Fractions

A deep blue sky in Yorkshire, WOW….

Today was a tough MATHS day. Hawklad is number dyslexic. Some numbers become inverted when he sees them. It’s a family trait. When I get tired my mind inverts 4’s and sometimes 7’s. But Hawklad has found a way and he can work round this. He can do some phenomenally complicated arithmetic in his head. Often the problem is trying to put that down on paper but he is getting there.

But one area really does struggle with is decimals and fractions. Put a decimal in a calculation and he just can’t process the solution. Even quite straightforward sums become impossible with a decimal added. Fractions, oh fractions. As hard as he tries fractions will just not sink in.

So today was the perfect Maths Lesson storm. Fractions and decimals. He tried, he really tried but it was just not happening. But he isn’t giving up. In his words, he ‘got the better of word dyslexia, this will be next’.

He is so right. Anything is possible. Two years ago he needed almost one to one help to read. Now he is sat reading Lord of the Rings. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Reasons

There is something about this time of year. It just keeps on producing the most amazing mist covered skies. Almost as if the sky was an old watercolour art work.

We will ignore the absolutely sodden feet. Something about this time of year and wet socks as well….

The school term is well underway and finally a few subjects are providing some home materials for Hawklad. Certainly not the entire lesson but at least it’s something. One teacher even marked some work he had submitted and provided feedback. That’s a real start. But it all seems pretty disjointed and I get a sinking feeling – he is falling behind those in class. But at least it’s improving. I wonder if there is another reason for that.

Under the new Government Rules schools don’t notify parents if there are any in-class Covid cases. Lessons continue as normal without any additional precautions. Direct contacts with confirmed cases are NOT asked to isolate. It’s out of Headteachers hands now, external officials control the process. Those officials will not intervene until the number of cases escalate beyond thresholds set by the Government. So parents are kept in the dark and apparently should assume there is no news. Schools are completely safe.

Well a teacher accidentally let the cat out of the bag today with a stray email. The email talked about those unable to attend class due to having tested positive. In Hawklad’s class of 30 pupils, 6 are currently suffering with Covid. Those pupils sitting next to a confirmed case (that’s sat for hours, shoulder to shoulder with someone with Covid) are not traced. Mid last week all in the class had been given the all clear after the quick self testing process. A testing process which is not compulsory.

So I guess the reason for the improved home workload might just be that a sizeable proportion of the school are off…..

Sky

That’s a sky…. It was definitely a stand and look up sky……

So the school at home week closes. That was a struggle. The worry is that Hawklad feels jaded already, his Dad isn’t far behind. That’s after week ONE…

A week in which only fragments of the school teaching programme has found its way here.

So we have two subjects teachers that have started having direct contact with Hawklad. One just to say sorry that Hawklad had been forgotten about and they will try to better soon. The other subject actually provided all the class questions looked at. The other subjects have been largely silent leaving on what is expected of him leaving this up to the Dream Team to figure out what to do. So with a bit more WORK for me to do this week coinciding with sadly even less sleep – YEP it’s been a struggle.

Hawklad’s anxieties have definitely increased since school returned. Yes he’s at home but it’s still impacting on him. He’s been struggling even more when he’s been outside as well. The thing that school don’t seem to understand is that this is not just about COVID. There are so many interconnected themes playing out here. So yes the news that Hawklad’s age group will soon receive one dose of a vaccine is welcome but not the answer. It will reduce the COVID risk but definitely NOT eliminate it. Double vaccinated people are still being impacted by the virus. He knows that.

So we soldier on. Let’s see what happens at this coming weeks counselling session. We make the best of school until things change. I definitely need to re-find my mojo.

New

If I keep my eyes open on the mad dog walk, I always discover something new…

So another school at home day. The pattern seems set. For each lesson something appears on the school system which can be accessed remotely. Maybe a one page document to read. Maybe a few random questions. Maybe a link to something on the web but with no signposts about why he is visiting the site. Maybe an unclear project. Whatever it is there are no instructions, no timescales, no indication of what is expected. We don’t even know if Hawklad is expected to return any work. No contact from any teacher.

So if he finishes within a few minutes what does Hawklad do for the remaining hour or so of the lesson. If he submits any work will it be even looked at.

Maybe the teachers are distracted by other issues but it does increasingly feel like school has given up on Hawklad.

