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. Tina says…
    02/09/2011

    I truely felt your struggles and hope when I read this blog. I also have a child with an IEP who is now a Junior in High School. We are now revising it for college. Simon has a great support system in you and it makes me smile to see that you realize that mosst schools are "main stream" and that Simon will learn and his own pace and will find out with your help how he learns best. They do adapt and learn so much about themselves during this whole process. I am proud of my girl who always recieved in grade school the "Little Engine that Could" award for her efforts and who is now one year away from graduating. You are a great mom Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Emilie says…
    02/09/2011

    Thanks, Ali, for the updates on Simon. My son is starting the IEP process for what looks like Autism and it is so very overwhelming to us. While we are excited for him to receive help, we are also anxious about the future. Seeing Simon's progress is very encouraging to me and I appreciate you sharing your experience.

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

    Ali,
    Loved your post. While I don't have an autistic child I had two young men that were in special speech class because they just weren't 'talking' right. I absolutely loved having my review with the speech therapist because there was a discussion about how the boys were doing, how they were accomplishing the goals set - no standard grades, etc. The therapist identified strengths and weaknesses, what they still needed to work on and their successes. And then she got personal. I loved hearing such wonderful things about my sons. Because it is a speech class the therapists encourages alot of talking so she hears everything about their life, activities, family, etc. It was such a joy going to these sessions.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. keri says…
    02/09/2011

    great job simon!!

    i just had our annual IEP meeting for my son too. he'll be 4yro next month. he's come a long way and i am very proud of hi, it was wonderful seeing where he's succeeding and progressing. but my two most proud moments was learning that he knew his birthday (why didn't i ever think to ask him if he knew it) and when his speech teacher said that he doesn't ever get frustrated and "shut down". he's always trying with the mirror and they usually have to tell him to move on to the next sound. i always envisioned him getting frustrated and throwing tantrums like he does at home. :b

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. ELLIE says…
    02/09/2011

    thanks for sharing such a precious and beautiful moment!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Betty Silva says…
    02/09/2011

    That is so right! When it comes to daughter/son, is a lot different. Even though I'm a relaxed mom on grades, I'm too in to learning. I love seeing Isabella (she just turned 4) progressing and enthusiastic on school stuff. I like seeing her drawing and writing (vocals and some numbers) improving. And when you put comments like this, were you are fighting against your own expectations as a mother, and putting live first, it reminds me at the end, it is all about them, our kids.. Go Ali & thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. madeline St onge says…
    02/09/2011

    WTG Simon. Well done Ali and Chris. I know you are proud of him because I am proud of all he has accomplished

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. SchuCo Designs says…
    02/09/2011

    Ali, Thank you for sharing this story! I have a son that is 8 years old with a disability when it comes to learning and although he is a great kid, school is always challenging! This story made me realize I am not alone! I loved school...I was good at it, my parents never helped me with school work, its difficult to adjust to the fact that not everyone is like that. Again, thank you for sharing, very inspiring! Go Simon!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Alexandra says…
    02/09/2011

    Thank you for this... I think any mother can relate to this on some level and learn from your thoughtful, kind and encouraging ways.

    I have one child in speech therapy and another who experiences issues with fear/anxiety to the point where he can pass out if he is scared enough - he even passed out at the theatre during a Disney movie and has come very close to passing out at school. This year the twins have a teacher who is rigid and not all that supportive - sending them to school last year was a pleasure and this year it pulls at my heart strings every morning. We are about to have a meeting with the teacher to express our concerns and try to get everyone on the same page with things.

    I'm working hard to empower my children and be their advocate. I so appreciate anytime you share your journey with Simon - thank you.

