I hope you have all enjoyed this week as much as me! It was a great pleasure to wrap up the parent Welcome Evenings on Monday and I thank you for your engagement and the questions submitted which enabled us to make the content purposeful and informative. I am delighted to hand over my newsletter spot to Head of Years 5 and 6, Rosemary Baisch, this week. Her wise words at the Year 5 & 6 Welcome Evening gave us all food for thought and were too good not to share in print. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did:
While preparing a ‘Beginning of the Year’ talk for the Year 5 and 6 Welcome Evenings, I couldn’t help but think about our current circumstances and wanted to speak about something that would be useful as we help our children deal with the challenges of a daily changing landscape.
Lockdown was a difficult time for all of us. We were not necessarily all in the same boat, but we were all trying to weather the same storm. Lockdown took some things away but also provided some valuable insights. I learnt so much during that time. It forced me to raise my IT game and I realised that apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks! Lockdown gave us opportunities to find new ways to socialise, for the children a renewed sense of self and the gift of gratitude. For me one of the most positive aspects of lockdown was that it gave us the chance to gain perspective, to see what really matters.
One of the first things teachers do when we get back to school after the summer is ask the children about their holidays. I thought I was going to hear lots of sad tales about cancelled plans and trips cut short and I was pleasantly surprised to say that I honestly heard none of that. The things that brought your children joy this summer were family time, connecting with extended family and simple old-fashioned childhood pleasures. While marking pupils’ holiday news in English, I found myself commenting time and again, ‘This sounds like the perfect summer holiday,’ which is ironic when one considers that these holidays took place in the midst of a global pandemic! In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out to the children is not flashy holidays but rather the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.
What do our children really want and need? They want to be with us and feel safe. I really believe that in order to reduce anxiety and give them space they need to be fully themselves, we need to keep things simple. I read an article recently which spoke about ‘The Four Pillars of Excess’ that are hurting our children. The author, Kim Payne, speaks about excess stuff, excess choice, excess information and excess speed. Our children have too much, must decide too much, cope with too much news and information coming at them and do this all too quickly.
If we can keep in the forefront of our minds what really matters, we can help pare back. Send your child to school with only the stationery they need, nothing more nothing less. Think about your child’s schedule – are all the activities and extras absolutely necessary? I believe we need to consider carefully whether the news our children hear or conversations to which they are privy are helpful or if those discussions are perhaps a little too grown up and likely to cause worry or upset. Do we find ourselves hurrying our children when it would actually be ok to go slowly?
Years ago, in a discussion with my son, he told me that Wednesdays were his favourite day of the week. I asked why, assuming that he would say it was because he had sports fixtures after school or because school lunches were particularly good. Daniel told me that he loved Wednesdays because on a Wednesday, his granny fetched him. Daniel said that Wednesdays made him happy because Granny was never in a hurry. This gave me pause.
When we simplify, when we focus on what really matters to us, we can set a tone in our homes that honours our family’s needs rather than the world’s demands, a tone that is aligned with our dreams rather than dictated to by the world’s fears. My hope is that as we continue to navigate this journey together, we will choose to make more out of less and have children who are happier for it.