Restoring relationships through restorative practices

One of the challenging aspects of working in an international school is navigating cross-cultural differences between children.

A harmless playground game can quickly escalate into a major incident when children are not aware of the ramifications of their actions.

One such incident occurred last week in class when fooling for one group of children was perceived a very different way for another child and their family. There were tears and an upset family.

Not a great way to end an afternoon.

Take a deep breath in and follow the restorative process.

In the process of learning about what happened, the wrong doers immediately realized how much their actions had hurt their friend. They apologized to their friend.

In the process of hearing about who was affected, the children didn’t realize how their actions had impacted upon the family of the child involved.

Putting things right involved the children meeting with family members. Listening about how their actions impacted on the parents was hard for the children to hear. Yet this was an important part of the puzzle for the children and also for the parent.

As part of moving forward, the parent gave me some information about their culture. We had a show and tell like session where the kids could ask all those questions they wanted to ask but were too shy to talk about. The child affected got to share his perspective and we all came out knowing more about the different cultures in our classrooms.

Rather than me shouting and punishing the students to write forced apologies, this incident became an opportunity for everyone in the class to learn and grow.

Hopefully everyone moves on wiser.

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