Hi! <Waves>

Funny and honest tales from a made-to-work Dad of three, wobbling, graying, and laughing his way through parenthood. Armed to the teeth with Nerf guns, full of pie, fighting a chocolate addiction, but genuinely honoured to be at least half of Team Parents (yay!).

10 May 2018


It's one little word (OK it's an acronym - standardised assessment tasks). And yet it can strike fear into lots people.
The young. Especially UK children in Key Stage 1 (7 ish) & Key Stage 2 (11 ish).
And adults. Teachers. Head teachers. TA's. And parents.

Team Parent (yay!)
Have the questionable good fortune or having both Boy10 and Miss7 sitting there SATs pretty much at the same.
Different schools and all that. Different Key stages blah blah.
But both around the same time.

(OK Vegeta you've made your point...
<Is charging power levels>
Elegant as it is, now hear my rebuttal...
<Orders new black board>)

There's very little stress around Miss7's.
They're call them quizzes not exams/tests. No one says the S word around them. They were told they are VIPs so that if they need a wee an adults comes with them, like celebrities.
Sweet huh.
Then they have a big play afterwards and do something special with the children.
Good for them. Good for the school. Good for the teachers.
That makes me glad. It feels a shame to be testing seven year old's so young in their academic careers.
But if they must, they must...

Come on! Off the computer!
Boy10: 'Two minutes more?'
No, now!
Boy10: 'But I need to do this...'
Not need, you mean want. You want to do something in the game.
Whereas I am telling you not to, and asking you nicely to ... OH NO! GET THAT GUY! YEAH HIM!
<We spend some lovely father son time together... killing stuff>

I'm not entirely sure Miss7 knows.
She is sitting SATs at all. She may. But it's not worth the conversation to find out if she is.
I don't remember my SATs. BigBrother#2 says that is because I never sat them. Which is probably right.
It was an awful long time ago. Paleolithic at least.
Yet I do remember some variety of government run tests that we all sat. In class. In silence. When I was about seven.
But who cares. It's in the past. It doesn't matter!
<Hits you over the head with a staff>
And at the time I do remember not caring whatsoever, as they said we would never see the results.
So why worry?

However for Boy10.
It's a totally different game. It's the difference between touch rugby at school, and over twenty one's local drunken rugby.
One is kind and caring and respectful about each player on the pitch, and just wants the best for all in involved.
The other... well we all expect injuries.
And Boy10 may well be one of those that gets mullered to the floor and has studded boots applied to his face in the name of national testing.
Quite a picture I'm painting I know...

Are you done yet? <Is sat as a still life (fully clothed) model, with cuppa>
Miss7: 'Nearly' <Is painting>
It's been ages... I've a numb bum... <Sips on tea>
Miss7: 'DON'T MOVE!'
<Sips and gives Miss7 a look>
Miss7: 'Just be cool... .I am nearly finished...' <Huge enthusiastic brush strokes going on>
Miss7: '... nearly...' <Paint spraying everywhere>
Miss7: 'And done!'
Really? <Goes to get up, falls of chair> Ow.
<Gets up> Let's have a look then?
Miss7: 'TADA!' <Reveals her masterpiece>
Oh... You've painted a rainbow... A brilliant rainbow! It's brilliant!
Miss7: <Is proud>
One question though...
How long after you asked me to pose for you, did you give up on that and just paint a rainbow?
Miss7: 'Almost instantly'
I see...
<Limps off grumbling>

It's complex.
Why I think this may muller Boy10. It's to do with him as a person, how he reacts to things. What his personal values are. And his particular skills.
There's three key parts to his SATs: reading; Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling; and Mathematics.
And one of those he is rocking at. There is no worries at all.
The other two... er... well there's a difference.
And in many ways that's fine.

For Boy10 that is not fine. He likes being good at stuff. It's important to him.
I blame myself. That's very much how I am wired. It has benefits and pitfalls. Like most things.
So for Boy10, all of a sudden, he's being tested and the results are not expected. By him. By Team Parent (yay!) and his teachers.
And whilst all us adults think about what to do. What he could practice, how to move him forward.
Boy10's confidence in his skills is taking a knocking.
Quite a wallop actually.
Which isn't good.

