A Letter To My Average Child Who Seems Invisible

To my beautifully average child,

Every week your little heart floods with hope that today could be the day; maybe this will be the week that you get a certificate from school.

Today, as we set out on the school run, you told me how you felt sure you’d get a “caught being kind” award this week because of all the people you’d looked after. You told me about Lacey who’d hurt her knee, Lilly-May who’d lost her coat, and Archie who had been stuck with his maths work – all beneficiaries of your empathetic, helpful nature….

Your heart is full of hope. Mine is full is cynicism. I know how hard you work, and I know how thoughtful you are… and I know that nobody ever notices.

You are the average child.

average child - climbing frame at playground tyres

The average child

You are firmly in the middle – not a high flyer and not a straggler. You don’t sparkle at sports and you don’t suck at them either. You keep up with the level of work… but you don’t exceed expectations or fall behind. You are a good reader… but don’t stand out or need extra help.


You help your friends quietly, away from the limelight, without doing it for show. You do it because you care for them, not because you care for certificates. You still believe the falsehood that the the teachers will notice you busily beavering away but, the reality is, unless you make a song and dance of it, they won’t. It’s not their fault – they are just too busy.

The class teachers look out on a sea of faces and they don’t see yours. They see the ones who get full marks or no marks at all. You are the invisible middle ground – compliant and hardworking, but not demanding or attention-seeking.

In assembly today, a tear slipped down my cheek! Your name was not called out for an award. Again. You were not singled out. You were not noticed. You were not acknowledged. As the headteacher commented on the children sitting nicely I saw you sit up so straight, you almost arched your back – you were begging to be seen, desperate to please.

But you were passed over.

average child - children splashing in puddles together

I see you

But I see you.

My whole being swells with pride when I think of you.

You have faced hardships beyond your years, tackled them with courage, and come away smiling.

You do your school work every day without complaining, slowly plugging away and getting things done. You are the most thoughtful child I know – your ability to empathise and read situations would put most adults to shame. You have a real eye for colour and put clothing outfits together that I would never dream of… and yet somehow they work! You are fantastic at baking and, at just 6 years old, can be trusted to make them almost independently.

Just keep doing you, little one.

average child - child baking, stirring mixing bowl

Being an average child is okay. In fact, being an average child is great – you are doing everything that you are supposed to do – you are right on target. You are keeping up exactly with where you need to be and developing at a completely normal rate. That’s all brilliant!

You are reliable and hardworking. You are kind and unassuming. You keep your head down and move at your own pace.

These are brilliant qualities.

And it doesn’t matter how many certificates you get. Your worth is an irrefutable fact.

You bring so much to the table and your generosity knows no bounds. You are a wonderful sister who is gentle and encouraging. You share your toys and delight in giving gifts.

So yes the world may see an average child but you are so much more than that. You enrich the lives of those around you. When you see that I am sad, you cuddle up next to me and offer me a sweet from your secret stash. When I am making tea, you always rush in to help me. When your sister draws a picture, you praise her so highly and demand that we stick it up on the wall.

I wept today because you deserve recognition…


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To My Average Child who seems invisible - when you really need to boost childs self esteem but you don't know how. How can we keep boosting a child's confidence when the school don't seem to notice them?

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  1. 1

    Awww my heart goes out to your “average child” because as a teacher I know you are right. These are the children who we really treasure. Who make our lives easier by being so amazing. I wish I could think of ways to help your little one feel that she is treasured and yet I know that in life those who are loud are always the ones that get noticed. But it’s treasures like you who will be the richest in life. Hold on little one… you are wonderful and life will bring you far richer rewards than certificates at school. From one invisible person to another… shine on and don’t change to please others #dreamteam

  2. 2
    Noleen Miller

    Your daughter is a hard worker and might not be an A student but she is doing her best. I’m not too keen on giving awards in class as this is a type of thing that can be a confidence damper especially to those who is not at the receiving end. What I love about the school my kids attend is that everyone gets a reward sticker for work completed. And at the end of the year everyone gets a certificate for a particular achievement they had throughout the year. Average or not average, you daughter is thriving at her own pace.#dreamteam

