Posted: 2nd August 2017
Posted in: News
Jeff Symms | Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School
Last week I wrote about how proud I am to be part of a community of parents who manage themselves (for the most part), really well while watching their son play sport. I commented on how our volunteer officials often have to stop games and speak with adults who have allowed their emotions to get the better of them and who make comments which are at best unhelpful, and at worst, abusive.
Thinking more about that this week, I broadened my reflection to think about the many different situations in which our children listen to our words, which later on may come back to ‘bite us’ as they develop attitudes and approaches to life that we would not necessarily hope to see.
The old ‘monkey see, monkey do’ mantra that reminds us as adults to be careful what we do in front of our children, as they will inevitably copy it, can be broadened to ‘monkey hear, monkey say’. A three year old who uses the F-word, shocking Grandma or the neighbours, has probably heard Mum or Dad say it. Children who tell their teacher about their Dad’s driving rage or their Mum’s expensive shopping habits (or vice-versa), has usually overheard adult ‘discussions’ about it. Gossip about someone and then have your son or daughter repeat it to someone else? It happens more than we would like.
While these kinds of incidents are embarrassing, they are fleeting, and perhaps can be laughed off with a resolution by the adults involved to be more careful in future. There are, however, wider ranging implications than can occur due to parents not watching what they say in front of their children.
Parenting expert, Michael Grose, has written a really interesting article which examines this subject. He points out that the things parents say in front of their children have wide-ranging effects on their learning, confidence and behavior.
Studies have shown that children usually reflect their parents optimistic or pessimistic approach to life by age 8. That by this age, our perspective will have so coloured our child’s view of the world that we will have moulded them in our own image. So those parents who take a pessimistic – things will never work out, ‘why me?’ approach to life’s challenges will produce children who quickly see the negative in situations. The opposite is also true – that those parents who are optimistic, who demonstrate a ‘things will all work out’ approach, will invariably have optimistic, (and therefore more resilient), children. ‘We need to be very mindful’, he says, ‘of how we present the world to our children’.
The thrust of his article is that our children will take their cues from the significant adults in their lives. Children look at their parents as ‘wise and trusted’, and they believe that we know a lot about how life works.
Tell them they are stupid, and they will come to believe it. Talk poorly about someone else, and they will believe it.
Tell them that there is no hope, and they will come to believe it. Use bad language or negative expressions, and they will come to use them.
He tells the story of a girl at school who refused to work for a particular teacher because her mother had said, ‘that teacher is no good’. Whether or not the mother’s assessment of the teacher’s competency is accurate, what does she hope to achieve by communicating her views to her daughter? Does this excuse the daughter’s lack of effort in the class? Apportion blame to someone else if the girl gets a poor grade? What the mother has achieved is that her daughter is completely disengaged from the learning and that this is highly unlikely to be remediated.
If the mother had a reasonable concern, then talking to the teacher away from the child and looking to find a way to have her issues addressed, would have been a more responsible approach. And this applies not of course just to a child’s teacher, but to others in their life:- their coach, their doctor (‘He’s hopeless! Wouldn’t give us any antibiotics for his cold!), and sadly, sometimes the child’s other parent/sibling/grandparent.
Michael Grose gives us some good advice when he points out that sometimes it is better not to say anything at all. We all have opinions, but we need to be mindful of our responsibilities when we share these thoughts. We want our children to grow into confident young people who are able to assess situations and formulate their own, hopefully optimistic, opinions.
An interesting read, which left me feeling both guilty and inspired to do better. If you’d like to read the article please click this link – insight-not-in-front-of-the-children (002)
In what has become an eagerly anticipated annual challenge, teams of boys from the Preparatory School compete against teams of girls from St. Hilda’s to win the Readers’ Cup. This competition draws upon their knowledge of literature and commitment to reading widely with teams of four having to read two novels, a picture book and an e-comic and then having to answer questions relating to each of the titles.
This is the fourth year we have competed and the first time that our boys won the overall trophy!
Congratulations to all of the 44 Year 6 boys who took part and in particular to the team of Finn Allman, Ryan Mahon, Darcy Young and Zeke kelly who were the winning team.
Thanks also to Ms Schinckel, our Preparatory School teacher-librarian for her organisation and support of the boys.
We are often asked if boys outside the school can come and experience our awarded Preschool program. This is hard to do on a casual basis as we have staff/student ratio’s to maintain and our program caters for a narrow age range, as we do not conduct a program for babies and toddlers.
We are keen however, to provide boys of an appropriate age, the chance to come and spend a day with us and so have organised three special days when boys in our Preschool can bring a friend along to class for the morning.
Class PL will host their friends on Monday August 14
Class PS will host their friends on Tuesday August 15
Class PE will host their friends on Thursday August 17.
We look forward to welcoming our boys’ friends to our classrooms.
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