Teaching materials for Years 1 – 8
Concern about Relationships and Sex Education could have brought you to this website, so to read that the subject can actually benefit you as a parent or teacher may come as a surprise. That, however, is what we believe at Alive to the World.
Core principles of Alive to the World
Alive to the World is a values education programme which was created as an alternative to the Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) which has been pushed in countries worldwide. It takes advantage of the space in the school curriculum which CSE has created (Relationships and Sex Education, PSHE, Well-Being, call it what you will) to give children the values and strengths of character that lead to a full and happy life, both in the present and, importantly, in adulthood.
Key to this is for children to understand themselves well. They are each unique human beings with their own personalities but with a natural desire to fit in with those around them. The tension between being known personally and accepted as part of the crowd can be confusing for a child, especially if home and school appear to make different demands. Alive to the World helps children to love and appreciate their rootedness in a family while learning to respect other people of all sorts.
At the same time, Alive to the World was specifically designed to help children from broken and rudderless homes. It starts from the premise that every child begins life with the bright desire for committed love and community. What goes wrong is when nobody gives them the wherewithal to realise that inner vision. Then they start to look for happiness in the wrong places. While it is not a religious programme, it accords easily with the values promoted in faith schools and works for any child, those from good homes as well as the more vulnerable.
Topics include health
A wide range of topics is covered in the programme, including teamwork, authority, rules and responsibility; making and keeping friends; peer pressure and appropriate trusting; honesty, truth and when to keep a secret; care of own and other people’s possessions; good manners and friendliness; different tastes and temperaments, introverts and extroverts; avoiding dangerous behaviours; understanding moods; and special needs of many kinds.
Health and respect for the body is also extensively treated including hygiene, teeth, diet, exercise, sleep and various mental conditions. The Year 3 resources give specific attention to the balanced use of electronics. For more detail and samples, please visit the Books page of the website.
The programme captures pupils’ imagination by storytelling. The children in the books grow up alongside the pupils, presenting the pupils with challenges to think through. One chapter, for instance, is on pressure to get involved in shoplifting. Many parents would never think to discuss this, but the chapter has really helped some children.
The story-telling technique has many advantages:
- The pupils quickly engage with the characters and enjoy the classes.
- They project themselves into many situations, enlarging their world view.
- They can discuss issues openly without feeling personally exposed.
- They learn from each other’s responses, building up class spirit.
- Concepts are attached to named characters and are easy to remember.
- Teachers can guide and get to know their pupils better in a safe way.
- The stories provide good role models of adult behaviour.
Each chapter is accompanied by a teacher guide which gives full explanations, lesson plans and activities. All books are now also available in digital format.
The advantage to parents
Character education is primarily the responsibility of the home. However, everybody benefits when children mix with others who are also learning virtuous and polite behaviour and to master their emotions in a positive way. The impact on the school environment is noticeable.
The programme inspires children to think for themselves and learn from each other while taking a lively interest in their own family traditions. Parents are warmly welcomed to look at the teaching materials, of which there are many samples on the website, to see the resources at school, or to buy the books and follow the programme themselves. The books work well for home-schooling and bedtime reading as well as for church and youth groups.
Children are always encouraged to talk to their families about what they have learned, and to carry out small activities with them. The intimacy this creates makes it easier for parents to broach talking about puberty and sexuality, helping to reduce embarrassment in other taboo subjects as the children mature. Louise Kirk’s book Sexuality Explained: a guide for parents and children which accompanies the programme is an additional help here.
LGBT content is not compulsory in Primary Schools and is not covered in Alive to the World. Sexuality and puberty are dealt with in a general way which does not intrude on children’s privacy.
Why have a non-religious programme in a faith school?
As a non-religious programme Alive to the World can reach any child in any setting. Its particular value to faith schools is that it explains the moral teaching found in Religious Education in purely human terms, backing it up with examples and recent scientific research. This gives children “two legs to stand on” and the language in which to speak to non-religious friends.
It is also true that there are many children, and indeed teachers and parents, who are not committed personally to the school’s faith. Having a non-religious programme for Relationships Education makes it clear that the values being taught apply to everybody.
Keeping Religious Education separate also gives it importance and helps to prevent precious RE time being given over to RSE.
Thomas Lickona, a world-renowned exponent of character education, wrote recently: “Alive to the World addresses a critically important need that exists in every society: to educate for character. …[ATW] has, I believe, found a way, through its ingenious use of story, to help students fall in love with what is truly good. … Moral reasoning, integrity, self-discipline, the capacity for responsibility and sacrifice, and success in marriage—all these are among the core virtues Alive to the World seeks to foster … thereby helping to sustain a virtuous cycle that builds a healthier society and world.”
Louise Kirk, UK Co-ordinator for Alive to the World
Please visit our website for more details: www.alivetotheworld.co.uk
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