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Communicating with your child about school


Communicating with your child about school can be difficult. As children grow into teenagers, they often become less communicative.

Dr Rosina McAlpine, Parenting Expert and CEO of Win Win Parenting believes that parents and teens are still adjusting to who the child is becoming.

“As children grow, especially in those adolescent or teen years they are becoming a person, they’re finding their way in the world, they are finding their personality, their wishes, who they want to be in the world. Parents are needing to guide and support of course, but also let go and allow teenagers to become the person to have the opinions, to grow into the person they are going to grow into. So that’s why sometimes it’s difficult to communicate.”

A guide to communicating with your child about school

Especially approaching the topics of grades, wellbeing and relationships at school children and teenagers can become closed off to communication.

Communicating with your child about school day

Getting your child to open up about their day at school doesn’t always feel natural.

“Those teenage years children can become much less talkative, they want privacy so it can be difficult navigating those years.”

Dr McAlpine suggests the best time for communicating with your child about school is when your child is a ‘little bit trapped with you’.

Scenarios where parents may have their child’s attention may include:

  • Driving in the car;

  • In their room at night when they are in bed; or

  • On a walk.

How should I ask my child about their school day?

The best starting point to effectively communicating with your child about school is to ask open-ended questions.

Dr McAlpine suggests these more specific starter questions:
  • “Tell me the best thing that happened today.”
  • “So who did you get to hang out with today? And what did you get to do together? Were you playing sports? What were you doing?”
  • “What did you and (best friend(s))do together? Did you get to hang out?”

Asking more specific questions, opens up your conversation to more than ‘how was your day?’.

Starting with more positive, open-ended questions may also allow you to open up the conversation to more negative topics about their day.

Dr McAlpine suggests the question “tell me one challenging thing you experienced today or that you have overcome today?”.

It’s already saying you know every day can have a challenging thing and what was it and how did you overcome it.

Another approach could be to just identify your child’s emotions.

“You might just say look I’ve got the feeling you might be a bit down – have you had some negative thoughts today, has something negative happened today? If something negative happened what might it have been? Are you anxious about something?”

Teenagers often do not want parents to be involved or interfere with school life. They can lack communication because they are concerned about what parents would do with that information.

“How you set up your communication with your child is going to make a big difference.”

Dr McAlpine believes that communication is opened up if children feel that they can tell you anything without you ‘going off the deep end’, punishing them or being disappointed in them.

No child is going to put their hand up to tell you that they’ve done the wrong thing if they’re gonna get punished or that they’ve done the wrong thing if you’re gonna be disappointed.

She suggests taking a collaborative problem solving approach.

If you insist and say look I’m not gonna rush in, I’m just gonna listen and I’m just gonna understand, I’m not gonna tell you what to do but we could explore options together.

Especially as kids get older, they don’t want to be told they want to have opinions and be able to problem solve themselves.

With her own children, Dr McAlpine reminds them that they are a kid and still learning and that she is an adult and still learning.

“Knowing that adults make mistakes. So if adults make mistakes, kids can surely make mistakes too.”

Communicating with your child about school work

Asking your child to do school work, homework or study is not always effective.

Dr McAlpine suggests opening up communication to your child’s aspirations.

 “If they’ve got a clear idea of where they want to go then parents and children are in a really good position to negotiate.”

For example, if your child wants to be an engineer or a doctor, it is ok to remind them they need those grades to be able to achieve that goal.

When communicating with your child about school work, you can motivate them with the job, career or life that they want to achieve.

It is a little more difficult to motivate your child to do school work if they are unsure about their future pathway.

“You can say look if you don’t put your effort in now to learn to discipline yourself and do this, it’s going to close your options in the future. The more self-discipline you’ve got, the more effort you put in, the more options you’ve got in life open up for you.”

Another strategy is to keep it short and ask your child to make a 10-15 minute start on school work, or let them know they won’t be able to do other things until they complete their work.

“Every family wants to negotiate it differently, but it’s easier to inspire someone than to make someone do something.”

Approaching your child about bad school grades

Communicating with your child about bad grades can be difficult. Parents need to set boundaries whilst balancing their child’s growing independence.

Dr McAlpine explains, The Win Win parenting approach moves away from ‘award, discipline and punishment’ and looks at what caused the issue.

“The question is, how did we get here?” said Dr McAlpine.

If your child is exhibiting bad behaviour at school or lower grades, remember that they are open to growing and changing. Dr McAlpine emphasises the key is that parents and children both want a good outcome.

“It might be that the child hasn’t put enough effort in, so the quick fix is, alright you’ve got low grades – we’ve talked about this before. If you want to be an engineer or a hairdresser you’re gonna have to do some study and learn to have a great life.

So what can we do together to help you put more effort? 

Do we need to go to tutoring? Do we need to practice more, go and see the teacher or get some workbooks?”

External vs Internal Comfort

Dr McAlpine recommends teaching your child ‘internal comfort’ not ‘external comfort’ when communicating with them about changing their behaviour.

communicating with your child about school.

This form of communication teaches important values.

External comfort

External comfort can look like rewarding your child with something if they are good, or not giving iPad time if they are bad.

“That means that (their) whole existence is all about doing things that please you, so (they) get what (they) want; and avoiding doing things that don’t please you so (they) don’t miss out on what (they) want.”

Internal comfort

It is important for children to understand internal comfort.

“What is good behaviour and what’s not good behaviour?

Good behaviour is behaviour that is helpful to me and doesn’t harm others around me. But unhelpful behaviour can harm me and others around me. In this case, how to achieve grades if they are achieving the grades that are negative.”

