Wednesday 22nd February 2017

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!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TnQWp8VBwqQ/UePpQ7YiMWI/AAAAAAAAArw/StA8xwN1J7A/s1600/meditation+for+children.jpg

 

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!

Denyse.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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!

Denyse.

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.

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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!

TEACHERS.

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.

PARENTS.

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.

KIDS.

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!

Denyse.

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?

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Last Minute Gift Ideas For Teachers. 366/331.

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Teachers. 366/331.

The end of the school year is nigh. Can I hear a YAY?

Some states have already commenced end of year holidays. Other still remain at school or at least the public schools are still operating.

Are you looking forward to:

  • No more early mornings.
  • No school lunches to pack.
  • No searching for a lost shoe/library book

But wait, you also thought about getting a present for the class teacher or teachers didn’t you?

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I know there have been gift guides galore but if you want something directly from teachers..I have some here.

  • card or note is a great way to show appreciation
  • it is never “expected” to give a teacher a gift
  • Parents and children may decide that there is no reason for a gift or message & that’s fine too
  • Teachers who are parents had these thoughts about chocolate..some loved this, others said no thanks!

Unknown-2

  • personal notes, cards from parents and child ALWAYS a hit
  • gift vouchers up to $50 – NOT expected to be, UP to! There are limits for gifts under the Code of Conduct in NSW public schools. Check your school’s/system’s limits.
  • Popular ones include Myer, Target, Officeworks,Big W,ITunes, JB-HiFi…and more
  • homemade biscuits &  yummy treats.
  • stationery – many teachers are stationery-fans
  • A cup. A keep cup. Teachers are notorious cup-users. Maybe personalise it, but a lovely idea that gives and gives
  • I do not like alcohol being given to teachers but that is my view and I also do not  drink

So, do you have some ideas or have you already sorted out what you are doing..if indeed you are!

Denyse.

education 150

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

 

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Kids Tell About School For Real! 366/326.

Kids Tell About School For Real! 366/326.

A year ago I know of families who were getting their children ready for the BIG step of first year at school.

For some of the families it would be their first child attending Kindergarten or Prep or Reception (the first year of formal school in Australia & New Zealand has a few different names).

When those children start they are the ‘babies’ of the school although we would never say that to them. They are the ‘big’ school kids!

Indeed by the time we get to almost the end of the school year, those newly enrolled children are now the ‘big’ kids as they see other children arrive for orientation days and activities. My thought behind this post is that kids change so much in this time because they have had so many new and independent experiences and friends and the teacher(s)often rate highly in spheres of influences as the year progresses.

In the interests of researching the true facts, I engaged some blogging friends and charged them with asking some questions of these

experts of school now they’ve been there for one year

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I do not say that lightly, it is a HUGE transition they have made, and I so loved their honest responses.

Can you tell me why kids have to go to school?

Boy aged 5


Because kids need to go to school because it’s very important because they need to learn.


Girl aged 6

So they can learn and make new friends and have fun.

Girl aged 6

To learn stuff.

Boy aged 6

To learn

Girl aged 6.

Kids go to school to learn stuff

 

What is the best thing you learned at school this year?

Learning about experiments and scientists and doing experiments and I loved the one about baking soda and sherbert

All my tests. I really like them; they make me feel clever.

How to read and write.

Um. Making a Meanie box. (his mum and I are not quite sure what this is, but she will be making further enquiries when it comes home!!)

The best thing I’ve learned this year is maths. I love Maths.

 

 What’s been something new that your teacher has taught you?

Taught me how to read and write

Antonyms. I like thinking of opposites.

That Jesus got born on Christmas Day.

Hmm. Reading and how to sound out for reading.

I can read now.

 

Is there something else you want to share about going to school?

I like going to school because there’s all sorts of new things and new friends.

100 Days of Prep was really, really fun. My whole family came and I felt really special. I like music, writing, maths and oral language the best.

That it’s fun in the playground.

 I have lots of friends and I have fun with them.

I like going on excursions at school too.

 

Kids in their first year of school are pretty much on the ball! Here’s what some thought about the role of the Principal in their schools, as part of a post I wrote earlier this year.

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Thanks to the parents who transcribed and got those great words to me for today!

Denyse.

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I’ve blogged as a guest blogger over at Kylie Purtell’s place today as she is getting her little one  big girl ready for Kindergarten Orientation and will be a ‘school mum’ before she knows it! Thanks for having me Kylie. Of course I am there for linking up for I Blog On Tuesdays too.

