THURSDAY 9 APRIL
Good morning parents,
Welcome to the final newsletter for Term 1. As I sit here and reflect on my first term as a principal, I think it would be fair to say that I was not expecting the term to pan out quite the way it did… While there have been some obvious challenges, I really believe that this will also make us all stronger as families and as a wider community. It will help us to appreciate the little things in life as well as the people who are closest to us that we can’t see right now! This community and the way they have dealt with this crisis, has been inspiring. The way everyone has stuck together, kept it calm and supported each other has been awesome to see and I can’t thank everyone enough for your kind words of encouragement to all the staff here at Holy Rosary.
Last week I helped out with some home schooling so that Nicole could get some work done too. I found that the kids actually had some really good ideas and were really excited to have a choice in what they wanted to learn about. We used some capsicum and pumpkin seeds leftover from dinner to plant in the garden, we learnt how to light a fire for roasting marshmallows (George is now committed to roasting Easter Dinner on the Weber!), we climbed many trees, cooked every night, learnt how to care for the chickens and did a fair amount of Yoga. Nicole and I were absolutely exhausted by 9pm every night and I know this is common in our community.
Before I launch into some info about next term, can I please wish everyone a really HAPPY AND SAFE EASTER! I know that at the moment some days are better than others and at times it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I hope this weekend gives us some time to reflect on how lucky we are in the things that we do have and the people that make our lives so special. I hope people are still able to have a nice Easter Lunch with their family, use the technology to connect with their extended family and friends and of course, I hope the Easter Bunny finds his way to all your houses on Saturday night!
Like last week, if you have a nice pic of your Easter and want to share it, please send it through to Michele next week and we will get them out there!
DATES TO REMEMBER
- Start of Term 2
Home Learning Plans (Term 2)
As you will appreciate, a month ago none of us could have imagined that we would be in a situation where we are trying to redesign our teaching and learning plans into a workable program for families at home. Here at Holy Rosary we see this space as a work in progress and your support and feedback have been really helpful in getting us to where we are at the moment. With your help, we will continue to reflect and tweak what we do to suit our context.
As communicated last week, I wish to reassure every parent and caregiver that the ongoing enrolment of every child in our school is our priority, regardless of a parent’s financial circumstances.
If parents or caregivers have concerns in this regard, I encourage you to contact the school directly to confidentially discuss financial support arrangements. The following options are immediately available to all families with children in Catholic schools:
- The Centrelink Health Care Card Discount Scheme provides an automatic fee concession to the holders of eligible means-tested family concession cards. This discount applies to all year levels from Kindergarten to Year 12. Additional financial considerations are also available depending on each family’s circumstance.
- For parents who do not qualify for the Health Care Card discount, but who are experiencing financial difficulties, arrangements can be made to provide immediate support to assist you.
Embedded in this Newsletter (below) is the Holy Rosary Remote Learning Plan, I encourage everyone to have a read over the holidays. You will notice in Term 2 that there has been a step up in the quantity and time involved. I want to stress that this is an attempt to cater for the very diverse range of needs in our community. Some families will have the time and resources to help their children complete all the work set, others will find this extremely challenging and we understand that there are families in our community that are juggling working from home with assisting multiple children with their schoolwork.
Understandably, different families will have different constraints when it comes to delivering the curriculum. The message from our staff is - just do the best you can and look after your whole family, including YOURSELF!
From my own experience and from chatting to parents over the past few weeks, here are a few common tips and strategies:
Try to create a routine to give yourself some structure to the day and let the kids know what this is. If things aren't going well however, change it up to suit you.
Give yourself permission to modify activities / timetables as needed.
Start with activities in core subjects and those that teachers will be feeding back on, and if you are coping, add activities from other areas.
Encourage older children to support younger children.
Use TV and technology strategically and responsibly. Please remember, especially with older students, to be vigilant when students are on the iPads. Check in with them regularly and discuss what they are doing. Students should not be ‘chatting’ one on one using the school iPad.
