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Will Northbridge Grade 7 and 8 students ever rule the world?

Mustak Nakhwa
Mustak Nakhwa (1 post) Mathematics Teacher View Profile

Nobel Peace Prize winner and world renowned statesman, President Nelson Mandela, when asked about children, said that whenever he was with energetic young people, he felt confident of a bright future for his country as well as the rest of the world. His strong conviction that children, including students at Northbridge International School Cambodia, are the people who will lead us into the future is more important now than ever before.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Mandela

I would like to add to the late South African President’s words and say that, being and working with talented, enthusiastic middle school learners, gives me confidence that our Grade 7 and 8 students can and will rule the world.  

It is important that as educators and parents of this age group of students, we establish and maintain a culture of social emotional learning both in our schools and at home. This will help Grade 7 and 8 students develop self confidence and potential, while striving for excellence in their academic studies and in their social emotional interactions. 

Northbridge International School Cambodia - STUCO

At the grassroots level, students must be encouraged and allowed to find their voice in the classroom, in their extra curricular interactions, and through leadership roles developed in school and at home. To this end their teachers, advisors and parents should be developing these skills through modelling,  encouragement and allowing them to be practiced. 

During middle school, students begin laying the foundation for success in high school and beyond. In order to establish self-directed learning amongst Grade 7 and 8 students, they require and will benefit from principles that develop skills,  like conflict resolution with their peers, leadership roles in group environments such as clubs and activities and public-speaking opportunities. Such social-emotional skills development will enable them to lead their own learning. 

Northbridge International School Cambodia - MUN

Crucially it also involves habit training, which is a critical part of this process. Students become what they practice and habitually do. If this is guided towards positive habits development, students will habitually become drawn to positive behaviours and global thinking. Through a student leadership curriculum, the content for habits training can be integrated into any subject, activity and family interactions, thereby ensuring that a culture of leadership is woven into all aspects of a child’s learning.  

Parents are their child’s first and most influential teacher, since they are laying the foundation for the education of the mind, heart, body, and spirit. No matter what is going on at school, parents can help their child discover the leader within themselves and prepare for a future of contribution and service. Importantly parents must understand that instilling leadership traits in children takes a lot of practice and patience, but the end results are worthwhile. 

Sports Hall

There are several ways parents can teach their children to becoming leaders. I will touch on a few namely sports, emotional intelligence, patience, negotiating skills, cross cultural experiences, internships, volunteering and student government and organizations. 

Most parents would agree that having their child do sports can teach them about teamwork, which is a significant component of leadership. Through sport, Grade 7 and 8 learners develop bonds and collaborative thinking, leading to the development of a team mindset. These  skills will play a crucial part in their later adult lives. It must be remembered that the goal here isn’t that they just “find a sport,” but rather that they have participated in an activity that gets them to use their bodies, learn skills and function as a member of a team.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Football

Emotional intelligence indicates how well a child understands empathy and sympathy, and is a significant factor in problem-solving. These are critical skills to have as a leader. As parents we sometimes get so focussed on wanting the best for our teenage children that we neglect to deal with what happens when things don’t work out. How a child deals with failure and hardship is a strong predictor of his or her growth and intelligence, ultimately contributing to their leadership ability. As parents we must teach our children to deal with failure in a healthy, constructive manner.

Patience is a skill that, when taught right, can last a lifetime. This involves intentionally doing something that requires waiting. It requires working at something and not giving up at the first obstacle or hint of difficulty. Patience leads to rigour and perseverance and is a great skill that is needed in becoming an excellent listener, observer and ultimately a strong leader.

Students in design technology class

It is important to teach children to be open and question things with their parents and other adults, as, not only is it a useful communication skill, but studies suggest that when children are given opportunities to question and establish positions of thought and opinion, they develop the ability to negotiate by considering other points of view and not only their own. This is a powerful tool to have and employ as a leader.

Cross cultural experiences allow students to consider others, not as different but rather, as equal individuals who can equally contribute to a better future. Parents can help by not only providing these opportunities through travel, but importantly engaging with their children, in making the cultural experiences meaningful and lasting.

Science

Internships are invaluable in developing a child’s knowledge base, empathy, awareness and global mindedness. Parents should encourage their child to explore and take up opportunities that develop skills of listening, talking, debating, engaging and leading.

Another opportunity that parents can provide their child with is volunteering, which develops and inculcates a sense of selflessness and giving in their child. It drives home the realization of what a child has and what is often taken for granted. Volunteering is a truly active way of giving and sharing as it is actionable and has immediate outcomes for the giver and receiver. By caring for the less fortunate or those affected by social and natural disasters, your child will become a global citizen, aware of their place in their world and how to lead in making a change.

Student government and organizations are powerful ways in which students can lead, through innovation, responsibility, diplomacy, service and action. Participation in these are very real ways in which your child can become a leader as they offer opportunities to develop speaking, debating, collaboration and problem solving skills. Participation in these should therefore be encouraged and nurtured. 

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Mandela

In conclusion, providing all students with leadership opportunities helps them grow into responsible adults. If we want students to work in partnership with adults, we must give them the opportunities to develop leadership skills—skills that allow them to manage time, work as a team, set goals, solve problems, facilitate meetings, defend positions, and make effective presentations.

We as educators and parents, must understand that every student has the potential to be a leader, and that we have a responsibility to establish both a school and home climate, that nurtures the growth of Grade 7 and 8 students, to become selfless, self-sufficient, engaged citizens, ready to rule the world.

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