To what extent are your beliefs your own? And to what extent do our influences and experiences determine how we behave? We all are shaped by our experiences in our lives. Memories, good and bad, have permanently altered our outlook towards our lives and future.
Theorists suggest that even from our first attachment, we establish an internal working model of social relationships and our value and role within them. This is why this first bond can influence the way we approach relationships throughout our lives – with peers, romantic partners and our own children. Beyond this, our experiences can have an impact on our lives even if we do not realise it.
Consider a timeline from birth until the present day. Then, with your timeline, think about influences you have experienced in your life as a child and adult such as people, changes in your life, relationships, global and political events. How have they shaped you as a person and your values, preferences and life choices? What is it about these influences that have impacted your values, preferences and life choices? In your history have you had a life event that has contributed to change your values?
I recently undertook this exercise as part of some training. I found, to my astonishment, that I could link a number of my current behaviours and values to various points of my life. I found that it was only when I made a conscious effort to remember key events in my life that I was able to see the link with how they have impacted me as a person and the way I think or behave today.
This is a really key message for us to remember as parents and teachers. Sometimes even the least significant moments in a child’s life could have a huge impact on their values in later life. It not only demonstrates the importance of strong relationships with children and appropriate modelling of behaviour but also raises the importance of offering valuable experiences and opportunities to them from an early age.
This week I was fortunate to drop in on some of the children rehearsing for their upcoming LAMDA examinations. I was struck by the confidence and the attention to detail that these young people in Years 4 and 5 were able to demonstrate. They have been learning a poem off by heart and are required to perform it, with some actions, in front of an examiner who they have never met. They are also asked to talk about their favourite toy or game. Finally they answer questions about an item they have brought with them. I am certain that the children will not only build on this confidence as they progress through the school but will also note the event in years to come as a pivotal point in changing who they are.
Four children in Years 7 and 8 took part in two meetings for parents this week via video link. They answered questions from parents regarding life in the senior years. It was remarkable how they adapted to the new environment. It is not just confidence that comes from this type of opportunity; it will be making an impact on the children, framing their values and opinions on a wide range of topics.
The current restrictions have prevented some of the leadership opportunities for our older pupils due to the fact we cannot mix children from different bubbles. However, this week I set the Prefects a challenge. With Remembrance Sunday this weekend I asked them to create a film to mark the occasion. I gave them free reign to be creative and I nominated two of them to lead the group. With a short timescale they have sprung into action this week and I have been so impressed with the collaboration that has taken place. At the end of the project we will look at feedback regarding the leadership of the two and the teamwork of the others. It is our intention to run further projects of this kind for them in the future. The film will be published online on Sunday – please look out for it.
The opportunities we offer the children at Yateley Manor are shaping the children’s future. Not only will they be developing the visible elements of character such as confidence and patience but they will also be forming values and opinions as a result. We are in a privileged position to be able to help children shape their futures. Every day matters to the children at Yateley Manor.