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Think Positive!

The theme of this week’s assemblies has been ‘Staying Positive.’  How easy to say, but not necessarily to do!  We all of us have conversations with our ‘inner selves,’ and research by neuroscientists has shown that unfortunately, these conversations tend more frequently to be on the negative, rather than the positive side.  For our children, this can be particularly the case, as young people struggle to keep up with an idealised world promoted both in the press, and through interaction on social media.  Negativity, according to neuroscientists, produces stress chemicals in the brain, which serve to exacerbate feelings of low self-esteem or lack of confidence; unsurprisingly, the chances of going on to be a happy, successful and healthy adult are much greater if a positive mindset can be established at an early age.  What, therefore, can we do in school, to help our children to focus on the many good qualities they possess, and the successes they have had, and to ‘Stay Positive.’
 
In our weekly House meetings, children are presented with awards for their efforts during the previous week.  Joining this week’s House meeting served to reinforce just how much more there is to celebrating success, than the obvious pleasure in receiving oral praise or a certificate.  The children felt, of course, hugely pleased to be congratulated, but more important than this, their reactions showed that they derived affirmation of the value of their contribution, and of themselves as individuals.  How better to foster long-term self-confidence in our children, than to give them positive experiences which can be tapped into at any point, when those negative voices whisper?  This feeling of self-awareness and worth, in turn promotes a greater sense of identity and uniqueness, of self-belief, a positive outlook, and better emotional health in general.
 
As a staff, we try hard to reinforce positive thinking by offering problem-solving and investigative challenges which enable the children to explore and theorise, and to find, within a safe and supportive environment, validity in their own ideas and opinions.  In Reception this week, the children have organised their own Challenge area where they can access activities to extend and stretch their learning. In Year 3, the children were challenged to write the script for their forthcoming assembly, and in Year 5, the children were set the task of designing and carrying-out their own investigation into factors which might affect the speed of a material being dissolved in water. They had to generate a suitable question to investigate and then determine the factors to be changed, measured and maintained as constants.  (For full details of these challenges, please see each appropriate year group’s article.)
 
In challenging the children to think ‘outside the box’, we must also prepare them for the inevitable setbacks which such creativity naturally entails.  Alongside accepting a challenge, we must also teach perseverance and resilience, so that reviewing ideas and revising them as necessary, becomes simply part of the process, and not a suggestion of failure, or a barrier to future journeys into the unknown.  And so we return to ‘Staying Positive’.  How essential this attitude is, and one which we will continue to champion in our school.
 
Heather Hopson-Hill, Head Teacher
 
 
Published on 02/02/2018