Showing children how we form strong bonds is vital for social vibrancy

The breakdown of relationships — in our personal and working lives — is a major cause of stress, anxiety and mental ill-health, all of which are on a seemingly inexorable rise. Modern living is driving people apart. Yet quality of relationships is at the heart of human existence.

Figures published by the charity Relate in September 2020 lay bare the impact of lockdown on people already struggling in their relationships. However, as in so many areas, the Covid pandemic has merely exacerbated and exposed pre-existing problems, concerns and inequalities.

The health of our relationships is a long-term issue. We need to address the difficulties in maintaining positive personal and workplace relationships in a rapidly changing world. The Forum for Life-Based Learning believes that how we teach children and what we teach them are both essential to making a difference in the long run.

All relationships between two or more people — from family and friendship circles to school- or work-based connections and even everyday fleeting encounters, say between two strangers in a shop — involve action, reaction and interaction.

In the context of the school classroom, the teacher provides the action, the pupils react and between the two there is interaction.

For the interaction to be positive, it needs to be seen by the teacher and by the pupils as of benefit to both — in other words, that the outcome is a ‘win-win’.

The best teaching ensures that everyone in the class is a winner, including the teacher. Children learn the key concept that ‘win-win’ is good for everyone involved.

Win-win requires the nurturing of basic social competencies such as cooperation, empathy, adaptability and responsibility. It encompasses positive attitudes and values, and the universal moral imperative to treat others fairly and with respect.

The Forum for Life-Based Learning believes that we need to reform the school curriculum for young children. Relationships is one of nine learning themes — each with equal priority — through which we believe the individual subjects of the UK National Curriculum should be taught, in order to equip children with the knowledge, skills and values to tackle the challenges they will meet as adults.

The Relationships learning theme aims to equip children with key relationship-building skills as they begin to construct an ever-expanding web of relationships at home, in school and in the wider world, including — ultimately — the workplace.

More About Relationships

Image at the head of this article by CDC on Unsplash.

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