Good Listening – September 1, 2010

Another school year is upon us and I can’t wait to get started with this good work that we are doing here at Beechwood School. The staff spent last week preparing for the arrival of the students. I can tell you that they are eager for the year to get underway as well.

At our opening meetings we spent some time talking about how we can make sure that the social and emotional needs of our students are being met. As a staff we want to be sure that we go beyond academics and nurture the whole child. Beechwood students should leave our school with an understanding of what it means to work together, to rise above challenges and respect all the people that they come in contact with. In other words, one of our responsibilities is to help our students become emotionally intelligent.

Parents and teachers have an important role to play in fostering social and emotional well being in our kids. One of the most basic things we can do in this regard, is to be good listeners. When we take the time to listen to our kids we can accomplish many things:

• We can learn what is happening in their lives
• We can provide an outlet for them to express themselves and release stress
• We can validate their importance as people
• We can teach them how to grow up to be good listeners themselves.

If we want to model good listening for our kids, we need to remind ourselves of what that looks and sounds like. Here are a few of the things we talked about as a staff and we hope that you will try with your kids:

1. Stop what you are doing and give the child your undivided attention. Easier said than done, right? For sure, but, if you can do this your child will feel special. Eliminate the distractions, look them in the eye and stay with them until they are done.

2. Rephrase and summarize what they are saying so that they know that they have been heard. Use phrases like, “It sounds like …” , “So you are saying…”, and “If I am hearing you correctly…”

3. Try to focus on what the child is saying rather than what your response is going to be. As parents, one of our roles is to give advice and to share our experiences. But sometimes, we just need to be a sounding board so our children can offl oad their problems, tell us a story or share their dreams with us.

We will be working on these skills at the school. We want to see the children listening to each other, we want to see the children listening to their teachers and most importantly we want to show the children that we are listening to them. I hope you will do your best to support us in the home by showing your children what it means to be a good listener.

Looking forward to an excellent year together.

-Mr. Laurance