Well guys, it’s that time of year again.
The end of term is coming up for school kids in the UK (Dear Lord, help us all!), parents evenings are being attended, end of year reports completed and summer (erm…hang on…WHAT summer?*) holidays eagerly anticipated.
*To our lovely friends across the globe – please come and visit the UK sometime – whilst some of our inhabitants are a bit grumpy atm, as a result of the old Brexit malarkey; it’s a beautiful place (mostly), steeped in fabulous culture and history and stuff – but don’t forget to bring an umbrella…and a sweater…oh, and maybe some wellies too!
Anyway, back to the reason for this post…
This school year’s been an extremely good one for Hannah. I received her annual report this week and IT. IS. GLOWING. *does a fist pump and celebratory jig/moon walk*
I’m so proud. Well, actually, I’m always proud. But it’s lovely to read about her achievements.
I’ve noticed a leap in her development this year – some things you can’t really put your finger on and be specific (if that makes any sense) – others, like pointing at objects, being able to count to 3 on her fingers (enjoying it repeatedly and without any prompts) and just her overall demeanour has really improved…although her sleep pattern has taken a nose-dive and is absolutely dreadful at the moment and her self-harming behaviours have, at times, become incredibly troublesome. *sigh*
This kind of leap mirrored the summer holidays last year. But Hannah wasn’t at school then…and I’d like to take at least some of the credit for that *gives herself a rare, but well deserved, huge pat on the back* because I also work extremely hard to help her achieve new things.
This academic year, Hannah’s been able to focus a little more, apparently said her name…OH. M. G. SHE SAID HER NAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!…but sadly, I wasn’t there to witness it and it’s not happened again *sobs* and the recently implemented PODD board to aid her communication has been a success in the classroom for some basic (but nonetheless, hugely important) things. That’s but just a few examples. And whilst I totally get that this isn’t a big deal for many parents of an average almost 7 year old, in our world, these achievements are ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE. Because, to be concise (that’s rare for me!), if you’re new to our blog, “Hello!” *waves enthusiastically*, Hannah has a rare genetic syndrome that affects most aspects of her life.
Hannah’s returned home from school with SO many Star of the week certificates this year and each and every one of them, I know, she’s worked hard for and they haven’t been awarded to her just for the sake of it.
She’s received certificates for a plethora of things (If you follow us on facebook, you’ll have seen all the certificates I’ve bragged about), including:
- Role playing beautifully with her friends…and signing ‘pig’
- Attempting to vocalise ‘teddies’ in an SLT session
- Learning to use her PODD board recently – for communication
…which have all left me rather misty eyed and, if I’m perfectly honest, a tiny bit envious and melancholic that I wasn’t there to witness those times.
And this week (pictured) she returned home with a Class Explorer Award – heart-warming words and simply lovely!
But whilst, ultimately, Hannah’s done all the hard work, there’s other people that’ve significantly aided and facilitated this journey and their commitment to helping her learn has made a HUGE difference this academic year – and those people are her teacher and teaching assistants.
I can vividly recall the anxiety of having to let go and entrust Hannah’s care to other people when she first started school. Because, let’s face it, she’d be spending more time awake and at school with others, rather than at home with her daddy and I and I needed assurances (still do…I’m needy like that!) that her needs would be met, she’d be encouraged to learn and that she’d be safe. It was time for us both to take that leap and it was important for Hannah to spend time with other children too.
…and that was scary.
In fact, it still is sometimes.
Sure, there’s been some blips along the way…that’s life, isn’t it? Life can’t run smoothly all the time – although sometimes I just wished it wasn’t as bumpy at Broccoli HQ! But this year, whilst development remains slow (but we’re moving along steadily) Hannah’s been more responsive to learning, more able to focus, just more ‘awake’ – if that can make any sense.
So, to have people around that ‘get’ her, her little idiosyncrasies, who notice her mood, encourage her to do things, know her strengths and needs, give her a reassuring cuddle when she needs it and all the other stuff, is just…well…lovely.
Here’s some of the other things that can help Special Parents…and the, erm…slightly neurotic ones, like me:
- Staff who can spell, use grammar correctly and, in general, can communicate effectively and are available (when they can) to communicate with – need I say more?
- Staff who’re creative, focused, flexible in nature and attitude and, despite probably being totally fed up to the back teeth with savings and efficiencies i.e. a fluffier way of saying ‘cuts’ (aren’t we all!) get on with it without it affecting the kids
- Communication books that give a clear picture of the school day/behaviours/achievements/concerns. Not ones that just say “Hannah’s had a good day” – that’s useless/pointless.
- Don’t make assumptions. Don’t guess. Don’t ever think you know everything about a child and more than a parent…because you won’t. Collaborative working, alongside parents, is essential.
- Friendly, welcoming faces. People who introduce themselves. People who you know your child will have fun with.
- People who call you by your NAME – lovely!
- Observant, consistently vigilant staff – staff who have eyes in the back of their heads ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, because, believe me, you need it when looking after Hannah and keeping her safe.
- Staff who, through their actions (yes, we are very observant!) demonstrate their genuineness, how they interact with your child and others, how they liaise with other professionals to get your child the things they need, how they strive – also through a mire of frustratingly, often pointless red tape and inadequate services – to ensure things are in place
- Resources and needs led learning materials.
- Trips out that are appropriate to the curriculum and the kids…not the staff.
- Seeing your child as a child FIRST.
We’re lucky that we’ve had all that and a whole lot more….and I’m so grateful to those staff (I’d better not name names – I’ll probably get into trouble! – but they know who they are) for giving Hannah a happy, fun filled AND (more importantly) productive academic year (and, although I’ve thanked those significant staff in the past too…I’d better not leave them out either, or they’ll tell me off and give me detention or 100 lines!)
Oh, and also thank you to the office/reception staff – who probably never get a mention anywhere, but ought to be just as valued – for your help and smiley faces….and for letting me out of school because I can’t reach the exit button! I know some of you follow our blog…so please pass it on.
In fact, let’s extend this thank you and give a big shout out to TA’s, teachers and pedants everywhere, who’re committed to making a difference. We can often tell it’s not just a job/salary/for the ‘kudos’, for you…it’s a vocation!
Have a good rest…you’ll need all the energy you can muster, if you’re working with Hannah in the future! 🙂
So, that’s almost all for now my lovelies.
For parents of children just starting out on their journey through school – try not to be too anxious. It’s easier said than done, I know. I totally get that. But it may not be as anxiety ridden as you’re anticipating.
And for parents about to commence the summer holidays – I feel your pain! I hope you all make it through in one piece and your bank balance doesn’t take too much of a hit! See you on the other side guys! *gulp*
Oh, and of course, how could I not acknowledge my kid in all of this?…WELL DONE TIGER, YOU’RE JUST AMAZING!!!!!
Right, I really am off now…I’ve got a parents evening to go to!
Until next time
This post is dedicated to the people who’ve helped Hannah this year…you know who you are. x