21st century children – language, learning and literacy (and me)

I’ve been asked to speak at a conference next week, which is entitled ’21st century children – language, learning and literacy’ and I’m chuffed to have been asked. The audience are providers of early years and childcare services and I’ve been asked to speak on sustaining a quality business..

So in relation to my field of interest, how is this linked?

If we assume that the attendees know how to deliver a quality Service, we need the service to be delivered by a business that works efficiently, professionally and in line with best practise. The business should also be there for the long haul.. ie not dependant on short term public sector funds, but with a strategy for growth, learning and development.

Thankfully I love this stuff.. the stuff most people hate.. the tape. if you see it, not as tape, but in fact as a guide, a safety net, its ok.

But if I’m truthful, the biggest link to ‘learning’ is for me. I’ve spoken to conference delegates before. Hell I’ve written other people’s speeches for conferences before (including 3 Ministers and a secretary of state for Northern Ireland in fact), but these are my words. spoken by me. and that’s a bit more daunting. When I was sheltered by the public sector world, if the topic was boring, it was because it had to be.. but if this one is boring, its because my words were.. why did I agree to this?

Of course no pressure at all by the lovely lady who asked me to speak – ‘you can make all those things less frightening for people’ she said.. (all I’m hearing is ‘be a keynote speaker’ they said,…’it’ll be fun’ they said…).

It is a serious topic and one I want to do justice.

..but what will I wear?!

All joking aside.. what will I wear?! I have a dinner dance to attend this weekend (I know – you are of a certain age when the phrase ‘dinner dance’ is trotted out).. I visited a friend yesterday and we were talking about the underwear curse of fancy events. So this morning I’ve been trying on underwear like a mad thing. If you know me well, you will know my roller shutter door story.. if you know me really well you will have been outside the loo as I’ve tried to  get myself back in to the hook and eye underwear. If you don’t know me, I apologise – you have now just got the strangest image in your head.

so, back to the conference. Its not about me or what I’m wearing. Apparently. Mums are good at bringing you back to earth with a bump. I got all As at GCSE and one B – Mum wanted to know if I would be resitting the B.. I had an inspiring conversation with a business advisor about my latest ‘hare brain scheme’ and I’m not to ‘get carried away’ by (all that positivity). We didn’t do positivity in our house. That’s not to say it was a negative place to live, but you didn’t get a chance to get a big head about something if you did well. I hope mum doesn’t read this – she’d be gutted.. but its true.

So I am determined to be positive with my kids. That is not easy.. take this morning for example..

I woke Amy at 7.15 (not 7am as my phone battery had died and we rely on it to wake us, unless the cat needs a wee) – that did not go well

Amy got water in her ears in the shower – that did not go well

Amy did not like the tights in her drawer (any of about 8 pairs) – that did not go well

Amy’s bra strap was twisted – (you’re getting the picture).

..and meanwhile I’m doing the ‘come and sit on my knee and I’ll hold you tight until you feel better’ routine and inside feeling ‘why could you not have had a shower last night when you were asked to’. We have a poster you see which has all the times and days for showers so that nothing is a surprise (this was a good idea at the time). We’ve done all the posters for ‘how I’m feeling’, ‘options of things to do to calm me down’ etc.. I am all learnt out when it comes to autism, but the thing they cant teach me is how to feel about it.

Anyway.. the bit about the conference title that is so interesting to me is ’21st century children’ – why is language, literacy and learning so different in these times? we are a family of teachers (mum says I am a frustrated teacher as I have the buying sticker books obsession without the job to justify it) and I suppose when my granny was teaching in the wee white school in Killyleagh there were probably equally as many children as there are today who found learning difficult, but they didn’t have a word attached to them. And that was probably better. You see the word comes with a bit in brackets after it, that is never written down and never said, but always thought..

She’s autistic (that’s why)

He has ADHD (that’s why)

She’s dyslexic (that’s why)

but that is not why.

Everyone learns in a different way. Everyone. Some people are unfortunate enough to have their needs boxed off with a word, but I truly believe that their needs aren’t ‘special’. How their needs are met may be different, but they are the same needs as anyone else’s.



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