'RAISE' the bar: A weekly activity for young kids to discover the true meaning of values

Rosemary Dewan

Rosemary Dewan is the CEO of the Human Values Foundation which promotes the importance of teaching human values in schools. Since 1995 it has been providing practical, cross-curricular programmes for personal development and behaviour management, integrating SMSC, PSHE education, Citizenship, PLTS and SEAL.

Follow @HVF_Values

Website: www.humanvaluesfoundation.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When it comes to education, what really matters in the end?

Does our learning climate enable participants to develop as fully rounded human beings, equipped with appropriate attitudes and skills to reach their potential? Do individuals feel happy and fulfilled? And what about the resulting wellbeing of the children and young people, staff, whatever their role, families and wider communities?

Below is a short, interactive project that could help to 'RAISE' the bar, improving performance and standards in a relevant, interesting and enjoyable way. Firstly, it is worth noting that a holistic approach to education addresses and integrates five aspects of human development.

A framework of 'SPIES' encourages children and young people to think about influences around them and how they can grow and perform better in all these five areas shown in the above picture.

Topics to spark discussion

Following a class or group discussion about important topics of values and principles, use the five letters making up RAISE to draw up a table of 25 or more positive nouns such as those shown below, and assign them to each day of the week.




































The exercise can then be conducted over a 7-week period. Start with an introductory session and then spend five weeks focusing and working on the topics chosen and then a final session to reflect on the experience, considering particularly how individuals have become more aware of their thinking processes, feelings, habits, how they make choices and their behaviour.

In Week 1, introduce the scheme, brainstorming and deciding upon the topics to be focused on over the next five weeks. By way of example, take one that did not make the final list, for example 'Eating'.

Encourage the students to consider the positives and negatives of ‘Eating’, creatively exploring it from different perspectives and using the SPIES framework to come up with evidence, perhaps a quotation and their ideas about good practice in relation to each of the five components. For example:

  • Spiritual – Fasting in Lent or during Ramadan helps develop self-control.
  • Physical – Wise eating is good for our long-term health and wellbeing.
  • Intellectual – You are what you eat.
  • Emotional – Comfort eating and binge drinking can be harmful.
  • Social – Meals together provide opportunities to deepen relationships.

In Weeks 2 to 6 put the word for the day in a prominent place as a reminder. Encourage learners to consider and discuss it throughout the day and think about how it might help them to get better at something or increase their understanding of other people. At the end of the day they can then record a personal journal for it, using the SPIES framework.

Participants might find websites such as www.values.com and www.dailygood.org helpful sources of quotations and ideas.

In Week 7, invite everyone to review their journals and perhaps share what they have learnt and begun to realise.

To emphasise how a sustained focus on positive values is uplifting and gradually builds confidence, self-esteem and attractive qualities that enable people to flourish, take a few moments with the aid of the SPIES framework to reflect upon a negative subject such as bullying.

End with a motto

The above short project can help individuals get to know themselves better and value themselves, others and the environment more. As an integral part of their education, particularly in today’s world beset with new challenges and pressures, young people benefit from continuously developing inspiring visions for themselves and setting goals that they can be proud to achieve. They also need to establish a bedrock of positive, guiding principles and values.

To help them appreciate the significance of what a few words can do, together consider their school’s motto and then the mottos of people, organisations and businesses that they admire. Encourage them to identify what the short sentences or phrases reveal about approaches to life and what people believe in and want to stand for.

Finally, invite them to create a motivational motto for themselves.

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