Thursday 23rd February 2017

When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

When You Know You KNOW. 2017.30.

It is said that ‘when you know…you know.’ Do you agree?

I could apply it to some life choices I’ve made, including the acceptance of my now husband’s proposal.

Sometimes it can be applied to finishing up…leaving..stopping…whatever life is bringing you.

For me, the time I knew what I knew was here:

More than a year prior to when this photo was taken, I had retired from my University tutor/marker role. I still continued to have my small consultancy to pre-schools open but it too was brought to a halt thanks to the distance from the workplace and where we now lived but I also knew it was time. I loved continuing with teacher development  as an External Observer with NSW Board of Studies in 2015, however, changes to the structure there meant that my qualifications no longer met the new standards and that worked well for me to say goodbye.

There was ONE more professional role I enjoyed. It did not pay me, nor would I want it too. It was, however, a wonderful place and space in which to share my experiences and be part of a highly engaged professional community. This is via meetings called Teach Meets. And it was to be held back in Sydney’s Northern Beaches at my old High School! Of course I wanted to speak..and have a last look around my ‘old school’ from the 1960s!!

This post tells much more about the talk I gave that evening.

But, something within in me KNEW that this would be the last time I would be involved in any paid/volunteer role in education and I felt both glad and sad. However, I KNEW it was what I knew and I was so pleased to have made the choice for myself.

Here. Where I went to High School from age 12-17. Where I had decided to become a teacher if my HSC results were good enough. They were.

Manly Girls High School in my a Senior School for Yrs 11 & 12 on Northern Beaches

It was the right choice! Both to start…and to!

1962. First cohort for the ‘new’ Wyndham Scheme HS kids. 6 years of HS. I am second from left 3rd row.

Some parts of the school were unchanged since I left in 1967.

I loved having a personalised tour from the Principal of my ‘old school’. Much had changed, but this view had not. From the ‘canteen’ area.

Giving my final talk as part of Teach Meet in August 2015. I have no regrets. I have an amazing number of memories. I also remain in touch with educators via social media and continued to enjoy the conversations but I am glad to no longer have any professional responsibilities.

Last time for this!

I’m a great believer in knowing when to go!

Are you?

What decisions did you make because you ‘knew’?


Joining with Kylie Purtell here and the bloggers who Blog On Tuesdays.




What Works Best For You? 2017.26.

What Works Best For You? 2017.26.

Everyone has some ideas for that work best for them.

In terms of being a school parent and being organised for what school terms bring I wondered what works best for you!

This is the Morning Routine version of what worked for me. Back in the 1980s and 90s.

I was a school parent well before the internet and daily access to schools and newsletters and the like. However, I always had a fridge calendar and a space for notes there too. I kept our family calendar updated with school and extra curricular items such as sport and group events listed.

I added meeting days where I would be late home, necessitating other arrangements for school pick up and when there were to be meetings at the kids’ schools such as ‘meet the teacher.’

I would love to have readers share.

My list that worked best for me included:

  • I made sure I was up before the kids…just for my sanity…and I could get in some breakfast too before waking the darlings.
  • kids did not get dressed until they ate their breakfast and there were limited choices: cereal and toast.
  • TV never went on in the mornings. Ever. It was hard enough getting kids to stay on track. At least there were no electronic devices back then.
  • school clothes (including mine, because I was a teacher going off to school too!) ready the night before and laid out, with socks & shoes so there were no delays in finding said items!
  • checking of the weather report the night before (and the morning) so that we were prepared for rain/heat whatever Australia’s changing weather systems had on offer.
  • school bags emptied the night before (or on the weekend, the Friday for preference!) so that filling was easy in the mornings. Actually not fully emptied. I was the person who made her kids always have a folded up raincoat lying in the bottom of the school bag.
  • lunches were made in advance and in my case, kids and mine were made in batches and frozen.Boring same ingredients and sometimes not eaten but they were ready to pop into lunch boxes.
  • a snack self-selection area in the pantry with a guide for how many and from which group to add to lunchbox.
  • frozen water bottles grabbed from the freezer and wrapped in a towel – it helped with insulation and a cooling thing on the very hot days anyway.

