My oldest son, Caleb is in the 4th grade this year.
Our school district divides elementary into K-4th, middle into 5th-8th, and high school 9th-12th. I am AMAZED that this is the final year of elementary school for Caleb. He is an unbelievable child: complicated, loving, smart, awkward, sweet, and Autistic. He still has many obstacles. He struggles in reading comprehension, in his verbal skills, eye contact, empathy, and has some anxiety. Each year he progresses, and with 3rd grade being so devastating for him, we worried all summer about 4th grade. To our surprise, he is doing really well this year. His grades are better, he is maturing a bit, he has several school friends, and he is more aware. He has to work twice as hard to accomplish things that come naturally to the average kid.
He is now a member of the CHICKEN Club, a club for 4th graders that make healthy choices and say NO to drugs. He was excited to sign his pledge card and receive his membership shirt. Yesterday a note came home about an election for club representatives. It is for students with good grades and conduct, and those kids would be helping with the recycling, setting up chairs for assemblies, greeting guest speakers, and various other school projects. He looked at it and said, "Mom I want to do this."
I was really surprised. But once I asked him why, he couldn't come up with an answer. He is interested but doesn't know why. He thinks he would make a good representative, but cannot give any reasons. I have mixed emotions about this.
First, I always want to encourage my child, challenge him, motivate him, and let him know with hard work he can be ANYTHING he wants to be. Second, my mind is saying he is not ready for this. He won't win.
Instead of telling him either of these things, I told him he would have to make a poster and write and give a speech. I told him this would teach him so many valuable things: confidence, verbal communication skills, eye contact, competition. I also told him I would help him in any way I could.
To help him learn more about himself and his skills, I am going to write down a list of characteristics and have him circle 4. We will discuss what each characteristic means and give examples. Then he can choose the ones he would like to include on his poster as reasons to vote for him as representative for the CHICKEN Club.
I am proud of my son for taking this leap. I am hesitant because I am his mom, and I know his limitations, but I never want to underestimate him. If he wants it and works hard for it, he can do it! More to come as he makes his poster and writes his speech.