Head’s Blog 27th September 2019 Friday 27th September 2019

This week I’ve been out at the IAPS Headteachers’ conference in London, whilst school has had the busiest week of the term so far with Prep trips and visits week. I’m delighted that in place of my weekly musings you have today those of our fantastic Head of Years 5 & 6, who spoke eloquently and wisely to those parents who attended the Year 6 parents’ welcome evening.

In a mixture of personal anecdotes and wisdom, enriched through the counselling qualification she is coming to the end of, Rosemary gave all parents excellent counsel for how to support their child to promote resilience. I commend to you her wisdom.

 

Jill Aisher

Year 6 Welcome Evening: Resilience

Your children may have already, or will soon, come home with an “All About Me” form to fill in.  One of the questions on the back page is ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?’ The children have the chance to answer and parents may comment too.  I was wondering about this and thought about my own two children who are roughly the ages yours will be in 10 years’ time – my son is in second year at university and my daughter in Upper 6th.

What I want for my children now is very different to what I may have answered 10 years ago. I urge you to give some thought to this question because answering it allows you to zoom out and perhaps focus on what is really important. What we all want is for our children to be whole and happy and we want to know that they have the inner reserves to deal with challenges that life throws at them. That resilience training starts now.

As form teachers in Year 6, we would like to focus this year on building resilience in the children we teach.  We use growth mindset language in lessons and intend to use structured form times, as well as informal contact times, with our pupils to reinforce the idea of resilience.

Why do we need to build resilience?

When students have resilience

  • they are open to learning because they believe that they can learn and improve
  • they are receptive to assistance and coaching because they will not see it as a criticism of their abilities
  • they are comfortable not understanding concepts immediately, or not mastering skills immediately, because they see learning as a pursuit of knowledge and know that motivation and effort are just as important as knowing how to do something
  • they are happier (and we know that happy children are more emotionally available for learning)

Why particularly now?

Year 6 is a challenging year in many ways.  There is a lot going on – entrance exams, physical changes, friendships reconfigurations, thinking about the future etc. They are going to need to bounce back from disappointments or setbacks. We want to encourage skills that will be required as they become more independent, deal with change and move into more demanding environments.

What can you do to help?

When your child comes home with a problem or is upset about something, there are a number of things that you could do to turn that situation into a learning opportunity.

Reframe the situation – Once at the white doors one afternoon, I overheard a mum asking her daughter about her day.  The daughter replied that it had been a horrible day because they had played hockey in the cold and it was drizzly and she was wet and it wasn’t fun.  The mum sympathised and said that that must have been awful and that she hoped her daughter didn’t catch a nasty cold because that would ruin their weekend.  I watched them walk away. Just then another mum and daughter were leaving and again, the mum asked her daughter about her day.  The daughter said the same as the first child – she had had to play hockey and it was cold and she got wet.  This time however the mum’s response was very different.  She said, ‘Oh, playing hockey in the rain! It’s a good thing you’re not made of sugar!’ Her daughter laughed and the two of them walked off to the car. Both girls had the same experience, but their mums’ responses made for a very different outcome. By interpreting the event in the positive, it allowed the child to put the experience in perspective and I wouldn’t be surprised if next time her daughter had played in the rain, she would tell her friends that she was pleased she wasn’t made of sugar.  Her mum had reframed the event.

It may be annoying if you are perpetually optimistic, so listen first but then try to cast the situation in a more positive light. Teach your child that it is fine to have a bad lesson or a bad match but not to let that grow into a bad day or bad week etc. Encourage them to reframe too.

Listen don’t fix – help your child think about what they can do to bounce back. Our children want to be heard, rather than rescued. When we bail them out, we are teaching them that they are not enough. This can be disempowering and robs them of the opportunity to grow. When children find solutions themselves, it builds their self-esteem which is vital for building resilience.

