This week we began our Recharge Days: 2-day bursts for each year-group to come back onto site and spend time together. Together, of course, is a relative term at the moment but – thanks to some creative thinking and the reconfiguring and rerouting of the School – our pupils are enjoying the chance to see their friends face to face, to spend time in the school that they love, and to re-energise and recharge their social batteries. The power of people is a wonderful thing, and the energy that is to be got from seeing and being with your mates is not inconsiderable. I think we all knew that anyway, but lockdown has certainly hammered home the message.
The idea of ‘Recharge Days’ is something that can be extended beyond the confines of the School, of course (rumour has it that a number of notable nearby institutions are adopting the term – I think this makes us trend-setters), and today I asked the Prep School how they might go about recharging these same batteries at home. Over the last few weeks there’s been a lot of looking at a screen, a lot of listening through headphones, and a lot of interacting via a device. What there has been less of is looking people in the eye, listening earnestly to how people are, and sitting down around a table together. With the help of the Gottman Institute we decided we could have Recharge Days at home – based on playing games around asking questions of our loved ones and – and here’s the crucial bit – really listening to the answers. I mean really listening. The exercise relies on trust, on giving honest answers, on being interested in other people, on earnestly listening, on giving each other undivided attention, and on being prepared to have some fun.
The Gottman Institute’s ‘Love Maps Questions’ were our starting point this morning, and you might like to make them yours as well:
- Describe a happy memory
- Tell me about a movie you like to watch. What do you like about it?
- Can you tell me about an activity you like to do outside?
- What makes you laugh?
- What is your favourite word and sound right now?
- What helps you to fall asleep?
- Tell me about a book you really like
- What makes you get scared?
- Where is your favourite place to visit?
- Can you teach me your favourite song?
Wherever we sit on the introvert/extrovert spectrum – whether we feel energised from being with others or energised from being alone – we can certainly make time (manufacture it if necessary) to recharge our batteries by shifting away from the screen, sitting down with someone (in real life), being interested in what they have to say, and knowing that they are interested in us.
You can take it to the next level by playing the game we invented today – based around these questions. Ask your family’s Prep School representative or take a look at the presentation available on Prep Engagement and Pre-Prep Engagement. If the batteries need a recharge on a Saturday morning, we could all do a lot worse than sitting round a table together, looking each other in the eye, sharing some answers and having a bit of a giggle.
Have a peaceful weekend.