Tips for communicating with your child about school

Dr McAlpine leaves parents with two main tips for communicating with your child about school:

1. Listen, Listen, Listen more than you talk

It is important to listen to your child before following your instincts to guide them.

Dr McAlpine uses the following example:

If a child wakes up for school in the morning and says ‘I’m not going to school I’m so ugly’, it is not effective to tell them ‘you look so beautiful’.

“In their attempts to be kind to their child, they did not listen, they did not hear what their child just said.”

She suggests asking something like ‘I’m so sorry that you woke up this morning feeling less attractive than you want to feel, what’s brought that on?’

If they say something like a zit, their hair or clothes you can remind them ‘when you say ugly you mean that your hair’s not right, or, your clothes are not right.’

From there you can decide what to do, put a bit of makeup on the zit or choose different clothing in the wardrobe.

Check in regularly

Dr McAlpine shares one of her favourite strategies when communicating with your teen is to listen for 5 minutes.

“I say I’m not even going to respond so that I don’t interrupt you and ask you questions and I’ll just let you talk for 5 minutes.”

Have a respectful, open communication stream

Teenagers don’t want to be told what to do or yelled at

You and your child should have respectful communication through listening.

“It’s more about inviting problem solving, asking, communicating together rather than yelling.”

Children will often not communicate if they feel like they might get in trouble or disappoint their parents.

“You just don’t dob yourself in.”

This does not mean that you let your teenagers be rude to you

Parents should still have boundaries when communicating with their child.

If your child is not communicating respectfully, Dr McAlpine suggests asking them to calm down and come back when they are ready to problem solve together.

 “Role-model what you want, be positive in terms of how you approach things with teens.”

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Home » Education Advice » The importance of early childhood education

The importance of early childhood education


Early childhood education gives children important opportunities to learn and develop. Early Childhood Education allows your child to socialise, gain independence and learn new habits.

NSW and Victoria are investing into early childhood education to provide a free year of preschool for all families. The importance of early childhood education in supporting the transition to primary school benefits many families.

The importance of early childhood education

The importance of early childhood education is being recognised globally.

“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.”

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Why is early childhood education important?

Early childhood education enhances cognitive abilities

A child’s cognitive development is their ability to think, explore and solve problems.

Experiences such as learning to hold a pencil, sharing, and taking turns help your child’s developmental skills and build a strong foundation.

the importance of early childhood education. playing dress up at preschool.

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

At preschool, your child will learn a lot through playing, creating and experimenting.

Playing helps your child develop skills such as:

  • Self-esteem and confidence

  • Problem-solving

  • Increases their vocabulary

  • Increases their ability to understand concepts such as ‘bigger’ vs ‘taller’

  • Sharing and collaboration

  • Allows for more independence

  • Planning and thinking ahead

  • Negotiation

  • Understanding the concept of time

Research also revealed early childhood education also assists with ‘pre-literacy’ and ‘pre-math’ skills like sorting, counting and recognising patterns.

Early childhood education builds social and emotional skills

Children begin learning how to experience, manage and release emotions early from life.

Research shows children who develop strong emotional skills early in life manage their everyday social interactions as an adult better.

A pioneering UNICEF program revealed that play, exercises and storytelling in early childhood education allowed children to:

  • Better express their feelings;

  • Get along better;

  • Have empathy for others; and

  • Feel happier.

The emotional skills your child learns in preschool allows them to build strong, positive relationships.

Again, play and activities such as ball games are a simple way for young children to build relationships.

Examples your child is gaining emotional development from early childhood education includes:
  • Showing affection for others (this may include their friends or teacher)

  • Forming healthy friendships

  • Being aware of their own feelings or other’s feelings (this could be done through words including “I’m sad” or “is mummy sad?”)

  • Expressing a positive self-image or being proud of accomplishments

  • Learning from errors

Early childhood education helps your child build emotional resilience and teaches your child how to self-regulate.

Early childhood education gets children ready for school

Early childhood education helps adjust children who are starting kindergarten or ‘prep school’. Research demonstrates children who attended preschool are able to concentrate and cooperate better.

Enrolment in the Yarra Valley Grammar Early Learning Centre makes for a seamless transition to primary school. The development of school readiness skills begins from the time of commencement, building a strong foundation for learning. Purpose built facilities and an elite on campus bush program provide the children with engaging experiences and teachers who make it a priority to learn about each child and to cater for their individual needs and education.

Mrs Nicky Callow, Director of ELC Yarra Valley Grammar

Children also experience a consistent structure and routine, like at school in early childhood education.

Many independent schools also have an ‘Early Learning Centre’ or Preschool on premises to ensure a smooth transition to school.

At Alphington Grammar School our Early Learning Centre teachers focus on building strong foundations and learning opportunities for all children using self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments.

Ms Danielle Munro, ELC Leader at Alphington Grammar School

At Alphington Grammar School, the children also undergo language acquisition in the early years.

“Our Greek Immersion Program has recently been recognised by the Department of Education as an example of “best practice” from a service provider in language learning. The program creates an immersive and engaging learning environment by encouraging the children to communicate in Greek while undertaking their daily tasks and activities. We believe that naturalistic language acquisition in the Early Years is the most effective type of language learning, and it is also an essential component of the transition into our language programs in the Primary School.”

 

Alphington Grammar School Early Learning Centre: Greek from FKA Children’s Services on Vimeo.

Early childhood education leads to a successful future

Attending early childhood education has shown successful outcomes in adulthood.

Children who partook in early childhood education were more likely to reach a higher level of education by age 35. Kids who underwent the further years of school were more likely to achieve a post-secondary degree level qualification.

