Even though we are into our second month of school, the year still seems brand new. There are many reasons for this. To begin with, time flies when you are working with children and September always seems to evaporate! The “newness” at Matthews Hall, however, has taken on a whole new dimension this fall with the opening (and soon total completion!) of our Early Primary Learning Centre and our general campus improvements. We hope you agree that Matthews Hall, its facilities, and people have taken a bold step into the future with investments that will benefit our students for years to come.
In any school year, though, the “freshness” factor is made an even greater reality when we welcome our new students and their families each September. It’s so important to graft new and fresh ideas and people onto the vine to help us grow and evolve in our mission with children. This is especially true of the many new Matthews Hall parents joining us for the first time this year.
The pandemic restrictions of the past few years have meant that our annual New Parent Reception could not be hosted at the school. While we certainly understood the reasons for this hiatus, we missed an important chance to connect with parents and teachers. It was a pleasure to welcome so many of our new parents after school yesterday. The turnout was excellent and we hope a chance to connect with other new families and our teachers helped to make you feel even more at home.
The time we take to meet and get to know one another is not an insignificant gesture in the life of an elementary school. Children learn best when the significant adults in their lives work together to encourage and support them and one another. This basic fact should be a guiding principle as we think about how our school functions. Schools alone cannot address all of a child’s developmental needs. The meaningful involvement of our parents and support from the greater community are also essential.
This may all seem like common sense. In simpler times (…like when Mr. A was a kid!), this relationship was natural and easier to maintain. Teachers and parents were sometimes neighbours and found many occasions to connect. Children heard the same messages from their teachers and parents and understood that they were expected to uphold the same standards at home and at school. As society has become more complex, however, neither teachers nor parents seem to have enough time to get to know one another and establish collaborative relationships on behalf of children.
As Comer and Haynes from Yale’s Child Study Center remind us: “Our society has sometimes created artificial distinctions about the roles that parents and teachers play in a young person’s development. We tend to think that schools should stick to teaching academics and that home is the place where children’s moral and emotional development should take place.”
“We know that children don’t stop learning about values and relationships when they enter a classroom, nor do they cease learning academics – and attitudes about learning – when they are at home or elsewhere in their community.”
If the first few weeks of school each fall teach us anything, it is this: that we are all in it together on behalf of the kids.
If life’s a red wagon – as the lyrics of the old song go – there are times when “you pull for me and then I pull for you”.
We have so many supportive parents and hardworking teachers that, if we just remember this, our kids will have a year of optimism, confidence, and growth – together.
Ric Anderson, Head of School