Miss Musgrove: Finding Courage and Bravery

As I opened up my school diary, and I looked at the week ahead (yes, I am still old school, and I have a handwritten notebook, alongside Outlook Calendar!) I flicked through the term, and I had a proud moment reflecting upon what we had achieved. School life is busy because we want to do so many interesting things, provide so many opportunities and experiences for the girls, staff and parents. I then got to today, Monday 18th March 2024 and highlighted was Assembly – Brain Tumour Research. Hats On for Hope – remember to wear a hat. So, I pulled out my vibrant pink hat with the Brain Tumour Research logo proudly on the front and popped it on my head. I walked out onto the playground and smiled, as it wasn’t just me wearing a hat but the whole of the Prep School.

Each year, we select charities to fundraise for and the girls nominate their ideas. We aim to select charities which we have a connection to, so the impact is greater, and we can meet the people from the charity. This year, we are fundraising for The Salvation Army, Brain Tumour Research and The Wildlife Trust. One way we do this is to have activity weeks for the girls, which they donate money to participate in. We are now in the middle of our Easter Eggstravaganza, coordinated by Miss Hargrave and it is a cracking success!

Later that morning, we welcomed Charlie and Nicola from the Brain Tumour Research who spoke to the girls in assembly about the work that the charity does. Our other guests included the Samuel family. Sam, Dad to Avaana and Arya, is gaining the support of the Brain Tumour Research and is also giving back. Sam has raised over £40,000.

Thank you to Prep parents, we raised £1665.

In life, you meet people who are inspiring, people who overcome a challenge and make a difference in the world. Sam is one of those people. Sam is a ‘cup half full’ person and has always encouraged us as a school, his smile has been welcoming and his warmth has made us smile back too. To us, he is inspirational because of his positivity and his courage and bravery. Sam talked to the girls in assembly about his charity work and his visit to Number 10….and as one girl asked, ‘Is that where you live?’ ‘Not yet’ we replied!

These talks reminded me of our school value – with courage. Being courageous and being brave, even for just a moment, are superpowers and ones that we all use during life. As much as we want to wrap our pupils in cotton wool, to protect them from the challenges of life, we wouldn’t be providing them with the skills they need for life. Bravery and Courage, Resilience are attributes that help us to thrive in life.

Karen Young is an Australian psychologist and is the author of five books, including the bestselling ‘Hey Warrior’ and ‘Hey Awesome’, which creatively assist children to understand and manage anxiety. We use a lot of her resources in school  and she has excellent articles to support parents.

As Karen Young states in this article, Building Courage in Kids – How to Teach Kids to Be Brave

‘Courage isn’t about something magical that happens inside us to make us ‘not scared’. It’s about something magical that happens inside us to make us push through fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and do the things that feel hard or risky or frightening. Sometimes, courage only has to happen for seconds at a time – just long enough to be brave enough.’

The article explains strategies you can use to build courage with children (to be honest, it works for us adults too.) It is also the reason why we give the girls opportunities to be brave, whether that is coming into school for the first time, performing in the Year 4 Play (What a success that was), the Gym and Dance Show, answering a question in class that you are not 100% sure is correct. It is what we are about as a school – With Courage, With Truth, With Joy.

So here are Karen’s top tips to help us to support the bravery in our pupils.

  1. Speak of their brave as though they’re already there. 

Speak to the courage that is coming to life inside them, as though they are already there. ‘I know how brave you are.’ ‘I love that you make hard decisions sometimes, even when it would be easier to do the other thing.’ ‘You might not feel brave, but I know what it means to you to be doing this. Trust me – you are one of the bravest people I know.’

  1. Give permission for imperfection. 

Failure and rejection are often a sign that you’ve done something brave. Every experience gives new information and new wisdom that wouldn’t have been there before.

  1. You won’t always feel ready. That’s why it’s brave.

Let them know that it’s okay to hang on while they’re getting comfortable – while they’re working on a plan, fanning the brave spark inside them (and it’s always inside them), but then there will be a time to let go.

  1. Try something new.

Encourage them to do activities that push them to the edges of their physical or emotional selves – drama, sport, music.

  1. Be the example.

Everything you do is gold in their eyes. Talk about your risky ideas, the times you thought differently, did differently, and the times you felt small but did something big. Let them feel that the brave in you, is in them too.

  1. Give them space for courage of thought. 

Courage isn’t only about pushing against their own edges. Sometimes it’s about pushing against the friends who might steer them off track, the limiting expectations of others, the media, the majority, the world. Some of the world’s very ideas have often started with small ideas that made no sense at all at the time.

  1. And when the motive is brave but the behaviour is, let’s say, ‘unadorable’. 

Sometimes brave behaviour gets shadowed by behaviour that is a little scuffed. When this happens, support the brave voice or intent, but redirect the behaviour.

  1. Give space for their intuition to flourish – and teach them how to use it.

Intuition is not magic and it’s not hocus pocus. It’s the lifetime of memories, experiences, and learnings that sit somewhere in all of us, just outside of our awareness. Gut feelings and heart whispers all come from tapping into this pool of hidden wisdom.

  1. And then there’s self-talk. Sneaky, sidelining self-talk.

Brave is brave, however much fear and self-doubt is behind it.

  1. It’s never too late to change … anything.

All experiences bring new wisdom, and if that new wisdom means the decision stops feeling right, that’s okay. There will a plan B, a back door, a way out or a way back up. But first comes the brave decision to start.

  1. The outcome doesn’t matter as much as the process.

Many kids (and adults) are held back from brave behaviour because of the fear of failure, but what if the goal is courage.

  1. Encourage their sense of adventure. 

And let them see yours. It is in the adventure that we learn new ways of being, thinking and doing.

  1. Let them celebrate their courage regularly.

Introduce a weekly family ritual – maybe around the dinner table – where everyone shares something brave they did this week.

  1. Brave is about doing what’s right for them.

Sometimes courage is about doing the scary thing, and sometimes it’s about doing the right thing. Saying ‘no’ to something that doesn’t feel right is one of the bravest things we humans can do.

Because one of the most important parts of being brave is knowing that somewhere inside of you, ‘brave’ will be there when you need it, whether you feel it or not. 

Sutton High Prep School

86 Grove Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AL
T. 020 8225 3072

Sutton High Senior School

55 Cheam Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AX
T. 020 8642 0594