What the research says
Although the definition of what a family looks like has changed as society has changed, the need all children have for a safe, secure, loving family background has not. October is about identifying, cherishing and celebrating families and everyone who makes up part of our family, near and far.
What the children say
I think am very lucky because I have a mum and a dad other people don’t" - Amber, age 6.
"My family is my mum and dad, but I've never seen my dad, he walked out on us" - Matthew, age 9.
What we say
Characteristics that are generally identified with a well-functioning family include: support; love and caring for other family members; providing security and a sense of belonging; open communication; making each person within the family feel important, valued, respected and esteemed.
Healthychildren.org Source: Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 American Academy of Pediatrics (2004)
Start them thinking
What does the word 'family' mean to you?
Is your pet part of your family?
Is your house part of your family?
Do all your family members have to be alive to be part of your family?
Is it the same family when you have new family member?
Getting 'family' right is hard work. Effective ‘parenting’ skills by the significant adults in a child’s life have a vital part to play in a child’s well-being, behaviour and success at school and beyond. And nurturing parental love – in particular ‘unconditional love’ – has a major role to play in helping children develop in a healthy way at a neurological as well as physical and social level.
Find out about different sorts of family groups.
Create family trees and see who can go back the furthest.
Create family albums with photos and mini-biographies of all family members.
Have a family day with family members spending the day in school.
What You've Been Up To So Far:
Children across the school shared ideas about what family means to them, again linking well with our PSHE unit. It provoked some great discussions about the importance of family, as well as the uniqueness and diversity of family life.
A display for staff, parents and children on the theme of families, showing some of the research on what makes for a positive family environment and photos and quotations from diverse families
A morning of activities for preschoolers on the theme of 'family'. We read 'The Family Book' by Todd Parr, and talked about the different people we might find in a family. The children developed their own role play games in which they played at being various family members. We placed a strong emphasis on the role of male as well as female carers and the children responded really well to this.
My 11 year old daughter came to visit the nursery when her school was closed. This was a source of great delight to our preschoolers, and parents commented on the fact that our nursery has a strong family ethos, with this as as example. Since then, other staff members have also introduced their older children to the younger ones.
We have used the connections with our children's families to broaden our reach into the community. One parent is a trustee of a local historic building, and through her we have been able to visit and participate in its development.