Partnering in the Learning

     Often as working parents we somehow feel we are not always connected to our children’s learning because we are not present at the school gate or in the classroom. Much of our time and energy is devoted to just organising and balancing our family and work life. There is a sense of guilt and anxiety attached to this situation.

If we see learning as bigger than schooling, then somehow our role is not diminished but rather broaden beyond what we could imagine. Attending school while important is not the entirety of our children’s lives as life long learners.

Schools, communities and families are taking opportunities to partner in learning. Research is valuing the influence of families and communities but we also need to value our role and see ourselves as having a significant influence on our children’s learning, development, health, safety and wellbeing. We want our children to be responsible citizens who can capably navigate the world in which they live. We will  make contributions to their learning all their lives and they will teach us many things also, including patience and persistence.

For the time our children are at school we have support on that journey. There is a curriculum, teachers, expectations and guidance in many forms. It is our responsibility to take up these opportunities and use this time to develop skills and understanding that will carry us through.

For young and primary age children, we lay fundamental skills. Reading, discussing, reflecting and collaborating through activities encouraged by the school  go a long way to partnering in our children’s learning.  At our school, term overviews, family sessions, parent meetings, showcasing of children’s learning, blogs and other forms of communication provide parents with a way to partner and buy into the current learning. Your presence is the time you spend reading with your children, discussing relevant issues, showing an authentic interest in the current learning and even modelling action. By knowing about the learning at school we can make connections for the children and ourselves. Knowing something of the learning makes explicit connections. Suddenly we understand why they are going on an excursion to an environmental park, Ceres or request guest speakers in a particular area.

This term, our school has an inquiry that seeks to answer the big question, “How are we called to care for our common home?” The children will develop understandings about how to act responsibly and sustainably, know their actions have an impact on the environment and develop an appreciation for the environment and living things. The last few posts should assist you to see this question in the light of the gospel message. ” What it means to be a steward of creation.”

Pope Francis

downloadAs adults and educators it is important to take the opportunity to understand the global message delivered by the Pope and connect it with our Christian perspective and sense of responsibility. Our students will have the opportunity to explore the message. The link for the Pope’s message is provided below for your reading.


The TIME online also published a summary of the most important elements of the Encyclical.

The 5 Most Important Points of Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical
Christopher J. Hale @chrisjollyhale June 18, 2015

Christopher Hale is executive director at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

“Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical letter on care for creation made its anticipated debut Thursday morning, and once again, the Bishop of Rome has delivered a masterpiece. The document will play a key role in United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference this November and will be a pivotal point of debate as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up here at home. So what exactly does the pope address in this letter? Here are the top five points in what Francis describes as a “dialogue with all people about our common home.”

1. Climate change is real, and it’s getting worse. Though some politicians in the U.S. still argue about the reality of the climate change, Pope Francis doesn’t mince words: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” he says. “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”

2. Human beings are a major contributor to climate change. While many agree that climate change is real, some believe that human beings don’t contribute to it. The science suggests otherwise, and Pope Francis—a trained chemist—says human beings do have an effect on the Earth: “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”

3. Climate change disproportionately affects the poor. Climate change’s worst impact, Pope Francis says, “will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.” This environmental inequality creates a strange economic phenomenon: Poor countries are often financially indebted to rich countries. The world has what Pope Francis calls a “social debt towards the poor … because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”

4. We can and must make things better. Some of those who study climate change believe this process to be irreversible, too far gone. But Francis—whose first major letter was entitled Joy of the Gospel—says he doesn’t believe we should be robbed of hope. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”

5. Individuals can help, but politicians must lead the charge. Francis argues that personal responsibility is an important step toward reversing climate change, but that political and structural transformations are needed for lasting change. “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.”

Some politicians argue that Pope Francis and the Catholic Church should stay out of climate change debates and “leave science to the scientists.” But Francis and the church know that protecting creation is first and foremost a moral and religious issue. It’s a response to God’s ancient request that we preserve, protect, and sustain creation. Francis has said before that he hopes today’s politicians will take this responsibility to heart as they address one of the most important issues of our times: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!”

These points are worth discussing with senior students.


In 1992, a young girl made history when she addressed the United Nations.

“…While this speech was given in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. How much is still relevant today? All of it. And the more important question is: Howmuch has been changed, accomplished, since Severn spoke that day?

Years later, Severn wrote a piece for Time magazine in which she said: “I spoke for six minutes and received a standing ovation. Some of the delegates even cried. I thought that maybe I had reached some of them, that my speech might actually spur action. Now, a decade from Rio, after I’ve sat through many more conferences, I’m not sure what has been accomplished. My confidence in the people in power and in the power of an individual’s voice to reach them has been deeply shaken…In the 10 years since Rio, I have learned that addressing our leaders is not enough. As Gandhi said many years ago, ‘We must become the change we want to see.’ I know change is possible.”

