Tag: education

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. 





Why Every Parent Should Consider a Steiner Education

Every Parent Should Consider a Steiner Education. In general, a Steiner student is confident, has a deep respect for the natural world and is a problem solver. They also have empathy towards others and are self-directed. They look forward to blazing their own path trusting in their abilities and talents.

The rate of change in today’s society is rapid and our children’s future is uncertain. Because of this, today’s students need to be setup for success to solve tomorrow’s challenges. Fortunately, a Steiner education is made for modern times.

What is Steiner Education?

We base the Steiner education on building human capacities, with over 100 years of evidence-based research and findings. The overall goal is to awaken the innate human capacities and passions in each student. In turn, these will support them to become balanced, responsible, innovative and self-aware citizens.

Additionally at Cairns Hinterland Steiner School, we offer the broad and integrated curriculum that fosters a passion for learning, critical thinking, creativity, connectedness and positivity. The curriculum is both progressive and holistic. Along with this, we make sure to account for the needs of the whole child – academic, physical, emotional and spiritual. This is also known as the head, heart and hands – which meets each child at their developmental phase to optimise learning. Plus we are interested not only in their learning but also their wellbeing.

At Cairns Hinterland Steiner School, Students Experience:

  • A strong bond between teacher and student
  • A learning environment nestled in World Heritage rainforest
  • Beautiful indoor and outdoor learning spaces
  • Small class sizes and excellent support services
  • All classwork and materials provided

We welcome parents and carers. They are an active part of the community.

Steiner classroom in progress

Experience Our School

Our Annual Spring Fair will take place on Saturday 12 September 2020, from 10.00am – 2.00pm. 

The day will include musical performances from our students featuring our string soloists, ensembles and choral performances, delicious food stalls, and games and activities for the children.

The school also showcases our student’s schoolwork from throughout the year. This includes displays from early childhood, primary and high school, which will demonstrate how the Steiner principles of ‘head, heart and hands’ manifests in students’ academic and holistic development. Overall, the creative, artistic and aesthetic approach to all school work will become immediately apparent as you enter our School Hall and see the displays from across the class years.

The Spring Fair is a wonderful time to visit Cairns Hinterland Steiner School. It’s the best time to take a look at the school community that you and your family can be a part of. Visit our Facebook page to keep up to date about this event.