Thursday, 22 August 2013
Well as I said previously, my Prince was a special little boy. He was a delight to teach and have the pleasure of in my classroom. Getting to know him and his family was extraordinary and a blessing and I entered a world I could only dream of being part of prior to our meeting. But I have to tell you I have worked with many very special children who have made a difference in my life and career and changed my view of the landscape. I have been in education over 30 years in one way or another. I have experienced many situations and challenges in four continents of the world. Making a difference has always been important and I have not always been popular in the adult and professional worlds because of this but have always had the child’s interests and well-being foremost in my mind’s eye. Being unpopular has never really bothered me so long as I have always carried out my work for the benefit of each child and their particular learning and individual needs. When caring for children you cannot always be popular!
Let me share a story of another special child I was lucky enough to get to know…
Whilst working in the US of A I had the pleasure of working with Sophia within a children’s day nursery setting. She came into my life as an 18 month old and it was obvious from very early on in our “getting to know each other” that she was a very bright little bundle of joy.
Sophia walked at 10 months and talked at 14 months; no baby speech, just full adult sentences in perfect Queen’s English. Her parents were astonished. She constantly talked and asked questions most of which were extremely difficult to answer. She would ask “where God came from” and “where did the first chicken’s egg came from” as well as wanting to know how everything worked and explanations for many big long adult words.Sophia spent the majority of her time with her nose in a book. Before she could actually read she had memorised many stories and could recite them to you and correct you if you got the story wrong or cheekily missed a page! As she grew she became obsessed with the encyclopaedia, dictionary and atlas and would spend many hours of the day sitting in the bottom of the wardrobe soaking up information from such books and reciting her findings to her poor exhausted mother. These books, she would later tell me, answered her questions at a time when other didn’t seem able to!
Sophia needed to be stimulated twenty four hours a day and when bored she would secretly find her own entertainment and this would generally mean she was up to no good. She was so inquisitive that she tried to shave her face to “see what it felt like”, put tissue paper up her nose and had to have her sinuses flushed, cleaned her ear with a cotton bud and perforated her ear drum and at 6 years old ran away from school. It was a blessing when she was finally old enough to answer her own questions by researching on the internet and using Wikipedia. Sophia had, what we call in the trade, hypersensitivities and loved textures and sounds. She was also sensitive to world issues and could become very distressed with world issues like war and poverty and watching the television news was often extremely distressing for her.
Now before you judge her mother, parents and family, can I just stress that they were ordinary; middle class very normal and a respectable family who oozed common sense (just like you and I). They were kind and caring, loved this little girl implicitly and always tried to do their best. Nevertheless, they found their parenting job exhausting and challenging? In fact at times they thought they were bad parents when they found attempting to constantly meet Sophia's needs difficult. Yes, her mum and dad appeared both bright but, they shared with me one day, they had never shown traits and characteristics shown in this little person. Keeping up with this child was very challenging. Constantly stretching and enriching her insatiable appetite for knowledge was a really tricky balancing act.
At two years Sophia was registered at the day nursery I was teaching in 3 days a week and this went someway in helping to stimulate her (and exhaust her) but more importantly gave her mother time to recharge her batteries and also get some of the very important family household jobs completed. A summer baby she was always the youngest in her year but this never made a scrap of difference or held her back. She was always way ahead of her peers and years. At six years old after battling, not only with the child but the establishment too, she was diagnosed by an educational psychologist as gifted and on the 99th percentile and working as a twelve year old for communication and language, reading, writing and spelling. The world was such an interesting place to Sophia.
Sophia found it hard to make friends and always gravitated towards adult company where she could hold an in depth conversation about the world around her and they could generally make an attempt to answer her difficult questions. Sophia was very pedantic and a perfectionist, a hard worker and needed to always achieve highly. She was extrovert and full of life and a pleasure to be around. She was interesting and I found her to be a delight to have in my class. I thrived on teaching and working with her and watching her develop into a very competent and bright young girl.
After a day with Sophia and retiring to the staff room, for my well-earned break, a strong, often sweet cuppa PG Tips was a necessary, and much welcomed, refreshment and “pick me up”!
Tea for Mrs Teacup was never very far away!