And, more than that... cue drum roll... we have not one but two 5's!!!
Cue happy dance, cue much merriment!
Now for all of you sitting there in bemused silence, about to leave this blog forever in a cloud of confusion, let me explain to you what 'effort grades' are and why I feel they need a blog post all of their very own. For those of you already 'in the know' then please bear with me. Or just skip this part all together! The choice is yours!
Effort grades are issued by our secondary school, and I believe many others, each half term to track the effort students are putting into each individual subject. They are graded from 1, which equates to "Where were you? Have to listened to anything? Serious concerns!", up to 5, which equals, "Fantastic! You are doing a great job!"
Let me at this point say, I am not complaining about effort grades. I think they are a valuable resource for parents to keep up with where students are. Especially once they reach the realms of secondary where suddenly everything seems that little bit further out of your reach, where children turn to teenagers and communication is just a bit harder, to put it mildly!
Moglet Daddy, however, announced quite unprompted and unexpectedly, in one of many meetings at school this year that he doesn't pay much attention to effort grades. Cue sharp intakes of breath, me included!!! A bit left field there Mr C., thanks for the warning!!! How to rock a shaky boat in one easy lesson!
He then went on to explain his bombshell, and I found myself agreeing.
You see his point was that Moglet number 2 and all those like him, those with the hidden disabilities I keep banging on about, are putting in tremendous levels of effort that go unseen, sometimes just to get to the lesson.
Imagine for one minute if you can, sitting in, lets say a Maths lesson. It's a new concept, so you really need to be focusing. But.. actually right at this moment, you can't feel the chair underneath your bottom. You know it's there, you aren't daft, without it you would be sitting on the floor, but actually you can't feel it. So you start wriggling just to make sure it's there. Suddenly you can feel it again. That's better, now you can concentrate. As long as you keep wriggling, you can concentrate. What the teacher is explaining is getting tricker, you need to really concentrate now. The wriggling intensifies, its ok you are keeping up.
"Oi" Someone is shouting in your ear. You have bumped into the person next to you, or you have kicked the chair of the person in front of you. You see, you were swinging your legs and because your spatial awareness is a bit out then you didn't even see how close it was.
Everyone is looking at you, its quite embarrassing. The teacher tells you to focus and stop fidgeting. Oh no! She has also noticed that your shirt is hanging out and asks you tuck it in. But the thing is, your sensory processing radar is cranked right up today and wearing that shirt between your trousers and your skin feels like having a hundred screwed up crisp packets around your waist.
So now, you can't feel the chair and you want to scratch your belly to pieces. It doesn't help that you didn't get to sleep last night because when you are overtired from concentrating, which you are really trying to do, then its really hard to wind down.
But back to the lesson. Its no good, concentrating on this is just beyond you at this moment. You put your hand up and ask for a movement break. You hate doing this. It singles you out as different!! What 12 year old boy wants to be different, but your parents and Learning Support have drilled this in to you, and deep down you know it helps. The teacher agrees, you go into the corridor and have a wander about and push on the wall, trying to wake up your muscle receptors and convince your body to behave. A sixth former wanders past, makes a comment, so you scuttle back to your lesson, not quite a long enough movement break but your street creed can't take much more!
When you get into the lesson then they have nearly finished the intro. You listen for the a few more minutes, trying not to jiggle and upset anyone else, aware also that you have missed a whole chunk of explanation. The teacher tells everyone to get on. You reach for your bag to get everything out.
The teacher makes a beeline for you to explain what you have missed. When she arrives she sees that you haven't got your equipment out yet. She reminds you gently that you should do this as soon as you come in. The thing is if you get it out straight away, then you know that you will fiddle with it. Teachers don't like that so you tend to wait until you need it. Also you have a habit of snapping pencils when you listen and your mum is getting cheesed off with constantly buying them. You don't mean to snap them but you don't realise how much pressure you are applying to them when you are engrossed in something else.
Anyway you stop getting your equipment out and the teacher explains what you missed, you think you get it. She goes to help someone else and you return to your bag. Your heart sinks you have forgotten your ruler. You remember now you had it last night doing that Science homework but you must have left it on your desk at home. That's right you were tidying up but then the phone rang and you were distracted, it went clean out your head.
You get through the lesson, but because of your late start you haven't got to the end of the task. You need to complete this for homework. Something else to remember. Because homework is a whole new minefield. Remembering to put it in your planner; copying it down from the board; when you can't write without watching your hand; remembering it is actually in your planner when you get home so tired all you want is to switch off;making sure you pick up all the sheets at the end of the lesson; making sure you don't lose the sheet in the meantime.
But at least today there wasn't a sports lesson going on on the field outside, because that big window you're near can be really distracting when there are people run past it and calling out.
Anyway its science next, that's ok, apart from that dripping tap, that's really distracting!!!
Don't get me wrong I know my son is no angel, I know that aside from all the things I have listed here, there is the usual inattentiveness and the distractions of being a 12 year old boy in a classroom. Beating the same drum just one more time, nothing I have described here should be seen as an excuse for not learning but there are also clear reasons why dyspraxia children struggle to make progress.
There is also nothing here that can't be address with a little bit of thought, discussion and empathy on the part of the teacher, parent and child. We are incredibly lucky, because right now we have that. We have developed a good working relationship with school and they are ready to listen when we need them too. but it works both ways, sometimes we have to swallow a bitter pill too, sometimes the changes have to come from us. It's a work in progress there are always bumps and blips. We have to make adjustments and compromises on a regular basis, because along with everything else it is, one thing Dyspraxia isn't is linear. Frustratingly, for everyone involved, especially him, what Moglet number 2 can do one day, one week, may not be what he can do the next. It's a bit like juggling with jelly, or maybe even herding moggies! Fun, but flaming hard work!!
So forgive a harassed and undoubtably biased Moglet Mummy if I believe that Moglet number 2 puts in huge amounts of effort everyday, and forgive me some more if I think that those two 5's are pretty damn amazing!!!