Children of middle school age are going through many changes.
They are reaching a stage of their life where they place increasing importance on being noticed and accepted by their peers and this is a time when peer pressure becomes a major influence in the many choices a child faces.
The school/parent relationship has a very important role to play in terms of helping children make good choices in terms of being healthy, safe and respectful to others.
What are ‘good choices”? They are choices which keep students safe and healthy and they are choices which give them opportunities for friendship and self confidence.They are also choices which show responsibiltiy towards the environment and each other. It is very important for us to help students take responsibility for the choices they make and take responsibility for the things they choose to involve themselves in.
When parents have the luxury of being able to choose a school, they do so for many reasons. I wonder how many ask to see the school’s mssion statement? The mission statement at the school I am principal at the moment, emphasizes respectful, caring and encouraging behavior within a diverse community as the backbone of who we say we want our community to be. But we can’t achieve this without parents help. There was a famous Rabbi who once said “Educating children without parental involvement is like heating a house with the windows open.
Families have a set of values which are defined through traditions and moral or sometimes religious beliefs, which are sometimes known as ‘family values’. Our school’s mission statement is a living document which declares what we value as a community. It is a statement of our ‘family values’. For the parent/school partnership to work most effectively we need to have shared values. Schools have an impossible task ahead of them in terms of helping students make ‘good’ choices if the values or definition of what good choices are differ.
An interesting activity each family reading this could try would be to sit down at home and come up with a family mission statement– A statement that defines the families’ values and goals. Once this statement is agreed upon and written down, the family could take out the school’s mission statement and compare.
What things are the same what are different?
The choices we make have an effect on others and it is important for us all to be able to reflect on these and move on. It’s also important for us to reflect on what we do to support the communities’ shared set of values at school and at home.