The Easiest Parenting Strategy That Actually Works: Don’t Get in the Way

Screens vs. Staying Out of the Way
Both of these strategies: showing your child a screen and staying out of the way give the parent some more freedom and flexibility in their day. Parents often turn to screens so that they can get something done or “get a moment’s peace.” However, there is another alternative: insist your child solve the problem independently or play independently whilst you have some time for yourself.

Read the full article here

Building Resilience in our HS students

In the High School, we have been working on how to counter the growing anxiety and mental health concerns that are prevalent in adolescents today. Our Main Lessons, anthroposophical approach and wellbeing programs have a positive impact on the challenges faced by teenagers today, but there is always more we can incorporate into our work.

Resilience is defined as the ability to “bounce back” from stressful or challenging experiences. It involves being able to adapt to changes and approach negative events, sources of stress and traumatic events as constructively as possible.

The High School staff are committed to working with students to build this important life skill. It is very important for students to experience ‘failure’ to learn how to bounce back. Experiencing ‘failure’ helps to build mental capacity and learn that life is a series of challenges and joys. Expecting ‘happiness’ in every life experience is not realistic nor healthy. Being ‘saved’ every time something goes wrong does not assist in building strong capacity to cope with future obstacles. There is a growing picture of anxiety and mental health challenges in young people and we need to be responsive to this and address this in our daily work.

I attended a Mental Health in Schools conference a year or so ago and I shared some of the important points from a lecture I attended in a presentation to the HS students at a recent assembly. The speech was written by Peter Ellingson and some of the points below were thought provoking.

“All success is due to failure, and all advances in knowledge come about as a result of failed attempts. This is the reality of achievement. It is a truth that, once grasped, frees us to experiment and innovate –to discover, rather than vegetate or imitate.

Success, after all, is nothing if not the ability to tolerate failure.

Although we can learn to fail without learning from it, when we do pay attention to it, we enter new thinking and risk-taking. Failure is how we learn – the natural consequence of the risk and complexity – which not only characterises life – but, when embraced, makes it exhilarating. It is when things fail that minds get to work to devise better solutions.

US celebrity talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, who ran one of the highest-ranking TV shows ever and is the richest self-made woman and the only black female billionaire, was fired from her first job. Her boss told her that she was too emotional and not right for television.

Similarly, Walt Disney, whose Disney studios pioneered animation and inventive film-making, was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked imagination. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, did not become the world’s richest man, overnight – he was a university drop out, whose first business failed. The man whose name implies genius, Albert Einstein, was a “failed” child. He did not speak until he was four, did not read until he was seven, was expelled from school and refused admittance to his local university. He went on to win the Nobel Prize and change, not just physics, but how we understand who we are. The same is true of Sir Isaac Newton, the man who discovered gravity, and Charles Darwin, who before he stumbled on to Natural Selection, gave up on his medical career. The man who literally had a light bulb moment, when he invented the light bulb, Thomas Edison, was another who did poorly in early life, along with US President Abraham Lincoln, TV’s most successful comic, Jerry Seinfeld, French artist, Vincent Van Gogh – who only sold one painting in his lifetime – and Elvis Presley, who was fired after one performance. According to the promoter, the future king of rock n’ roll was a failure who needed to go back to driving a truck.

Failure then, is productive, not because good guys come last, but because good outcomes arise from bad ones. Although we can learn to fail without learning from it, when we do pay attention to it, we enter new thinking and risk-taking. Failure is how we learn – the natural consequence of the risk and complexity – which not only characterises life – but, when embraced, makes it exhilarating.”

