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Principal's Blog

2016 Term 1

The Conversations We Have

Every so often I hear conversations between parents and their children about school life, and was reflecting on these, and the messages that these convey to our children.

Some are positive and lift the spirits of the child. But some are only about lost socks, whether, what and how much a child has eaten, how hot, cold or wet the day was, dirt on clothes, forgotten bathers, or bumps and scratches. In short, the sharing of small complaints, whinges and grumbles.

If the parent focusses on such topics, naturally the child grows up thinking that these topics are worthy of concern and obsession - rather than talking about new adventures, new ideas, new skills, and happy times with teachers and other children. A bruise or cut also offers the opportunity for praising strength and an adventurous spirit.

The negative and over-fussing approach runs counter to our school aims - happiness and viability. The worry-wart approach diminishes our children's ability to enjoy, adapt and grow in confidence. The emphasis on minutiae can lead to weakness and over-sensitivity. On reflection, these are probably areas of discussion that most adults would not want to prioritise, yet somehow we all prioritise them all too often.

Christian has now been at school a term and has had a great time. He has come home dirty a few times (more than a few times, and we have not even hit winter and mud yet), forgotten to eat lunch a couple of times and run out of steam mid/late afternoon (too much fun stuff going on), lost his socks, or more often a single sock (I live at school and am yet to find a solution to the odd-sock gremlin), had a few scratches and bruises (how do these happen?) and complained of someone being mean (on one occasion). The only issue he raised was the last one, so all the previous topics have actually failed the status of 'topic of discussion' in our household. On raising the issue of someone being mean, I simply replied that kids sometimes forget to be nice, and that ended that conversation. I was not being dismissive or uncaring, I was actually caring greatly for his long-term happiness and viability, which will require him to get over small slights, while also acknowledging that these are part of life.

I do sometimes ask what was fun at school today, and to this question I get a very long list delivered with joy, smiles and enthusiasm, a question that never fails to cheer me with the positive energy of the reply. And at dinner we do give thanks for all of our blessings, of which a fun school day and good friends rate frequent mentions. I recommend seeking the opportunity for joyful conversations with children.

If you are looking for a question or topic, perhaps ask what were the three most fun things at school, or what nice things they did with other children, or Joelle, or Jeannette. Another good tack is to ask them what they contributed, or how they made school a better place today. I feel that moving conversation (and thoughts) to focus on the positive, and their contribution, will lead to greater enjoyment of their school years, and steer them towards an approach that enables them to make the most of whatever situation they find themselves in, now and in their future.

Timothy Berryman (Principal)


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