Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we will be continuing remote learning until 8th March at the earliest. We all sincerely hope we are able to return to school as normal thereafter.
I have no desire to wish away time, but I will be cheerily waving goodbye to January. Never the easiest month, I know many of us have found January 2021 somewhat brutal. During these times it is so important to focus on the positive and be grateful for all that we have. In this week’s Prep School Assembly we talked about laughter and happiness and enjoyed jokes from Mr. Hill and Mrs. Wood - no prizes for guessing the theme of Mrs. Wood’s joke. Senior pupils shared poems and we talked about the benefits of being happy; they are numerous. We also discussed that it was completely normal to feel sad at times, and things we could do to help when we feel a little low (sadness busters).
Throughout my teaching career I have attended many talks, lectures, seminars and workshops; some good, some bad/terrible and some indifferent. I always try to take at least one thing away from every experience; even if I have struggled to stay awake or have left with only a page of doodles to show for my time.
The most meaningful talk I have ever attended was one at Mowden. It was given by a man called Dick Moore. Dick was a Headmaster, and since 2012 he has been visiting schools, universities and organisations to help raise awareness of mental health issues. Dick’s own personal experience is heartbreaking and his honesty about this was admirable. I know some of you reading this will have attended Dick’s talk, and I think I speak for us all in saying how deeply moving and thought provoking it was. I still reflect on the advice he gave to parents:
‘Do not remove every boulder from your child’s path’.
Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. We are surrounded by images (often false) of perfect families, perfect parents and perfect lifestyles. This is mildly irritating at best, and deeply depressing at worst, leading to a sense of failure and a lack of self-worth. The pressure we might feel for our children to be perfect can be so damaging. I have no wish for a ‘perfect’ anything at Mowden - how boring that would be. This notwithstanding, I completely understand and appreciate how tough the pressures of parenting can be.
Not everyday can or should be perfect. Children will have good days and bad days, some will be happy and some may be tinged with sadness. Sometimes things will go their way and sometimes they won’t. They may be wrongly overlooked on occasion and will be justifiably frustrated. We are formed by both our successes and our failures.
I remember being utterly devastated not to be picked for a Netball team at school. I returned home bemoaning how unfair it was, and proceeded to lick my wounds for a while. Of course, I got over it, I ended up a PE teacher and have enjoyed a lifelong love of sport (admittedly more on the other side of the whistle in recent years). Perhaps my initial failure spurred me on to succeed; looking back it certainly did me no harm.
Of course, we must always protect our children. The rise of mental health issues in young people is a terrifying trend that must not be underestimated. This week, we will be marking Mental Health Week, starting with our Assembly on Monday morning in the Prep School. Please always feel you can contact us if you have any concerns at all about your child’s well being.
Mrs. Kate Martin, Head