Some of the examples of where we see a lack of resilience in the HS are:

  • Students calling parents to pick them up when they don’t feel comfortable or ‘happy’ at school or at a school event or camp
  • Students using “I can’t….” statements when they feel something is too hard
  • Students feeling too stressed to do timed exam responses or timed assessments as they are worried they will do badly or ‘fail’
  • Some students feeling that receiving a 19/20 on a task is somehow a ‘failure’

Some things we do to support students in the HS that assist in building resilience (these are a few examples) :

  • SRC – Student Representative Council – students having a voice in the school and listening to other students’ concerns and discussing how to deal with them
  • Year 9 community work – working towards causes that are bigger than themselves
  • PDHPE curriculum which actively targets personal development ideas
  • Sport classes – physical activity is a proven antidote to anxiety and feelings of sadness
  • enriching Main Lessons that work on the three-fold picture of human development and use history and art to show the progression of ideas and the continuation of human consciousness
  • Whole HS singing each Wednesday – brings a sense of belonging and a chance for non-singers to build resilience in sitting in the ‘uncomfortable zone’ and knowing that their presence alone is important
  • No Smartphones in the playground – to enable students to sort things out in a face to face way rather than online in more anonymous modes and allow for natural human connection amongst students
  • Sports Carnivals – students feel connected to a whole group or may feel uncomfortable in the physical realm, but learn to work through uncomfortable feelings
  • Work Experience – risk taking, being in an unfamiliar situation and experiencing the world outside the ‘safe’ school environment
  • Tobias Project at Year 8- sticking at a project for a whole year and dealing with the obstacles and pitfalls that inevitably occur
  • Camps Program – despite some students feeling nervous and worried about being away from home, we see amazing changes in reluctant camp goers
  • Teachers showing and modelling their ‘mistakes’ – we all try to show that we are not flawless and that mistakes are human and normal.
  • Shared cross year level projects – to enable younger and older students to share ideas and solutions
  • Leadership in senior school – House Captain responsibilities and Year 12 students as MCs in High School Assemblies, which encourages students to take risks and face challenges

We are always working on ways to encourage students to take risks in a safe environment and to learn from things that feel hard. We ask for your support in cementing what we bring at home and are always happy to receive feedback about what we do. Conversations around the dinner table that perhaps talk about how you as adults have learnt from mistakes is a great start!

Katie Biggin 

What’s Essential: Five Gifts of a Steiner School Education

By Steve Sagarin

(This brief article is based on part of my talk, “What Makes Waldorf, Waldorf? Separating Myths from Essentials and Making the Future Bright,” a keynote address at the annual Governance, Leadership and Management (GLaM) Conference, Steiner Education Australia (SEA), Shearwater, The Mullumbimby Steiner School, NSW, Australia. May 2, 2015.)

A Steiner school gives its graduates—high school graduates—five gifts. Primary school parents and graduates will recognize these gifts, but they will also recognize that they do not come to fruition by 7th or 8th grade.

1.) The first gift is the gift of ideas and ideals.

A Steiner school does not provide beliefs or a worldview. Belief, knowledge, and worldview may be “about” spiritual matters, but are not them. The school provides a pathway or method for discovering profound ideas and ideals, should a student wish later in life to pursue them.
In fact, all we can give with regard to spiritual realities—the realm of ideas and ideals—is a path that can be followed or retraced. In geometry, I can show you how the steps of a proof lead to logical proof, but you must take that final intuitive leap yourself. If you do not “see” that these steps constitute a proof, all I can do as a teacher is retrace the path with you, perhaps using different language or different symbols in order to help you again to the brink of intuitive understanding.

2.) Second, a school addresses its students as developing human beings, beings uniquely capable of inner transformation.

In nature, metamorphoses and transformations are primarily visible. We can see a plant grow from shoot to leaves to flower, each stage presenting unforeseen changes of form. No one looking at a caterpillar for the first time would guess that it will soon be a butterfly. In human life, especially after childhood, transformation and development are not so visible. For Steiner, all cats belong to the same species, but each human being is a species unto himself or herself.

3.) Third, a school introduces students to different ways of knowing and being, three in particular.

