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News from Head of Early Years Centre, Michelle Stevens

05 December 2014

Today the world commemorates the first anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest icons and most inspiring leaders of our time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as ‘Madiba’.
Even in death, this great man leaves behind an incredible legacy, and today, I am yet again reminded of one of his quotes which I hold dearly, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

At school we call this persevering and it is one of the key values, attitudes and attributes (VAA’s) we hope to teach our very youngest members of our school community. Children learn to persevere from a very young age, whether learning to write their name or performing in a Christmas concert for the first time, children do face a lot of uncharted territory.

Watching the children on their learning journey at Dąbrowskiego I am encouraged to see how much they persevere each and every day when they are faced with many tasks and challenges. This week in particular, I have seen much of this in action with the practices taking place for our Christmas performances. It has been heart-warming to see our students try to perform at their best. It is encouraging to see how they have grown in confidence through persevering.

I have the wonderful privilege of taking the Reception students for assembly twice a week where we focus on these values, attitudes and attributes. If you ask them what persevering means, they will tell you that it means “I do not give up.” Fostering perseverance is at the heart of what every teacher attempts to do on a daily basis and is extremely important in preparing children to be self-sufficient and successful. As teachers we try to teach our students that if they want something, they have to earn it. Everything is not going to come to them just when they want it. How then do they internalize the value of hard work and the rewards of perseverance?

At Dąbrowskiego, the Early Years Centre, we offer children the opportunity to build skills, meet new challenges, and observe the results of their efforts, this instills the value of hard work. Perseverance is thus learned through practice and helps children develop positive attitudes toward work and life. They learn to believe in themselves and what they can accomplish. When children achieve something, whether it is writing their name or remembering the lines for their concert, they get a sense of themselves as able and capable.

As teachers and parents we can help by affording our children opportunities to practice and master their skills, letting children make mistakes and being there to boost their spirits so they keep trying. We should give our children the opportunity to try something new, make mistakes, and learn from them. Sometimes, children give up when frustrations arise. Help by encouraging perseverance in the midst of setbacks. By trying again, our children learn that obstacles can be overcome.

Michelle Stevens
Head of Early Years Centre