Recently a three-month-old Border Collie, Bazza, joined our family. Walking the dog provides early morning reflection time on how I may approach my work with children. I am sure you will all agree that we want our children to flourish. We want them to develop academic skills and just as importantly in today’s world, we want them to have the social and emotional skills to equip them for life, so that they have strategies to manage negative situations. Lea Waters, Psychologist, and one of the world’s leading experts on Positive Education, says that teaching for wellbeing is, and must be, a key aspect of 21st century education in properly preparing our students for their futures.
One practice to support wellbeing we have implemented this year is Restorative Practice. Using this practice we seek to respond to inappropriate behaviour in a restorative way rather than in a punitive way. When things go wrong, we ask the Restorative Questions:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking?
- What are you thinking now?
- Who has been hurt or is sad because of what you have done?
- What do you need to do to make things right?
- What will you do differently next time?
- When someone has been hurt, we ask:
- What did you think when you found out what happened?
- How have you and others been hurt?
- What has been the hardest thing for you?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
I have been involved in several restorative chats, particularly with boys, to help them work through their times of stress, conflict, refusal or anger. My experience is that often boys are just having fun, act impulsively and can allow big emotions to take over their thinking. When calm and they can verbalise what has happened and realise what has gone wrong, they want to fix things up.
At St Martins we actively work on helping children make good choices, teaching them that when mistakes are made to consider what might be a better or kinder choice next time. We hold them to account for their behaviour and its impact on others while respecting the fact they are, as children, still learning. They may act impulsively or not think through the consequences, but also need to bring about repair. We are helping them to know that conflict exists in life and that using restorative practices as a tool, will help create resilience and emotional maturity.
I can’t help but think that God used a restorative approach in dealing with us by sending us Jesus to restore our relationship to him. May you know God’s grace and peace this week.
PS. My current best reads are:
Mothering Our Boys by Maggie Dent and The Strength Switch by Dr Lea Waters. Checkout their websites for great positive parenting ideas!