(Psychologists recognize these with terms like “cognition,” “affect,” and “behaviour.”) You can know cognitively, you can live in your head. You can contemplate or reflect, observe or compare, analyze or synthesize. These accord most closely with what the world outside a Steiner school means by knowing.
But you can also know with your heart. I call this aesthetic knowing, knowing in which you are awake to beauty, to an ethical understanding, and even to truth. The path to truth may be cognitive, but the recognition of truth is a feeling. Playfulness is the true expression of aesthetic knowing. One way to understand what I mean is to contrast aesthetic knowing with its opposite, “anaesthetic knowing.” Something that anaesthetizes you puts you to sleep—you cannot know anything. The aesthetic awakens you.

Last, you can know in your body and in your senses. Michael Polanyi calls this “tacit knowing,” knowing more than we can say. You can read a book about playing the piano or performing heart surgery, but I hope you would not say after you put the book down that you knew how to do these things.

4.) Fourth, a school can provide profound examples and guidelines for a healthy life with other persons.

If they choose to, Waldorf school graduates know how to care for others in brotherhood and sisterhood, in solidarity. They know how to respect the equality of any man or any woman. They know where their individual freedom lies, the sort of freedom that laws and conventions cannot touch, and how to accord others their own freedom and dignity.

5.) Fifth, students receive a reverence for life and for the world; a concern for the environment, however defined.

I mention this last because as a society we have probably embraced this gift more fully in the past fifty years than we have the others. Any school, any teachers, may give these gifts. But the sad truth is that in our world today only in Steiner schools can you regularly find teachers united in common purpose to give their students as fully and consistently what I have outlined here.

From ssagarin.blogspot.com.au

Why idle moments are crucial for creativity

Our brains are at their most innovative when they are resting, so why aren’t we making time for quiet reflection?

To read more follow this link.

Safe on Social Media

Kirra Pendergast is the director of the Safe on Social Media website who recently gave a talk at our school. www.safeonsocial.com

This link takes you to some important insight she shares specifically for parents.

You would be careful in real life, so why not online?

Social Media is viewed by most people as a fun way to share information about themselves, friendships, family and things that happen in their day-to-day lives.

But things can go wrong…

It is important to understand that what you post on social media sites can affect your life both in good ways and bad.

Safe on Social Media guides are available on our website you can find them here 

Harry Potter- Why we should wait!

Please find  below some links to a couple of very good articles on why it is a good idea for children to wait until they are well into the middle primary school years to start reading Harry Potter.

Increasingly we are experiencing parents of very young children questioning the schools policy on not letting them start reading Harry Potter series until Class 4 and asking for more information as to why it is best to wait. One article suggests that Class 4 age is still considered too young- but they are certainly not for the 6-7 year olds that are wanting to get started.
Harry Potter is a great fantasy but as renowned author and Steiner teacher Horst Kornberger points out “a certain foundation of the soul needs to be established before a child enters the gothic labyrinth of Hogwarts”. The books are based on a mystery novel and emotional suspense. The dark forces are hidden and unscrupulous, and become even more so as the books progress. This is exciting for a teenager but is not appropriate for younger readers who need to know who is good and who is bad so they can orientate themselves in a story. ” H. Kornberger, Story Medicine.

We hope you will find the articles food for thought and help back up our schools policy. Whilst we all appreciate J.K Rowling’s imaginative series (they are well written, entertaining and exciting books) let’s all try and keep them for the appropriate time. We still have high school students enjoying the series and rereading them-they are very quick to report they are glad they waited …

http://capebyronsteiner.nsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/New-Tales-for-Old-from-Story-Medicine-by-Horst-Kornberger-1.pdf

https://bookriot.com/2015/08/04/ill-kids-wait-read-harry-potter/

 

Is Your Child Overstimulated from Too Much Screen Time?

