Leo has been back at school a month now, although it has to be said that it feels like so much longer. We have settled back into a routine, which is in fact a whole new one since we are now in our own home together, and this new set up is proving to be really helping that beautiful boy of mine, he's flourishing in a way that makes my heart sing.
In 4 weeks the little boy who never wanted to sit and read to me, reads each evening without any fights or any upset, his eyes sparkle when you cheer him on and praise him, and he just keeps going until he reaches the very last page. The little boy who didn't ever want to practice his writing, loves to show me the new letters and words he is learning to put together, he smiles as he perfects the technique and marvels at the markings he has made on his art easel. The same little boy who used to stay by my side in the school playground now parades himself around with the other children like an aeroplane.
They are just simple things to outsiders looking in, because these are all things that their children did in their reception year, but Leo didn't. In Leo's reception year he was classed as being globally delayed, and we had to jump through hoops just to even keep his attention on the task at hand. This new school term he is a completely different child, it's as though a switch has been flicked inside his head, and he's suddenly ready for school and he's ready to learn.
When I got back home with Leo last night, I checked his reading record just as I always would. I opened it up and had a look at the notes that the teacher makes about how Leo has read at school that day. The words almost jumped off the page at me 'Leo read this really well. Leo made his sentence!'. The book was called 'The Play', and it's got some longer sentences than he is used too, so to see that he has not only given it a try, but read it really well was like all my Birthday's coming at once.
Leo read the book twice last night, once to me and then later on to his Daddy when he arrived. We both sat there listening to our little boy reading. Really reading. Hearing how his voice flowed as the words left his lips, watching the expressions that danced across his face was just beautiful.
When you have a child who is behind the other children, you grow a thicker skin. Parent's evenings, teacher meetings and educational psychologists all drumming it into you that your child is not achieving the same milestones as other children his age, it penetrates your skin like a knife and it cuts deep, really deep. It hurts and you really have to fight back those crocodile tears and save face to just get through those meetings. I have become so used to hearing what Leo can't do, I am always so taken a back when I hear positive feedback. Not because I don't think Leo is worthy of it, but because I am so used to hearing the concerns and worries, that now when I hear positive and encouraging feedback, I feel like my heart could burst.
I was talking to the head teacher of Leo's school yesterday, as I haven't really heard anything since Leo has gone back to school, I didn't know whether they were seeing the same changes in him that I was, I didn't know if they could see him really trying his hardest. The conversation was a positive one, and they too can see that Leo is suddenly taking flight. They can suddenly see the willingness to learn, and they are grabbing the opportunity with both hands. Just like we are at home.
They are talking about letting Leo spend a few mornings in reception, just to help him catch up with his peers a little more. Now that he is actively absorbing information it will be beneficial for him to go over some of the lessons from last year. I am so happy that he is getting the opportunity to catch up, and I cannot be more thankful to the school for all that they have done for Leo.
We have implemented so much at home and I am always trying to find ways to make learning fun for Leo. I think the biggest change for us, and the biggest factor that has encouraged Leo to give learning his best shot is a mixture of things. We have given Leo the time, to ready himself, we have purchased fun learning aids such as the easel, we now live in a quiet home just the Two of us, where we can spend quality time without any disruptions. We have reward charts in place and at the end of this month, if Leo carries on doing the very best he can, we are purchasing him his treat.
I made a promise to Leo before he returned back to school at the end of the summer holiday's. I told him that if he really tried his hardest and allowed me to help him, I would find the biggest Nerf Gun I could get my hands on for him. This incentive has really driven him, and as he has fulfilled his end of the bargain, I most certainly have to make good on my promise and deliver.
Incentives seem to really drive Leo to try, so I am going to make sure that we keep setting these exciting goals for him, and in turn he will not only reap the rewards of learning, but he will get a treat from Mummy and Daddy too.