Work outside in the fresh air for periods.
Build in brain breaks, exercise, healthy snacks, a cuddle, a giggle.
Include a jobs roster into the day so everyone is helping out. This can free up some of your time too.
Hopefully the changes for next term do not create any more anxiety or stress for your family. As a staff we have aimed to build on what we were doing at the end of Term 1 without making it more difficult to navigate or understand. Whatever happens, please do not worry. If you are unsure or need help, please get in touch through the office. I will also send another feedback form to parents early next term to gauge any common issues.
Finally, I have also embedded the Holy Rosary Student iPad user agreement for families to go through together with their children. Now is a good time to remind students on the importance of using the technology appropriately and the document has space at the bottom for you to agree on your own set of family rules while at home. A year or so ago one of our HR families told me of how everyone has to put their devices away after dinner every day, including Mum and Dad. This is something Nicole and I model with our kids now and they are very good at pulling us up if we break the rule.
Feedback and Support
Many thanks to those of you who have sent affirming messages of support to staff members and to us as a leadership team - these are very much appreciated and greatly valued.
The last few weeks have required a great deal of hard work as we have problem solved and worked closely as a team. I am extremely proud of our staff and while I am not surprised at how professionally they have responded to the current situation, it continues to make me feel very humbled, lucky and blessed.
Parents are very welcome to offer feedback and to seek clarification. Constructive and positive feedback is appreciated because it supports team motivation, boosts staff confidence in this unusual time, and lets staff know that you value them and all their hard work. If you have feedback that involves a problem, that is absolutely fine too, this is how we will continue to adapt what we are doing to better meet the needs the HR community - just remember to keep it kind.
Some of the questions and comments from the feedback form from last week:
Can teachers deliver content via a video lesson; explicitly teaching and demonstrating a task then time for the child to complete the task and check in with the teacher?
Yes. Teachers have been working on a variety of ways to explicitly teach concepts to students. Using video, Apps like Explain Everything, Screen recording, Slides Presentations, posters, youtube videos etc. You will start to see more of this from early next term.
Can staff provide regular face-to-face between students and the class and teacher. The option to use video conferencing for kids at lunchtime in small groups to “hangout together online”.
As a staff, we have decided that this is not manageable on a regular basis at the moment. There are a number of logistical, technical and privacy related issues that we do not feel comfortable with. This is not to say that we have ruled it out completely, but not in the short to medium term.
Can the school set a fun weekly challenge - something like draw a… or build a… with Lego or blocks or make a... with recyclable materials etc. Kids can submit photos and then be included in a movie collage which goes out in the next week's newsletter. Not compulsory but something else to keep them busy!! :)
Yeah, great idea. Aleana and I are happy to have a think about some creative activities that everyone can participate in and show off their skills. Teachers are also working on folders for ‘things to do if you want more things to do’… Keep a lookout for this next term!
Are teachers asking a lot of families?
As I have mentioned above, we have a huge range in what families want/expect and can manage. This presents quite a few difficulties for staff, however, we believe what we are creating and delivering will provide families with options that are developmentally appropriate for their year level. If there is a capacity to complete a wide variety of activities, they are there. Our message is however, do not put so much pressure on yourself that your families health and wellbeing are compromised.
Printing at home with small domestic printers can be difficult and expensive. Is there an alternative?
There is no expectation that parents print off large quantities of pages. If students have not taken workbooks home, please be in contact with your child’s teacher to organise collection from outside the front office. Where teachers have set worksheets, students are encouraged to complete it in their workbooks, annotate the worksheet on their device or create an online document to answer content. Sometimes parents will find it easier to print the document and that is ok too. We understand that this will be different for each family and teachers will do their best to give a variety of different activities and ways to respond to them.
Can we have the content sent out on Friday before the week?
We had a good think about this one and at the moment we think that Monday morning is still the best time for communication to come out. There are a number of reasons…
Even when not teaching remotely, teachers regularly use their weekend to prepare for the coming week. We are now asking quite substantially more of them and I would imagine that doing some work on the weekend is inevitable.
