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The Importance of Belonging

12 ways parents can help their children feel valued and that they belong

NEWS 27 Feb 2023

It’s something that every person needs—to feel a sense of belonging, to be connected to others, and to feel the sense of purpose that comes with being involved in the routines and rituals of daily life.

Every day, from the ELC to the Senior years of school, Haileybury cultivates a strong feeling of belonging and connection within the classroom and through a wide range of activities outside the classroom. Families also play a pivotal role in helping children feel a deep, secure connection to the people and places around them.

“When a student feels connected, it brings so many benefits, like contributing towards improved academic performance and enhancing overall wellbeing. Having a sense of belonging may be a foundation of learning and wellbeing and promote confidence, inclusiveness and safety.”
Maria Bailey, Haileybury Director of Counselling Services       

“Being involved in aspects of school life in the classroom or in sport or arts, celebrating individual differences and building relationships where children feel valued and part of something is very important. School and families can work together to help children develop that essential sense of belonging.”

Here, Maria and Diane Furusho, Haileybury’s Deputy Principal Student Wellbeing, share ideas on how parents can help children of all ages feel they are valued and that they belong.

12 things you can do today to help your child feel they belong

For Younger Children
  • Create opportunities for children to connect with other children by encouraging playdates.
  • Describe the positives about school and praise positive behaviour. Say things like ‘It was so great when you shared with your friends today’ or ‘It was kind that you helped your friend today’.
  • Doing Arts and Crafts with your child can be a way of sharing stories about their day and how they feel they belong at school.
  • If your child mentions that they played with no-one today and they feel anxious about this, stay calm and supportive and teach your child some actions they can take to build connection with other children in their class.
  • Encourage open questions about your child’s day that show you care. For example, ‘What game did you play today?’ or ‘who did you sit next to?’ When you ask ‘what, why and how’ questions mixed with care, you help to reinforce that your child belongs in different places and groups.
  • Encourage your child to develop areas of interest at home and at school, praise their little successes in those areas, and nurture the learning opportunities in the mistakes they make.
  • Support your child to identify someone they can trust emotionally and whom they can call on if they want to talk about something that is concerning them.
  • Be positive when you take your children to school activities and remind them of the positive and great experience they will have and the connections they will make when they take part.
For Older Children
  • As children move through their years at school, peers are important but parents remain important, too. Create formal and informal connection points through playing sport together, going for a walk and driving your child to where they need to be.
  • Be present when your child wants to talk to you and listen without judgement.
  • When your child arrives home from school, offer them a snack or simply make time and use that time as an opportunity to ask one or two questions like ‘What did you enjoy at school today and why?’ or ‘Were there any challenges—how did you manage that?’ Ask questions that help your child recognise they have been part of something.
  • Encourage children to get involved in school activities and, if they no longer want to take part, don’t let them quit too quickly. Let them know that you hear them but they signed up for that activity and if they quit, that may impact other people in the group.