The emotional intelligence learnt in primary school also can deliver long-term benefits that extend into adulthood.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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Home » Education Advice » 6 Tips for preparing your child for the HSC

6 Tips for preparing your child for the HSC


Preparing your child for the HSC can feel overwhelming for the whole family. With little time to go, make sure your child has an appropriate routine.

There are many ways to battle exam stress as a parent. Preparing your child for the HSC is the final stretch.

Tips for preparing your child for the HSC

1. Help them set goals

An important component of HSC study is setting fixed, tangible and realistic goals with your child. Have a discussion with your child about how much time they have left to study.

You may wish to be with them to help set a realistic but high goal. Depending on which stage of HSC study your child is at you could brainstorm:

  • A specific ATAR goal

  • Goals for marks at school or marks in HSC trials

  • Goals for different university courses

  • Goals for how much study to complete

You may even associate rewards with their goals. For example, studying for HSC could equate to working towards a car or holiday.

Make sure they are rewarded for their study goals. Let them watch their show, see friends or any other reward they wish after completing their daily/weekly goal.

2. Help them consolidate their knowledge

You can play a role in helping your child consolidate their study knowledge before the HSC. Helping them out this way may be a less intensive way to get work done at home outside of their study area.

Ask your child questions about what they have studied. You may also volunteer to be their ‘student’ as they teach you HSC concepts and materials they have learnt.

You may wish to assist your child by helping test them with their notes or flashcards, especially for history or science-based subjects.

3. Do what you can to take the load off

Preparing your child for the HSC can include the whole family. For this short period of time, try to do your best to assist your child, opening up more time to study.

This may look like:

  • Taking up chores or asking other siblings to help out for a short while

  • Provide healthy, nutritious meals and study snacks

  • Help create a distraction-free study space for your child at home

  • Make sure they are taking breaks, socialising and exercising

Try not to bombard your child with too many tasks while they are studying extra hours.

4. Hold them accountable

Do not put pressure on your child, however they may ask you to hold them accountable.

preparing your child for the hsc.

If they have planned to study but they are watching TV or on their phone, ask them what they are doing and if they need assistance confiscating their devices.

Remind them that they can reward themselves after studying or HSC practice for the day.

5. Ensure you addressing any excessive stress or anxiety

Whilst the HSC is important, it is just a test.

Make sure you are taking care of your child’s mental health and wellbeing.

Speak to your child and make sure you are checking up appropriately as teenagers are not very communicative. Remind them you will not be disappointed if they have tried their best.

For tips on dealing with stress and excessive signs of stress to look out for, see here.

Remember there are alternate pathways and bridging courses for tertiary education offered by universities, TAFE and colleges.

6. Encourage them till the end

Your child has plenty of opportunity to study leading up to the HSC. It is never too late to study, unless it is the day of the exam. Make sure your child is not discouraged leading up to the HSC, even 30 days can make a dramatic difference in results.

Tip: Treat your child’s break after school and before the HSC as a regular school day of study.

Make sure your child can see the finish line. They are nearly on holiday!

The HSC should not take over the significant time in your child’s life including graduation from 13 years of school, formal and many milestones.

 Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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Home » Education Advice » What you need to know about the HSC trial exams

What you need to know about the HSC trial exams


The HSC trial exams are the last internal assessments to prepare students for the HSC. They serve as a ‘trial-run’ for students sitting the HSC.

What are the HSC trial exams?

Your child’s HSC trial exams are the last internal assessment conducted at school.

What does the HSC trials format look like?

Just like the HSC, your child will have a HSC trial paper for each assessment.

The HSC trial exams will usually have the same layout as the HSC. For example, if your child is doing Advanced English they will have to do a ‘Paper 1’ and ‘Paper 2’, just like they would in the HSC.

How much do the HSC trial exams weigh?

Since HSC trial exams are ‘internal’, the weighting of the assessment depends on the school.

Most schools will allocate a weighting of around 20-40% to the HSC trial exams, although they can be more or less.

The usual layout for the final HSC mark (or ATAR) allocation is:

  • 50% – HSC Examinations
  • 50% – Internal assessments (The majority of this mark is often from trials, and the remaining weight is from Year 12 assessments at school)

To learn more about the HSC curriculum structure see here.

Are HSC trial exams harder than the HSC?

Schools will write their HSC trial papers however they wish. However, many students believe that HSC trial exams are considered harder than the HSC papers.

If your child’s school has ‘harder’ trials will they be disadvantaged?

Not at all.

All exam results are weighted. NESA has specific algorithms when calculating a final mark to produce fair results for all of the cohort.

How should my child study for HSC trials?

Encourage your child to do past papers

Doing past papers is the best way to study for the HSC trial exams.

Tip: Many schools in Australia recommend students use the CSSA HSC trial examination papers to study. This is also used by many Catholic Schools in NSW.

Treating the HSC trial exams as a trial run or another practice paper will take the pressure off your child.

Make a to-do list

Encourage your child to make a to-do list or scheduled list of content to study each day.

This will ensure your child completes what they need to before the trials with time to study. In addition, creating a list your child can ‘check-off’ can increase productivity and wellbeing.

Study in intervals

Encourage your child to conduct interval study that works for them.

Many students use the ‘Pomodoro Technique of study’.

hsc trial exams. boy sitting at desk.

This entails 25 minutes of focus followed by a short 5 minute break (with no electronics or distractions). Students also commonly study for 50 minutes followed by a short 10 minute break.

