Families go stir-crazy

Let’s be honest, it’s not easy living with your family during a pandemic.

After six weeks in lock down you are stressed about your job, your children are playing up and your beloved partner is really getting on your nerves.

Bendigo author and psychologist Ivan Honey has released a new picture book that might come in handy on the home front.

“It can give people some ideas about how they can manage the feelings the pandemic brings,” he said.

Some feelings relate to fear and uncertainty – the book is called Sid Gets Scared – but there are many emotions that swirl around during times of crisis, Mr Honey said.

Talking about them might bring everyone in your family closer together, he said.

What have you to loose?

Ivan Honey

“When this pandemic is over those relationships with our loved ones are either going to be better or worse,” Mr Honey said.

Mr Honey is hearing from many parents who are struggling as the pandemic grinds on.

“They are average families in Bendigo who all of a sudden find themselves in a situation where they cannot leave and where they are being asked to do things they have never been expected to do before, like teaching children who are learning from home,” he said.

“They might be doing all of that while dealing with the loss of a job or an income.

“To me, the way we adapt to that is to come back to some very basic priciples of wellbeing, happiness and the psychological understanding of skills we need to manage that.”

Sid Gets Scared is part of a free online collection that ncludes games and activities to relieve some of the pandemic’s preassure.

“These games and activities are really about using principles of cooperation and minimising conflict,” Mr Honey said.

“Some schools I work with have actually sent them out to parents to get them to focus on the positive, practical and uplifting messages they can teach their children right now.

“They are fun activities too. We learn best when we are having fun.”

The activities have been honed through The Get Happier Project, an international prgram spreading wellbeing with the help of schools.

Sid Gets Scared, written by Ivan Honey and illustrated by Jacqui Lynch, is available for free at gethappier.net along with other resources to make life happier.

Let’s Get Happier

The Get Happier Project is a sequential program that supports the explicit teaching of social and emotional intelligence in our Primary School classrooms. The implementation of The Get Happier Project continues to build on its initial introduction in 2018 and we are now seeing students begin to move through the different stages of their developmental learning.

The Get Happier Project is an extension of Dr William Glasser’s work in understanding human behavior, and his development of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy. The school program has evolved over time from evidence-based psychology and the authors, Ivan Honey and Rebekah Honey, have been assisted by many educators, psychologists and counsellors from all over the world. It is an exceptional program that is positive, meaningful, adaptable, and above all, engaging for the students.

During 2019 our Early Years students are leaning about feelings and how to get along with each other. This is achieved through a variety of story books, posters and interactive games. The teachers embed choice theory language through the daily running of the classroom.

Students in Year 2 and 3 progress into a new stage of learning to help them understand behaviour and the behaviour of others in a complex world. They read stories, are involved in games and immerse themselves in discussions about emotional wellbeing.

Year 4 and 5 students are involved in a much deeper understanding of Choice Theory and human behaviour. This evidence-based psychology is explained in the context of a car and teaches students how to control their behaviour so they can achieve improved wellbeing outcomes within their lives.

The Year 6 students embark on a journey to increase happiness within the school community as they create team based projects. The projects are managed and led by the students that not only provide improved happiness to the community, but which also develops the students’ own leadership skills.

The Get Happier project aims to provide students with the ‘Tools of Life’ so they can better understand themselves and those around them. We are already seeing the positive impact it has on the students, staff and community as students build their social and emotional learning.

The Mag – Issue 1

Most Comprehensive Parent & Child Mental Health & Wellbeing Initiative – Victoria: The Get Happier Project

For over 40 years, Ivan Honey and Associates have provided a wide range of psychological services in the Bendigo region. We profile this innovative organisation to find out how they extended internationally.

At first, the company worked with a wide range of clients who were referred by doctors and private companies. The business specialised in counselling, supervision, mediation, assessment, organisational psychology and debriefing as well as training both in Australia and internationally.

But as a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute International, and a colleague of the late Dr Glasser (named as one of the eminent psychiatrists of the 20th century) , Ivan has trained thousands of people in Choice Theory psychology all over Australia, in China, Singapore, Indonesia, the USA and Europe, and set up the organisation in Malaysia.

Over the past 15 years, after seeing the transformational impact of this approach, Ivan has created a new publishing and training entity, ‘The Get Happier Project’, which has adapted cutting-edge psychology to teach the knowledge and skills for wellbeing.

As well as writing for a business magazine for many years, Ivan has authored a number of books, two of which have been best sellers on Amazon. He writes in a way that is easy to understand, highly visual, engaging and fun. He has developed a new visual approach to problem solving and counselling, creating delightful, colourful card sets that are best sellers worldwide.

The ‘Get Happier School’ is his latest initiative, which provides a comprehensive, integrated and sequential learning program
to teach children the knowledge and skills
to get happier. In a challenging world that is changing rapidly, he saw the need for children to learn the mindsets and skills for optimal mental health and resilience.

The Get Happier School is more than just a Social and Emotional Learning program. It is a practical and visual framework to build mental health and happiness, creating a positive and relational school culture.

While this is a uniquely Australian program, we know that mental ill health, depression and anxiety are global issues. As a result, social problems, drug dependence, suicide and even violence are massive concerns for communities and this affect us all. The Get Happier School is addressing this world wide crisis through this practical and fun program for children, and is beginning to gain international popularity and recognition. Schools are already successfully using the program in Australia, China, New Zealand and the US.

Ivan’s goal is to help children develop all of the skills and mindsets to then create happy meaningful lives. He believes that children have a an right to be taught these practical skills for emotional intelligence,self esteem, resilience and effective relationships. Parents and teachers also have the same rights, and need to be fully supported. The program supports them to assist children to achieve these goals and to create a happier world.

Ivan and his team continue to promote the Get Happier Project, which has many other applications and further digital possibilities. A new parenting program will soon be added to the bestselling parenting book. As the Get Happier School movement continues to grow, it will provide vital support to children, teachers, parents and communities around the world.

Get Happier School and Get Happier School Project, USA

Integration of Glasser Quality Schools, Social/ Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness, and Literacy

By Nancy D. Herrick, M.Ed.

To stay abreast of the ever-increasing theories of behavior and self-regulation, new creative programs are being created to support the development of Glasser Quality Schools. The criteria of a Glasser school has not changed over the last 25 years, and yet, the interest in Glasser Quality School concepts has taken a back seat to short-term remedies. New initiatives and curriculum enhancements have gained the focus of administrators looking for a quick-fix. Reward/punishment options such as Positive Behavior Intervention Support and anti-violence programs are gaining interest. Schools are inundated with new programs to try to address behavioral issues. District administrators are seeking programs they hope will provide increased academic achievement while decreasing the attrition of student interest, respect and attendance. Increased security, technology, reward/punishment systems, character education, special education policies and civil rights laws have been adopted in educational systems around the globe. Most of these programs are additions to the already complex and extended curricula that educators are expected to teach, differentiated to every learner so that no student is left behind. The administrative goal is often short-sighted: to eliminate discipline problems or assure students passing standardized tests. Numerous requirements are heaped upon the classroom teacher, and often inadequate professional support is provided to implement these. In spite of these efforts to improve achievement and discipline, the personal mental health of our children is suffering, standardized test scores tend to be declining and teacher frustration and burn-out is increasing.

Dr. William Glasser created and explained a process in 1985 called “Schools without Failure”. His vision was to create schools where staff and students perceived the environment as a safe, trusting place where there was joy in learning. Research provided by others, (Caine &Caine, Hunter, Gardner, Kohn, Senge) began to provide new knowledge as to how the brain learns, and what changes might be necessary to create the optimal environment for learning to take place. Educators who used this research began to look for new methods of instruction and strategies of engagement. Even with significant changes in delivery of curriculum, the outcome of problem-free educational environments still alluded educators.

Continued research added new horizons to the restructuring efforts. Daniel Pink, Daniel Goleman, Dan Siegel, Bruce Lipton, and Louis Cozolino began to shed more light on what needed to change for the schools to provide learning-friendly environments. All of this research was helpful, but for the classroom teacher who was faced with 30 different faces every day (and even five times daily in secondary school schedules), the amount of time they could allocate to surveying research was limited. Effort was certainly focused on the individual daily situations they faced and addressing the symptoms of student disengagement and uncooperative behaviors. The hidden conditions that inhibited learning were often imperceptible. As Steven Covey taught, teachers and schools were attempting to fix the problem issues without changing their paradigm of operation. Accountability loomed as a threat to teachers and their jobs. With the expectations of traditional grading and testing and being over-burdened with responsibilities, teachers feared the issues were too steeped in tradition to allow changes. The thought of spending time to change their paradigm or eliminate traditional methodologies seemed inconceivable. Quick-fix, minimal tweaks and beliefs that their established methods of teaching should still be effective, held teachers in old paradigms.