Monday Mornings are a pain

The farm fields are now ploughed. The Autumn School Term has started. So the early alarm calls have heralded even less sleep. Another week of school at home. I had forgotten the frustrations. Hawklad hanging around for stuff to do. The time lost searching for files and waiting for teachers to respond to queries. Trying to find the right colour pen and then one that actually works. Trying to filter out areas that might spike Hawklad’s anxieties. Then watching the online system and Microsoft Teams crash.

Oh how have we missed this….

I needed to de-stress. So it’s time for MINDFULNESS. Somedays it’s works, other days not so. Today’s free mediation video was different. Lie down on the floor. Relax the body. Clear the mind. Slow the breathing down. So far so good. But then the slightly intimidating Hannibal Lector voice tells me to focus on my right foot – how does it feel. Then my right leg. Then my left leg. How is my abdomen feeling. Then my tummy. What are they feeling, what is the sensation. Then my back, my chest, my shoulders, my arms, my hands. Finally my mouth, my nose, my ears my eyes and the top of my head. I should be calm and relaxed now. Well that’s what Hannibal said….

Well to me not so. I remembered stubbing my toe, my toe hurts. I remembered my knee I had overstretched during that morning weight training session. I felt my IBS playing up, I noticed by tummy feeling bloated. My back was definitely stiff. My left shoulder which has been dislocated several times was sore. I could feel the finger I had burnt cooking, I could feel the paper cut on my thumb. I found an annoying bit of food between my teeth. My ear was itchy. AND my left buttock had gone to sleep on the hard floor. Basically my body hurts, pointing that out Hannibal, how is that supposed to relax me. Seriously.

Yes Mondays are painful.

They’re at it….

What on earth is going on the conservatory window. And yes the conservatory needs tidying up. Out of focus dinosaur toys have taken over.

So it’s the first full week back at school for families in our area. Already many children have taken the quick but problematic virus test. Our Government is really pushing them while other countries are deeply sceptical of the test we use. Even our own Doctor Groups have expressed concerns. Some parents are refusing to let their children take them. Some schools have run out of the test kits. But the tests are the only precaution left in our schools.

From the parent comments on our school’s forum, a number of children have tested positive and are waiting a full test. A number of parents are isolating due to contracting Covid. But the Government rules have changed. Schools are not allowed to track potential cases without the approval from the authorities. They are not allowed to notify parents of potential or confirmed cases. Parents will only be notified if the number of cases escalates beyond a set national threshold. It seems odd that if a child has head lice then other parents are immediately notified but no notification now with an infectious disease. It also seems bizarre that under the current rules a child who tests negative using the inaccurate quick tests must still attend class even if that child’s parents have Covid, and if the child’s siblings have Covid.

Not an ideal backdrop for Hawklad to be wrestling with going back to school or not. He is still struggling with crowds. Still struggling with OCD. Still struggling to touch objects. Still struggling to venture inside.

School have said that they will try to be flexible about his return but do they really get it . His health professionals recommended a number of changes to help but these have not been acted upon. We asked if he could be put into classes with at least a few friends to help his potential return. Most of his classes have now been announced and guess what. Where are his friends……NOT in his class. It’s as if they had tried to put him in the worst class groupings possible. Let’s hope that the last two subjects fair better. Classes are full, the year is over allocated and unless a pupil leaves then switches can’t happen apparently.

Yes they’re at it again…. And it’s not helping.

And then

Another sign of the approaching Autumn Term. Plenty of insects on the windows. Yes this one is superimposed on the big boy cats butt.

The day has dawned. In hours Hawklad is due back in the classroom. One email from school informing parents that school Covid safeguards have been relaxed apart from some testing. The school day will start with all children undertaking a Covid self test. Then the Year will gather for a school assembly in the main hall. After about 3 hours lessons will then commence.

No specific contact from school about Hawklad.

No discussions on tailoring a return.

No chance for Hawklad to do another pre school visit.

School haven’t even specifically asked if Hawklad is returning.

So what is Hawklad doing?

The thought of 3 hours of being in the small main hall with something like 120 other pupils without masks has really bothered him. Bothers me….. No specific plans have been agreed with school. Nothing in place to help with his potential return. Under those circumstances he can’t return. So I have informed school that he is working from home today.

It doesn’t help that it’s an anniversary……

Let’s see if school offer anything today. At least the timetable and class details will be published. Hawklad has said he will decide on Saturday. At present he feels that he can’t return. If that’s the case then it’s a question about is the a temporary hold or the permanent switch to homeschooling.

It’s such a mess.

Warning

No contact from school again about Hawklad. Now one day from what is supposed to be his return. No plans in place. No discussions. Not impressed. Very unsettling. Change subject before rant starts.

