Summer Writing Challenge

 

Only 2 days of school left before the summer holidays and I’ve been doing more planning for the Summer Writing Challenge, to try and get both my kids to do a little writing everyday, structured in an ASC friendly way (with a little help from my I hate to write book), to hopefully help start to break down the blockage that my son seems to have between his brain and his hand.

I have told the kids a little about the challenge (it’s not my natural style to forewarn, but I’m getting used to not springing surprises on people) and after some rather fraught negotiations they now have a notebook each with their name on, waiting in a box with a couple of prizes that I put together (nothing like a bit of bribery to get people motivated). I don’t want to over organise things, as I need to be flexible and see what works and build upon that, after all, I thought that a written version of the word association game was the easiest thing possible and I was proved wrong. However, we are going away on the second day of the holidays, so I also want to be prepared, and with that in mind I have challenges for each day of the holidays (plus a few spare for when we get back). I thought I’d share them here, as if it helps one person with a similar problem, it’s worth it. (And I’ve already typed them up as I intend to print out two copies of each).

Day 1: First day of the holidays, when we’ll be spending a lot of time getting ready to go.

Today’s Challenge:     Write a packing list for our holiday.

Before you start:

  • Check your desk and chair are clear and free of distractions.
  • Glue this sheet onto the first left hand page in your book

Firstly:        Write a title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then:

  • Write a list of the things that you need to take on holiday.
  • Don’t include family things like tents and cooking things.
  • Do group things together by theme, for example mum’s list might include (as she has family things are on her list)
    • Cooking things: 2 saucepans, chopping board, knife
    • Food: Breakfast cereal, 3 tins of baked beans, teabags, hot chocolate
  • If you realise later you’ve left something out, it’s ok to go back and squeeze it in, or  you might want to have a “things I nearly forgot” theme at the end

When you’ve finished:    We will go to the shop and buy and icecream to eat, before reading through the lists and starting packing.

Day 2: A travel day, we’ll be setting off in our van for the first destination.

Today’s Challenge:     Describe [our camper van] to someone who’s never seen her.

Before you start:

  • Check your writing space is ready
  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Do 5 star jumps.

Firstly:        Write a title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then:

  • Describe 5 things about [our camper van].
  • Write one or two sentences about each thing you choose.
  • Don’t forget to to start by saying what kind of thing [our camper van] is!

When you’ve finished:        You can watch an episode of Dangermouse on iplayer.

Day 3: We’ll be at a folk festival and see lots of performances, morris dancing, clog, rapper and who knows what else. This days challenge is inspired by a comment from a friend about trying immersive writing “in the field” as she reckoned it would stop him worrying about being perfect as he’d be too busy.

Today’s Challenge:     Take notes on performances

Before you start:

  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Pack your book and something to write with into your bag

Then when we stop to watch some dancing:

  • Write notes about what you’re seeing
  • Describe the shapes, sounds, colours, movement, how it makes you feel
  • As you’re taking notes you don’t have to write sentences, you can just write a short phrase or even a couple of words for each thing
  • See if you can fill the right hand page

Later:        We will read our notes to each other and see how they compare.

Day 4: The second day at the festival.

Today’s Challenge:     Describe a folk festival to someone who’s never been to one

Before you start:

  • Find somewhere comfortable to write.
  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Stretch your hands as far open as they’ll go then squeeze them shut 5 times.

Firstly:        Write a title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then:

  • Describe 5 things about a folk festival.
  • Write one or two sentences about each thing you choose.

When you’ve finished:       [I’m leaving this blank to fill in nearer the time!]

Day 5: Travelling from the festival to our second destination, camping with friends.

Today’s Challenge:     Describe a mini beast

Before you start:

  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Find a minibeast on the campsite and observe what it looks like, how it moves, what it’s doing, where it is

Firstly:        Write a title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then write one or two sentences about each of the following things:

  • What mini beast you saw
  • Where you found it
  • What it looks like
  • What it was doing
  • How it moves

When you’ve finished:

Days 6-9 in a flexible order, one requires me to buy postcards first.

Today’s Challenge:  Write a journal (diary) entry about today

Before you start:

  • Find a good place to write
  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Take 5 deep slow breaths in and out

Firstly:        Write today’s date.