The new paradigm of quality education, the concept that William Glasser outlined in his Glasser Quality School model, explained the underlying psychological premise of what needs to change to increase the learning in our educational system. In a Glasser Quality School all students can succeed. The GQS model was readily accepted, but elusive because it required a complete change in the psychological paradigm that most educators had ingrained in their methods over the past several decades. Schools seeking the Glasser Quality School model found that many difficulties arose. It was not easy to attain due to the mandates of their districts and the continuing use of external control which administrators and staff often found difficult to give up. Interested educators learned the concept and attempted to model it in their classrooms. However, the pressures and complexities of external control often over-road their efforts. State and federal rules and regulations made it very difficult to create the climate and belief system necessary to sustain the GQS environment. Districts were reluctant to sink funds into long-term staff development when a new, less expensive “innovation of the month” was right around the corner. Educational leaders who had not taken the time to integrate internal control psychology into their own lives, may not have experienced the difference it makes, and therefore may not have recognized the advantages of the paradigm shift. Choice theory-based schools do require a commitment to the psychological change process which is not a quick-fix solution, but the long-lasting increased quality of life of all who apply it, is well worth the commitment.

To insure the success of our educational systems to reach and facilitate learning for every student, it has been well documented that organizational change, paradigm shifts to intrinsic motivation, self-evaluation and collaborative leadership are indicated. Programs that integrate all of the mental health and proven brain-based learning strategies are needed in effective learning environments. All fear-of-failure and coercive methods will require replacement with research-based needs-satisfying strategies for achievement. If schools want to be successful at consistently increasing the mental health and well-being of their students, they will need to provide the safety for students and staff to become self-aware, self-evaluative, self-managed and community-minded. We need responsible self-regulated learners who are able to understand the complexity of the world around them and still keep themselves balanced, respecting their own learning needs and the needs of others. Programs that focus on problems, punishment, fear and threats will not achieve the environment where students learn to take effective control of their lives. Programs that add more layers to the curriculum, take time away from the academics in order to focus on the problems of bullying, cheating, dis-interest, boredom, attendance, and disrespect only cloud the horizon. We claim we are powerless over changes in the system and over academic failure, when the exact opposite is true in both cases.

Dr. William Glasser acquired his vision for the Glasser Quality School through his work with delinquent students by observing their transformation. Now it is our job to share this vision by supporting its integration and development within our educational systems. Glasser defined the criteria needed for quality work, but he did not claim to give us the specific method to achieve it. Educators are still seeking answers, solutions and implementation strategies to travel the road to the Glasser Quality School model. We know the key to personal happiness and success is internal motivation and self-control. A few schools around the world have achieved this monumental, developmental change. They have become Glasser Quality Schools. Through our research and development over the last two decades we now can provide need-satisfying, achievable procedures that educators can easily learn to put into place. What these Glasser Quality Schools have discovered is now available so that the road to a quality education, better mental health and increased joy in learning are no longer out of our reach.

Thanks to a group of passionate educators and psychologists, a new curriculum has been developed and piloted in Australia and the south pacific rim countries. It is now available in the USA and North America to enhance (and jump-start) the Glasser Quality School development over the next decade. Ivan, Ann, and Rebecca Honey, Sylvia Habel, Jacqui Lynch, Nancy Herrick and other Glasser-trained educators have created a dynamic, colorful, fun-filled curriculum that can be disseminated across the elementary school K-6 grade levels without taking time away from the academic structure leading to the expected progressive achievement for all students. No longer will parents and educators have to worry about end-of-grade or standardized test scores. Student interest, respect for themselves and others, and cooperative learning will become the norm. Incorporating the paradigm shift needed along with many of the 21st century discoveries about internal motivation, self-challenge, growth mindsets, strength-based learning, social /emotional balance and effective beliefs about mental wellness, The Get Happier School Project, USA curriculum is now available. It has been designed with developmentally appropriate, self-reflection (mindfulness), and effective decision-making strategies facilitated through kinesthetic and literacy activities for elementary children ages four through twelve.

Choice Theory, Dr. William Glasser’s internal motivational theory of behavior is the basis of this new program, The Get Happier School Project. Dr. Glasser believed the quality of ones’ mental health is dependent upon one’s level of happiness. He defined happiness as the ability to make effective choices so that one can attain the knowledge, respect, joy and satisfying relationships they seek. Integrating The Get Happier School Project curriculum into the regular academic curriculum, will provide the information and learning strategies children and adults need to be able to self-assess the effectiveness of their choices. This curriculum presents the personal reflection activities that lead the teacher, student and parent to change their paradigm of thinking. It helps them to experience joy in learning. It emphasizes the advantage of building good relationships with those around them, and learning how to make more effective choices so they can retain balance, acquire resilience, and strength of character.

