Reflecting on the half term and the numerous conversations I have been having with staff and parents, I find myself wanting to share a commonly discussed area – success. Whilst this is an obvious goal for any educator or parent, it is worth drawing attention to the different guises that success can be found in and the importance of recognising it. Family background, wealth, heritage, or even a long held personal ambition may all influence an individual’s vision of success but when targeting success for your child, it is best to keep an open mind as to what that might look like.
Although the evidence base I draw on here is my own experience as a daughter, parent, and educator, I am convinced that predetermined ideas of success narrow the opportunities to achieve it. At Elmhurst, we talk about supporting boys to be ‘your brilliant best’ and acknowledge for every individual this will be something different. However, we set high expectations around behaviours for learning to create the right conditions for that brilliance to shine. Moreover, a curriculum with academic rigour, alongside creative and sporting activities presents numerous routes for a boy to develop and find his own success. It is my firmly held belief that celebrating and nurturing even the very minor accomplishments in a child’s life builds self esteem and, ultimately, that pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self actualisation. So it is not only joyful to celebrate those smaller achievements, enjoy those little stickers, certificates, and kind words but also hugely beneficial.
Empowering someone to reach for their own success is not always easy though, particularly when the role of a parent is also to protect and defend. Watching your child fail is uncomfortable but by standing back and allowing that failure to happen, a parent can oversee the development of the child’s biggest strength: their resilience or bounce-back ability. This month, as part of our Black History Month celebrations, we heard a first hand account of how one young man’s own family gave him the strength to pursue his chosen path, the competitive world of professional football, by supporting him in dealing with failure. To strive to reach our best, we need to feel confident enough to embrace failure – something boys in particular find very difficult to deal with. Our own footballers have felt their share of failure this half term – narrowly missing out in the final of competitions. However, they have used the disappointment to drive them forward and such a great attitude is sure to see them end up on the right end of a result soon. We have similarly encouraged boys to build their confidence in reading through buddy reading sessions this half term; pairing up boys to read to younger pupils removes the fear of failure as they happily plough on knowing the younger child will only appreciate their efforts.
Parenting is a difficult job and one we all begin with no experience. Working hand in hand with those that we entrust our child to can help to nurture that brilliance that is in all of us.