Reading At School – Opinions Wanted

Last week, one of my sons (Ian) was enrolled into a book club at school.  I think it’s fair to say that his ability to read (in a functional sense) is above average for his age.  As such, along with others of a similar ability, he was seemingly moved into this group.  The book club’s purpose is to promote comprehension, and encourage understanding of literature that they are reading.  Well, that’s my understanding.

I was introduced to this concept when he brought home a book with a note attached, telling me what page he should read up to; and by when.  Needless to say, being a diligent family, we did as required.  However, there was a problem…

The book that he was working on in this club, bored him.  I mean, seriously bored him!  It could be heard in his tone, seen in his mannerisms and let me tell you; it took an age to sit him down in the first place.  By the way, the point of this article is about personal taste, so I’m not going to name the book.

At this point in my tale, it is worth mentioning that Ian reads books every day.  This is his choice too, we don’t have to motivate him.  Much of the material he reads at the moment is written by Dav Pilkey, but he reads, and has read a great deal of books by many other authors too.  Where Dav Pilkey is concerned, if you read the attached article, it gives away one of the many possible reasons that Ian finds him relateable.  They share a similar sense of humour.  Likewise, the characters in Captain Underpants have ADHD, and so does Ian.  Therefore, Ian is reading about children who have similar traits.  Importantly, he is also identifying with the challenges that the characters face.  In fact it appears, although the diagnosis isn’t specified, that Mr Pilkey also had these qualities.  In the article, Dav explains that he explored his strengths, with encouragement from a particular teacher and his parents.  Yet otherwise, he was commonly seen in a bad light at school.

Ian also has autism, and where comprehension is concerned, care has to be taken.  This applies to instructions as well as literature; in either written or verbal form.  Because of this, Ian tends to operate at one extreme or the other.  If he understands something and can visualise it, he submerges himself fully.  You should see him walking down the street, whilst in his head he is living in Super Mario’s world.  In contrast, if Ian doesn’t engage with something, you’ve lost him completely.  With Ian, this is easy to see.  Game over!

But doesn’t this exist for all of us?  We all have things that we like and don’t like.  Not only with literature or anything school related, but with everything.  I’m talking movies, TV and games; even food.  So, on that basis, why do we still insist on force-feeding children literature, that they are just never going to engage with?  If there is a book club in school, why couldn’t it cater for individual tastes.  Surely everyone could pick their own material, and then share what they’ve read with the group.  The questions they need to answer around the book could all be the same, but with different books will come a variety of answers.  Likewise, this book club would then self-promote a love of reading.  Ian would talk about Captain Underpants for example, and the child next to him may think ‘Wow!  That sounds great!’.  Ian may also learn of other material that interests him.  It would be a perpetual loop of enjoyment for all things literature.

James Patterson sums up my point here…

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Please don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of people pushing boundaries.  I think it is healthy for all of us to explore things we sometimes don’t normally lean towards.  Again, this goes for literature and anything else in life.  However, when children start at a point of enjoyment, I believe that they would pick up an enthusiasm for other things from peers.  This itself would promote their exploration.  I’m thinking of Ian coming home saying ‘Dad, you’ll never guess what.  This kid at school is reading (fill in your own suggestion), and it sounds fantastic!’.  After all, nobody told him to read Dav Pilkey, he just found it on the shelf.

Surely this is preferable to grown-ups imposing literature that some will never enjoy?  That will never teach them to fully engage and understand the content will it?

As a side note, I’d also like to point out, that this seems to be a general culture in our education system.  In short, every school I come across takes this approach, not just ours.  This rambling isn’t in any way targeted at just one institution; the approach is much more widespread that that.  Otherwise, James Patterson wouldn’t have pointed it out.  To my knowledge, he didn’t attend the same school Ian did lol.  I’m certain that many of you see the same things.  As my mum said…’That’s the way we all learned.’

But does that make it right?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please feel free to comment away!

 

 

End Of School Year

As a parent of children with autism and ADHD, I have to say that I find the end of the school year somewhat daunting!

Why?

Well, because this time of year raises lots of issues, that on the whole my kids don’t cope with. These mostly revolve around one single concept…CHANGE!

A new teacher for next year is a very real problem. Likewise, just changing classroom or curriculum can be hard. Even taking 6 weeks off, and changing day to day routines, is commonly stressful for my little ones. Then, the anxiety from all this stuff (and much, much more) will come home. In fact, the behaviours associated with my kids feeling these pressures, is almost always heightened once they’re home. Its their emotionally safe place!