Teachers are constantly changing the program because of what occurred the week before. For example - Group A struggled to understand how to find equivalent fractions, change their activities for next week to go over this…
You can still use the weekend afterwards to complete or follow up on content that was not able to be finished.
Where possible, the weekends should be used to relax and have fun. (I do understand that for some parents working from home, some time spent learning on the weekend may be the only way to fit everything in.)
Can I get hold of my child’s Google Password to use on our home computer?
Yes of course you can. Just send an email through the office with your child’s name and class and we will sort it out for you.
EMAIL FROM CEWA
Finally, I received an email this week outlining CEWA’s position in regards to next term. In a nutshell, here is what we have been told:
- All Catholic schools will remain open.
- The wellbeing and pastoral care of all children, and especially the most vulnerable, will remain our first priority.
- Principals should arrange for staff to make regular contact with parents in a variety of ways.
- Staff should continue to plan for the remote delivery of learning for at least the first four weeks of Term Two and be expecting that this arrangement could continue after this time.
- Parents are encouraged to keep their children at home, however, those parents who are unable to care for their children because they are engaged with essential services, or to maintain employment, may choose to send their children to school. Children who attend school for these reasons will be involved in remote learning which reflects the model which is delivered to their peers who are learning at home. There is no expectation that children attending school will be taught face-to-face. More information will be sent out via email by Friday 24th April.
- Discovery Kids will remain open over the holidays and next term if parents require this service.
I would like to thank all the parents who are in the medical, emergency and essential services, for many of you this is a particularly confronting time. I would also like to acknowledge parents who are working from home while they also facilitate their child’s learning, you too are making a difference in controlling the spread of this virus. I know it is a tough gig and I really hope some of the information above helps you get into a rhythm going forward.
Thanks for being AWESOME everyone… Happy Easter!
Caritas – Project Compassion
Unfortunately we have had to cancel our Project Compassion events scheduled for this term. Project Compassion may have been disrupted, but this year the appeal is more important than ever. A donation to Caritas Australia will allow us to continue to Go Further Together and truly save lives.
Through your generosity during Project Compassion this year, you will be helping empower our world’s most vulnerable communities to grow stronger and share their strengths with their communities to lift themselves out of poverty.
Donations can be made online at https://lent.caritas.org.au/donate/#donate_start
Pastoral and Well-Being News
At a time when we are usually socially busy, all of a sudden our circumstances have changed dramatically in regards to how we will spend our time. It is important to see this as a positive, especially in front of our kids, and remember it is ok to be bored and relax. Going back to simple play and activities will help calm all our minds while we navigate our new normal. PJ days are perfect! As are writing journals – for adults and kids! You can request a free mindfulness journal for kids here which is a beautiful way of keeping in check with feelings during this time.
There are so many links and websites with ideas and activities, but what I am finding most helpful is a reminder on parenting through this time. Michael Grose has provided a great article about changes in rules at home during life in close quarters. https://www.parentingideas.com.au/blog/does-your-parenting-rulebook-still-apply?utm_source=Blog+Subscribers&utm_campaign=7cba274cf8-Parenting+Blog+-+Does+your+parenting+rulebook&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f488c60967-7cba274cf8-200598453&goal=0_f488c60967-7cba274cf8-200598453&mc_cid=7cba274cf8&mc_eid=ab275c9b08
Be kind to yourselves and have a very happy and safe Easter.
I hope this finds you all well in the lead up to Easter. I am very much looking forward to doing lots of reading! Remember the eBooks the students can use on their iPads at home and Time Kids is offering a free digital subscription, which might be of great interest to our non-fiction readers https://time.com/tfk-free/
I have provided many links and ideas in past newsletters and I will keep you up to date with all changes and library communications here each week.
Enjoy Easter and the holidays with your families.
“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish
Parish Office - 9446 2055
Father Peter Hoang OP - 0411 381 199