  • library bag at the ready if it was library day.
  • school hat either next to the bag OR kept in the car as the kids would be dropped off from the car.
  • homework folders/books ready to be returned on the day as requested by the teacher.
  • notes signed, money added (if needed) and put in a plastic zip bag because for sure, these items get messed up in kids’ bags.
  • everyone in the car, buckled up allowing for the school drop offs and for me to be at school on time!

So, I used to look forward to getting to school….for the break and a coffee after all that above..and then up to my classroom to be ready for teaching everyone else’s kids!

What works for you in the mornings before school?

Do tell me in the comments!


Joining new school mum, Kylie Purtell here with my other blogging friends for I Blog On Tuesdays.



Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

I wonder what you thought when you saw this title?

In fact it IS about meditation and it IS for kids…yes!

From my experience of the past two years, meditation is helpful. I use it for helping me stay in the moment more and for being mindful. I’ve written about it here.

More and more though, it is found that a few minutes of meditation, slowing down to focus on the ‘here and now’ and the breath is an excellent strategy for us all. It is not about clearing the mind nor about going to sleep.

Smiling Mind is an Australian-based company producing apps and meditations on-line. The app is free. I have used this app a few times. I like the Australian accent too. Here’s the link to Smiling Mind to find out more.

What caught my eye recently from the ABC in Australia is this:

Meditations for Back to School.*

There are meditations for kids and teachers. I tried the kid one and that’s why I am sharing it here. I would suggest having a go with your children.

I would also try it with a class if I was still teaching!


Here from ABC and Smiling Mind. From their website:

Our vision is to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian National Curriculum by 2020.

This hopeful statement from the Dalai Lama provides food for thought.

*Not a sponsored post..I just like to share what I think is helpful for families and education.

Have you tried meditation?

Do your children meditate?

Tell me more!







It is I Blog On Tuesday time I. B. O.T! Joining Kylie Purtell and the crew who blog on Tuesdays here.


Hot Topic In Education NOW. 2017.18.

Hot Topic In Education NOW. 2017.18.

I am hot under the collar…and I don’t even wear a collar!

I am hot because I am feeling mad about what is going on in education around Australia right now.

This is not even about the HOT weather and how not all schools have air con!

I am HOT because I am an advocate of schooling and education, particularly in terms of equity but what is making me mad (and hot!) is this topic.

T E S T I N G.

We in Australia are going to follow a UK path for assessment kids aged between 5 and 7. The second year of formal schooling.

Here’s what was said in UK in 2012. Its points are many but what bothers me is the ‘stupid’ way in which nonsense words form the test. Kids who are reading and beginning to understand reading hesitate over words which DO.NOT.MAKE.SENSE.

Here’s a news report from media based on current Australian Minister for Education Simon Birmingham’s decision to get this testing procedure implemented. It is not factual as the Principal of Merrylands East PS, John Goh knows, when I tweeted to @birmo yesterday this:

DenyseWhelanBlogs @DenyseWhelan1

@johnqgoh @Birmo on news BIG talk of #phonics as if never been taught as part of a rich literacy experience. Who does your press releases?

There has been more said about this in many areas but do  not be fooled. The Governments in Australia hold this type of testing as a carrot and stick. The Labour government started some time ago aligning the results of NAPLAN to tied funding to the states. It is not, as far as I can see, funding to support the specifics of the findings, it is about compliance.

I remain more heated than I probably need to be as a retired educator who served kids of NSW Public Schools but it’s because I am passionate and someone who specialised in early childhood learning that I have to speak up.

I apologise for the ranty type of post here but I, along with many of my colleagues in teaching around Australia are fuming about the notion that LITTLE kids need a standardised test like the one being planned. If you are a teacher or know teachers, you will be aware that they actually KNOW which kids are not doing well. They have skills and experience. What is needed is F U N D I N G to continue to help these identified children to have greater opportunity to learn and grow. But no, the Australian government is planning to P A Y organisations to  T E S T  all of the kids their second year of formal schooling rather than look at what schools could already tell them.

