Last day of term today! I’m glad, I think the kids are all ready for a holiday. We had fish and chips for tea and watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone tonight to celebrate, which was lovely. Well, the boys and I watched it, Emma and Troy ate tea and then headed off into the Arctic weather (coldest day in 11 years!) for Emma’s hockey game.
Poor Soren is definitely ready for a break from school. He was so upset this morning, it was rather tragic. This week he’s been the ‘special person’ of their class, so he brings home Parsley, the class stuffed dog, and does a scrapbook page with photos about their adventures, which for Soren involved Parsley sleeping with Luna in her crate, playing with the guinea pigs, reading books, playing Lego and jumping on the trampoline. On the Friday when they have to give Parsley to the next person they get to go up the front to share their Parsley scrapbook page, and they also take a few special things from home to share with the class. Soren has been quite excited about this until I pulled up at school this morning and instead of just waving me goodbye he wrapped his arms around my neck and sobbed. Since five seconds earlier he’d been laughing with Jericho I was pretty surprised by this. He eventually managed to tell me that he was upset because his teacher wasn’t going to be there today (she’s going to Greece for her holidays, as you do) and he would miss out on his special person talk. Nothing would comfort him until I actually parked the car and took him up to the office to find out who was teaching his class, and then explained to them that it was his special person day and he was really worried that he’d miss out. Even then he just seemed to have a really hard time getting back on track, so I ended up going to his classroom with him. Until the bell rang he just sat on my lap, hugging me and patting my back, which is what he always does when he’s upset. (It’s so cute, I hug and pat when he’s crying, and ever since he was really little he pats me when he’s upset, he has even done it to his teacher when she’s comforted him at school.)
He seemed to cheer up while he was doing his talk though- he had taken his Lego light, his yoyo that Nicholai gave him as a prize when he organised his own fair for Soren, Jericho and Emma, and his ‘Born at Home’ baby onesie so he could tell them about being born in the car, and all the kids seemed to like his things.
We got Nicholai and Emma’s reports today. Emma’s was great, she’s been working hard and getting some excellent results, especially in her humanities subjects. Maths is her weak spot, but even there she’s putting in the effort and has been improving over the semester as she has settled into a new teaching style and gained confidence. Troy and I are really proud of her.
I was less happy with Nicholai’s report, although it’s not completely straightforward. On the surface it’s a pretty good report, he got some high marks and nothing was terrible. My issues with it are two-fold though. Firstly, that his marks for things like effort and organisation show a definite dip from last year. Secondly, although some of his marks are excellent and they are all at least very good, I truly believe he is capable of better. Of course this all ties back to number one, because if he did put in more effort he would improve his marks.
Troy and I have talked about it, and we’ll talk about it with Nicholai over the weekend, but I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure how to approach it. It’s really difficult – I don’t want to be too demanding in my expectations, I don’t want the kids to be as neurotic as I was and feel that any grade that is less than an A/ in the 90s means they’re not good enough. At the same time, when Nicholai is averaging in the low/mid 80s for his maths homework sheets I want to know why. Something like French, which at that level is primarily memorisation of vocab and grammar rules, why isn’t he doing better at that?
I don’t know. I think it’s pretty ordinary for teenage boys to go through a phase of just not being bothered, and not really going to any effort to do their best, and I don’t want to overreact and start being combative with him over school and homework. But I also know that Nicholai’s attitude to homework is slapdash at best, and he probably spends no more than half an hour a week on it, which really doesn’t cut it!
Up to now, Nicholai has always excelled without effort. He does put effort into things that interest him, but when it comes to school he has never had to actually really work at anything. I think now though, we’re probably reaching the point where he is going to have to work at things to achieve. That means taking time over homework, reviewing French vocab or maths facts or science concepts before tests, and actually being organised in regards to having what he needs for class and homework, and utilising his class time better than he currently is. I suppose that’s the tack we need to take with him when we talk about it – focus on how to improve his effort and organisational skills.