How do we know what’s important to children?

How do we know what’s important to children?

Whether training staff in our own school or in mainstream schools, there is always great interest when it comes to talking about children and their behaviour.

Often colleagues approach after the training session and want to talk not only about the children in their schools, but often about their own children and home situation. I remember a colleague in one school I trained in very clearly. As I packed my teaching resources away, she approached me to say she was concerned about her son. He seemed to be very unhappy. She assured me that she told him with great frequency how clever he was. I wondered about the time they spent together – did she ever say to him how much she enjoyed his company? How much she loved him or enjoyed playing a game with him? We can easily get hung up on the achievement and abilities at the expense of the person.

This all came back to me just yesterday, when I met a young person for the first time, who said ‘If I don’t make it as a footballer, I’ll be nothing, my life will be over’. He was astonished when I said what you do is what you do, not what you are. I said in my experience of him, he had been polite and welcoming, with a great smile. That seemed more of an indication of who he was – what he chose to do with his life and talents was a different thing; these could be used in any number of ways. He asked whether I really thought that. I said I didn’t just think it, I believed it. He was thrilled and thanked me – he said he had never thought of it that way before.

I do believe our children need to know that they are whole people, not partly a person. Moreover, they need to know they are valued for themselves, not only for the performance. This way, they can celebrate the wonder of being alive and enjoy the outcomes.

Helen Jackson

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