During my day at FestAble on Saturday, I heard a really interesting presentation and it’s stuck with me ever since. You know, one of those moments that you dwell on for hours, days, even weeks after the event? Maybe it’s just me, I know I’m a bit of an over-thinker but it’s very much inspired me to think about expectations and aspirations a lot harder.
So the discussion began about what to always ask your children’s teacher and the main question that was repeatedly mentioned was “what are your aspirations for my child?”
This is genius! You know when you’re at parents evening and the teacher is chatting away and before you know it, they’re asking if you have any questions? I’ve always mumbled something or other but ultimately failed to probe them on what THEY think my child could aspire for. Not any more!!! It’s such a great question and I can’t believe I haven’t thought about this before now.
Contemplating this question, I have to say that I’m really proud to know that the aspirations of Jude’s teacher are particularly positive. Not just his teacher but his Teaching Assistants, support staff in house and our Social Worker for outside life. I know they expect and bring a lot out of Jude and they can see the potential he has to be a completely awesome teenager and grown up. They follow his lead but nudge him in the right direction, just enough so that he feels inspired but isn’t overwhelmed or stressed out.
The same with Elsa’s teacher. She’s very much aware of each child’s needs and abilities and knows how to encourage them just that right amount.
It’s sad that this positivity doesn’t show through in all teachers and the SEND education system can be fraught with lost and confused parents gripping onto everything their school tells them is right without thinking outside the box. I don’t blame them, it’s so easy to feel lost when you are raising a child with learning disabilities. When you are told that a curriculum focusing on sensory play is best for your child, you believe them. Why wouldn’t you? And many times that IS the best curriculum focus. But if you don’t feel that this is enough then you have to speak up, ask questions and insist on trying different options. What works for them? What do they really enjoy at the moment? What do they thrive off? It’s so hard but you have to make sure everyone is aiming high.
And when I go to ask Jude/Elsa/Emmeline’s teacher what their aspirations are for my child, I don’t want an answer that is purely about academic achievement. In fact, this is the least of my concerns. I want to know what sort of person they aspire for them to be, what they aspire to inspire my children with.
I overheard a conversation a few days ago between two people, one asked how the other’s child was doing at school. Her immediate reaction was to say “oh great, such and such is in the top set for maths and English, they’re doing really well in all areas thankfully.”
I find this sort of answer really sad. Yes, grades can be incredibly useful and obviously I want them all to do as well as they can in that sense BUT that isn’t my aspiration for them and I would hope teachers think a bit deeper than this too.
So in future, I’m thinking aspirations for my children. Not academics but personal achievements, wonderful personality traits, independence, an awareness of their environment and a respect for all people around them. Whether you get an A or a D in your exam, this does not maketh the man or woman.
So there is my random thought for Monday.
Have you asked your children’s school teacher a particularly poignant question? I’d love to hear them.