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

Prep pupils treated classmates and music teachers to a variety of musical performances this week in their half termly concert.

Performed in three instalments within their bubbles, the musicians showcased a variety of pieces, varying in both genre and instrument.

And although parents were unable to attend the concerts due to Covid-19 restrictions, the pupils’ families received a recording of the event.

Gordon Baird, Director of Music, said “We were delighted by how these first concerts of the academic year went despite the absence of the children’s parents. It was a lovely intimate experience for the children to play or sing to their friends and we heard some confident, accomplished performances.

Mr Baird added: “For some, it was their first time playing in a concert in the Prep school and we look forward to organising many more opportunities for them to perform throughout the year.”

A montage of the three music concerts can be found on the St Michael’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/Bj_Wx4P9heg.

Spooky spiders and plump pumpkins sparked Halloween fun at St Michael’s this week.

Supported by the school’s Parents and Friends association, pupils enjoyed two games which offered great prizes to winners.

Coordinator of the Halloween competitions and P & F committee member, Kelly Downey said: “Given the restrictions currently in place, the P&F are focusing on strengthening the school community for parents and children this year.

“The competitions are a simple way for the children to have some fun in the week before half term, while raising some funds for the P&F.”

Children in Pre-Prep were tasked with guessing the number of spooky spiders in the jar, while Prep children were asked to guess the weight of a pumpkin. Pupils made a donations to the P & F in exchange for each guess they made.

And the winners of the games, Herbie W (Pre-Prep) A Ward, M Little, L Lutzow and H Owen (Prep), were awarded Halloween hampers which will help them celebrate this year’s festival in spooktacular style.

Kelly added: “The funds raised for the P&F will go towards funding activities and facilities for the children to enrich their time at the school.”

For more information about St Michael’s P & F association visit stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/parents-friends

 

Strawberries and sunflowers were just some of the items celebrated in last week’s harvest assemblies.

 

The annual Pre-Prep event, performed as three instalments this year, saw Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils sing, dance and give prayer for the harvest while learning about the festival from their music teacher, Mrs Raveyeh.

 

 

Reflecting on the success of the events, Louise Raveyeh said: “I am quite moved by the children’s enthusiastic singing in our harvest celebration.

 

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to realise that there is joy in giving and sharing what we have and happiness for those who gratefully receive it.

 

“Their singing and eagerness to share with others was heartwarming.”

 

 

During the assemblies pupils sung songs about harvest time, nature and the variety of fruit and vegetables grown in this country.

 

Louise said: “I wanted the children to be thankful for what they have by realising what an amazing rainbow variety of food we have, created with individual characteristics just like them.

 

“I wanted them to realise the sense of joy that there is in sharing what we have.

 

“The songs reflect our celebration of what we have and realisation of the process of planting, harvesting and sharing.”

 

 

And it wasn’t just songs that helped the children express their thanks. Helped by their generous parents, Pre-Prep donated hundreds of food items and household essentials to the Swanley branch of Trussell Trust food bank.

 

 

Head of Pre-Prep at St Michael’s, Zerrin Leech, said: “We had tables, cupboards and bags festooned with food last week as our families gave very kind donations of food and other items.

 

“A huge thank you must go to the pupils’ parents for their wonderful generosity once again this year which will be gratefully received by the Trussell Trust.

 

“Thank you also to Mrs Ravayeh for leading our three harvest assemblies. They have been lovely with lots of new songs as well as my all-time favourite, Cauliflowers Fluffy.”

 

 

 

 

Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

Weekly eNewsletter