Community and connection

During Term 3 the Prep staff gathered for a ‘Zoom social’ - having a chat, playing some trivia and ‘guess who’ games, and generally having a laugh together. You could feel it doing you good! 

We also continued to Zoom each week in small groups, for ‘coffee catch-ups’ as a wellbeing check-in, and for those interested, 'God Chats'' for encouragement with Rev. Daryl Diener.

Our built-in drive for belongingness and community is central to being human. 

Throughout history the idea of belonging to a ‘tribe’ or a ‘people’ has helped us to protect and define ourselves. With a sense of belonging comes health, happiness, and a sense of purpose; without it, everything from our intellectual achievements to our physical health may be compromised.

“In the absence of this belonging and connecting, we miss out on so much of what it means to be human; especially a happy human,” says Dr Timothy Sharp (founder of The Happiness Institute).

Rhonda Livingstone (ACECQA's National Education Leader) lists four traits that make this ‘sense of community’:

Belonging: Feeling you are part of the community.

Influence: Feeling you ‘matter’ and can make a difference.

Integration and fulfilment of needs: Feeling your needs can be met.

Shared emotional connection: Feeling of an attachment through shared experience, place or history.

For our boys, there is the fundamental need to have a ‘tribe of grownups’ who maintain a warm connection whether in the real or the virtual world. 

Maggie Dent (author of 'Mothering our Boys') explains that the village of connectedness, which starts with home being a safe base, can be such a powerful protector for our boys as they transition to adolescents and later to young adults. This is their safety net. Time spent with grandparents and cousins creates important pathways to building deep connectedness and affection that can help temper difficult times. 

Communities have always been a fabulous source of potential for the ‘boy tribe’; places where they find acceptance – being part of a network and to know that who they are, matters. Your son may be into music, nature, literature, sport or martial arts etc. By seeking out safe grownups who share his passion in a special interest area, a boy finds significant others to be a part of his invisible tribe.

How can you help?

The hunger to ‘hang out together’ is still strong even for our digital natives, and they will always turn up to a place where there is a welcome, familiar space to gather. As much as possible, ensure your home is a welcoming place for your son’s friends (physically and virtually).

Make opportunities for trusted relatives and family friends to have time with your child. Perhaps this could include setting up a regular virtual reading time with grandparents or a family friend.

Walk or cycle to a local park and let your child play on the equipment. Being out in your neighbourhood gives you and your child the chance to meet someone new. Current restrictions allow getting together with one other friend for recreation or exercise. It’s tricky under today’s protocols, but nevertheless possible.

Show your child that connection is a two-way thing. When you work with others and help them, they’ll do the same for you. 

Role model social skills with people in your community. This can be as simple as saying ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Your child will watch the way you talk with people and follow your example. And this helps your child learn how to get along with people.

Engage in charity work and invite your child to join in too. This could be as simple as sending a letter to a neighbour who lives alone or an elderly friend in a nursing home.

The African proverb – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has become a well-known saying for good reason. Lockdown and social distancing haven’t changed the importance of community, just the need to be creative and committed to ensure it is maintained.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Peter Grimes | Headmaster 


Rhonda Livingstone - National Education Leader of the Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACEQUA)

Maggie Dent (author of Mothering our Boys)

Dr Tim Sharp is Australia's very own 'Dr Happy', at the forefront of the positive psychology movement and founder of The Happiness Institute.