Welcome back and Happy 2024! It has been a pleasure to see our students back in the classroom after an extended break with their families. While we are still awaiting a serious commitment to winter from Mother Nature, we are hopeful for a glistening playground of white before long (….even though most parents might not relish the thought of snow, a survey of every Canadian kid says that fresh, copious amounts of the white stuff on the school playground is where it is at). Thank you for sending your children back to us ready for the second half of our school year!
January is a re-calibration month during which we get set for a number of things to come: from early preparations for our spring musical production to winter sports and Founder’s Day, there will be a steady calendar of events to punctuate the weeks ahead. The time after the holidays can feel to some like a bit of a letdown, so it’s important for all of the adults, parents and teachers, in the lives of kids to help “keep the ball in the air” when spirits start to wane. In a great school like ours, it’s easy to accentuate the positive each week by seeing the smiling faces and energy all around us.
For our Grade 8 class, we begin to see a real turning point, as they realize that high school is just around the corner. This is an exciting time, but also a challenging one – we must work together to ensure that they remain focused, engaged, and vested in their elementary school. Apathy, surging independence, and a general sense of being done with elementary school can begin a slow creep that risks impacting their legacy as the oldest students. By expecting the best from them (and insisting on it!), we will do them a huge favour and accompany them to the finish line in June – intact, proud of their accomplishments, and self-confident for all the right reasons. As we progress through the year, our oldest students must remain exemplars of a Matthews Hall student and models of our student honour code.
We often hear the expression, “Children are like sponges,” uttered by parents, grandparents, educators, and counselors. This phrase captures the reality that young people are always learning from what they see and hear, and that the vast majority of what they learn comes from watching the adults in their lives. We model a variety of behaviors to kids, including how to behave appropriately when frustrated, angry, or confused. This is equally important in schools as it is in homes. The youngest children in a schoolhouse look to the older ones for clues about the “climate” in the building. If they see sloppiness and disrespect, they may drift toward behaviours and values that compromise the overall learning environment.
Sometimes a starting place is to ditch the age-old saying, “Do as I say and not as I do.” It doesn’t help us to be better role models and it doesn’t help our children grow into responsible, successful adults. Children most often copy what they see and not what they hear.
As we re-group and set the course for 2024 at Matthews Hall, let’s all commit to being positive role models for the kids to imitate – and let’s all agree to expect that same positive role modelling from our oldest students.
They will thank us and so will their future high schools.
And, as that famous expression goes, they will be amazed by how much their parents (and teachers!) have learned by the time they turn 21!
Ric Anderson, Head of School