Matthew Munson: Time for school, tennis and dance lessons

Bryan's journey

School is back. As is tennis … and dance lessons … and the normal routine of day-to-day life. I don’t mind the usual routine, as it’s that which gives us as a family our stability and confidence that we know what is going on from one day to the next. Bryan is very comfortable with his routine, as am I – it makes life a bit predictable in a good way, as chaos is never good for anyone.

Just in the three days Bryan’s been back, I’ve seen him light up at the lessons he’s had; there’s been discussions on religion, morality, and values, as well as maths, PE, and English. I am occasionally lost at some of the complexities of his maths lessons; it’s true to say that certain teaching styles change over the generations, and I really do remember learning things in a different way.

I’ve been concerned for a while about what impacts the lockdowns will have had on Bryan’s education; what has he missed out on, and will he be able to catch up? His French lessons don’t seem to be very frequent, which is a shame, as he loves languages – I hope that this will get picked up in secondary school – and some maths work they’re learning now might have otherwise been taught earlier (I suspect).

Bryan had his mock SATs recently, and I was pleased with the results; I was anxious for him, as he gets anxious with exams, but he did really well, which gives me hope for the real things later this term. He will do well, because he’s a clever boy, but he just needs to believe it for himself – he’s been prepared as much as he can be by now.

Weirdly, this is the only year where he has spent the entire year at school in Kent without any interruptions or changes; he moved down half-way during Year 3, and then Covid hit a year later. That was an experience, wasn’t it? In a few months, he’ll be starting his secondary school journey, and what an interesting experience that will be for him. He doesn’t know it yet, but there will be five very powerful years for him; he’s curious about the world and has a desire to learn. He could well respond to the increased expectations in his next school, pushing him to take some extra responsibility and learning so much more about the world.

He’s much more of an outgoing person than I am, so his desire to be social is important to him – far more than it was to me when I was 11 … or now at 40. School is a brilliant place for him to make friends, and he already has done just that; I’m relieved to see him slowly making good judgements about which children might be kind and thoughtful and fun to be around, and which might not be. I help guide him and discuss what a good friendship should look and feel like – and not to just settle for something which isn’t a friendship but is familiar and safe. Friendships are so important in life, and I really hope he continues to find good-quality ones.

It’s a genuine privilege to help Bryan experience new things – hobbies, for example, which he didn’t get a huge opportunity to explore before coming home to me. He’s keen to try tennis right now, as it’s been something he’s always been interested in; I’m not entirely sure where that interest comes from (it’s not from me, that is certain), but I’m keen to help fan the flames of something new and interesting.

He’s had a couple of lessons so far, and he’s come out buzzing both times – he teaches me the different stances, what the lines of the court are called, and how to effectively hit a ball (that’s a joke – there’s no way I could ever hit a ball of any size). So why not? He deserves some interesting hobbies, and I’m delighted to give him the opportunity; it was never something I wanted to look into when I was a kid, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the chance. If it means that I have to be his courier, then so be it; that’s the privilege of being a dad!

1 Comment

  1. Glad that Bryan is doing ok at school.
    But please remember that SATs are a measure of the school’s ability, not the child’s

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