All of us at Friends’ are so happy to have all of our students and their families back in school this week. We love the sound of joyful play emanating throughout the preschool building and playground on our South Campus.
Back to school— joyful as it is—is also a time of transition. And transition to school, like any change, can bring up all kinds of feelings for children and parents alike.
For some of our students, this month brings a big change: for the three-year old it means entering a school setting for the very first time; Kindergarteners are finding their place in the “big kid school”; for the sixth grader it’s a time to begin middle school on a new campus at the other end of town; and even for children who are continuing on with the same teacher (such as our 1st, 3rd and 5th graders), there will be new classmates, new routines, and new expectations.
Best-selling author Rosalind Wiseman recently wrote on her blog, “Parents are naturally preoccupied about getting everything ready. We run around filling out the right permission forms, buying all the things on the school supply list, and figuring out our child’s class schedule. But for our kids all of those things are usually way down the list of priorities. Instead, much more important to them is their social lives. Even kids who generally like school and have friends worry if their friendships changed over the summer.”
Wiseman is a dynamic speaker whose personal mission is to help communities shift the way we think about children’s emotional and physical wellbeing. She is a teacher, thought leader, author, and speaker on bullying, ethical leadership, and media literacy. You might know her as the author of the best seller Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. Queen Bees and Wannabes, now in its third edition, is the groundbreaking, best-selling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. Rosalind’s latest book, Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World was published in September 2013.
We are very excited that Rosalind will be speaking at our very own Friends’ School event on September 20th, at Unity of Boulder Church. She will discuss bullying, parenting, ethical leadership and the use of social media in her talk “Creating Cultures of Dignity.”
Her message will ring true in our community of parents and educators who have chosen a school like ours, where we believe in the importance of social and emotional learning.
Friends’ social and emotional curriculum helps students learn self-awareness and self-regulation, which in turn facilitate their interactions with and understanding of others. This begins with knowing our own emotions and needs and how to express and manage them appropriately. It includes recognizing and responding to the needs and emotions of others through empathy, gratitude, compassion, and the intentional teaching of kindness. Ultimately, having effective strategies for listening and speaking with one another develops a person’s ability to problem solve in all kinds of situations, often leading to inspired conclusions and stronger interpersonal relationships. Friends’ students learn this every day.
Lou Bendrick, who recently joined our school as our Director of Development, and who is also a parent at Friends’, recently shared this note with me, that she wrote to our fifth-grade teacher Leigh Houser:
“I wanted you to know that I was on recess duty today. Watching the older boys (your 5th graders) be so gentle with Blake and River playing football brought tears to my eyes! They let the boys make a touchdown ....It was so lovely.”
Blake is a first grader at our school, River is in Kindergarten. Lou explained that the 5th graders made a point of passing the ball to the younger children. Then the bigger boys allowed the younger boys to run between them for the touchdown.
That is “recognizing and responding to the needs and emotions of others through empathy, gratitude, compassion, and the intentional teaching of kindness.”
I look forward to seeing you on September 20th when Rosalind can help us all continue to create a powerful Culture of Dignity. You will receive your invitation next week. This event is free and open to the public, so please bring your friends and neighbors.