- Melanie Notaras
We Need To Foster The Feeling Of Belonging In Schools
It’s important for children to feel that they really belong to their school, no matter their age. Even though they might wear the same uniform and turn up to the same classes every day, students are really different individuals and don't automatically feel connected to either each other or their surroundings. We might take the notion of belonging at school for granted, but it doesn’t always happen.
Belonging at school is a positive sense of connectedness that children feel to their physical school environment as well as in their relationships with teachers and other students. It’s a joyful feeling that deeply impacts their general sense of well-being and self-esteem, and lasts well beyond the immediate time spent at school. (Most adults reading this will probably still feel a sense of belonging to their former primary and high schools, even maybe a vicarious sense of belonging to their children’s school!)
Kids who feel a greater sense of belonging in a school will usually do better than those who don’t. They’ll engage more in learning, sporting and social activities – and often do better at them.
Belonging also buffers children against inevitable negative school experiences. Children who feel like they really belong may be able to brush off a refusal or bad mark in a not too upset manner, whereas children who feel a lack of belonging might negatively magnify these instances far beyond the circumstance or intent – turning a small event into a big deal, a lasting detrimental feeling or poor learning attitude.
It’s important for school leaders and parent groups to actively foster a sense of belonging because when children do feel like they really belong they’re happier, more relaxed and have fewer behavioural problems. It translates into a more productive learning environment that has benefits well beyond the school years.
Fostering a sense of belonging is a joyful - and continuous - process. It might involve creating new physical resources to enjoy such as sports areas, play spaces or libraries; or be centered around building more positive relationships between teachers, students and parents. It can be tricky to find a new way to foster belonging in your school. My School Adventure is here to assist you.
[if !supportLists] [endif]Healthy fundraising with My School Adventure can help raise funds for new physical resources that make teaching easier, or physical play spaces that make school more fun or safe;
[if !supportLists] [endif]Expressing gratitude is a positive relationship builder. Teachers volunteering their names as characters for the book can generate a sense of gratitude from students and parents, and teachers can feel appreciated. Principals/Head Teachers can be appreciated for their innovative leadership.
[if !supportLists][endif]Children feel closer to teachers through a shared fun experience – even if it’s in a fictional setting.
[if !supportLists][endif]My School Adventure can help promote connections between children, as they talk about the book to each other, joyfully comparing different story threads.
[if !supportLists] [endif]Children feel like they belong to their school when they see their ethnicity represented formally within school – including within books. My School Adventure can help your school promote respect for racial diversity – and a sense of belonging – by allowing your school to choose the fictional child character names and providing a choice of ethnic/religious group illustrations to represent the illustrated fictional child/ren (eg Indigenous Australian, Indian, Asian, African, Anglo, Islamic, Jewish, Latin).
Creating an adventure novel featuring your school is a very exciting way to appeal to students by entering their imagination on a brand new platform.
Because a reading fundraiser utilises the fundamental skill of literacy, it is potentially inclusive of all children at school regardless of food allergies/dietary restrictions, sporting ability, religious beliefs or the broad spectrum of family financial circumstances. School fundraisers that must be avoided for health or religious reasons, or that depend on children competing against each other either physically or financially, can create feelings of exclusion among those students and compound a sense of not belonging.
[if !supportLists][endif]My School Adventure can be further socioeconomically inclusive by being offered free to all students, via corporate sponsorship organised by the school or subsidy by the school-parent group (PTA etc). If all children are able to participate by receiving the same book regardless of finances, that helps all children to really feel like they belong.
My School Adventure customises The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] for schools and will be releasing a second novel The Science Fair That Went Berserk At [Your School Name Here] later in 2018. For more information on how My School Adventure can assist your school please visit www.myschooladventure.com – and don't forget to ask for a free sample book for your school!
Want to keep in touch? Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter.