Hawklad had been working towards his Mock Exams, waiting for school to clarify the arrangements. This week the exams started and we got clarification. Hawklad will definitely not sit mock exams until at least February. The question is how much more teaching will be made available to him from now on as much of the online school material has dried up. There is talk of one to one tuition for a couple of hours a week, however school can’t afford to buy that support in. As school are understaffed we don’t have a start date for support. So we plod on effectively with homeschooling and rely on school to arrange the final exams. Hoping we cover the right areas, find the right things to learn.
It really does feel like that a gap is opening up with his school based classmates.
“Well Dad I might end up failing my exams but at least I can watch the World Cup”
24 hours after my double shot of Flu and Covid booster vaccines. The arm which enjoyed the Pfizer needle was feeling like it had been repeatedly punched by Tyson Fury. The rest of me was just feeling cold, like I had a cold. Not sure why but every single time I have had the Flu vaccine, the next day I have without fail come down with cold symptoms and it was no different this year.
So feeling COLD and THINKING next to this awesome little lake.
“Dad I’ve come up with a Christmas list idea, how about a Scalextric Set…”
Bang goes my one great big surprise idea….. Pants…..
“You don’t need to get me any Shakespeare stuff Dad, anything to do with School English Literature is not ever making the list now. Definitely not after school sucked the life out of it.”
It’s ok, Shakespeare was not in the Gift running list. The one and only time he did make the GIFT list, it was via the wonderful Horrible Histories BILL movie.
“Dad we haven’t watched the Horrible Histories movie in ages. I learnt more from that movie than school has ever managed to teach me about Shakespeare in years. The movie was fun, school isn’t….”
He’s not wrong there….
Can you remember the last time you had fun with your schools.
“Not happened so far, but to be fair, I’ve only been at school for 11 years.”
And stood by this cold lake, we probably stumble on why education in the UK is in such a mess for so many families.
Wet old day here in Yorkshire, it’s been wet for days now. Unbelievably we are still covered by drought rules and a hosepipe ban. Well there isn’t much need for our hosepipe presently, it’s been pretending to be a sleeping snake in our long grass for months now.
Yes it’s WET, yes it’s NOVEMBER, but there is still a touch of orange if you look hard enough.
A good walk to just switch off.
Hawklad goes through phases where THOUGHTS get stuck. Anxious thoughts, stressful thoughts, negative thoughts, confusing thoughts, possible upsetting thoughts. Thoughts that just won’t go away. They seem to take on more meaning, seemingly acquire more permanence. I remember reading a Psychology Article that labelled these thoughts as Mind Bullies. These thoughts try to bully you into thinking that they are more significant, have more meaning than other thoughts. Not just thoughts that quickly disappear, these try to take over. Try to ruin the day. Try to bring a person down.
Today Hawklad decided to write down the problem thoughts. He wrote down 168 Bully Thoughts in just a few hours…. As he said.
I try to help but I’m no specialist. Am I doing more harm than good, I have no idea. But here’s the problem, there is no access to specialist help for many. School only focus on academic performance, huge waiting lists and insufficient capacity effectively rule out mental health support. Hawklad is not self harming, not violent, not suicidal, so he is viewed as low priority and has little chance of getting specialist help. Limited resources have to focus on others. Then all too soon he will be classed as an adult and then the support completely dries up. So families and friends do their best to help.
Yorkshire does like a good old monument. Three good ones on one brief walk.
So school should be fully back in swing now but I’m left with one overriding feeling.
WHAT IS THE POINT…..
School helpfully emailed all parents with a list of topics that need revising for the upcoming Mock Exams. Unfortunately well over half the topics are new news items to Hawklad. Is it revising when you have to look at a topic for the first time. Deep sigh….
Hardly any interactions with teaching staff still, Hawklad is definitely feeling increasingly cut adrift. Unfortunately for the rare subjects that are still in touch, he kinda wishes they had joined in the collective radio silence.
