Positive education

Recently it has been reported that prestigious private school, Geelong Grammar, has added a new subject to its curriculum – ‘positive education’. This is a variation of the philosophy of positive psychology, founded by American psychologist, Dr Martin Seligman.

These classes, implemented across a number of year levels, focus on highlighting the strengths of students. Examples include:

  • Year 6 students writing nice things about each other
  • Year 9 students writing gratitude letters
  • Year 11 students identifying each other’s character strengths during prefect training

While the papers may have portrayed positive education as cutting edge, it is something that, as a psychologist, I have been advocating through Edworks since its inception … more than 21 years ago!

I could see the life-changing impact that comes from encouraging children to believe in themselves. As such, Edworks places an enormous emphasis on encouraging children to recognise and celebrate their own successes. This is very much in line with Dr Martin Seligman’s focus on the positive.

Furthermore, we encourage parents to offer their children plenty of positive affirmations. These three easy tips form an ideal starting point:

  1. BE POSITIVE! Focus on your child’s successes, rather than their failures.
  2. NO BUTS! Next time your child shows you a piece of schoolwork and asks for an opinion, try to avoid the “but” – that is, “This is great, but…”
  3. IT TAKES THREE! Try to say three positive things to your child per day. It’s surprising how long many parents will go without offering a positive affirmation.

The great thing about the three steps is that they cost you nothing more than a bit of kindness!

Note: If you haven’t spotted them already, look out for the posters in reception featuring 101 Positive Statements you can relay to your child.



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