The relationships between the children at the school are, on the whole, extraordinarily positive and friendly. As you would expect in a school of nearly 450 children, from time to time relationships falter and squabbles arise between the children, regardless of how good their friendships may be. You will know as parents, that the reasons for these quarrels are varied – and sometimes unfathomable! – but a regular feature that I observe is that when children stop listening to one another, any situation can quickly break down into an argument.
Failing to listen takes many forms in a school – it can cause frustration in a child when his or her clearly expressed feelings are being ignored by others or lead to unreasonable disputes about the rules of a playground game – but I’m sure that we all recognise the importance of listening to maintain solid relationships. For children, listening properly can be difficult – they are good at making sure they are heard, but are less skilled at taking on board what is being said to them by another, all too often busy preparing their reply.
As such, we have been using May as the month to focus on improving our listening skills, identifying the features of a good listener: great eye contact, paying close attention to the speaker, sitting or standing still, showing they have understood by repeating back or paraphrasing what has been said to them. Listening, rather than speaking, leads to effective learning; hopefully this emphasis will encourage the children to develop their qualities as a listener and mean they enjoy even better relationships with their peers than they do already.