As well as talking to the girls in assembly on Wednesday about how worms can help us to put our Golden Rules into practice (I would love to know if they can remember how I linked these), I have also spent time this week listening to and talking with girls, parents and staff about a range of issues around children’s social and emotional learning.
Until they reach adulthood, children need us to help them find the right direction – we act as guides (and sometimes as police officers!) until they have grown their own moral compass. As the responsible adults in their lives, we are also role models, and children will look at what we do and listen to what we say. They hear the conversations we have (even when we think they are not listening) and remember them. They see the way we treat and react to others, and the way we behave in every setting imaginable and they copy us. When we set a sound example, the girls grow on positively and, as they become more confident and independent, they hold us accountable to the standards we set.
Children, like my two lovely Labradors, will do what we allow them to do without a thought, and will not think anything of it unless we lovingly challenge them. They don’t love us any less when we do this, in fact they need (and like) to have boundaries. This is not tough love, it is teaching and parenting. Being a friendly wall is not always easy, but it is by far the best way to give children direction until they are old enough, and wise enough, to fly solo. Explaining the reasons for decisions that involve the world ‘no’ is how we coach them to think for themselves.
At Stormont we strive hard to be the friendly wall, and we value and appreciate the support of all parents who do the same in a true learning partnership.