A WORD FROM THE HEADS
The subject for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is kindness. The theme of kindness has been chosen because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.
We have spoken and written a lot about kindness this term, so this week we wanted to link this to seeing the good in others and how we can help our children to do this as they grow up.
When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.
Any interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: we sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often do we actually take the extra few seconds to get a sense of what's inside other people - especially their good qualities?
Whilst some people are unfailingly positive, others are more likely to notice the bad qualities in others rather than the good ones: the things that worry or annoy them or make them critical and quick to judge or point out fault. People who surround themselves with positivism have an easier time seeing the good in other people. The reverse is also true. People who teach themselves to see the good in others tend to be more positive and experience happiness more deeply. Seeing the good in others requires us to question our assumptions, but it is worth the effort.
Unfortunately, if you feel surrounded by lots of bad or, at best, neutral qualities in others, and only a sprinkling of dimly-sensed good ones, then you naturally feel less supported, less safe, and less inclined to be generous or pursue your dreams and goals. In addition, in a circular way when another person gets the feeling that you don't really see much that's good in him or her, that person is less likely to take the time to see much that's good in you.
Seeing the good in others is in fact a simple but very powerful way to feel happier and more confident, and become more loving and more productive in the world.
How can we start to achieve this?
• Slow down; step out of the bumper car and spend a few moments being curious about the good qualities in the other person. You are not looking through rose-coloured glasses: instead, you are opening your eyes, taking off the clouded glasses of the negativity bias, and seeing what the facts really are.
• See positive intentions; try to see the good intentions in the people around you. In particular, sense in every person the need to be happy.
• See abilities; unseen ripples spread far and wide when we see abilities in others, especially if we acknowledge them openly.
• See positive character traits; most people you know have many virtues, such as determination, generosity , kindness, patience, energy, grit, honesty, fairness or compassion. Take a moment to observe virtues in others. You could make a list of virtues in the key people in your life, even people who you find challenging!
Last and not least, recognise that the good you see in others is also in you. You couldn't see that good if you did not have an inkling of what it was. You, too, have positive intentions, real abilities and virtues of mind and heart. Those qualities are a fact, as much a fact as the chair you're sitting on. Take a moment to let that fact sink in. You don't need a halo to be a truly good person. You are a truly good person. So to see the good in others, we must first learn to see the good in ourselves. When we understand our own biases and prejudices, we can compensate for them. We may not be able to let go entirely, but, we can start to identify the buttons that push us to anger. Sometimes simply being aware of our own triggers can help us to recognise when we are judging others unfairly. And, if we can learn to recognise our anger, perhaps we can learn to replace it with laughter. Maybe we can see the humour in the human experience. Knowing yourself is not just about avoiding negative emotions; it is also about finding genuine self-acceptance. When, despite your flaws, you see goodness in yourself, you can approach others with an open heart and a fair mind. What do you love most about yourself? Do you look for this trait in others?
Another key to seeing the good in others is learning how to listen.
Listening is an art. It is remarkably difficult to really listen closely to what people are trying to say. Far too often, we are simply waiting for a chance to voice our own opinion. When we seek to understand first and be understood second, we cannot help but see the good in others.
Once we come out of this present crisis we must teach our children to enjoy life and everything it offers. Next time we start to moan about something silly, or pick holes in something or someone that really doesn’t matter, stop and rethink. We need to teach our children to care for others and treat them with kindness. We need to teach them to create and maintain positive friends who are prepared to find solutions to situations rather than always blaming or looking for fault. Let us build a world for our children that is kind, thoughtful and considerate. Only we can do this and can do this collectively. Let’s start today.
Wishing all our families a very enjoyable half term holiday!
Emma and William
Half Term Message
How we can support our children's Mental Health and Wellbeing during isolation and return to school
A message from Louise Squire, Assistant Head (Pastoral)
Many of our children are beginning to show signs that the current situation is having an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. They could be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, lacking motivation, quieter than normal or even more fastidious than usual. This may stem from feelings of loneliness and isolation from friends, having to manage multiple technologies or the loss of what has been normal.
And now for those children who may return to school, there is a new normal to understand, perhaps worries about safety and whether they will remember to social distance.
The most important thing we can all do to support our children is to provide opportunities for them to talk, ask questions, be listened to and know that all of these feelings are normal. Many of the signs they could show reflect the grief they may feel over the loss of friendships, interactions and a changed situation.
The following webinar talks about what we might see in our children at this time and offers sound advice and tips for the types of language and questioning that will support them. Do watch it when you get a moment.
