I have a story about a penguin that I have been wanting to share but just needed the right moment and a suitable platform, so here it is...
My son H, then aged 8, was enjoying his class topic on Antarctica. This topic had captured H's imagination and he had so much to tell us on the subject.
One day H revealed that he was unhappy and in his words 'did not like his life' - after some gentle discussion it transpired that H was finding it difficult to be in school as the class teacher was very 'shouty.' H told me that he didn't like being shouted at and sometimes when he asked questions he was shouted at or met with a comment such as "not interested" accompanied by a gesture which he interpreted as 'go away.'
H came home from a day at school where the art project had been to draw a penguin. With a sad expression on his face, he showed me his penguin. I could see that he wasn't happy with this penguin but it was reflection of how he was feeling that day having been in a classroom environment with a teacher who by shouting at the children had made him feel small and unhappy.
We talked about school and how the next day may be a different one because he had a different teacher, so I sent him off to school the next day feeling sad that he was so unhappy with how he and his friends were being spoken to.
I felt a little apprehensive at home time, would I need to spend time with him trying to rebuild his feeling of self-worth which was taking a bashing in year 3?
H came out and couldn't wait to show me his new penguin...
I really don't think I need to say much about this. What a difference!
So why is this story about a penguin important? There are many issues in this little blog that could be explored - self esteem, the pressure of the 'school system' on both children and teachers and much more but the main message from me as both a Mum and a Practitioner is this; please consider the impact that you as an adult can have on a child's happiness.
A child must never be frightened to approach an adult for help, a child must never be made to feel small by the way an adult speaks to them. Please do not enjoy having 'power' over children - we have so much we can learn from children and the way they view the world! We are always saying quality interactions = thriving language but it is bigger than this really isn't it? What we are saying is; quality interactions = thriving children!
Be the adult who inspires a 'proud penguin' moment in the children we work with!