We had some difficulties at the beginning of this week with my eldest son not wanting to go in to school. On Tuesday morning, this prompted me to phone in and ask for an appointment as soon as possible with the Principal. I was so pleased I did. My husband and I saw him yesterday, and I couldn't have asked for a better meeting.
It was interesting to hear his perspective and there was a mutual respect to our conversation. He expressed his frustration at how he has to compromise on vision to accommodate such a variety of learners, and of course to 'tick the boxes' required by the system. But he expressed such great knowledge of our son, and an appreciation for the type of learner that he is. I was rather bold and handed him our son's ideal timetable, which involves a lot of independent study time. And rather than dismissing it, he seemed fascinated and said he would enjoy the challenge of trying to provide more opportunities for our son to work in the ways he prefers. It was such a relief and encouragement to me. Of course, that doesn't mean all is well ... But I did feel heard, and we have a conversation now upon which we can build. It is a relief to feel we are not alone in trying to meet our son's needs. There are so many good opportunities the Academy is giving him, F1 in Schools being one, I would be very reluctant for him to come out again. But, at the same time, we were able to say to the Principal, if the price for good GCSE grades is our son's mental health or the quashing of the quirky, curious, independent learner that he is, then we believe that is a price too high to pay.
It was interesting having him out again on Tuesday. I noticed he enjoyed being with his brothers. He must miss them. He even wanted to spend some time with his smallest brother. He is so busy nowadays that he doesn't get as much opportunity to interact with him. I also noticed that he wanted to be outside. All our boys love to be outside, and it reminds me that we tend to require our children to spend most of their time cooped up indoors. As I said to the Principal, our eldest must feel no less cooped up than a free range chicken put into a battery farm! I honestly believe we all need far more time in the fresh air and outdoors interacting with nature for our mental health and wellbeing.
The Principal asked our son to write a profile for all his teachers describing his background, his projects, what motivates him and what doesn't. He is rising to the challenge and is planning a short, accompanying vlog. He was working on it quite late into yesterday evening, and it is interesting to see what he writes. Perhaps, with his permission, I might share it here once it is complete.