Wednesday 26th January 2022

Australia. School Days. 4/51. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2020.

Australia. School Days. 4/51. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2020.

In years past I may have written about Australia Day.  This link I found very helpful about reconciliation.

I now write of my love for this country and all its people. Particularly those of the first nations as I pay my respect on the home page of my blog.

Love seeing these flags fly together. Thank you NSW Public School.

School’s Back. Almost.

In Australia schools return for first term of the year around the end of the summer holidays: late January or early February. It is not a great time of year weather-wise as it is often hotter in the coming months that any other time. However, after almost 6 weeks of school holidays. parents are practically willing schools to be open…and they are! Mind you, I know that schools have been occupied in recent weeks (before school returned) getting classrooms ready, holding meetings, having open days for new families…and in some of the worst affected areas, trying to establish some school buildings where they have been destroyed by recent bushfires.

It about now that in many Australian homes, there are parents doing this:- approaching child’s bedroom. Knocking on the door. It’s the first day of school. No answer. Open the door, go to the window, draw the curtains, and say “come on, it’s time to get to school.” “nnnnnooo, do I have to?” says occupant of bed. “yes you do”. But “whyyyyy?” “Because you’re the principal and that’s why.”

Wishing this favourite school of mine…North Kellyville P.S, a great second year! #IBelongatNK What a year ahead..and this photo is from the beginning of 2019.

27th January. A day of note in my life.

On 27.1.1970 I commenced my role a permanent teacher with N.S.W. Department of Education at Barraba Central School. It was (still is) K-12 school in north-western N.S.W. My parents drove me up there with all my teaching resources and clothes and whatever else 20 year old me would have needed. After meeting the school’s Deputy, he recommended if I was looking for a place to stay, the share house with 3 other teachers was just opposite the school. That is where I was accepted and lived for my first year of teaching. More about that here in Telling My Story.


Where I lived as a first year teacher in Barraba, N.S.W.

Memories of Reading. At School.

I love(d) reading and cannot remember learning to read other than sitting in front of charts with the consonants and vowels listed and we had to chant them…

a (a, not the letter name) is for apple b is for boat  c is for car  d is for duck….you get the idea. I also add that some 15 years after learning from these, I had them to teach from in my 1970s classrooms.

One reading idea which took off in the 1980s was Drop Everything And Read. D.E.A.R. In the K-6 schools where I was a teacher and school executive these were allocated times in each day 0 usually straight after lunch break for EVERYONE in the school to read in silence. Kids could bring in their own books or magazines. It was about a period of sharing the love for reading and need to an enjoyable and relaxed way. Some kids in my year 2 classes had ‘chapter books’ (that was such a landmark for many!) and some could use the class readers, or picture books or bring in their own.

An important part of this Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (U.S.S.R. was another acronym) was the quiet, the time to be with the book/magazine and to be immersed. Of course not every child could do this but there were more that could. I, the teacher, also read. So did the office staff. BUT…sadly, and I cannot tell you when, this idea as a whole school program discontinued in many place.

BUT…the good news! 

Individual schools and teachers are continuing the practice individually or as a school program and it is mostly in High Schools. Big yay for that. Here’s some screen shots of twitter conversations and a poll I carried out.

This one was of special interest as I know how hard teachers are working in schools to comply with marking, testing, and so much more…sadly even their own reading for interest or enjoyment is being compromised…..

I am glad to see this practice happening in many high schools. I know it’s a challenge to find time in any school day for sustained reading. However, if you can find time at home, even better. There are of course, reluctant and non-readers and my friend and teacher-librarian Megan Daley (see her details here from when she was featured as a Woman of Courage) has many categories to help families choose titles and stories to engage all readers.

Quite a few years ago, I too wrote the topic of reading…and here’s my advice: from K-2 teacher, K-6 principal and mother and grandmother!


My suggestions for 10 Ways to Raise a Reader.

