This week I have been blown away with the progress that Sasha has made. I've already posted a picture of page 1 of Sasha's story about the Ancient Greeks on my Facebook page.
It didn't end here though. There were FOUR whole pages of A4 which Sasha worked on at various points during her school day.
I'm going to share a picture of part 2 with you; the rest I may save in case we decide to turn it into a novel in the future....
To understand my excitement, you need to know that Sasha has barely written anything in school for the past four years or more, and pretty much nothing at home. We've figured that it's mostly because she is scared of how it looks (i.e. not perfect), or of getting spellings wrong; not because she doesn't know what to write or doesn't have the imagination.
Of course, I knew she was capable of it and had that ability, I just didn't know if it would ever come out on paper. About this time last year, I attended a special event at her school. An initiative labelled 'Big Write' was taking place at school, and parents were invited in to share a morning writing with their children, learning about the methods they used.
I was in two minds as to whether to attend. Back then Sasha wasn't writing at all, and I couldn't really imagine what we would do in a hall surrounded by her peers who all seemed to be streets ahead in terms of putting pen to paper. Sasha was keen to join in though, so with some trepidation I agreed to join her there.
Parents were seated in the hall, next to their own child, and the teachers gave everyone practical tips on how to write, with examples of good adjectives and openers to use. Then they asked the children questions about different bits of text, giving them a microphone to answer into. I listened as Sasha's peers gave hugely mature and thoughtful answers about better phrasing and suggestions on more interesting paragraphs, Every time a question was asked, Sasha would stick her hand straight up. I squirmed a little as I honestly hoped they wouldn't choose her to answer in front of all the other children and adults; her talking isn't always clear or concise. I also worried that she'd get 'stage fright' and not actually be able to talk into the microphone at all.
This happened the first time they came to her; she wanted to answer but then passed the microphone to me out of fear. I was surprised when she then put up her hand to answer a different question, and I braced myself. The question was quite in depth, and I wasn't at all sure she knew what she would say if the teachers chose her.
What happened next amazed me. They passed the microphone to her and she answered brilliantly -eloquently, with great imagination and understanding. Meanwhile, I tried very unsuccessfully to hide, knowing the spotlight was on us both, as I had tears flooding down my face and I definitely didn't want her to be put off by them. They were tears of joy and pride, and of relief, but also tears of guilt as I silently berated myself for not believing it could happen. Of course we know that she is 'bright', but without written work it becomes quite difficult to explain or prove (I don't particularly like that word 'bright' or intelligent, but that's a whole other blog post). That day, she didn't write an awful lot in terms of what the other children were producing, but she did do what you can see in the below picture - and for her, that was a huge achievement back then.
We haven't seen much progress since, until this week when she apparently suddenly became prolific! The previous lack of writing is what had made me question whether Sasha would ever sit her SATs or GCSEs, and has been at the forefront of my mind as we start to consider secondary school for her. I'm under no illusion that 'traditional' GCSEs are the be-all and end-all, and I do understand that they still may not be possible for a whole host of reasons, but any writing is a huge step forward for our girl and I don't mind admitting I was as 'pleased as punch' to see this work this week.
More good news followed this weekend as Sasha had asked to do a trial at the drama club which her elder sister attends at a weekend. I had reservations around the fact that the session is 3 hours long and I figured it might be too much for Sasha in terms of attention. We turned up to try though I fully expected her to be bored after the first 20 minutes. Three hours of me sitting in the cafe later (and I hadn't even taken a book!), she came out extremely happy and wanting to go back every week! This is a huge step for us; until this term Sasha hasn't been able to attend any mainstream clubs without support. Just recently she has started at a cookery club after school which she is also loving and coping very well at, and now this drama club. Of course there's no guarantees, and either of these might stop working for a multitude of reasons, but we'll enjoy it while we can.