Cover everything that needs to be covered by the HSC

A guideline for what could be done before the HSC trial exams include:

  • Learning all taught content

  • Written study notes for each subject

  • Practice essays and long responses for English or Humanities subjects

  • Create a bank of feedback (this may include maths equations that they lost marks on during school assessments or teachers comments on essays)

  • Complete past papers or practice questions from teachers

Tips for the HSC trial exams

Make sure your child is prepared

Make sure your child has all the HSC trial exam dates noted down and written down somewhere.

They could even create a study plan counting down to the HSC trials. This may help as a practice run for the actual HSC and reduce nerves following the HSC trial exams.

For example, your child will learn how to make a study plan that works by making improvements from the trials or keeping it the same.

Make sure your child has a healthy study plan

Make sure your child has a study plan pinned down with lots of balance. This includes good nutrition, time for physical activity and time to socialise with friends.

Encourage your child to communicate with teachers

A great idea is to encourage your child to speak to their teacher. Teachers and schools are a big help around the HSC period and ultimately want all students to perform their best.

Many teachers have hidden tips such as predictions of what the main focus of a question might be.

Additionally, make sure your child has asked for as much feedback as possible before the end of school. Many students ask teachers to review their essays multiple times. However, using the feedback from internal assessments is usually enough to prepare children for the HSC and HSC trial exams.

What should I do if my child didn’t do well in the HSC trial exams?

If your child did not perform as well as they wished too, do not worry.

There are many ways to help your child in general.

Mainly, remember there is time to bounce back.

The HSC trial exams are only worth a portion of the internal assessment mark.

If your child does not do as well as they wished it is not time to give up. Doing well in the HSC will be worthwhile as it still makes up 50% of their final mark.

Put in effort to encourage your child to keep going and remind them that they’re almost at the finish mark! 

Mistakes in the HSC trial exams are also a great way to study for the HSC to make sure they have everything covered.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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Home » Education Advice » The benefits of games in education

The benefits of games in education


Games in education have been around for years. With the growth of technology, the use of games in education has increased significantly over recent years.

What sorts of games are used in education?

The types of games used in the classroom depend on the children’s year level, knowledge and subject choice.

Commonly used games in education include:

  • Hangman

  • Scatter-gories

  • Bingo (can be used in almost any subject)

  • Puzzles

  • Drawing games including colouring games or connect the dots

  • Quizzes

With the rise of technology teachers are reported to be using more digital games in education.

Research from New York University and the University of Michigan revealed nearly 60% of teachers are using digital games in education weekly.

Approximately 18% of teachers are using digital games in education daily.

Digital games in education include:

  • Mathletics

  • Kahoot

  • Vocabulary pictionary

Benefits of games in education

Increased student engagement and participation

Games allow schools to break lessons up into more manageable segments. This prevents children from becoming bored or disengaged.

Brain games are designed to enhance students’ ability to strengthen their attention. Games can also help students with ADHD with their focus and attention. Virtual games can also help students with dyslexia improve ‘spatial and temporal’ attention.

games in education. online game.

Games that require memory recall such as quizzes can become a ‘classroom motivator’ for students.

Research shows that games in education also increase student active participation. Students were more engaged during periods of game play rather than during traditional classroom instruction.

Students in subjects structured with more game-based learning have a higher participation and persistence in meeting course requirements.

Increased cognitive skills

School-age children develop cognitive skills including memory, thinking, learning and problem-solving through play.

The interactive aspect of games including proposed tasks and actions allow students to develop their critical thinking skills.

What should parents be doing at home?

It is a great idea to play with your child at home too. Playing games with your child at home can help them reinforce school learning.

Playing at home can also provide the opportunity to practice skills learnt at school. For example, if you are playing Pictionary, you can ask your child to keep a tally and count how many points each player has.

Playing games at home will also help manage your child’s screen time.

Exploring STEM using games in education

Australia requires students to enter the STEM workforce in the future. Students who drop or switch out of Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths experience difficulties with the introductory courses.

Introducing games could help students wrap their head around and practice vital STEM skills.

By including games in STEM education, students can grasp vital skills and find motivation to stay in the course.

New York University research from 2013 found that maths games can enhance middle-schoolers’ (students in year 6 to 8) motivation to learn.

Students who frequently engage in games score an average higher mark than in maths and science tests.

Experiential learning

Games in the classroom forces students to think from different perspectives and experiences.

Students receive skills and knowledge that are not present in a traditional classroom by placing themselves in a variety of positions.

For example, the game ‘Multiverse’ on Mathletics allows students to learn multiplication as ‘space traders’ in a rich, animated story world.

Learning from failure using games in education

Game-based learning allows students to embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

Your child may feel discouraged from failing an assignment, test or class.

Involving games in education will give students multiple opportunities for effort and revision in classroom learning. Allowing students to experience failure multiple times allows students to develop a growth mindset.

games in education. classroom.

Using games in education has also enhanced student motivation to take risks. Risk-based learning games help your child gain long-term retention of information.

Tracking your child’s learning in the classroom

More than a third of teachers use games weekly to assess student progress and understanding of class material.

Do games in education improve my child’s grades?

Whilst research is still being conducted, many studies do show improved grades when teachers used education based games.

A study on Kahoot, a multiple-choice quiz game, revealed improved student attitudes towards learning and higher academic scores.

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Home » Education Advice » How did schools have excursions during COVID-19?

How did schools have excursions during COVID-19?


Excursions are a key way for students to develop an understanding of the real world in a less structured environment. Schools have added another dimension to classroom learning through excursions during COVID-19.

Xavier College, Victoria considers international education to be paramount to their fabric as a college and community.

One of our focuses is to reach for a greater understanding of others, for deep connections and continued discoveries of varied cultural backgrounds so our students can be men for others. They can develop the best version of themselves by reflecting on their own identity in a larger context.

