A million words or less

It seems to run against modern thinking for teachers to hand out homework on the first day of school, let alone a homework assignment for parents.

My oldest son entered Grade 7 of French Immersion in Moose Jaw last week and the new teacher gave parents an assignment: ‘In a million words or less, tell me as much as you can about your child’.

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And it seems to have been lifted from a page right out of the ‘cool teacher handbook’, which all cool teachers get before the year.

Some teachers, and these are few and far between at École Palliser Heights, just go through the motions with their lesson plans. They have a set agenda and they haven’t changed it in two decades. We all get that way sometimes, right?

Then there are the cool teachers, the ones who care a lot about what they do and try to make it interesting and no child gets left behind. Both of my kids have had an abundance of the creative kinds of teachers and the French Immersion program seems to attract this kind of teacher.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone here by turning it into a column and in so doing, limiting myself to just less than 800 words, unless we change fonts again soon and then your guess is as good as mine for word count.

But anyway, about Liam. I can remember the day he was born. He was several weeks premature and I’d thought nothing of accepting an invitation a few weeks before to golf in a police golf tournament the morning he was born. I gladly left that obligation aside to attend to his emergency c-section.

The vision issues came immediately. We had to go to Regina quite a few times to a pediatric eye doctor to make sure he could see like all the other kids. He had glasses at 10 months of age and not only did they help him see and minimize the affects of his stigmatism, they were absolutely adorable.

He missed some of the major milestones in terms of gross motor and fine motor movement and had help from Early Childhood Intervention Program when we moved back to Moose Jaw in 2010. That interventionist noted the toe walking and some other characteristics like very, very early reading abilities and recommended us to get him checked by a psychologist for Aspergers syndrome, a form of autism. It’s not a bad thing and once you run through the list of things, you realize that of course he’s got it and why didn’t we see it before?    

He was diagnosed before kindergarten and from there we were able to help advocate for who he is and help him every step of the way when it came to educating teachers, family and friends about how he can excel.

Late every spring, we try to get the teacher involved in meeting Liam and go over his cumulative file with them and help with those strategies and learn what works and what doesn’t.

In the last 12 years, he’s loved in order (and he’s not sure about correcting me if I was wrong): Leap Pad’s Word Whammer, Thomas the Tank Engine, the movie Bolt, Angry Birds, Minecraft, Doctor Who, Clash Royale and various other things. It’s his interest in these things, his humour in looking at them and intense base of knowledge that attracts people to him. Two years ago, students in his class were asked to describe one of their favourite traits about other classmates and they all mentioned his sense of humour or how he can make them laugh.

At night before bedtime you can often find him on his phone either bossing Siri around or watching videos on YouTube about space, which is one of the things he’s been interested about since he was really young.   

I’ll often walk with him and his brother and be struck by something they’ve had to say that’s either so funny I can’t help but chortle or so full of insight that I’m thinking about it for days. Conversationally I’ll try to not miss a beat so I’m not sure he notices that he has that affect on me. So let’s just let that be our little secret.

He’s impatient sometimes with classmates, teachers, his brother and his parents and he’s overwhelmed by sound and light. You’ll find a wonderful, productive student when you’ve found that happy medium and you’ll find that out from looking at the cumulative file or by talking to his last few teachers.

So that’s a brief summary of who Liam is and what brought him into your class. And we wouldn’t change him for the world. 


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