Monday 12 January 2015

The Second Nursery Meeting

It has been a year since Leo started nursery, and in that year my little man has done so much growing up. You can see it in the way he conducts himself, to how he handles situations that present themselves to him, and in that short year he has transformed from my toddler into a little boy, a preschooler.

This last year has been one where I seemingly have to fight his corner and speak for him to the many people who are putting him behind where he should be. It is no secret that I have been fighting a losing battle since Leo’s 2 and a half year check, with conflicting opinions from various people, and no one really offering me a direct avenue to explore. I have fought for Leo to have his eyes and hearing tested, and pushed him into every appointment I possibly could in order to get to the bottom of the concerns expressed to me, because although I don’t share these concerns I have to action them.

The nursery have Leo 20 months behind developmentally in terms of his speech and how he conducts himself with other children, speech therapy have a variating opinion of their own,  the GP says he’s absolutely fine, the health visitor now puts him between 4 and a half to 5 years of age…So you can see why I have been at a loss with who to listen to. I am going with what the health visitor has said, because she saw Leo exactly like I do, although there are still people who don’t agree with her assessment.

Since I shared the results of Leo’s health visitor assessment with the nursery, I could see that they didn’t agree with it. Obviously if nursery still have concerns I want them to do everything possible for him, so I am pleased that our nursery leader called up our health visitor for a chat, I am again pleased that our health visitor confirmed her assessment first hand. They talked about why Leo could be measuring so drastically in comparison to the health visitors report, and avenues were discussed. The health visitor is adamant that Leo is shy and this reflects on how he is in the social environment, because she has witnessed first-hand that he has it all, and even his speech has come on in leaps and bounds.

On Friday I went into nursery and discussed the next steps for Leo, I explained that I had never shared the same concerns, but I wanted to action them and resolve them so that Leo could start school in September without this shadowing over him. The nursery leader explained that she couldn’t score Leo as highly as the health visitor because he does not perform to that level within the nursery environment, of course I was fully aware of this anyway and for me it’s not about Leo achieving the highest scores on a piece of paper, as long as he’s happy and moving forward I really could not ask anything more of him. I did have to comment upon the vast difference between how Leo is at home, and how he is at school, because even the nursery leader had told me that Leo was a different child the last time I had visited the nursery. I explained that Leo had been witnessed by the health visitor in exactly the same light I see him every single day. 

With my arrival at the nursery Leo ran up and gave me a big hug, and then he followed us into the little corner of the room where he began chatting my ear off almost instantly. The nursery leader was running through Leo’s progress charts with me and all the time Leo was stood next to use asking me questions, it was then the nursery leader said that she could now tick off the box demonstrating that Leo can and does ask questions. I think in the time I was there she ticked off quite a few boxes that had otherwise remained blank signifying that Leo can’t or won’t do those things at nursery.

We talked about the home visit and the nursery leader commented on how perhaps it would have been better to do it in the office environment, and how using the health visitors own tools would have been a better assessment than allowing Leo to use his own, but it was decided by the health visitor to just sit and observe Leo as he used his words, asked questions and did everything asked of him. I took this opportunity to express my own personal opinion, I personally believe that for one reason or another Leo doesn’t express himself in the same way within the nursery setting as he does at home. I think that he is reserved and keeps himself to himself because there are so many children or maybe he just likes his own company.

The discussion uncovered that nursery are coming around to my way of thinking, and have realised that Leo has selective hearing, at times a stubborn disposition and of course his own characteristics…Just like any other child his age. Apparently for a while they were unsure whether Leo understood the tasks being asked of him, but as I have known all along… If you ask Leo to do something that he doesn’t want to do, he will either ignore you, say ‘no I don’t want to!’ or tell you that he’s tired and will begin rubbing his eyes in a vain attempt to get out of it.

The example our nursery leader used to describe Leo’s mannerisms when it came to following actions was asking him to take his shoes and socks off. Leo looked at her and said ‘I tired!’ and rubbed his eyes while not complying with the task asked of him. They asked him again and this time threw in the incentive of being able to blow some bubbles if he did what was asked of him, so without even pausing…Leo took his shoes and socks off. It’s not a case of him not understanding what is being asked of him at all, it’s more a case of ‘Do I want to do this?’. If he doesn’t want to do something, he is excusing himself from doing it, and really he’s done a rather spectacular job if nursery have even considered whether he understands or not.

Another concern they have is that Leo doesn’t like or participate in Nursery Rhymes, and this is something I have always been aware of. He has never really enjoyed them and he used to tell me to stop whenever I broke into song… He knows them and he does occasionally recite one, usually Incy Wincy Spider… But for the most part he doesn’t like them. I am not saying that he doesn’t enjoy music though, he loves Christmas Songs and would more than happily sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer until the cows came home… He’s even been singing along to The Vamps – Somebody To You! So the mere fact that he doesn’t join in with nursery rhymes doesn’t overly concern me, especially if he is reserved at nursery, it may just be outside his comfort  zone.

Every child is different, this is what I have been saying all along, but it seems my child is being perceived on the basis that he isn’t loud, bossy, overly charismatic, confident and sassy in the nursery environment, when at home he is all of those things and much, much more. Yes he has had a speech delay, yes I believe that has held him back in certain areas, but now his speech is there and is growing by the day, I think it’s time to accept Leo for who he is. You can’t force a child to like nursery rhymes, talk, or play with other children if they don’t want to. They all have their own likes and dislikes for everything in this crazy world we live in, and Leo is no different. I think that in a class of 20+ children Leo’s voice gets lost amongst them,  although he loves the nursery I think he is still finding his feet and this is the way he does that.

When I think back to my early years at school I can re-call myself being exactly the same, I was quiet and reserved, and this followed me throughout my school life. I had my friends but if I was in a class without my circle of friends I would revert to being that same quiet young girl. I guess to an extent I am still like that to this very day, so it stands to reason that Leo will have inherited my social traits. Casting my memory back to my reception year at school, I can re-call them calling me out for shrugging my shoulders. If I was asked a question I didn’t know the answer to, I would simply shrug. That to me was my way of acknowledging a question that I couldn’t answer and closing the subject matter… When I told the nursery leader this she said that she could picture Leo shrugging his shoulders the exact same way.

The final discussion of the afternoon with Leo’s nursery leader was the impending school term, she said that the feels going up to school may set Leo back further, what with new children and new teachers to contend with. She went on to say that it is only now that they feel they are getting to know the ‘real Leo’ and this may be the same case in school, and it will take until the end of the school year for a teacher to get to know Leo, and then he will be moved on again and the process will repeat itself. I don’t really know how to feel about this? If this is the general opinion now, I would like to think that there may be some extra support in place to help ease Leo into his new environment in order to prevent him falling through the cracks and being over looked at school because he’s more reserved.

It would seem that although one battle has ceased, we will have a whole new one on our hands come September, but I will make it my mission to make sure that any additional support Leo may need in school, is there and ready to help him be all that he can be. 

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