Monday, 27 June 2011

Squeezing a round peg into a square hole....

.... That's what school is for my lovely Max. Existing in his own alternative universe, Max does not quite fit into the box that school tries to squeeze him into. He is funny, intelligent, curious, creative, inventive, logical (although his logic is often different to mine) and passionate.

School has always been something to tolerate and he has never quite fitted in to the system. Of course there have been aspects he has enjoyed, and like any child, aspects that he does just because 'that's what you do in school'. Now though, at 7 years old, he is discovering what the consequences are of not managing to fit the mold.

Last week his teacher called me over and explained to me that she is worried about him. Having had a really good term last term, in which she raved about him at parents evening, he is now not listening well and following her instructions. He wants to play with his friends and is messing about with the other boys instead of working hard. She asked me to 'have a word' with him. Now, I don't claim to be an expert, but don't most boys want to play with their friends instead of working? In fact, if I was a 7 year old boy, I would probably do the same thing!

I tried to 'have a word' with him. He was totally oblivious to his teacher's frustrations, thought he was working hard and explained that he finds it hard to listen when he's doing lots of thinking. His actual words were "If you tell me to stop thinking, then I can hear you."

The 'word' did not work and he continued to get into more trouble towards the end of the week. On Friday the teacher told me that if it didn't improve, he would have to spend some time with the headteacher this week. I felt that this was rather extreme and when I asked him about his behaviour he told me that he receives the blame and punishment for other people's misdemeanours. He said he had been trying really hard. Then, just to break my heart even more, he burst into tears and cried "I'm not a boy who does bad things Mummy, I'm not. They all think I am, but I'm not."

I am not under any illusions that I have a perfect child. I am fully aware of his tendencies towards bad behaviour. However, I am also aware of his sensitive nature and the fact that it does not take much for him to lose confidence in himself. All his hard work over this year (and he has worked incredibly hard and done amazingly well) now feels worthless if he thinks his teachers regard him as a 'bad boy'. Why would he say that unless he is given that impression from them?

It is always difficult when you have not been in the situation and seen what has really taken place. However, even if his behaviour has not been ideal (and I suspect that sometimes might be the case), his teacher's job is to motivate him and spur him on to better things not shrug her shoulders at me as though she is giving up on him. She is there to instill confidence, not take it away from him.

After school tonight we will see her and attempt to chat things through with her. I have told Max that he needs to apologise to her for his behaviour, but also to explain to her the things that he has told me. I am dreading it. And it makes me wonder if we will be doing this the whole of Max's school life. Why can't schools accept the child as they are, and teach them in the way that they learn best? Why is it that my child is the one who suffers because of a teacher who is having a stressful day?

I will fight for my boys. I will fight, not because I want to, but because I have to.


I am so so proud of my little boy who has just shown me a new level of maturity and courage today. He said sorry to her for his part in the 'messings about'. He explained how he was feeling. He spoke well and, although he got upset, he managed to get his point across. His teacher then understood that mostly he is 'nearby' the boys instead of the instigator of trouble and together we came up with a plan to help him remember to stay away from them.

An important life lesson learnt today for Max... maybe this is all worthwhile because it builds and strengthens his character.


Anonymous said...

That's truly amazing, my son has had the same battles and often feels 'sick' in the mornings as he doesn't want to go to school - they often have something to say but, when I bring up how he is feeling - it's almost like they can't be asked as if he brings it upon himself. They often want me to resolve his talkative & curious ways but when he is upset they don't want to hear. Glad to know I am not alone x

Amy said...

Have you ever thought of Home Ed.... I do it with my 4 girls. And love it. It is lots of hard work but great that my children can be children. They learn better when they can do a bit, run around a bit etc.
... just a thought to add to the pot.

slave2boys said...

I often think of Home Ed.... but I don't think I have the patience that is required!