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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Parents' Evenings

We went to parents' evening at the Infants' School together.

First stop was my 4 year old son's class. We had to wait for ages as the Mummy in front of us discussed every aspect of her daughter from birth to the current day. I felt sorry for the teacher who was already overunning having started mid-afternoon. Heard Mummy say that her daughter was not a girly girl and then suddenly panic and backtrack. Tried to distract myself by looking at all the resources and wondered how much fun it might be to volunteer at school and get involved with all that colour and stuff.

Our turn came and we were invited to sit down. Traumatic moments for the overweight Mummy as she realises that perhaps a quarter of her fat bum will take up all the space on the kiddy chair. You know the type - my friend, Hayley, used to call them sticky bum chairs.

Mrs M gave us a really good report on the thug with small legs. Apparently he transforms into Mr Angelic the moment he goes to school. He is doing well with his phonics and numeracy. Importantly, he has settled in well despite major life changes recently. He has made friends. All is well apart from a slight issue with how he holds his pencil. Alarm bells ring for me as my older son has literacy issues and I remember similar conversations in nursery 5 years ago. Maybe I did not take them seriously enough then so he struggles still with writing and spelling. His intellect and reading are very strong though so it puzzles me.

Our daughter's teacher, Mrs C, is next on our list. She seems quite officious at first but then I realise she just has an unfortunate manner and is actually lovely. I may be biased though as her first words are, "Can I just say that your daughter is an absolute delight?!" My daughter is doing very well across all subject areas and is very gifted in the literacy department. She is also a keen and talented artist.
For the first time,I understand what my parents used to find difficult when they went to my parents' evenings. What do you say when the reports are so glowing?

I chicken out of attending the Junior School session and my husband attends alone. I always find discussions about my older son's issues with literacy frustrating. Nothing seems to be progressing to nail the issue once and for all. He tries hard most of the time even with his teenager in training attitude. This has been going on since he was 5 years old when a teacher picked up that his impressive vocabulary and knowledge were not reflected in his written work. He has a special needs assessment and they came up with no firm conclusion except that he may have some type of dyslexia. Since then, I have asked over and over again at different schools what we can do to help him. I get nowhere. I am happy to pay or go externally to find help but I don't know where to start. My husband says the school probably don't take it too seriously as my son is obviously bright and also does not have a condition that would attract funding to the school. I just want to help him.

It is strange him having learning difficulties. I never imagined having a child who would struggle at school. I know that does not paint me in a good light but feel I should be honest. I love him but I wish I could just flick a switch or turn a key so that he could cope with literacy better. I worry how this problem will affect his future life chances. It is like there is some electrical connection in his brain that doesn't work. I don't know what to do.

I wonder how other parents with children with a diverse range of individual needs cope emotionally and practically. I particularly worry for parents who find it hard to have their say. One of the reasons I did not go into school was that on a day when I am tired, I am quite likely to rant and rage which will not help at all. My husband is calmer and more logical. He returns saying the school are aware and will try to look into the possible dyslexia diagnosis.

I remain unconvinced that my son is getting the help he needs.

How was your parents' evening?


  1. Certainly sounds as if it could be dyslexia or dyspraxia from what you've said. Other than the schools saying he might be dyslexic has he actually been tested? Without a family history of dyslexia or dyspraxia it can often be a battle to get things moving with the schools so the kids get the right support.

    If the school don't take it seriously then it's time to go over their heads with the LEA and even your doctor might be able to refer him to the relevant person.

    Hope it gets sorted soon.

  2. I can sympathize with the dyslexia diagnosis; I went through something similar myself, many moons ago - of course, back then those sort of diagnoses just didn't exist (instead I got labelled as lazy in literacy). I was lucky enough to get a sympathetic teacher, when I was about the same age as your eldest.

    I suppose looking back I was actually "tricked" into improving in my problem areas but that's the way good teaching works I guess. A good teacher will find an angle; find something your son is fanatical about and then direct those energies where work's needed. Getting me to read well turned out to be a matter of finding me the right book (The Hobbit, it turned out to be). It sounds like getting your son to write well might be a matter of finding something he *wants* to write. Fingers crossed you can find the right motivation for him!