  3. 3

    This really made me emotional. I guess it is difficult for teachers especially nowadays when so many children are crammed into one class. Nevertheless, it’s amazing that your daughter still continues to do her best and hasn’t given up because no one at school recognises and I guess that is because you recognise it, you are always there for her and encouraging:) #DreamTeam

    Soffy // themumaffairs.blogspot.com

  4. 4

    Awww I could have written this! In fact, I recently sent an email to my child’s school asking…”how are you meeting the needs of the middle?’ As after 12 years in school, my beautiful child is rarely acknowledged. I think this is something schools should be careful of. Every child deserves recognition and made to feel special. I just wanted the school to give a commendation for something! My child hadn’t received anything since 2014 ffs. I’m with you. Hopefully she will meet a teacher one day who will notice her amazing talents at being in task all the time and for being that kind child that everyone loves. It’s so important. I loved your post Lucy. Xxx#dreamteam

  5. 5
    Lydia C. Lee

    We grew up with this, it was normal back then – only the best got the recognition. Now I think we’ve skewed it up and place too much value on these certificates etc. You do good because it’s the right thing to do. Not to be recognised. You the mum recognises it, shows the kid the value and guess what, a contented adult is the prize. Not someone always seeking external approval to feel validated.
    Yes it’s lovely when you win a prize but the fact that everyone in the team eventually gets best player, everyone in the class eventually gets some award is doing this generation no favours, in my opinion.
    Be the best you can be because you’re you. Not for anyone or anything else. #Dreamteam

  6. 6
    Laura Wilson

    Yes! I was the average child at school and know exactly how it feels. Seeing my son now at school it’s exactly the same and because of where we live it’s always the kids from certain families or non English speaking that get all the praise and it does feel horrid seeing them constantly over looked. I think unless you’ve been that child or have that child you just wouldn’t understand xx

  7. 7
    Rhyming with Wine

    This made my heart ache in such a beautiful way. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a loving mum in her corner. I think that the people that successfully stay under the radar are those that end up the happiest in life. The radar carries so much pressure. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam Lucy x

  8. 11

    Your daughter sounds wonderful. I hope that this will be her week 🙂

    When the Tubblet was the same age, one of her teachers had a Star of the Week award. Behind the scenes she would make sure that each child in her class got nominated for it during the course of the year. She’d then write a letter about the things she and the children had noticed about the nominee that would be read out and given to them afterwards. That strikes me as a slightly better system as it acknowledges every child and tells them that they’re valued and noticed. .

    The Tubblet is 14 now and nearly as tall as me and I’ve still got it. And I still well up thinking about it.

  9. 12
    Welsh Mum Writing

    As an average child in school I completely sympathise. As my son’s keyworker said in nursery recently “it’s easy to notice the child who is experience difficulty or who needs attention”, but of course those who are happily beavering away get overlooked. I’m sure your daughter isn’t average at all, they’re all exceptional just in different ways. We go to a toddler football class on a Saturday, and each week there are “stars of the session” called out. I’ve noticed that over time EVERY SINGLE child has been named at some point. They could get an award for being enthusiastic, or being a good tidier, or helping another friend, or playing happily… it’s wonderful. #aBloggingGoodTime

  10. 13
    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    Oh, this is so heartbreaking. It’s horrible to see your child being overlooked and know that there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m sure she knows exactly how much you think of her though, and I suppose ultimately it’s better to have your own sense of self worth, rather than taking it from the praise of others. But oh, it’s not that easy is it? I really hope she gets the recognition she deserves soon. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  11. 14
    Laura - Dear Bear and Beany

    This is so sad! Bless her heart, its not nice that she has noticed herself that she hasn’t been awarded. School is tough on kids and I agree with you, if your in the middle then you just bumble along. Its the high flyers and the ones that need more help that get all the attention. I hope her time in the spotlight comes soon. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. 15
    Hayley @ Mission: Mindfulness

    Oh Lucy this has made me well up! I totally understand this as I often felt/feel like this and am therefore really conscious of this as a teacher to try and make sure every student feels valued. I HATE the certificates and start of the day mentality that has taken over some classrooms – as I wrote in an essay for an MA in education you are basically upsetting 29 other little ones when you pick that ‘1 child out’. This is a beautifully written post – your daughter is lucky to have you for her Mum xx
    #ablogginggoodtime xx