The teacher of this new program, The Get Happier School Project, is Doug Dragster, a personified Australian dragster car who learns how to make better choices, sustain good relationships, and become aware and considerate (mindful) of himself and those around him. Doug’s adventure story becomes the teacher. Students, teachers, staff (and even parents) learn the secrets to happiness as Doug discovers how to become a high-performance car. Doug’s friends and family share a tool box of life skills that help Doug learn to choose effective behaviors. As he gets his life on the “open roads” of success, he learns to adjust his engine, find the power to persevere, and become aware of “dead-end” roads. Comprehensive, developmentally appropriate lesson plans, detailed enough to provide self-directed experiential learning, offer the children numerous activities to become aware of their behavior and how it affects others. Students will develop a growth mindset, and discover their strengths as they support each other’s learning.

Ivan Honey, the originator of the story (and curriculum), says, “We expect children to play the game of life without providing them the rules.” The Get Happier School Project, helps children discover the rules of the road to happiness as they construct the framework for understanding themselves and developing a mentally healthy lifestyle. This amazing curriculum offers educators a comprehensive suite of resources to enhance their leadership in the classroom. When we empower a classroom teacher or a parent to discover the joy in learning and teaching, we are building a stronger, happier community. Internal control psychology (Choice Theory), mental awareness, focus and presence (mindfulness), effective teaching and learning strategies (literacy) and emotional balance and control (Emotional Intelligence) are all inter-related in The Get Happier School Project, USA.

If you are a parent or an educator, we invite you to look over The Get Happier School Project. Talk to others who are now applying these concepts in their lives and see if you think it would be a benefit for your district’s schools. You can find the overview, materials, and program design on the website: gethappier.net

As difficult as it has been to provide the paradigm shift of the mental model of our schools so they are able to create real learning institutions for our next generation, this program will make the journey more accessible. The schools who have embraced it and begun to transform their instructional system using the Choice Theory concepts and 21st century educational research and re-structuring will find that all students will succeed in competent and even “Quality” learning levels. As they learn to take control of their choices to get happier, they will become proficient, contributing community leaders of the future.

Begin now to facilitate the change we need in education. Whether you live in North America or other parts of the world, do you believe that education is the cornerstone of success for the citizens of the future? If so, take a few minutes to see if this project could help educators and adults seeking to help young people live more mentally healthy lives. If you knew there was a formula or simple secret to happiness, would you want to know what it was? This could be the beginning of your own journey to happiness and fulfilled dreams.

Helping our kids to get happier, is the challenge ahead.

Sometimes, people are inclined to be critical of schools and teachers. But, give these people a few days in a classroom teaching 20 to 30 children, and they quickly change their minds!

Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career, but it can also be one of the most stressful and challenging. It is certainly one of the hardest jobs in the world.

One of the most challenging aspects is the process of trying to help students learn at an optimum level, while at the same time managing the dynamics of the classroom.

As a teacher himself, Bendigo psychologist Ivan Honey has worked with teachers and schools for over forty years. He has seen huge changes, including the abolition of corporal punishment in 1984, and the introduction of the Integration Program to support children with special needs.

Over the past 20 years, Ivan has seen the need to go beyond simply focusing on behaviour management and compliance in learning.

His goal has been to develop a process to help schools to deliberately create a mentally healthy culture. He devised The Get Happier School, a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum, that supports children, teachers and parents.

Older people may remember schools as a controlling system based on punishment and reward. Today we know that trying to force or manipulate kids into learning or behaving responsibly will rarely work or produce quality outcomes.

On the other hand if we are permissive there are no clear guidelines and the classroom becomes chaotic.

The goal has been to develop a process to help schools to deliberately create a mentally healthy culture.

Phycologist Ivan Honey

We know there is a better way. When children learn the skills for responsibility and happiness, where they feel connected, empowered, have plenty of choices and see purpose in what they do, learning becomes fun and meaningful.

Children learn that they have the right and responsibility to meet their needs, but not at the expense of preventing others from meeting their needs. In a co-operative and harmonious environment, children learn the skills to regulate their feelings in ways that do not harm themselves or others.

They learn effective strategies to solve problems and discover their unique gifts and styles so they can set goals and plan for success. They practice these skills daily and develop ways to add to the culture of happiness by helping make their school a happier place. When parents, teachers and children work together to achieve this, they create a happier school.

Not a perfect school but one where everyone has the mindsets and the resources to work together to get the best outcome.