Then write at least 5 sentences about your day. Include

  • Where you went
  • Who you were with
  • What you did
  • Something you saw
  • How you felt

When you’ve finished:

 
Today’s Challenge:     Describe the picture on a postcard

Before you start:

  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Choose a postcard
  • Do 5 hand stretch and squeezes followed by 5 deep breaths

Firstly:        Write a title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then describe the scene on the postcard. Start with saying where the picture is. Then write at least 4 sentances, each one should describe a different thing in the picture.

When you’ve finished:
Today’s Challenge:     Write a short story

Before you start:

  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Find a good place to write
  • Do 5 star jumps and 5 hand stretches

Firstly:        Leave a space for your title.

Then write a short paragraph (2 or 3 sentances is fine) with a story opening introducing the characters.

Then a second short paragraph introducing a problem.

Finally a short paragraph describing the resolution.

When the story is finished, then choose a title and write it in the space you’ve left.

When you’ve finished:

Today’s Challenge:     Write a silly song about camping

Before you start:

  • Glue this sheet onto the next free left hand page in your book
  • Find a good place to write
  • Do 5 star jumps and 5 deep slow breaths

Firstly:    Write your title on the right hand page and underline it.

Then write your song underneath. It needs to have a chorus (that gets repeated) and at least two verses, each having 4 lines.

When you’ve finished:

Day 10, another travel day. We’ll just have spent several days camping with other Quakers, so…

Today’s Challenge: Describe what happens in Meeting For Worship to someone who’s never been.

For each of these words, write a sentence about Meeting for Worship:

  • Where
  • Who
  • How
  • Why
  • What

When you’ve finished:

Day 11, travelling the rest of the way back home after our stopover.

Today’s Challenge: Write a 6 word story

A famous example is “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”

When you’ve finished:

 

So, there we go, there’s my prep. Now it only remains to put it into action in a nice low key way that doesn’t cause tantrums.

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With and Without You

Yesterday my latest copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders arrived in the post, just in time to give to his new teacher at the end of Transition Day. I wanted to write a note to go with it in anticipation of not getting chance to talk to the teachers (good plan, I didn’t get chance, and as he currently teaches at another school I wont see him now until September). So I re read the book, just to make sure it could be read in an hour as  I wanted to say (it took me about 40 minutes, but I’m a fast reader). I feel a bit cheeky, asking him to read something, I have some idea how much work outside the classroom teachers do (a lot), how little of the school holidays they actually have as ti me off, plus he’s been teaching 7 years already I didn’t want to insult him. So, I hope my note adequately acknowledged these things and persuasively explained why it was important he read this book.

Then there was my re reading the book. Which on the one hand, made me doubt he is on the spectrum (as it’s clear there are are people on the spectrum with more problems with him). On the other hand, it made me ashamed, as it talked about anxiety and how people can’t learn when their stressed. You see I spent a lot of time shouting at him the previous evening as he was driving me around the twist (the irony of only feeling able to express my frustration with ASC in metaphors is not lost on me). I went to bed the night before, early, with a headache, in tears. And indeed I’d got cross with him that very morning too. So re reading the book reminded me how rubbish/wrong/coutnerproductive/cruel my behaviour had been.

The probable reason his behaviour had been trying the night before is that yesterday was both Transition Day, when he spent the day with the teacher he will have in September, in the new classroom, and also the day they went the whole year went on an overnight school trip to a marine aquarium to “sleep with the sharks”. Stellar timing school (not).

So, yesterday evening, after the hectic rush of getting him and a classmate (who lives far away) and classmates mother and brother back to ours, the boys changed, fed an evening meal and back to school in an hour and twenty minutes, we then had an evening, a night, a morning of just one child.

I knew it would be different, but how much quieter, easier, calmer it is just blew me away. Even once she was asleep and he would’ve been asleep had he been here, the atmosphere in the house was completely different from normal.

So now, I am back to thinking, he is not average, there is “something” different about him (and ASC seems to be the best fit). And I am not just a rubbish parent, parenting him is so full on, noisy, relentless.

