Ensuring a Positive and Nurturing Culture
Dear Parents and Carers,
Parents / carers and teachers alike would like school to be a place where children have respectful relationships with their peers and develop harmonious and nurturing friendships.
For the most part, this happens with increasing maturity and mindful guidance from parents / carers and teachers. When this is the case, children are eager to come to school, engage happily in their learning and grow into confident young people.
There are times, however, when unfortunate dynamics develop within social groups. We see these at school at times and I am seeking your support to eliminate behaviours that are detrimental to the wellbeing of children. We have pockets of these behaviours in Years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and we should work together to ‘nip them in the bud’.
When children start school, their friendships are usually fluid and they are not too invested in them. By the time they are in Year 1 & 2, however, their friendship groups become more defined and their relationships with others are more important to their wellbeing. It is around this time that some behaviours emerge that undermine the happiness and confidence of others.
Mostly these behaviours emerge as unsophisticated ways to deal with disagreements and they include name-calling, insults, sledging, put-downs, teasing and excluding. They are unhelpful because they never solve the dispute and, worse still, they can become entrenched patterns of behaviour within the group. This causes great distress to many in the group and can have more serious consequences – disengagement from schooling for some, while others may go on to be the bullies and ‘mean girls’ at high school and beyond. None of us would want these things for our children.
Children need to understand that behaviours such as name-calling, insults, sledging, put-downs, teasing and excluding are just as unacceptable as physical aggression. They need to know that real friendships are based on kindness and fairness and that it is better for them if all relationships are respectful ones. They need strategies to resolve differences that are respectful of, and allow, different points of view. They need to know that fairness means taking turns, not just within the game, but also in deciding which game to play. They need to be able to name undesirable behaviours – not in accusatory statements beginning with ‘you’ but in ‘I’ statements eg. “I don’t like being called names. Please stop.” And, if they are witnessing things happening to others – “Please stop teasing (child’s name). He / she doesn’t like it.” These statements need to be spoken assertively, but not aggressively, and if the behaviours continue they need to be reported to a teacher at school immediately. After the holidays, there will be a teacher on ‘Help Desk’ Duty at recess and lunch time to help resolve problems but matters can also be referred to the class teacher – over and over again if necessary until the behaviours stop.
I would appreciate all parents having some meaningful discussions with their children during the upcoming holidays and in the following weeks. Help your children to understand the nature of real friendships and respectful relationships; to understand the benefits of kindness, courtesy and fairness in their relationships for both themselves and others; to understand the difference between assertiveness and aggression; and the importance for standing against hurtful and upsetting behaviours.
Please be mindful, when you are discussing these matters with your children that their accounts are just one perspective and may not be the whole story. Reserve judgement and contact the school if you want a more rounded picture.
Your support in this matter will help contribute to the sort of culture we want all children to benefit from when they are at school.
Should you wish to discuss any aspect of the further please do not hesitate to contact me next term on 9569 1638.