Empowering children is important to their growth, helping them develop resilience and confidence. And at one North Shore Catholic primary school, children are seizing their own power through a new leadership initiative based on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Here’s how the initiative works.
Children at the Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Lindfield (from Kindergarten to Year Six) are taught to follow their own interests and come up with their own initiatives as part of the The Leader in Me initiative.
“We want children to find their voice, find their place and see that they’ve got something to contribute,” said Lou Dogao, the Principal.
“At Kindergarten level, it might be that a child becomes the Leader of Sustainability for their classroom, taking on responsibilities such as delivering fruit break waste to the Environmental team for composting – or simply making sure the lights are turned off when they leave the classroom,” said Mr Dogao.
“The Leader in Me process is not about being number one or wearing a badge. It’s about students finding a way to be the best they can be within themselves and that really fits in with Catholic teachings.”
Empowering children: How the initiative works
Introducing the framework
This came about a few years ago when Mr Dogao was looking to teach children skills in problem-solving and came across the Seven Habits, pioneered by American Stephen Covey. Mr Dogao said that the change began with using more inclusive language within the school.
“We don’t have captains anymore, we have a leadership team,” he says.
“I don’t run the assemblies any longer, our Student Leadership team does – along with the Student Representative Council – and they invite me to contribute. It’s taking those responsibilities that allow the students to feel like they’re contributing and giving something back.”
Olivia Herlambang-Tham, parent of a child in Kindergarten, said that the approach fosters a sense of community within the school.
“Everyone is working together, everyone knows each other and parents and students alike make great friendships within the school,” she said.
Focus on community involvement
Mr Dogao says the focus on community supports the Catholic value of helping the poor, allowing the students to drive their own approaches to help their local community.
One of the leadership opportunities for children comes from community outreach and charity support activities. Despite the challenges faced this year by many local families, children and staff at Holy Family have run a number of fundraisers throughout the year. Most recently, this included donating Christmas hampers to the St Vincent de Paul Christmas Appeal.
Through another student-led initiative, children created Christmas cards for residents of local nursing homes, including Lindfield Manor Retirement Village and Lourdes Retirement Village in Killara.
Mr Dogao commented ‘”parents love it because their children bring the values home and they can use and reinforce the Habits in their lives beyond the school environment.”
“Ethics and values are embedded with academics, creating great little human beings,” reflected one parent.
The school enjoys a reputation as one of the top 4 performing schools on the North Shore (based on the North Shore Times- 2019 NAPLAN results) and is known for its innovation and excellence in teaching and learning.
Holy Family is open for last-minute enrolments for 2021
There are limited places available for Kindergarten to Year 6 2021 and the school has already had a lot of interest for 2022, Mr Dogao said.
Prospective parents can visit their website or call to organise a personalised tour or be sent an enrolment pack on 9416 7200.