Tuesday, 14 June 2016
One final battle
Mid-June already and we’re trundling towards the end of the school year but not before the one last torture that is Summer Tests. This house is still under the dark cloud of the Junior Cert and now the end of year exams for my older primary schoolers have been thrown into the mix. Stress levels are rising. The already manic afternoons now have an extra demand on them and frantic scouring of revision sheets is commonplace once homework is completed. The weekends haven’t escaped either as mountain, rivers and counties of the Emerald Isle are listed off and alternate discussions about the Bronze Age and the Great Famine take place in the kitchen depending on which child happens to have wandered in at the time.
But let me clarify. It is not my troops who are initiating these discussions, nor they who are feeling the stress. It is not they who are scouring the revision sheets to check what needs to be known for their impending tests and it certainly isn’t they who feel the need to know the where the Galtee mountains are or which river flows through Cork. Horizontal, is not a strong enough word to describe my “Summer tests takers” and “laid back” doesn’t do them justice either. They’re much more focused on playing outside with their waterguns, flickers and lightsabers. They see the reduction in written homework as an opportunity to escape to their own planets all the quicker. I am reassured by them on a daily basis that it will “all be grand”, after all, it’s things that they have done through the year. I use the word “reassured” loosely. They talk the talk but they certainly don’t recollect the details!
Getting the motivational balance right is proving more difficult every year. I don’t want them to be overly worried about their tests but I would like them to have some interest and try their best. Any attempt to keep them at the dining room table just ten or fifteen minutes longer to revise for the next day is met with huge resistance. Every day I am told the tests were “fine”. I think this might be my lads’ favourite word – non-committal, covers a multitude and pacifies mam, the kids think anyway.
Roll on the summer holidays. Free from homework, free from making lunches, free from school runs and most importantly, temporarily free from the reminder that I still can’t pinpoint the counties, mountain and rivers of Ireland!