FA­MIL­IAR ROU­TINE RE­TURNS

Af­ter the cheer­ful chaos of the fes­tive sea­son it is back to nor­mal­ity

EDP Norfolk - - Education -

HOW was your Christ­mas? Busy or re­laxed? Pow­dery snow and lung-clear­ingly cold, with azure blue skies? Heavy clouds and opaque driz­zle? Bit­ing winds which leave with one op­tion; to curl up with a book? What is the im­pact of weather and dis­rup­tion?

One of my Christ­mas presents, which lured me to do­ing just such a thing in the post-di­ges­tive slump, was Dr Leonard Sax’s The Col­lapse of Par­ent­ing.

It traces the ex­plo­sion of di­ag­noses in the USA of syn­dromes in chil­dren which are of­ten, ap­par­ently, re­lated to be­hav­iours. They come with a grow­ingly fa­mil­iar list of acronyms such as ASD, ADHD and ODD.

The open­ing pages to Dr Sax’s book sound as if they are sim­ply an at­tack on the avoid­ing of parental re­spon­si­bil­ity, that peo­ple should come to their senses and force their chil­dren to be­have bet­ter, but in fact it is a much more creative and use­ful vol­ume than this.

Part of solv­ing a prob­lem is un­der­stand­ing it and part of this is ac­cept­ing ‘where we are’. For ex­am­ple, our chil­dren all give their own, in­de­pen­dently re­searched and pre­sented leavers’ lec­ture to their peers and par­ents – some staff are there, too.

One such child lec­tured us on his own ‘prob­lem’ – he is on the autis­tic spec­trum – and in so do­ing ad­vanced his own self-un­der­stand­ing, as well as the em­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing of his peers. He ar­tic­u­lated what it was like to be him in a so­cial set­ting. It was bril­liant.

We all ex­ist in so­cial con­text, af­ter all. We all have ex­ter­nal fac­tors buf­fet­ing us this way and that – a usual fea­ture of the Christ­mas break, as we travel, meet fam­ily, party, spend money and cel­e­brate.

A com­mon fea­ture of this is the up­set­ting of rou­tines, the cheer­ful chaos and overex­cite­ment which is – hope­fully – al­ways worth it, but of­ten has moments of ten­sion.

So has Jan­uary ar­rived with re­lief or dread? Well, the re­turn to rou­tine, the daily and weekly struc­tures, the fa­mil­iar­ity of bed­times and break­times must all be pos­i­tives for us, just in the way Dr Sax points out. Gloomy mid-win­ter ac­tu­ally means the re­turn to nor­mal­ity, the re­lax­ation of the hum­drum and, if all else fails, the ex­cuse to curl up with a book!

Fred de Falbe, head­mas­ter at Bee­ston Hall School, West Run­ton bee­ston­hall.co.uk 01263 837324

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