Developing our young people into fine young men and women:
Year 8 students had a Leadership Training day this week (by stealth). On Tuesday they were engaged in a variety or outdoor challenges with an intentional focus on lessons learnt such as respect and consideration for others, inclusion, communication skills etc. One of the provoking thoughts given to the group I supervised was, ‘How do you develop the leaders around you – your parents, your teachers etc.’ To think that leadership is a lot less about ‘Everyone look at me and do as your told’ to ‘How can I help and assist others to do their respective roles and jobs well/ How can I assist them?’ is a great lesson to be learnt at any age.
Year 7 students had an invaluable presentation from Empower Solutions speaker, Kerrie Atherton. She also presented to parents on Tuesday night. Like the frog in the saucepan story, as the water gets hotter slowly and the frog is not aware that this is happening, the world our young people operate in is quite different to our own and because we are immersed in it – we may not realise how different it is to the past.
- Our ‘online’ – was swinging around the backyard on a clothes hoist
- To connect with friends we had to go out – not go to our room (where they can then go ‘online’ to talk to them while gaming or messaging)
- It was easier to find out if a child had accessed inappropriate images as it came in the form of a magazine, not something easily erased on a phone or laptop device.
- Playing a game meant either going outdoors or a sports centre or perhaps sitting around a table playing a board game or cards.
Our school’s approach to phones and laptops has been the ‘responsible use approach’. This comes from the premise that we are teaching our young people to act responsibly and make good choices. So, when we notice a student doesn’t use their laptop appropriately, we address the issue with that one student. With mobile phones, like many workplaces, our rule this year became that students were to leave them in their lockers, this is in line with this approach also. Some find it quite difficult to be parted from their phones but this in itself is also a good discipline.
One of the ideas presented by Kerrie was to have a ‘docking station’ in your home where everyone left their IT devices when they went to bed, charging, ready to be accessed when you wake up in the morning. Leading by example as parents with our devices is as important as the rules we put in place for our children. For some families, it may require a stricter control if your young person finds it too much of a temptation to have a look or access it during the night (perhaps locked away). Recent research indicates that most gaming occurs between 10 pm and 6 am. We have also, often had parents let us know that late into the night their children are receiving messages from their friends. Or, watching Youtubes late into the night, which can mean your child is not getting the rest they need.
Another idea was to access some of the apps that are available to monitor your child’s online behaviour or to filter websites your child can and can’t access. In the same way that we don’t allow our child to drink alcohol or smoke, this is a similar approach to caring for your child by preventing them access to things that belong to the adult world.
The good news is that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. This counteracts my earlier comment but what I mean by this is that our children want to live healthy lives and have good relationships. When Kerrie spoke with the Yr 7 students, it was encouraging to hear that as a result of the information she presented, several students said they were going to go home and talk to their parents about helping them manage their online gaming better. Some mentioned they would delay getting a smartphone. Their top concerns were: getting along with their family and friends; and, around the areas of making good decisions with what they view online and other poor choices that can be made.
On the topic of gaming – this article has some interesting information on concerns around the design and use of games. Helping our children manage their online activity is important.
Kerrie concluded her presentation with the recommendation that parents do the following three things: Control – within reason but remember children appreciate boundaries and giving advance notice – proactive rules is a good strategy; Connection – children sincerely want good relationships with their parents; Communication – sometimes this is really hard with teenagers but don’t give up.
Jacqualina Vreeling, Head of Middle School