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Say YES or NO to Homework. 366/264.

Say YES or NO to Homework. 366/264.

I am not a fan of homework and I’ve written about that before.

My views are that of a retired K-6 principal, teacher and parent. They relate to K-6 education only.

Last week I saw a person asking what could be done about homework so a child stayed interested in school. What the actual? More homework and added home study is, in my opinion, NOT going to keep your child interested in school. In fact, I dare say, the opposite can occur. However, I know that parents want the best for their kids. Always. But is homework a battle to win or not?

Here are MY reasons for saying YES to Homework.

  1. It is an activity which your children like to do and is done with your oversight (not doing it for them)
  2. It is based on school work already learned at school and so it is revision
  3. It can be completed over a few days at home averaging say, 10 minutes for a young child each day around 20-30 minutes for the senior years of K-6 schools
  4. It has  variety within it such as asking questions and providing a response to take back to school to share rather than paper sheets to complete as the ONLY activity
  5. It does not take time away from your family life including sport and recreation activities and hobbies
  6. It is something that does not require more than a small reminder from parents
  7. It gets marked by the teacher and provides some feedback/guidance for the students.

mum-kid-number

Here are MY reasons for saying NO to Homework.

  1. It is an activity that your children avoid, pretend there is none set and/or leave it till the last minute despite you knowing that the homework is part of the school’s program
  2. It contains a considerable amount of work to be completed that is not readily understood by your children and/or they have never heard about it before
  3. It is onerous on time that could be better spent….say, outside playing, having a chat, reading a book, engaging in sport, hobbies and family activities
  4. It is worksheet after worksheet and can not be clearly seen to be ‘part of the current school work for your children’…in fact it may even be in U.S. Spelling and be a photocopied worksheet where concepts and language slightly differ (subtle but it can make a difference) to what your children are learning in the Australian curriculum
  5. It is being done to satisfy the school’s rules or regulations..or whatever that may seem to be. NSW Department of Education (public schools) do not state that homework is compulsory. In fact, it is a policy to be set  by each school in conjunction with the parents. I cannot state the position for other systems, states or schools.
  6. It is not marked in a timely fashion, giving rise to the notion that the homework is only being given because it has to be.
  7. It creates a tension and a barrier in the relationship you have with your children and a pressure that is completely unnecessary in the overall scheme of things in learning.

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It’s the end of Term 3 in NSW schools and I know that many others are already on school holidays as we get some rest (ha!) and ready to rock up again in Term 4.

Now that there is just one term to go for the school year 2016, what are your stories to share about homework?

Love to hear from you and whether you are a teacher or a parent too!

Thank you.

Denyse.

education 150

Linking with Kylie Purtell over here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

 

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My Favourite Teacher. A True Story. 366/257.

My Favourite Teacher. A True Story. 366/257.

In my role as a ‘teacher of pre-service teachers’ we often began our long tutorial sessions with a story. Sometimes they were like this, and other times they were from a parent’s perspective. Today’s post is from a book and is a true story.

I chose it because I have been a teacher of children whose first language is NOT English. Often school, when they are aged 5, is the first new place they have been to without their parents and it is a very strange place indeed, especially when you have no idea what people are saying to you. I have taught children whose parents literally have come from the airport to the house, then to the school because of the value they place on education. Mind you, it can be quite a shock trying to settle in children who have no concept of ‘school’ nor being away from the family. In some case, we were fortunate to have older children in the school who spoke the child’s first language and they helped us in those early days with basic communication.

 

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Water Boy No More. Tanveer Ahmed. Psychiatrist and Journalist.

Mrs Henderson was a tall brunette with thick-set glasses that she often lowered to the tip of her nose, peering with fascination as her students pointed to flashcards and attempted to name them in English.

I was one of those students who attended her special English classes for newly arrived immigrants. I sat with seven others each day for one hour as Mrs Henderson patiently recited the alphabet, held up pictures and tried to decipher a host of confused phrases in different languages from the diverse set of students.

There was Ramazan, a big Lebanese boy whose parents ran a kebab store. We became close friends despite him trying to sit on me and crush me in the playground on my first day!

Tinh was a Vietnamese girl, a few years older than me and I remember her wearing a red cardigan with matching ribbons in her hair everyday.

Several kids were from countries I’d never heard of like Malta and Yugoslavia.

None of us stayed in the class for more than a few weeks. It was a short, intensive bridging class

I’d arrived in Australia from Bangladesh only a month earlier and I was 5. The only English I knew was “I want water”. I had few friends initially but remained well-hydrated.

