So, in “Boy .v. Girl (again)” I talked about A’s attitude to homework and the painstaking effort she put into her Geography assignment. We’ve had a couple of other homework related moments in the last couple of weeks and I realise that it is all a massive learning curve for her. She had a drawing to do for Art over half term and as we were away for the latter part (and the geography had taken precedence in the first half of the week) it was still outstanding when we returned, meaning she had a limited time to complete it in. She found a suitable tree to draw and took a photo on her phone rather than sitting outside in the freezing cold (smart move) and cracked on. I clocked at some point that she was drawing on a small pad and not the A4 sketch pad that she has been supplied with by the Art department. I wondered if this was correct but not wishing to interfere I left her to it. Oh dear. She appeared a while later with a very stony expression. On finishing her drawing she checked the homework app (I know, times change) and to her horror realised it was meant to have been drawn on, yes you guessed it, the A4 pad. “But it’s taken me AGES!!!” she wailed (and I mean wailed). I sympathised and considered for a split second telling her to just hand it in as it was. Then, I snapped myself out of it and told her that she needed to weigh up whether the pain and annoyance of having to re-draw it on the correct pad would be worse that the potential H3 (after school detention to you and me). Being as this has wider ramifications as I have 3 other passengers to bring home from school, I was hoping she would decide to go for option A. She did better than that. She opted for option A but she very sensibly (after she calmed down an hour later) suggested that she also hand in the smaller and, in her opinion, better drawing so that the teacher could see that she had made more effort originally but was not prepared to hand in the wrong thing.
I had hoped that this would be a massive lesson for her; something to remind her to check and double-check what is expected of her before embarking on a task. Sadly, this was not to be. Roll forward a week and yet another task that, yet again, through no fault of her own was having to be done rather last minute. Our printer decided to start playing up earlier in the week and we were unable to print off some sheets she needed for her History homework. K ended up printing them at work on Tuesday but as he doesn’t get home until dinner time the homework had to wait until after our evening meal. Not great. She normally comes in from school, has a drink and something to eat and then cracks on with homework. Like her mother she can be a bit tired and irritable in the evenings so it’s better this way. So, we were already on the back foot but K sat with her and they talked over what she planned to do – the task was to choose a location for a castle based on information supplied (the pesky sheets) and then write about the pros and cons of the site. An hour later she had produced some great work but she had written a paragraph on the pros and cons of ALL the sites (she’d done 2 of the 4 at this point and was asking for feedback from me before continuing). I checked the sheet before imparting the bad news. Result: head on table, sobbing. By this time it was 7.45pm. I tried to calm her and tidied all the sheets away with the suggestion that she leave it until the following evening and start afresh with a clear head and less tired as soon as she came in from school. She was not impressed but saw the sense thankfully. She was very morose the following morning and when she came home I turned a bit “positive mum” and told her to snap out of the negative frame of mind, see it as a new task that she is starting from scratch and, basically, get on with it. She did and she completed it in half an hour and did a very impressive job. She went off to hip-hop class a happy bunny. Phew.
Later in the evening after dinner and bath, she came downstairs with her Geography folder. The one from Boy .v. Girl (again). I tried to gauge her expression but she has quite a good poker face. “Flick through that mum and tell me if you think I am Acquiring, Developing or Securing* based on the comments from the teacher”. OK, hoping my poker face is as good as hers. When I saw the words “WOW” I relaxed a touch. “Err, Developing…?” Hedging my bets here, not wanting her to have to say that she had not done as well as I guessed…”NO!!!! I’m one of only 4 in the whole class who is Securing already, AND I got an A for effort”. Bloody brilliant. But was the pain of the hours and hours of effort worth it. I am not sure. I am incredibly proud of her for wanting to do so well and mightily relieved that she achieved her goal. It’s a great boost to her confidence and that’s never a bad thing where A is concerned. But, I still wish that there was a little bit of a happy medium; that she could be as chilled as her brother and not end up sobbing with her head on the table, but that T would strive just a little bit more like she does to go for the harder option and just try it for size. But then, they would not be themselves and they would walk the same paths and that would be boring wouldn’t it?
*for those of you, like me, who are baffled by this whole new way of grading children’s work, the terminology means: Acquiring (Working below age related expectations); Developing (Working at age related expectations); Securing (Working above age related expectations) and there is also: Mastering (Working well above age related expectations); Mastering + (Exceptional performance).
At least the “A” for effort was nice old school lingo for this old dinosaur and I didn’t need to look that up!