To teach the future generations is such an honour and at the same time a great responsibility. We cannot have narrow view of education to mean literacy and numeracy competences alone anymore.

As more and more parents are needing to work, a vacuum is created in some aspects of the child’s healthy development. That vacuum is compounded as more and more grandparents are also working well beyond their age of retirement. This means the child is left to be raised by carers who are not a family member. Granted, some carers could be better trained to look after these children than most parents (as parents don’t need to qualify to raise a child), there’s also the risk of a child being brought up by carers who may not be as attentive to the child’s needs as a parent or grandparent would be.

Both parents needing to work means the children of today are growing up with parents who are tired and stressed after a long day at work. Patience often runs thin in these situations, and children could end up bearing the brunt of the parents’ releasing the pressure of the day’s stresses and frustrations.

To be healthy, whole, well adjusted, the child needs unconditional love alongside discipline. For discipline to be done in a healthy way the adult needs to have the child’s best interest at heart, and not lash out because of frustration and impatience due to tiredness.

It has been my experience that when we are tired and stressed it becomes more difficult to be patient, compassionate and thoughtful about our actions. It can also be difficult to be mindful and intuitive about what the child really needs, or is trying to communicate through their tantrums.
Perhaps allocating a period during school hours for students to do their homework, rather than doing them at home, would be a more practical way of ensuring they have support and supervision. This would also greatly reduce the stress at home, especially for working parents.

Another option would be to abolish homework altogether in primary, and much less homework for high school – as it’s been done in Finland (please see the documentary below).
Families do need to have a more relaxed time with each other, and this would be possible when the pressures and stresses of the day end the minute work and school has ended.

Please take a look at the teaching methods of the world’s top ranking students and education system, shown here in a TV program prepared by Michael Moore – and please share your thoughts…

Drawing In The Disengaged Student

Part 2

In term two Joe begins to sit with the other students, but still doesn’t interact with anyone. He starts looking through his exercise book with some interest, but still doesn’t colour in the figures in the story. He shares his thoughts with a little more than one word answers – for this the volunteer teacher Ms K is very grateful!

As Ms K continues to engage with Joe and invites his participation, Joe begins to develop more confidence, he moves around the class a bit more, and increasingly participates in class activities. He still isn’t very vocal but seems to be more at ease with everyone.

It’s the 3rd week in term three when the classroom teacher shares with the Ms K that Joe’s mother is blind and he is the eldest of three children. His father is apparently away on business quite often. His grandparents live in another country, and his mother doesn’t have any outside help – Joe is the only one who helps her take care of the other children.

For Ms K this explains why Joe is so mature for his age. She begins to feel so much compassion for Joe as she reflects on what a beautiful gentle soul he is. His eyes tell a sad story words could not express. Now she could understand his insatiable desire to be seen – even though to an untrained eye everything he did would appear to be the opposite of what he was really needing.

It’s almost end of the year. As Ms K walks through the playground she watches with amazement as Joe runs around chasing friends in playing tips. At the end of year Christmas assembly the class teacher expresses how much she appreciated the volunteer teacher’s efforts for seeing Joe from a different perspective than what was commonly believed about him.

It’s often the small things we can do as teachers, friends, partners and colleagues that could make a big difference in someone’s life.

For more information on simple psychological tools training please contact us by following https://www.grassrootsapproach.com.au/contact-1300-931-539/ – we would love to hear from you!

Please feel free to share your thoughts, feedbacks and experiences below…


Drawing In The Disengaged Student

Part 1

Teachers have so much demand placed on them in today’s education, I wonder if sometimes it takes away the joy of teaching. Although we do need teaching standards, the issue remains meeting the level of demand, verses having time to be creative and enjoy the process.

Children can be unpredictable, and as varied and unique as our fingerprints. In all of this it’s not easy to cater for each students’ individual educational and emotional needs.

A volunteer teacher’s (VT) role is slightly different to that of the classroom teacher. It almost feels like the VT is the grandmother who can spoil rather than the parent who needs to discipline.

It is not uncommon for teachers not to have the required skill set to manage and teach students who have experienced trauma to some degree. A trauma can be caused by something as simple as a parent who doesn’t have time, for their child, because their time and responsibility is divided between other children.

There are more severe cases ranging from a child who may be neglected because the primary carer, who is often the mother, is going through post-natal depression, or is alone in raising a demanding baby. There are many more common circumstances as well as severe cases where a child is traumatised.

For a therapist the signs that indicate there has been a trauma would be easier to notice. However to most educators this is not as obvious, and even in cases when it is obvious, rarely would a teacher have the knowledge and skill to know how to manage it.