One of the teachers did mark some of his submitted work. I thought it was really good work, better than I could ever manage. But what do I know, the teacher awarded him a FAIL. Apparently when a question asks for consequences of a particular event, marks will only be awarded if the pupil sticks to the limited number of consequences provided by the teacher in class, which have been approved by those in charge. It reflects just one of a number of equally valid opinions. Stick to what you are told. Parrot learn the wording and then regurgitate the words in the exam. Critical thinking, or thinking for yourself are not required. Valid consequences and detailed reasonings that differ from the very narrow school script are not accepted. I did recheck Hawklad’s answer and yes I quickly found that his arguments were backed up by a number of subject experts. Hawklad really can’t get his head round all this. It confuses him. It frustrates him. It makes him doubt himself.
What makes this worse is that this is his favourite subject. The subject he is best at. The one he enjoys the most and yet because of the academic approach, it’s now the one he is getting the lowest marks in.
Failed for thinking. Failed for having a passion in something. Kinda sums up the school at present.
It just seems like a MONUMENTal waste.
I do like a good pun, but tonight even that pun doesn’t make me smile. Yes school is back again.
It’s been a cracking Fungi season. A gift that keeps on giving.
The school half term holiday starts tomorrow evening. The school at home project has completely nosedived this half term. Any support provided is becoming at best very very very patchy, too many of the subjects are dropping completely off the radar. It’s all very vexing and we both quip that it feels like the postman will be bringing a letter from school saying that Hawklad has been sacked. So a week off is needed to lift his spirits, to relax. He is seriously stressed out.
School has made it clear that for pupils like Hawklad, this half term is about work and revising. The school will be checking to see that pupils have put in the hour after hour of work by setting tests as soon as school reopens again.
All work NO play.
I realise other parents might take a different view but this is so wrong to me. Everybody needs a break, especially in these times. Kids need time to relax and have fun. So many are stressed out. Stressed out with school, freaked out by the madness they see unfold all around them. No wonder that UK Child Mental Health Services are being swamped. Latest figures show that over 400000 children per month are being treated for mental health problems.
So here, yes there will be a small bit of work but hopefully bucket loads of relaxation and play. If Hawklad isn’t up to work then stuff school.
Autumn is here. The Swallows and Swifts have left for warmer climes. Today felt cold even under a thick hoody.
Hawklad is making great strides on the dyslexia front. His reading is really good, now able to read History Textbooks. It’s hard to believe that back in 2020 he struggled to read books aimed at 6 and 7 year olds and school had decided that he would never read, so there was no point trying anymore. Sadly I realise they never really started trying in the first place. I had even gone out and bought a reading pen. He can now accurately read maybe 80% of the words then he can make educated guesses on most of the other ones. It works for him and that’s all that matters.
What is still very much a work in progress is his number dyslexia. He has finally conquered his difficultly with 4 and 7’s. Getting the two mixed up and often writing the two numbers back to front. But he just can’t break the roadblocks that are decimal points, fractions and minuses. Today he was easily expanding out complex equations, yet he would immediately grind to a halt when faced with something like +5-7. He just can’t visualise that. The problem is at home I can gently help with that, but in an exam there is no help.
This week has also highlighted another school stumbling block with reading. SHAKESPEARE. Hawklad’s way of reading just can’t cope with Shakespearean language and spellings.
I did try to read the sonnets to him but I struggle with Shakespeare as well. Plus according to Hawklad when I read, my character voice sounds like I’m reading parts from a SpongeBob cartoon. My Romeo apparently is a dead ringer for Patrick. But at least we have a solution to this one. Just watch the play on thou swear’st Netflix.
He misses out on so much, so much of the teenage life. You can only experience so much when you spend so much time isolated. What highlights the isolation is that since March 2020 he has spent some time with only ONE friend in that time – his only contact with someone his own age. Yes a really good friend but that’s a shed load of teenage socialising missed out on. It’s not the same but when a chance to do something special for him presents itself then you grab it, regardless of the difficulties.
The alarm went off before 5am.