And the bit of the book where Paul Taylor says not to try and do anything with them when they’re stressed, to leave them be. I really understand why he wrote that, it makes so much sense. But the problem is not me leaving him be, it’s him leaving me be. He follows me around shouting at me. I want him to find a quiet space and leave him to calm down, but he doesn’t want to do that, his constant need for attention means that he would rather shout at me. And of course, this happens when I am trying to cook for everyone. In fact it all started as he was in ultra noisy mode and I wasn’t coping with it. Whatever I did, whatever I said, however gentle, persuading, reasonable I was, whatever tactic I tried, all I could hear was him shouting and banging and it took up all the space in my head. And when I’d finally had enough and asked him to go upstairs and read, he rolled on the floor and shouted at me instead. And when I insisted he stamped his way all up the stairs.

Sometimes I need time to calm down. Sometimes I need leaving alone. And that doesn’t seem to happen.

Right now, is the calm before the storm. In half an hour I have to go and get him, and deal with the fallout. He will have had a great time, and not enough sleep and will be wound up.

Was the stress worth the experience for him, almost certainly.  Was the stress worth the calm for me? I’m not so sure right now. I do know that I haven’t missed him, which is not to say I don’t care, this was a planned trip and he’s gone less than 24 hours, but I have not missed him, in fact I have been guiltily day dreaming about having him sleepover with someone else once a week just to give the rest of us a break. Very guiltily day dreaming.

 

Work in progress

I don’t have my new copy of the book yet, but I did look at the handout sheet on their website. Thinking of my idea to include Denis the Menace I have come up with these.

Today’s Challenge: Pretend you are Denis and write a note to pass to Minnie the Minx in class about a prank you want to play.

Your sentences need to include these details in your note: Who you want to play the prank on. What the prank is. Where you are going to do it. When you are going to do it. What you need Minnie to do to help.

You may use one labelled diagram in your note if you want.

When you have finished mum will give you one balloon for each proper sentence that you wrote that can fill with water from the outside tap (no water balloons in the house).

 

Today’s Challenge: You have been kept in detention by the Headmaster. Write a note for Gnasher to smuggle out to your friends.

Write at least one sentence about each of these: Why you were given detention. What you’re having to do in detention. How it makes you feel. What you would like your friends to do now.

When you have finished Mum will help you set up a target in the garden for catapult practice.

 

 

The Writing Problem, continued

So, I went on a lot yesterday about the problems that the Boy has with writing. I feel that I should say that for him it isn’t a problem, at least, left to his own devices it wouldn’t be. He prefers not to write, but if the impulse comes from him, he will write. A note for Daddy whose getting home after he’s in bed, a spontaneous postcard in reply to one he received, a list of things he wants to pack.

The issues start when the outside world gets in and interferes, trying to get him to write when he’d rather not. And almost always that’s school.

So, I suppose one solution would be to take away the issue, to stop asking him to write. Leave him to his own devices. Maybe he’d get to a point where something motivated him to write more and he’d start, or maybe he’d just cope without doing much writing.

However, that’s not going to happen whilst he’s in school, because the older you get, the more writing based school is. Writing down notes in lessons, writing answers to questions, writing essays, writing answers in exams. So that option would be pretty radical and involve taking him out of school. And if he didn’t develop his writing independently, it would mean no qualifications, as to get them you need to take exams which re pretty much all writing based. So I’m not sure how that would prepare him for adult life, how he would fit in with the rest of society (actually, many jobs don’t require so much writing as school, but getting a job without the qualifications could be tricky).

So, I’m left with figuring out a way to help him with his writing, to help reduce his stress.

I guess I need a two pronged approach. One thing I need to do is all I can in my power to get the school to support him, after all, they’re the experts here (as well as in some ways the source of the problem). My progress so far is an email drafted to the SENCO (as I realised that I’m not actually sure after our last meeting what their plan is at present), that needs proof reading as it was written after midnight. Also I have reordered the  I Hate to Write book.  And I plan to try and find time to talk to his teacher this week (ha ha, she wasn’t in today for a start). But with less than 3 weeks left until the summer holidays my main focus will be on getting on top of this in September and building up a relationship with his new teacher.

So my second approach needs to be about how I can help him at home, without adding to the stress and anxiety of every day life (both his and mine). I don’t want to turn be a household where hours of extra work is done after school. A large part of our problems are that school tires him out, so anything done at home needs to be light touch, quick, easy, stress free. Which means obvious place to start seems to be the summer holidays, when we have less school.

