What can we do to make our schools happier places? is having a happy school really important?

Much has been written recently about the overload of exams at a young age, too much homework and the impact on students.

As a result of this on-going and important debate, some schools have sought to nd creative ways to make the learning experience more enjoyable for students. The challenge for many is linked to maintaining an outstanding school, while ensuring that students and staff are happy.

So, what are the ingredients for a great or outstanding school?

For me, they are nothing to do with numbers.

As a parent, I want my children to be happy in school. That is paramount for me. If children are happy at school, the rest will follow, naturally, in its own good time.

The things that are truly important in education are happiness and experiences. As Albert Einstein puts it, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”

At my school, we constantly look to diversify our students’ experiences in innovative ways. We have a mindfulness room, where students and staff can practice yoga. Our teachers lead by example, by practising a great range of challenging sports. In addition to this, simple activities such as teaching outside when the weather is good can make a difference. You don’t have to teach your children to ski to exhilarate them, even though we do that at Ski Dubai.

What can schools do?

  • Facilitate as many ways as possible to differentiate experience. Through experimentation children will find experiences that make them happy.
  • Work hard on re-cultivating the art of conversation. Encourage ‘old fashioned’ family activities like playing board games, picnics, taking a walk and eating meals together. This creates and improves a sense of family and creates greater contact and happiness among people.
  • With respect to the classroom, teachers can set aside days to eat a meal with the students, take the class for a nature walk. Other activities that can be done together could include, creating a garden inside the classroom, playing music, singing to your children, or reading them poetry or a funny story.

All of these are obvious tried and proven activities that promote wellbeing. The question is do we use them often enough, or are we just in a mad race to cover a crowded curriculum?

When was the last time you broke away from what you are supposed to be teaching – even just for a few minutes to share a story about yourself?

If you have been successful in making your school a happier place … that’s great. However, if you haven’t and this article is making you question yourself, then perhaps it’s time to act. Try it out. I am sure you will see a difference.

Also, please share the different activities or strategies that you have implemented that have contributed to your school being a happier place for everyone. We can all learn from each other.

By Neil Bunting