So, where other families may look forward to the summer break, for ours it can often be tough. This can paint a confusing picture for many, with a lack of understanding over how all these ‘foreseen’ changes can cause such problems. Especially as these things are usually of little consequence to a lot of people.

Don’t get me wrong…I love having my children at home for the holidays. But it takes careful, minute by minute guidance, to ensure they love it too.

Let me know how the summer is for you and your family. I would love to hear from you, whether you face similar challenges or not.

Get In Touch

Whilst busy writing today, I thought it was a good time to suggest that we keep in touch…

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How else, are we going to discuss the world I’m creating?

How else, are YOU able to forward any ideas or thoughts you have on my story?

How else, are YOU going to be able to find special offers?

How else, could you get involved in giveaways?

So…

What are you waiting for? Pop your details in the form below, and let’s get chatting!!

Can’t wait to hear from you…

A Little About Me

Perhaps it’s about time I told you a little about me. Question is…what do I tell you?

Well, here’s a start…

I’m a forty three year old father to three beautiful children. I also have a wonderful fiancee (mum to two of those children), who I am about to marry on 25th July this year. I’m so excited, but extraordinarily nervous too. She is my absolute inspiration, and very supportive over this whole writing thing, which has been a dream I’ve never followed before. Couldn’t tell you why I haven’t, but I’m sure there are plenty of rubbish reasons. Anyway, my fiancee also has two (much more grown up) children. Therefore, between us, we are incredibly lucky enough to have five kids!

Are you keeping up?

If so, before I go into more detail, I need to ask that you bear with me. There is a point to what I’m about to say…

Where the three smaller children are concerned, they have each had various neuro-developmental challenges, on top of some other difficulties. My daughter has something called Goldenhar Syndrome, and recently got a diagnosis of autism, whilst one of our sons also has a diagnosis of autism along with ADHD. Lastly, our other son now too has a diagnosis of ADHD. As such, I guess it is fair to say, that my role in life over the last few years, has been as a (primarily) stay-at-home parent, caring for our children. More specifically, my time is obviously spent, doing those things that most parents do…parenting! But also, between the three kids, I do tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time, in and out of hospital appointments.

The point is, over the years, I have been very passionate around making sure ‘Early Intervention’, is seen as critical in improving our children’s life chances. Needless to say, not just where my own children are concerned either. Believe me, this is much easier said than done, and getting the right support from health, within education and the like, has been/is still, a hard slog.

Because of this, from time to time I get involved in campaigns, or help to spread awareness, around children with ADHD and autism. As I have a daughter with autism, one specific area of concern for me, is the identification and intervention where girls with autism are concerned. This field is specifically challenging in our society, as there is simply not enough information or expertise in my opinion, and therefore, the diagnosis of girls with autism is far too delayed as a general rule.

So there you go…

That’s a snippet about me, and my family life, as it is at the moment. I would love to hear from anyone else in similar circumstances. I’m a big believer that we should all stand firmly together.

Writing-More Personal Than I Could Have Ever Imagined

At this point in my work, I have begun considering the very real prospect of others entering the world I am creating. I think it is fair to say, it’s unbelievably scary. Honestly, I never envisaged how personal this was, or how vulnerable I would feel at the thought of putting my story ‘out there.’ Or maybe I have considered this, somewhere deep inside my subconscious, which would explain why I’ve never done it before.

Having now asked someone to look over my story so far, the thought of that person joining me in my world, is both exciting and frightening. Yet I have no idea why I feel this way. I assume it could be the prospect of being judged; perhaps this person won’t like my work. Or maybe it’s because they might see me differently. Whatever it is, seems to make me feel exposed.

That said, I want feedback, and I want to know if my story is coming across to others in the way I have intended. What is certain, is that I hadn’t realised how just how difficult writing a novel was going to be, and how much there was to consider. Therefore, I am wondering how well it conveys what I have imagined.

Now, all of this seems to paint the picture that I am lacking in confidence in my own ability to write my story. Honestly, I still don’t think that is true. I am certain that I can be a great storyteller, and that I can definitely craft a good book. But by doing so, I am now opening up a part of me that nobody has ever seen before…

How could that be anything other than frightening?

My First Blog Post – Election Day 2017

It seemed like the write time to start my blog.  I am around half way through my first story, and hope to get it published on Kindle as soon as I have completed it.

Having always wanted to write, I have finally taken the plunge!!

Yet, there’s something a little bizarre about finding myself making a fresh start today!