A quiz and article to help you identify whether your child is at risk. Suggestions on how to take action and protect your child from too much screen time. Please make time to read.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201711/is-your-child-overstimulated-too-much-screen-time

 

 

Article about smartphone addiction

This link will take you to an article that is well worth reading about the perils of smartphone addiction, please take some time to read it.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

Snapchat….we have a problem

https://www.safeonsocial.com/

If you have allowed your primary school student or young teen a snapchat account, here’s something you need to be aware of.

One of the search functions of Snapchat is providing too much information about their users. If the location services for the app are turned on a very concerning security problem is revealed.

Snapchat has a very clever user retention strategy behind it. They lured in a whole generation based on the fact that their snaps would disappear after a short amount of time, so it became a second language for teenagers. A large percentage of kids say they use Snapchat because their parents don’t. Also, if you turn off location services for snapchat you start to disable some of the photo filters so kids won’t turn off location services for Snapchat.

And there lies a BIG personal privacy and security issue that you and your children are not aware of and should be.

Enter a school name or a suburb into the search feature on Snapchat and the app will deliver to you all of posts being made in proximity to the location. It will also suggest other schools (with other Snapchat account holders). Often this list will include the names of account holder, and provides the individual searching locations with the option to add the account holder to their contacts.

This raises two issues.

It provides evidence that numbers of students are using snapchat in and around school – often in defiance of the schools’ mobile devices usage policy.

2. Complete strangers are able to target your child’s Snapchat profile, using the school they attend as a way to find them. This issue is particularly disturbing.

Consider this possible scenario if you are not concerned by this information.

A predator doesn’t know the names or other regular locations of children attending any of the schools in the area that they may be, but simply by searching the school name in the Snapchat search feature, they are able to find regular users of Snapchat at these schools that are close to them.

Courtesy of Snapchat they are now able to add the accounts of any child they find, and may now happily follow their snaps, record or screen shot them……and watch for other locations that appear regularly in a child’s Snapchat feed, such as their home or regular place for sporting activity. They can also interact with the child through their account, and become “friends” with them on any other social media account.

What can you do to minimize risk?

Respect the age restrictions of 13+
Build trust with your child by explaining why you insist the account be set to private.
Ensure that Ghost Mode is enabled on the Snap Map, so account holder information is hidden.
Turn the location services for the app off on the device.
Regularly review with your child who interacts with their account.
Ask your child to respect the schools mobile phone policy.

If you have any questions please get in touch:

wecanhelp@safeonsocial.com

Kind regards,

Kirra

Advent & Hanukkah stories

Some lovely stories for Advent and Hanukkah by Eugene Schwartz available by following this link.

 

 

The silent tragedy affecting today’s children

The silent tragedy affecting today’s children (and what to do with it) by Victoria Prooday Occupational Therapist

This article was included in the Waldorf Today newsletter of September 12 2017, you can read it here.

 

 

 

Halloween and it’s true meaning

An interesting article to read and reflect on in light of the recent “Halloween Hype”” experienced in the wider community recently. You can read the article here.

 

 

 

 

What are Smartphones Doing to the Next Generation?

We ask that our students not have their smartphones out at all whilst they are at school. Whilst we do have to monitor this and we do sometimes seem to be giving lots of reminders to put the phone away, generally our students do not have their phones out during the school day. It is wonderful to see them deep in rich conversation with each other during break times. There is a lot of research emerging now about the effects of daily smartphone use – enough to make us all question just how often we are focused on our phone screens.

You can help us by reminding your High School students that phones should be away in bags and lockers during the school day. You can also assist by not calling or texting your child on their mobile phone number during the day (our Reception staff are very happy to pass on any important messages). You might also want to try having some phone-free time for the whole family during the weekend.

The following article on the effects of smartphones on the next generation is worth a read. It can be found at here

Wait Until 8th

Let kids be kids a little longer

The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone.

For more information on why you may wish to make this pledge please check out this Waldorf school blog.

To make the pledge visit https://www.waituntil8th.org/