I have three children and I genuinely worried when Erin (the youngest) started school. She was one of the older ones in the year but physically her development had been seriously affected by her hip dysplasia and subsequently, she didn’t walk until three years old. She still limped and was often physically fatigued from a busy day. I contemplated keeping her away from school, she was always so tired. Erin also had a diagnosis of asthma, resulting in many hospital dashes, and a diagnosis of hypermobility syndrome. She regularly had infections and wore orthotics and grommets. She really didn’t have an easy toddlerhood.
In fact, I gave up my teaching career before she started school in order be there for her. We decided that to give Erin the best support it meant she would need me at home. Before school care and afterschool childminding would have wiped her out too much. For Erin to manage she needed to come home straight after school to rest.
Yet she took to school like a duck to water.
She quickly made friends and my worries eased. She picked up phonics easily and I told myself it was due to all that time we spent reading, sticking and doing puzzles when she was restricted by her spica cast. The cast that went from belly to toes rendering her immobile for the best part of a year.
I remember her teacher telling me that Erin was very bright and I smiled. Year 1 started and again Erin flourished and midway through the year, I started to notice how advanced she was. Erin’s siblings have both been middle of the road, so to speak and I had assumed Erin would be the same. However, we were beginning to realise how academic she was.
By the time she started year 2 I knew she was doing really well. What makes her so academic is that she is equally balanced in all subjects. Many children flourish in one area, maybe number based or language based. Yet Erin is academically able across the board. She peaks depending on the topic and subject. Last year I would have said Maths was her strength, yet currently, it is writing. History is currently her thing. This year she started to learn the guitar and apparently she is a natural. She had six weeks of violin and apparently, she smashed that too and was told she should continue, she can’t due to time but it shows her ability. It seems whatever she turns her little mind too she succeeds at.
Erin didn’t get a single spelling wrong in last years weekly tests. That is quite an achievement in itself, especially as I rarely practise them with her unless she asks me. I rarely know what the class homework is because she is self-sufficient and just cracks on with it without my input. Last week I did see it as she wanted clarification on the meaning of reign. That chat we had led to me showing her how to set out a family tree. Quickly we had done the royal family and then she set about doing her own.
Erin loves to learn. She loves an academic challenge but she also loves the social side of school. Being the youngest she doesn’t have her siblings to play with, they are 14 and 18 after all.
Erin is seriously bright, just this week she took in a presentation on the Antarctic that she had done at home. She had researched facts and written it up for her teacher – I knew nothing of it. She did it quietly in her room, just because her teacher had inspired her.
I am super proud of her but don’t really say much about it because it seems braggy. For some reason talking about having a very bright child seems like it’s showing off. I generally don’t say much because I fear I look like ‘that kind of mum’.
If it were sporting achievements they would probably be shared on social media. But because Erin is always expected to do well and therefore it is harder for her achievement to be recognised. She isn’t the child that is always rewarded. She has yet to make it to the pinnacle of the school year which is the heads tea party. You get there by collecting the school rewards, yet the bar is high for Erin, it seems that it is harder for her to shine because academically she is able and therefore to stand out it has to be pretty remarkable. Erin got greater depth in all her SAT’s last year, she is not the only one in her year but I didn’t shout about it.
I didn’t put that amazing achievement anywhere. I felt that it sounded like I was showing off. Celebrating your bright academic child is awkward. I feel judged if I say how good she is.
This week Erin’s teacher stopped me on Friday to say that she was going to photocopy some of her writing for me. That Erin had produced some amazing writing this week. I beamed at the recognition and so did Erin. It shows just how important praise is. She might be very clever, which she knows, but she still needs to be told. She needs her effort and achievement to be recognised so guess what, I am going to start sharing those achievements more. I am not going to worry if I sound braggy. I am not going to feel that I shouldn’t celebrate her academic achievements because it might bother those who don’t have such gifted kids. All kids should be celebrated for their achievements and my kid just happens to be very clever.