From the Principal's Desk

We warmly welcomed our students back to the College this week, to begin what was a more normal start to the term. I thoroughly enjoyed greeting all of our families this week at both morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups. This is something I will continue to do as often as I can, to connect with each and every one of you.

At the start of each term, our tutor teachers raise the issue of routine with our students. With holidays a not so distant memory, it is a good opportunity for parents to be aware that commencing good habits in Week 1, is just as important as studying for exams in Week 9.

I particularly encourage parents to consider their approach to the following points: 

  • Implement reduced screen time allowances, as holidays can be a time where poor habits begin. Set time frames that are clear and monitored.
  • Set clear sleep times and ensure screen time ceases one hour prior.
  • Ensure the home workspace is ready and being utilised.
  • Re-set healthy eating habits and set times for meals that support good study routines.
  • Read your child/ren’s Semester 1 report when it becomes available and ask to see their Semester 2 learning plan.
It is important to remember that returning to school after a holiday can be a challenging time for students due to their new co-curricular season commencing, the required changes in eating and sleeping habits, as well as factoring in an adjustment period from all of their social activities over the holidays. With a majority of our College co-curricular programs coming back this term, we are conscious of the balancing act that students have between their co-curricular involvements, completing their homework and for our older students, planning for future assignments and external exams.

Advice that is consistent at home and school will assist students to get back into successful routines as quickly as possible.

For parents of students in our Junior School, you will be receiving via email a Curriculum Overview in a few weeks to help you reinforce the habits of organisation and planning that go hand in hand with successful performance at school. As students grow, develop and become more independent in the Senior School, their workload increases, and they have the chance to apply and build on the foundational skills developed throughout the Junior School.

For our Senior School parents, your children have access to their assessment calendar that shows the upcoming assessment for the remainder of this year. Parents can access this via Parent Lounge.

A reminder that successful students organise a space in their home specifically for homework, where they have room to work. They pack their bags themselves, and always have everything they need, including a fully charged device. In addition, many also participate in a range of co-curricular activities, so their mornings, evenings and weekends are peppered with an abundance of activities. Those students manage their own organisation of the before-school activity, their academic day, their after-school activity, as well as planning time to complete their homework. 

Additionally, these students have, over time, developed a system where they write down homework and key tasks in their school diary or some type of planning calendar, then tick them off when complete. Further, they have a study timetable (a timetable in addition to just homework) that maps out all of their assessment, so they can be more prepared.

For students in the Senior School, backward mapping their assessments is a technique that works well. For example, if the due date for an assignment is Wednesday Week 7, and this will realistically take seven nights of work for two hours each night, then the preparation needs to be started at least seven or eight nights before the due date. Of course, with all other subject assessments and co-curricular obligations added in, a study timetable is an ever-changing schedule, but having it mapped out early helps students successfully plan out their time from now until exam block at the end of this term.  

Often, it is when exams or assessment deadlines loom when parents first hear about the worries or concerns about concepts not understood or grasped. Our Senior School faculties have tutorials a number of times each week. The best advice for setting your child/ren up for success is to reinforce that if they don’t understand something in class, remind them not to sit quietly hoping to work it out later, but to ask questions, and attend the tutorials each week. Teachers would much rather go over something again in class than discover the student had not understood it when they see their results later in the term.  

Learning is like building a brick wall; miss a brick at the bottom, then you will miss two in the space above it, then three in the space above that and very soon, you have a gap in your learning. Students need to be encouraged to do everything they can to help themselves understand a concept - ask a friend, ask your teacher, research and ask your parents.

Despite the constant reassurances from our children, students never have no homework, even in the first week of school! There is always something they can be doing to help themselves to better understand a topic; they can rehearse a performance, study for a test, or just revise the classwork from their lesson. If students put aside time every night to focus on revision of classwork, they tend to manage their workload better. Desire 2 Learn (D2L) is the College Learning Management System and has resources, practice quizzes and an abundance of resources for students to access at any time. 

As we start the beginning of our term, I encourage every parent to have those conversations with your children to prompt them to be aware of what the next part of the term brings, and to help set up our students for success.

Joanne Sheehy - Principal/Head of College