I find it pretty frustrating.
Because I think these tests and results count for naff all to do with Boy10.
Whatever results he gets will be fed back to the teachers, the heads, the guv. And they will record the values and check the school is working as expected. Which all sounds quite reasonable.
Except that at some point Boy10 will given the results.
Or we'll be given the results and can decide for him. Which isn't much solution either. Hiding them sends the same negative message.
Does he really need to know?

In September.
When Boy10 starts secondary school. He will sit more tests. This time set by the school to find where he is in his learning. So the new school can put him into the right skills groups. Fair enough.
Apparently they will ignore the SATs results for everything (except the maths results which they will use).
So why test them twice? Tests are not fun.
<Looks at you quizzically>

I know.
There's good reasons why. Well I hope there are. I'm sure there are... <Isn’t all that sure>
But right now, for Team Parent (yay!), it's not quite adding up.
I'm sure they know what they are doing. I know for sure the teachers have his best interests in mind.
And weirdly knocks like this can sometimes make you stronger, and chase off demons.
So it may be a blessing in disguise.
But right now we've a Boy10 with anxiety.
And that's not good.

(Back foul demon BACK!
<Throws holly water>
It’s not working… OH NO! He's smiling!!!


Team Parent (yay!) have a plan.
We discussed. We decided. And made a plan of how best to support him.
We didn't totally agree on this. Which is fine. Mixed opinions can be best sometimes.
But we're going with loving support and huge encouragement. Which is hard to argue against as an approach.
Who doesn't want that?

I reckon we use the Convincing Hammer?
Mrs. Amazing: 'No. Love and support'
Coercion Pliers?
Mrs. Amazing: 'No! Love etc...'
Behaviour Altering Rake?
Mrs. Amazing: <Sighs> 'I'm going to bed, come up when you're done with the great jokes...'
Mind Manipulating Mallet? <Calls after Mrs. Amazing>
Screwdriver of Submission?
[Hours pass]
... er... Hole Punch of Practical Persuasion...

Knowing the plan is loving support.
I've done my best to talk to him about the SATs in a calm and supportive manner.
Never saying they matter for nothing, even if I think that, as that doesn't help. Boy10 still has to sit them.
I've done my best to remove failure as a result. Results are just results, you cannot fail.
We just want him to do his best.
(Baring in mind his best includes being prepared and ready for the tests, so he's had extra practice at home with Mrs. Amazing).

The other morning.
I asked him if his tests started today. He said yes.
Knowing it was my moment to lay the support, and love, on thick. I cooked him a warrior's breakfast: Bacon sarnie.
And generally pampered him. Laughed at his jokes, listened to endless computer game anecdotes. Basically flirted with him. Which is a weird thought.
And then just as he was about to leave for school I took my chance and went for the supportive pep talk.
I basically hugged / picked him up and told him I was proud of him. Talked him up a lot.
And did my utter best to be supportive of the SATs, for him.
A tough task for me in the morning.
Normally you just get grunts, or song.

Then Mrs. Amazing walked into the kitchen.
And pointed out the SATs didn't start for another week.
<Gives Boy10 a look>

Upon hearing this new information.
I rugby tackled Boy10 to the floor and squeezed a fair bit of air out of him.
There was much giggling from all.
Mrs. Amazing commented that the tackle would a better send off for his first day of SATs.
As it was tension breaking, fun, and close physical contact from his Dad.
Especially when you compared the positive benefits of a tackle, against my pep talk.
I concluded Mrs. Amazing had a point.
<Rubs hands ready to splat Boy10 properly next week>

In tribute for Boy10 who's just about to delve into the world of SATs.
I gave you a homeless man miming Queen and David Bowie's Under Pressure with not one, but two Kermit frogs. Yes I know, what a cliché tribute.
To me the lyrics seem apt and seem to speak to me directly, 'Mm ba ba de' and 'Um bum ba de'. <Pauses to let them sink in>
Wise words I think you'll agree.
And everyone needs to see this man with Kermit puppets being awesome.

You'll be fine Boy10.
<Whispers we believe in you>
Mrs. Amazing: 'Why're you whispering?'
For drama... <Does Jazz hands>
Take it away you puppeteering genius...