Allow me to share a true case. It was when it became more apparent to me the need for educators to have basic training in psychology so they are better able to help such students.

Joe (not his real name) was in kindergarten. At the start of the year it was obvious Joe was struggling with being in school but in a passive way. Where most children would cry after their parent Joe was untalkative. He did not follow instructions, he did not interact with other children. He just wanted to be left alone at the back of the classroom.

On this particular day Joe was lying on the floor at the back of the classroom, looking blankly at the books on the shelf. When the volunteer teacher Ms K (who happened to be a therapist) calls out the roll, Joe does not respond. Ms K, in a playful way, asks if he is in the room. The children answer yes, but she is more interested in Joe’s response, so she asks “Joe, are you here?” to which he eventually replies “Here”.

In the next week’s lesson Joe begins drawing on the pages of his exercise book, which he isn’t suppose to. As the teacher looks she notices he is quite an artist. He had drawn a human figure which is walking away. Joe is six years old at the time. The figure he draws not as a normal six year old would draw it, he had talent! The teacher expresses how impressed she is with his drawing and what a good artist he is.

As weeks pass the Ms K utilises every opportunity to include Joe in the class conversations, by asking him specifically about his thoughts. Sometimes she receives a reply but often he remains silent.

One day in the second term Ms K is advised it has been decided Joe would need to sit with the rest of the class and he would need to participate in the class activities. Ms K could see the sense of powerlessness in Joes eyes. He seemed to have given up against his will doing what he enjoyed doing the most – to be left alone to draw.

The only choice Ms K could think of giving him is to choose where in the group he wants to sit. She believes this will give Joe at least some choice over what he needs to do. To her surprise Joe decides to sit at the very front where Ms K is sitting.

To be continued…


In today’s Western society are we missing the point of education? We have more free education available for every individual than ever before, more choices in career than ever before, we are wealthier society in comparison to the rest of the world, so why is mental illness and loneliness on the increase at an epidemic level?

In the UK the government has allocated a ministry to help the lonely in society.

When we peel back the layers to have a look at why individuals are lonely and what makes a person happy it seems to boil down to one thing – relationships.

The following extract from the American Psychological Association press release shows a summary of the contributing factors to the loneliness epidemic;

“Such “epidemics,” while not confined to rich countries, are linked to prominent features of affluent culture: longer life expectancy, decreasing marriage rates, people having fewer children, more people getting divorced, and more people living alone. “ stated Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. (APA, 2017)

The article went on to say – Holt-Lunstad recommended a greater priority be placed on research and resources to tackle this public health threat from the societal to the individual level. For instance, greater emphasis could be placed on social skills training for children in schools and doctors should be encouraged to include social connectedness in medical screening (APA, 2017).

In Europe, Middle East as well as in Asia people appear to be happier than those of us in the Western countries.

With closer observation we notice the major difference in those Nations is the way the family unit relates and remains together.

A typical Italian family lives close to each other, gets together for family celebrations such as birthdays  and anniversaries a lot more frequently than we do. When young couple get married they can depend on their parents financial support as well as physical support for when grandchildren arrive on the scene.

The same can be said about Middle Eastern families and families in Asia. Family members don’t always get along nicely but they are always involved in each other’s lives – for better or for worse. This gives the individual a sense of knowing that if they are ever in a difficulty family will be there to support them. Parents often think about the financial future of their children when they are working hard and accumulating wealth. Unless there is war, the wealth of the family is passed down increasingly from generation to generation. For this reason cutting off family relationships are rare.

Imagine if there were certain relationship skills that could be taught where families could sustainably relate with one another in a healthier way.

What would it mean for a Society if families were to stay together throughout their life? If more couples were able to remain committed to one another, raising children who could depend on their parents to always be there for them through thick and thin., I wonder if it would decrease mental illness, depression and anxiety. I wonder if loneliness would be dramatically reduced. And what it would mean for the health and well-being of the individual.

Now let’s imagine essential yet unique relationship skills required for lifelong relationships were taught to every individual in society. The kind of relationship skills that would promote emotional intelligence and help resolve conflicts effectively. With 49% divorce rate, imagine couples staying together for life because they enjoy their relationship rather than out of obligation to do so.

Human beings are relational creatures. Unless we are in healthy relationships it is not easy for us to find happiness and fulfillment, even with the most successful career we could possibly have.

As educators there is an enormous responsibility to raise generations of individuals who are well adjusted and contributing members of society, who in turn will raise the following generations of well-adjusted contributing members of society. It all begins with addressing the relationship between the couple.

This is the vision for which Grassroots Approach program is designed. For every individual to learn essential and unique relational skills to create, as well as maintain, healthy family life.