So, I have a plan of sorts, for a Summer Writing Challenge (the local libraries do a Summer Reading Challenge but in our household it is not a challenge to read, we’ll still probably take part though). I have bought them both a nice notebook each that I’m going to label “X’s Summer Writing Challenge” (after all, these things need to be fair so one each) and I’m going to try and get them to write a little in it each day. Again that all elusive balance is the key. My idea is little and often, to build up connections between his brain and the page, so that when he’s back at school it won’t be so alien to start writing something down. The quality/amount/type of thing he writes isn’t my goal, school can work on that, they know what they’re doing. I just want to try and build up his ability to get started, to try and chip away at whatever that barrier is that seems to stop him writing. So, no small task I’ve set myself then.

I have had a few ideas of what I can ask them to write, to start with at least I want to give them a challenge each day, with the idea to start small and build it up. And a mix of things to write about, facts, instructions, recounting events, stories maybe. So I wrote a long list of ideas, such as a packing list for going away, the first thing you remember saying this morning, the first thing someone said to you, what you think the cat would tell a visitor if they could talk, directions to Grandma’s house, one thing you learned today. I plan to go through the “I hate to write” book when it comes too. I think it has longer, more structured ideas in, so maybe I’ll try one of those every few days, with shorter bits of writing in between (I want them to still enjoy their summer holidays!)

In the mean time, I had an idea of some fun games to play that don’t even seem like writing, that we could do before the end of term.

The first was just a written version of word association. This was the easiest thing I could imagine. You just look at what the other person wrote, and then write down the first word that comes into your head. Just one word at a time. There is not right or wrong answer. There’s plenty of opportunity to be obscure, silly, pedantic (all things he loves). I congratulated myself on my good idea.

Yup, you guessed it, turns out it wasn’t that simple after all. I told him I wanted to play a game and wrote “Red” on a piece of paper, passed him the paper and pen and asked him to write the first word he thought of under mine. He wrote “Red”. Ok, not what I expected, but I decided not to make a big deal out of it, rather just continue hoping he’d get into the swing of things. So I wrote “Two” (as the word red was written twice) and explained that it was supposed to be a different word. So he wrote “Too” (which he knows full well has a different meaning but sounds the same, there’s nothing wrong with his spelling). Again, I just continued without making a fuss and wrote “many”, which prompted “Manny”, who he explained was a character in a  book, then we continued “nanny”, “granie”(sic), “square” – that prompted questions from him and I had to explain that a granny square was something you make with crochet. Then he drew a triangle. I asked him to write triangle instead, he told me he didn’t know how to (he was starting to get upset at this point), so I said just try and start it, and he wrote it down just fine, so I congratulated him on his spelling and wrote “pyramid”. And there ended our game, with him upset and cross and complaining that I was forcing him to do it (I gently pointed out I wasn’t and now that he’d told me he wanted to stop I wasn’t going to ask him to write anything else) and that when he see’s a word like “red” written down, all he can think of is the word “red” so this is really hard for him.

I was shocked, I know his brain works differently from mine but it never occurred to me that he would find this game hard, I chose it precisely because I couldn’t imagine him finding it hard. Granted he was a bit under the weather at the time, but still.

However, I have tried something else, something that I thought would be harder, but turns out it’s easier. Group story writing, one word at a time, no commenting out loud, you just write a word and pass it on to the next person. We did it as a family, with me and my husband starting.

Once there was seven horses, growling in the pink destoyer spaceships. Soon seven horses with riders found idiocy and called “wooua” and some friends shouted “war-time” very quietly but differently…

Ok, it’s not going to win any prizes, but all 4 of us did it together, there were no arguments, it involved turn taking and we were writing without argument (albeit one word at a time). The next night we managed

A big strong monster with fluffy teddy-bears hugged under his stupid ears and waving he loved a bananna who drove a submarine quickly. (It’s yellow). Well one day they found some idiotic beans with spotty purple skins which loved inhabited submarines. They ate them and then suddenly became idiotically happy “wuerho” said the farting and burping, singing and dancing banana who had to go to the loo. Son he felt much calmer so went to the moon where he ate a lot of cheese.

