Mum, I don’t want to be different!

Attending Secondary School

It was my sons first parents evening since starting his secondary school and, like all the other parents, I was looking forward to finding out how he was getting on with his studies but also how he had settled into year 7.

He doesn’t attend our local school, instead he travels to the next borough. His older brother had attended the same school and he wanted to follow in his footsteps and go to the same school. My son started school in year 7 whilst his older brother was in year 11 – his final year at school.

Dyslexia screening

Although, I had appointments with his subject teachers I really wanted to talk to the SENCO.

Back in junior school – year 4 – I had been told by his optician that he was showing signs of dyslexia after they had done an intensive eye test on him. I had mentioned it to his school, but nothing was done about it as his reading age was beyond his years.

In the first couple of months of starting secondary school they put the children through a few tests including dyscalculia and dyslexia screening. I was eager to know the scores because of the previous test he had done, but every time I called the school I was informed that the results wasn’t through yet. A few months had passed and I received a letter from the school regarding the results. It had come back that my son was showing signs of dyslexia and they wanted to put him into intervention groups to help him with it. Of coarse, I wanted all the help he could get so he started to attend a special programme called Alpha to Omega and had extra Literacy lessons.

The struggles

As I mentioned before, you couldn’t fault my sons reading. At the age of 11 he has a reading age of a 17 year old. You could have a very intelligent conversation with him and his choice of wording would be very detailed, he was articulate and detailed. He would use a wide range of vocabulary when explaining things to you but this was not evident in his writing.

He struggled with his handwriting, spellings, taking more than one order, tying his shoe-laces, confusing his direction, forgetfulness and mixing up letters and numbers, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘9’ and ‘p’.

He found it hard to get to grips with the times tables, recalling the days of the week and months of the year in order and remembering mathematical facts.

Learning to adapt

As the years have gone on, my boy has learned to deal with it himself. He has been persistent and resilient in his learning. He would choose the easier way out when it came to writing – simplifying his sentences omitting difficult words with easy words.

He wears his watch on the left wrist so he knows which is left and right, without it he can be lost -literally!

We have spent years practicing his times tables and we spend at least an extra hour a week just going over sums. He has learned to love maths and this has helped him.

He is given chores around the house to do, telling him to do one thing and following it with another order. For example; asking him to go upstairs to find a book and to put it back in another place.

Back to Parents Evening

Even though we have always believed him to show signs of dyslexia we have never actually been told by someone in education that he does have it.

My son has been attending two sessions a weeks for the past 4 months in school, missing out on subjects that he really enjoys to get the extra support in specific areas of need.

As we sat down with the SENCO and she went through his scores from the tests taken earlier in the year.

Mild in Dyslexia

Scored very low in Dyscalculia

We sat and talked about his struggles or signs and she agreed that he needs extra support, but what has been given to him may need to be at the next level as he says he is finding it too easy within the group.

Dyscalculia test

We are not sure that the results reflect his ability. As part of the test he was asked to answer by pushing the right or left button for the correct answers but obviously not being able to identify his left and right didn’t reflect the true answers.

SENCO have agreed for him to sit the test again in October with the new year 7’s coming up into the senior school and this time they will label the buttons with L and R to help him.

I don’t want to be different

It was the first time that my son had been told he was dyslexic and had dyscalculia. We had discussed it before but it had never been confirmed by a test.

As we walked out of the school, my son turned to me and said

“I don’t want to be different!”

My heart broke.

I told him that he isn’t different. He is still him. Nothing has changed.

I reminded him that we are all different and that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We all have something that makes us different from one another, but now we can work on his as we now know what he is struggling with.

Nothing changes for us, we will keep encouraging him to achieve and we will keep on spending time with him going over his spellings and times tables.

I understand that he just wants to fit in with his friends, that he needs to feel secure and safe within his environment. He reassures me that no one is picking on him for attending interventions, but it’s just painful to him to finally hear that he has different educational needs to his peers.

It’s time now for him to shine as now he is receiving the support that he deserves. I have reminded him that he has already acquired and developed skills to get him to where he is now. He is already in top set for Maths and English. We just need to be positive about this, I want him to know that it’s Ok to be different!

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Fishing For Phonics

Keep Phonics Fun

Learning to read can be tricky. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and write.
It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Once a child understands what sound is linked to a letter they can then begin to blend them together in order to read or spell a word.

With a little creativity teaching and learning phonics can be fun, by keeping the whole process fun it will help the child to become engaged more. Phonics can be educational and fun.

There are lots of ways to keep phonics fun and different including

  • Hunting for letters
  • Using magnetic letters to form words
  • Using bricks to make words
  • Bury letters or items in sand or rice
  • Use a paintbrush and water outside on the pavement to write down letters and words
  • Unlocking phonics sounds with a padlock and key
  • Matching the beginning sounds to items
  • Silly soup
  • Sorting baskets – each basket represents a sound. Place objects into the correct basket

What is Fishing for Phonics?

