What is it?
Restorative practices is a set of ideas on how to improve school climate and reduce instances of bullying and other negative student behaviors.
How does it work?
Restorative practices involves a two part process; there are proactive and reactive activities.
What's the proactive part?
Some of the proactive parts include students participating in classroom "circles." These circles are places where children in a class all agree that they are free to share their ideas and feelings in a safe and non-judgemental environment. A topic is chosen and all students make a comment on that topic. The philosophy is that students will get to know each other as people; it's less likely children will feel the impulse to be cruel to someone they see as a person who is just like them. Often they find they have things in common with classmates they assumed were very different than they are and this builds the sense of community.
What's the reactive part?
Restorative practices focuses on discipline as a learning experience for the child who committed the offense. We want him or her to examine the act, assess their own judgement and attitude about what he or she has done, and think about whom they may have hurt with their actions. The idea is to build empathy for the victim by studying how their actions have affected that person.
Who is involved?
Restorative practices involves THE ENTIRE SCHOOL POPULATION! This includes students, parents, teachers, principal, aides, counselors, everybody. When classrooms make use of simple, everyday activities like circles, all students get used to hearing words like "kindness," "respect," "empathy," and "trust." This builds the foundation for a stronger community, which is reinforced through reflective discipline practices.
How can I help?
Reinforce our lessons at home. Remember to impress on your child that school rules apply in all parts of the school, not just in the classrooms. Remind them that everyone has feelings and it's important to respect everyone. Ask them questions about what they've been doing here at school; "Is there been a circle topic you have really enjoyed lately?" or "What's one kind thing you have done this week?" They'll be proud to share with you!
Where can I get more information?