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. Paula G says…
    02/08/2011

    I teared up too as I read your post...happy tears. My Aspergers child rocks my world every day. The wonder and beauty she brings doesn't erase the worry and challenges, but her overall being gives me the right perspective 99% of the time. The hard times are when I see her yearn for or get frustrated over something that we have been working towards but success just hasn't hit yet. A little voice inside me reminds me that to everything there is a season and a time, and there is no "right" way of being -- each person on earth has a different way of being in at least one way. I admire Simon's way of being. Our kids deserve so many kudos for being champions of overcoming challenges - they are better at this than many neuro-typical kids. Their accomplishments are huge! We have great reason to be proud! GO SIMON GO!!!! (I think his cheering section could fill a football stadium!)

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

    LOVE how he graded himself. What a great idea! Keep up the great work Simon (and family)... looks/sounds like a house with A LOT of love and support!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Catherine says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali,

    I have no children, just four younger brothers... and I still got a little choked up reading your post today. I volunteered in college with kids in grammar school who were incredibly talented but never excelled on standardized tests. I loved those kids. They were my family away from home for almost 4 years. Simon just seems like such an incredible little guy. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  4. Kristen C says…
    02/09/2011

    My son is in kindergarten and while his struggles with speech & language and OT began many years ago, we are just delving into the whole report card thing. We got his first report card in November and I felt so many emotions - scared whether as an older kindergartner he'd have to repeat the grade, concerned and happy with some aspects of it. Like the IEP, it brings a flood of emotions. Overall though, the report card identified areas that we needed to work on with Nathan, AS A FAMILY and I have seen huge progress since November, HUGE!! And for that, I am thankful.

    Your words resonate with me Ali!

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  5. Lisa says…
    02/09/2011

    Go Simon! We're all rooting for you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Meghan says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali, thank you for this post. I never comment on blogs but was so moved by your post (to tears actually). As a student I had an IEP, I struggled so much with reading, writing and communication. No matter how hard I tried I just could not seem to get it. I was lucky I had parents who were supportive and loving, like I can tell you are with Simon, and that is what makes all the differences and what is important. Not any number or percentage on a piece of paper. So even though there were challenges, knowing that they loved and valued me no matter helped get me through and gave me confidence at times when I did not have it. I learned that it was ok to struggle and to get help (that was a hard lesson to learn personally) and as a result gradually I developed a real love for learning. I learned that what was important was that I took away knowledge from my classes and the letter grade was just something on paper. As a result I have moved from the kid sitting in the front of the class because of their IEP to the adult standing in front of the class as teacher.

    I know it must not be easy as a parent watching your child struggle but know as someone who has been in Simon's shoes that have the love, support and acceptance of a mother like you will have more impact on his educational experience then anything else. Keep up the great work and celebrating Simon. With the kind of love and support you have for him he is going to go further then you can ever imagine.

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  7. Anne-Marie Cox says…
    02/09/2011

    Thank you so much for sharing you life and your family... your words are EXACTLY the words I would use to describe the emotions we went through every "report card day" with our son. He is 19 now... working part time and enjoying his life. It's nice to know someone just gets it. I am so glad you choose to share. ;)

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  8. Tamara says…
    02/09/2011

    Such a wonderful post and so delicately put. My son has high medical, behavioural and cognative needs. His ability to learn to read and write is very slim. I am a teacher and marvel at the way his teachers can find all the things he is good and great at and yet still strive hard to help him move ever slowly closer to some literacy skills. Lets hope the authorities in your country and can learn to appreciate that not all children are equal in the way that their learning can be measured.

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  9. lyley says…
    02/09/2011

    Dear Ali-what exactly is standardised or normal anyway?I believe we are all born unique-my son was diagnosed with ADD at the age of five -it sent me on a whirlwind journey trying to find ways to 'normalise' his brain. In truth all it did was take the joy out of raising him. So who in this world wants to be normal anyway-we all try to find ways to stand out and yet when children are a little different they get put into categories. The Bible says raise a child in the way that he is bent-whichever way that is-count it a joy!

    PS My son is now twenty and is studying at a music college-its the way he's bent! If only I'd known that all through his school reports...

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  10. Peggy in Colorado says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali, thanks for sharing your beautiful and heartfelt emotions that came with reviewing Simon's report card. Having taught for 30 years both as an elementary classroom teacher and a gifted and talented specialist, I have loved following Simon's blossoming both as a learner and most importantly as a happy and loving little guy. You and Chris planted the seeds of success for Simon from the day he was born. I celebrated along with you as he overcame some challenges along the way and achieved things well beyond his years in so many other ways. For example, his simple joy and accomplishments with Legos demonstrates his outstandng spatial talents opening up so many possibilities for his future. You and Chris emulate what it really means to be engaged parents along with your many other outstanding parenting skills. Your gifts of love, time, experiences, caring and example to name just a few go a long way in providing your children with the necessary tools and keys to becoming all that they can be and reaching their true potential as happy adults doing what they are passionate about. Most importantly besides your love and caring you are your children's BEST teachers as you show by example what it means to be doing each and every day what you both are passionate about and celebrating life. Also, what a joy it has been reading all of these comments so filled with love and concerns with other engaged parents, teachers and family who also want what's best for their children so they to can grow up to be happy,loving and caring adults doing what they love and loving life to the fullest. For all of the negativity in the press about what we are failing to do for our children, this dialogue shows that there are so many things we are doing well. BRAVO!!! Keep up the great work!!