At school, we have been heightening awareness of mental health and wellbeing with all the children from Year 4-8, this term by providing opportunities for them to talk about their feelings, worries and concerns. We will continue to do this through being available to listen and provide signposts to help and support. If there is a need to support a child whilst at school, social distancing will be taken into account and of we remain available via googlemail for all children and our usual methods of contact for parents. We will always work with parents where a concern has been expressed, to do all that we can to provide the best support we can.
If you are worried or would like to chat more about this, please do contact me. email@example.com
We congratulate all these children for their commendations this week:
Golden Tree Assembly
Zack T: for being very kind to Raphael on Meet and saying 'Bonjour' to him to make him feel included.
Maxi C: for amazing and neat junk modelling of the Minions out of empty toilet rolls.
Elliott B: for a fabulous careful version of Monet's Poppy Fields (and for painting himself with Poppy the Puppy in the field)
Luka S L: for careful colouring of his height sunflower and staying within the lines!
Raphael A: for completing all the RWInc worksheets, not just the ones for his group!
Arthur G: for drawing and painting a wonderful bright flower which was the same height as he was!
Aadi R: for really enjoying his online reading books. He has read lots of books on rising stars and has completed all the quizzes too.
Akushla V: for making super progress with everything that she has been learning at home.
Annabelle B: for her enthusiasm and effort in her RWInc lessons, and for caring for her plants in the garden.
Charlotte B: for working hard with all her online learning activities, and for producing a lovely Poppy Field painting.
Henry M: for his excellent writing about his favourite dinosaur.
Freddie L: for outstanding commitment to home learning and a beautiful gesture of kindness to a fellow classmate.
Eddie E: for showing kindness to his peers and to his teacher and bringing joy to those around him. He has made and delivered book marks and created a wonderful poster of a shop for giants only.
George G: for excellent effort in writing and maths during the entire half term.
Luca S: for outstanding effort in both his violin practice and his academic subjects. He has not faltered this entire half term
Henry P: for producing excellent work this week especially with his subtraction in maths.
Ludo O: for working independently and diligently over these past weeks of remote learning.
Alex S: for working consistently and for being focused throughout the past weeks of remote learning, especially with his maths and his reading.
Arthur J: for sharing his enthusiasm and interest in animals.
Sasha B: for sharing his new interest in nature topics we have discussed and also in his family history.
Eloise A: for her lovely Arcimboldo style artwork and sharing her necklace making skills.
Ollie F-H: for his enthusiasm towards his reading.
Sienna T: for creating a wonderful piece of art using fruit and adding fine detail to her work.
Henry T: for brilliant art work and showing enthusiasm towards the artists we have studied.
Arthur B: for showing enthusiasm towards his work and trying especially hard with his writing.
Toby M: for presenting his work neatly and accurately and showing enthusiasm towards his work.
Sophie H: for a descriptive kenning poem this week but more especially, a super start to St George's in 3CH.
Tai A: for very pleasing maths work and more especially, a super first half term at St George's in 3CH.
Karina K: for her excellent shape poem about a rabbit.
Kimon L: for devising and carrying out a science investigation, testing how the amount of water given to seeds affects the way they grow.
Head Master's Commendations
Charley W and Gabriel R-A: for carefully reading an extract from Anne Frank's diary to produce a wonderful piece of work by drawing, labelling and describing the secret annex that her family lived in.
George H, Tilly W, Tabitha P and Charlie H: for going above and beyond expectation in all lessons to produce exceptional work.
Felix F: for working incredibly hard each week on history despite his busy schedule, and for his impressive work.
Owen H and Carys C: for impressive work and commitment in history.
James E: for his colourful French poster on the past tense.
Katie K: for her continuous effort and great work in French.
James C and Charlie H: for their outstanding French PowerPoint on 'Aller'.
Thomas B: for incredible creativity in masterminding a presentation to bring Minecraft lessons into school.
Ethan F-G: for a fantastic model of the Eiffel Tower as part of cultural enrichment.
Arnav K: for creating a flip book project based on a UFO, inspired by an English lesson.
Callum B and Poppy J: for writing a sensational poem about VE Day which really captured the spirit and emotion of that special day.
James C: for consistent hard work throughout the course of this half term.
Harry H: for a very powerful and thought-provoking presentation on animal-human conflict and deforestation as part of the Environmental Stewardship phase of the St George's Award.
Nathan M: for a very fluent and powerful speech on CO2 levels as part of the Environmental Stewardship phase of the St George's Award.
Jay-Veer G: for excellent work in geography.
Matilda U-I, Lara H, Tom V, Barney H, Andreas L and Freddie C: for outstanding effort in their Sign Language task for the St George's Pioneer Award.
Alexios S: for continued hard work and engagement with all tasks set in English.
Max C, Buddy P and Mason S: for organisation and hard work in English.
