What makes a difference to kids at school?

It's parenting month on the blog this month and if you're the parent of a school aged child you might find this interesting....

Did you know that: 

  • Kids who are emotionally well learn more effectively and perform better academically? 
  • School can play a big part in the emotional well being of students if well researched and designed programs are established and incorporated in to daily life, school-wide?
  • Positive Education brings together the science of positive psychology with best practice teaching programs to not only help kids to flourish at school but also to support their families and the wider school community.
  • Australia is a global leader in the establishment of school-based positive education programs?

Tonight the second episode of Revolution School goes to air on ABC TV. It's the story of Kambrya College, an outer suburban high school in Melbourne. Kambrya College sat in the bottom 10 per cent of schools based on academic performance in 2008 but now sits in the top 25 per cent.

A key component of this major improvement is a Positive Education program focusing on student well being.  And we're not talking about traditional pastoral care and an onsite counsellor. This is about teaching kids the skills of resilience, of mindfulness and of self awareness. It's about encouraging a growth mindset, helping them to know and to use their strengths, to develop empathy and to look after their mental well being.

These are key components of what's known as a positive school climate - a school environment that, as well as being safe and clean with high quality teaching practices, emphasises relationships, communication, well being and respect. 

I chose the local public primary school for my kids not based on its MySchool ranking or NAPLAN results but because I could see that the actions of the Principal through to the littlest kids embodied the school values of care, excellence, community and respect. This is not a posh school in a well-to-do area.  This is a local primary school in a regional city with a diverse population but there is a vibe of positivity about the school that infects everyone. 

So what are the signs of a positive school?

  • Happy engaged kids.  Do the kids look like they're having fun in the school yard and classroom? Do they look interested and engaged?
  • Happy engaged teachers. Are the teachers keen to meet you and to discuss and involve you in school activities? Are they excited about teaching and what's happening at the school?
  • Is the wider school community (parents, teachers, other staff) vibrant, friendly and welcoming? Does the principal interact with the children?
  • Do the students, teachers and other staff treat each other with kindness and respect?

Science is now supporting what perhaps many of us knew intuitively (and teachers' know through experience) and that is that there is a lot more to schooling than academics. A good school can teach your kids to read and write but a positive school will help them to flourish.

What appealed to you about your kids' school? Does your school practice positive education?