Fishing for phonics can be done in many ways:

You can hide items or letters in a water tray and children can use a net to fish them out.

Print out letters or pictures and place a paperclip on them. The child can use a piece of string with a magnet attached to the end.

Or you can use the Fishing Game

Fishing for Phonics

Place the sounds or words that the child is working on on the underneath of a fish.

Phonics on fish

And just as you would play the game normally, using a rod, catch the fish. When you catch a fish the child has to say the word or sound that they have caught. If they get it wrong, correct them and then place it back in the game to be caught again.

Catching fish to say the sound or word

If they are catching words, then ask the child to put the word into a sentence. This helps them to retain the information of what they have learnt.

This game also teaches children about turn taking and helps to develop their fine motor skills.

This game can be differentiated depending on what the learning objective is. It can also be used to teach number bonds or times tables.

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Fake News Is Top Of The Class At Madame Tussauds London

After being at the forefront of popular and celebrity culture for more than 250 years, Madame Tussauds London has launched a new programme to support and educate students about fake news.

 

The ‘Fake News and the Media’ school lesson is part of Merlin Entertainments new ‘Today’s Lesson Will Be…’ educational programme that is being rolled out across the company’s London attractions. Created in collaboration with education specialist SHAPES for Schools this new lesson is linked to PSHE and the English national curriculum and is targeted at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students aged between 9 – 13 years old.

Taking place inside the world famous attraction on Baker Street, which boasts A-list celebrity figures such as Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson has been created as a reaction to the current issues around the distortion and misuse of false information and the influence it is having on young people’s choices.

 

As the lines continue to blur between what is a real news story and what is false, the interactive lessons will provide teachers and their students with the essential skills to navigate the news agenda safely online and across social media.

‘Today’s Lesson will be…’

Delivered by Madame Tussauds performers, the ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson will lead students through a critique of how the media presents news whilst also analysing the difference between rumour, spin, satire and false information.

Lessons will include

  • Structured discussion around modern celebrity culture and the media, and how the two are linked.
  • Working in groups to categories news stories according to different criteria, including: how the news was shared; who wrote it, text and images, and the emotive impact on the reader.
  • A group-based definition of ‘fake news’ and other key terminology.
  • A game in which pupils try to identify their classmates’ real stories from their fake ones.

Joanne Channon, Education Manager at Merlin Entertainments, said:

“The dissemination of false information through the media both online and across social media can be incredibly confusing and challenging for young people. Out of the classroom learning is proven to be highly effective in helping to stimulate young minds while boosting student’s social skills such as confidence, creativity and communication. We believe our new workshop will inspire students this academic year and we hope it will have a positive impact on how they interact with modern media in the future.”

The fake news workshop helps children to stretch their literacy skills. They will learn how to identify different types of media, it’s purpose and to understand the concept of ‘fake news and how it impacts on modern audiences. Children will analyse a variety of news stories and by picking out textual evidence to back up their decisions they will learn how to assess whether they think the story is real or fake.

Learning outside of the classroom can lead to a deeper understanding of the subjects being taught by bringing it to life. It can help to inspire and reignite enthusiasm for learning. Hands on learning will also enhance a child’s personal and social communication skills by encouraging communication and increases engagement with in the subject.

The new ‘Fake News and the Media’ lesson can be booked as part of Madame Tussauds London’s schools package. This includes such benefits as a 40% saving on tickets and free Teacher Resource Packs. For more information please visit www.madametussauds.com/education

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A sick day or 100% attendance

Yesterday I received that phone call in work that all parents dread. The moment you hear the words “This is ******** school calling, we have ******** in the school office feeling unwell”!

As a working parent, that doesn’t have family at hand to help out when my children are sick, it means that I have to call in work for the day off to look after my child. And as an employer of a school, I always feel guilty having to have time off and not being there for the children in school. But my main priority is my own children at home. It doesn’t happen that often, maybe once or twice a year and I don’t normally have time off due to sickness. But i still feel like I should be there for my work colleagues and children.

Also, the first thing that comes to mind when your child is sick is that of attendance. Yes, it is drummed into our heads so much by schools that our children need to attend in order to receive those precious certificates that they give out for 100% attendance. I can understand on both parties, the school why it is important for children to attend school every day of the school year and why as a parent we keep them at home. I think that maybe if we, as parents could show a doctor’s note to the school then the child should still get a certificate. It really isn’t a child’s fault that they are ill. In fact they have probably caught a bug from one of those children in school that get 100% attendance.

After receiving the call I rushed over to my son’s school to pick him up. I was told over the phone that he was very sleepy and just not himself. As he walked out of the office, I looked at his face and saw that he did look at little peaky. I carried him home and he fell asleep in my arms. A clear sign of him not being very well. My son is normally a very loud, active child who doesn’t really sit still long enough to get comfortable. When we got home I placed him on the sofa and gave him some medicine, within minutes he was asleep.

