A Head’s Perspective
Emma Goldsmith is the new Head of Winchester House School, a leading Pre-Prep and Prep School in Brackley. Previously she has worked in a number of top Senior Schools. Here Emma gives an interesting perspective on how to keep children happy at school.
Children are naturally curious and part of the educational process should be to ask questions. Keep their natural curiosity and enthusiasm alive by encouraging them to ask questions and allow them to admit when they don’t understand. You can help them by showing you don’t always know the answer and sometimes get it wrong.
Learning shouldn’t stop with the school bell
Children learn valuable lessons out of the classroom and it is important to encourage children to develop in all areas, not just academic. For example joining a drama group or orchestra or sports team develops important skills that give confidence and teach the child how to work as part of a team.
Happy children learn
The best school will be the one with the top quality teachers, those who can relate to and inspire the students. If the children are engaged, inspired and smiling, without doubt they are learning.
Having been involved in interviewing and selecting children for scholarships, and as an ISI inspector, you can see an over-coached child a mile off. Schools are looking for a fresh-faced, sparky child with enthusiasm. Encourage manners and ensure children know about current affairs, but ultimately schools want children to be themselves. A thirst for learning is key!
We use Chrome books throughout the school curriculum, and children as young as seven learn programming as they embrace technology. We shouldn’t focus on the negatives of technology – it’s teaching them safe behaviours online that’s important.
Learning to fail
Schools and parents needs to prepare children for success AND failure, and to teach them to see any ‘failure’ as a stepping stone to success in the future. Taking part in lunchtime music concerts, for example, and being cheered on by their peers, is a great opportunity for children to challenge themselves in a supportive environment. The main thing in my experience is that your children feel loved and secure.
Give them a break
It is so tempting, as a parent, to enrol children into every available club and activity. Children need to learn to be bored – an important skill in life – and from that boredom they learn to play sociably and creatively and, crucially, have time to relax.
Get the start right
Having a strong, positive start at school helps build the foundations for learning. From Nursery they’re learning the key skills that prepare them as they grow and move up the school.