There aren’t many things more unsettling to me than when I’m are happily driving along a road and an approaching car flashes their headlights at me. Or someone puts there hazard warning lights on randomly as you drive past them. Especially when you can’t figure out why. I’m I even the target of that, is it aimed at someone else, was it mistaken identity, was it an accident. What’s wrong. Is my petrol cap open. Is a police speed camera just round the corner. Is there a giant dinosaur waiting to pounce behind those approaching traffic lights.

The uncertainty just unsettles me.

Well I have the solution. It’s my one big invention. My route to fame and fortune.

All cars should be installed with a special keyboard on the steering wheel. The keyboard will have large keys you can press in those light flashing moments. Rather than just randomly sending out a vague message to the approaching car, a giant lcd screen on the front of the car (so large that it partly obstructs the windscreen) will display a detailed warning message. These can be preprogrammed. No confusing henceforth. For example my available warning light options would be

* Children next to road…..

* Animals on the road…..

* The road surface is dangerous…..

* Warning, The Cops……

* Hi Sister, have you been shopping…..

* Your driving like a moron…..

* Your car is falling to bits……

* Get your Mobile out, Pokemon nearby ready to be caught……

* Put your Mobile down you numpty…….

* Turn your Full Beam headlights off you selfish lemon……

* It would be so nice if you wouldn’t mind getting back on your side of the road…..

* Ha Ha Your missing a once in a lifetime sunset behind you….

* Turn your music down your not at a Metallica Concert……

* Stop looking at that bird in the sky, YOUR supposed to be driving……

* UFO sighted, danger of alien abductions……..

Well I think it’s a great idea. That’s distracted me. Sometimes even parents need a distraction….

Anyone for croquet

Hawklad was feeling anxious. Really anxious. This time next week will be tough for him. It will be a tough call. Classroom or Home….

Sometimes it can feel very isolating just the two of us kinda cut off from the real world. Maybe there is a danger we take root.

So he needed a distraction. Something different. It was time to go hunting in the garage. What can I find. Imagine a place like the shop that Harry Potter got his wand from. Dark, cramped, filled to the brim with things that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Maybe decades. Some objects beyond rational comprehension.

As I rummaged deeper into the recesses my plight became more perilous. I stretched, bent and shakily balanced over box after box. Deeper I went into the precarious jungle of old toys and objects. Then I saw a very large old wooden box. It might as well have been an old precious wand. That will do nicely.

An old garden croquet set that came from his grannies house several years ago.

Yes it was fun. Definitely different. Some of the rules might have been loosely applied or invented. When did croquet become a contact sport. The long grass didn’t help. But the main thing is Hawklad was distracted.

Now was the time to get serious about this martial art called croquet. I got the lawnmower out and carefully cut out a croquet course. Incorporating obstacles. A Mole Hill. An Apple Tree. The Football Goal. Yorkshire Wet Grass.

Captain Chaos was a moving obstacle and introduced his own version of mayhem. Suddenly we have one of Europe’s Finest and Most Challenging Croquet Experiences.

Captain Chaos might be on to something. Croquet with a sock…..Yes Croquet is fun. And fun is needed some days…..

Responsibility 2

That’s a tree that’s seen some living. Too many storms and a couple of lightning strikes have permanently changed its shape. But it’s still standing. Standing on its own.

In the UK child mental health services have been cut to the bone. Rapidly escalating real need while resources are stretched to braking point. Children in need either do no get any support or minimal support has to be constantly fought for. Schools are forced to stick to the Government agenda with restricted budgets. Child Mental Health and Well-being is not seen as part of the school remit by the Government. Teachers are hamstrung with an inflexible curriculum with strict deadlines. Specialist Educational Services are just not available to most children who really need them.

In the UK families are basically on their own. If your child has an educational or mental health need then you can’t rely on help being there when you need it.

Government calls it’s ‘individual responsibility’.

So with 9 days left before Hawklad potentially returns to the classroom he is facing significant stress and anxiety. He has so many life defining challenges and social obstacles to overcome. Unpicking what can be done and assisting with those areas is a highly specialist area. A service which is currently unavailable to him. Any return to the classroom will require significant adjustments in school. It places significant requirements on teachers that they are not trained for and do not have the classroom time to handle. The school is unable to secure any specialist assistance – they are just not there. Apart from his muppet Dad, he is on his own. His Dad is out of his depth. Really out of his depth.

Individual Responsibility. What could possibly go wrong.