We are very excited to be welcoming author, drama teacher and creative director, Danny Parker to the Primary School this week to ‘weave his magic’ through exploring the rich literature that he has authored, along with sharing his wisdom and creativity with us. Danny is currently Creative Director at Perth College and has written many picture books and short children’s novels, including ‘No Kind of Superman’, ‘The Lola’s Toybox’ series, ‘Tree’, ‘The Road Trip’ and ‘Sarah and the Steep Slope’.
For parents who attended last year’s Senior Primary Award’s Evening, I introduced Toby, through reading one of Danny’s picture books, ‘Parachute’. All of Danny’s books have rich messages about life, lessons learned and lessons to be learned. They are deeply ‘human’ and both inspire and entertain.
One of the key messages in ‘Parachute’, shared at our Awards Evening last year, related to risk and independence, and their importance in relation to growing up to live a full life. To support the essential need for children to develop their independence, we have developed a ‘Parachute Passport’ for each student in the Primary School. The passport, which includes a special message from Danny, aims to assist students to further develop their independence, and in doing so, reap the rewards of a genuine sense of accomplishment, confidence and self-belief. The book was shared with all students in the Primary School at last week’s assembly to launch our Parachute Passport. Each student will receive a passport each year as the tasks listed change each year to meet the increased maturity and ability of students as they grow.
Included are a number of age-appropriate school-based tasks relevant to each year level. We encourage and support every student to work towards achieving all of the tasks listed during the coming term. Once they have accomplished a task at least three times, teachers will stamp the passport as way of recognising this achievement and acknowledging the step towards greater independence. A few chores for home, which we leave to parents to engage with as they wish, are outlined to further encourage and support the development of independence, as well as enhance a sense of the important role each child plays within their family.
Assisting children to develop age-appropriate independence results in a genuine sense of confidence, empowerment and a deep and positive appreciation of one’s own ability. For parents, whilst it is sometimes ‘easier’ or can be viewed as being a ‘good parent’ to tackle tasks that children are capable of doing themselves, such an approach ultimately denies them opportunities and experiences to develop independence and can stunt the growth of social and emotional skills needed to thrive.
Dr Jim Taylor outlines: “If your children are independent, you have provided them with the belief that they are competent and capable of taking care of themselves. You offered them the guidance to find activities that are meaningful and satisfying. You gave your children the freedom to experience life fully and learn its many important lessons.”
Dr Taylor goes on to suggest that independent children are more intrinsically motivated and are better decision makers.
“From my own perspective I have evidenced, during the past 30 years in education, that children who have developed a sense of independence in action are also more independent of thought, often demonstrating more complex problem-solving skills, a healthier approach to set-backs and have more effective leadership skills. Independent children also present as more confident and optimistic, and embrace challenges with a positive, resilient and persistent approach. They seem to somehow ‘embrace’ life with energy and self-assurance that students who have been denied opportunity to develop independence do not demonstrate.”
We hope that our Parachute Passport provides valuable opportunities for your children, our students, to embrace tasks that enable them, little by little, step by step to gain a healthy sense of independence which then empowers so many other characteristics to flourish. (And, just quietly, we also hope that you enjoy a little more downtime, as your children take on the chores listed for your consideration at home).
Trudi Edwards | Head of Primary School