Contentment has to come before attainment

24th April 2015 at 01:00

What is the most important part of primary school life for children? Is it teachers putting in a scintillating performance every day? Attainment being sky high? High-quality contributions being made in class? In my educational philosophy, the most important thing is for pupils to be happy.

If children aren't happy, they can't reach their full potential. They disengage from the education process and often from the social side of school, too. The emotional state of the child is something we must address as the top priority in all that we do.

Admittedly, judging the mood of young children can be tough. But there are ways of making it easier, from simply getting to know your pupils well to little strategies you can use every day. For example, I occasionally like to get the children to answer the register by telling me a word that describes how they are feeling, as this allows me to find out how they are when perhaps they might not have opened up otherwise.

Some of you may be thinking that, in many cases, school staff simply cannot change the outside influences that children may be struggling with. But we need to think about what we can change, what positivity we can inject into their lives to put them on the path to happiness. We can display positive messages around the classroom, use positive sayings in our discussions, lend children books with positive phrases, tell them stories with morals related to positivity - we can do our best.

I really feel that children these days worry too much about things they shouldn't. I want to give them their carefree smiles back, so they can be happy at school, learn to their full potential, chase their dreams and, ultimately, have successful futures.

Yes, it is easy to get caught up in naming children by their levels and to worry about statistics, because we do have data to think about. But surely happiness should come first?

Lucie Fell is a Year 3 teacher at a school in Hampshire

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