My former consultancy role as an education specialist for families. Now retired.

What’s your view on this latest idea (which will happen) for national testing?

Do you have a child who would be taking part in this?

Are you aware that teaching phonics in isolation with no  meaning (context)  to help a child understand what is read?

But phonemic awareness is another skill. More about that here.

Did you know we learn to read in a variety of ways?

THIS appeared in my FB stream and is too good not to share and ADD!


Have I asked enough questions? YES!!

P.S. If your child returned to school this week, I hope it was a good day!



Joining Kylie Purtell and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays.





Starting School in 2017. 2017.14.

Starting School in 2017. 2017.14.

Starting school is huge for everyone concerned. Maybe you remember your first day at school. I do, and I was confident enough to go straight into the Kindergarten classroom leaving Mum behind. It is not always like this however, it can be with less anxiety if some steps of preparation are taken.

I have written about it before  here.

In 2014 I was asked to contribute to an article by friend and writer, Donna Webeck,  which of course I did. Reviewing it today,  it holds true for 2017. I hope it can be of help for you and your child who may be starting school this year.

I have highlighted the sections where Donna quoted me, along with 2 others, for the article. Here they are:

Talk to the teachers*
School teachers have lived through many “first days”, so if anyone will have an insight into what will work best for parents and children starting school solo it is they.
With her vast experience, Whelan has seen it all. The good news? Your child won’t truly be as alone as you fear.
“This child will not be the only ‘solo’ child starting school I can state that unequivocally,” she reassures.
“What a school that is looking out for every child’s needs on day one will do is to ‘notice’ every child. Not always in a direct and over-the-top kind of way because teachers are long-experienced observers,” Whelan explains. They will also ensure socialising starts via introductions between children as well as settle children into small groups.
“There will be less than a day for your child to have had someone to sit next to, share a game with or go to the toilet. They may not be called ‘friends’ yet anyway, but your child will not be alone.

There is also this:

Keep your own emotions in check
Often children who are nervous about starting school sans friends feel this way because they are feeding off their parent’s anxieties.
“Monitor your own stress levels,” warns Hirst. “Children can pick up on how you are feeling so try to talk positively about school.” Whelan couldn’t agree more, commenting that fear can be contagious. “I am of the belief that our kids can catch our emotions and I would be keeping mine in check – as best I could!”
She also mentions that unless we make a fuss, the child will not know there is something for them to worry about. “To be honest, a young child has no real concept of starting school and being alone or knowing no-one unless his parents, caregivers or others have made a big deal of it.”
Spicer asks you to think long term, because promoting positive emotions will do you a favour down the track. “Research shows if kids start out enjoying school early on it’s more likely they will enjoy it ongoing.”
The final word on coping goes to Whelan, who wants to reassure this: “I can’t quantify how they cope but I do believe it’s part of our parenting role to see that they can be left to manage themselves,” she says.”We’ve  grown these little people to be people. It’s about taking more steps away from us, just as we did and our parents let us do.”

*added now: I do not mean ‘talk to the teacher in depth’ every single morning and afternoon unless there is a real issue of concern but just a conversational ‘hi’ and ‘how are things?’ is fine and reassuring in first week or so. Believe me, don’t even think of asking as the teacher is attempting to bring the class to the room or on the way out…it’s tricky I know because you want to know…but observe for a bit is my advice! Make a proper interview time for any real and on-going issues. Please! 

So, what are your memories of starting school?

Do you have someone starting school in 2017?

How will it be for you and your child?

And ICYMI (in case you missed it, in 2016 I wrote about Starting High School!)

I would love to hear your stories in the comments!


Joining Kylie Purtell for IBOT here and she DOES have a school starter in her family and I know there will be mixed emotions next week in her household.


