Report Card Day

Yesterday was Report Card Day.

As a kid and young adult I always loved getting my report card.

I loved seeing how I did, what my teachers had to say, what little surprises my parents might learn about me and my behavior (which was almost always good with the occasional "talks too much in class"). I cared quite a bit about my grades - not obsessively - they weren't all A's - but they were good and I wanted to do well.

I was a good student. I loved school. Always.

(Okay, except those first two years in college. You couldn't really say I was a good student then but I definitely loved the experience.)

Getting Simon's report card is a bit of a different story.

When it's Report Card Day I encounter a mixture of thoughts and feelings:

THE CHALLENGING STUFF


  • Seeing anything having to do with standardized or percentage-based numbers. Ugh. Just ugh. Usually I look at it, make a couple mental notes, and then move on to the next part of the packet. For Simon, like many students with delays/disabilities/issues, standardized testing (or any kind of testing really) is a major challenge. More often than not the test results say so very little about his actual abilities.

  • For as much as I work on my attitude and perspective and acceptance and the bigger picture, it's still just hard to read about his struggles. I love him, the whole of him, and support and encourage him to do his best every single day.


THE GOOD STUFF

  • Getting to see where he's at with this goals. Each year at his annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting we, along with his teacher and his program director, come up with specific goals related to reading, math, writing, speech & language, and social skills. Most of his goals this year revolve around social skills, reading, and speech & language. His report card includes updates on his progress for each of those areas.

  • Anytime the teacher(s) include something personal. His speech teacher noted how "he comes to speech with a cheery attitude."

  • It's a reminder that things change and progress and get better and get more challenging and that's just the way it goes. Whatever is the biggest issue right now will ebb and flow into another issue. I find it actually helps me keep things in perspective.

  • He's doing just fine and is making forward progress at his own pace. We find ways to be proud of him every single day.


THE GEM

In addition to the "official" report card content, this was included in his packet:

The "M" next to "I enjoy reading." is one of the best things I've seen in a long time.

I got a little choked up when I came to that one.

This is the first year a form like this has been included with his report card. What I love about it is that it gives him a chance to be self-aware - to acknowledge which things might be more challenging for him and which things he's great at right now.

This is the kind of thing we hope for Simon.

That he can develop a love of reading and learning regardless of if he's performing right at grade level. That he can learn to recognize what he needs to work on and celebrate the areas where he excels.

The more confidence we can build in his own abilities the better equipped I believe he will be in the long run.

GO SIMON GO!

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170 thoughts

  1. Suzette says…
    02/08/2011

    Oh, Ali. This got me a little choked up too. My boys are way past this (10th + 8th grade...gulp!) but I remember the first time they came home with self assessments....I loved it. This brought back memories. I appreciate your honesty!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Rosemary says…
    02/08/2011

    Thank you for sharing such a personal insight into your life. You are SO not alone. We are there with you. I've always told my children that what mattered most here was the grade in effort. I have always loved knowing that while my child is not a "cookie cutter" child, she is happy, respectful, hard working, and sweet. I could not ask for more. I am the one that is blessed by this sweet, sweet soul. Blessings to you, your family and sweet Simon.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Carrie Alexander says…
    02/08/2011

    As a teacher, we often get caught up in the numbers and data that go into recording and reporting to parents. Thank you for the very sweet and heartfelt reminder that there are parents and people behind those numbers! It's always been a part of my practice to help kids self reflect (I teach 5th), even to the point where we have goal notebooks this year where we are graphing and reflecting on our goals every week. It makes such a HUGE difference when the goals for the kiddos are accessable to them, and are ones that they had a say in setting! YAY Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Heather says…
    02/08/2011

    I totally get it- having a little one with autism....it's definitely a love/hate affair with the report cards...

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Paula says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali,
    Thank you much for sharing this story about Simon. I too was s child who lived to please my teachers and parents. I rarely got into trouble, and always had an above average report card. Now that I am a mother of an 8 year old girl who struggles with social skills, pragmatic language, and has a learning disability, I find myself feeling like I failed... She too has an IEP and receives speech therapy and has fallen well below her grade level on her standardized tests. We received her report card yesterday, and I've learned to find joy in the small successes she has had over the semester. Hearing your story has made my day as this struggle can sometimes be very isolating. Thank you for warming my heart.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Cindy says…
    02/08/2011

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences with Simon. My son Logan has many things in common with Simon, and it always does my heart good to hear that we are not the only ones dealing with the challenges and triumphs that come with having a kid who isn't like the rest of the crowd. Logan is so brave and tries so hard, and we celebrate his successes at every opportunity. He is a great kid, and I can see Simon is too. And what a good big brother! Logan has a younger brother, Matthew, who is 5, and I look on with amazement at the two of them figuring out their places in our world. Sometimes it's quite a struggle, but other times they bond together and you can tell they'll be ok. Hang in there with all you've got going on, and thanks, always, for being an inspiration on so many fronts.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Kim B. says…
    02/08/2011

    I'm not a parent, but I'm so grateful for the love and just good common sense you and Chris bring to Simon. As Andi said, we'd ALL be much better off if everyone could encourage their kids and work with them as much as you do. Simon is truly blessed to be in the family he's in, and you're exactly right - if he can find his way to be happy in this world, to keep feeding his curiosity and learning. you'll have done just fine.

