If you have a child at primary school you've probably heard of Golden Time, and it's likely to be something your child adores. I know mine does.
"We got to play in the fields for Golden Time," he'll say on Friday afternoon, his chest puffed out with pride. Or sometimes he'll pull a theatrical exasperated face, and declare that someone in his class paid the ultimate penalty for misbehaving. "He missed some Golden Time," he'll say, mournfully.
Golden Time is part of Quality Circle Time, a behaviour management system used by many schools to enhance children's self-esteem and promote positive relationships.
Golden Time was devised by educational consultant Jenny Mosley. "Golden Time is a weekly celebration for all children to look forward to for keeping the Golden Rules all week," says a member of Jenny's team.
"Golden Time also works as a sanction for pupils who break the class rules – and the best sanction is the withdrawal of a privilege. If a child breaks a Golden Rule they receive a visual warning and if they continue to break the Golden Rule they will lose five minutes' of Golden Time. If they stop breaking the Rule the warning card will be removed at the next break time or end of the day, and they start afresh for the next session. If a pupil loses all their Golden Time, they may be offered an earning back contract where they may regain up to half the Golden Time session, by proving their positive behaviour. However, if a child continually loses all their Golden Time the staff need to work out why this is happening – it may be a cry for attention or the child may need a different type of support."
As I've said, Golden Time is a big hit with my six-year-old and his friends, and many schools find that absentee rates even drop on Golden Time day.
But recently a friend who is a GP and a mum expressed concern that at her son's school the children seemed to be spending Friday afternoons watching films - something she feels children don't need to do at school.
"I send my kids to school to learn stuff," she says. "I keep films for special treats so I think it's wrong that if we want to watch a film together at home on a Saturday afternoon it's no longer a big treat, plus it's adding significantly to his screen time"
But according to Jenny's team she has never recommended watching DVDs for Golden Time. In fact, they say the best incentive for motivating children to keep the Golden Rules is to offer exciting activities which work deeply on children's social, emotional, physical and creative development, including things like arts clubs, dancing, parachute games, board games or reading stories with younger or older children.
If children are left, for instance, to play with some scrap paper and crayons while the teacher does the marking, it is more like 'rusty time' and this will not motivate children to keep the Golden Rules," cautions a member of Jenny's team.
"Golden Time works works remarkably well for thousands of schools when it's followed according to Jenny's guidance because it fits really well with the other elements of the model like the Golden Rules and positive lunchtimes and play times. When the system is changed it may become diluted and not work so well, so we recommend Jenny's training and resources for all teachers planning to use Golden Time."
So if you're worried about your child watching films at school while the class teacher gets the marking finished before the weekend, it might be time to gently suggest a spot of Golden Time refresher training.
Do your children enjoy Golden Time and see it as a reward?
Or are the 'rewards' dull and desultory?
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