Pre-Prep Blog Archive
Staying Safe in the Virtual World
Published on: Tuesday, February 12, 2019
I have spoken many times about both my awe and reservation of the rapid advancement in technology over the past decade or so. I am constantly amazed at what the digital world offers as so much of it seems like ‘wizardry’. However, I am also constantly concerned about the effects the digital world will have on our children which we cannot truly assess as it is yet unclear.Research presents us with mixed messages about whether children’s health is being effected, although, as a teacher I do think children are developing and presenting very differently to how they did when I first started teaching over 20 years ago.Whether this is a direct correlation to technology is difficult to say, but the world in which they interact is very different to the world children 20 years ago interacted.Interactions based solely in the virtual world can never replicate those that take place in the ‘real’ world which is why it is so important to educate our children, from a very young age, the importance of staying safe online.
Last Tuesday was Safer Internet Day and so we took the opportunity to compliment our regular ‘online safety’ lessons with an assembly where we thought about why it is important to know how to stay safe when using the internet. Through their previous learning, the children were fairly confident with the do’s and don’ts of being online but it was still important to reinforce the message.
We used the analogy of going to a new town or city where everything looks really exciting because there is so much to explore. However, all of the children agreed they would never explore a town or city by themselves because they might get lost or it will probably be filled with strangers or there might be parts of the town that are dangerous etc. We then compared the internet as being like a big city where there are so many exciting things to explore and find out but that if you adventure off on your own you may get lost / meet strangers / come across dangers so it is always important to let an adult know what you are doing.Just as an adult would hold your hand in a new city they can also hold your hand in the virtual world by knowing where you are going and what you are doing.
I hope, through education, today’s children will be digital-savvy and enjoy the many benefits technology brings with the maturity and tenacity to cope with the parts that are not as positive.
A Mind Hug
Published on: Monday, February 4, 2019
As our series of assemblies about Growth Mindset continues, we spent time last week thinking about what happens when despite ones very best efforts things still seem impossible. The children were very honest when sharing their experiences of when this has happened to them and of the associated emotions they feel of frustration and anger. I shared with the children what happens in our brains when these emotions take over and we sometimes ‘flip our lid’. We looked again at how the thinking part of our brain (Pre-Frontal Cortex) wraps snugly over the feelings part of our brain (Amydgala) and of how it usually does a really good job of helping us control our feelings. We may feel worried, sad or disappointed but our ‘thinking’ brain lets us know that things will get better and will probably work out solutions for this. However, sometimes the emotions are so big and powerful they push our good thinking away and take control which can lead to us having immense feelings of anger, frustration and possibly even tantrums. We used Dan Siegel’s ‘Hand Model of the Brain’ to illustrate this more vividly for the children.
Once the children had some understanding of how the brain is behaving we then read a super story called, ‘Mind Hug’ by Emily Arber and Vanessa Lovegrove in which two children, Jack and Sarah, discover a superpower in their mind. The superpower is using ‘big breaths’ to calm the mind when it gets so full of big emotions that it just doesn’t know what to do. The children enjoyed practicing this technique and also enjoyed listening to a song called ‘Belly Breathe’ that we have also started to learn.
It is so important in our busy world to give children the armour and information they need to help them deal with their emotions, which at this age are still relatively new to them and so can be even more overwhelming and difficult to make sense of. However, by consciously talking about what is happening chemically in their bodies and helping them begin to tune in to how their bodies physically feel when big emotions take over, should support their mental health and well-being positively and effectively.
(link to ‘Belly Breathe’ song)
Published on: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
A couple of weeks ago, we learned that we can s-t-r-e-t-c-h our brains by listening to our ‘What If Buddies’. We have been really impressed with all the stories the children have told us since about when they have found themselves in a situation where the ‘What if Monster’ has been trying to stop them from doing something new in case things go wrong or because it might be scary and of how they have listened to their ‘What If Buddy’ instead.
Last week, we thought about the importance of setting ourselves challenges and then working towards achieving them. We discussed how this can sometimes be very hard to do as things can often go wrong along the way and it may sometimes make you feel like you want to ‘give up’. We read the book, ‘The Most Magnificent Thing’ by Ashley Spires to help us understand that by tackling challenges a step at a time and by being supportive of each other even the biggest challenges don’t seem quite as challenging!
We also learnt a song called, ‘Every Step Counts’, which reminds us that with every step we take, no matter how small, we are moving on and in the direction of achieving what we have set out to achieve.
We are now interested to hear about all the things the children want to achieve and how they might challenge themselves to succeed and be magnificent!
Fantastic Elastic Brains!
Published on: Monday, January 21, 2019
Our theme in assemblies this term is developing a ‘Growth Mindset’ and we started last week by thinking about our brains using the book, ‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain’ by JoAnn Deak. We found out that our brains are made up of different parts, each with a different job to do. We also found out about neurons and how they whizz around our brains carrying messages. Most importantly we learnt that we can s-t-r-e-t-c-h our brains to make them super brains!
Stretching our brains can be difficult, especially if we listen to the ‘What If Monster’ who can whisper in our ear lots of things that make us worry about getting things wrong or about not being very good at something. The ‘What If Monster’ stops us from trying which won’t help us stretch our brains.
We are going to try to listen to the ‘What If Buddy’ instead who whispers in our ears things to help us keep trying, even when things go wrong, because we know that every time we try to do something our brain stretches a little bit more and will keep on stretching until we have succeeded. The brilliant thing is that once we have stretched our brain to remember something it won’t forget it so all the hard work is definitely worthwhile!
The Best Things in Life Are Free!
Published on: Monday, January 14, 2019
As 2019 dawned in Pre-Prep last week and we all made some well-intentioned New Year promises, the children were also invited to share their Christmas holiday highlights. I was expecting to hear tales of all the wonderful and amazing presents Father Christmas had delivered to their homes so was somewhat surprised when only a handful of children mentioned presents. Instead they spoke of days out with their families, spending the whole day in their pyjamas and even seeing one of their classmates in Sainsbury’s! As a teacher I was surprised and as a parent I found it quite humbling having once again spent a small fortune on my own children’s Christmas wish lists to realise it will have been the days we spent together snuggled under duvets watching films that will have been the true highlight of the season for them.
I now just need to remember this in about 11 months’ time when the 2019 Christmas lists are being composed!