In today’s complex world, the need for positive role models for young people has never been more important – but you don’t even have to look to scientists or world leaders to find characters who can inspire and uplift children in readiness for the new school year, because the world of Disney is, perhaps surprisingly, full of them.
The Disney100 exhibition is coming to London next month and, celebrating 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, it will lead visitors around ten galleries exhibiting rarely seen artefacts from the films and studios, as well as interactive installations and visual treats.
Even if you can’t make it to the exhibition, it’s worth celebrating the profound impact that the characters from these beloved films have had on children for so many years. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Princesses who are great back-to-school role models. Talking with your child about these characters and the significance of the stories may very well help your child get excited about the new term ahead, and to face it with confidence and a sense of adventure.
Discover the joy in reading like Belle
Belle has always been curious about learning and discovering, which is where her deep love of reading stemmed from – a passion that’s heightened by the fact that she lives in a small town, where reading allows her to expand her horizons. Not only has her voracious appetite for literature provided her with an excellent vocabulary and active imagination but also – and arguably most importantly – an open mind. By reading with your children, you can encourage them to realise that going back to school is like an exciting new adventure, where learning is fun and can lead to amazing experiences, both in terms of mental journeys and real-life connections. After all, it’s thanks to Belle’s compassion and understanding that she’s able to see the good in Beast – which is a lesson in how valuable reading, plus the kindness it fosters and the worlds it opens, can be in the making of new friends.
Tread your own path like Rapunzel
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be incredibly challenging but by encouraging your child to channel their inner Rapunzel, you can help them to see that determination and a willingness to succeed will help them along the path they choose to travel. Remind your child that, like Rapunzel, they can forge their own way as they navigate the return to school. Ask your child – ‘if you could be anything, what would you be?’ and enable them to be good spirited, lively and wonderfully playful, as well as inquisitive and ambitious.
Seek your own adventure like Moana
The island-based Moana is fascinated by water and, living in such glorious surroundings, who can blame her? Even so, she lives with the expectation of remaining land-based, as everyone else in her community does. Ask your child – what draws you? What are you interested in? What excites you? It’s easy, as a family of, say, footballers, to expect that every child in the fold will want to kick a ball, but Moana is a lesson in carving your own path and following your own dreams, while still being a loving child. It’s important to remind children that no matter how different they are from you, or from their siblings, they are still loved and accepted.
Unlock your courage like Elsa and Anna
Elsa and Anna have very different traits. Anna is sociable, bubbly and optimistic ,while Elsa is more serious, anxious and overprotective. Importantly, however, they align in terms of being courageous and loyal; always there for each other. Going back to school or perhaps starting a new school can be a very daunting experience, so it’s important to remind your child that they possess endless potential, and that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, as long as they maintain the courage to pursue it. Fear is a natural emotion but remind your child that making mistakes is all part of growing up. As Elsa learnt, perfection is unattainable – but with a little bit of courage to step out of your comfort zone, you can do great things.
Explore your identity like Mulan
Staying true to who you are and being proud of it is so important, and this is something Mulan learnt as she embarked on her courageous journey of self-discovery. Your young ones will also discover this as they settle back into school so, if you can instil in your child the belief that they are their own person, now matter how they identify or present, this is, in itself, a special kind of magic. Learn a lesson from Mulan and remain steadfast in your convictions – and if you get knocked down, get back up and brush yourself off. Every single child is different: this is the biggest aspect of their true beauty.
Find your voice like Ariel
The under-the-sea princess Ariel is inquisitive about living on land and, much like a child going back to, or starting, school, she’s about to embark on an adventure where she will learn, grow and perhaps lose her way a little bit. Remind children that it’s natural to take a bit of time to settle into their new surroundings but that, like Ariel, they will eventually find their voice. Encourage them to speak their mind and create an open dialogue where you can discuss every aspect of their school experience with them, all of which will it easier for them to find their feet.
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