International Education Coordinator at Xavier College, Marie-Pierre Deleplanque

What is a school excursion?

School excursions are trips outside of the classroom designed for students to learn in a new setting.

School excursions allow students to study, observe and interact with different settings.

The benefits of student exchange in High School

Being a high school exchange student offers many valuable experiences and opportunities.

The insistent and enthusiastic way students today are asking about when the international and interstate experiences will start again says paramount about how eager they are to participate in those essential excursions.

Educational benefits of student exchange in High School

Student exchange and excursions in general give students the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom. A U.S study revealed that 59% of students who attend field trips have higher grades than their peers.

Visual learners can build confidence through practical engagement. In addition to being a learning tool, school excursions can boost student engagement and performance.

xavier college. excursions during COVID-19.

Additionally, students are exposed to learning or environments that they may consider for their future career.

Hands-on Learning through Excursions

Excursions are designed to reinforce principles and theories taught in the classroom.

Travelling, abroad or interstate, also opens our young men’s mind and allows them to put in practice and experience first hand what they are exploring in the classroom. It is somehow ‘immersed learning’, which is one of the greatest ways for tapping into breadth and depth and become life-long learners.

Experiencing learning concepts first-hand allows children to recall better through mental markers associated with sensory interactions.

Individual growth

Excursions and global travel in particular promotes personal growth.

Your child can broaden their perspectives and worldview which is linked to their personal development. A survey revealed that 74% of teachers organise school excursions for the personal development of students.

xavier college. excursions during covid-19.

According to the International Education Coordinator at Xavier College, Marie-Pierre Deleplanque, students feel similarly when reflecting on the unavailability of excursions during COVID-19.

The way they see it, ‘they have missed out on so many discoveries and connections with their peers and other cultures’.

Excursions allow children to interact with the world and learn in the community.

Our international program explores all areas of growth for our young people, from languages, academics and artistic, cultural, service and immersion and sport.

Approximately 89% of respondent students believe that field trips they took in school made them more inquisitive and engaged in the world around them.

International excursions and expeditions allow students to grow and learn about diverse cultures and strengthen their social and emotional development.

Developing a global mindset

Short-term study abroad and international education helps develop a global mindset.

It is essential in a world we all share to be able to see things through the lens of others, as it ultimately leads to a better humanity.  We are so blessed, as a Jesuit school, to be part of an international network of over 400 educational institutions at primary, high school and university level.

Developing a global mindset increases your child’s critical thinking skills. Your child will also gain a sophisticated global awareness and mindset for their future workplace.

Approximately 79% of students reported an increased cultural awareness following excursions and expeditions.

How did school have excursions during COVID-19?

Excursions during COVID-19 were put on hold due to student safety, social distancing and the closure of international borders.

Xavier College had to cease all international programs due to the high risks that were associated with COVID-19 and uncertainty about sudden border closures.

“We could not take the risk to see our students unable to come back home or to fall ill overseas in their exchange family”.

The Xavier community also felt the absence of international students visiting the school.

This has been true as well in terms of welcoming international students in the Xavier community and it has affected our Modern Languages students who always benefit immensely from their immersion in another language and culture and the long-term friendships they sometimes forge during exchanges.

Students have put friendships on hold without excursions during COVID-19

Marie-Pierre says students at Xavier have missed the mixing of cultures and connections during the pandemic.

I have seen many students in the past coming back thrilled by their adventure, having improved so much in speaking and so full of joy for the relationships they created.

The students are still growing and connecting through their use of native speakers online.

So what have schools been doing instead of excursions during COVID-19?

Xavier College has found digital technology central for connecting with others to replicate excursions during COVID-19.

In Languages, some educators have facilitated exchanges with French and Italian high school students via e-mails and videos. They presented themselves and their schools to each other and discussed their routine and issues with COVID and online learning.

In fact, the lockdowns have revealed many different ways to be in touch with overseas students.

Marie Pierre notes it does not equal discussions in person or replicate ‘the beauty of immersion with all its benefits.’

Have schools gone back to having excursions after COVID-19?

Schools are getting things back to ‘normal’ for students whilst staying safe and cautious.

Whilst being cautious and conscious of the logistical matters and the level of uncertainty still at hand, the College will re-embrace international experiences and exchanges. Besides the programs offered before the COVID pandemic in Asia, the United States and Europe, we are thinking on focusing also on interdisciplinary Tours in Europe and Australia.

Schools are also focusing on Australia’s diversity more

Let’s not forget that there are plenty of amazing places and communities to discover here in our country, including creating further bonds with our First Nations culture and people.

What have students learnt from excursions during COVID-19?

The international border closures of the past 2 years taught our school community how lucky we are to participate in the life of a College that normally offers so many varied opportunities to partake in international experiences. Our students have missed the deep connections and adventures they offer and with it came the realisation of how vital they are. At the same time it challenged us to look at international connections in a different way and revisit how technology keeps us internationally connected.

Marie-Pierre Deleplanque

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.
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Home » Education Advice » Navigating Year 11 and 12 in Australia

Navigating Year 11 and 12 in Australia


Year 11 and 12 in Australia is known as ‘Senior Secondary School’ (or Stage 6). These senior study years serve an important foundation for tertiary education or future career pathways.

Many students and parents worry about the pressure of Year 11 and 12 in Australia. However, senior years at school provide many opportunities for your child to experience fun and balance their wellbeing.

Understanding Year 11 and 12 in Australia

What is the difference between Year 11 and 12 in Australia

It often feels like Year 11 and 12 in Australia are grouped together as your child usually has the same teachers and classes.

In NSW, Year 11 (or Preliminary) courses and marks do not form part of your child’s final ATAR. In Victoria, some but not all VCE VET units provide a study score contributing to their ATAR.

This is different for students who choose to pursue the International Baccalaureate, which counts both year 11 and 12.

To graduate high school and receive a Higher School Certificate (HSC) or Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), students must successfully complete the requirements for both Year 11 and 12.

What should my child be doing in Year 11 and 12?

Navigating year 11 and 12 in Australia can be overwhelming for students.

Your child may be struggling with:

Choosing their subjects

Choosing subjects for year 11 and 12 can be a daunting family decision. A great starting point is to determine what your child’s plan is after high school.

In Victoria, education changes are replacing the VCE Vocational Major with the VCAL from 2023. This is easier for students who are unsure of their pathway as students can pursue any learning option under one certificate. In NSW, students may wish to consider whether they wish to pursue a trade or TAFE study as part of their senior study or instead of completing year 11 and 12.

year 11 and 12 in australia. woodwork. tradie.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

If your child is interested in pursuing further education, help them narrow down specific courses. Your child can choose year 11 and 12 subjects according to the prerequisites for university courses they are interested in.

For a guide to choosing HSC subjects, visit here.

Determining extracurricular options

Similar to choosing HSC subjects, having an idea for a potential career path will help your child find relevant extracurricular options at school or in the community.

For example, if your child is interested in medicine or nursing, they may wish to volunteer at the local hospital. If your child is interested in a humanitarian career they may benefit from joining school clubs or attending school networking events.

Rena Tang, Meriden Head Prefect for 2021 and HSC all-round achiever said “Balancing  a study schedule with other cocurricular activities was especially necessary in Year 12, as maintaining cocurricular activities was a way to unwind during the school week.”

Balancing their study and wellbeing

Year 11 and 12 in Australia can be an intense period of study and homework for your child.

Don’t worry, you’re nearly there!

Battling exam stress is common among Australian adolescents.

To help your child deal with exam stress:

  • Create an appropriate study space

  • Assist them with their time management

  • Ensure they take lots of study breaks

  • Try your best to make nutritious study snacks and meals

Rena also chose to sit with friends at recess and lunch instead of studying alone, and rewarded her hard work with Friday night TV shows in order to stay motivated throughout the year.

 “Your focus should be taking one day at a time. This is how I got rid of unnecessary anxiety and focused on what I could do in the moment,” said Rena.

Remind your child that senior years in high school can be lots of fun!

Fun school events often take place during Year 11 and 12 in Australia.

Amongst the chaos and study your child will be able to attend event(s) such as formal, graduation, awards ceremonies and other events to commemorate their years in high school.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.
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Home » Education Advice » What does my child’s report card mean?

What does my child’s report card mean?


Australian parents receive report cards to measure their child’s learning progress. Report cards often cover different areas including your child’s academic achievement, social behaviour, attitude and effort in the classroom.

Your child’s report card may have a grading system or vague language that is difficult to understand.

What does my child’s report card mean?

What your child’s report card looks like

In Australia, your child’s report card will usually contain a five-point letter grading system.

The most common grading system is from A to E, however independent schools and different states may have a varied approach.

Dr Selina Samuels, Chief Learning Officer at Cluey Learning, provides an insight into what each grade means.

What if my child receives an ‘A’ on their report card?

Dr Samuels explains that receiving an ‘A’ is often an indicator the student is highly advanced.

She notes some words often associated with an ‘A’ may be along the lines of  ‘excellent’ or ‘sophisticated’, depending on the words that are used in the context of the subject area.

What if my child receives a ‘B’ on their report card?

Students who receive a ‘B’ are generally defined as ‘competent’.

What if my child receives a ‘C’ on their report card?

A ‘C’ grade is often in the middle and is ‘satisfactory’.

“‘C’ is a passing mark. It is the baseline for ‘passing’ marks. Often people assume that C is not a passing mark but it is satisfactory.”

What if my child receives a ‘D’ or ‘E’ on their report card?

Dr Samuels notes that ‘D’ and ‘E’ are failing grades.

If your child receives a ‘D’, that is often noted as unsatisfactory.

If your child receives an ‘E’ this indicates your child has put in virtually no effort or participation. Teachers provide an ‘E’ grade where there is very little work to provide a mark for.

Teachers often assign grades using a clear criteria based on a definition of the quality of work.

Dr Samuels highlights, “They are not designed to be comparative. ‘A’s’ can all look different from one another but they could all be ‘A’s’.”

What do the comments on my child’s report card mean?

Teachers may be writing hundreds of report cards, and can often provide vague or broad comments.

Dr Samuels decodes key terminology that teachers often use in report cards:

‘Restless’ or ‘disruptive’ or ‘distracting’

She notes that these key phrases could suggest that your child is ‘not being fully extended.’

“They may actually be more able than their grades indicate.”

‘Inconsistency’ or ‘difficulties adjusting to rules’

Language along these lines may indicate that your child is having behavioural difficulties in class.

“Being naughty is often marking something else that is going on which is an academic problem.”

‘Perfectionist’

 Dr Samuels tells School Choice that a teacher calling your child a ‘perfectionist’ is not necessarily a good thing.

“It may be a sign that they are actually too worried or anxious about the quality of their work and this is something that should be addressed early.”

‘Social’

The phrase ‘social’ may indicate that your child is talking and socialising too much during class time.

Positive comments in a report card

Positive phrases in your child’s report card are a good sign for their learning progress.

These commonly include:

  • ‘pleased’

  • ‘confident’

  • ‘Skills are secure’

  • ‘Pleasure to work with’

What if I don’t understand the teacher’s comments in my child’s report card?

It may indicate an issue with your child’s learning if you are not understanding the teacher’s comments in the report.

“If you can’t understand the comment that has been written by the teacher, often I would say that the teacher doesn’t really want to tell you something.” 

If you are having issues understanding any aspect of the report card, contact your child’s teacher or school to discuss this.

“If they are saying something that you don’t understand, it may be something that you need to talk to them about that they don’t want to say in a report.” says Dr Samuels.

Are the comments in my child’s report card important?

When understanding what your child’s report card means, you should balance the grades and comments.

“This is something that we do very poorly, we just assume that a student that is not doing well isn’t bright or isn’t more able.”

Dr Samuels suggests parents to focus on effort when understanding their child’s report card.

“If you can really see a big discrepancy between the effort they’ve put in and their marks, they probably need greater support.”

See if your child’s report card includes effort ratings or speak to their teacher to see if they are trying to engage with the content.

“If a child is getting really high effort but low academic grades, that’s a sign that there’s probably a need for more support and that’s where getting additional support like tutoring is a really good idea.

Students which are getting high academic marks and low effort ratings, equally probably need to be extended. They probably need to be offered more challenges.

What to do after receiving your child’s report card

1. Discuss your child’s report card with them

Teachers do expect parents to discuss their child’s report with their son or daughter.

Look at your child’s results with them and discuss whether it is what they were expecting.

What does my child’s report card mean?. child and parent  doing homework.

If your child is understanding their results, they may have an understanding on how to improve.

If your child is not performing well academically and is unsure how to improve you may need to consider extra support.

If your child’s report card is different to what they were expecting, you may need to contact the school. Have a discussion with their teacher to determine if their results accurately reflect your child’s effort and engagement.

Contact their teacher

It is a great idea to speak to your child’s teacher to understand your child’s report card.

“I think it’s very important to work in conjunction with the teacher, with the tutor, with the student to make sure you’re working together to the same end.”

Dr Samuels suggests some questions for parents to ask their child’s teacher:

“How can I, as a parent, talk to you as a teacher to support my child?”

This question creates a sense of partnership between you and the teacher. It is important for parents to work with teachers when getting involved with their child’s school.

“I really want to understand better how to support my child.”

If your child’s teacher suggests they have ‘potential’, it is a great opportunity to work closely with them to improve your child’s learning.

Don’t give them a hard time

If your child’s report card is not as good as you expected it is important to take steps to support them.

See here what to do if your child receives disappointing results.

“Reports shouldn’t be an area of conflict between a child and parent.”

Should you use your child’s report card to measure their effort, so for example telling them ‘next report card do better?’

Dr Samuels responds,

“Only if it’s a reasonable expectation on the part of the parent. If you have a child who is really struggling in a subject area and is really finding it hard, telling them that they have to do better next time or they won’t get some reward is actually counterproductive because you need to support them in doing better not incentivise them in a binary way.

I think it’s more important for parents to think about… what sort of additional support does my child need, what can I do to help them to get better…, not just it’s on you mate you’ve got to do better, it depends on the child.

In some cases, we all know kids who could do better but really can’t be bothered. Then incentivising improvement might work. But in most cases kids actually want to do better and they would do better if they could, so you’ve actually got to look at how they can be supported.”

 

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Home » Education Advice » Getting involved with your child’s school

Getting involved with your child’s school


Getting involved with your child’s school and teachers can assist with their learning. Creating a strong partnership with your child’s school may encourage student growth, performance and participation. Parental involvement at school also improves teacher performance.

Facilitating a supportive environment at home and school helps your child achieve academically .

What is parental engagement at school?

Parental engagement at school is collaboration between parents and teachers to help achieve your child’s educational goals.

Teachers can advise parents on information about their child at school. Similarly, parents can provide a perspective about their child that teachers are unaware of.

By sharing this information and responsibility, parents and teachers can work together to enrich their child’s school experience.

Why is parental involvement at school important?

Parental involvement at your child’s school supports their academic achievement and wellbeing.

Research reveals a strong link between parental involvement at school, academic achievement and attendance. Parental involvement also boosts your child’s self-esteem.

“It is a well-researched fact that when schools and families work together, there is greater student academic and social success.  Plus, life is just more fun when like-minded people work in teams for a great cause – our kids!”

Mrs Jo Hutchens, Director of Advancement, Arden Anglican School

Getting involved with your child’s school also encourages teachers and boosts morale. With more insight, teachers can create lesson plans that better fit your students’ needs. Schools also benefit from parent participation at the school and for school events.

How can I get involved in my child’s school?

Volunteering at school

Volunteering is the best way of getting involved with your child’s school.

Schools often provide opportunities for parents to help organise or chaperone school events or excursions. Parents can also usually volunteer for school facilities including the canteen or library.

Arden Anglican School in Beecroft and Epping has encouraged parent engagement in school life for the last 100 years. From the earliest days, Arden promoted the importance of parents being involved on campus to help create a vibrant school culture and this remains in place as Arden celebrates its Centenary in 2022.

“We developed our parent volunteer network with the key objective of working in a year group team to foster friendship and support amongst our families.”

Mrs Jo Hutchens explains, The Arden Parent Network is seen as an extension to the school’s wellbeing program and encourages social gatherings in year groups, involvement in key school events, classroom assistance and welcoming new families.

getting involved with your child's school. parents and teacher communicating.

Joining the Parents and Citizens’ Association (‘P&C’) at school allows parents to take on a more formal role in assisting the school and providing feedback to enhance student learning.