    P.S. I really loved the part where Simon indicated that he likes to share his writing with others - so cool that he is enjoying that type of interaction and probably feeling a sense of pride when he does :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Doris says…
    02/09/2011

    You made me cry today Ali.
    Way to go Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Mandi says…
    02/09/2011

    It is so great that you get comments from his teachers. I have no idea why, but I've not received any comments on a report card for either of my boys [1st + 3rd grades] yet. From any teacher. It really bothers me. I'm going to ask why that is.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Corie says…
    02/09/2011

    Very heartfelt, Ali. As a mom, I know we want the best for our kids. But who are we to say what "the best" is for every kid on the planet? Standardized testing causes more heartache and stress than necessary, in my mind. Good for Simon for reaching those goals and moving forward. Loving to read didn't come to me until I was in my 30s...and I was a journalism major in college and am a writer now! That's awesome to reach at his young age! Keep celebrating those successes! Way to go, Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Martha S. says…
    02/09/2011

    I'm all choked up with this post too, Ali. Thank you for sharing. I truly love the idea of self-assessment. Wouldn't we live in a better world if we all had this wonderful skill? I'm glad Simon's learning it at a young age and I think I'll have to employ that with my 7-year-old as well. Thanks again for this post and for sharing your life with us!

    P.S. I always loved getting my report card too, even though my Mom wouldn't sign it unless I had all 100s. LOL

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Julie Lueck says…
    02/09/2011

    The only challenge I had in school was to not procrastinate,and fear of failure. I never had a hard time learning things and was always in advanced classes. My oldest son is a lot like that, my second son is a different story. He struggles, and we can't quite tell if he really has a learning disability, or complete lack of confidence and doesn't try. Sometimes I wonder if he is just messing with me, and others I realize he just takes longer. I am okay if he is doing his best, but he shows at times that he is capable of more. I never know which it is. So I was sad to get a progress report telling me he was not meeting the standards :(

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Stephanie George says…
    02/09/2011

    I know you got a lot of comments on this post already, and I didn't read through all of them, so hopefully I'm not repeating what someone else has already said, but THANK YOU for sharing these private stories about Simon and your family. I think it is encouraging to everyone. And your attitude is inspirational. Loved when you said "We find ways to be proud of him every single day." and I got choked up when I read, "The 'M' next to 'I enjoy reading.' is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time." I know how much you enjoy reading and it's wonderful to see our children follow in our footsteps... especially in such an important subject!

    On a side note, I've noticed how recently you have been taking a lot of pictures with the subject off center and a lot of empty space. I know you have written about this before... leaving room for journaling ON the picture. I love it! I was wondering, when you take these shots, do you typically already know how you are going to scrapbook/use them, or do you just take the photograph with empty space when it is available and then figure out what you are going to do with it later? Or maybe a little of both? ha! Anyway, love the pic of Simon looking over his Reading assessment.

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

    Ali,

    I've taught for 34 years and your post is the most sensible thing I've read in a long time. You are exactly right; what matters is progress and love of learning. Scores NEVER tell what's important. They tell only of one performance on one test.

    You need to run for President. Now.

    Thanks for being there for those of us who believe the exact same way you do.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Melissa says…
      02/09/2011

      Vote for President Ali!

  17. Pam says…
    02/09/2011

    Oh, Simon is so very lucky to have you & Chris for parents! As the parent of a grown learning disabled young man, I can attest to how ridiculous standardized testing is. Also, I have had the good fortune to work in a "special needs" (for lack of a better term) classroom for the last 25 years. It is as heartbreaking for us to have to administer these tests as it is for parents to see the results. No form of standardized testing can measure what strides and gains these children make.
    I love your healthy attitude toward Simon's report card. I applaud his school for the self-assessment. I love it!
    Simon is indeed a very fortunate young man. I wish all of our children were so fortunate. Bless you, Ali.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. KSW says…
    02/09/2011

    Your post is so honest, true, perfectly well-put. Your son is blessed to have you as a mother.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. gretchen Knutson says…
    02/09/2011

    my 13 year old has Aspergers which is related to Autism-on the spectrum as people like to say. She is very high functioning, and has gotten very "socialized" because she is in the middle of my 6 children. It's frustrating because she is so high-functioning, some teachers have thought she just wasn't trying hard enough or as one teacher said last year, "Maddie just needs to get organized" which is like telling a dyslexic child to just learn how to read! It makes you so sad as a parent to know that people don't always see what a smart wonderful talented child you have. Ans forget about standardized testing-never turns out well!
    How great for Simon to have parents like you two. Someday he can read how wonderful you know he is and how much you believed in him!
    Have a great rest of your week :)
    Gretchen