    I'm not expressing very well what I want to say -- just that I admire you and Chris a whole heck of a lot, and I think that your sharing so much about your journey with Simon HELPS so many people, as we've seen here today. Moms, teachers, aunts, whoever we may be, we love these kids and want the best for them. You shine a light on that path.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Kristen C says…
      02/09/2011

      I see the word "light" in this post, Ali. Perhaps this is a new perspective on your OLW.

    2. Ali says…
      02/08/2011

      Thank you Kim - I want you to know that I teared up as I read your comment.

  8. Catherine says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali, I read your blog everyday and always come away richer for having done so. Your honesty is so astounding - so great in todays world where I find so many people determined to create this idea that their world is perfect and that they have all the answers! Something really resonated with me today - where you said that there is an "ebb and flow"...That is so true! I have a teenage girl who is a freshman in high school and really trying to find her feet in a school of 3000 kids. I have to say that I so admire my kid because I would not go back to high school in todays day and age if you paid me!! There are days when the pressure of homework, tests, projects not to mention the minefield thats is the drama of the social side...are just alot for a 14 year old and there are alot of tears! As a mom you want to solve it all..and you can't. But today you reminded me that there is an ebb and flow...that tomorrow will be different. Thank you Ali!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Heather says…
    02/08/2011

    GO SIMON GO!!! What a terrific kid. :)
    The standardized tests don't mean much in the long run. He will find his place in the world, and he will do well. And I totally second what a previous poster said: Go Mom Go! Ali your attitude inspires us all.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. rhonda says…
    02/08/2011

    Love todays post and I will be telling my SIL to read it she is a teacher to autistic children. My daughteris a Senior this year and I have to say taking those test everyear was difficult, she is very intelligent mostly an A student but those test would scare her so much that she would get sick during them literally break out in hives and sometimes vomit that I would get a call from the school to come and talk to her and calm her down it always broke my heart. High School years have been better but she still stresses and worries but she no longer makes herself physically ill over them. Simon has the best support system his family and to a child that is what matters the most! Way to go Simon on loving reading!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Dorothy F says…
    02/08/2011

    As a former teacher, I could only wish that all parents could be as caring and smart as you are. You are doing a fantastic job. Pick your battles and celebrate every "little" step.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Renee says…
    02/08/2011

    How wonderful that you sat down and put all your thoughts together immediately. I wish I did things like this more often. I too really like the self-assessment tool. Obviously I don't know Simon but from the way you describe him on your blog and the photos you include of he and Anna, it appears to me that he is doing fabulous!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Jennifer Levin says…
    02/08/2011

    You are officially my superhero!! Not only do you create beautiful things every day (and teach us to do the same), but you're an awesome mom, too!

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. My son is on the spectrum, too, and about 6 months younger than Simon. I love that you share that part of your life with us. I hope I'm giving my son the same amount of patience, love, support and guidance that you and Chris are giving Simon. He's one lucky boy!

    This was truly a beautiful and meaningful post. ~Jen

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Trisha says…
    02/08/2011

    Wow - i loved your post. I'm experiencing such a similar situation but the "good" report card is coming from an older sibling and my little one is the one struggling with academic progress. It's hard to watch one excel so quickly/well and another struggle. (yet they both get the same level of support at home) Your post reminded me that testing or assessments will never be an accurate gauge of his success. He is a unique wonderful little boy that is progressing just fine and I love all of him - every little bit. Wow - now I'm crying. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Debbie says…
    02/08/2011

    I'm waiting to hear if my son may be autistic - the assessment is next month. Because I've been following your blog for a couple of years, and was already familiar with some of your experiences, I've resisted the urge to panic about autism because I see how brilliant Simon is and his progress. I can't thank you enough for sharing such personal details and expressing how scrapbooking keeps it all together, Deb xox

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      02/08/2011

      You are so welcome Debbie. These are really, really amazing kids with so many different levels and abilities and things to celebrate.

      If you ever need a little supportive pick-me-up send me an email :).

  16. wendy says…
    02/08/2011

    I love the included 'self-report' report card. I may just have to steal this idea for the 3rd nine weeks. I'm teaching a 1/2 blended class and just sent home report cards last Thursday. I put a lot of time and effort into the comments section because I felt there's so much more that needs to be said about each child that a few subject grades don't always say. And from a teacher's standpoint, it just feels good that people notice and appreciate those sorts of things.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Alida says…
    02/08/2011

    Hi Ali, thank you for sharing. My son just started pre-primary and I can only begin to imagine how a report card can cut to a parent's heart. As an encouragement I'd like to mention that I've met a lady who's son is on the spectrum. He is currently a third year accountancy student at Varsity.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. cindy holshouser says…
    02/08/2011

    I have followed your blog daily for so long and rarely comment but had to today. I have a 9-year-old and feel all of your above mentioned feelings at report card time too. Expecially the "P" for speaking in class. It is sometimes SO hard to back away from those numbers {in Puyallup it's a number system} and realize the true situation. Peyton rarely misses a single word on a spelling test, but that is never recognized or 'counted'! It helps me to know that other moms experience the same frustrations.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. carriep says…
    02/08/2011

    Thanks for finding the "special" in Simon. I wish all report cards were like the last one, because if it is not valued by the student it won't change! Thanks! Life is not just about academics it's so much more!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Phyllis says…
    02/08/2011

    Ali, thank you for sharing from your heart. Simon is indeed fortunate to be in your family with such love and support. As a mom of three, I too dreaded the report cards and the IEPs. My daughter, who is smart and has such a good, loving heart, always made horrible scores on the standardized tests. She will get her degree this summer to work as a recreational therapist - she has such a heart for those who are often overlooked. Another child who struggles with dyslexia and who had years of speech therapy (they stopped it because of lack of progress) was asked by one of his professors the other day if he is majoring in broadcast because of his enunciation. I still hear the 'r' being struggled with, but he came home glowing because of that question. All three kids are in college, but I'm most proud of who they are, not the grades they make. Standardized testing is not a true indicator of what a child knows or what they have the potential to become, it just shows how well they take tests under pressure (this mom's opinion).

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Colleen says…
      02/08/2011

      "Standardized testing is not a true indicator of what a child knows or what they have the potential to become, it just shows how well they take tests under pressure (this mom’s opinion)."

      This so sums it up perfectly. I was searching for the words, but now I don't need to.

      As a special ed. teacher, I don't like standardized testing for the simple fact that it does not show the progress we've made this year; the learning, growing, and success that has taken place. Instead my students 'success' is defined by this one-time snapshot, and if they fail, our school fails. I often wondered what it would be like if every student had an IEP so that education was based on what each individual student needed for their own personal success.

      Ali, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It is comforting to know there are parents like you and Chris out there. Phyllis, your story reminded me that children will grow up and find something they're successful at no matter the struggles in school.

  21. marisa says…
    02/08/2011

    I used to dread the report cards too. I know he will not be up to grade standards in some subjects and I'm okay with that. I used to not be :) You should have seen me in the IEP's. We do modified state testing as well. I actually look forward to the communication log from the para daily. It always has a little note like yours did about raising a hand or playing with someone.

    He is 10 and it will always be hard but we focus on life skills more than academics right now. He is a whiz at reading, not comprehension, simple math, not when it changes. His memory is awesome. Plus he is into guitar right now, Van Halen mainly! So we thought why not expand on his intense interests and get him lessons! He really wants to rock like Eddie!

    I'm glad to read about other parents who struggle with the report time too. We don't know a lot of parents yet that have kids on the spectrum.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      02/08/2011

      I so love that he's into Van Halen!

  22. Theresa says…
    02/08/2011

    I totally understand where you are coming from . . . My youngest son is in 1st grade and his father and I already somewhat dread report card time. It is so difficult to hear that your child is struggling in any way. My son has speech and language delays, is a struggling reader and writer, and his social skills are somewhat deficient for his age. Not technically autistic, but some similarities . . . but I agree that hearing the positive comments is SO rewarding because you KNOW the amount of blood sweat and tears that was required from everyone in order to make that positive change happen.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Raylene says…
    02/08/2011

    Mom sent some stuff home with me and included a couple of report cards . . . funny, I thought I was smarter back then!! Talkative. Talks too much. Hmmm . . . sounds like another story for "Yesterday & Today"

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Jenny B says…
    02/08/2011

    Very cool, Ali! Thank you for sharing your story (and Simon's story too) so honestly, both the ups and downs. Hearing and seeing your story does my heart good as both an aunt to a very special niece who has been diagnosed with autism and as a special education teacher working with students who have diagnoses on the autism spectrum.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Claire says…
    02/08/2011

    Well done Simon, and well done to you and Chris as well. I think you are all amazing.

    Reply 0 Replies

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