3 April 2017

Head of Junior School

Castles in the Sand

Buckets, shovels, watering cans, seashells, just a few tools one needs to design a world class sandcastle.

On Sunday 23 October, fathers and their children descended on Swanbourne Beach for the inaugural Junior School Fathering Project group event, the Sandcastle Building competition. Fathers and their children engaged in much conversation and discussion to design what they hoped would be the winning sandcastle. The boys assembled in their house groups, each building massive creations that were inspired by movies, television shows and plain old fashioned imagination. Moats were a common theme as well as century towers, draw bridges and many other adornments to make the castles as good as could be.

There could not have been a more wonderful opportunity to get together on the beach for a twilight sand building competition, picnic and BBQ. It was a wonderful way for fathers and children to engage together in a fun, non-competitive event. I had the difficult task of judging the competition. The winner of the overall results is somewhat irrelevant; the outcomes were very worth their while. Fathers got to spend some unencumbered free time with their children and with one another. The feeling of joy and collaboration was clear for all to see.

This event was led by Mr David Gray, father of two boys in our Junior School and a committee member of the Parents' Association, who brought the idea of launching a Fathering Project group in our school.

Being a parent is a difficult task. Not only do we have to manage the demands of our careers but we also need to find time to properly engage with our spouse and children. The Fathering Project was created to inspire and assist fathers and father figures to engage positively into the lives of their children. We know that effective fathers have a profound impact on their children thus it is of great importance to establish fathers and father figures who interact with their children as effectively as possible.

The Fathering Project works in partnership with The University of Western Australia. Their aim is to:

  • Help fathers realise how important they are in a child's life and give them advice on how to encourage their children
  • Encourage fathers to become proactive and get involved early with their children.
  • Help fathers and father figures to get connected in positive ways.
  • Reach fathers in their situations: schools, workplaces and community groups.
  • Utilise research-based evidence to encourage positive changes in fathers.
  • Highlight the strong casual link between good fathering and the reduced incidence of harmful behaviours such as suicide, self-harm and substance abuse.

In today's busy world, finding time to be a parent is always a challenge. We are pulled in different directions for our career and other responsibilities. Finding that quality time to be still and quiet and in tune with your family is not always easy. The efforts of the Fathering Project are to give some simple advice that is important to fathers and to provide opportunities for them to come together in stress free environments to engage with their children and other fathers in a positive way.

The presence of a good dad will impact the wellbeing of his children today and into the future. At the Fathering Project they work with fathers and fathering figures to become better dads. The event that took place on Sunday at Swanbourne Beach provided just those opportunities. A stress free environment and free time for fathers and children to be together so that they could engage in a fun manner with one another. This inaugural event was the first of many for the Fathering Project and I would encourage dads and their children to become involved and support their efforts.

The importance of quality over quantity in terms of time is quite clear. Being able to find the time to spend valuable moments with our children or fully engage with them is such a worthwhile and wonderful experience, something that I am sure we would all like to do more of. The Fathering Project is there to assist fathers by giving us strategies to become the best kind of fathers we can be. For more information regarding the Fathering Project, please visit the website: http://thefatheringproject.org

Mr John Stewart

Head of Junior School