ASG’s ‘Choosing a school with confidence’
What makes a great school? If one were to ask this question to a roomful of parents of school-going children, there’s sure to be answers ranging from good infrastructure and teachers to a stimulating learning environment and NAPLAN results. There’s also likely to be a hard-nosed debate on the merits of each feature.
Educators are now questioning whether a more reasonable question for parents to ask is whether it is the ‘right’ school and whether your child would be happy here.
ASG has spoken to educators and parents to put together a list of questions parents can ask during a school visit or keep an eye out for when on a school tour.
On relationships between students, parents and the teaching staff
- How are students at the school encouraged to openly express their views?
- What programs does the school have in place to encourage student participation?
- How are children encouraged to support each other?
- What is the bullying policy? Bullying can thrive in schools where student concerns are ignored.
- How can parents assist in the school’s programs?
- Does the school welcome parent concerns and discussion? Ask to see the procedure for resolving parental concerns.
On student welfare and wellbeing
- Children have the right to feel safe and respected during their school years. How does the school ensure this?
- Explore the school’s focus – is it discipline, pastoral care, skill and academic development, or behavioural management? Seek out the approach and balance that seems right for your child and your education goals.
- You should also explore the school’s Student Wellbeing Policy, Student Code of Conduct, the Attendance Policy, Alternative Programs (for children with individual needs), and how it handles child protection and mental health promotion.
- Does the school have first aid or medical facilities, and trained medical staff or trained first-aid providers?
- If your child has specific health needs, such as an allergy, be sure to ask detailed questions to determine how the school will cope with these.
On facilities and school environment
- Ensure the school’s facilities are adequate, clean and in good repair.
- Check out the technology facilities and the policy for updating computer equipment, software, internet access and technology-based teaching tools.
- Do you require a school with a before- or after-school care program?
- Is the playground attractive with appropriate equipment for children’s different developmental levels?
- Can the children visit the school library throughout the school day?
- Are other supervised extra-curricular programs available at lunchtime?
Class size and structure
- Satisfy yourself that the school policies are based on best educational philosophy and practice with a clearly articulated plan to support the progress of all students.
- While small classes used to be found in private schools, this is no longer necessarily the case, so check with the individual school for its policy.
Before you head off for a school tour or open day, do your homework. Read about the school’s profile and jot down the most pertinent questions. Afterwards, match the responses with your child’s personality and strengths. Getting the right fit can make a big difference to your child’s future and his or her education and happiness.
For more information, visit asg.com.au
Visit ASG and download the Choosing a School with Confidence guide for more.
News & Advice
Why you should be encouraging your children to craft
The benefits to your child’s mental health and happiness could be just a stitch away…
Here at School Choice, we want to help you help your child in any way we can. So we have conducted a little research into the overwhelmingly brilliant benefits of crafting, and have outlined all the reasons why you should be taking it up with your child below.
Crafting exercises your brain
We all know how important physical exercise is for our children’s health, but do we ever put as much effort into exercising our children’s brains to benefit their mental health?
Having a fit and healthy brain is detrimental to a child’s grow and will better equip them for the studious tasks ahead in their schooling life – and exercising your brain is a lot simpler than you think.
Did you know that every time you engage in a new or complex activity that your brain, to compute this information, starts to create new connections between brain cells. And this is something that happens rapidly when children participate in art and craft activities – creating and imagining the piece as it evolves.
The ability to grow and alter these connections is referred to as neuroplasticity, and it is commonly thought that the more connections your brain holds is directly related to your intelligence levels. So, in simple terms, you can stitch your way to smarts!
A craft task can actually relieve stress
Art activities, such as stitching and quilting, can actually leave you feeling mentally clear as it provides a brilliant distraction from the usual stresses of the day and gives your brain a well-earned rest.
As crafters will know, when you become totally immersed in an activity (especially when it is creative) you can easily fall into ‘the zone’, which is essentially a mediative state.
Another plus size of this is that your brain retains this ability to focus and can apply this state to other scenarios – such as studying!
Craft projects provide a huge sense of achievement
Just like when you finish a project at work or home (anything from nailing a presentation or simply finishing that massive stack of ironing) that sense of accomplishment you feel is wonderful – and great for your self-esteem.
The same feeling is achieved when you finish a creative project (such as an embroidery or quilt). For a child completing a craft project, they will get that ‘I did it!’ sensation and receive a huge boost of dopamine that will make them feel good and motivate them to forge ahead and achieve more goals.
Completing a craft project also gives parents a great opportunity to give praise to their child and implement a task-and-reward system, encouraging them not to give up and to finish their project.
You can use crafting as a bonding experience for you and your child
Working on a craft project with your child can be a brilliant chance to bond with your child through working together and getting creative with each other. If you were to produce a long-lasting object together, such as a beautiful quilt or adorable soft toy, then you can hold on to that piece and it will forever work as a reminder of your time making it together.
Looking for craft projects to work on with your child? Have a look at these cosy options below:
(…or if you want to create something for your child then scroll down to see sneaky projects that you can complete for your little one)
Kid’s modern squares quilt: This is the perfect contemporary quilt pattern for kids, this modern squares quilt pattern is great for using up large-scale children’s print fabrics without losing parts of the fabric motifs. You can buy this pattern from Cosy Project by clicking here: Kid’s modern squares quilt
Cupcake sewing accessories: The sweetest sewing accessories around! This pattern from Michelle Ridgway makes the cutest cupcake needlebook, scissor fob, pouch and mug rug, all in the shape of cupcakes or embellished with cupcake appliqué and decorated with embroidered flowers and designs. You can purchase this project pattern from Cosy Project by clicking here: Cupcake sewing accessories
Gingerbread house placemat: Create a sweet Gingerbread House placemat to decorate your family’s table with this easy-to-do placemat pattern, featuring appliqué sweets, ric rac and striped fabric binding to embellish the placemat. You can buy this pattern from Cosy Project by clicking here: Gingerbread house placemat
PROJECTS FOR PARENTS
Make the perfect gift for your little one
Stu diaz geek doll: The cutest geek doll around, Stu Diaz makes a great play and study mate for your child. This doll pattern from Sarah Hanson even includes felt books for that all-important studying. You can buy this doll pattern for only $11.95 from Cosy Project by clicking here: Stu diaz geek doll
Owl read it to you library bag: Any child will love a trip to the library with this super-cute embroidered owl drawstring library bag pattern from Cosy Project, with two soft owls sitting atop some bunting with embroidered flowers, tree and bee buzzing past. You can buy this pattern by clicking here: Owl read it to you library bag
We could not encourage crafting with your kids more! Please do get in touch and let us know how your projects go – we would love to hear from you and see you projects in progress!
News & Advice
A happy transition to secondary school
Words: Allan Shaw, principal and chief executive, The Knox School
Many children change schools as they move to high school. Those who do not change school but move from one sub-school to another have an advantage in continuity of friendship groups, knowledge of the routines and physical site. That said, much that follows might apply to them and their families.
Establish a positive routine
Every family is different but a routine is vital. Set up what works for your family and stick to it.
- Breakfast and getting to school on time are important
- When and where homework is done
- Sharing the day’s experience over the evening meal
- Downtime, screen-free time, sport and exercise and bedtime.
Help them organise themselves
Being in the right place, at the right time, with the right books or gear, can be quite a challenge during the first few weeks. Assist with understanding the timetable, packing the school bag the night before, with a copy of their timetable at hand. Assist in understanding the layout of the school as many high schools are bigger than primary schools and involve more student movement to and from classes.
Be there to listen
Keep conversing but do not grill. They may be too tired to talk, so don’t take crankiness as a sign that things aren’t going well. Let them know you are there for them; listen to them and respect their decisions. They will then be more open to accepting your advice.
Nutrition and sleep
They need a nutritious breakfast and lots of healthy food during the day. Brain work uses a lot of energy. The day may have as many of eight lessons and can be long and demanding. Regular routines for sleep uninterrupted by digital devices is critical.
Redraw parental boundaries
Moving to high school is an important symbolic step from childhood into adolescence. It is a big step on a child’s journey to independence, so it’s time to make sure you are letting go a bit more. The influence of peers is going to become more dominant and your position as parents will be challenged. Let them make their case and then explain the reasons for your “yes” or your “no”.
Build a relationship with the school
Get to know the school and your child’s teachers. They know that interested and engaged parents lead to better learning outcomes for students. Take each opportunity to attend information evenings and get involved with the parents’ association.
Take an interest in homework
Developing study habits is the goal that can take time and practice. It’s advisable to check their homework diary each night and encourage them to write their work into it. Conversations about what they’re learning helps to keep you in touch and reinforces its importance in your eyes for them.
Get to know their friends
Making clear that friends are welcome in your house is a great way to get to know who your child is hanging around with. Parent-free zones will be the venue of choice for after-school gatherings but lay down some ground rules if you are both out working all day.
Having your child involved in co-curricular activities is important but make sure they have some downtime. They still need some unstructured time. Creativity tends to stem from boredom.
Keep it in perspective
Sometimes parents think that nothing matters more than high grades.
Keep in mind that learning is now life-long and a child’s health and wellbeing, emotional and physical, must always come first.
Schooling is important; learning to work hard and regularly producing a ‘personal best’ is important. The knowledge base developed is very useful; the critical thinking, public speaking, leadership skills and resilience developed at school are all important.
That said, not all children will shine at school and many who do not still turn out to be outstanding adults.
Encourage them to do their personal best each day and enjoy the learning, whether it be academic learning or learning about who they are and their place in their community.
|Religion||Non - denominational|
|Day/boarding||Day and Boarding|
|Years||Year 1 - Year 12|
12k - 16k Over 16k |
$12,172 to $23,452 p.a. (including compulsory levies, camps and excursions)
03 8805******* 03 8805 3800
03 9887******* 03 9887 1850
|Address||220 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South 3152|
News & Advice
Learning a second language
In an ever-evolving workforce, that places an emphasis on global mobility, a second language is an appealing quality to employers.
Studying both a first and second language is a compulsory part of the worldwide education system of the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Located 60km from Melbourne’s CBD, The Kilmore International School (TKIS) exclusively offers the IB Diploma, and places a strong emphasis on the importance of language. The IB Diploma aims to have students acquire and use language in a range of contexts, while simultaneously gaining an understanding of another culture. Language is at least one third of IB subjects in years 11 and 12, and can be up to one half of an IB course load.
Head of Languages at TKIS, Deanna Krilis, believes teaching language promotes work opportunities, cultural understanding and perhaps most importantly global mobility.
In 2010, TKIS opened its Language Centre on campus, to create a collaborative learning space for all languages, with students and staff able to meet and explore language learning. The language centre has a number of large classrooms as well as smaller tutorial-sized rooms for smaller and more intensive classes.
TKIS offers a variety of languages, taught by highly qualified academic staff who each have strong cultural connections to their languages. Languages taught at TKIS include English, Chinese, German, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, French and Hindi.
Students at TKIS study two languages from Year 3 through to Year 12. Younger students in the primary school (Years 3 to 6) study Mandarin Chinese and then have a choice of continuing with Chinese or picking up Indonesian in Year 7.
“A man who knows two languages is worth two men.” – French proverb.
|Religion||Non - denominational|
|Day/boarding||Day and Boarding|
|Years||Year 3 - Year 12|
8k - 12k Over 16k |
Tuition: $8,920 to $12,820, Boarding: $22,900
03 5782******* 03 5782 2211
03 5782******* 03 5782 2525
|Address||40 White Street, Kilmore 3764.|
News & Advice
Parental preparation for exams
There are a number of advice sites for your children to assist them as they prepare for exams. Many are excellent and one of those worthy of a read is Karen Boyes’ Preparing for Practice and External Exams (http://www.karentuiboyes.com/2016/08/preparing-for-practice-and-external-exams/) However, in this short article I wish to offer a few thoughts on how you can assist your child to prepare for exams and look after both their and your wellbeing.
1/ It is never too late
End-of-year or end-of-school exams approach and their proximity can be a trigger for anxiety levels to rise and feelings of despondency to grow. It is never too late to improve and the weeks left prior to exams is plenty of time for significant improvement if the will and determination exists and is coupled with PPP (preparation, planning and practice). A positive attitude matters and you have influence and can model it appropriately.
2/ It is not your future
As parents we love our children unconditionally. We care for them and about them deeply. This being the case, the best thing we can do for them is to assist them to develop the values, skills and attitudes that will allow them to thrive. Their future is just that – theirs, not ours! They own their own future; we can advise and influence only.
I have strong recollections as a young teenage man. I thought I was a young man and able to make decisions about my future and I appreciated my parents offering advice (which I often followed) and resented being told what to do (which I often ignored).
Offer sage advice and explain why, but most importantly, model the appropriate adult values, attitudes and exhibit the skills you want them to learn. Young people are far more likely to copy what you do than do what you say.
3/ PPP matters (Preparation, Planning and Practice)
Preparation is about attitude. Being gently positive and realistic. Begin conversations about what realistic improvement and success might look like. Model calmness, care, positivity and lucid thinking.
Calm, sensible thinking leads to pragmatic and achievable planning. Discuss a sensible study regime. Read about or ask teachers at your daughter or son’s school about how information can be learned and revised and how your child should be studying. There is material readily available in many places. Putting it into a sensible plan and then practicing that plan daily is harder. Setting new or better habits requires effort and persistence. It is simple in theory and hard work in reality. You will need to potentially adjust your family routines to support your daughter or son.
4/ Encouragement and support matter more than fear and threats
Your attitude towards your daughter or son will be clear to them. Encouragement and support work best. Our actions or inactions have consequences but do not phrase consequences as a threat or to induce fear. As a parent your role is to be supportive, to encourage and be realistic about outcomes and refocus attention on PPP (see above).
5/ Stay calm and keep going
If you agree that your son or daughter is more likely to copy what you do than do what you say, then stay calm and keep going.
6/ Encourage dialogue, reflection, debriefing and asking of questions
Keep talking about progress in a gentle and objective manner, even when things are going awry.
7/ Stay fresh and focused – balance does matter
While strong success at exams in Year 12 requires significant amounts of high-quality study for your daughter or son, ensure they have breaks, take physical exercise, relax and allow time for point 6 above. These all make a positive contribution to the atmosphere in the home. Join in with them; it will be good for you, too!
8/ There is life after school
As a school principal I believe school makes a positive difference in the lives of young people. That said, it is but a part of life and success or otherwise at school has a low correlation with success in the years beyond school.
In all my years of professional study and reading, one of the most important pieces of knowledge I have learned is that the influence I have as a parent is far stronger on my children than I had as a classroom teacher on my students and both are more important than the influence I have as a school principal on a community.
Stay positive and keep working at setting a good example for your children. Parenting matters.
Principal and chief executive
The Knox School, Wantirna South
|Day/boarding||Day and Boarding|
|Enrolment||2000 students. intake for years kindergarten, 3, 5 and 7; other years as vacancies occur.|
02 9487******* 02 9487 0122
02 9487******* 02 9487 0186
|Address||7 Woodville Ave, Wahroonga 2076|
News & Advice
A parent’s perspective
How many children do you have? We have two boys, aged 11 and 13 years old.
Our eldest son is in Year 8 and our younger son started in Year 5 last year.
Both attend an Independent Catholic School. How did you go about choosing the right school for your sons? We did a great deal of research into many different schools.
In addition to visiting school websites and attending open days and school tours, we also spoke to parents of children attending the respective schools to help inform our decision. What factors came into play? A major factor for us was choosing a school that held the same principles in areas such as discipline, work ethic and accountability that our family also shared. The optimum outcome for your child is to have the school and family supporting each other and working together on their education.
It is important to make sure you share the school’s mission. Of course, location is an issue as you don’t want them having to travel long distances after a late or early training session.
Cost is also always an issue, regardless of how much money you have.
However, you need to remember that the dollar value does not necessarily determine the quality of the education.
You need to look for what you are getting for the money.
Higher fees do not always equate to better education. Sometimes it just equates to fancy facilities and rolling lawns! What were some of the difficulties you faced when choosing a school? We really didn’t have much trouble choosing Waverley College for our boys. There are many fine schools in our area. Some have good facilities, some are really pricey and some are a bit snobby.
We didn’t want our boys to develop an elitist attitude or a sense of entitlement that can sometimes come with expensive schools. The school we chose draws students from all different walks of life, from all over Sydney and from varied socio-economic backgrounds.
Because it’s an independent school, of course there are the ‘rich’ kids, but there are also plenty of families that work hard just to send their kids there.
This is more like the real world and that is how we want our children raised. What were some of the easier decisions to make? Our decision was fairly easy as Waverley College ticked all the boxes that we thought were important. What was the best piece of advice you received? Go with your gut feeling about a school. If there is something niggling in the back of your mind, don’t ignore it.
Your child’s educational experience is more important than choosing a school just because mum or dad went there.
Also, not all kids suit all schools and it is alright for your kids to go to different schools if they don’t suit the same one as each other. What advice would you offer for other parents when choosing a school? Do your research.
Check out websites, but more importantly go to open days and tours.
You can’t really get a good feel for a school just from a website.
They all look pretty good online, but the real ‘feel’ of a school is apparent when you visit.
Try to organise a visit on a normal school day so you have a good impression of what the school is like without the ‘bells and whistles’ at formal open days.
Also, try to talk to parents who are already at the school.
They are the most valuable resource. Tell us about your children’s experience when picking schools and how they feel about their current school. When we were in the process of choosing the children’s school, we really didn’t include them in any decision-making process.
We felt it was our decision as parents.
After all, the input from an eight year old was going to be more about whether the school has a swimming pool or sells ice-creams at the canteen than about anything actually relevant to their education. We moved our boys from a public primary school at the start of Year 5 to an independent school.
While initially there was resistance — “I miss my old friends”, “I want to go back to my old school because we got less homework” — they are both happy now. Our 13 year old has been at Waverley College now for three years and says to his younger brother who is just starting at the same school, “You should try really hard because you have been given a great opportunity to be the best you can be. Don’t waste that.” It is so wonderful to hear him convey his appreciation for the school that he attends. Is there anything else you would like to add? I’m glad our days of choosing a school are over.
It is very time-consuming and weighs heavily on your mind.
You want to get it right because it’s so important.
When you make your decision, and it’s a good one, life is good! We are so grateful that we are happy with the decision we made.