So school is out for two weeks, and most of the kids around Australia are excitedly bouncing getting ready for all the ‘awesome stuff they are going to do’ over the school holidays. Parents nod along in excitement, although they have a number of thoughts rolling around like “When am I going to find time to take you to all these places?”, “How much is it going to cost?”, and “Ten bucks says they spend the majority of their holidays on the Xbox”.
While spending all day everyday on their phone or IPad is not the best idea, some screen or game time could be a good thing. It’s important for kids to actually switch off and have a break over the school holidays. Spontaneous play is vital for children’s development, and it’s something that they don’t get to do a lot of in the classroom. Although, rather than screen time all the time, encourage kids to go outside and explore something in the backyard, or use the imagination to build a castle or a car out of Lego blocks. I spent some time last week building Lego with a student who was feeling a bit stressed and tired of school. It was amazing how Lego managed to calm the student down, and channeled all of their energy and focus into the task of building a ‘dream house’. The Lego activity took us on a different path, in which we talked about the rooms, furniture and layout of a house.
Anything that involves children exploring and independently learning is a positive thing – especially when the child is the one who is setting the path. Sometimes these instances are when children learn the most, simply because of their level of engagement and enjoyment (as they are actually learning about what THEY want to learn). So, let the kids take a break over the holidays and ask them what they are interested in. Once they have given you some ideas (and let’s face it, there will be a MILLION things they are ‘interested’ in), make it a mission in your family to learn something new about these areas of interest!
Weekend Notes put together a great list of school holiday activities in Melbourne over spring – and there is some really cool stuff going on. Everything from Art and Craft, Lego, Minecraft , Disney Princesses and Mermaids. There’s also a FREE School Holiday Junior Ranger Program here on the Mornington Peninsula. Worth a look!
There have been some interesting articles and commentary around at the moment after the Victorian government announced their plans to replace special religious instruction classes in schools with lessons on domestic violence and healthy relationships. It’s an interesting concept really, but one that they obviously feel was very necessary. With the rate of domestic violence and family violence on the increase, perhaps it is something that should be introduced?
When I read the article, my first thought was that domestic violence and healthy relationships are surely something that should be taught and learned at home, not at school. The amount of content that teachers are expected to cover each term is already so high, is it really fair to add more into the curriculum? The majority of children will learn what a healthy relationship looks like through watching their own parents, their friend’s parents and the other relationships within their extended family.
But as I thought more about it, I realised that those kids who are returning home each night to witness domestic violence or an unhealthy relationship between these key figures in their life would actually be learning it all wrong. Some kids might not realise that what is going on at home is incorrect, especially if they are only young and don’t have a lot of exposure to other families and adults. These children would be watching their supposed role models and thinking that it’s acceptable to hit your partner, verbally abuse them and that it’s normal to feel scared in your own house.
It’s proposed that all children in Victorian government schools from Kindergarten to Year 10 will be part of a 30 minute lesson each week on world histories, cultures, faith and ethics – encompassing learning about healthy relationships. This will take the place of Special Religious Instruction classes, (in which usually only a handful of children from each class attend), and SRI will be moved to either lunchtime or before and after school.
So, maybe it is a positive change that these aspects of healthy relationships are taught in schools to children. I guess it’s important to try anything at this point to try and break the cycle of domestic violence, and if it is educating those children who might be in these situations at home – well then I’m all for it.
Have a read of the article and see what you think about the proposed change.
Lauren is the owner of MPT, a primary school teacher, tutor and Mum to a nearly 2 year old son.