Archive for May, 2010

Why do we have a Get Active week?

Each June one full week is dedicated to ‘Get Active Week’. This week is choc-a-bloc with ‘outdoor’ activities aimed at educating the children in the value, skills and attitudes of healthy, vigorous and participative outdoor activities. A broad range of sports, fieldwork, off-campus trips and on-campus workshops and competitions are timetabled for all the children from Junior Infants to 5th class from June 8th to 11th (and before and beyond). A full timetable for the week can be found on the Parent Newsletter page of the website. The Get Active Week is an integral part of the school’s year-round programme of events which are part of our self-identification as a school that prioritises the achievement of flagship excellence in Sports/Health Education. This year our work in this regard will be externally reviewed by the national panel of experts who judge the Active School Award. The motto of the week is ‘Sport for All’ where every child can find fun and entertainment in Sport at his/her own level and in the broadest range of outdoor activities that we can provide. Huge thanks to the generosity of the school’s Board of Management and Parent Association who financially underwrite the week bringing it in at an affordable price for all.


Children and Social Networking Websites

In many homes, including my own, children can be a step ahead of their parents in their use of the home computer. While this is, generally, nothing to worry about a few recent events that I have witnessed in our school and that I have heard about in other local schools should cause all parents to sit up and take note.
Of particular concern is the increasing amount of reportage of patterns of behaviours and communications that are taking place through the children’s favourite social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook, MSN messenger, Twitter and a few others. The vast majority of the correspondence that children engage in on these sites is harmless and genuine conversation with their friends and would be of little concern to any parent. But, children are increasingly reporting to their parents and teachers in schools across the country, including ours, of being bullied/insulted/slandered/libeled/frightened/shocked by material posted to them and about them by ‘friends’. And these are the children who have the good sense to actually report this. How many children are experiencing the same feelings but for a variety of reasons are silent and are keeping their troubles to themselves? Here are two examples of interaction which will raise alarm:
Example 1: On most social network sites the child is invited to invent a profile of him/herself. In one case a very young girl made a profile more grounded in teenage fantasy than in the reality of her life. A simple error made in innocence. However, as a result of this she received a huge deluge of unwelcome communications and very malignant and hurtful name-calling.
Example 2: A gang of ten year old girls, all friends in school, now appear to have fallen out with one another on the basis of written correspondences with one another. In my opinion, the fall out has as much to do with misunderstanding each others’ comments and the inarticulate clumsy responses that seem much harsher and more cruel when put in print and read out of context than if they were made in face-to-face casual conversation.
What are parents to do about this? I am no expert in this field but I would strongly suggest that parents need to wake up to the possibilites, both positive and negative, of social networking sites. Following the advice of a friend I have now opened an account myself in each of the social networking sites that my three children use. As a result,I have been able to send them an invitation to become a ‘friend’ of mine, and I insisted that if I was not accepted the computer would remain permanently shut-down! Now that I have been accepted as a ‘friend’ ( eventually in the case of my 16year old) I am able to visit their home pages and moitor their interaction on their own homepages at my leisure.
I’m sure there’s better things that could be done, please leave a comment if you would like ot share your good idea. Also, if any parent would like a quick guide on how to open a social-networking page in order to monitor your child’s activity, or perhaps just for your own use, I will arrange a quick demonstration for you on the school computers, just let me know.

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