This time people seemed to want to write more than one word, so we changed it so that in the second sentence you could write two words each, three in the third, etc. Also, we got interrupted by the next door neighbour calling round to ask something and she got involved and I lost track of things. I think that last sentence is all his.

I’m still feeling my way here, I’m no educational expert. I’m not quite sure what the point of this game is, except to somehow make writing fun and take some of the pressure off, as you can’t make a perfect sentence in a group. I noticed that he paused more when he had to start the second sentance (he ended up writing (it’s yellow)) rather than when he was continuing something. So maybe I’m on to something?

Now, to keep this up. To remember to play it some more. And try and work out a version where you write a sentance each. Or even a paragraph. Maybe we could try an entirely written conversation (that might help with interrupting too). Or having beginnings of sentences to finish. And I wonder if there’s a way of bringing Dennis The Menace into it. Hmmm….

 

 

 

Writing – the problem

The Boy does not like writing. In particular his teachers struggle to get him to write. There is no problem with his reading, which is excellent (including his comprehension). There is no problem in his understanding and there is certainly no problem in getting him to talk on a subject, he is very expressive vocally (in fact the problem is getting him to shut up!). However, getting him to write is another matter entirely.

In year 1 (age 6) it his writing was painfully slow and the slightest mistake would make him rub out the whole sentence. His wrote no more than a few words in an assessed piece of writing, a story because he could tell that “biskit” (biscuit) was not a correct spelling so would go no further. His teacher was not allowed to help him (as it was going to be assessed) and the fact that the powers that be think it perfectly acceptable for a 6 year old to write biskit made no difference, he was reading a lot and he knew it was wrong, so he couldn’t proceed until it was fixed, end of story.

In year 2 (age 7) they taught him joined up handwriting. I was so annoyed and frustrated by this, it was the worse thing for him. He focused even more on how his writing looked, which slowed him further and exacerbating his trouble getting any kind of “flow” going in his writing. He reminded me of a medieval monk, huddled over his manuscript, making painstakingly slow progress. The fact that his teacher thought he only needed to practice his writing in his handwriting class and not in his literacy class was frankly irrelevant, to the Boy, if something is important then it’s important, it’s not just important on Thursday afternoon but not on Friday morning. It was around this time that he told me that he didn’t understand why school kept trying to get him to write down things that he already knew when he could use the time better learning new things (after all, school is where you go to learn things right?).  It was also one of his year 2 teachers who first suggested he might have Aspergers and thus started the process of trying to get a diagnosis and lots of reading on my part. He did see a educational psychologist, who suggested that writing tasks were “chunked up” into managable sized pieces for him but I have no idea what was implemented of this at the time as it was nearly at the end of the school year and I simply couldn’t get them to write anything in a plan form.

Year 3 saw a move to the junior school across the road. Despite reassurances from the infant school that they would do lots of things to help him with his transition (which for them seemed to mean familiarisation with the new school building), it soon became apparent that his new teacher was unprepared for him (I’m still cross that no plan was in place to get handed over to her) and my fears were realised, fears that the gap between him and his peers would widen as expectation rose (which had been my worry all along, misinterpreted by the SENCO as fears about the change of schools). I remember his class teacher asking me how I got him to do anything. I said something at the time, but upon later reflection realised that the options are a) get him on side by reasoning, b) decide to give up or postpone the task and c) stand over him repeating what you want him to do over and over again – which works (for simple things anyway) but at a huge cost to both of you in terms of stress and the meltdown will probably follow.

In writing terms, I remember vividly early on in the year collecting him one day to come home for lunch (as he was doing once a week at his request at the time) and having to go and find him in his classroom. The teacher explained that he had written basically nothing all morning in literacy (possibly 3 words or so, I can’t remember exactly, it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t kept in at break time too) and so she asked me to take the work home with me and get him to write at lunchtime. By the time we finished talking and I had signed him out I had 45 mins to get him home, feed him, get him to do some work and get him back to school (only a 5 min walk each way but still!). I did get him to do some writing, but I basically use method c and the cost was enormous, he was in tears and I felt awful. When I got back to school I showed the teacher the 2 lines I’d got out of him and she was disappointed! I pointed out the time restraints, I should’ve pointed out as well that she was a professional and I wasn’t and she’d had him all morning and got far less out of him. After I got home again I felt awful and after that I told them that I would not be doing writing with him at lunchtimes.