Mrs Henderson, however, expanded on my water line to include glasses, the notion of drinking as opposed to swallowing or sipping, being thirsty or even the meaning of spillage which I was able to illustrate with ease!

By the end of the first week, my one line had become a soliloquy on the joys of quenching my thirst with a cold glass of unspilled water.

Mrs Henderson has a soothing voice that calmed our nerves as we slowly talked though the alphabet. I had never felt so stupid in my life but she had a way of making it all feel normal.

She would meet with my mother at the end of the week and advise her about ways I could be helped at home.

I left her class after almost a month. My English was still below for the kindergarten level. I stumbled though the year and progressed to first grade.

I would still run into Mrs Henderson when she supervised us during recess or lunch. She once brought me an apple and asked me to name 3 other pieces of fruit.

At the end of first grade when she learnt I had topped the class, she sent a card of congratulations to me. Giving it to my mother when she picked it up, I noticed it has a picture of a glass of water on the front.

 

From: My Favourite Teacher. Ed. Robert Macklin. New South Book. 2011.

Do you have favourite teacher memory to share?

What made that person a ‘favourite’ with you?

Denyse.

education 150

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

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Do You Remember School Milk? 366/236.

Do You Remember School Milk? 366/236.

What made me think more about ‘milk’ and its importance in the Australian agricultural landscape was the recent Four Corners show here. I do not pretend to understand the on-going issues nor form any view. I was prompted to write about ‘school milk’ and the memories of the school milk program after I heard suggestions that one way to help the dairy industry could be the re-introduction of the School Milk program. I do not think that will occur, so I am taking a little trip down that memory lane again and want to tell you a bit about School Milk from my perspective!

My School Milk Story.

I started school in late 1954 (yes, in September aged 4.75) and I recall school milk being part of ‘our day’ from around age 8. Remember the post about memories? It is quite possible I had school milk before that age but have forgotten! I do recall ‘not liking the milk at all’ but we were compelled to drink it. Mum did her best to encourage me as she found some ‘flavoured’ straws and I could try to drink with one of those! Flavoured straws are still around as I bought them for my older grandkids (sorry, distracted!).

I liked being a milk-bottle monitor to go and rinse out the empties though as it meant some time out of the class room doing an important job. When we moved to Sydney I know there was school milk for those remaining 2 years of primary school but I may have been excused from having it. I really detested (and still do) plain, warm milk. Just not a milk fan.

Fast forward to teaching in the country in the early to mid 1970s and milk was still being delivered – not free anymore, but the kids did not have to pay I don’t think, with costs met by the school. Milk came via the local or district milkman and came in flavour sachets and it was cold! Sometimes in winter it froze. It was in a variety of flavours – banana, chocolate, strawberry and maybe lime. I did not fancy it if any kid lined up for a second one let me tell you, as I never could be sure of the result after recess!! Teachers didn’t mind if there were some plain sachets (they were like a sunnyboy shape and pack) because the staffroom always needed milk for coffee and tea!

That’s my school milk story but in the interest of facts, I am adding two sources here. It really is a bit of a story!

Several states issued free milk to school children prior to 1950, and from 1950 to 1973 all Australian children aged 5 to 12 were given up to half a pint of milk to drink each school day. Source: is a most informative one from the National Museum Australia archives here.

Credit: National Museum

Credit: National Museum Australia

Then I found this blog. From someone who works/worked at the National Archives. Here is a link to it.

So why was all of this fresh milk being delivered? It was largely a public health scheme – aimed at improving the nutrition of Australian children. Similar schemes were being run in Britain and New Zealand – there was a great deal of concern in these post-war years that young children weren’t receiving a balanced diet. In 1944, an Australia-wide nutritional survey had found that most Australian households were consuming significantly less than the recommended daily intake of calcium. Some Australian States had been running their own free milk schemes independently – but in February 1950 the Commonwealth Government decided to centralise the scheme so that (in theory) no child under the age of 13 would miss out.

It also helped, of course, that several Australian states had milk surpluses – the milk purchased by the Commonwealth Government for school children would be a very welcome source of income.

Milk-in-schools-large

Credit: National Archives

What memories do you have of School Milk?

Would your family members have been part of the School Milk years?

Ask them their stories!

Denyse.

education 150

Joining with Kylie Purtell and blogging friends over here for I Blog On Tuesdays. Of course I blog on Tuesdays…and every other day of the week too.

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