300 miles of driving later, two traffic jams and we park up in Cardiff.
Trying frustratingly to find facilities that weren’t too busy and that could be used without causing too much stress.
Trying to take in a bit of the history of the Capital of Wales while avoiding the crowds.
Watching the anxiety levels rise as we join the long queues to get into a huge stadium.
But then the goal. The whole point of this. Getting the wrestling mad Hawklad into the UK’s first major Wrestling Televised Live Event in 30 years, along with 62000 other crazy fans. Was I so underdressed in a grey T-shirt and Jeans…. With much trying I had obtained 2 tickets at the back but crucially in an area with some space around us. Then for 4 hours Hawklad could be part of something, experiencing something different, something exciting. A brief breakout from the isolation
Then it was over, 300 mile night driving and almost 24 hours later we arrived back home. Wow I was tired. Yes it was difficult. Yes the trip highlighted many issues that create roadblocks to eventually easing the isolation and maybe returning him to a classroom. But Hawklad did some of that exciting living and that is all that mattered.
In the great tradition of Yorkshire Awkwardness, the moment the local water company declared a DROUGHT and brought in a hosepipe ban, ITS NOT REALLY STOPPED RAINING.
So SCHOOL is BACK. Is there an anti Alice Cooper ‘Schools Out’ song. Maybe Another Brick in the Wall…
When I say school is back, I kinda say that figuratively. So far only one subject has set up Hawklad with this year’s class codes, so only one subject is available on the online system. Apart from receiving one code the only other message from school was an email to all parents and pupils reminding (maybe threatening them) them of the attendance rules and the penalties. That’s it.
And so just like the autumn rain, so starts the chasing up school rigmarole, all over again. At least we have the hosepipe ban weather to sunbathe in.
Update… now add one more school email stressing the importance of pupils continuing to work as hard during the nations official mourning period while ensuring their behaviour is appropriately reflective. As Hawklad points out, the UK Parliament has closed for 10 days to mourn but that option is not applicable to schools – again one rule for some, another for the rest of us. WOW he is starting to sound like me, that’s not good.
Sadly we haven’t seen too many of these visitors this year. Add that to the almost complete lack of Bees 🐝. Only a few years back our garden was mobbed by garden visitors but not anymore. Very worrying.
A few weeks back we had a day in the garden and we counted insects for a wildlife survey. You count the highest number of insects at any one time and the best we found was
2 Butterflies in the garden at any one time
0 Bees… ZERO, ZIP, we never saw one all day long
We have been doing this local survey for a few years now. The first time we did the survey, was before Covid, before a Trump President thing, we had the following scores
16 Butterflies at one time
14 Bees at one time
Not good, not good at all.
Sadly something which isn’t missing is the use of the death of a family member in TV and Movies, for dramatic effect. Fine, if it’s a drama movie but Kids stuff….. Two nights ago Hawklad was watching a random Disney type movie and without any warning the mum died. I could see the sadness in his eyes. Then today he’s watching a cartoon and guess what, the mum dies. He turned the TV off and went outside.
At least give some warning if the show is aimed at a young audience. Grief is tough enough without the likes of Disney adding to it.
A few minutes later, Hawklad came back in and quietly said “I’m probably going to stick to Tom & Jerry from now on”. I really can’t disagree with him on this one.
Where did that summer school break go. Just over a week left now and the weather is suitably moody as well.
Something hasn’t really properly sunk in until now. This is Hawklad’s last proper school summer holiday. He leaves school in under one year now. Yes some will get another summer break before college starts but others could jump into a job straight away – official end of childhood according to society.
Where did those years go.
Still no clearer on the educational path ahead. Kinda feeling like I’m going round in circles as a parent. What’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what might not work. What’s best for Hawklad’s future, what’s best for Hawklad now.
I really don’t know anymore.
One thing I do know for sure. I wish I could reset this summer break. Go back 5 weeks and make SUMMER last just that bit longer. Hawklad probably needs that. I definitely need that.