Beautiful Brazil 2012 – Segment 2: My Work in St Paul’s School

Well, it’s the second visit. I was there two years ago and so much has embedded since my first detailed whole school programme of work. Two fabulous Heads of Prep and Pre-prep have really gone for it! Golden Rules embedded, Quality Circle Time timetabled weekly, whole school golden time, playground policies. In the pre-prep they even have monthly circle meetings with the parents to focus on how they can support their children at home with the golden rules in partnership with the school. Some truly wonderful teachers and teaching assistants work here and it is so exciting, uplifting and heart-warming for me to revisit and help move them on to the next levels. Both schools are considering ‘Going For Gold’ – our campaign to encourage schools to gain gold status in a quality circle time model (see link to our website for Watercliffe Meadow Primary School who have just achieved Golden School status!). So student and adult ‘voice’ are at the heart of all of the key systems. Only once the systems are all embedded, then revisited and shone up will excellence be released. And only then can children and adults be their own quirky individual selves, respected by everyone, and achieving their own personal best.

This year I also gave a presentation to the parents – who were very responsive. I sometimes forget how I was as a parent – always convinced everyone else was doing a lot better than me. I lived in fear I was ruining my children – that somehow my over-enthusiastic personality might stunt their responsivity and spontaneity. My inconsistency with boundaries and consequences would turn them into spoilt meanies. My up and down personal life would put them off relationships – I would have loved, at that time, to be part of an ongoing parent circle of support. It would have been comforting to have known from the beginning that guilt was going to be an accompanying ‘spectre at the family feast’ forever – and that a lot of families feel it and I wasn’t the only one who it shot it’s fears into late at night!

Mind you, as parents we do have stuff we are guilty of. I think that our society has become so busy and so gadget orientated that we are often guilty of not giving children our whole attention. When I was on holiday in Brazil and I watched parents and children on holiday – so many parents were on their ipods on sun loungers and just did not get involved with playing with the children. They answered the children’s questions whilst not even looking up. I do think we are in a very dangerous stage of technology – and we risk not living in the moment with the ones we love. I am going to give to you a lovely poem I gave to the parents at my presentation.

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,

* I’d finger-paint more – and point the finger less;

* I would do less correcting – and more connecting;

* I’d take my eyes off my watch – and watch with my eyes;

* I would care to know less – and know to care more;

* I’d take more hikes and fly more kites;

* I’d stop playing serious – and seriously play;

* I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars;

* I’d do more hugging and less tugging;

* I would be firm less often – and affirm much more;

* I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later;

* I’d teach less about the love of power, and more about the power of love.

(Diane Loomans ‘Full Esteem Ahead)’