Aim: To show that everyone is capable of achieving. To help children understand that every achievement is valued, by those who care about us, however small the steps.
Preparation and materials
- A collection showing evidence of achievements, e.g. child’s swimming certificate, music exam certificate, Cub/Brownie enrolment certificate, First Communion certificate, medals, cups, photos. Any evidence that shows a child is capable of achieving.
- You might choose to ask children in advance to bring in certificates, cups, etc. to the assembly.
- OHP or flip-chart and pen.
Ask the children what is meant by achievement. Write the key words of their answers on the OHP or flip-chart.
Explain some of the different ways that achievement is charted. Share and explain the variety of certificates, photos, badges, cups, etc. Ask if any children have similar records of achievement, and ask them to hold up their certificates, etc. and explain briefly what they have achieved. If there are too many for individual explanations, ask the children to hold up swimming certificates, then maths certificates, cups, etc.
Link these achievements with achievement in school and discuss how the school marks and recognizes achievement. Explain that achievement often occurs in small steps. Everyone is capable of achieving. Achievement often builds upon what we can do already.
There are times when things get difficult for us and it would seem much easier to give up. Sometimes children and adults alike can be heard to say, ‘I can’t be bothered,’ or ‘It’s too hard.’
Life is not always easy, and we must learn to cope when things do not run smoothly. There are times when we need to make a special effort in order to achieve our goals.
Great milestones in history have been achieved because the people involved have shown true determination. Great leaders determined to overcome the wrong they see, scientists who don’t give up looking for answers, artists who believe in their talent when no one else does, people who hold on to their faith through difficult times. (Further discussion could be developed here and linked to any current history projects.)
Without these people we would not have things like penicillin (Alexander Fleming) and other antibiotic medicines. The development of X-rays (Marie Curie) and scanners has helped in the treatment of life-threatening diseases. The discovery of electricity (Michael Faraday) has made an enormous difference to the way in which we live. Transport over long distances has been made possible by the invention of trains, cars and aeroplanes. Communications have been vastly improved by the invention of telephones, televisions and computers. All these things and many more make life so much easier for us, and we take them for granted. But they have been brought about by the sheer hard work and determination of their inventors, who in spite of setbacks never gave up.
Great sportsmen and women have to train every day to achieve the very best results and get to the top of their sport. We do not see the hours and hours of hard work that they put in to make such results possible. We only see the glamorous side of their lives and the media praise for their victories. It is important to realize that hard work is needed, both mental or physical, to reach their goal.
Introduce the story of Helen Keller (below) or some other well-known person who has had to work extra hard to achieve success. Although she faced great difficulties Helen Keller was able to live a remarkable life.
The Story of Helen Keller
She was born on 27 June 1880 in the United States. In 1882 she caught a fever and nearly died. As a result of this she could no longer see or hear, and had difficulty speaking. Before her illness she was lively and healthy, with a friendly personality. She could walk and say a few words. The fever cut her off from the outside world. Deprived of sight and sound she felt she had been thrown into dark prison cell, with no release.
But Helen did not give up easily. She explored the world using her other senses. She hung onto her mother wherever she went. She touched and smelled everything. She felt people’s hands to see what they were doing. She recognized people by feeling their faces. By the age of seven Helen had invented 60 different signs to communicate with family.
She was extremely intelligent and sensitive, and was able to make some sense of a confusing world. But she had limitations. She wanted to talk but couldn’t make herself understood. This made her angry and frustrated.
As she grew older her anger and frustrations became worse. She became wild and unruly. When she was seven the family hired a private tutor, Anne Sullivan, a woman who had been blind since the age of five. She had attended a school for the blind and had displayed similar behaviour to Helen’s. But after several operations her sight had been restored.
Anne taught Helen to communicate by sheer willpower and using the manual alphabet (sign language). She spelt everything on her hands. She taught Helen a wide range of subjects she was interested in. As Helen became less aggressive she learned to read and write in Braille. She learned to lip read and to speak. Anne continued to teach Helen throughout her studies and went with her to college to be her interpreter. Helen proved to be a remarkable scholar, graduating from Radcliffe College in 1904.
Helen’s faith led her to examine the world carefully. She realized that injustices in the world meant people were not treated equally. She became a suffragette, demanding equal rights for women and better pay for working-class people. She toured the country giving lectures. Eventually she became famous.
Relate the difficulties Helen Keller faced to the children’s own experience, and consider the need to persevere. Ask the children to think about the word ‘perseverance’. Can they think of a definition to explain its meaning? Discuss the saying, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’.
In a famous story in the Bible, Jesus showed great strength and determination when he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4.1-13).
Time for reflection
Help me to persevere
and overcome any difficulties I face in school.
Help me to keep trying.