Ella G: for a super story using a picture as stimulus in English.
Kobe L: for organisation and engagement in English.
Max A, Barney W and Nate M: for incredible effort creating advert videos and animations in Drama Club.
Spirit of St George's Award
Noah N-C: for taking the initiative to organise a charity car wash to raise money for Chase, a children's hospice charity.
Charley W: for raising money for the NHS.
Isabel G: for being determined and managing to get her history work done despite power cuts and internet problems.
Henry B: for stepping in to help a local primary school by taking care of their guinea pigs.
Lily D and Evie C: for always communicating politely with their teacher, putting 100% into all their lessons and for always smiling!
Thomas G: for leadership, creating an authentic and honest presentation for his House, Victory.
Bea A: for embracing everything with full enthusiasm and helping to make others feel good.
Matt Eagles, who has lived with Parkinson's for over 40 years, talks to Mr Wilson about living with the disease, disability awareness and overcoming challenges. Matt has spoken at countless conferences and events and is co-founder of Parkylife.com, a website which promotes a positive and optimistic outlook and gives advice to people with Parkinson's.
This inspirational podcast is well worth a listen.
Parkylife.com has worked with illustrators to create a pack of 52 'Parkycards' which are given to newly diagnosed patients to help them embrace the brighter side of Parkinson's. Matt has opened up a competition for STG pupils to design a card and the winning designs will be printed. If you would like to take part and design a bright, optimistic, quirky card, the details can be found here.
SOuL Outdoor Learning
This week Mrs Onions is highlighting the Sheep and Shepherd activity for good team work, and letting children and adults have a go at directing each other around a course when blindfolded - it's harder than you might think!
This June, join thousands of people taking part in the Wildlife Trust's annual nature challenge, 30 Days Wild! The aim is to do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month: for your health, wellbeing and for the planet. That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting random acts of wildness. Click here to download a pack.
These STG pupils are clearly already entering into the spirit!
Fascinating Wild Life
The lock down has enabled STG children to discover the animals and wild life all around them and which is especially evident at this time of the year. Year 3 have been learning about habitats and the key worker children have been tracking the progress of their caterpillars, which have already doubled in size in a week!
National Children's Gardening Week
Mrs Onions has pointed out that 23rd to 31st May is National Children's Gardening Week, which is an annual event, encouraging children to get outside and explore what's around them. It also supports the charity 'Greenfingers' which works with children's hospices to provide them with safe garden spaces for children under their care. The Children's Gardening Week website has some ideas of things you might like to do.
These STG children have already discovered the delights of growing things! (I love it too - editor).
Remote Learning Success
We are very proud of STG pupils for continuing to work so hard, remain focussed and enthusiastic, and for finding ways to adapt to learning at home. Weighing and measuring for maths has a lot of advantages when you're using the actual cake ingredients which you can eat later! We've enjoyed looking at the creativity involved in setting up experiments too.
There have been some outstanding pieces of work and accomplishments this week - here are just some of them:
STG children have made very good use of the cardboard left over from deliveries, producing some really terrific and imaginative models.
Super Art in the Pre-Prep
As in past weeks, there has been some stunning artwork from the Pre-Prep children. Year 2 have been studying the work of the environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who produces artwork using natural materials such as leaves, twigs and pebbles, and Year 2 have copied some of his ideas. The header photo on this newsletter is a particularly impressive example!
Children in Reception have painted some brilliant - and huge - sunflowers!
Year 1 have been reading The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson in literacy this week, a story about a kind giant. In English they have made posters, written a poem about kindness and looked at rhyming words from the story. In art they made lovely puppets of the giant and some of the other characters in the story using cardboard from cereal packets.
Henry has been looking after another school's guinea pigs as well as his own during the lock down. He has taken the responsibility very seriously, feeding them daily, holding them regularly, cleaning their cages weekly and bathing them when they need it! He has found time to show them great kindness and care.
Gracie M in 4ER found the time to send a postcard to one of the care homes in Berkshire. She was so excited to receive a reply from them and she is going to write another letter!
Ezrah and Judah H drew lovely rainbow pictures for two elderly neighbours to bring them some cheer. Later that day one neighbour came round with a thank you letter and transformer that had been her grandson's to thank Judah, and the other neighbour made Ezrah some origami dogs to thank him.
STG children have shown kindness by helping around the home in lots different ways, whether it's helping to cook family meals, baking, washing cars, reading to younger siblings or teaching them to play the piano, and even decorating.
The solutions to last week's quiz are: cow parsley, white dead nettle (large image), dog or ox-eye daisy, comfrey, field rose, germander speedwell, buttercup, lamb’s tongue plantain.
Can you identify these birds which have been spotted this week?