Monday, 23 November 2009

ACSSO National Education Conference

The recent ACSSO National Education Conference in Hobart presented a fascinating 'mix' of educational issues and discussions.

The two-day event, organised by the two national peak parent organisations ACSSO (Australian Council for State Schools Organisations) and the APC (the Australian Parents Council), provided the opportunity for parent representatives, academics, researchers, international and guest speakers to discuss issues concerning the education of our children. The range and scope of topics was amazing - from cybersafety and the teaching of languages in infants and primary school, to chaplaincy programs and values education. What stood tall above it all was the over-riding concern that we need to straddle the barriers between private and public education and work for the good of ALL children! Amen to that I say!!

It was a privilege to be given the opportunity to present a session on the work I have been doing with parents for the past three years - particularly in the area of transition to high school - a significant period, which has been largely undervalued and overlooked in terms of support for parents and students alike.

The response was extremely positive and very encouraging, and it seems the time is ripe for us to finally recognise that if we don't implement some very basic and practical strategies to ease this transition, then we will continue to add to the current statistics of disengaged learners and early school leavers. We need to be more proactive, as educators and parents, in providing our children with skills that will open the doors of 'choice' - and the longer they remain in either education or some form of work-based training, the more choices were are giving them!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Back to School 'Blues'

Well, it's almost that time of the year again when kids start to feel all kinds of emotions about starting a new year at school - and parents as well!

For those little ones who are about to step into the world of 'big school' there is the excitement of new uniforms, new backpacks, new routines and new friends. For those starting high school there is excitement tempered with a sense of the 'unknown' - they are moving into a new environment where they will be known as the 'little fish in a big pond'. For those stepping into their HSC year - a different range of emotions; from relief that they have made it this far to a slow burn of nerves about how they will get through it all.

These emotions (and others!) are felt equally by parents, but we are the ones who need to 'keep it together' for our kids. Each phase of our children's learning carries its own unique blend of highs and lows - but where do we go for help? Discussions at the school gate aren't always the best answer. A few hints:
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your child's teachers, as they are your 'front line' of information
  • Give your child some sense of responsibility - let them pack their bags (doesn't hurt for you to check in the early years!); encourage them to ask questions at school about homework etc, instead of you doing it all the time
  • Help them develop some skills in organisation and time management - use planners/calendars/diaries to plan ahead
  • DON'T do their homework for them - guide them and be there to answer questions, but encourage them to take responsibility for their own work
  • Encourage them to set goals for themselves - even easy ones like remembering to pack their library bag or lunch box!
  • DON'T set goals for your children - if they are not important to your child and they are YOUR goals, not theirs, you are setting them up to fail.
  • Give them the opportunity to make mistakes - they will learn far more from their mistakes than their successes
  • TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN.....especially in their HSC year! I have just gone through two consecutive HSCs, and none of us would have made it if we hadn't spent time TALKING to each other!
There are a number of great resources for parents as well. The newly formed Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau (an initiative of the 2020 Summit) provides lots of useful links for parent information. Check out

Have a great 2009!