an amenuensis, ie be allowed to dictate his answers to a teaching assistant who would write them down for him.

First he did a science paper this way, and scored 98%! Top of the class, he failed on only one question. Asked why saucepans were metal, he reasoned this would be to make them heavy, therefore safer as containers for hot food, instead of answering that metal was a good conductor of heat.

I am so proud of that failure - simply because he is answering from the perspective of reason. He is giving answers because they make sense to him, not by remembering facts as a list. He is not and never will be a learner by rote, but if something makes sense, it gets filed away as 'obvious'. I am happy.

Later in the week there was a very long maths test paper. He came home grinning from ear to ear the following day. Apparently the children were all sat in pairs to do the test; all except Son who was odd man out and had a desk to himself. By his way of telling it, the teacher had said it was the noisiest, most unruly day of the week, and that Son alone had remained in his chair, remained silent and continued to work on his test paper in spite of all the distractions. For the first time ever, without even noticing, he became the 'shining example'.

His reward was to be Star Of The Day the following day, with his name on the board and special privileges like getting to sit on a chair with a cushion whenever the rest of the class had to sit on the floor. By my maths there are around 195 chances in every school year for a child to be Star Of The Day. With an average thirty pupils per class, most, like his little sister, have been given the award three or four times in a year, but this was the first time, ever, throughout his schooling, that Son got the award.

All the bluff about not caring fell away and he was beaming.

I wondered about his version of events and was meaning to approach the teacher for her perspective, but before I could he also won the Merit Award. There is only one given out per class per month, and he got it. For excellent behaviour doing tests, by definition noteworthy beyond any effort made by any other child in that class for weeks.

  • Genius science results,
  • Absorbed and excellent behavior in the maths test (probably down to the enthusiasm for tests that the science result gave him - suddenly, for the first time, there was a very satisfying point to them),
  • Star of The Day,
  • The Merit Award,

.....all these are wonderful reasons to be a proud mother, but they are eclipsed by the conclusions he has drawn from this experience.

Son has decided that:

  • Biting his lip and staying still is the way to go - the rewards of being 'good' outweigh the inconveniences. There have been times when he's had a 'what's the point' attitude and a feeling that he can never win, especially with the total lack of Star and Merit awards, which come with public acknowledgement.
  • That he loves being absorbed in his work and has now experienced finding it very easy (although the school still parks a TA beside him to keep him on track).
  • That he can get even deeper into thinking about his work if the rest of the class is more silent and well behaved than usual - he prefers the hushed atmosphere of a test.
  • That this means he will shine in Senior school where the teachers are more strict and the other kids will be quieter in class and involved in their work.

Okay maybe that last one may be based on a shaky, possibly utopian premise, but it doesn't matter. Deep decisions like this take time to come to him, but once they are set they take just as long, perhaps longer, to be removed or altered. He has made his mind up that the purpose of Senior school lessons is to ignore the others and soak up the learning. He has made his mind up that this is exactly what he wants to do and he is looking forward.

Hallelujah - theres no other word.

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Blogger She Weevil said...

I second that emotion a great big well done and a hug for son ... and for mum for knowing it all all along. (That last bit sounded like I was being fascetious, I'm not, I mean it in a good way :))

May 10, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Thank you!

May 10, 2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger Stegbeetle said...

Superb! Isn't it great when our kids make us even prouder of them than we already were!

May 11, 2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger fineartist said...

God love him, rock on with his self controlled self, shuga, shuga, shuga, that boy's on a roll.

I'm so proud of him and his teacher for noticing his excellent behavior. It is always more effective to catch them doing what they are supposed to be doing and raving praises at them then, rather than always pointing out the negatives.

I am so pleased, such good news, life is good.

xxx, Lori

May 12, 2006 12:06 AM  
Blogger Astryngia said...

Just found you here, Cheryl! Wot fantastic news!! (Yeah the bit about being quieter and sitting down more in secondary school woz a bit hopeful! It's even more 'hands-on') Ooops - must be careful with all those exclamation marks!!!!! ;-)

But seriously, I can just imagine the powerful maternal heart bursting with joy. Congratulations - all that tenacious had work just paid off.

May 15, 2006 10:14 PM  
Blogger Astryngia said...

That typo was 'hard' work by the way!!

...and also the joy at the knowledge that he has the widsom to learn ALL the right things and to see it all happen like a trail of dominoes, each connecting into the next - bap, bap, bap, bap, bap. Real, true, fundamental solid learning that will last a lifetime. :-)

May 15, 2006 10:17 PM  
Blogger TLC said...

Oh Cheryl! I am jumping with joy for you! I know how that feels. I keep hoping my son will eventually get with the program and do what he needs to do in Sunday School instead of just trying to ignore it, but so far, it isn't happening.

Yay to your guy for being self-controlled! Hard for many grownups to learn!

(what grade is Sr. School?)

June 15, 2006 4:57 PM  
Blogger tea and cake said...

Hi, it's the first time I've read your blog, and it brought tears to my eyes! How wonderful! Your son sounds like a lovely person - and a brainy genius to boot!

July 06, 2008 12:22 PM  

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