School’s Nearly IN! 2017.10.

School’s Nearly IN! 2017.10.

Yes indeed, it nearly is for those living in Australia.

Here’s what it’s like for the three groups who might relate to this post!


OH. It’s only 2 weeks (or less in some states or more in others) and I will be back at school. This means I am scouring the stationery shops for all the specials. Because I know the school can only give me some supplies and I know how much I go through the stickers, the whiteboard markers, the pencils, the tissues, the glue sticks, the paper….I won’t go on. I am glad I have taken a break from thinking about school (well, it felt like I did over Christmas and New Year) but now, even though I am not “at school” every day, I will be going in when it’s open to set up the classroom and check out the plans for the year BEFORE we start officially. SIGH.


OH. Thank GOODNESS it’s only 2 weeks to go and those kids will be starting (or back at) school. It’s costing me a fortune to keep them entertained and fed. And will they help around the house? Not much despite notes on the fridge and all the hints. I am pleased though when someone offers to have play date/kiddie swap but it’s always hard combining child care/work responsibilities and more. Mind you, I recall saying about a MONTH ago (only a month??) that I could not wait for these school holidays. Now, I am meeting up with parents from the school at local stationery shops and we are all getting ‘bill shock’ at the checkout. Sigh. Do they really need those glue sticks, folders, USBs, tissues and a NEW device? The school list says yes. And this is a public school too. SIGH.


OH. From the calendar on the fridge it seems like we HAVE to go back to school soon. Mind you, my little sister/brother is looking forward to starting school. Ha! Not sure why. Anyway, I guess the one good thing about going back to school is friends and the playground. As long as it’s not 40 degrees when we have to stay inside. Oh, the bad thing about going back is shoes. And socks. So hot in Australia for going back to school. When I saw how much stuff I have to take back to school it was fun but also a bit worrying. Will I really be doing that much work this year? SIGH.

So how are things in your household right now?

It’s nearly time for school to be in!


P.S. The graphic in the post was my initial logo for my business/blog which in 2012-2014 I called Ready.Set.School. for parents and kids and I had another called Ready.Set.Teach. for teachers and those training to teach. I no longer have the business nor the blogs but they were both part of my professional life (after working in education) then.

Joining with the many who blog on Tuesdays over here who link up with Kylie Purtell. Do you blog on Tuesdays?


Education & Schooling. 2017.6.

Education & Schooling. 2017.6.

Welcome back to my Tuesday posts which focus on education and schooling!

I have been officially retired from education since 2015 but I will always have a lifetime love of education and learning and here on the blog, I can write and share to help others.

For those readers who may not know much about why I write here on these topics, here is information from my page Denyse Whelan B.Ed. M.Ed.

Denyse Whelan is a now-retired K-6 Australian school educator who has been a K-6 teacher, deputy principal and school principal, university tutor, and ESL teacher of children and adults.

She has more than 4 decades of experience as both an educator and parent in the Australian schooling system, specifically N.S.W. Public Schools. She has worked in schools including the small 2 teacher schools in remote NSW, Central Schools K-12 in NSW, large Western Sydney K-6 Schools.

Her roles as principal  saw her manage and lead two schools in low-socio economic areas of Western Sydney as relieving principal over the decade of the 1990s. Into the 21st century, her substantive school principal role in another area was where she was selected by merit to lead a large school  with mainstream students, a special education support unit, 2 ‘opportunity classes’ (GAT) and an Autism Spectrum Satellite Class.

Denyse believes in life-long learning and that learning takes place formally and informally in our lives every day.

In 2015 I wrote posts about schooling, teaching and all the matters in between that seemed to engage the readers who are, in the main, those who have kids at school or getting ready to start school. In 2016 I added to the mix by asking readers for topics they’d like to know more about and I have been happy to help.

In 2017 I will continue to evolve the purpose of the Tuesday posts, which are always part of I Blog On Tuesdays, and may again be asking for readers to give me ideas about what they want to know more about!

