Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The last newsletter for 2011 and what a busy and yet fulfilling year it has been. When we think back on 2011 many people will remember the terrible natural disasters that occurred in Christchurch and Japan, they will think of the bloody revolutions right throughout the Arab world and the continued global financial meltdown.

Some will remember it as the year in which New Zealand finally regained the Rugby World Cup or the year in which the new Forsyth Barr Stadium opened for business.

Children, especially young children have, I believe, more personalized memories. They remember their own personal experiences far more strongly then they relate to a name that they have had no personal interaction with.

That is why the experiences, the routines, the skills and techniques that children learn while they are young are so important because they form they type of person that they will be and where they will go in life.

A positive partnership between home and school is a vital component for a young person to ensure rapid development in these early years.

Leading Education Theorist Lester Flockton spoke recently of the amount of time that a young person is actually at school, he suggests about 20%. But if the school and home are more of a community then obviously the school’s affect is far greater. But a school with such a limited access can only really accomplish so much, the home must continue to support this development, be it reading, maths or social.

So please, during the holidays continue to support your child’s learning, read to them, play games with them, and talk to them.

I would also like to farewell our Year Eight pupils, they have been great leaders and have achieved a huge amount this year. I feel confident that they have been well prepared for the next big step in their life, into secondary education and I wish them all well. Please come along to our End of Year Mass and Prize giving to farewell them and to mark the end of another highly successful year at St Mary’s.

Have a happy and Holy Christmas and a restful and enjoyable New Year.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

The second last week of the term and what a busy time it is.

I attended, along with a number of parents and teachers, pupils and our school choir, Father Vaughan Hook’s ordination on Friday night, and what a special occasion it was. Father Vaughan has noted on several occasions how proud he had been of his education at both St Mary’s and as it was then, The Taieri High School. Father Vaughan was Head Boy at St Mary’s when he was in Year Eight, and feels the leadership opportunities that he was given at such a relatively young age helped to enable him to achieve what he has in later life.

We have begun our performances of our end of year concert, with the matinee going off very smoothly and I am sure that the evening performances will also be a tribute to the hard work and effort of the staff.

In his book ‘Outliers’ the author Malcolm Gladwell noted that a study carried out in American schools showed that children who continued with their education during their summer break were the children who were most likely to achieve well at school, up to 25% more likely in fact.

So just continuing on with my message from last week, please encourage your children to continue to read during the holidays. Buying books as Christmas presents is a good idea, but remember all children right up to intermediate age like to be read to, especially a story that is topical. I am reading the Hobbit to my daughter Emily at the moment. She chose this because she liked watching the Lord of the Rings films and wanted to know what happened in the Hobbit before she saw the film—this comes our next year.

As with most longer books it takes a while to get into it but now that we have she reminds me every night that it’s story time, and lets face it reading a good book is far more beneficial than watching some of the programmes on T.V.

Have a great week,

Mike Brosnahan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,

As we focus on the concluding school functions for the end of 2011, it is important to remember that learning doesn’t stop on 16th December and begin again on 31st January.

Learning is continuous and for our pupils to continue to achieve it is important that their learning continues over the six week summer break.

This doesn’t mean of course formal school setting each day but rather informal learning through games, focused activities and role modelling.

Here are some ideas that may work for you:

Give children some Christmas presents that ensure learning e.g. board games, puzzle books, and of course books for them to read. Each day spend some time visibly reading, this will show your children that reading is a grownup and a cool thing to do. Play games with your children, especially board games as this will encourage them, children love playing against their parents! Read to your children regularly and discuss what is happening in the story and why, I am reading the Hobbit to Emily at the moment and each night she tells me what happened the previous night.

When you are travelling by car play games like: I spy, animal, vegetable and mineral, or twenty questions. They are great for learning and also help the trip to go more smoothly.

When playing sports such as darts, table tennis, cricket or even basket ball, get your children to score and ask questions like if Ricky Ponting is on 87 how many more runs does he need to make 100? And what is 100 in cricket?

Learning is fun, it is on going and it is essential to our continued development. Sometimes their questions may seem unnecessary but remember that’s how they learn.

A recent study carried out in the USA showed that the learning that pupils did outside school was the difference between those who achieved and those who didn’t, so a six week period will have a huge effect on your child.

Over the next couple of weeks we will put down more simple ideas to help you support your child’s learning over the Christmas break.

Have a great week, Mike Brosnahan.