Sometimes we swoop in because we are uncomfortable with struggle. I remember being on playground duty when my son was in Year 3 and seeing him sitting all by himself, while all the other boys were playing with a ball.  I sidled up to him and asked him why he wasn’t playing.  He told me that the boy who had the ball could decide who was in the game and my son had been told that he couldn’t play. My heart broke. After break, I phoned my husband and asked him if he would be able to pop out to the shops and buy Daniel a ball and drop it off at school, so that he would have it for lunch break! I’m not proud of this story. I swooped in and rescued, because I was uncomfortable with seeing my son on his own. He didn’t need to be rescued. At best, I should have left him to sort it out himself or if necessary, later chatted about a few ways he might have handled the situation differently if it bothered him.

Reinforce the message that it is ok to find something difficult, that it’s ok for them to get things wrong, struggle to find an answer, get into trouble, experience consequences. On that note, receiving a yellow card is not fatal.  It is an opportunity to reflect and find a better way. Struggle, mistakes, discipline is not just ok – it’s important, valuable, necessary.

Model resilient behaviour – children are sponges, let them see you struggle and persevere, use language of resilience at home.

With us working on building resilience in class and on the field and parents supporting us at home, I trust that this will be a year in which we see your children grow and flourish.

Rosemary Baisch

Latest News

As Y5 pupil, C Hunter, explained during Monday’s assembly, Sevenoaks School has organised weekly food/supply collections for those in need during these very uncertain times.  The collections have benefited local organisations such as One Big Family: Helping the Homeless, Friends for Families, The Hygiene Bank, Sevenoaks Food Bank: Loaves & Fishes, Community Cupboard, area primary schools and others.  Miss Cat Davison, the School’s Director of Service and Social Impact, updates its online social media feeds (@sevenoaksimpact on Twitter and Instagram) with the items needed each week.  We hope that you will consider helping with this effort.  Together we can make a huge difference for those living right here in our community!
The details of the collections are provided below.  If you do wish to participate, please ensure that items are unopened and handled with washed or sanitised hands, and that social distancing is strictly adhered to on delivery.
What: Food, Supplies (check social media links for current needs)
When:   Every Tuesday, 9am – 12pm
Where: Outside Claridge House, Sevenoaks School,TN13 1HU
(Claridge House is just to the right of the main entrance of Knole Park on High Street)
On Monday our community-minded pupil also discussed a book collection which took place earlier this year for children in Ghana.  Below are photos of EduSpots centres where the books are available for local communities throughout Ghana.

We’ve been amazed by the phenomenal success of the Art Department’s recent challenge “Painting without Paint”. Set as part of our remote learning programme, children were asked to select a work of art of their choice and to recreate it at home – but without using paint!

The Art Department has been overwhelmed by submissions, which Miss Rodwell, described as “creative, humorous and inventive”. She added “Staff have been impressed by submissions that showed how carefully the children have looked at their chosen artworks in order to create such brilliant responses.”

Posts on our Twitter account have received positive responses from prestigious art galleries, such as the Tate and the National Gallery, with The Lowry in Manchester commenting “Wow, we love this!!” on T Neville’s version of L S Lowry’s “Man Lying on a Wall”. But it’s not just art galleries in the UK, who have responded to the children’s art; their work has been liked by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and the Mauritshuis in Den Haag. One Year 3 pupil, who was inspired by artist Aja Trier, even reached New York, as permission was sought to post an image of one of her paintings. She was delighted to allow us to feature her work and on seeing J Gagg’s interpretation commented “Oh my gosh that is precious! Please tell the artist I love it! I will post on my Instagram and Facebook. Thank you!” She went on to tell us “I am always so humbled when kids are inspired by my work, but this is next level!”

In order to show you all the wonderful work our pupils have done, we’ve put together an online gallery of the work. Talking about the project and the reaction, Mrs Barratt declared “This is wonderful!” and reactions from other schools included the comment “Excellent work St Michael’s Art Department this is a really fun activity”.

Mrs Bridges told us “I am absolutely delighted, and inspired, by the way that the children have responded to these challenges. Creativity is keeping us connected, not only within our own community but across the world too!”

We can’t wait to see what the department comes up with next. Miss Rodwell is keeping us in suspense “I’ve been working on a new one today …”. We’re sure that our pupils will have even more opportunity to excel!

Click here to view our online gallery of more ingenious images.

Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.

At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.

At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.

Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!

Mrs Denton

Swim School Manager

Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.

This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.

Well done!

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