What a semester it has been; indeed, what a year it has been. 2021 started like a normal year and we all breathed a deep sigh of relief, however as it now draws to a close it has been anything but a normal year. It has been an utter delight this term to welcome our students back onto campus and to be able to offer our students some very special programs and experiences within the Middle School. We really are so fortunate to have a wonderful team in our school who have worked tirelessly these past weeks and months to ensure that our students ended their year on a real high, enjoying a range of immersive, curricular and co-curricular activities. Our Year 9s were even fortunate enough to end their time in the Middle School with the opportunity to take part in what really is a rite of passage, ‘Wabonga’. I would like to thank and acknowledge all of the wonderful staff who have made our end of year such a great success.
Amidst the excitement, however, we have also had both the challenge and privilege of working with our young people on what it means to reconnect with our community, as well as our expectations and our values. Some of our students have found it difficult to adjust to the normality or being back at school, and the added pressure that it brings. Others have found constantly being busy and being around people outside of their own families quite tricky to manage. These challenges have led to some of members of our community making some mistakes – some quite minor, and some quite significant.
I really do believe that working with young people and their families during such times is a huge privilege, and we are lucky to have such a dedicated and committed wellbeing team at Carey (including classroom teachers, House staff, and Student Development staff) to work alongside our students and our families when moments like these present themselves. Some advice for parents when helping their child work through mistakes includes:
- acknowledging, naming and accepting the feelings that sit beneath their poor choices or their behaviour
- helping your young person to understand and accept the uncomfortable feeling in their tummy when they do make a mistake
- being calm in your own response to such situations and to help your child to manage these feelings.
Part of being a young person is making mistakes. There are lots of kids who do struggle with this, and lots of kids find asking for help or owning up to a mistake to be a real challenge. Our task, as the adults, is to be with them, to guide them to name their feelings and their actions, to share and talk through our own mistakes as a way of normalising this as part of growing up, as well as to set clear boundaries and expectations around how you, as a family unit, might manage mistakes when they occur. The most important thing is establishing an expectation and a culture in your home where it is OK to make a mistake and that your young person feels safe to talk to you about it, regardless of the outcome.
We know how important the upcoming summer break is – for our families and for our staff. We do hope that everyone takes full advantage of the opportunity to reset, to reflect on a year that wasn’t quite what we had all hoped it would be, and to rest – their hearts, their minds and their bodies – before everything kicks off again in 2022. As I draw my last Carey Newsletter article to a close, I just wanted to thank everyone who has helped to shape the wonderful learning and experiences that I have had in my 11 years here. What a beautiful community we are part of; I really will miss it.
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Wellbeing