School’s Out For Summer

Yesterday was Joseph’s penultimate day at school before the summer break and we got to school a little earlier before all of the other children arrived. Joseph bounced into school barely giving me a second glance. For some parents they might be a little irked at that but for me, I was smiling that Joseph exuded such confidence that he didn’t need me to walk him through the door, attached firmly to my side.

He marched across to his peg, hung up his bag and confidently carried his letter for the school administrator in one hand whilst nursing his teacher gifts in the other. He hardly gave me a second glance whilst he moved along in the direction of the staff room to greet his teachers. In fact, the Deputy Head had to remind him to say goodbye and with that I was dismissed by Joseph.

Whether it was the intensity of the last few weeks of the summer term, a build up of the past few months events or just hayfever, I couldn’t help but shed a fair amount of tears but not tears of sadness.

You see, I’m often asked whether I’m proud of Joseph and what parent isn’t proud of their child but there are a couple of events that have made me consider our different path and what being proud actually means to me.

Looking back at the journey Joseph has had in the six years he has been at his school, makes me realise how far he has come. Joseph being happy at school and not bleating at me every single morning that “there is no school today’ makes me feel at ease that he will settle back into a new school year with no problems. Hopefully.

I thought about the conversations he has at home where he instigates the conversation and controls it these days and how when he started at school he could only respond in two word sentences if he was forced to converse. I love how when someone appears in the morning he says very assertively “Good Morning” as if he is holding them to account for their limited morning chatter and he certainly expects the same greeting in return.

Similarly when we drive home and he knows his siblings are on the way back in their Dad’s car, we call them and he confidently asks, “Have you had a good day at school? What have you had for lunch?”, makes interested noises “ahh” and then tells them, “Now ask me”. That may not seem much in some people’s eyes but is absolutely massive to us. He is learning the art of conversation and not simply instigating it, purely based on a basic need such as food or drink.

I watched him recently at his stepbrother’s play and although pretty much disinterested in the play itself, when a song started about doing the Charleston, he immediately joined in, despite never seeing the dance before. He stood at the back imitating the moves and I saw his stepbrother smile on proudly rather than being embarrassed about the overgrown 10 year old at the back of the hall. Even his headteacher who has met him a couple of times before, looked across and smiled warmly and why wouldn’t you? After the show he took his time to take Joseph over to his friends and proudly said “This is Joseph”.

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So when I see lots of proud statuses around SATs results, whilst I am pleased for the success of your children, I am no longer that parent who is craving for the same experience. I am having the same experience. I am proud of the polite, confident boy Joseph has become. He may not ever sit any exams but the successes he has are worth so much more to us. He is tidy, he helps unknowingly around the house with his desire to garden and put his pots away and shuts the doors behind us. He’s loving and he doesn’t ask for a great deal other than his iPAD.

He’s happy and content

His stepbrother recently came first in one race and third in another at his own sports day. Yes we were thrilled for him and we took the time to tell him that after it had finished but there was something else that day that we were even more proud of. One of the races (a dash around the field), had a child finishing quite a way after everyone else and we saw Joe turn back and run in with this child supporting him every step of the way. Boy, did our hearts swell with pride.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be proud of your child’s academic achievements but aren’t these the sort of qualities in your children that you desire?

Knowing that today was the last day for Joseph, with a teacher he has had for the last three years, I knew I would be a little hayfevery. This is a teacher who was newly qualified when he first met Joseph and I honestly wouldn’t have known at that time. He has a background in music which has been an added bonus for Joseph but they been a pretty great match. They’ve probably wanted to tear each other’s hair out at times but I know they have both learnt a lot in those three years. I hope it’s something that his teacher will pass onto future generations of teachers that often all you need is patience, understanding and a willingness to learn.

When I arrived, the teachers and children were stood in the playground waiting (for everyone not just me!) and they started to play the music, School’s out for Summer. Cue teachers and children dancing about. It was a brilliant moment to close those final minutes of school. Each child in his teacher’s class received a learning hero certificate with some words that made the tears flow again.

Thank you for being such a superb bunch of learners over the last three years. You have been an amazing class and I will miss teaching you next year. Good luck for next year, you’ll be brilliant.

And with that, ends Year 5 and after the summer Joseph will be embarking on his final year in not just primary school but in a mainstream school.

If I thought today was emotional, next year will need me to take at least a day off to recover.

Happy summer holidays everyone!

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