The school holidays are both loved and dreaded by French schoolchildren. Dreaded by those who have not exactly excelled in the twice-termly tests that is. Parents of children who, for whatever reason, do not do well in controles also dread the beginning of the holidays.
Thus it was yesterday that I almost had a heart-attack at the results presented to me worriedly by my eldest. The details of some of the results are not for the faint-hearted, so I will not dwell on them here but they did rather ruin my evening.
I am consoling myself with two extenuating circumstances: new school and new teaching methods. As I said elsewhere, he has a lot of rote-learning to do this year which he is not used to, together with a teacher who makes them apply their knowledge differently.
In the face of such a situation, the parental pitface takes on a craggy, crumbly aspect. One has visions of a bright child re-doing his CM2 year. The shame of it, and the devastating effect it would have on him would be truly appalling. We can, however, use such results as a wake-up call. He is obviously not doing what he is supposed to do, or not enough, and must keep his brain switched on at all times. He told me he has test nerves, which is normal, but he'll just have to deal with this. We all have to. I told him he must consider tests as an opportunity to show what he knows, not fear what he doesn't know.
With some questions, he didn't answer the question fully and lost stupid points because of this. It happens to everyone, but if he can get to grips with this simple action, he'll already be doing much better. Other questions paralysed him because he couldn't remember the lesson, but if he had thought logically and used his common sense, he could have answered a number of questions anyway.
Luckily we had our NG come round to reinforce what I said to him - it's amazing how one's children really don't believe what you tell them, and to give him tips on dealing with his father who is going to go ballistic this weekend. He is one of those who insists his child is top of the class willy nilly, which is a pointless demand. He should be doing his best, that is the most one can insist on.
So, this afternoon, we sat down and went through some of the worst questions. It struck me that he's an intellectual butterfly flitting around the questions, and losing interest if he doesn't understand immediately. He lacks a methodological approach and determination to get to the answer. Put him on a video game and work out strategy, problem-solving etc. and he'll sit at it for ages, but 'irrelevent' questions provoke no interest and no desire to get to the solution.
We'll get there if it kills us, however!