  13. 16

    such a heart-felt post. My heart is aching for the the brilliantly average children out there. The ones that get it done; share the love; don’t constantly have a melt down; are, quite simply, nice straightforward young people who will continue to grow and contribute and bring joy to the lives of their friends and families. It is so sad that unless you are a trouble maker or in need of extra support at either end of the scale you don’t get noticed. It must seem so unfair when the ‘naughty kid’ next to you gets a reward for not being naughty that week , whilst you are rarely naughty and never get mentioned…. perhaps that’s why so many kids decide to play up. #blogcrush

  14. 18

    This is such a lovely, and sad post. And as I teacher I know you’re right. I teach secondary which is a bit different but I always feel sorry for all the kids in the middle. I do my best to recognise everyone but unfortunately it is usually those demanding the most attention that get it. I’m sure your daughter’s teacher does notice her though – I know I always did notice those in the middle who were quietly getting on with things and trying their best – and I’m sure she will be recognised for her efforts sooner or later. And if she isn’t then she’s got a fantastic mum in her corner who will make sure she knows how special she is 🙂 #SharingTheBlogLove

  15. 20
    Emma T

    This is my son too. He does struggle a bit with reading so get extra booster for that. But other than that he’s quiet and just gets on with it. Week after week we see the same people getting learner of the week. He’s had it twice despite the fact he’s had weeks where he’s been VIP for several days. He’s not had star of the week. Instead it’s given to naughty children or new kids.
    Thankfully the teacher does notice for the school report. But he’s in a small school (17 in his year) so more of them should be being recognised.

  16. 22

    How very sad, not for the child as so many people have said, but for that attitude that will no doubt rub off on the child.
    Teachers – all teachers think about ALL their children. Don’t think otherwise. It’s not the kind of career (or wage) where you can’t care.

    Here are some words from someone else to help you get over the jealousy of other children’s moment of celebration:
    I know. You’re worried. Your child wasn’t pick for this or that. Your child didn’t get a certificate. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting, shoving, pinching, scratching, swearing maybe even biting other children. The one who always has to hold my hand in the hallway. The one who has a special spot at the carpet, and sometimes sits on a chair rather than the floor. The one who had to leave the block centre because blocks are not for throwing. The one who climbed over the playground fence right exactly as I was telling her to stop. The one who poured his neighbour’s milk onto the floor in a fit of anger. On purpose. While I was watching. And then, when I asked him to clean it up, emptied the ENTIRE paper towel dispenser. On purpose. While I was watching. The one who dropped the REAL ACTUAL F-word and C-word in gym class.

    You’re worried that THAT child is detracting from your child’s learning experience. You’re worried that he takes up too much of my time and energy, and that your child won’t get his fair share. You’re worried that she is really going to hurt someone some day. You’re worried that “someone” might be your child. You’re worried that your child is going to start using aggression to get what she wants. You’re worried your child is going to fall behind academically because I might not notice that he is struggling to hold a pencil. I know.

    Your child, this year, in this classroom, at this age, is not THAT child. Your child is not perfect, but she generally follows rules. He is able to share toys peaceably. She does not throw furniture. He raises his hand to speak. She works when it is time to work, and plays when it is time to play. He can be trusted to go straight to the bathroom and straight back again with no shenanigans. She thinks that the S-word is “stupid” and the C-word is “crumbs.” I know.

    I know, and I am worried, too.

    You see, I worry all the time. About ALL of them. I worry about your child’s pencil grip, and another child’s letter sounds, and that little tiny one’s shyness, and that other one’s chronically empty lunchbox. I worry that Gavin’s coat is not warm enough, and that Talitha’s dad yells at her for printing the letter B backwards. Most of my car rides and showers are consumed with the worrying.

    But I know, you want to talk about THAT child. Because Talitha’s backward Bs are not going to give your child a black eye.

    I want to talk about THAT child, too, but there are so many things I can’t tell you.

    I can’t tell you that she was adopted from an orphanage at 18 months.

    I can’t tell you that he is on an elimination diet for possible food allergies, and that he is therefore hungry ALL. THE. TIME.

