Our children's true intelligence can not always be measured by a test
Most of the children in Sarah's school had their NAPLAN results on Friday, but Sarah misplaced hers, which is the norm in our family. It was probably sitting next to her missing lunchbox, which was next to her missing homework bag, next to her missing shoes (I mean who loses their school shoes - they are on her feet)!
We always find them, sitting on a wall or they are left outside her class, or in the lost property box, so all is good; everything turns up in the end. It doesn't faze me anymore. So unlike the rest of the Australian population, we didn't receive Sarah's Naplan results until Tuesday. She took them out of her bag and ran to me clutching the envelope in her hands!
"Mummy, Mummy they are here, my Naplan results; I am so excited".
She handed me the envelope and then skipped off. I read the results and my heart sank as I read that in almost every subject Sarah was below the national average. However, in creative writing, she was well above average and this made me smile so much and warmed my heart. I love reading her little stories that she writes at home. She has even come up with a new English language which I have to say is much easier to read and makes so much more sense than the correct English language.
We know how bright Sarah is, and we believe that a test doesn't tell us how intelligent she is, nor does it tell us how resilient she is or how happy and confident she is. I watched yesterday as Sarah came first in the 200m race at school, and not by a hair's breath, but by a mile.
Every day I see her face light up as she shows me the most amazing drawings that she creates. She is the most talented little artist and one of the fastest runners, but sadly this won't be reflected in the Naplan results.
Sarah has the most fantastic imagination, she designs then dyes and customises her clothes. She writes beautiful poetry and stories and makes up songs and dance routines, but sadly, this won't be reflected in the Naplan results either.
Sarah is intelligent, and she is bright, and all the teachers tell me this. But, Sarah struggles to concentrate unless she is passionate about something and sadly at age 9 with ADHD, she hasn't quite found a passion for sitting solitary at a desk, doing a test while being timed. As I finished reading her results, Sarah ran in;
"How did I do in the Naplan tests Mummy", asked an excited Sarah.
"You did amazing, I am so proud of you", I said.
I am so happy, I ran out of time, and I just rushed and guessed the answers", said Sarah
"You did awesome honey, you should be so proud of yourself", I replied.
I didn't tell Sarah how she did in the test. The great thing about ADHD is that she forgot and moved onto something else within a few minutes. I was glad we didn't have that conversation. There was a time when she was so down on herself. At age seven she would tell me how she hated her brain, she would say she was thick and that her friends told her she was 'cuckoo'. We are now in such a great place, and part of this has come from telling her what she is great at, so running, art, music and acrobatics are the things we praise Sarah on. We ignore the writing and reading as it will come, it comes to us all. For some, it just takes a little longer.
We only have to look at all the famous Musicians, Artists, Inventors and Entrepreneurs who left school without a single exam to their name. Many of them were dyslexic or diagnosed with ADHD and unable to concentrate in school. But how differently the World would look without these amazing creative geniuses! There was a time when I wanted Sarah to be like everyone else. I wanted her to be able to read and write as well as her peers, to be able to sit still and not be so fiercely independent. Now I don't. Now I am proud that she is different, I love the fact that she sees the world in a different light and thinks outside the box. And no test will ever stop me from believing this.