PSHE – developing the rounded child
Prep schools are learning environments preparing children for the next step in their education; senior school. Perhaps this might be a day school just around the corner or a boarding school in Scotland, England or further afield.
The children will be ready for their next maths or science project, they understand volcanoes and French vocab but are they ready and capable to manage and respond to other essential aspects which impacts them and their ability to learn …. Life skills?
These skills are incredibly important for children. Historically they have fallen into the grey area out with traditional subjects and not always been given the relevant time or focus in class. Do children understand their personal development, how their bodies change and the impact? What is self-esteem and self-worth? Is it ok to fail? How do I cope and how do I process this? Having the mechanics to respond to disappointment is an incredibly valuable life skill for us all. I would argue these skills are of significant importance and in fact compliment all aspects of one’s education. The PSHE association confirms “pupils with better health and wellbeing can achieve better academically and enjoy greater success.”
What are the critical issues children face today and will face in the coming years? Be that the vast area of mental health, stress, study techniques, personal safety, sexuality, health, decision making, bullying or, communities and responsibilities the list is endless. The charity Place2be, who have recently responded to the Scottish Government’s mental health and wellbeing strategy consultation, point out “50% of mental health problems in adults first develop before the age of 14 [Mental Health Foundation]. We must focus on prevention, early intervention and providing support at an early stage.” The big question is how do we as a school best do this? Prep schools have a wonderful opportunity to mould and strengthen the whole person and therefore we must prioritise this.
Cargilfield is doing exactly that. Not only are we passionate and dedicated towards the child’s academic ability, their sporting, musical and artistic talents, but we are equally caring for the all-round development of each child. We understand that helping produce more balanced and rounded pupils will contribute hugely in the classroom, on the pitch, on stage and in life. One of the key pillars, is a “whole school approach” which includes an up to date, relevant and dynamic PSHE curriculum.
The topics are wide-ranging and fluid and when delivered well will start to help nurture a confident, responsible, healthy, thoughtful independent young person. PSHE covers the following key areas; Personal, Social, Health and Economic. Lessons tend to focus on pupil wellbeing rather than information/data and exam results. We adapt and change lessons in order to deal with issues that are affecting children in “real time” and we are able to discuss events which affect them on both a personal and generational level. Well researched, engaging and relevant classes will allow children to participate, discuss and understand these areas and how they benefit and learn from them moving forward. Lessons are mostly interactive and involve sharing, listening and learning from others. This style reinforces support mechanisms, respect and honesty all which contribute to higher Emotional Intelligence and wellbeing. For example, one topic is “Understanding Relationships”. There are discussions, group work and other collaborative activities that highlight what good friendships are, how to choose role models with similar values and how this helps build confidence and resilience. This should assist children to make better decisions and challenge one’s self to do better.
Another example is “Coping Strategies” when dealing with disappointment. We discuss how disappointments are normal, that they can be managed and utilised as a springboard for improvement and turned into a positive. Children learn it is good to talk about these experiences, listen and know who to speak to, how to do something differently and the value of seeing things from another perspective. Topics can be general or more specific such as drugs or sexuality and continue throughout each year group allowing us to deliver and continue appropriate conversations at the right time.
The happier the child is the more confident they become, leading them to embrace opportunities, challenge themselves in a supportive and safe environment, and thus grow and flourish in all aspects, which is our ultimate goal.