Tag: children

Dispositions Necessary for Children to Learn

Recent events saw most children learning at home, under the guidance of their parents, and the direction of their teachers. Now, having returned to school, there are three conditions which are necessary for a child to LEARN. I am going to suggest that these conditions, or personal dispositions, are universally applicable to children everywhere.

The First of these Dispositions is Safety

First and foremost, for a child to be in a position to learn they must feel safe. Their safety would mean they have enough food, clothing and shelter, the basics for living a healthy life, so they can then concentrate on the task of learning.

In some circumstances, it is necessary for the school to take on that responsibility of providing food for a child. Breakfast clubs are quite common across schools in Australia, whereby children, who come from family environments that don’t have the capacity to provide breakfast for children, rely on the school to provide food, so the child has enough sustenance so they can concentrate in class. Clothing is occasionally also provided by the school. The school should provide children with second hand or even brand-new uniforms when their family cannot provide adequate uniforms. Uniforms help the child feel like they belong as they ‘look’ the same as their classmates.

The family home is the shelter in which most children live. Occasionally children may be living with other caring adults. Having a “roof over their heads” provides them with the third essential basic requirement. Other caring adults may include grandparents, other relatives, foster carers and family friends. Sleeping in a warm bed is important for children. The other element about being safe is that children know and understand their routines in life. They know who will be dropping them at school, and who will be picking them up. They have the confidence to walk out of the school gate at the end of the day knowing that someone who knows and loves them will be there waiting for them.

The Second Disposition is that of Connectedness

A child needs to have connections with their family and their social networks beyond their family. These networks can include their school or any cultural activities such as sport or artistic pursuits of the child. There needs to be connections between parents and grandparents who know and love the child. Then when a child moves to school, they will ideally find children with similar interests, potentially like-minded children with whom they make a connection and they form part of a group. The connections between a child and their parents and their school groups are critical so that they are part of a group which knows and cares about them. Being part of a group is key to a child’s well-being because human beings are social beings. We know, live, love, learn and work together.

The Third Disposition is that of Contentment

Originally, I thought the third disposition may have been happiness. But a wise colleague Jill Sweatman, the Brain Whisperer™, reminded me that happiness is an elevated state of joy that not everyone will reach. Everyone can reach contentment. My definition of contentment is that there is a degree of acceptance of someone’s current circumstances or lifestyle.

A child needs to accept their place in life; they need to accept the family in which they live; they need to accept the school which they attend; the social group of which they are a part; the limitations of their personal circumstances; and they need to accept (and embrace) the opportunities that life presents them. If a child is accepting, they have a degree of contentment, tolerance and understanding of their disposition in life. This then allows them to focus on the task at hand at school which is learning.

Children who are content and have an acceptance and an understanding of their circumstances may even find opportunities to embrace beyond their family and beyond school life. They already have a degree of solitude and comfort in themselves and their social network. Knowing that they are safe, knowing that they have connections, allows them to explore other opportunities beyond those to dispositions. (Please note acceptance of limitations of current circumstances does not mean that people should not strive to go beyond current situations for improvement. Striving to improve and excel should be a goal for all life-long learners).

The three dispositions described all have inks. It is not possible to have connections without being safe. Feeling connected without feeling safe is not possible. It’s not possible to feel content without having connections. And lastly, it is not possible to be safe without feeling connections These three dispositions are essential for a child to be able to attend to learning at school and beyond school.

Now that the majority of children across the country have returned to school, it only reinforces that those three dispositions are vital so a child has the framework and the capacity to attend to learning. If a child is safe, connected and content then they have the opportunity to switch on and to attend to the task at hand at school. Having returned to school recently it has been evident that the children who weren’t safe, who may not have had connections, and who were struggling with the changing circumstances over the last few months, may have struggled to attend to learning. Now that we have returned to our new circumstances, with the degree of some physical isolation still present, children are back in classrooms, back working with the teachers who know and love their job in providing high quality education for all children in front of them. We can reinforce these dispositions of safety, connection and contentment so that children will learn.

Once a child has these dispositions, they have the capacity to be receptive to learning. If any of these three dispositions are missing, threatened or jeopardised then the child’s capacity to learn is significantly impeded.

Let’s work together to ensure our children, our students, are safe, connected and content. Then they can learn and thrive.


About the Author 

Andrew Oberthur is the married father of two teenagers and a primary school principal, with over 30 years experience teaching and leading primary schools in Brisbane. Through his vast experience and own study, Andrew has developed three main areas of interest and expertise: School readiness for families / staff of children getting ready for school, building a culture of trust, collaboration and enquiry between parents and teachers, communication skills for teachers and parents working together for the benefit of their common interest – their children.

Andrew has presentations on each of these areas available for families and teachers, as he believes that parents and teachers MUST work together so children can thrive in our modern world. In 2018 he published his first book “Are You Ready for Primary School This Year?” which is about building a culture of trust, collaboration and enquiry between parents and teachers. His book is available from his website. He has done podcasts for PakMag, webinars with some leaders in their field, as well as various media appearances.


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Family History – It’s So Much More Than a Family Tree

Often our interest in our family history doesn’t happen until later in life, when you want to learn more about where your ancestors came from and what their stories were. But, sometimes it’s too late to get the answers. This is because older family members may have passed on, and with them, the information you seek.

Family History provides a sense of belonging, a knowledge of who you are and where you came from. Record-keeping is vital to family members being more than just a name on a family tree. Think about how you would like to be remembered. Now consider that your family members would probably want the same – their story told.

That’s why it’s so important to get our kids interested in family history. They deserve to get that information, before it’s too late. Don’t get me wrong… the concept doesn’t exactly scream ‘fun’ to a child Moreover, getting them to ‘buy in’ may be difficult. Because of all of this, we’ve put together this list of great, interactive activities, that will not only get them invested in their family history, but also develop and strengthen family bonds and preserve vital information. One day, as a result of doing this, they will be so grateful to possess and pass on the information to their own children.

Unfortunately, we don’t live forever, but the memory of loved ones lives on, by those who care about them. 

  1. Interview a loved one

Everyone has a story. Interviewing them is an opportunity for it to be told and to learn about your loved ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, and many of us don’t stop and think about how we got to where we are today, let alone how our parents, or grandparents’ lives took the paths they did. Remember, before you were born, they had a whole life you didn’t experience with them.

By helping your parents or grandparents share their story, you can pass on what kind of a person they were and what kind of life they lived to your kids and so on – keeping their legacy alive. Simply prepare a series of questions and write them down or record them. I would highly recommend recording the interview. Smart phones have voice recorders on them, making this an easily achievable option. There is no better person to tell their story than the person themselves. And one day you won’t have them here and you’ll miss that voice so much. Think about how nice it’ll be to have it preserved?  Therefore, make sure you save the file and back it up. Or, load it as a private file on YouTube or Vimeo.

Wondering what to ask? Here are some great interview questions to ask family members, to help preserve your family’s story.

  1. What’s your full name and was it given to you for a significant reason? (was it a family name- like the name of your grandmother for example)
  2. When/ where were you born? Did anything unusual happen at the birth/ surrounding the birth? 
  3. Tell me your parents’ names and your happiest memories of them. Can you tell me what was most important to them?
  4. What were the most important lessons your parents taught you and the qualities they had/have?
  5. Ask about their grandparents (names, memories, any significant stories, what do you remember most about them, what was most important to them)
  6. If Grandma and grandpa had a message to you and their grandchildren, what do you think it is?
  7. Tell me about your childhood – where did you grow up? What comes to mind when you think about growing up in your hometown?
  8. What did you do for fun as a kid? Who were your friends, did you play sports, did you win anything? Did you get into trouble for anything? Was school enjoyable to you? Did you have a favourite subject? What was your least favourite subject? Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? (you can ask about before they were a teenager/ when they were a teenager as the answers may be different)
  9. Tell me about: your first boyfriend/ girlfriend? First date? First Kiss?
  10. How did you meet your wife/ husband and know they were the one?
  11. Can you you describe him/her to me? What message would you have for them that you’d always want them to remember?
  12. Tell me about the day my mum/dad was born.
  13. What advice would you give to new parents? Were you ever scared to be a parent? Can you pick three words to represent your approach to parenting and tell me why those three?
  14. Do you remember things about when each of us (siblings) were born?

Need even more?….

  1. When you think about (me/ siblings) how would you describe me/them? What message would you have for them, that you’d always want them to remember?
  2. How did you choose your career and what’s your favourite part about what you do? Have you had other jobs, and if so what were they? What makes you successful at your job? Can you give me some advice for careers/work?
  3. If they have served in the military, ask them about their service. Ask about other members of the family who may have served, and their experiences.
  4. What would be your recipe for happiness?
  5. How do you deal with hard times?
  6. Can you tell me three events most shaped your life?
  7. Chose the three best decisions you’ve ever made
  8. What are you most proud of in life?
  9. Pick five of the most positive moments of your life
  10. What have you learned about other people in life?
  11. Is there anything you think the world needs more of right now?
  12. How would you like to be remembered? What three words best describe who you tried to be in life/ how you tried to live your life?
  13. Is there a message you would like to share with your family?
  14. What are you most thankful for?

Tips for interviews: Use photographs to trigger memories and get the stories following. You can also research items and events that have happened during your grandparents’ lifetime, and ask them about their experience or memories.

If you don’t want to transcribe the story yourself, you could try websites like this one that convert the audio to text for you.

  1. Start your own journal

It doesn’t have to be daily if it ‘isn’t your thing’. You could just record important events (dates and details) down. So, think; ‘what information would I want my grandkids/great-grandkids to know about me/my life’? and then write them down. Kids are never too young to start this process, recording big milestones. Even better – you could do this activity together as a family.

Here’s a list of things to record:

  • What your full name is and when and where you were born (repeat for siblings and parents)
  • Include your siblings’ names, and when and where they were born
  • Both of your parents’ names, when and where they were born, what they were like, the kind of work they did, special memories about them. Repeat for your grandparents and great-grandparents, if you knew them
  • How your parents met
  • Everything you remember from your childhood: the games and books you liked; your hobbies, sports and activities; where you went to school; favourite and least favourite subjects in school; what you wanted to be when you grew up; your chores around the house; trouble you got into
  • Your high school years: school subjects you were great at/ not-so-great at, sports and activities, jobs, friends and dating, learning to drive, how you got along with your parents
  • Both your university years and the transition into working life
  • Adult relationships and/or how you met your spouse
  • Where you settled as a young adult, your friends and activities, religious life, travel, work
  • Being a parent: when and where your children were born, their names and how you chose them, what you love about being a parent
  • Life lessons you’ve learned and advice you’d like to share
  • Family stories passed down to you, that you in turn want to pass down to others
  • Medical struggles that might also impact others in your family, if you feel comfortable sharing them
  • Your genealogy discoveries

There’s a great workbook called ‘Story of My Life’ By Sunny Jane Morton that helps guide this process/ store this information. You could get one, for each member of the family. 

  1. Create a family tree

Start with yourself and record the names of your parents, their parents and so forth. See how many generations you can go back. We have a Family Tree downloadable available that you can use. 

  1. Put together a family recipe book 

Collate the recipes from your family and make a cookbook. You can make one yourself (see our My First Cookbook template). Or, print professionally via a website like this one. You may also just like to create a recipe card box. Either way, how nice is it to make Grandma’s or Great Grandma’s secret cake recipe? It’s a little taste of history and brings back all those memories of baking with Grandma in her kitchen.

Maybe you could also get handwritten recipes printed onto canvas and hang them in your kitchen as artwork. Functional, special and tasty!

  1. Create a family photo book

Like the recipe book, there are websites that help you create a great photo book, preserving family photos. You can put all the old photos you have in here. This way don’t get lost. Also include all the information you have about the people in the photo, the year and where it was taken etc. Often there is only one copy of these cherished shots, so this is a great way, for every member of the family to receive a copy. Creating/compiling this with your children, including their grandparents in the process as well, is a great conversation starter and a lot of fun.

  1. Family history displays 

This is a subtle way to start the ‘family history conversation’. Start with your own family’s to get them interested in preserving ‘stories.’ You could put up a map of the world in your house. Then, mark all the places you/the family have travelled, to inspire conversation/ memories. Maybe you can also place photos of the adventures beside the map to remind your children of the travels. Your children could pick the photos to be displayed. You can then place photos of your ancestors on the wall and inspire conversations about their adventures. The same applies to family heirlooms, trophies, medals etc. Place them in a prominent place and the questions will flow.

  1. Make a family time capsule 

Time capsules are a fun way to preserve your family history for future generations. You could choose to set the opening date to a future family reunion or celebration – like a milestone birthday or anniversary. You will need; family keepsakes, photos, a strong airtight container, acid-free paper (to write down the significance of the items included, information on the person who wrote the note), silica gel packets or oxygen-absorbing packets, paraffin or candle wax to seal (optional). It’s important to note – you aren’t burying this capsule, as you may move. This is to be stored in your home somewhere with a ‘do not open until ____ ‘ date sign on the front. Store away from light and heat.

  1. Future letters

Ask all the important people in your life to write a letter to your children for when they turn 21. This is even more important if they may not be alive on that special occasion. You can do the same for weddings. Afterwards, store them safely and give it to them on that special occasion.

  1. Do DNA tests 

To find out genetically and geographically where you come from.

  1. Give old-fashioned chores and handicrafts a whirl

Experiencing chores and craft activities your parents and grandparents would do growing up, gives your children an appreciation for how different their lives were. Activities could include; sewing, knitting, soap/candle-making, gardening, fruit preserving/ making jams, washing clothes by hand and hanging on the clothesline. It would be even better if the grandparents could lead these activities, creating bonding experiences and memories that will be treasured.

Extension activity: visit a historical village and discuss the items you see and how they were used-like washboards, flat irons and push lawn mowers etc.

Have fun preserving and making memories with your family. Always remember, your own family story is being created right now, make each moment count.




Eight-Year-Old Wins Toyota’s Annual Dream Car Contest

Eight-year-old Claudia Fields has won Toyota’s annual Dream Car Art Contest for 2020. Her Nature Insect Car addressed what she sees as a lack of nature, biodiversity and colour within our metal cities. 

“My favourite thing is insects. I thought, what if we could create a car with insects and flowers?” says Claudia. “The cities don’t have any lovely colours. They are just grey and white and black so this car provides lots of colour and scents. Also, it provides a safe home for insects and bees. Both are very important to our world because they pollinate fruit, flowers and vegetables to clean the air and bring nature and greenery to concrete cities.”

West Australian Claudia Field has designed her car as a haven for insects to help revegetate and beautify our cities

The Contest

Toyota partners with Faber Castell and not-for-profit education resources organisation Cool Australia for the contest. It provides a chance for all of our child engineers, creative thinkers and designers to draw their ‘Dream Car’. Additionally, Toyota encourages children to use their imagination as best as they can. 

Entered were over 4700 colourful and creative creations in total. Each one showed what kids today think some of the biggest issues facing society are. Similarly, other finalists addressed issues including waste and recycling, homelessness, bringing communities together and much more.

Albion Dolphin’s The Help Car is designed to offer food and accommodation for the homeless

Jason Kimberly, Cool Australia Managing Director and Founder, says, “Children these days are far more aware of the issues that surround them. Furthermore, encouraging them to really use their imaginations and creativity to help address some of those problems can never start too early.”

On top of this, Wayne Gabriel, Toyota Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, said, “It was really interesting to see the way so many ideas incorporated solar energy and even hydrogen fuel cells. This is actually a technology Toyota is already using in the Mirai. Plus, Australia is already trialling it – as clean, environmentally-sustainable power sources for their cars,” Mr Gabriel said.

“Under Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 program, we are aiming to reduce vehicle carbon emissions to zero globally. As a result, we hope to ensure a long and sustainable future for personal mobility. Because of this, it’s great to see the youngest generation of Australians really caring about their, and our, impact on the planet. Through programs like the Dream Car Art Contest, we hope to be able to continue to inspire that interest and action so we can all contribute to a better future,” he said.


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What is a Grammar Education and Where Does it Begin?

Children as young as four years of age can begin their learning journey at Townsville Grammar School. The Pre-Prep and Prep programs are designed to give children a strong foundation to learning. This foundation then supports them throughout their schooling years.

What is a Grammar Education?

Townsville Grammar School has a long-standing reputation as the leading academic school in North Queensland. However, the experience is far wider, with academic learning as the foundation. Principal of Townsville Grammar School, Mr Timothy Kelly, said the schools offer a particular style of education. It focuses on values and developing young people of character. Furthermore, young people are encouraged and supported to strive for personal best, and who develop a mindset of service and giving back.

Personal Best

“We use the term “personal best” because it encapsulates our Grammar experience,” said Mr Kelly. “Personal best means something different to every
child, and does not mean getting an A. It is a mindset of always striving to do your best, which is an attitude that is vital in all facets of life.

“We are focused on educating our students in a culture that is values-based, where respect for others and respect for self is paramount,” said Mr Kelly. “Our students know they are supported and encouraged every day to try their best, to learn from mistakes and to celebrate their wins. In doing so we are developing young people of character. This is what a Grammar education strives to achieve.”

Benefits of Starting at in Pre-Prep and Prep

Starting early sets the foundation for the Grammar approach to teaching and learning.  The concept of striving for personal best begins here. Children in Pre-Prep and Prep are the youngest Grammarians. Because of this, they wear the uniform, they join in wider school events and develop an early understanding of the culture and values of Grammar. Additionally, children also benefit from the successful Pre-Prep transition program, ensuring they are ready and confident to start Prep in a familiar environment.

Want to Know More?

We have several opportunities to experience and visit our Junior Schools in Term 3. Parents are welcome at any time to book a personal family tour of our Junior School Campuses at Annandale and North Shore.

Read more here


Classrooms of the Future

Long gone are the ‘chalk and talk’ days that framed old ideas of teaching and learning. The focus in today’s schools is on designing and providing the best possible classrooms and environments for successful learning.

When parents think ‘classroom,’ our minds often think back to the old days of sitting in rows at individual desks. We would face the front and let the teacher fill us with knowledge, then we sat an exam to test our recall skills. However, modern research and observations of the way students learn show us that this is no longer considered best practice.

Understanding how children learn has inspired many administrators to rethink and redesign classrooms. Learning in the 21st century is underpinned by teaching methods and spaces that are engaging and challenge our traditional view on classroom teaching and learning. Referred to as flexible learning, it uses spaces and evolving pedagogies to provide environments for creative and energised students and teachers.

Karl Fisch, who was behind the video Shift Happens, states that, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

If this is true then it is reasonable to say that the way children are being educated now should be very different to how it was in the past. Schools for tomorrow need to be focusing on core skills for life. These core skills include collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication.

Schools outfit flexible classroom environments with appropriate furniture that allows teachers and students to adopt Professor David Thornburg’s archetypal learning spaces, such as:

The “Campfire”

A space where students can gather to learn from an expert or guru.

The “Cave”

A quiet and reflective space where students can activate their diffuse thinking. They can also shift their learning from external knowledge to internal belief.

The “Watering Hole”

An informal space where students can collaborate, as well as share both information and discoveries. They can bounce off each other, thereby it serves as an incubator for ideas.

These are all different ‘zones’ that have specific displays or purposes within flexible classroom models.

In a typical flexible classroom, you could expect to find:

  • Students who are active participants in their learning rather than passive vessels, who the school/teachers etc. challenge to think and do more
  • A design that promotes a sense of enquiry, wonder and excitement.
  • Teachers delivering flexible lesson content in either lecture-style, group-style, presentation-style or activity-style.
  • Moveable desks and furniture that accommodates different needs and different activities.
  • Areas that promote student and teacher communication and collaboration.

These classrooms provide students with a choice of where they undertake their learning tasks. Stadium seating, community booths and standing desks enhance connectedness. Movable furniture such as wobble stools, ottomans and carpet mats provide students with the sensory input they need without distracting themselves or others from learning.

In a research study by Castellucci, Arezes, Molenbroek, de Bruin and Viviani (2016), he found that characteristics such as high furniture, sit-stand furniture, tilt tables and seats had up to a 64 per cent positive effect on students’ physical responses and/or their performance. 

The benefit of a flexible classroom is its ability to provide an environment that motivates students to do their best work and allows them to express their knowledge in a range of ways. It’s an environment that has been built by the school and designed to promote curiosity. It’s also one that offers students the freedom to engage with content in the way that suits them best. Each child has their own strengths and limitations. So, a flexible model seeks to allow a ‘way in’ for every student – one that they may not have had in a more traditionally designed classroom.

In his study, Herman Miller (2008) revealed that “Giving people some control over their surroundings adds to their sense of well-being.” (www.Psychologytoday. com). Barrett Et Al. (2015) also supports that 28 per cent of classroom design factors that drive student engagement also relate to ownership and flexibility.

Technology plays an integral part in the success of these modern learning spaces. Interactive whiteboards, iPads and laptops all being common place. With new advances in technology, new opportunities for engagement and learning are created. Augmented and virtual reality tools are already available to students, enabling them to experience looking at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre from their classroom in Cairns. They could even fly through the Amazon Rainforest or engage in a submarine expedition.

Schools that wish to provide classrooms of the future will need to be constantly evolving to embrace these changes.

It is suggested that today’s learners will have between 10 to 14 jobs before they reach the age of 40. Take a step back in time… someone sent the first text message in 1992. But, today the number of text messages sent and received each day exceeds the world’s population. There are 600 tweets sent per second. If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in relation to population size. So, with this in mind, just what are the future possibilities? Who knows how much schools will have to change as we head into the unknown possibilities the world will present to us.

The introduction of flexible classrooms in relation to space is just the first step. It’s closely followed by flexibility in pedagogy, understanding and assessment, presentation of knowledge and the development of core skills.

Schools will need to continue adopting best practice. They can do this by analysing research from around the world and constantly adapting their learning environments. This will ensure that every student has the opportunity to do their absolute best.

STORY BY Sarah Rowan, Head of Junior School – Peace Lutheran College.


Read more Peace Lutheran College blogs HERE. 






Why Nature Play Is So Important

Ahhh, children. They’ll play in the dirt like no one’s business and explore like there’s no tomorrow. Sometimes as parents we want to keep children inside where it’s safer and we can keep an eye on them always. In our fast-paced, technology ridden world, it IS undeniably easier to set a kid up on the tablet or computer. But, we should encourage nature play instead of forgetting about it, because of its benefits. 

Children do a lot of their learning through playing, whether it’s obvious to us or not. It’s a great idea to have play occur outside instead of inside. This allows them to connect with the environment and start developing an appreciation for it early. Plus, nature is everywhere, so why not utilise such an awesome resource?

‘Nature play’ is any activity that gets children thinking outdoors or simply being active outdoors. 

By allowing and encouraging our children to play outside we help them develop the skills they need to be left to their own devices, without adults controlling the situation. Simply playing outside can help children grow creativity, curiosity, resilience and the ability to negotiate risks. By climbing trees, discovering land and other activities outdoors, children learn to assess the dangers of certain situations. They simply gain better risk assessment skills. Minor injuries help children grow and learn! 

Of course, it additionally has physical, social and mental benefits in general. Outside, children have so many opportunities to interact with other children. They can solve problems together, explore and discover together, help each other and just generally connect. Additionally, no technology can even come close to how beautiful and amazing Mother Nature is. Regularly playing outdoors also promotes better mood and less mental fatigue – not just for children, but adults too. The sunshine, the smells, the feel of nature and the animals are something that every child deserves to experience in full.

Encouraging being outdoors and getting involved in physical activity can put in motion a love for nature that can stick throughout their lives.

This is always a positive! Screen time is increasing a lot these days, taking us further away from nature and the world that we physically live in. Teaching your children to appreciate nature helps them to care about the environment later in life. The world and ultimately ourselves will benefit from this. 

Nature Play in Queensland can provide more information on the benefits of nature play in both childhood and adulthood, recommended amounts of physical activities for children and teens, and how nature play can be encouraged.

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