Severn comes from an environmental legacy – her father is the renowned David Suzuki. At the age of nine, Severn founded theEnvironmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. Today, Severn is an environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. She has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility.”

Currently our students across the school are learning about our impact on the world. They are the future problem solvers and we are teaching them that they can make a difference. Stewardship of our earth is the responsibility of everyone.

We model through our discussion, our conviction and our action the confidence we have in their capacity to be the change. This is a great inquiry unit for parents to be involved and discover what their children are thinking and feeling. It could be an opportunity to make visible action in your homes.

Children's week

Children’s Week is a national program recognising the talents, skills, achievements and rights of young people. It is based on the articles expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child, highlighting play, wellbeing and protection.

This year, Children’s Week will take place on Saturday 24 October – Sunday 1 November 2015.

Children’s Week Activities and Information

Catholic Social Teaching links strongly with the rights of children through the teaching related to the dignity of the human person. The video below support discussion in families around Social Justice.

Financial Literacy

When thinking about what we, as parents teach our children about money and its wise and ethical use, it may be worth looking at this short video. It would be great to hear what you think and have reflected on, after the viewing. The whole area of financial literacy is something schools are building into the curriculum but what can we do as parents to partner in this area of the curriculum?

Using technology to connect with museums

Storify on Communication Using Twitter.

This week the senior students asked questions to museum curators using twitter. This questioning opportunity was provided through the partnership developed by their teachers with the Immigration Museum of Victoria. The link above will take you to the examples of the twitter feed.

This partnership was part of a unit of work that focused on story to answer the a big question about identity. It was evident from the feed shared and the presentation from students of notable people in Australian history they had, through their research developed deeper understandings about how the stories of many can create our own identity. The students took on the persona of the notable person and it was amazing to see each student sharing their research with others students. When Prep students are engaged and asking questions about and from Eddie Mabo and others are captivated by Elizabeth MacCarthy and how you can use an inkwell, it is exciting to see history come to life and “Kids Teaching Kids”. Having parents participating in the events supports the students and their learning but also gives an insight into how students are learning and thinking in primary school.

What feeling included is all about.


 “Children come from an endless range of different families, backgrounds, cultures and religions. They also have a variety of interests, learning styles and abilities. Despite all of these differences, everyone should feel included and welcome within their school community. Positive school communities create opportunities for children, families and staff to feel included. They make help and support accessible and find lots of ways to invite people to take up the support being offered. They help everyone benefit from understanding experiences and cultures that may be different to their own.

When children feel included, when they are part of a community that promotes inclusion and respect for everybody, they show more caring and compassion towards others, and they feel safer and more secure. They are also better learners and have better mental health and wellbeing. In a positive school community every face has a place, every voice is valued, and everyone has something to contribute.

School communities from around Australia chose care, compassion, respect, understanding and inclusion as important values for children to understand. These are things that children can learn about. The best learning happens when children see the adults around them putting values like these into practice.” KIDSMATTER

Understanding and knowing the diversity of our community supports everyone to feel included.

For further information

Building Intergenerational Partnerships

Intergenerational Learning (IL) describes the way that people of all ages can learn together and from each other. IL is an important part of Lifelong Learning, where the generations work together to gain skills, values and knowledge. Beyond the transfer of knowledge, IL fosters reciprocal learning relationships between different generations and helps to develop social capital and social cohesion in our community. The aim of IP is to bring together people from different generations in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities, which promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contributes to building communities and neighbourhoods where people respect each other and are better connected. IL is inclusive, building on the positive resources that both the younger and older generations have to offer each other and those around them.

Many changes in society – such as increased geographic mobility – have led to generations frequently becoming distanced or segregated from one another, particularly younger and older people. This separation can lead to unrealistic, negative stereotypes between generations and a decrease in positive exchanges between them. Yet these separated generations have resources of value to each other and share areas of concern.

photo 1 (2)At our school relationships are important to the wellbeing of our students and it is extremely important to provide opportunities for many different interactions. Through our local council, we were ablephoto (10) to begin building a relationship with volunteers from the University of the Third Age. (U3A)  These volunteers come into our school each week and knit, play games, draw and make things with students.

The activities are challenging and new for many of the students but it is the support, the conversations and the sharing that is the value added. As the term has gone on the program has developed and evolved. We are hoping that the relationship with U3A that has begun will develop into a partnership that will emulate the purpose of intergenerational learning.