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this subject. Please feel free to share in the link below;


Opposite Sex Friendships

Is it possible to be friends with the opposite sex?

Admittedly, in my research I have found this is easier for girls than it is for boys (not men).

As men and women do mature and develop the capacity to make better judgements, it becomes more obvious that it is better to first become friends with the opposite sex, and only when both parties feel it’s right the friendship can then move into a romantic relationship.

Friendships don’t always develop into romance.

Friendships don’t always develop into romantic relationships. It is possible to want to be friends with someone and not necessarily want to go into a romantic relationship with them. But at least you had the opportunity to make an informed decision rather than go straight into a romantic relationship because you feel physically attracted to each other, and then break up because you are not right for each other in order to be spending every day of your lives living together, or even forming a family.


Why not have multiple romantic relationships?

It’s always a good idea to think about the end from the beginning, so let’s consider the possible outcomes of going into a casual romantic relationship with someone you don’t necessarily want to spend the rest of your life with;

a) You could end up falling in love but the feeling is not mutual, and they leave you.
b) The other person could falls in love with you but they’re not who you want to be with…
c) They leave you for someone else, now you’re devastated that they would do this to you.
d) You want to break up but they don’t, and they begin to threaten about things they’ll do if you leave.
e) There’s a slight likelihood you’ll both end up falling in love with each other, however this is even more likely if you get to know each other first as friends – before you get romantically involved…

Whenever there’s a break-up there’s pain associated with the rejection you or they experience. The wounds may heal but what about the scar?

It is preferable and possible to be friends with the opposite sex, until such time that you mutually decide you want to share the rest of your lives together in a committed and meaningful relationship – with your self-esteems still in tact!

Rippled effects of broken relationships…

Whether we have experienced it firsthand, or have observed children who are going through the marriage break-up of their parents, there’s no denying the pain it causes.

The ripple effects of divorce are far reaching as divorce is costly in more ways than we can imagine. Apart from the heartache the couple go through the effects on children are often not noticed until it’s too late.

One of the first signs could be that school work is greatly affected. Change in behavior such as lack of motivation, lack of concentration, depression, sense of helplessness and/or hopelessness can become challenging and difficult to cope with for the student, the parent, their classmates as well as the teachers.  As the divorce rate rises it has become necessary for schools to invest more and more in counsellors and psychologists.

Through providing funding for relationship building skill program such as Grassroots Approach , the rippled effect of savings could be in funds allocated for mental health, homelessness, substance abuse related crimes, single parent allowances, work absenteeism, bankruptcy  and the list goes on…

Most of the fund allocations are band-aid solutions to a deep problem that often begins at home – the relationship between the couple.  By addressing the problems at Grass-root level (a bottom up approach) a healthier foundation is built within society, and the  end outcomes could change substantially.



Effects of Divorce on Children

It is widely known fact the best environment for children to grow into physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy adults requires a healthy family environment. This is where children know they are loved and know they can depend on their parents to be there to support them for as long as they require support. As children grow older the support they need will change, knowing they have family support will help an individual be confident and able to take healthy risks throughout the different stages of life.

Sadly there are far too many families going through separation and divorce.

The ripple effects of divorce are far reaching. Divorce is costly and private school fees can be one of the first expenses that are often cut back or left unpaid. Students’ school work is often greatly affected. Change in behavior such as lack of motivation, lack of concentration, depression, sense of helplessness and hopelessness can become challenging and difficult to cope with for the student, the teachers as well as their classmates.  As the divorce rate rises it has become necessary for schools to invest more and more into recruiting counsellors and psychologists.

Through providing a holistic education it could take 5–10 years for the divorce rate to begin to drop and for the benefits to be felt in schools and in society as a whole. Is it not the purpose and desire of every educator to see the world transformed through education, which empowers and equips the upcoming generations for life in the most holistic way possible?

Where could prevention begin? At what stage of one’s life could education about healthy relationships be most effective? Granted, there are circumstances when it is better for the parents to separate than to remain together, such as when safety of lives are threatened, but those circumstances are not as common as thought (please see research on previous blog).

Comparison of High and Low-Distress Marriages

Journal of Marriage and Family 69 (August 2007):621-638
Paul R. Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott: Pennsylvania State University.