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

    So glad to hear another parent say "ugh" to standardized testing. I have a son on an IEP as well.....his is mostly vision related. And I HATE timed tests. Such a bad gauge (in my opinion) of his ability. But we work a little harder in areas he needs help in and we also celebrate where he excels. One day at a time.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Melissa says…
      02/09/2011

      This just occurred to me ..... my boss's daughter has a sensory processing disorder. She is in 10th grade and has recently taken the PSAT's for the first time, not doing well at all, because it takes her so long to complete the test. It simply takes her much longer to read and process each problem. This young lady has a 4.0 and she's taking AP History and French IV! Her mom took her to see a specialist to have her evaluated in order to request permission from testing authorities that she be allowed to have extra time to complete standardized tests. Perhaps this is something other parents could look into? Just a thought I wanted to share.

  21. Amy Sonnemann says…
    02/09/2011

    Way to go Simon!!! Self discovery is amazing for kids. We teach them to be self confident and give them the tools they need in life. My daughter is Dyslexic and reading has been a struggle her whole life. Through some amazing teachers and tutors we have achieved success on many levels. Confidence was the highest achievement. If someone corrects a word she read wrong she can look them in the eye and say "thank you, I'm dyslexic". To know you have a disability and be able to quit hiding in the corner of the classroom hoping no one will ask you to read out loud is huge.

    Do they have to work SOOO much harder than other kids...YES! Are there tears and frustration from the kids as well as the parents...YES! Is it all worth it...YES!!!! Will they be great at everything...NO. Do they meet the standards set by schools today...NO. Will they be great at what they love
    ...ABSOLUTELY!!! Will they be successful in life...ABSOLUTELY!!

    I was told by an amazing teacher to find the one thing your daughter loves and run with it. Let her be successful at what she is good at, encourage THAT! The rest will come. That was the best advice I ever received. Acting, drama and dance have given her something to be good at when everything else was falling apart. Celebrate the small victories each day (which you do SO well) for those will end up being the BIG things in Simon's life.

    Tonight we will attend High School Preview Night for Freshman. She will enter her Freshman year with a 4.0 achieved through hard work, determination, and a lot of tears along the way. We came through it stronger and able to tackle anything because we know what hard work is all about. Will there be bumps in the road...yes! Are we ready to face them...ABSOLUTELY! And so are you.

    Hang in there. Way to go guys! You ARE making a difference one day at a time.

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

    I absolutely LOATHE standardized tests!! My daughter has always struggled, especially if a complete stranger is giving her a test. She has had issues with reading but this year (5th grade) she found some books that she absolutely LOVES to read. They are not in her grade level but I am beyond happy that even after struggling she has been able to enjoy reading. I bought every book in the series that I could find!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. PattiP says…
    02/09/2011

    I so totally agree with your feelings about standardized tests. In reality they give us very little information about our specials needs little people. The self-evaluation form, on the other hand, is great. How wonderful that Simon is able to do this self-evaluation. I know you treasure every step forward.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. lynne moore says…
    02/09/2011

    Thanks Alifor yuor insight. You are so lucky to have a school that wants to work with yout instead of fighting the flow.

    My 18 year old is struggling in college right now. Especially in English - the core basic. I know he can do it, but his struggles with the writing and reading is shattering all the confidence we built up in him the last year of High School, (He has a reading/writing processing difference),even with the resource help and free tutoring. Right now he is refusing to talk with us (me) since last night. Back to the grunts and shrugs. There is so much in life he enjoys doing, New things he's learning that he enjoys. I hate to see this one part defining him right now and I can see he can't see past the obstacle.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Tiffany H. says…
    02/09/2011

    Your posts about your children, especially Simon, get me every time; I love reading them. Your and Chris' love and devotion to Simon and Ana are so evident and just pour out from your photos and words.

    Success should be defined differently by everyone because it is different for each individual. I love how you acknowledge the challenges but really focus and celebrate the successes.

    As a former teacher and current mother of two young children I admire you and how you parent. Thank you for continuing to share your family's journey with us; it's very inspiring.

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