P has a few learning difficulties when it comes to his academic achievements at school. His handwriting in particular was quite poor, and his executive functioning skills also required a high level of support. He also experienced difficulties in sequencing, especially with maths.
Then L’s new life with me began – big adjustments all around; a fairly structured home environment with a daily timetable which included reading and homework. Together we were on the path to healing and finding a new, compassionate normal together, but homework was our nemesis. I am a teacher who deeply values curiosity and learning. However, my grandchild demonstrated the true grit of their character that had helped them previously to survive; the absolute determination that they would not be doing homework. L hated schoolwork, they couldn’t do it, and they were certainly not going to be doing any of it at home.
I was at a loss. I received email after email from teachers stating that L was not engaging in class, not handing in homework and assignments, and was failing – still. It began to impact our relationship.
Then we received a Little Stars Kids scholarship. Over the course of the year, under the tutelage of Kate (Little Stars Kids tutor ‘extraordinaire’), my grandchild began to engage in their learning for the first time ever. Kate received trauma-informed training from Little Stars Kids, which meant that my grandchild’s well-being and the establishment of a relationship was the top priority for Kate. When ‘L’ felt safe and valued in the first instance, the learning and improvement in results and in self-esteem began. Kate uses genuine care, playfulness, empathy, and acceptance in her tutoring repertoire and collaboratively with L, they set goals for each term. Kate works to L’s strengths and discusses metacognitive strategies for the learning challenges that L experiences – the focus is always on improvement.
Together they not only work on current homework, but they map out the term requirements for each subject on a planner and ‘back chain’ from there so that they have a visual support to refer to; thus addressing the organisational goals that L and Kate have formulated.
They celebrate every little success and talk about small manageable steps for improvement in areas where L is struggling. It amazes me that even when L is tired and has had a rough day at school (and there are still many of those), they never complain when the learning starts again in the late afternoon, with Kate. School reports now have more pass marks than comments about failure and disengagement. And for the report that was sent to us, L achieved an ‘A’ for Science. Wow!
I cannot emphasise enough how important this scholarship from Little Stars Kids is to L and to me as a grandmother and as my grandchild’s carer – our relationship is much less fractious and strained because homework and school behaviour was our greatest sticking point. Just a year or so ago, L’s self-regulation at school, confidence and possible future choices were looking extremely limited and grim. By Year 9, a student’s life chances are profoundly affected by their engagement in and their attitude towards their learning.
As a direct result of the Little Stars Kids programme, L’s future has the possibility of expansive future choices in a fulfilling career. This can have the ‘knock-on’ effect of financial security, wider life experiences and most importantly a pathway to positive sense of self.
*This photo is a stock photo to preserve the privacy of our children in foster and kinship care.