This evening is very significant in the Melpark calendar as we honour those learners who have worked hard and performed well. Children congratulations to each of you. You have made your teachers and parents very proud. I do hope that you continue to try your best.
Parents, thank you for the support you have given your children throughout the year. Today no child could survive easily at school without the full support from parents. Children will not be able to cope if they only did work at school. The work done in the classroom has to be extended to the home if you want to see your child cope or excel at school. It is very evident to us as teachers to see the progress of children who are supported at home.
Many of you focus on the achievement of your children at school and we celebrate good marks however if we really want our children to succeed in life then I believe that we as parents and teachers should place as much attention to building strong character in children. Our theme we chose for our school this year was Building Character. This theme defines the way in which we operate as a school and the values and skills we want to focus on developing in our children.
Education and learning should train children to think critically, transform their lives, change behaviour, alter beliefs and finally uplift their communities and society at large. True Education is not only about the achievement of marks but the moulding of a child’s character. It is said that the end of Education is character. By character I mean how to handle difficult situations, how to make good choices, how to show love and compassion and how to see various points of view.
In his book How children succeed the author, Paul Tough discusses what makes children succeed. He has identified a very different set of skills apart from reading and writing and mathematics that are crucial to success. They include qualities like persistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, self-control and gratitude. To sum up, these qualities define character. It is these qualities that will determine whether our children will be successful when they grow up. We have to teach them not to give up when they fail and when things are difficult. We should use gentle persuasion rather than aggression to push our children to persevere. Studies show that when children never give up when things are difficult or boring, something strong is budding in their nature.
Our challenge as teachers and parents is to cultivate these skills in our children. We want our children to be able to get over disappointments, to calm down in stressful situations, to keep working at a puzzle even when it’s frustrating, to be good at sharing, to feel loved and confident and possess a sense of belonging. Most importantly, we want them to be able to deal with failure.
Encourage curiosity in your children by offering interesting things for them to explore and take them to places of interest. By doing this you will create an eagerness to learn.
If we continue to fight our children’s battles for them they will turn out to be meek individuals. Stand back and allow your children to stand up for themselves. Allow them to have and voice their views and opinions at home so that they get the practice for when they have to face the world.
We will teach our children good social skills by inculcating in them the virtue of sharing and caring. We should instil in them the art of giving and in this way we will raise compassionate human beings. When people are compassionate so many evils in society are addressed.
There is no need to reward everything our children do. That takes away the intrinsic desire to work for the sake of service or need rather than for reward. We will teach our children not to wait for handouts or to feel a sense of entitlement. However never fail to praise effort.
A teacher’s job is perhaps one of the most difficult and demanding jobs because students are such unexpected blends of character, personality, and background. Yet each of the teachers at Melpark rises up to take up the challenge. They work hard, they genuinely care about the children, and always try to give off their best even when they are not feeling well.
Tonight I want to take this opportunity to salute Mrs Serrao and all the teachers in the foundation phase for the wonderful work they have done with the children. They have laid the foundation for a bright future.
Tonight is also a special night because we want to pay tribute to Mrs Serrao on her 25 years of service to Melpark Primary School.