Education Week is a great time for schools in our region to showcase their school programs and the many interesting student activities, so that parents and friends get a snapshot of the progress the kids are making.
There is also great information for parents and grandparents to read about the trends in schooling, ideas on homework (is there too much?), and even information on the link between health and learning.
Take the time to find out about creating good habits, how to ask those delicate questions to get to the real answers if your child seems unhappy, and so much more.
READ this story on how music can grow young minds:
Keeping in mind May 20 to 26 is Education Week in Victoria, with the theme “Celebrating the arts”.
Performing in some of Europe’s grandest opera houses has more similarities to teaching music to primary school students in suburban Melbourne than one may think.
Former professional opera singer-turned music teacher, Alison Farr-Handley, said her students can even sometimes be a tougher audience.
But the Footscray City Primary School teacher said it’s so rewarding to teach classical music at the school, where she conducts two choirs, runs a variety of instrumental ensembles and teaches music to students from prep to grade 6.
She’s seen music instrument playing grow to almost 35 per cent of students studying. “Every child has music in them and every child is exposed to it every day,” she said.
Ms Farr-Handley says the benefits of music education reach across the curriculum.
“Beyond developing musicianship, there’s research showing a link between musical understanding and literacy and maths, it’s opening the mind to thinking in different ways,” she said. “Music is an area that builds their confidence and focus.”
Minister for Education James Merlino said students who study dance, drama, visual arts or music enjoyed far reaching benefits on top of their creative outlet.
“We know kids thrive intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically when studying arts,” he said.
“There are lots of benefits inside and outside of the classroom including building confidence, resilience, self-esteem and a sense of belonging in communities and cultures.”
There are many opportunities to be involved in the arts at school. For example, each year around 3000 Victorian government school students perform in the State Schools Spectacular, providing an invaluable performing arts opportunity.
Many students are supported through the “Music in Schools” program, which also provides funding to buy music-related resources, including musical instruments.
As part of Creative Learning Partnership run by Creative Victoria, Daylesford Secondary College recently welcomed Jodie Goldring as artist-in-residence to their school to work on a project called “Fluctuating Spaces”. The school’s project co-ordinator, Lisa Gunders, said students investigated installation artists who had explored themes of flux and change.
“A central aspect of the creation process was open-ended exploration, risk taking and play that leads to critical thinking about potential solutions so that final installations were considered,” she said.
Jodie Goldring said the exciting part was having the concept and then “seeing what the kids could come up with, and how far they could take the starting point”.
READ this story on overloading for instance:
It’s natural to want to give you child every opportunity to develop new interests and make new friends. After-school activities can provide a great outlet for all that energy. But time out is important too.
Just as adults can often feel overloaded, kids can also get stressed when they have too much on. The challenge is to find the right balance.
It is actually OK for children to have some time with nothing to do. Free time encourages imagination, provides an opportunity to learn how to cope with boredom and helps the child to be comfortable in their own company.
Also take a look at the bigger picture. Is your child happy and thriving with all their scheduled activities? Are they getting enough sleep and eating well? Do they have enough time to do their homework?
And perhaps most importantly, how often does the whole family have the time to have dinner together and talk to each other?
Over-scheduling doesn’t just affect the child. Parents can also get tired and stressed rushing from one activity to another, which increases with the amount of children that need to be juggled.
Taking the time to just stop and talk to your child can provide many benefits. Regular communication can help your child to feel more comfortable opening up to you, which will make it easier to pick up on any issues that are bothering them.
Take care that you don’t fall into the trap of assuming all your children will have the same interests. Sure, it is much easier to drop off to the one dance school or one sports facility, but you may inadvertently be negatively affecting your child’s confidence if one child feels they have to try to keep up with a sibling who has different talents and motivation.
Experts say that one to two extra-curricular activities a week is probably plenty for a child, on top of five days of school. Don’t feel guilty saying no to more: you’ll be saving time and money, and more importantly, gaining family time that could benefit everyone.
READ this story about how much is too much screen time:
It will be no surprise to learn that spending too much time watching TV, surfing online or playing computer or electronic hand-held games is linked to children becoming overweight or obese.
Research by the Australian Government has found that children who watch TV for more than two hours every day are more likely to have an unhealthy diet, less likely to eat fruit and less likely to be physically active.
It revealed that nearly half of children aged between five and 15 years spend more than two hours every day on ‘small screen’ entertainment.
So how long should you allow your child to sit in front of a screen?
Australian guidelines recommend that kids and teens should minimise the time they spend being sedentary (still) every day and that two days per day is enough.
Long periods of use should be broken up as often as possible.
But as any parent knows, actually getting your child away from the screen can be a monumental battle. Here are some tips:
- Before you switch on the TV or the computer for your children, stop and think – could they spend the time being active and have some ‘small screen’ time later on? - - Set limits on TV viewing. If there is a specific program that your child wants to watch, turn the TV off once it has finished.
- Alternatively, record the program and watch it together later on.
- Set limits for computer games and being online – no more than two hours a day and not during daylight hours when they could be outside and active.
- Don’t allow a TV or computer in your child’s bedroom. Keep them in a common area of the family home so you can monitor use.
- Have a list of active indoor and outdoor games or activities for your children, so you can suggest alternatives to watching TV or playing on the computer.
For more information and ideas on healthy eating and physical activity, go to www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au