St Matthew’s School empowers children to embrace life-long learning and grow and develop as God intends.
God of all peoples and nations,
As you accompany us on
our Lenten Journey,
May our fasting strengthen our
commitment to live in solidarity,
Our almsgiving be an act of justice,
And our prayers anchor us
in love and compassion.
We ask this in Jesus’ name,
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It has been a huge fortnight of learning at St Matthew’s, and I’m actually not just talking about our students!
Great Southern Network
This week, St Matthew’s has had the pleasure of hosting early years teachers and principals from Kojonup, Katanning and Albany. Our Kindy, Pre-Primary, Year 1 and Year 2 teachers and I joined our visitors to work with Jan Fleming (School Support Consultant) and Tracey Marsden (Pre-Primary Specialist). We focused on expanding our understanding of inquiry learning, play-based pedagogy and assessment in the early years. This visit also gave us an opportunity to share our beautiful school. It was lovely to hear many positive comments about the learning spaces we have created, and how we have been able to use our resources to promote creativity and collaboration within our school.
Leadership in the Early Years
I have been fortunate this week to attend the first 2 days of a 5 day course focusing on the early years. We studied the development of a young child’s brain and how educators should embrace children’s natural born curiosity, imagination and thirst for knowledge to programme learning experiences. As I sat and listened to our presenter, Fran Italiano, I was able to reflect on our own practice at St Matthew’s. It was with pride that I could share with the group many examples of how our early years staff expertly prepare motivating and stimulating play-based experiences. I look forward to continuing to learn more about effective early years programming over the coming months and know, that it is by always challenging ourselves to expand our understanding of new findings in education, that we will continue to offer a progressive education for our students.
Finally, the Leadership Team, made up of Mark Tenny, Mark Collins and me, attended the Leaders’ Forum in Perth. We, along with more than 450 principals, school and system leaders, came together for the start of CEWA’s system improvement initiative with renowned education thought-leader Professor Michael Fullan. The Forum, a biannual event in the CEWA calendar, is an important opportunity for leaders from across the system and State to discuss challenges, developments and system improvement in Catholic education.
On Sunday, our wonderful staff celebrated the Commitment Mass for 2020. Each year, we gather together to renew our commitment to supporting our parents and our parish in helping children to grow in an awareness of the loving and empowering presence of Jesus. We also commissioned our two new staff members, Mr Ben Quartermaine (Year 5) and Miss Stephanie Boyer (Year 2). It was lovely to see both of them involved in Sunday morning’s service. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us and joined us for morning tea following the Mass.
St Matthew’s School wishes to remind all our families that it is not possible to reply to our SMS system. The only way to contact the school directly is by phone, 9853 9500, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Teachers may be emailed directly via the email address supplied in the Term Overview letter. We apologise for any confusion that the absentee SMS may have caused.
While the Department of Health advises that the risk of transmission in Western Australia remains low, they are monitoring the situation and we are acting on their advice to take any necessary precautions for our students and our staff. The current focus is on preparation in advance of COVID-19 and precautions that can be put in place to slow its transmission. Over the weekend, I sent out (via the school app and Seqta email) Friday’s WA Education Position and Update. Please rest assured that I am keeping up-to-date with all the new recommendations and will continue to forward these to parents as the need arises.
I would advise parents to take this opportunity to talk calmly to children; as adults manage their own fears and anxiety, they provide children with a sense of safety. It is important to keep this virus in perspective and provide reassurance – remind children that it is unlikely that they will get sick and if they do, they will go to the doctor. Most children have mild symptoms and are well again. Empower children with what they can do, ie wash their hands, catch their coughs by
covering their mouths etc. Finally, ensure that you build your own news and media literacy to help separate fact from fiction. We all know that media hype often overstates the negative, and down plays the positive.
I have attached the following link to further assist parents in discussing the Coronavirus with their children.
Principal Focus – New Year, New Fear
As a principal, a teacher and a parent, I am regularly challenged with how best to help our kids positively deal with feelings of anxiety. We live in a very busy world and it is only natural that there are times when this potentially becomes too much for our little people to cope with. As a staff, we are always accessing information and new strategies to assist us in developing resilient, positive children. This week, I came across the following article by Dr Kaylene Henderson about the importance of learning with our children about anxiety:
“Naturally, it’s hard for our kids to feel in control of something that they’ve not been taught about. I imagine it’s also hard for you too, as a parent or educator, to teach your children about something you may never have learned about either.
As a Child Psychiatrist, here’s where I suggest you start:
Teach your child that anxiety is a normal, safe and often helpful feeling
Normalise anxiety – tell stories of times that you’ve felt anxious and of how brave you’ve felt when you’ve faced your fears
Books are a wonderful tool for teaching children about anxiety. They teach children that they’re not alone in their experience and can provide both practical guidance and reassurance in a non-threatening way.
Teach your child that, just like the rest of their body, they’re in charge of their thoughts and that these thoughts, in turn, influence how they feel.
As your child learns more about anxiety and how to manage it in situations they might’ve been otherwise tempted to avoid, they will steadily gain a sense of mastery and control. And that’s when the magic happens. To truly make our children’s lives easier, their days calmer and their moods happier, we don’t need to make their anxiety disappear. We just need to help them master it.”
Dr Kaylene Henderson, 2019 Maggie Dent: quietly improving lives accessed 6 March 2020 https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/why-all-our-kids-should-learn-about-this-one-important-thing/
Best wishes for the week ahead,
Best wishes for the week ahead,