  1. Before you have your child(ren) enjoy reading yourself.
  2. Find a wide range of reading interests as reading does not have to be restricted to books and fiction.
  3. Think: reading is around us! Signs, newspapers, magazines, on-line, captions, instructions, comics, picture books and more.
  4. Talk about reading with your child(ren)’s other parent. Do you both have a way of viewing reading as important?
  5. Child is in utero….read to said child! It can be an instruction manual if you like, but a picture book read in your voice will be remembered by your child once he or she is born. It is true!
  6. Make a habit of reading a story from a picture book (showing the pictures too) every night at a similar time to create a habit of this ‘wonder of words and images’ in your child’s life from BIRTH.
  7. Continue above..not as an oral reading practice session  (please!) at bedtime until you and your child cannot fit together for the closeness of story time (this is part of the wonderful way to raise a reader!).
  8. Be seen to read yourself.
  9. Make reading a natural part of your child’s day by having books around, on benches, in the car, by the bedside and near the media which can be swtiched off for “silent reading time” or “D.rop E.verything A.nd R.ead” time at home.
  10. Encourage library membership, books and book vouchers as gifts and do not forget the enjoyment of being read to by an adult. Kids reading to adults can be reserved for the after-school reader practice.

From Parents To Their Child’s First Educator/Teacher.

And, finally but not last…My time-honoured message from parents to their children’s educators. Made by me and made beautiful by Kelly Exeter. You may definitely share this. I made it to be shared.

Whatever you are up to on 27 January 2020 I hope it goes well. From the website here. 

Our First Peoples are the traditional custodians of our beautiful lands and waterways and have a fundamental role in the great Australian story. 

We aspire to an Australia Day that can increasingly include a recognition and celebration by all Australians of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to our nation.

Thank you for being part of Life This Week’s community.

I always appreciate your blog posts and comments.


Link Up #173


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  1. Hi Denyse, Ethan, my grandson is going into Grade 1 and I can’t believe it. Ethan has a library card and so does Elliot now. His parents have read to him (and now Elliot) since birth and he now shares their love of reading. The bedtime ritual is two books, one Ethan reads and one his Mum or Dad reads to him. Elliot who is 20 months often goes missing and I find him in his room ‘reading’ a book. Such a wonderful start for them both. #lifethisweek

    • Oh how sweet that is. I love it when kids discover books and reading so young and obviously their parents have done an amazing job.

      A library card is a window to the world of loving books and reading.

      Thank you Sue what a great update and I can’t believe Ethan is off to grade one either.


  2. What a wonderful reminder about the importance of teachers and reading Denyse. We were both teachers and our daughters are avid readers and now our grandchildren are . being introduced to books from birth. I love finding interesting and fun books for them and sitting down with them to read. It’s a while ago since I had to rouse the Mathematician from his bed to go back to school 🙂 but we have fond memories, as you do, of those first days back. We do miss the camaraderie of it all but are coping OK!! Thanks for sharing your memories of teaching and the importance of DEAR, which our school still does each morning. I’ve linked up with an Australia themed post from yesterday.

    • I am so glad “you” read the one about getting up and out of bed for school Deb.

      Yes, reading and a love of books has always been part of our parenting, the grandparenting. When I returned to schools after my first retirement from being a principal, I became RFF and could choose what I did. I got a series of picture books and made lessons based on the creative arts for some. I ended up buying every Eric Carle book because of his art works. All of these books have been donated to school libraries and grandchildren since then.

      We made it a practice to give new babies in our family, The Very Hungry Caterpillar as it is so good. I have a little vid of the grandchildren reading it a w while back. Memories!

      I admit this is actually the first year (only too till now) that I do not miss going back to school and the work routine. Funny how embedded it was for 40 years and then being part of it as grandkids and parents also returned to school and work.

      Looking forward to a gentler start for school year 2020 where kids and communities have been affected by fires.


  3. Great post!
    I am looking forward to having my house to myself after 2 months of noise and mess. I am also dreading the return to school; the routine. I miss my kids when they are at school all day! I can’t seem to find a happy balance!

    • I know! It’s weird. I see all of the parents just hanging out for school hols before Christmas and then by a week or two at the end of January hanging out for school’s return.

      I also think most of Australia got robbed of holidays and relaxation because of the awfulness of the fires and more. It’s been relentless.

      Hope you are all safe and sound..


  4. I’m a reader and always have been, voraciously so. I read aloud when Sarah was in utero and I read aloud to her most days after she was born and yet she has never enjoyed reading. This most recent holiday (she’s now almost 22) she announced that she was going to read a book so I bought her Trent Dalton’s. While she didn’t finish it, she has made some progress. I wonder whether it’s because Grant has never really been a reader, but then nor is my father yet Mum reads as much as I do. Who knows?

    • Ah, very interesting. The family traits are familiar…pardon the pun.

