One of my favourite duties for the week is carpark duty. You might be scratching your head and thinking, ‘how could this be?’ Especially as it requires me taking on the role of traffic controller every now then. However, it is also an opportunity to connect with parents, students and staff either at the beginning of the day or the end of the day. I get immediate feedback about our community through stories of adventures had over the day from students, their highs and their lows, snippets of information from parents and warm welcomes and farewells. I quickly pick up who has had a great start and who might have slept through the alarm.
Getting the day off to a good start can make a big difference to our children and their readiness to learn. There are simple things we can do to support a positive start, such as getting them into the habit of having their school uniform ready and bag packed the night before. Making sure there is time for breakfast and avoiding rushing can also help. When my children were young, I enjoyed using the travel time getting to and from school for positive talks and focussed questions that require a specific answer. For example, a common approach is to ask children, ‘What do you have on today?’ or, ‘What did you do today?’ However, sometimes if the questions are too general, they can be overwhelming and lead to answers such as ‘I don’t know’. If you narrow the question down to something like ‘did you have art today? Tell me what you did.’, you may elicit a more detailed answer.
These days I have returned to a practice I used with my young boys of turning the radio off, especially when the news is on. Just like children, I need and prefer to start the day with good news stories about our world. As a family we also enjoyed sharing favourite music and singing along, which was uplifting for us all and certainly gave us a skip in our step as we started our day.
Head of Junior School Kew