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The Georgian friday, 8 may 2020

A WORD FROM THE HEADS

How can we teach our children empathy?

Empathy is

  • seeing with the eyes of another;
  • listening with the ears of another;
  • and feeling with the heart of another.

Care and respect should be as established as the air we breathe.

Social relationships play a pivotal role in helping us become fully human. Connectedness is an essential need for all of us. So we tend to assume it comes naturally and, thus, doesn't need to be taught.

It is only recently that organisations are paying attention and recognising socio-emotional skills as essential to a well-rounded education and need to be taught in school and at home. This is mostly based on growing evidence that they increase academic outcomes and well-being, and employers are increasingly seeking these skills.

One of the most important 'soft skills' we can teach our children is empathy. Why is empathy so important?

  • It’s what enables us to relate to other people and their experiences
  • It’s what enables us to understand them
  • and it’s what makes us compassionate.

Empathy and compassion are meaningful when children know, understand and trust themselves, know who they are, what they have in common with others and what sets them apart. We need to teach our children to be aware and in control of their impulses and emotions so that they are able to focus on how others feel without dismissing their own feelings or letting them get in the way. Only then will empathy and compassion build true connectedness. Teaching empathy also requires helping children to begin to understand and acknowledge difficult areas such as discrimination and oppression and is a first step towards teaching them to care for those in need and make responsible decisions. So a broader skill set will help them think critically about the conditions that perpetuate injustice; think creatively about what they can do, today or in the future, to change those conditions; make a realistic plan that informs their choices and inspires their personal journey, short and long-term; and pursue those goals with resolve and purpose.

So how can we teach this valuable emotion that leads to a fuller and more compassionate life? We as adults must be the most exceptional role models to our children here. Being aware and respectful of feelings, owning our mistakes and using them to learn, being kind to children and adults alike, actively listening to our children, showing appreciation, nurturing uniqueness, recognising our children’s strengths and building their learning experience from there. It takes practice, self-reflection and constant feedback.

So this means that we must see our children as individuals with minds of their own, entitled to opinions, emotions, concerns and preferences; and not as “adults in the making”, “work in progress”, projects of future workers, future citizens, or future parents. Then, what will matter is how they view and experience their own learning. Experiences that spark their natural curiosity, inspire their efforts, grip their concentration, endow them with the joy of mastery, give them purpose, build their confidence, drive them to collaborate, connect them with others and with the world. Ultimately, the goal is for children to be happier, kinder, healthier. This is not to say that who they become in the future does not matter. A child treated kindly, will become a kind adult. It is the natural consequence, but when it becomes the goal, the focus is no longer the child, the person in front of you, but the skill and the future adult. It is about teaching children with empathy and it is the most powerful avenue for building their sense of worth, belonging and purpose.

Family Supper Time

So social skills are the foundation to good relationships. Whether working in a team or in much more informal situations, good social skills will support our children in other areas of life. Being able to communicate to all ages is such a skill. This period of lock-down provides us with a great opportunity to teach our children these ‘soft skills’. Face-to-face communication, exploring open-ended conversations and learning to communicate at a deeper level can surely only be a good thing.

During supper time, when you are all seated together, why not come up with some conversation starters, which will help your children to engage in conversation later on in life. Communicating effectively is such an important social skill alongside:

  • resolving conflict;
  • being an active listener;
  • having empathy;
  • managing relationships;
  • having respect.

Plan a random act of kindness. Leave a happy note for someone to find.

What can you write that will make them smile?

Pause for thought

Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices. Robert Braathe

With best wishes for an enjoyable bank holiday weekend!

Emma and William

The Friday Feeling

We will lead this week's Celebration Assembly on Monday morning. You can access this via the STGConnected page on the school website.

From James Wilkinson:

We are looking for you to submit recordings of yourselves playing your instruments for our weekly concerts on Thursday nights at 5pm. We look forward to hearing you all!

In the meantime, here are two links to short YouTube videos of different pairs of brothers who have recorded themselves playing their instruments. Very different music on each, but both family members enjoying making music together. We look forward to hearing you next week!

This week STG children have been taking advantage of their daily exercise to explore the wonderful area we are so lucky to live in.

STG children demonstrate kindness to others in so many different ways. One of these is by keeping in touch with grandparents and other members of the family who have found themselves isolated and lonely. Several children read to their grandparents and Felix F played the piano to his grandfather in a care home.

Kindness has extended into helping around the home and in the garden. Once again, baking cakes and biscuits has been popular, but many children have tried their hand at sowing seeds and gardening tasks as well.

There have been many individual acts of kindness, including preparing family meals, disinfecting around the home, giving a wendy house to a young neighbour, making cards for elderly neighbours, making a poster for a disabled friend, raising money for the NHS and helping with younger brothers and sisters.

There have been some very impressive Lego projects, including models representing WWII warfare - very appropriate this week.

It has been great to see how everyone has adapted to home schooling - you are all clearly working hard...

and producing some very good work!

Once again, you have sent in some beautiful works of art including 'stained glass' windows for RS.

You have produced some wonderfully colourful sunset pictures.

Year 2 children were inspired by Picasso - these are just three of the many wonderful pictures sent to connected@stgwindsor.

It's the time of the year for both painting and planting sunflowers too!

Thank you so much for all the photos - do keep sending them in and we'll try and include some of yours next week!

Whole School Singing - message from Mr Wilkinson

Following the huge number of choirs and other musical groups that have put together ‘virtual’ tracks, we thought it would be great to get the STGConnected community singing! The first piece we’d like to do is a simple, but really catchy tune called, ‘Deep down in my soul’. Highly apt with the words ‘I know that one day I’ll be free’, this Gospel chant will have you clicking your fingers and singing all day. Follow the 'how to' videos on the STGConnected page of the website and then get recording!

Podcast with Mr Wilson

Mr Wilson speaks to guest speaker, Jane Dawson. Click here to listen.

Free e-Book - message from Ms Pickering

The free e-book offered by BookLife this week is part of the Super Stats series, and is yours to download and keep. If you have every wondered which dinosaur had the most teeth, or which planet is the biggest, how tall the tallest building is, or where you can find the largest crater on Earth, Super Stats takes you around the world and beyond, ranking the stats so that you know the facts. Click here to visit the BookLife website.

Quick Quiz

The answers to last week's quiz in order were: 1. Wassily Kandinsky (Squares with Geometric Circles); Vincent Van Gogh (The Starry Night); Salvador Dali (The Persistence of Memory); Roy Lichtenstein (Whaam!); Paul Klee (Senecio); Leonardo da Vinci (The Last Supper); Henri Rousseau (Tropical Forest with Monkeys); Claude Monet (Waterlilies); Piet Mondrian (Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue).

This week's quiz is based on World Book Day costumes in the Pre-Prep. Answers next week.

Wishing the following pupils a very...

Arthur G, Harry D, Freddie J, James C, Sebastien H and Zeph K all have their birthdays in the coming week.