Mindfulness Stones

Is it too early in the year to declare my favourite school project for 2017? Because this is it. Kerry Lomas tells us more –

We live in a fast paced world and there is an enormous need for children to develop the skills they require to cope with these changes and the speed at which they are happening. This includes learning how to manage attention and developing skills in stress management, compassion and resilience. This was a strong focus in Kick Start Kew this year. Continue reading

Fostering secure attachment in children

One of the greatest worries for parents whose child is beginning school is the separation – will their child be crying at the classroom door or clutching their legs in a desperate attempt to have them stay? Or will they be tearing through the gate without a backward glance? This week, Penny Gibson, who is a child and family therapeutic specialist with Capacity Consulting and Coaching, and also part of the KPS community, provides some insight into how to promote healthy ‘attachment’ in primary-school-aged children

circle-of-securityAttachment is the affectional bond between a child and their caregiver and it cultivates from birth, when a baby uses signals to activate their caregiver to care tor them and meet their needs. Being attached to others is a matter of safety and certainty in a world full of perceived threats and dangers. Continue reading

Prep – the long game

The Preps have almost finished their first term of school. No doubt, the last five weeks have been exciting, tiring and challenging.

It’s sometime around this point in a Prep’s school year that the rubber hits the road, so to speak. The ‘settling in’ period is pretty much over, the excitement of wearing a school uniform and carrying a big school bag has lost its thrill and kids have been known to say things like “Yeah, that was fun but I think I’m ready to go back to kinder.”

So what do parents need to know for playing the Prep long game? Continue reading

The Middle School introduces the FISH Philosophy

It’s a philosophy with a funny name but Elizabeth Murray tells us a little bit about how FISH is changing our middle school –

FISH philosophy-1This year, the Middle School has been looking at developing a culture based around the FISH Philosophy. There are four main principles in the FISH Philosophy. These are Play, Choose Your Attitude, Make Their Day and Be There. Continue reading

Let’s take a walk

This week Martin von Wyss shares some thoughts on leaving the car at home and putting on the walking shoes (hint: it’s a good idea!).

Did you know that October is officially known to the Department of Health as Walk to School month? Kew Primary School is on board and Boroondara City Council is also willing and funded to assist us. So what is it all about?

The website, walktoschool.vic.gov.au spells out the initiative, gives tips on what’s good about walking and dispels myths that might stop parents and carers from walking to school with their children. It also touches on how important it is for older children to experience the independence of walking to school alone and learning to navigate their way through their neighbourhood. Continue reading

Student engagement and well-being

Bullying and cyber bullying, self-esteem and resilience, mental health and well-being are all hugely important issues that most parents worry about at one time or another. For this weeks’ blog I spoke to Clare Connor who teaches Grade 5 and is responsible for Student Engagement and Wellbeing at Kew Primary about how the school responds to some of these very difficult issues.P1060518

Jacqui: So what exactly is Student Engagement and Wellbeing about?

Clare: Very broadly it’s about looking after the emotional and social health of the children and encouraging and rewarding good behaviour. From my perspective it’s an exciting area to work in as it allows for a great deal of creativity in developing programs and working with different areas of the school. It’s challenging and very rewarding.

Jacqui: Can you tell me about some of the programs we run?

Clare: The most important is probably the CARE Program – Cooperation, Acceptance, Respect and Excellence. The program is planned by the whole staff and is delivered by the Grade 6 students. The CARE groups comprise kids from all grades who work together. The activities range from reading books, role plays, drawings and group discussions.

The activities incorporate elements of the Stop, Think, Do and Bounce Back programs which are designed to help kids develop problem solving skills and resilience.P1060532

This year we introduced the CARE tree which is just next to the office. When the kids do something good, they get a leaf with their name on it to put on the tree. It’s a way of rewarding students on an on-going basis.

We also introduced the dance at the end of assembly which the kids love. The students that are awarded a CARE leaf that week stand up and are clapped by the rest of the school. We then play a song for the whole school to dance to.

We’re also looking at the idea of CARE postcards that could be sent home to parents as another way of reinforcing the CARE values.

On Friday 20th September we are having a CARE celebration with tabloid sports (fun PE and drama games) and a BBQ. We’d love parents to come along and help us celebrate. It’ll be organised and run by the Grade 6 Leaders.P1060512

Jacqui: Recently the school organised a Reach workshop with the Grade 5s; Corin came home full of it. Can you tell me about that?

Clare: Reach is an independent organisation that was established by Jim Stynes OAM. The organisation runs workshops to help young people build self-esteem and resilience. The workshops help students to understand and develop their social and emotional skills and gives them some practical tools to encourage informed decision-making. bullying 1

Jacqui: I know bullying is always a concern for parents and it’s a difficult problem to manage. How do we deal with it at KPS?

Clare: Bullying is an issue in all schools unfortunately and preventing bullying at Kew Primary is an integral part of the Student Engagement Policy. The policy outlines prevention and intervention strategies designed to ensure our school is a safe and caring environment.

Examples of our preventative strategies include our CARE program and the teaching of conflict resolution skills. We also have Circle Time where we’ll discuss a problem or issue that’s arisen – maybe a playground incident. We try to work out exactly what happened, who was hurt, how we can best deal with it and stop it happening again. We do this as a preventative measure as well as responding to specific incidents.

This year we’re also running The Resilience Project with Hugh van Cuylenburg (Jacqui: which I am going to blog about very soon).

If parents do have any concerns about incidents of bullying they should talk to their child’s classroom teacher.bullying 5

Jacqui: And what about cyber bullying? That’s a huge issue these days. How does the school help teach the kids about responsible and safe internet use?

Clare: Cyber bullying is addressed the same way as traditional bullying. We educate the students about what cyber bullying is and how it can cause harm. Students in Grade 3-6 sign an agreement for Responsible Use of Mobile Devices and Technology at the start of the year which includes a section about being cybersafe and cybersmart.

The school has also arranged guest speakers for students, and parent information evenings on bullying. We’ve signed up to be an eSmart School. This process takes up to two years to implement and we are currently in the planning stage. The program is for the whole KPS community and is a proactive program addressing all aspects of bullying.

There are a couple of really good website that provide some great advice and resources on this subject.



 Jacqui: Thanks, Clare. I often hear my kids come out with things that they’ve clearly got from the CARE program so I think it’s getting through. Oh, and happy birthday!

I checked out the Beyond Blue website which has an excellent section on bullying and I thought this advice was worth reprinting:

  • Ignore the person who is bullying you (including contact with him/her via mobile phone or email) – bullies are looking for a reaction and often lose interest if they don’t get one.
  • Stay with others – stick to areas where you feel safe and hang out with people you trust. The person who is bullying you won’t pick on you as much when there are other people around.
  • Stay positive and be confident – think of all the things you do well and try not to let the bullying affect your confidence.
  • Keep out of the bully’s way – it might be possible for you to avoid the person who is bullying you, for example by travelling a different way to school, or avoiding the places that he/she hangs out.
  • Don’t reply to bullying messages – it’ll only get worse if you do. By replying, the bully gets what he or she wants. Often if you don’t reply, the person will leave you alone.
  • Ask for help – if the bullying doesn’t stop, you might find it helpful to ask someone else for advice. You should also report it to someone in charge – either at school or at work.

Jacqui Tomlins and Clare ConnorP1060527