      I am (was) a huge reader of books. My mother was not. But her sister, the aunt who spoiled me and my bro rotten was so I am sure I got my reading gene from her. My mother, I vividly remember, told me when I was immersed in a book aged about 14 that “I am not going to let you borrow books in term time if all you are going to do is read”….I think too, I was not a good helper around the house. Ever.

      Love the differences in us all though. My husband did not read a lot of books for many years but now has a regular pile on the go next to his bed which he enjoys before his arvo siesta.

      My Dad became a great reader once Mum had died and enjoyed lots of reading including being in his retirement place book club but alas his eyesight at 96 reading is very limited and he tried to get through a part of the Australian each day with a magnifier.


  5. Great suggestions on how to raise a reader and the importance of teaching. I grew up with books and avid readers in my family. I’m a reader, too. Happy Australia Day to you! #lifethisweek

    • Thank you so much Natalie.

      I am pretty passionate about reading. I am somewhat disappointed I can’t get into a real book these days much but I know I love my audiobooks so will enjoy that way.


  6. I remember the weather this time of year giving me the worst first day at a school ever. i was ready to quit school for life, just becuase of the heat!! And it was about my 6th school, so it wasn’t even that new to me to be starting a new school.

    • This time of year sucks and it has always seemed the worst time to make anyone get dressed in hot uniforms and shoes & socks and sit in a classroom.

      For many though things are much better than my (and your) January and February memories because schools have installed air con.

      I admit it, air con is the best. This is why we will only rent a house with ducted air. Gotta be comfy!

      Your school record of attendance is, I am surmising, due to your parents….enough said?


  7. I loved reading this Denyse. Getting children reading is a passion of mine. My own children loved reading and were good learners. I’m sure there is a connection there. I haven’t heard of the R.E.A.D. Method but it does make sense.

    • Thanks so much Jennifer.

      Yes a love of reading and books makes a huge difference to becoming a learner. However, even with the best intentions not every child will respond that way for reasons that could include a learning disability.

      However, it is an ideal start.


  8. Such great tips, Denyse and as a primary school teacher, I was a big advocate of DEAR (in various forms and various acronyms!) Reading is such a pleasure, I think it’s never to early to foster a love of books! I do feel a bit sorry for the kids starting school at the hottest time of the year, in the UK we used to go back in Autumn which was not too hot, not too cold but just right!

    • Sensible UK.

      Our first term is always crazy hot and yet there is no alternative. The good news of course, is many schools now have air-con.

      That was a luxury I did not enjoy in most of my schools. At the school where I was principal it sometimes got as hot as 50C upstairs and the kids would have to come to the hall. The P&C and I wanted to put air con in but first the school’s electrical switchboards needed changing …back then $56,000. No-one had $ for that in their coffers.

      Of course, as time went on, I know the school is now updated and has air-conditioning.

      Reading rocks..but not all kids enjoy books sadly. This was why those who did not could bring in comic-type books and suitable magazines for Drop Everything And Read.


  9. I read through Kindle. I find it more convenient and books are cheaper.

  10. Thank you for sharing some of your memories in education with us, Denyse. I look back on my teaching days very fondly, but I am happy to be retired now. My kids’ elementary school did SSR (we didn’t use the “U” here in the states) and I thought it was a wonderful program. We didn’t do it at the high school where I taught, which I think is a shame. Anything that instills a love of reading to children is worthwhile.

    • Thanks so much Laurie. I too am glad to be retired as is my husband. I think you get to s stage in life where…”enough is enough” work-wise and so retirement was made for that.

      I “understand” completely the U being left out of sustained silent reading.

      Love of reading is so important if it can be encouraged. Not all people “are” readers though.


  11. Praying for those in Australia who have suffered such loss, even if not physically, at least through stress. May the first term of the year go well for all. I love the idea of DEAR. I’ve heard some work places even do it. My kind of place! 🙂 I love to read more than anything.

    • Thank you for your kind and caring words Lisa.

      First term is started and whilst there are always hiccups at this time of the year, I am sure, with all the experience in schools, all will be well. There are counselling services made available to students where the impact of these awful bushfires has been felt most and I do know that they will be used.

      Reading is a gift and I too love it.


  12. Such good tips on raising readers Denyse. School’s back and for me, that just means more traffic on the roads to be honest! 😛 Hope you’ve had a good week

    • Thank you! Yes, kids are back…and then Uni will be back…and up here my shopping centres will be quieter!!

      The week has been OK. The heat, as you would know, does not help. Take care too.