Comparison of High and Low-Distress Marriages

That End in Divorce (summarized)


A study was conducted in United States in 2007 by Paul Amato and Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott to compare high and low distress marriages that end in divorce in order to understand why married couples get divorced.
They wanted to see if the popular belief that only couples who fight frequently, becoming increasingly disengaged from one another emotionally, causing marital happiness to decline are generally the couples that end up getting divorced.
In a series of publications Amato, Booth and Loomis presented evidence that many couples do not experience high level of discord and marital unhappiness prior to divorce. Contrary to the pattern described before, couples appear to end their marriage for reasons that only partly reflect the quality of their marriage.
Levinger’s commonly applied theory for divorce is based on three components; attraction, barriers and alternatives. First he suggests that attraction is based proportionately to the rewards received minus the costs involved (costs reflect the negative aspects of the relationship such as verbal and physical aggression). Although low level of rewards may lead to thoughts of divorce, spouses who wish to end their marriage must overcome a variety of barriers which include moral or religious values, concerns about social stigma, legal restrictions and financial dependence. At times the lack of alternatives can reinforce stability in the marriage. Of course some spouses may prefer living alone rather than be in an unrewarding marriage.

Another central construct in exchange theory is the comparison level for alternatives. Spouses who enter marriage with low level of expectation for personal fulfilment may be happier than a spouse who has a high level of expectations.

Johnson distinguishes between three forms of commitment; Personal commitment where partners enjoy each other’s company. Moral commitment is based on feelings of obligation, that one should remain in a relationship despite existence of problems and finally structural commitment which is based on constraints or lack of good alternatives to the current situation.

Recent surveys carried out in the US indicate that cultural changes in society have affected the attractions, barriers and commitment for marital stability. Survey of college students in the 1950’s and 60’s indicate that marriage was valued because it provided a home, a stable and economically secure life and the opportunity to raise children. In contrast, more recent surveys indicate that college students value marriage because they expect it to provide a deep source of love and emotional fulfillment – which is a more individualistic approach to marriage. According to this perspective many people now expect marriage to serve as a vehicle for personal growth and self-actualization. Marriages that do not meet these deeply personal needs may be viewed as failures, despite other benefits that these unions may provide. All things being equal, as people’s expectations of marriage increase, an increasing number of people will be unsatisfied with their marriage. Divorce becomes more of an issue of low level of commitment to the marriage rather than a case of getting out of a deeply unsatisfying and distressing relationship.
Surveys have shown that individuals in high-distress marriages experience improvements in subjective well-being, whereas individuals in low level distress marriages experience decline in subjective well-being. This hypotheses is based on the assumption that individuals in moderately happy marriages that end in divorce may not fully anticipate the difficulties and stresses that often accompany and follow marital dissolution.
A quantitative survey done in the 1980’s reveal decreases in the extent to which people have confidence in religious answers to important questions, place trust in religious authorities, and pray or read religious materials. This decline in religious influence is likely to have undermined people’s beliefs about the sacred nature of marriage and its importance as a religious commitment. Moreover the massive shift of married women into the workforce has meant they are less financially dependent on their spouses, hence making it easier for them to leave low to moderately unhappy marriages which would not have happened in 1950’s and 60’s.

In conclusion it is possible that many of these couples have been influenced by the belief that a good marriage should provide a high level of personal growth and self-actualization, criteria that many, perhaps most marriages cannot meet. Given the high rate of divorce and its implications on economic and social well-being of parents and children more research and exploration of possibilities on how to prevent the breakdown of the family unit are clearly warranted.

Exclusive report on the cost of Divorce on Government

EXCLUSIVE: DIVORCE and family breakdowns are costing the national economy more than $14 billion a year in government assistance payments and court costs, an exclusive News Corp analysis has found.

That figure has blown out by $2 billion in the last two years alone, with each Australian taxpayer now paying about $1100 a year to support families in crisis.

The financial sting is one of the reasons why Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has confirmed he will overhaul early intervention strategies in a bid to strengthen Australian families.

Mr Andrews told News Corp that as early as this month he will act to establish an expert panel on early intervention, which will be made up of a mix of practitioners and academics.

It will examine strategies to lower the divorce rate and better identify and assist vulnerable children and young people, including looking at whether more psychologists need to be deployed in kindergartens and preschools across the country.

“The reality is that most programs are programs that try to ameliorate the impact of marriage and family relationship breakdowns,” he said.

“There is not enough that goes to early intervention.”

A News Corp analysis of information from the federal Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services, shows that this financial year alone the government will spend $12.5 billion on support payments to single parents, including family tax benefits and rent assistance.

Another $1.5 billion will be spent on the administration of the child support system, while the cost to taxpayers from family disputes in Australian courts is $202 million.

Almost 50,000 people get divorced each year in Australia, and while the divorce rate declined between 2002 and 2008, it is now on the rise again.

Over the last two years, the cost of divorce to the national economy has increased by more than $2 billion, or 17 per cent.

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