Character development is a critical component of your child’s education and one that is fully integrated in our teaching and communicating at the Junior School. Various initiatives throughout the year provide a sharper focus on character, but none so much as “The Virtues Project”. We draw from the teachings of Linda Kavelin Popov whose work has inspired and empowered both adults and children to live by their highest values, in diverse cultures around the world. Each month, we select a different virtue, and this virtue is brought to life in classrooms, on the playground, in Chapel and…at home.
We agree with the old adage that it takes a community to raise a child. We are a team working together to achieve positive outcomes for your child and their learning is enhanced when the messages children hear are reinforced in their different environments.
Each month we share with parents some thoughts on our virtue along with our monthly newsletter, and we hope this will help you foster discussion on the topic at home. A bulletin board in the primary wing (opposite Ms. Porteous’ classroom) offers students and parents further insights on the month’s virtue, and Reverend Fletcher’s stories during Chapel on Monday mornings (when parents are welcome to join us) lend depth and understanding to our Virtue of the month. Without action, however, the words are hollow. As a parent, you are perfectly positioned to coach your child when learning opportunities occur, so that words become actions and ideals become realities. Virtues are then woven into everyday life in a way that is natural and that brings out the best in your child.
Friendliness, our focus for the month of September is a very wholesome virtue with which to start the school year. When life is rushed and if we are consumed by our own thoughts and anxieties, friendliness can be forgotten. We want to dust it off, and bring it shining to school, each day!
Friendliness has a beautiful, reciprocal quality that has the ability to energize and produce joy. It is the pebble from which ripples flow. When we give friendliness, we receive. The more we give, the more we get. The more we get, the more we give! If we want others to be more friendly, the first action begins with ourselves.
Not a great deal is required of us to give the gift of friendliness. Making eye contact. An expression that says ”I understand”, or “I care”. A smile. A touch. Warmth in the words that we choose. An offering of help. All contribute to a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment, where we feel known, appreciated and cared for. Friendliness matters a great deal.
If our children follow our example, how well off will they be in the friendship department? In a world where Facebook friends can be a dime a dozen, how do we treat and respond to people in our day to day interactions? How do we handle conflicts, and how and when do we reach out? What do girls learn about friendship from females in their lives, and what do boys discover from watching males of influence?
Here are some thoughts to foster discussion at home…
What does it mean to be friendly? Why would we practice friendliness? What is a friend? What is a “good” friend? What do we look for in our friends? Why are they important to us? How do you feel when people are friendly to you? Why do some people have a hard time being friendly? What do you do daily (at school, at home, in the community) to show friendliness? Why are some people shy, and others more outgoing? How do you feel when you are friendly to others? Is it better to have lots of friends or a couple of good ones? Why is it important to have friends who are different from us (opposite sex/older/younger, etc.)? What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make friends? What did you do today that was friendly? How could you do a better job of being friendly?
Let’s use our friendliness muscle to help all our new (61!) students adjust to their new school, and for us all to benefit from a stronger, more caring community.
Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor