Broadford Primary School students Abby, left, Quinn, Xavier and school captain Blake all helped to pot seeds and share ideas about what respect meant to them last Thursday. ​

By Max Davies

RESPECT was the focus at Broadford Primary School earlier this month, as students across all year levels took part in activities to talk about respect and strengthen connections with their friends and teachers.

Respect Week activities included creating a banner for respect in grades three and four, planting seeds and trees for foundation students and their grade six buddies, and a whole school breakfast with families to encourage discussions of respect for everyone.

Mitchell Shire Council donated seeds and trees that were planted at the school, and Woolworths donated bacon and eggs for the whole school breakfast.

Broadford Primary School youth worker James Pateras said it was the first time the school had participated in Respect Week and the activities were a good way for primary school-aged students to learn about respect.

“Respect has always been on the agenda, but this is the first year that we’ve had a Respect Week. It’s partly in recognition of the increasing amounts of family violence that we’ve noticed in our community,” he said.

“It’s age appropriate, and it’s about teaching what the good way of doing things and healthy way of acting is, not just ‘not to be violent’.

“There’s also a lot of emphasis this week on skills that people need as alternatives to violence, things like compromising, or dealing with big emotions, as kind of alternative ways of working through issues rather than violence.”

The tree planting activity was also an opportunity for students to brainstorm ideas about what respect meant to them, with their ideas then written on paper leaves to create a paper tree that will be on display at the school.

Broadford Primary School principal Jennene Cooney with students who helped council workers plant trees last week, with a total of seven planted as part of Respect Week. ​

The seeds potted on the day went home with the foundation students, who also took part to represent the conversations about respect and encourage further discussions with families.

“It gives [the students] something physical to represent the conversation to have that respect, but it also might open up conversations at home and in the community when they present the seeds to their parents or to their friends about respect as well,” Mr Pateras said.

“[The trees] have been planted as a reminder of respect, and the theme of respect is growing. So just like a tree, the idea of showing respect in our community builds and grows over time.”

The foundation students have been learning about different emotions and social situations in class as part of the respect curriculum, and Respect Week has provided them with an opportunity to talk about what they’ve learned and share ideas with their grade six buddies through the school’s buddy program.

“In class they learn about different emotions, what they mean, how to express them, and how to recognise other people’s emotions,” Mr Pateras said.

“Respect is something they talk about in their classes a lot at school and it’s part of the curriculum. We’re kind of acknowledging now that in our local community in Broadford we do have an issue with family violence.

“Part of the solution to that is respect, and the kids live in this community and they know that that’s an issue every day. They’re really passionate about the issue of family violence and also about respect.”

Respect Week formed Broadford Primary School’s contribution to the 16 Days of Activism campaign, and the topics of respect discussed throughout the week are expected to spark important conversations at home and at school.