At one point I had a circular conversation from the teacher that went along the lines of, he doesn’t need help with his writing because he’s in the top group, but he doesn’t do any writing unless he’s helped, however when he’s helped his writing standard is very good, so therefore he doesn’t need any help.

At some point during year 3 I remembered the Ed Psych report, dug out my copy, photocopied it and gave it to the new SENCO, I don’t think she’d seen it. Anyway, he managed to train his year 3 teacher up a little and she used to agree with him how much writing he was going to do and write in the margins, one table point if you get to here, one house point if you get to here etc. It was also noted that he finds the more factual pieces of work easier and the more free form creative stuff harder.

We toyed with the idea of using speech recognition software to let him dictate, but it would mean taking our tablet to school (which I’m fine with, it’s just complicated) and I worked out it only works when connected to the wifi (which I’m guessing could be an issue at school, as if he had an internet enabled tablet he’d be quite easily distracted) and when we tried it at home he got frustrated that it didn’t understand him properly and also distracted by the software, so that one kind of fizzled out. They also had him dictate to a teaching assistant some of the time.

At the start of year 4 (age 9) he had a young teacher who liked him and seemed to think he was doing fine, would sit to do his writing, would do an ok amount, was now writing his own titles and objectives. Over the summer I’d bought I Hate To Write, but it seemed more appropriate for teachers than parents, so I lent it to her. I have no idea if she looked at it or used it, I never got it back when she left the school either. (I also bought this book, but it seems to be for secondary kids, so it’s sitting on my shelf a while) Then we had the nose dive over Christmas, followed by moving classrooms due to a rebuild and the teacher leaving at Easter and I have no idea what her thoughts were on his writing.

Oh and it was early on in year 4 that he came home with some homework that he really struggled with. It was clearly meant to be fun and engaging and there were several options of things to write about to choose from. That was our first problem (he struggles with choices). I sat there trying to talk through the options with them. Many of them were dismissed (for instance, one about magic, because it’s “not real”). Eventually he conceded he would consider one option if it was altered. But that was a problem (for him) because then he wasn’t doing the homework that had been set. I told him that his teacher would surely prefer some writing to none, and I manage to get him to talk through a plan which I sketched down in as similar manner to the one they used at school as I could. So far, half an hour of intense one on one parent input had produced nothing written by him whatsoever. So I tried to get him to write down a first sentence. I managed, but we fell into good old method c again and he was in tears by the end (and I was nearly too). 45 minutes and a lot of stress for 1 sentence of a piece of homework that was supposed to take 10 minutes. The teacher agreed with me that wasn’t the idea when we explained and we eased off on the homework after that (which was only once a week anyway).

Now we have the second of the temporary teachers since the original year 4 teacher left at Easter. This one already knew him and I have a lot of respect for her. She is no nonsense, fairly strict, but fair, understands what he has difficulties with, doesn’t make him stressed, but does have high expectations of him. We had a review meeting last week, her me and the SENCO, and it was clear that she doesn’t think his writing is up to scratch, he hasn’t completed enough of any of his assessed pieces of work for them to be assess-able. She puts him at Secure Level Three (whatever that means) in maths, reading and science, but still Developing Level Two in literacy, because of his writing (reading wise he’s fine). She talked about him avoiding writing, coming up with excuses, talking to the group she’s helping instead of doing his own work.

So now I’m not sure what to believe. Well, I kind of am, I know that his writing lags behind the other areas of the curriculum, it has done for the 4 years he’s been expected to write much more than his name at school. That is clear. It’s also clear that there is a problem there. There seems to be some sort of block in his brain between the ideas and the page. He can think things, he can talk about them, but writing them down is clearly very hard and stressful for him. Part of the problem is motivation, he just simply doesn’t see the point of writing something down to prove that he knows it, he knows he knows it. Part of the problem is not knowing where to start, so he avoids getting started, so he’s not started, etc. Another part seems to be that he sets the standard so very high. I’m pretty sure half the time at school the teacher doesn’t care what kind of boring “the cat sat on the hat” type sentence they write, they just want them to write something that meets today’s learning objective, be it correct use of speech marks or subjunctive clauses or whatever. But he simply cannot write just any old thing, if he’s going to write something down then it has to be a perfectly formed, interesting sentence, of a standard a booker award winning novelist might write. Which of course ups the pressure and makes the whole thing more complicated, which makes it harder to start. And then there’s the contrary (oppositional defiance was mentioned last week) part of him that simply will not use an idea suggested to him by someone else. Making it very hard to help him, as when you try and narrow things down you’re actually crossing things off the potentials list.

But what about the discrpancy between the teacher at the beginning of the year who was happy with his writing and the teacher now, who isn’t. Have his standards dropped? Does he write less for this teacher? Or are their expectations different? If so, who do I believe?

I must admit I’m quite worried at the moment about how his writing is going to impact on him at secondary school, where there is a lot of writing expected across the curriculum.  Currently, I cannot envisage him getting a grade C at GCSE English, which is needed for pretty much anything. I’m pretty sure he’d be alright in maths and probably science, but I’m less convinced I can see him managing essay questions for history or geography say.

I’m frustrated at the way our school system is set up, where you’re either “bright” or “struggling” (my words, not theirs), and the help is focused at getting the struggling kids up to scratch. The system just doesn’t seem to cope with a bright kid who needs help in one area.

I’m also unclear what their current strategy is to help him. Or what it should be. Because I’m not an education specialist. I also don’t know what I can do to help that might actually work and not just make the two of us both more stressed.

Anyway, that doesn’t stop me thinking. I might not be an expert in education but I am a world expert in him. I’ve had a couple of small ideas, and that was what this post was going to be about, but I seem to need to thresh out the extent of the problem tonight, so I shall write more about my ideas soon.

 

Post panic

So, I did cry earlier. And I did nothing for  few minutes. And then I did myself a deal and did useful things that I didn’t find stressful.

So, I have hoovered, washed up, sorted out lots laundry, made myself vegetable soup for lunch with all the veg that needed using up, made the pasta bake for dinner to save me stress later, I even picked up two new items of post and discovered they were for someone who doesn’t live here any more, so I’ve tried to send them back (as they were circulars and I’m kind of hoping if I keep doing this they’ll eventually stop sending them).

So, on one hand, I have done some useful things, I have made the house look better, I have looked after myself by eating properly and being organised. I didn’t go to bed, or curl up in a ball or waste the day on the internet.

On the other hand I still haven’t done any of my jobs that I wanted to get done today. And I haven’t dealt with the missed appointment.

So, where does that leave me. Am I being compassionate, pragmatic and looking after myself, making the best of a bad job?  Or am I burying my head in the sand, storing up problems,  suppressing things that I need to deal with and generally failing to get my act together?

Feck it this adulting malarky is just so hard to call right.

Anyway, I rewarded myself with a trip to the shop to buy the chocolate I wanted earlier and half an hour “off the hook”, but I ended up eating an icecream and an entire pack of biscuits, so now it’s back to the self loathing again.

But at least the floor is a bit cleaner eh?

 

Panic

Just realised that my dentist appointment was 1o minutes ago.I thought it was an hour later than it is.

This is me trying desperately to do something about the overwhelming sense of panic that overwhelmed me. I just felt like screaming and curling up in a ball as realisation dawned.

I think it’s guilt, guilt that I’ve let them down. And it’s paralysing. I know that people must miss appointments all the time, but it just feels like such a big thing right now, I’m catastrophising, my flight instict has well and truly kicked in, I want to go and hide in bed. I know I should phone them, but I can’t. And yet if I don’t, I will find it all the more harder later.

Worse still, I have other things I need to do today. Things that I keep putting off, that I won’t have time for later in the week. I cannot afford to loose a whole day just because I made one mistake.

My eyes are getting moist as I type and and my feet are jiggling (as ridiculous as it sounds a sure sign that I’m anxious).

And yet this is still me feeling better than I was a few minutes ago.

Oh I am so fed up with this, I feel like such a useless excuse for grown up, the one appointment I had today and I messed it up and now I’m in danger of derailing my whole week because of it.

I am so fucking fed up with this anxiety. It’s shit.