To the child at the awards ceremony who knows their name will never be called.

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Ah, end of term.

Sports days, shows, school trips, report cards and of course the all important end of year award ceremony. Proud parents just as excited as their children, relieved teachers glad to show that someone really loved their teaching and halls full of eager little ones hoping and praying their name will be called.

You already know social media and family gatherings will be all about little Jane who had a distinction in maths, or young Brian who scored the most goals for the school football team this year…but what about all those children sitting through the ceremony year after year longing for their name to be called yet never hearing it?

What about the children who have found the school year exhausting, who have struggled to master ten new spelling words a month and who have needed support every single term? What about the child whose parents have separated this year meaning she has had huge difficulty focussing and has slipped down the ability chart as a result? What about the child for whom just getting through a single day with the noise, bright lights and confusing smells is a huge achievement? What about the child whose health issues mean that getting to school is an achievement in itself?

What about the children like mine?

Each year they become more and more disappointed. Each year their self worth and excitement gets less. They will never be top of the class, or excel at sports or get the starring role in the school play.

More and more children with special needs are being educated in mainstream schools. It has huge advantages but at this time of year of competition and recognising achievement it can be so demoralising for a child who has tried their best day in and day out and still never hears their name at the award ceremony.

I wish I could speak to every one of those children. I wish could hug everyone of their parents. I know the heartache of seeing your child feel left out. I know how hard it can be to clap and cheer every achievement announced knowing your child can never compete or be in for a chance of winning something.

Stay strong children. Stay strong parents. In cheering on others and noting their success you are developing character and if that was ever measured you would both win without a doubt.
If there were awards for perseverance, for strength, tenacity and determination YOU would be the winner. If there were awards for fighting spirit, purity and trying they would be calling out your name loudly.

One day the world will realise stars are much more that the best achievers.

Until that day, if your name is never called at that award ceremony: stay strong. Your self worth is not measured by certificates. Your importance is not measured by how many people cheer.

You are important. You are worthy and you are special. You are the best at being you and that is better than any award that any school can offer.

I’m not sure if you can hear it little one but I am cheering you on! Keep up the great work!

This piece originally appeared here

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11 thoughts on “To the child at the awards ceremony who knows their name will never be called.

  1. As a Mother of a child with special needs in a mainstream school, I am happy to say that they do present awards for perseverance, for strength, tenacity and determination. I wouldn’t send my child to a school that didn’t reward them for this and I don’t know why anyone would. Our children are special, the school has to be special in a mainstream world.

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  2. A friend of mine has a daughter who won star of the week. It gave her more confidence with her results then starting to improve. She could not believe her classmates voted for her.

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  3. I so so feel this. As my child gets older, he’s made so much progress but some of his issues are more obvious now and for the first time, he’s felt “dumb” and it breaks my heart. In his IEP meetings, I say over and over again that we don’t care about the academic progress – that will come when it does. We care about him enjoying school. I love this line “One day the world will realise stars are much more that the best achievers.”

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  4. All so true. As mum to two girls, one who has been given the starring role in the school production, and who is House Captain, and another girl who will clearly never be rewarded in that way, there’s a big conflict in what goes on around here, and it makes it very difficult to explain to youngest girl, who doesn’t have the same level of social understanding, why things will always be different for her 😦 And then there’s always the terrible thought going round that maybe they gave our eldest the rewards for exactly that reason. But life is too short to dwell on it, we just have to make the best of it and bring our children up in the best way we can. Sometimes school are a help in that process; other times more of a hindrance 😦 x

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  5. You often hear stories about group or teams children helping or allowing some children to win at sports. What an inspiration, but perhaps an award ceremony should be a little more ‘out of the box’. Including a whole class to win an award, and then becoming more inclusive. Setting task for someone they know can be achieved, and getting recognition for this. After all – its not just about getting a paper acolade is it.
    Great bit of writing by the way.

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  6. My son has high functioning autism and ADHD. He struggles at school but they give him lots of support. Last year (year 8) he received his first award and booth of us were very proud of it. At the end of the school year, his teacher said to me he is going to receive another award in September. These little certificates give him confidence and he wants to do better and achieve well. There are good teachers who know these little things can make the difference however as a primary teacher I know there are lots to do about this matter and about integration in mainstream schools. I love your sit.

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