Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Heartache of the Classroom

Last night I hurried about, desperately trying to find all the book bags homework logs and water bottles, setting out three newly brought sets of clothes and shoes and setting my alarm clock for an early rise like many other mothers up and down the country.

But unlike some I don't look forward to returning the children to school, I don't breath a sigh of relief when I hand them over to their teachers, returning home to a house to myself, in fact I would almost say I hate it.

Not only do I miss the hustle and bustle of having to work round constant shouts of 'Mummmmm'and requests for food and entertainment, but I guess I have never really been one to embrace the school life culture, I don't really know if my three learn more in the classroom or at home, and I am not really sure as a parent how I should be working along side teachers who I don't know, don't know the children all that well and have completely different methods and attitudes towards learning than me.

When school starts it seems so does extra heartache, extra worry.

I look at my eldest whos just started into year 6, his last year at Primary school and remember the day he started infants, I remember that proud feeling as I watched him take up his seat in a strange room for the first time and I thought I had done a great job teaching him his numbers and to write his name, recognise alot of letters in the alphabet and shapes he saw around him, I didn't really know any other 4 year olds or have any other experience of children and schools and it was a shock to me when a few months later at the parents evening there seemed to be a huge list of things he didn't know, I set about taking up the evenings when he returned home frantically trying to teach him the key words, he initially joined in with gusto, pleased to have his homework but then as the months went on and things got harder, he wasn't learning to read quickly, he struggled to remember the keywords writing was obviously difficult and he seemed to be unable to grasp even easy concepts of the English language, and I continued to badger him into 'doing better'. School nights were horrible, upset and frustrations, books became a hatred object and bedtimes stories no longer a pleasure.

Years passed and I realised it wasn't working, the school were sure Jake was dyslexic but as he was making progress he wasn't considered 'bad enough' for any extra help.  But I knew the only reason for his progress all be it slow was due to his determination to try, but all the input all the tension and upset was having a serious knock on effect to his self esteem, he saw his younger sister start school and learn to read with ease and be able to sit for hours writing stories,  saw his classmates handwriting begin to neaten up whilst his still scribbled along the page.

Back at home books got left untouched and pens were never asked for,  demands and evenings filled with tension were the only time that 'learning' took place. I didn't know what to do, so decided to do what I thought was best... nothing.

I decided to stop the reading of the books forced into his book bag, stop the repetitive barking out spellings, it wasn't working anyway his spelling results were always very low the books he struggled through just meant another book appeared in its place, yet simple key words still seemingly impossible for him to depict. Whats the point in being seen to be on a certain reading level when in reality you have merly struggled through the books and certainly don't fluently or easily read them, and when something is such a chore it is never going to be enjoyable is it?

I no longer wanted his life to be filled with a sense of 'I'm not good enough' I wanted him to have some time to forget, to play to have fun to be happy.

And with that we no longer looked in book bags, we ran home from school (or biked) and threw off the uniform to rush outside to climb a tree.

I don't know if that's right, I don't force the issue to 'do better' but I constantly wonder if I should be.

We moved schools and the new school have been very supportive offering lots of extra help for Jakes Dyslexia - although still no formal diagnosis his teacher told me he is the most obviously Dyslexic child hes ever seen, Jakes happier and is making slow progress with reading and writing his school report was full of praise stating ''To try hard when your doing well is one thing,but to try as hard as Jake has when the subject is so difficult for you is a real tribute to Jakes tenacity and determination.'' and ''he is a likable, well mannered and polite boy who is an absolute credit to his family. Well done Jake - you can hold your head high and be proud of your efforts this year.''
Yet even still I question if I am helping him enough, if sitting him down each night for half an hour extra work would make even greater progress? should I be putting in more effort to helping him grasp the concepts he struggles with, or is doing nothing really the best thing to do?

Now I have my youngest starting Year 1 should I do it differently this time? so far I have been as slack with regards to his formal learning as I am with Jakes, not wishing for the same dent in self confidence to occur. Yet the same questions and feeling that I should be doing more are still there.

So yes school is back, the house is quiet and I may actually get on top of the work I have to do, but I know that with the return of schools there is extra heartache and worry and if I could spend the days wistfully uncaring about school stats and scores and education then I think I would.


  1. I'm so with you on this subject.I 'hate' for want of a better word,sending the boys back to school.I always have done.And with my youngest who struggles with everything I often wonder if I should try to help him with extra work or wether 6 hours in a classroom is enough struggle in a day and to let him 'just be'
    To say I work in education I'm not the biggest fan of school!

    1. they should have warned us before we opted in to this parenting business that things like schools can cause so much worry shouldn't they, I do believe a 6 hour stint of behaving and listening and trying is more than enough so to add extra when they come home causing everyone stress and upset isn'tgreat is it x

  2. I think you're doing the best thing for him and from the sounds of his recent school report you're doing a brilliant job. Yes it is our role as parents to teach our children but it is also our duty to help shape the person that they are. Forcing a child to read will only enforce their dislike of books not encourage them to learn. By treating him the same way you would if he were to get an A in spelling, you're showing him that you're still proud of him!
    I don't have a LO in school yet, I'm dreading it! X

    1. Thanks for commenting and good luck once your little one starts school... if its not the worry about them hitting targets its them causing trouble with friends!!

  3. Lovely post thank you - I think you're doing the best. I'm in a totally different situation, but my son has high functioning autism and is in a regular school, consequently, he is behind in certain areas, especially writing and reading. He has books sent home every night but it got to the stage where we were having a battle every single day, he was starting to dislike reading at all and yet he once loved books. So, I took the pressure off. I haven't been forcing him to read and spell at home, I will start to encourage it again when he doesn't feel the pressure, but for now I know he is progressing at school, from as much as I'm told and I'm just going with it. x


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