I have spent much of my time recently, sitting in my office putting together the myriad of documents required for the re-registration of a school. Our submission is due next week and I am aware that I look old and tired as a direct result!

There was a point when I needed a five-minute break from my screen. I shut my eyes and was drawn to the excited chatter of High School students returning from an excursion to the NWAS sports carnival. It struck me that we can tell a lot about what’s going on by simply listening. I have repeated the exercise a number of times and listened to squeals of excitement in the Primary School playground, the quiet murmur of a reassuring conversation with a student, the ringing of a phone (hopefully a staff one), and the warning calls of a willie wagtail noisily trying to scare off another bird on the lawn.

I’m sure many Carmel parents listen to the thoughts of their children during evening meals and particularly during Shabbat. Active listening is a specific form of communication which can be useful – you can hear the disappointment about an assessment result, accept the frustration when they don’t make the basketball team and acknowledge the dissatisfaction at various aspects of their life, without having to sort everything out and make it better for them. Indeed, being a parent who fixes every single issue in a child’s life can cause problems in many ways, by preventing the learning that will foster their independence and resilience.

I enjoyed about active listening and thought it might provide food for thought this weekend.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris