Tag: education

Back view of young girl on her first day of kindergarten

Making Your Child’s First Day At Kindergarten A Success

Early Childhood is a procession of ‘firsts’; first smile, first solid food, first word, first steps, first day at preschool and a hundred other milestones. But, for some children, and for many parents, the most traumatic ‘first’ is your child’s first day of Kindergarten. 

Change can be scary, or it can be a new adventure to be built up to with excitement and eager anticipation. It’s all in the mindset that we, as parents, bring to it and imbue into our children. Fear is an innate human response to the unknown, so the most important thing we can do is to replace fear with excitement, by making the ‘unknown’ known.

Prior to the First Day of Kindergarten 

Most children have already undergone orientation visits, and most schools are extremely good at putting ‘the littlies’ at ease in the new environment. As parents, we can build on this foundation, or, if there has been no orientation visit, we can remove the fear by how we talk about the new adventure of ‘Big School’.

Talk enthusiastically about the new experiences that await them. Create a ‘countdown’ chart, similar to an advent calendar. The child ticks off each approaching day, and receives a gift related to school such as colouring in pencils, a keychain mascot to hang on their bag, a lunchbox with their favourite character on it…the potential gifts are endless, and all necessary for school anyway. The countdown allows you to share something exciting that awaits them when they go to school. Also, ask them what they are looking forward to and help draw out their answers – then reiterate them in future sessions.

If you are reading this with only a couple of days to go before ‘the Big Day’, do the count-down in hours, instead. My grandson Ryley (one of five who live with us) proudly wears the T-Shirt given to him by his future preschool, which reads: I’m Going to Big School at Berkley Vale Primary. He is excited that it’s his turn to get to go where his three elder siblings have already gone.

Throwing a family party (child’s choice of food, a small celebration cake, even party hats) on the evening before school starts is another way to signal that this is something to celebrate and look forward to.

Following the First Day of Kindergarten 

Here are a few things to consider in the first weeks of school (and beyond):

  1. When your child begins attending Kindergarten, he or she will likely be tired after the first few days. Make sure that you provide plenty of opportunity to sleep, to prepare them for the extra demands that a whole day of school will place on them.
  2. Take the time to ask them what they have done during the day and spend some time discussing it with them. What did they enjoy? What did they find out that they didn’t know? Was there anything they were unsure of?
  3. Discuss any drawings or craft they bring home and perhaps design an activity that extends from it (making up an oral story, modelling from Playdough, drawing another picture together, singing a song related to the subject etc.).
  4. Ask them what they think they will do tomorrow and be excited about whatever they predict. You will be able to discuss whether they were right in their prediction when you talk tomorrow.
  5. Plan tomorrow’s lunch and play-lunch together, so that they have something to look forward to. This gives you the chance to talk about ‘healthy choices’ in a fun, non-dictatorial way. Give them choices between different healthy foods so that they feel in control, but you are satisfied that they will be eating well.

The key to everything is the enthusiasm and engagement you show for every aspect of their school-day. You are the North on their emotional compass. They take their emotional cues from you and if you’re enthusiastic and certain they’re going to have fun, chances are they will.

Establish good communication with the teacher from Day One, but don’t be demanding and tell them what to do.  The goal is to stay abreast of what is happening in the classroom. This ensures that you can help reinforce the learnings and identify any challenges, so that you or the teacher can help address them.

Handling the Emotions 

Above all, on their first day, don’t be emotional yourself. Don’t tell them you’ll miss them, or you give them permission to miss you – even before you’ve gone. This means they’ll be more likely to resist you going. Tell them how much fun they’re going to have, and how much you loved school at their age. Tell them you’re going to ask them all about their first day adventure when you pick them up – especially all the new friends they make.

Research shows that positive emotion improves retention, while negative emotion blocks learning, so:

Focus On The Fun!


By Brian Caswell, Dean of Research and Programme Development, MindChamps PreSchool Limited





Old Becomes New – Using Loose Parts to Play

Do you recall using loose parts in your play as a child? At Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ Outside School Hours Care centres, we have been learning how loose items can become valuable learning tools for the children.

In a time where technology and the use of devices is more evident in children’s learning, it is so important for the use of loose parts. It ensures children are connecting to creativity and their imagination in creating play.

St Anthony’s OSHC Assistant Coordinator Jane Howat said, “Loose parts encourage children to use their imagination. It also supports thinking and problem solving.”

“We also challenge the children to investigate how loose parts can be used in the home and in an education environment” she said.

Loose parts can be as simple as finding rocks in the yard and taking time to stack the rocks until they fall. This makes connection to concentration and problem-solving skills. A larger scale activity is using pallets and placing different resources on top of them. For example tyres, sheets, logs and cones.

Jane also said, “Before the children are able to engage in these activities however, rules around what will happen in the area needs to be agreed on by both the adult and the children. This gives ownership, respect and responsibility over the play situation.”

Although loose parts may look messy and unorganised, they give children an environment to lead their own expectation. Children can create meaningful engagement with other peers and themselves.

By doing this, children are experimenting and expressing their own thought processes in the natural wonder of loose parts.

“Children can see learning experiences that educators, teachers and adults cannot. Allowing them space to explore and engage supports the development of independence, confidence, social skills and self-esteem.”

However, with every theory there is a time and place. There is also a time and place for play based learning and structured play. Giving children a choice and a voice in their own learning then ensures that their play is positive and supports positive interaction and learning. Loose parts give children the opportunity to think outside the box. In addition, it gives adults an understanding of how children explore, experiment, engage and learn.

These and many other activities are part of the everyday program offered by Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ OSHC programs. To find out more contact MMCNQ on 4726 3299 or enrolment@mmcnq.catholic.edu.au






Calling all Parents! Are You Looking for an Outstanding School?

Are you looking for an outstanding school for your child? Do you want:

  • A caring, committed staff who will encourage your child to strive for his/her best in the academic sphere?
  • An excellent pastoral care program which fosters the development of the whole child – academically, socially and spiritually?
  • 21st century facilities and a cutting-edge pedagogical approach?
  • A one-stop, birth-to-graduation education solution? Our Early Learning Centre caters for babies from six weeks through to Kindy age. Your child will transition seamlessly from day care to kindy through to primary and secondary school.
  • Affordable fees?

Look no further – come and discover what the outstanding school  MacKillop has to offer!

What do MacKillop Students Love About Their School?

“We learn about writing and we make parrots”- Thomas (Prep).

“I love all my friends, and the sandpit! When I came here everyone was very friendly and kind to me.”- Zaria (Year 4).

“It’s a great school because you get to make a lot of friends.” – Helecia (Year 6).

“I love the new learning facilities.” – Paige (Year 7).

“The teachers are kind and always available to help us.” – Ayla (Year 7).

What are our Parents Saying?

Doreen Deede: “It’s like home, we love it here. I believe MCC offers a very special and unique learning experience and opportunity for all the kids to learn and to grow.”

Chrisstella Fourmile: “The sense of the community here at MacKillop is respectful and inclusive. I couldn’t talk more highly of MacKillop. The teachers are passionate and want to be at the school. What more can you ask for? MacKillop is a welcoming, safe space for families”

How About our Staff?

Alice Bowman: “The best part of my job is getting to engage with the kids, not only at a classroom level, but outside the classroom as well. A lot of the time we feel like a big family.”

Sarah Coleman: “The facilities have been master-planned to encompass flexible spaces and agility in classrooms – everything from write-able surface to multiple screens, to floor-to-ceiling walls to pin things to. Students have ownership of the spaces and can determine how and where they work within them.”

Luke Reed (College Principal): “We are committed to joining with parents and families in partnership for the education, development and formation of our young people. And this we do in a safe, caring and disciplined environment.”







Outdoor Education, More Than Just a Camp!

Students in Tropical North Queensland are incredibly fortunate to have great access to many outdoor experiences. These often take place at several venues and in a range of diverse environments. We use the term “camp” in this context to describe a myriad of experiences. At most of these, students spend time away from their normal school and home environments. This time spent away sets aims of achieving a range of personal development outcomes and covering several curriculum elements.

The majority of these experiences occur “outdoors”. They can be separated along a continuum with outdoor recreation at one end and outdoor education at the other. Outdoor recreation focuses on participation in outdoor activities for the sake of the activity itself. Plus, for fun and enjoyment. Many “camps” fall towards this end of the continuum, and do have several associated benefits. Often these benefits are particularly related to health and physical education curriculum. These camps are often residential in nature, of shorter duration (2-4 days) and they use hard-top or similar permanent accommodation. Often, adults provide catering for students, and they rely on activity instructors to lead various outdoor activities. Little processing of learning from each activity is present. In general, there is the approach of “let the experience speak for itself” commonly employed. 

There is value in taking students outdoors for recreation purposes alone, especially in today’s society where students are spending less time being physically active and outside.

 True outdoor education programs also provide students with the above benefits, along with an array of broader, richer learning experiences.  Outdoor Education can be most simply defined as “experiential learning in, about and for the outdoors”.  Experiential learning is learning through experience, or learning by doing. More specifically, it is about learning through reflecting on doing. It is this process of continual reflection and development which separates outdoor education from outdoor recreation. The focus of true outdoor education must be on learning, or education – about oneself, about others and about the environment. Outdoor Education draws upon the philosophy, theory, and practices of both experiential education and environmental education

Outdoor education programs can include residential programs for primary aged children especially, along with more rigorous journey-based/expedition programs for secondary-aged students. These carefully designed and sequenced programs often have students on the move each day (mostly by self-powered means such as hiking, paddling or cycling), sleeping in more mobile and rustic accommodation, cooking their own food and being more involved in the overall leadership and management decisions of their group. These programs are generally longer in duration (4+ days) and in many cases we can link them with previous lead-up experiences as part of a larger and sequential overall program.

Through experience I have identified and continually observe 10 key personal attributes and qualities that students develop through active participation in quality outdoor education programs.

These attributes are sought after by 21st century employers. In addition, they enable schools to graduate young adults who become contributing members of society. Some of these attributes can be developed rapidly, through one experience. Other attributes take significantly longer and occur after a range of sequential learning experiences:

Teamwork – working effectively with different people, developing group collaboration skills, understanding group development and dynamics.

Leadership and Followership – understanding leadership theory and practicing various leadership styles, including how to support leaders.

Communication – sharing ideas, actively listening to others, giving and receiving effective feedback, public speaking.

Planning and Organisation – managing resource use, developing and following schedules, modifying plans on the fly.

Self-management, Responsibility & Autonomy – developing and showing autonomy, the ability to manage oneself and to take full responsibility for one’s own actions and behaviours.

Resilience and Self Confidence – being confident in one’s own abilities and having a positive outlook for overcoming challenges, setbacks and trying new things – especially those outside of one’s comfort zone.

Problem-solving and Creativity developing innovative, creative and practical solutions to problems. 

Self-reflection / Appraisal – being able to evaluate and reflect on oneself, performance and experiences, and to set goals. Expressing oneself in a variety of ways.

Initiative and Enterprise – embracing challenge and opportunities, plus working under pressure. Having a desire to learn and perform well.

Empathy and Understanding — the ability to truly understand and appreciate the perspective and needs of others, and to show this in considered actions. 

Outdoor Learning is the term used in the Australian Curriculum for these experiences.

Their intention is for students to develop skills and understandings while valuing a positive relationship with natural environments and promoting sustainability. Outdoor Education also links to other key learning areas including Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Geography and Science.

Outdoor learning also helps children to develop personal and social capability, critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, as well as sustainability.

Kurt Hahn, regarded as one of the forefathers of modern outdoor education, eloquently says that “there is more in us than we know, and if only people could make us see it, for the rest of our lives we would be unwilling to settle for less”. True outdoor education aims to reveal to students their potential. It also provides them with the necessary skills and strategies to achieve this.

About the Author

Darren Osmond has a degree in Outdoor Education and is the Director of Outdoor Education and Co-Curricular at Trinity Anglican School (TAS) in Cairns.  He is one of the two full-time outdoor education teachers in the award-winning TAS Outdoor Education Program – a holistic, sequential program (designed and delivered according to a detailed scope and sequence), spanning Years 2-12.  All students participate in a program each year, from 3-18 days in duration. A typical TAS student spends 53 days of their schooling completing the outdoor education programs. Students with an interest in this area have several extension opportunities, including an elective Year 10 Outdoor Recreation Program focusing on Personal and Leadership Development, the Duke of Edinburgh (International) Award and student-led 28-day World Challenge Expeditions to developing countries.








What is ‘Service Learning’ and Why is it Important?

Within the word ‘brother’ is ‘other’. At Ignatius Park College, the concept of Brotherhood encompasses the students. It is also extended to the wider community with service learning.

In service learning, students are challenged to expand their educational opportunities through tackling real-life problems in their community. Service learning provides students with meaningful experiences. Overall, it is a core aspect of schooling at Ignatius Park College. Service learning provides students with the ability to think globally and act locally. Plus, it also has a positive impact on the growth and development of the whole person. At Iggy Park, the school aims to use service learning to help develop responsible young men with a highly developed sense of social justice.

Recently, students at Ignatius Park College have raised much needed funds for the Townsville Drop In Centre. To assist the students in understanding why they are raising these funds, we offer them a homeless experience. For this, they spent one night ‘sleeping rough’ at school, eating only soup and sleeping on a hard floor. In fact, they get none of the usual comforts of their bedrooms.

Mr Patrick McMahon, the College’s Identity and Mission Coordinator for Faith in Service, explains: “The boys experience some of the challenges that homeless people may go through each day. Although it is only for one night, we hope that the students can garner an understanding for people who are homeless or vulnerable in our society and the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

Additionally, each House at the College supports its own charity throughout the year. They do this through a range of activities and events to raise funds and awareness.

Iggy Park offers students a wide range of activities as part of service learning, including:

  • Reading with students from Holy Spirit School
  • Visiting and engaging with elderly residents at Brooklea Lifestyle Village
  • Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer
  • Participating in the World’s Greatest Shave (raising over $27,000 this year)
  • Hit the Hill to raise awareness for Mental Health
  • Spending time playing games, making new friends and fostering right relationships at Townsville Community Learning Centre
  • Act as full-time carers for special needs children at a three day SONY Camp
  • The Senior students can formally guide the younger students as Peer mentors
  • Reef Guardians
  • Best Foot Forward – liberating the lives of women and girls through education

Overall, service learning is a vital part of educating the whole person. The ethos of serving others is a guiding principle of an education at Ignatius Park College.


You can read more about Ignatius Park College HERE. 









My Child Is Struggling with Reading, Could She Have Dyslexia?

Yolanda van der Kruk – Registered Psychologist and Neurodevelopmental Consultant – Townsville Paediatrics

Dear Yolanda, My child is really struggling learning to read, could she have dyslexia?

Dyslexia can be very frustrating for a child that is learning to read. It is not only a reading difficulty but a spelling, phonics and comprehension struggle, resulting in lack of reading and writing fluency and accuracy. Although common among early readers, persistence can be the sign of it. The good news is with the proper help and skills, a child can learn ways to help manage these. If you have concerns regarding your child, a full educational and psychometric assessment can identify a range of learning problems, including dyslexia. It can also provide you with detailed information on your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses profile.

4427 5817 


Read more from Townsville Paediatrics HERE.