Lent - Head's Blog

Posted on: 15/03/2019



Lent is upon us once again – the time of year when we remember the sacrifices made by Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness, leading up to the great sacrifice of his life. Traditionally, Christians give up something for Lent and I’m sure many parents have already started a period of abstinence. Perhaps you are giving up chocolate, sweets or alcohol for this forty day period.  

I would like to encourage a new tradition for the children of St. Helen’s College. Rather than encourage our children to deprive themselves of something, I would like to suggest that, for Lent this year, they take up something new, or expand on a talent or interest they already enjoy.

Last week we celebrated World Book Day at school and it was magical, as ever, to see the children immersed in stories. We had a visit from The Book Bus on Monday, authors visited the school to share their experiences as writers and their stories, many classes heard traditional and modern tales and poetry read by visiting readers; Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Crehan and I had the most wonderful time over at Lower School, and, throughout the school, there were lively discussions of favourite books. (My favourite is still Enid Blyton's ‘The Faraway Tree’).

Perhaps Lent is the perfect time to build upon this by taking up a new reading habit. If your child does not already read for a set period of time before bed, now would be the perfect time to add this to your daily routine. For our youngest children, this will mean sitting with parents, grandparents, older siblings or other adults to listen to stories and look at words and pictures together. Rhyming books are, of course, particularly good for children of this age and don’t worry if you don’t currently have many at home. Not only are the school and local libraries full of lovely children’s books for your children to borrow, but young children thrive on repetition and absolutely love to hear the same book several times over. There is comfort in familiarity, especially when a young child is tired, just before bed.

As your child grows older and moves through the Lower School, you should choose slightly longer stories/rhyming tales to read with them, introducing longer, traditional tales such as fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, Winnie the Pooh stories and poems, Roald Dahl stories and poems and more.

Once the children are old enough for chapter books or longer stories which can be split up across several days, there are so many beautiful, classic tales to share with them: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island… the list really is endless. If you are not sure which books are appropriate for your child, do ask your class teacher or contact Mr. McLaughlin, our Head of English.

If you already have a well-established reading routine at bedtime – and we know that many of you already do – then why not add in some reading at another time of day? Lent is the perfect time to make a promise to reduce screen time by 15 minutes a day, and increase reading time by 15 minutes. Perhaps, as you’re cooking dinner, your children could sit at the table 15 minutes early and read a book aloud to you, or you could listen to an audio book together and then discuss it during your meal.

Reading is at the heart of everything in education, as self-sacrifice is at the heart of everything in Christianity. So I do hope that you will take the opportunity of Lent to increase your child’s reading time. Perhaps, when Lent ends and Easter is here, you might consider buying them a new book instead of (or even as well as!) an Easter egg, to reward them for forty days of wonderful reading and to inspire them for the following forty days and beyond!  Although we are almost halfway through Lent, there is no time like the present to foster a love of reading!