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  11. Alison Exelby says…
    02/09/2011

    Well Done Simon and to you and Chris. Simon has great support behind him from you both and its great to see that. I dont look forward to reports for my son who has autism, but was pleasantly surprised as to how well he had done last year. Although I dont like to compare with his peers because he is different as are all kids it was really nice to see with all the test throughout the year he was at his peers level with most things and even above for maths....I was over the moon with excitment and so, so proud of him, it has been alot of work for him to get there but it was worth it. Come school prize giving he got a certificate infront of the whole school and all the parents too, there were tears of joy from me and he was so over excited by it all it was a moment to remember thats for sure.

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  12. Lara says…
    02/09/2011

    <3

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  13. Debbie says…
    02/09/2011

    I've been educator by profession for 32 years and I hate that we measure kids by a "standardized test"....people should not be "standardized"!!

    If you want to make a real difference let your politicians know that using a single test to determine the success of a child or a school is just ridiculous and No Child Left Behind is a joke.
    Let us get back to teaching kids and not the test.

    Sorry, that is my soapbox...

    I have learned much more from the "special kids" (especially the ones on the autism spectrum...what gifts they have in their view of the world) than I ever learned in any class I took.

    So....parents don't look at the report cards,look at your child! And be amazed at what they have accomplished.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Pam says…
      02/10/2011

      I so very much agree with everything you said. I wish we could do all of these things!

  14. abbeyviolet says…
    02/09/2011

    Amazing, sweet and wonderful. Kuddos to you all!

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  15. Liz says…
    02/09/2011

    Congratulations to Simon for making such good progress! Ali - every child finds their own niche in life, we are all very difference and have our own strengths - if we didn't, the world would be a very boring place! Keep up the good work Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Lusi says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali, I still remember when you first announced about Simon being diagnosed with Autism. Back in that day I just remember thinking, "far out that must be so hard. I wouldn't know how to deal with that!" You shared information. You bravely included us on your journey through the challenges and triumphs that your family experienced.
    Then a couple of years later, our second born was also diagnosed with Autism and our journey began.
    Thank you for sharing with us all! You gave me more of an education than many books or seminars could.
    Really, thank you.
    Our journey has led us to homeschooling which of course also comes with it's own joys and challenges.
    I was just talking today with a friend about our son's struggles with reading but we too know he'll get there in his own time and we also fund other things to praise and encourage him on.
    We are currently expecting our 5th child and only God knows what is in store along the rest of our family journey.
    I hope you are able to still allow us to share in yours.
    Love Lusi xo

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Lusi says…
    02/09/2011

    '*find* other things 'it was supposed to mean!

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  18. Renee Walsh says…
    02/09/2011

    As the mother of a now adult son with ADHD I can so relate to your story today. I also dreaded parent teacher conferences. I particularly remember the one in high school where they wanted to classify John as emotionally disturbed and suggested sending him out of district to a special school in philadelphia. I broke down and cried.
    I always came home after parent teacher conferences and had a glass of wine. I remember well the year that he was 12 or 13 and had a glass of wine waiting for me on the kitchen counter when I got home. His sense of humor is his greatest asset!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Tammy Davis says…
    02/09/2011

    Oh, Ali! When I see Simon's pictures, all I see is a happy, loved little boy. I realize you must be going through some major challenges. He is such a lucky guy to have the parents that he has. Even though I have never met you in person, it is so obvious how much you love your children and how good you are with them. Hats off to both of you! Also, the love that he shows for his little sister is phenomenal. Anna is one double-blessed little girl!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Melissa says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali,
    I wish more parents were like you and see their kids for the wonderful people they are and not for what the parents wish them to be.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Susan DR says…
    02/09/2011

    LOVED the self evaluation! What a great tool for the kids, parents and teachers. And I love that the kids are honest enough to not give themselves the highest mark on everything. Thanks for sharing today's post.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Chris says…
    02/09/2011

    I absolutely love how you love every aspect of your son's life. The good, the bad, the challenging. And, I love how you capture all of this. Thank you for helping me see life differently.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. kelly libby says…
    02/09/2011

    Great post! Today is my little nephew's 5th birthday. He was diagnosed a little over a year ago with autism. He is the best boy and such a blessing in our lives!!! Thanks, Ali, for sharing your special boy with the world.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Wendy says…
    02/09/2011

    GO SIMON! Our son Charlie has ADHD and I have hated to admit it for years and rarely do. I completely know what you're going through with "standardized" testing. Charlie's abilities are so beyond the reflection these tests give and it's sad and hard to swallow at times.
    I appreciate how you share your struggles as well as your triumphs! That's a strength that I don't have. Congrats on the self evaluation SIMON made on his own. I agree that if kids have a realization of what is expected of them they will strive to improve to the best of their ability.

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  25. Cori J says…
    02/09/2011

    So nicely said...It is what every Mom out there is going through at some point in their childs learning journey. I know as a parent we have to be honest with ourselves so that we can better equip ourselves to help our children in the areas they need the help.... but it is so hard to see their struggles documented. We love them so much for who they are..issues and all and want so bad for the world to see the wonderful children they are.

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