Some thoughts before the year begins

Latest News Wednesday, 10 Feb 2021

This week, I would like to focus on some thoughts for the year which I know have been reinforced in our school culture and have guided our thinking over time. By sharing these ideas, and by you reflecting on them, we can make a difference to the quality of each child’s education. 

1. Be focussed on a Growth Mind Set not a Fixed Mind Set

Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is the key to success but an overemphasis on intellect or talent – and the implication that such traits are innate or fixed – leaves most people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.

Teaching people to have a ‘growth mind-set’ which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.

Parents and teachers (and most particularly grandparents) can engender a growth mind set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasise hard work and love of learning, and by ‘teaching them about the brain as a learning machine’. (Scientific American Mind Vol 18, Jan 2008). I read a story to the kids each week in assembly to encourage this type of thinking. 

2. So often we hear the expression “I just want my kid to be happy”. Of course, we all want that. But it is often unrealistic to expect any child to be permanently happy. Are you always happy? Sometimes, your children will be unhappy and that is an important part of adjusting to life’s challenges or day to day issues. We will never know the state of contentment unless we often experience unhappy moments. We can’t expect our kids to live in a happy bubble into which we keep pumping happy gas. Remember, this is the entertainment generation. Many of you grew up being able to entertain yourselves. Unfortunately, many children are given a multitude of gadgets from the youngest age and these are intrinsically entertaining and make them temporarily happy but they do impact on kids ability to create. If you see them daydreaming and pondering, leave them. Don’t fill the void with a new, worthless toy. They may be happy in this state or they may be content – the former is transitory and ephemeral; the latter is longer-lasting and of greater personal worth. 

3. Do not compare – competitive parenting starts in the mothers’ group when it is impossible not to notice who is sitting up and then later, who walks first and then who reads first etc. Development occurs at different rates and it is not shameful if your child is not reaching a particular benchmark at a particular point in time. This will occur in due course even if a little later than expected. 

4.Ask your children at least once a week what they are grateful for? Find one thing each week. Do you know what they are grateful for? This really focuses their attention in life on what’s important and on what matters in their day-to-day life. 

5. Keep a watchful eye on their use of technology – we are the ones who have to deal with the collateral damage when cyber bullying occurs. It is not ok for Year 3 kids to be texting friends at 11.30pm at night whilst in bed. Technology can be a great tool and a pernicious one if you don’t check frequently. Social networking is causing headaches for many schools and we ask that you speak to your children about responsible use. Research shows that it is not a good idea to have a mobile device, computer or TV in the bedroom. 

6. Help us to promote and live the Values – the 6 kinds of best

  • Kind to others  
  • Kind to the environment
  • Kind to your self 
  • The learning kind 
  • The achieving kind
  • The community kind

If we work together on this and you use the same language, the results can be powerful. You would have received some information regarding the 6 kinds of best at Grade Evening. 

7. Show a keen interest and get involved in all aspects of their Jewish studies learning – it is our 7th key learning area and no less important than the other government mandated 6 KLA’s. The academic strength of the College can, in large part, be directly attributable to the Hebrew immersion program. Don’t dismiss it or denigrate the subject especially in front of your children. We have assembled a wonderful group of Jewish Studies/Hebrew educators. They are enthusiastic and committed – the least parents can do is support their endeavours. 

8. Whilst I don’t expect you’ll be enrolling your child into toddlers in tiaras you do need to keep an eye on the corrosive effects of ‘celebrity culture’. Celebrity culture is really a gratuitous insult to us all. These are the people who are famous for being famous. Intentionally causing outrage is one sure way to garner attention. Some seek out those who are the most willing to break ethical boundaries, or those who are most aggressive in self-promotion. Their heroes or heroines are invariably wafer thin or if not wafer thin, manipulated digital photography has allowed them to look this way. These issues play into body image, behaviour and this is something we need to keep an eye on at a young age. If you all sit around the TV watching young women pretending to marry a ‘hunk’ and revelling in being bitchy towards each other you owe it to your kids to turn it off!  

9. Help us to build a caring, respectful, cohesive and inclusive community – work with the staff, talk to them or me if you have concerns, support our endeavours. We have a fantastic, committed, caring group of teachers. Ensure no child is left out when having birthday parties and do not hand out invitations at school unless everyone is included. It is very hurtful to be the one who doesn’t receive a card. Look out for new families and bring them into the Mount Sinai family. Please read your newsletter – accessible through the web site - each week. It contains a wealth of information. 

10. Finally, (and this is truly administrivia) we have concerns in relation to grandparents who do not understand drive-through and who don’t adhere to the rules of drive-through. If your parents do collect kids, please ask them to acquaint themselves with the rules which we have disseminated on Skoolbag. 

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