As an educator and parent I always liked knowing when the breaks from the education life would occur and here in Australia we have these at different times of the year. In fact it makes sense because if all the holidays were held at the same time, I can imagine there would be even greater difficulty with getting into popular places for vacations.

So, here, thanks to the friendliest and sharing blogger friend Maxabella is HER post from 2016 which lists ALL of the Australian School. Holidays. Thank you Bron for ALL that research and giving me permission to use it! And this is the full post here

Have you any children who are already in school?

Do you have kids who are not yet in school?

Perhaps you too have a teaching background!

Tell me a bit about you in the comments for this first post back in 2017!


Joining Kylie Purtell here for the first of I Blog On Tuesdays for 2017. I Blog On Tuesdays is a linky which accepts ORIGINAL posts PUBLISHED on the TUESDAY of the link up!

I am part of the commenting team called #teamIBOT and enjoy visiting as many blogs as possible on Tuesdays!


Educated As a Blogger. 366/339.

Educated As a Blogger. 366/339.

It takes a community to educate a blogger so I found out.

I used to think that I would write something of interest on the blog, publish it and some people out there would read what I wrote.And comment. Of course! Blogger gold!

Oh no, it does not work that way…well for me it certainly did not.

From pressing publish in December 201o to today, I know that the only way I learned about blogging was to be educated by others who blog.

Before I go further, I did attend courses and conferences and I met up with lots of bloggers too. I read some books, got some insights from blogging experts and gave my readers what I thought would be posts of interest.

It worked. Somewhat.

What made my blogging education better was discovering LINK-UPs …where bloggers invite others who blog to add their post and then others may see the blog too. I commenced doing this in 2011-12 and found link ups some of which have now ended. But my blogging education continued thanks to this one!

One which has been a consistent, vibrant and really inclusive LINK UP called IBOT. I blog on Tuesdays. It began when Jess blogged as Diary of a SAHM and then changed title to Essentially Jess.

But things are changing there too! Jess, who continues to be a writer, and a tertiary student along with raising a family of 4,  is finishing up by the end of the year and handing her link-up to Kylie permanently. I wrote a thank you here to Jess and one over at Kylie’s blog today too.


Thank you Jess for being a pioneering blogger and seeing a gap in the Aussie link-ups all those years ago to create “IBOT”. You know when I first came upon “IBOT” I was taken aback in 2012 ! I had no idea what it meant until I took a thorough look at your blog…which wasn’t even called Essentially Jess then, to get to know more!

Then I read what it stood for and why. You wanted to have a place for bloggers to add posts on a Tuesday that were created for the Tuesday – a quiet day in blogging then… I Blog On Tuesdays. Ahh! I got it. I loved gathering there and catching up and getting to know new to me bloggers and commenting too.

One day though you decided IBOT was becoming so popular that you were needing some help with comments. You put a call out for a “new to blogging concept” of having a Team IBOT. I do think that was another first! See, I told you about being a pioneer!  Warm wishes and THANK you, Denyse xx


It’s not often we get to meet bloggers in real life and I was fortunate enough to do that. I lived in Sydney when Jess flew in from Darwin for the Digital Parents’ Conference in 2013 and I did the airport pick-up and quick trip around places in Sydney before leaving her with our mutual friends to attend the conference.

Here’s a few pics of that morning way back Jess. I note you are not in these…as being a blogger, we tend to focus not on ourselves when it comes to images!!

Manly Beach. We had a walk around here after breakfast.

The walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach.

Early Morning Surfers at Manly Beach. We had breakfast in Manly.

The view from North Head back to Sydney and South Head. I enjoyed showing Jess where I used to live!

Now, it’s enough from me. I am looking forward to being educated more in 2017 and remaining part of #TeamIBOT each Tuesday as Kylie assumes responsiblity and we are joined by other bloggers who also love IBOT as much as I do!

Blogging on Tuesdays (and always a NEW previously unpublished post) is one blogging habit I will not break!

Did you link up for IBOT today? Here is the link!