    I can’t tell you that her parents are in the middle of a horrendous divorce, and she has been staying with her grandma.

    I can’t tell you that I’m starting to worry that grandma drinks…

    I can’t tell you that his asthma medication makes him agitated.

    I can’t tell you that his family are under investigation for physical and emotional abuse….

    I can’t tell you that her mum is a single parent, and so she (the child) is at school from the moment before-care opens, until the moment after-care closes, and then the drive between home and school takes 40 minutes, and so she (the child) is getting less sleep than most adults.

    I can’ tell you that he has been a witness to domestic violence.

    That’s okay, you say. You understand I can’t share personal or family information. You just want to know what I am DOING about That Child’s behaviour.

    I would love to tell you. But I can’t.

    I can’t tell you that she receives speech-language services, that an assessment showed a severe language delay, and that the therapist feels the aggression is linked to frustration about being unable to communicate.

    I can’t tell you that I meet with his parents EVERY week, and that both of them usually cry at those meetings.

    I can’t tell you that I’m on to the phone to social workers sometimes twice a day

    I can’t tell you that the child and I have a secret hand signal to tell me when she needs to sit by herself for a while.

    I can’t tell you that he spends rest time curled in my lap because “it makes me feel better to hear your heart, Teacher.”

    I can’t tell you that I have been meticulously tracking her aggressive incidents for 3 months, and that she has dropped from 5 incidents a day, to 5 incidents a week.

    I can’t tell you that the school secretary has agreed that I can send him to the office to “help” when I can tell he needs a change of scenery.

    I can’t tell you that I have stood up in a staff meeting and, with tears in my eyes, BEGGED my colleagues to keep an extra close eye on her, to be kind to her even when they are frustrated that she just punched someone AGAIN, and this time, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A TEACHER.

    The thing is, there are SO MANY THINGS I can’t tell you about That Child. I can’t even tell you the good stuff.

    I can’t tell you that his classroom job is to water the plants, and that he cried with heartbreak when one of the plants died over winter break.
    I can’t tell you that she kisses her baby sister goodbye every morning, and whispers “You are my sunshine” before mum pushes the stroller away.
    I can’t tell you that he knows he will die if he doesn’t receive his medication
    I can’t tell you that he knows more about thunderstorms than most meteorologists.
    I can’t tell you that he made me something special that actually made me cry because it showed that he did care
    I can’t tell you that she often asks to help sharpen the pencils during playtime.
    I can’t tell you that she strokes the rabbits’ fur and kisses them so gently.
    I can’t tell you that when a classmate is crying, he rushes over with his favourite stuffy from the story corner.
    The thing is, dear parent, that I can only talk to you about YOUR child. So, what I can tell you is this:

    If ever, at any point, YOUR child, or any of your children, becomes THAT child.
    I will not share your personal family business with other parents in the classroom.
    I will communicate with you frequently, clearly, and kindly.
    I will make sure there are tissues nearby at all our meetings, and if you let me, I will hold your hand when you cry.
    I will advocate for your child and family to receive the highest quality of specialist services, and I will cooperate with those professionals to the fullest possible extent.
    I will make sure your child gets extra love and affection when she needs it most.
    I will be a voice for your child, their champion in our school community.
    I will, no matter what happens, continue to look for, and to find, the good, amazing, special, and wonderful things about your child.
    I will remind him and YOU of those good amazing special wonderful things, over and over again.
    And when another parent comes to me, with concerns about YOUR child…
    I will tell them all of this, all over again.

    • 23
      Lucy At Home

      I think you make some great points here, and I know that teachers work tirelessly to look after the kids in their class. I come from a family of teachers and know they worry about their little chargers long after the school bell has chimed.

      My post is not meant as a dig at teachers (I did say it’s not their fault – they are just busy), but I think it is naive to think that the “average” children – the ones who are reliably good – don’t get overlooked (and I say this as someone who works in a school). It is inevitable. And yes, as a child and a parent it can be frustrating and demoralising. I recognise that there are children who need extra attention and support at school. But it is still important for me to empathise with MY child who is feeling upset at being overlooked again. Your points and mine don’t invalidate each other – they are both true.

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