Attitude counts in school and life

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Attitude at school: The A for Attitude book by Julie Davey was taken to Boneo Primary School on Monday where copies were handed out by Cathy Dika, left, to Adem and Sienna. Picture: Gary Sissons

PRIMARY school pupils on the Mornington Peninsula are being offered a resource that can make them more resilient and better prepared to face everyday challenges.

The author and illustrator of the book A for Attitude, Julie Davey, was at Boneo Primary School yesterday (Monday) at the request of year 3 co-ordinator Anita Presti before taking her positive message on an interstate tour in her self-funded caravan as part of her Can Do Tour. She has been to several schools already with the aim of promoting strategies to tackle anxiety and bullying head on.

Ms Davey discussed with the 45 Boneo children the powerful role that attitude plays in their health, wealth and everyday experiences and offered strategies for parents to help their children become more resilient.

Fifty of the books, valued at $500, were donated by sponsor Cathy Bika.

Grade 4 pupils were also on hand to tell her what they had liked about the book after receiving it last year. “It was great feedback,” she said.

Since 2013 Ms Davey and supporters have co-sponsored 6000 copies of the book to pupils in parts of Victoria and NSW through corporate, Mornington Peninsula Shire and Rotary  co-sponsorship and would like to provide the same opportunity to grade 3 children across Australia.

Ms Davey said boosting resilience in young children, and preparing them for challenges later in life, was the most important step in addressing bullying.

The books are typically used in class and can be taken home to mum, dad and the rest of the family to discuss, using them as home readers.

A for Attitude was self-published in 1998 and Ms Davey says it has been translated into several languages and are helping children in 15 countries.

The messages in the book help teachers and families build a bridge between home and school that assists parents in guiding children through challenges using positive language which is backed up in the classroom.

“It’s also a go-to manual for children who don’t receive support at home, to dip into when in need of comfort,” Ms Davey said. “It encourages positive outlooks, visualising approaches and coping mechanisms, which encourage conflict resolution and personal self-worth.”

Designed in bright colours, simple messages and graphics, the book is aimed at mid-to-upper primary school users, teachers and mental health practitioners, counsellors and parents.

Teachers and specialist staff can download a free A+ workbook, which contains supportive activities to help them use the book as they address more challenging issues and concerns.

“If we can help children to value themselves and others by learning key principles through standard home reading resources, imagine what a difference it would make to teenage behaviour in the future,” Ms Davey said.

“I believe prevention is better than cure but early intervention is the next best thing. Why not teach children from a young age about making the right choices, rather than using expensive Band-Aid techniques later on, to address damage that runs too deep.

“Recent studies reveal the enormous cost to families, general community, government and industry when mental health issues go untreated.”

Feedback has been important. Ms Davey recalls hearing from a teacher in 2014 who had received A for Attitude 16 years earlier when, as a 10 year old, she was struggling to cope with her parents’ separation. She credits the book with helping her through that difficult time and, as a result, now reads it to her Grade 3 pupils.

“I am so excited about the potential of this campaign and how the landscape of Australian youth – our nation’s future parents and employees – will look, if all communities get behind this campaign now,” Ms Davey said.

Details: www.attitudebooks.org

First published in the Western Port News – 15 May 2018

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