Communicate with the school and teachers

Having a communication stream with your child’s teachers is a good way to get involved with your child’s school.

Communicating with the school can allow parents to:

  • Suggest learning opportunities by sharing your child’s strengths and weaknesses

  • Discover extracurricular opportunities related to your child’s interests and strengths

  • Feel more comfortable raising concerns about their child’s learning

  • Understand what their child is learning

  • Know about any important upcoming events

  • Give teachers an understanding of any personal circumstances your child is experiencing at home

You may wish to set up meetings with school staff or your child’s teachers to provide or seek an update on your child’s learning.

Stay up to date with the school

Schools often provide digital tools to help families stay involved with their child’s school.

If you are not sure, ask the school if they have any of the following:

  • School email subscription

  • School newsletter

  • Any apps or website for weekly news

  • Google classroom or other online parent portal

  • School calendar for the term

However, offering your time and support as a community member is ultimately the best way of getting involved with your child’s school.

Help your child out at home

Being engaged in your child’s school also includes support at home.

Getting involved with your child’s homework or projects at home will lead to better motivation, behaviour and grades.

Some ideas to get involved at home include:

  • Helping your child with their homework or assignments

  • Read books in front of your child and try to encourage them to read

  • Create fun DIY learning opportunities at home

  • Help your child study – ask them if you can read their flashcards or help them practice

  • Play educational games at home – this may include games such as Lego, scrabble or monopoly

If you are unsure of how to contribute to your child’s education at home, ask the teacher what they suggest for your child.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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Home » Education Advice » International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools

International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools


The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international educational foundation founded in 1968. IB education is academically rigorous, challenging students aged 3 to 19 years old.

To learn more about what IB is, and the difference between HSC and IB visit here.

Different levels of International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools

Australia has 212 IB World Schools which offer ‘PYP’, ‘MYP’ or ‘DP’ alone or in combination.

What is PYP, MYP, Diploma (DP)?

PYP

‘PYP’ is the Primary Years Programme introduced in 1997. It is the first of four IB programmes.

 The PYP is suited to students aged 3 to 12 years old.

As a Primary Years Programme (PYP) school, inquiry is the leading pedagogical approach of the PYP and recognises students as being active participants in their own learning therefore taking responsibility for that learning. Drawing from the transdisciplinary themes and students’ interests, inquiry is an authentic way for students to relate to, explore and understand the world around them, adapting a global mindset. The learner profile supports students in becoming “inquirers”. Inquiry nurtures curiosity and promotes enthusiasm for life-long learning where connections are made between personal experiences to local and global opportunities and challenges.

Ms Yvonne Howard, Deputy Head of Barker Junior School, Barker College, Sydney.

Students gain a conceptual understanding through an inquiry-based, transdisciplinary curriculum framework.

According to the International Baccalaureate Organisation, PYP learners actively engage in ongoing assessment to become ‘self-regulated learners who can act on constructive feedback.

Students as ‘inquirers’ exercise skills and knowledge from 6 subject areas. All PYP students also have the opportunity to learn more than one language from the age of 7.

Schools must be authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP).

What is the difference between PYP and NESA?

The PYP is not separate from the NSW Education Standards Authority (‘NESA’).

The PYP inquiry learning framework is used to achieve NESA outcomes.

International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools. student studying at desk.

Student development is met through an inquiry–based curriculum.

MYP

‘MYP’ is the Middle Years Programme designed for students aged 11 to 16.

The MYP framework aims to prepare students for the DP. It consists of 8 subject groups including:

  • Language acquisition

  • Language and literature

  • Individuals and societies

  • Sciences including biology, chemistry and physics

  • Maths

  • Arts

  • Physical and health education

  • Design

Students learn a minimum of 50 hours for each subject group every year.

“The IB Middle Years Programme encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world, preparing them for success in further study and in life.”

International Baccalaureate Organisation, <https://www.ibo.org/programmes/middle-years-programme/what-is-the-myp/>.

Like the PYP, the MYP framework also integrates with local education standards.

Students participating in the MYP have demonstrated a developed understanding of global challenges and a commitment to act as responsible citizens.

IBDP

The final program of the International Baccalaureate is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (‘IBDP’).

The IBDP is recognised by leading universities across the world. This portion of the programme is suited to students aged 16 to 19.

The IBDP Curriculum is covered over both senior years (Year 11 and 12). To learn more about the curriculum structure of IB in the senior years, visit here.

The IBDP in Australia is an alternative to the HSC.

To learn more about how the final mark compares to the HSC ATAR, visit here.

Results from International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools

MLC School in Sydney was named Australia’s top IB School in 2020 and 2021. The school is also a Top 50 IB School on the global scale.

Linda Emms, Head of Learning and Teaching at MLC School notes, “2022 marks 20 years since the first cohort of MLC School students graduated with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. From a small group of seven IB students in 2002; which was less than 5% of the cohort; MLC School’s IB Program has gone from strength to strength.”

“Last year 49 students sat the IB exams, representing 37% of the Class of 2021. Twelve of those IB candidates achieved the maximum score of 45 (an ATAR of 99.95). This the highest number of maximum scores awarded to a school in Australia in IB history, but it is important to note that worldwide, only 1.1% of the IB candidature in the November 2021 examination session were awarded the perfect score.”

Choosing an IB School

Does my child need to do all parts of the International Baccalaureate Programme?

The IB Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme is not mandatory for students who wish to undergo the IBDP.

However, these programs do introduce the knowledge, skills and attitude to prepare students for the IBDP.

If your child is considering the IBDP, you may wish to consider whether they would benefit from an IB education from their beginning years of school.

 Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.

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