Update from the Head of Junior School

I have already begun my Prep 2020 interviews and inevitably, the parents and I end up talking about reading. Many parents are worried that their child should be ‘reading ready’ as they enter Prep next year. What does this mean? I talk a lot about the importance of reading to your child every day. We talk about the difference it can make to expanding a child’s vocabulary by reading.

Doug Fisher, who is a professor of language and literacy education at San Diego State University and an acclaimed educational leader, states that children who read 20 minutes a day outside of school learn approximately 2700 new words every year and generally score in the 90th percentile in SAT tests. He said that a child who reads 5 minutes a day learns 800 words over the course of the year. This is powerful information and does not sound too difficult to achieve. Or does it? I recently read the quote: ‘There is no app to replace your lap.‘ Reading through an iPad/Kindle is fine, but it cannot replicate the richness of being read to aloud by a loving adult.

Important pre-reading activities that are done by our ELC and Prep teachers to ensure children are wired and ready to tackle the task of learning to read include: Doing puzzles – these help children to differentiate between lines, shapes and sizes; Building – This helps students to use their hands and fingers which ultimately helps them to hold a book and turn a page; Talking – Developing an extensive vocabulary helps one to understand what you are reading; Tracking Activities- the eyes need to be able to follow objects which leads to following print on a page; Reading Books – we need to develop interest in words and books; Rhyme – Children need to learn to recognise the sounds that letters make before they learn to read. These are just a few of the important pre-reading activities which are essential so that fundamental building blocks are in place for each child. Children all develop and flourish at their own rate and in their own time, guided by caring and skilled educators such as those we have at St Margaret’s in our ELC and Primary School. An important quote to end on by Magda Gerber (dec.), an Early Childhood Educator from the USA: ‘Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child. Earlier is not better.‘ So, what can you do to help your child be ‘reading ready?‘ Avoid distractions, find a comfortable armchair and read, read, read to your child. Read to your child for as long as they will let you – there is no expiry date on this!

Year 7 transition – 7 June
Our current Year 6 students will have a Year 7 transition session on Friday 7 June. It will be run by Senior School staff members and the children will have concurrent sessions. The girls will visit the Senior School campus of St Margaret’s, get a guided tour, meet some staff and hear about what will be the same for them in Year 7 and what will be different. At the same time the Year 6 boys will travel to the BGS campus in Officer and receive a similar transition session. This helps all the students prepare for Year 7 and serves to alleviate any questions, concerns or curiosity they might already have about progressing into Secondary school. If parents are interested in learning more about our Senior Schools for boys and girls, they can attend our Information Evening next Monday 3 June. See booking information to confirm your attendance: www.trybooking.com/509020

NAPLAN Online 2019
Our Year 3 and 5 students participated in the recent NAPLAN Online tests. Our Year 3 and 5 students coped extremely well with the new platform and format of the Literacy and Numeracy tests. NAPLAN is one of many assessment tools we use to track students’ achievement. We look forward to receiving the results later in the year and unpacking what they mean for our programs and each child’s learning journey, moving forward.

Nut Minimisation/ No Food sharing
A reminder to all families of our Junior School and ELC that we discourage children bringing food to school that contains nuts. We have some students in the Junior School and ELC who are anaphylactic or highly allergic to nuts and ask that you take great care and check ingredients on all packaging when selecting food for your child to bring to school. For this reason, we also discourage all children from sharing food at school. Thank you for your co-operation on this important matter.

Ms Louise Sayar
Head of Junior School