Last week, I delivered a talk about how we can usefully minimise children’s anxiety and stress in the run up to tests, assessments and exams. Years ago, if I had been writing that talk from scratch, I would have likely focused on the range of evidence-based strategies available to optimise children’s learning and attainment, and perhaps have neglected one of the most important aspects of children’s ability to thrive academically; their emotional state. Now, I wouldn’t dream of giving a talk about children’s academic success without first addressing how they feel about themselves, their learning, and their lives in general.
I know that some of you are already feeling a little ‘wrung out’ (even though it is only mid-September) and are counting down the days until October half-term. September often gets underlined in the calendar as a month where we articulate our goals, get on with our tick list of jobs and feel motivated. Unfortunately, the one thing we might forget is that ‘time out’ is required mid-way through any journey to rest, recuperate and refresh.
This week, following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I have been re-reading the Seamus Heaney poem, ‘Clearances’, penned after the death of his mother.
Back to School. So, what does this term mean for you? As a working parent, for me, the return to school means I can finally stop worrying about how my children will occupy themselves and can instead focus on the tasks accumulating on my desk. School return means an empty house until late afternoon. This might feel blissful for some parents, but for others it can spell unwelcome quiet and, well, a sense of loneliness.
Last week I was at a secondary school talking to parents whose children are about to embark on the next stage of their educational journeys. I asked the large audience, “Who here likes change?” Only one person put their hand up. Unsurprising.
It was certainly easier to enjoy a summer at home when it featured sporting events that made one feel inspired, invigorated and excited about all that life has to offer!
The last two weeks have gone by in a blur of summer term school activity; leavers’ parties, balls, prize-givings and school discos. Exam season is over. People are tired, but also enjoying the reverie of being free to socialise in full again, particularly whilst the sun is shining. School reports will soon be landing on mats or in inboxes, signalling the close to the academic year. We will read about our children’s progress, take pride in their successes and learn more about the areas that they need to work on.
It is that time of year again when children and young people attend transition events at school, college or university, designed to support them effectively through the next stages of their educational journeys.
Once upon a time, many years ago, as part of some training I was doing on couples therapy, I came across a case study scenario, shared by a colleague, that I have never forgotten. It featured two parents with a young daughter, who they described as ‘aggressive and very naughty’. In fact, she had taken her shoes and thrown them at her parents in a ‘fit of rage’; an incident which made them wonder if she might need some sort of psychological help.
A recent high profile defamation case featuring two famous celebrities is being voraciously discussed online and off; everyone seems to have an opinion on it. Young people have been chatting about it too.