Following on from a recent visit from Ben Fogle, I took some time to consider what is truly important for children to learn at school and how we as their educators are responsible for shaping them as individuals.
It is no secret that our children are having to manage issues and problems which are as a direct result of the fast paced, modern world we now live in. We need to prepare our children to think laterally and creatively but also to be resilient to cope with the ups and downs of modern life. Being intelligent is now not just about absorbing lots of facts and regurgitating them on to an exam paper. It is our responsibility as a school to develop a child’s intellect in many different ways. Developing a child’s character is a crucial part of the jigsaw that will enable children to contribute to modern day society.
So, what is character?
In essence, developing character is allowing our children to develop their own identity and to be happy with who they are and what they stand for. We encourage all pupils at Hatherop to celebrate and identify that we are all different, however, there are certain character traits we encourage all children to foster. Our Hatherop values are integral to support children in developing these traits.
How do we develop good character amongst our children?
This is done by providing children with a sense of self-worth. At Hatherop, children are encouraged to work hard and do their best at all times. This does not mean being top of their class at maths or always earning the best score in exams but rather being rewarded for hard work and a sense of determination. We strive to ensure children always feel valued and cared for at the school and achievements are celebrated weekly as a whole school. From being brave enough to stand up in front of an audience to perform a musical excerpt to learning to deal with disappointment, we provide support and guidance throughout.
We also encourage children to think of others and recognise that the world does not revolve around them, to consider other people’s feelings. This is done through PSHE sessions, fundraising events and assemblies to encourage children to have a sense of gratitude and understand that there are many people in the world not as fortunate as them. This awareness allows them to focus on the positive aspects of life and encourages them to form good habits such as honesty, resilience and generosity.
Learning environment is key
Children are faced with an enormous amount of information these days. There are so many mixed messages about who they should aspire to be and often this can be confusing for children to consider at a young age. That is why at Hatherop we believe children should have time to be children and enjoy the adventure of childhood. Allowing them the time and space to be free and learn about themselves with some guidance provides them with the ability to make good choices for the right reasons. They are encouraged to spend as much time as possible outdoors where they have time to be mindful and take a breath from their busy and fast paced lives.
Providing this positive learning environment for them gives them time to reflect on themselves as individuals and a chance for them to be the best possible version of themselves they can be.