Dear Parents and Friends,
One of the most difficult things for a parent to hear are the words, “I don’t have any friends.” As a parent, we know and love our children dearly – there are so many special things that make them unique and endearing to us and to those who love them as we do. We also know that they have their faults, and we strive to support them to grow through these and model better ways to go about things. We know that growing into the person we hope them to be takes time. However, if we feel our child is having issues with making and maintaining friendships and this is causing them sadness and a reluctance to want to mix socially, it can be extremely upsetting for the parent. However, as with all things that we learn, we also need to learn how to be a good friend. For some children this comes naturally over time. For others, they need the explicit teaching of social skills in-order to achieve the ability to interact on a positive level. Michael Grose (Author of Parentingideas) offers the following suggestions that may be of benefit as you support your child through friendship issues.
1. Ask for what you want
Help children ask for what they want. It means they don’t throw tantrums, whinge, and sulk or expect parents to guess what’s on their minds. While we need to be patient with toddlers, we need also to give older children the chance and opportunity to ask for what they want. Sometimes we need to ignore shrugs and grunts and expect them to articulate their wishes. This is the basis of civil behaviour, as well as a basic human skill.
2. Good manners
Teach children good manners, in particular the three ‘power words’. These words are very persuasive because they have a way of breaking down barriers and people’s defences. These three words are: your name; please; thanks. These terms are the basis of good manners, and, when used, will increase the likelihood of getting what you want.
Sharing is a basic social skill. Developmentally, very young children like to keep their possessions to themselves. As they get older and move into Pre School and beyond, the notion of sharing becomes a pre-requisite for playing with and forming relationships with others. Other children like to play and be with those who share their time, possessions and space with them. Sharing is the start of empathy as it shows sensitivity to other people’s feelings.
4. Holding a conversation
Holding conversations with others is a lifetime friendship skill. Conversations require self-disclosure, which can be challenging for some children. Good conversationalists give of themselves, but also take an interest in the person they are talking to. Many children forget that good conversations are two-way events, and tend to focus solely on themselves.
5. Winning and losing well
Children need to learn to win without rubbing others noses in it, and lose gracefully without throwing tantrums and making excuses. Wanting to win is natural, but they need to do so in a way that they maintain a relationship with other players so they will play again. Losing may make children feel bad, but children need to control their negative feelings so that others will play with them again.
6. Approaching and joining a group
The ability to approach strangers in social situations is a valuable skill that opens up many doors, both friendship–wise and business-wise. These skills can be learned and practised during childhood, so that it becomes second nature in adulthood.
7. Handling fights and disagreements
Disagreements happen in families and among friends. The key is to make sure disagreements don’t lead to the breakdown of friendships. It’s important to get across to children that having an argument or disagreement doesn’t mean that a friendship is over. Strong friendships, like strong family relationships, withstand disagreements. In fact, they only serve to strengthen friendships.
We will be celebrating Sorry Day on 26 May. The day will commence with Mass at 9.15am when there will be a focus on reconciling the past and moving on to being a united country where all people are treated with respect and acknowledgement. In the afternoon, we will hold a Sorry Day celebration when we will bless and unveil our Totem Poles. Sherry Balcombe from the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry will be in attendance when we will acknowledge the meaning of Sorry Day and how we can be people who promote reconciliation. Along with the Totem Poles which take pride of place in our Reflection Garden, we will also unveil a plaque inscribed with the words, “a new world with an ancient past.” These words were written by renowned author and human rights advocate Dr. Arnold Zable, who has given us permission to use these words in our garden. Last year I heard Arnold speak of his experiences as a migrant and his passion as a human rights advocate. I was touched by the above words and felt that they aptly reflect our mission as a FIRE Carrier school where we are called to acknowledge the past mistakes and together move forward, creating a new story for Australia. With some luck, Arnold may be able to join us on the 26 May.
For some time now, classes have been providing opportunities for students to participate in Christian Meditation as a form of prayer. Christian Meditation is different to general meditation in that it is related to Jesus in some form – whether it begins with a Gospel reading, a reflection on our faith, a traditional prayer etc. It does however, also provide the benefits of general meditation as it allows participants to be still, to reflect, and to develop the skill of mindfulness. Teachers are finding that besides being a very spiritual experience, meditation is supporting students to stop, gather themselves after the rush to get to school and are more able to move smoothly into their learning activities. As from the week beginning 16 May, all classes will be involved in meditation from 9.00am to 9.10am, therefore it is important that your child is at school on time to be ready for prayer. If you happen to be running late, your child should quietly enter the classroom and join the group.
LATE ARRIVALS/EARLY PICK UP
As a security measure, we now keep our classroom doors locked during class time. After signing your child in/out at the Office (please ensure a staff member has signed the form) you are asked to go directly to your child’s classroom door. Please do not knock on another classroom door and ask to pass through that room. This applies to all classes other than 1L, PW and 2S. If you need to access these rooms, please go to 2MS (the room on the right of the main entrance to the Frayne Learning Centre)
On Saturday, we had a very successful Working Bee with many tasks completed, leaving our Grounds looking immaculate. Besides this work being done, two people offered their services and skills to come up in their free time over the coming weeks to complete some more complex tasks. With this offer of support, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we are to have people who are ready to answer the call and come along and give their time to build a community of people working together. This was the reason why a letter was put out earlier this year asking everyone to give their time to two events throughout the year as we truly want St. Mary’s to be a place where we all feel connected and able to add to the growth of our community. Once again, I thank each of you for all that you are able to do to support and to help us grow.
ENROLMENT 2017 PREPS
Please be aware that enrolment for 2017 Prep closes on Friday 3 June and offers of places will be sent out on 13 June.