At Abacus Ark we do not underestimate the importance of role modelling to encourage positive behaviour and promote independence and good self-esteem in the children entrusted to our care. Children will naturally watch and mimic our behaviours and, however much we tell our children to behave a certain way, the best results come from our own actions and example. The children watch us as we carry out our daily routines and we can find endless examples of this, from a 20-month-old toddler taking a bib from the shelf and trying to put it on another child as we prepare for lunch, to another child reminding me to wear a pair of gloves before I change her nappy. If we tidy up toys together it is a far more effective learning tool than simply giving the instruction and, in the same way, if children see us speaking calmly and respectfully to each other it becomes a natural way for them also.
As children watch and learn from us we need to understand that our own behaviour is crucial to setting foundations for good practice in the future. The children will only develop a comprehensive skill set to help them make good decisions if we talk about the things that we do, articulate our ideas and allow our children to see us working through different issues and dilemmas. They will then be able to learn and implement strategies to reach their own conclusions effectively and deal with the range of problems that they will inevitably encounter as they grow up.
The subliminal messages that we give out are so important in how we nurture our children and this often involves effort and self-control on the part of the teacher. Our beliefs and attitudes become integrated into to the child’s very way of being and therefore it is crucial that we reflect on how we show respect and concern for others or demonstrate confidence and trust. Our children watch us and we give them clues about how to behave and transparency is always helpful. It is okay to show them that their behaviour affects us and talk about how it makes us feel. We focus on the ‘good’ behaviour and listen to them and apologise if we make a mistake – it is a valuable lesson to learn that it is ok to make mistakes and that they can be rectified. We get down to their level and listen to them and try to keep our promises.
At Abacus Ark we endeavour to give these messages to our teachers also as we believe that if they feel secure, trusted, supported and respected by the senior management team, this will then affect their emotional wellbeing and determine how they respond to the children in their care. We are hopefully seeing our values role modelled and cascaded down from the senior management team through the system to the smallest child in our care.