Behind the Study Door
I am absolutely certain this wouldn't resonate with any St George's families(!), but you might well be able to empathise with Riley and her parents, as seen in this clip from 'Inside Out'.
Our children are growing up in an rapidly changing landscape with extraordinary opportunities, opening up new horizons that they are incredibly fortunate to seize. However, with this comes an interactive world they are immersed in, a world that we couldn't possibly have comprehended. Children are reportedly taking in 285 new pieces of content each day (over 100,000 a year) through social media, the internet and constant news feeds. Whereas, not so long ago we would have relied on the 10 o'clock news and daily newspaper, we are now in a world where we thrive on instant communication, updates and cravings for new information. A breaking news story is old within ten minutes, there is mounting pressure for young people through social media and there is an expectation to occupy every moment of our children's' lives with activities, events, entertainment and stimulation, for fear they might get bored, even for a single moment.
The overarching concern about this is the impact this has on our ability to stop, take time out and allow our mind to rest. There is no doubt that our concentration spans are not what they used to be. A single frame in a movie used to be well over 2 minutes, now our brains are ready for frames lasting only 30 seconds. In my keenness to follow educational twitter feeds (superb CPD for a teacher), I worry that I am more reticent read to longer articles because they exceed 30 characters. For all the benefits of giving our children opportunity after opportunity, their brains are in danger of being hard-wired and full of clutter. It is essential that children learn to stop, unpack their minds on a daily basis and direct their attention to acceptance, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen.
Mindfulness is growing in popularity in schools, and indeed in our Lower School through the MindUp programme. As exciting new research proves, children who practice Mindfulness have greater cognitive and performance skills, and better mental, emotional, social and physical health. We are teaching our children to enter a rapidly globalised and changing world with excellent communication skills, an awareness and empathy to others, kindness, and calm problem-solving skills. Introducing Mindfulness at the age of five develops this, as well as curiosity and acceptance.
As we plan to introduce Mindfulness further up the school, our approach will be very simple: to introduce stillness to the day, whereby the children will stop and be. From here, we will build up Mindfulness sessions, with the aim of helping children concentrate and learn better, cope with stress and anxiety and fundamentally feel happier and calmer. It will be a time in the day to train their thoughts to let go and enjoy being in the moment. This isn't a radical step; this is an essential step in hitting pause for a brief moment each day, allowing our children's minds to stop buzzing from one thing to another.
This week I attended the annual conference of the Choir Schools Association in Cambridge. In his introductory talk, the Dean of King's College, Revd. Dr. Stephen Cherry, spoke about a growing trend he sees among undergraduates who arrive in Cambridge 'hurried and worried', and the importance of trying to make more time for our young people to engage in genuine thought and creativity. Michael Chaskalson, author of the book, 'Mindfulness in Eight Weeks', spoke of the benefits mindfulness practice can be to become intimately familiar with the patterns of our own attention. Establishing a control of our own attention at a young age is critical to be able to enjoy the benefits of technology, social media, without losing it to Silicon Valley.
Do try some of Michael's guided meditations, below. He also recommends the app, '10% happier'.
The world will get busier for our young people and this brings great excitement and opportunity. It is, however, important to safeguard against a 'hurried and worried' generation.
Wishing all St George's families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures (and hopefully some down time) take you.
Fun in French
A group of Year 6 pupils singing one of the songs, Un éléphant qui se balançait, which they learned during their stay at Maison Claire Fontaine. Like the elephant, "ils trouvaient ça tellement amusant!"
A Geography Lesson with a Difference
As part of the Year 7 geography course pupils learn about transport, trade and industry. In order to understand the importance of globalisation and the role of transport in trade, in their lesson on Thursday they followed the life of a cocoa bean from its growth and harvest in a primary industry to the process it goes through in the UK in the secondary industry, and how chocolate arrives in our shops. Pupils had to think about the various production processes and build models out of Lego to show how chocolate is produced. Of course, the highlight of the lesson was sampling the product at break time.
Year 2 have done some really colourful paintings of lighthouses and have written some wonderful stories inspired by The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch. Their model lighthouses actually light up!
Outdoor Lesson for Year 4
On Thursday afternoon both Year 4 classes managed to find a gap between showers for a practical science lesson outside. They tested friction on different surfaces around the school grounds using their shoes and Newton meters.
The Year 4s are also entering a decorated wheelbarrow of flowers into the Royal Windsor Summer show which takes place in the school garden in July. Under the guidance of Mr Wilson, Daniel P, Evie C and Lily D carefully planted some nigella and nasturtium seeds which they will leave to germinate in the lab before planting in their wheelbarrow.
This term guest speakers from the wider community have been invited to talk to Upper School children about their different religious customs and methods of worship in order to increase their understanding and respect for other people's faiths. On Friday Rabbi Aharon Zerbib from the Northwood United Synagogue came to tell them about Judaism. He brought with him some interesting items including a musical instrument called a shofar, which emitted a loud, piercing noise like a trumpet, an ancient scroll and three items worn during prayer.
Following the Assembly, Rabbi Zerbib treated the Year 4 classes to a more in-depth lesson on Judaism. He spoke about the importance Jewish families place on having time away from electronics and spending time together talking, an important part of the Jewish faith known as Shabbat. This day is the Jewish day of rest and occurs on a Saturday. After answering some probing questions, the Rabbi blessed the classes and gave them a candle as a gift.
Charterhouse Prep Schools Choral Day
16 children from both Chamber Choir and T-Voices travelled to Charterhouse School to take part in a performance of John Rutter's Feel the Spirit and Fauré's hallowed Requiem. The children had spent several days of intensive rehearsals perfecting the music, and boy what a fantastic job they did! Singing in such a vast space with children from eight other prep schools was a great way to discover the joys of both these superb choral works. The team at Charterhouse was extremely welcoming, providing a super afternoon tea and a post-concert canapes reception for parents. A really superb afternoon's music making!
Here is the solution to last week's puzzle:
and here is your challenge for this week:
It's been a really disappointing week due to the weather and all our fixtures have had to be cancelled. Fortunately, the Lacrosse afternoon kindly hosted by Heathfield School went ahead for our Years 5 and 6 girls. They were taught some basic lacrosse skills and took part in a mini tournament at the end of the afternoon.
Arthur G, Logan N, Harry D, Freddie J, James C, Zeph K and Sebastien H will all be celebrating their birthdays during the coming week. We hope you have a lovely day!