I thought that maybe once he had a little rest and when he woke up he would be ok. But I was wrong. He woke with a temperature of 39c and crying in pain. It’s horrible when our little ones are ill. I just want to take his pain for him and hold him tight. His skin was burning up and his heart was beating fast, a clear sign of a fever. I stripped him down to his underwear and put a cold damp cloth onto his forehead. His temperature dropped a little and he was saying he was hungry. After eating only a few grapes, he was sick. I was so glad that i had thought that maybe he could vomit as i has got the bowl out ready. You know as a parent, as soon as our children say they are not well, you grab the bucket just incase.

We had quite an unsettled night as we both slept downstairs on the sofa, we’re lucky our sofa is as big as a single bed and just as comfy. Little one kept crying in the night and was really hot to touch. It was sitting next to a radiator. I kept giving him sips of water and calpol and lots of hugs and reassurance that Mummy was there with him.

He woke feeling hungry. Careful not to fill up his little empty belly too quickly, I gave him half a weetabix. He would normally eat 2. Clever Mummy. As he brought that straight up too.

Since this morning we have had no sickness, but he is drifting in and out sleep and his temperature seems to have dropped with the intake of the medicine.

It’s a sofa day for us 2, watching Netflix and snuggling under his duvet. We still have the sick bucket close by, just in case!

There is no possible way that he would have managed a day at school today. He can hardly move without falling over. He has no energy and just keeps sleeping. And if I had sent him in he would have just been sent home straight away with the school thinking that I am not a very caring Mummy. Also with the school rules of ‘Once your child is sick they need 24 hours away from school after the last vomiting session’ it means that he can not be in any way.

So now he faces the assembly where he has to watch other children being given certificates because they haven’t been sick and vomited and applaud them as he receives nothing.

Unfair. Silly. Discriminating.

Is it an achievement for not falling sick?

I do think that it is important to reward children who are determined in school, contribute to class activities and are making attainments in subjects. Surely there is another way?

What do you think?

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Twinkl Review

Are you a Teacher? Childminder? Nursery Nurse? Or a Teaching Assistant like me? Then there is an online website called Twinkl that offers the largest collection of free and premium downloadable and printable primary teaching resources.

Twinkl can help you with display resources, lesson plan ideas, Powerpoint presentations, worksheets and role play resources.

For the past month i have been using the Early Years and Primary Teaching Learning Resource Website as part of finding resources for the classroom but also printing off work for my 5 year old to do at home. There is a vast amount of subject covered in the resource section, ranging from literacy, classroom management, maths, topics and things that we love like minibeast and the seaside.

I found a minibeast Check list that i printed out for the children in my nursery to do as it was their topic at the time, we took them out onto the playing field and walked around looking for the little bugs that were on their and at 3-4 years old they found it easy to follow as the pictures were clear and all they had to do was put a mark in the little box next to the picture.

Joseph my little boy who is 5 and in year 1 at school is quite a late developer in his reading and writing but as the school year has gone on he has improved dramatically, using Twinkl at home has helped a lot too. Under the resources page for KS1 i found a lot of work that i could print off for him to work on at home, the worksheets Contractions Butterfly, which are available for premium members, is great for reinforcing the use of apostrophes by demonstrating how the letters from different words are omitted when the two words are combined into one. Joseph has been learning this in school but struggles slightly with it, he understands what an apostrophe is but finds it hard to read works with them in.

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I sat and listened to him reading out the words on the worksheet and then reading the words that i cut out for him to glue on, he looked up at me and said

“Is will not, won’t?”

I was really pleased with how he sat and worked them out for him self and was quite surprised at how much he actually knows and can do.

 

clever boy
clever boy

Next i printed out a set or letter formations from A-Z, Joseph confuses a lot of the letters with each other like p and q or b and d, so i thought that this would help him learn how to form each letter, I know this is what they teach them in school, in their handwriting books so doing it with him at home should help him improve. There is a set of letter formation worksheets for each letter of the alphabet. Each sheet enables children to practice letter formation and apply it using the images below. Joseph found this fun to do and even asked to do more!

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Their really is lots of different resources to suit lots of ages and abilities on the Twinkl website and there is also a lovely community available too, I joined their facebook page and found lots of interesting activities to do with the boys over the summer from what other members have put on there.

I have stocked up printer ink and paper ready to print out lots of fun worksheets for the boys to do over the holidays.

A premium membership is £29.99 a year, that’s as little as £2.50 per month! Definitely worth it, you could buy a workbook for your child once a week and it would cost a lot more than that. Being a premium member gives you instant access to their full range of 88,000 printable resources and activities.

What i could write about this website just wouldn’t do it justice, all i can say is take a visit and see for yourself! You wont be disappointed! There is so much to look at and print out, i could go on forever.

I was given the access to being a premium member for the purpose of this review, may i add thought that i was already a member of this wonderful resources site and have used it on many occasions, for work and home use.

 

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