WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?

Educators seem to be more than willing to put their collective hand in the air, volunteering to correct more and more of the ills and challenges confronting society. Part of this is our seeming willingness to volunteer the bringing up of children and young people in the ways they should go. If anything is wrong, if things need correcting, the repair and renovating role is placed squarely on the shoulders of schools and teachers.

This begs the question of where do parents fit. It seems that more and more children get born, to be committed to child-care agencies then schools to manage and look after their total upbringing. If things go wrong, no responsibility attaches to parents. It is all down to schools and teachers.

Before school care, preschool, school, after school hours care, holiday care … Where does itv end and how much time do parents give to the primary care of their children. Don’t forget the baby sitters and child minders parents employ after hours so they can go out and socialise.

Parents have to work and I understand economic imperatives. However, there is a question of balance. It should be behoved upon parents to remember and fulfil their primary care responsibilities toward their children.

EDUCATION AND ‘MIND HEALTH’

Worry, anxiety and depression are big factors in today’s world. They are recognised and talked about in ways that used to be taboo. ‘Taboo’ because to discuss them was deemed to be a sign of weakness. These days people do open up about mental health. It is an issue considered as relevant in many settings, including educational platforms. To be aware and to take mental health into account is important.
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3 SUNS 45

‘MIND HEALTH’ A TOP PRIORITY

We are made increasingly aware of challenges children and young people face in modern times. The relatively uncluttered and unhurried times of the past are gone. Children of today are being brought up in an increasingly frenetic world, one that has the potential to confuse and cause them concern.

The nurture of children is about far more than providing food, shelter and clothing. It is about spending time with them and being part of their developing lives. With parents and caregivers heavily committed to work, this can take a great deal of juggling.

At the end of long working days, parents come home exhausted. Many collect children from care centres on the way home. When they walk in the front door, there are domestic chores to confront, meaning young people are left to look after themselves. Television, videos, computer games, Facebook and texting take over minding duties while parents attend to household tasks. Countless studies confirm that prime time spent by parents talking with their children is minimal.

It is important that parents share conversation with their children. Girls and boys need to feel part of the family circle with opinions and ideas that are heard and respected. It is through conversation that parents get to know and understand their own young people. Sharing time also helps children gain confidence in their parents.

Avoiding Sad Outcomes

Concerns about bullying, together with worry, anxiousness and feeling they are not important family members can lead to depression – a growing phenomena among young people.

Common signs of depression among children in the years up to puberty can include:
* a prolonged sad mood
* a loss of interest in normal activities such as playing and games
* withdrawal both at home and school
* uncharacteristic behaviours such as stealing or bullying
* tiredness, particularly in the afternoon
* sleep disturbance
* bed wetting. ( the above dot points from an online source)

Key school programs

The Department of Education (DoE) encourages schools and school communities to be aware of issues that confront children socially and emotionally. More and more, schools are involving with “Kid’s Matter”, “Mind Matters”, and “Bullying No Way” initiatives. These programs offer life building skills.

“Kids Matter … is a flexible whole school approach … improving children’s mental health and wellbeing (in) primary schools.” (kidsmatter.edu.au, home page) The program aims to build respectful relationships. It’s focus is on the following:
* Developing a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for children at school and home.
* Supporting social and emotional learning.
* Working with parents and carers.
* Offering individualised support for students needing help.

‘Mind matters’ is a similar program. It supports Australian secondary schools to promote the mental health and well being of older students. (mindmatters.edu.au, home page)

‘Bullying No Way’ has been established to help make teachers, parents and students aware of bullying’s insidious impacts. Bullying, be it physical, verbal, online or in other forms can have devastating impacts on the lives and confidence of those on the receiving end. It is far too common and cannot be ignored. (bullyingnoway.gov.au/)

Young people have a right to healthy bodies and strong minds. They need to be aware of their part in building a sound future. However, things may not work out the way they should if school and home do not play their part. Educators as secondary carers and parents as primary caregivers are obligated toward helping children transition successfully into an adult world.
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VIGNETTE SERIES 17A: HANDWRITING, A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TEACHING NEED

So important is handwriting that it needs to stand on its own.

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VIGNETTE 52

HANDWRITING SHOULD BE TAUGHT

There is a lot of debate these days about whether or not handwriting should be taught at school. In some countries, including Finland and the United States, handwriting has gone by the by. Rather than being taught how to use a pen, all students are given the opportunity to learn keyboard skills including touch typing.

While trying to understand why this change has occurred I would be the very last person to advocate that handwriting should become a skill of the past. Rather I believe that it should endure forever.

I am certainly not down on keyboards and computers. But for children to have both handwriting and keyboards is optimal. To become mono skilled with handwriting going out the door would be altogether wrong. There are many many occasions in life when handwriting is important and indeed the only written communications method available.

When teaching handwriting, the “3 P’s” rudiments immediately comes to mind. That has to do with the methodology of writing. It is about;
* pencil or pen hold
* paper position
* posture – the way we sit in order to write most effectively and comfortably.

Stressing these things over and over again until they become habitual is important.

Part of handwriting is teaching children how to hold a pen or pencil so that it is comfortable and their fingers and wrists don’t ache. Watching people write these days can be quite a torturous experience because of the way in which writing tools are held. It’s obvious from observation that many people have never been taught how to write. That is an absolute pity.

The size (diameter) of pencils and then transition from pencil to pen is a part of writing graduation. Initially pencils are thick and as children grow older with more dexterous finger management the diameter of the pencil become smaller. When a reasonable agree of writing skill has evolved, then is the time to move on to pans. That is usually around year four to year five. Children love graduation to pens and having pen licenses issued to them by teachers.

Lined size is a part of learning to write. The younger child the bigger the line. 1 inch lines (30mm) are generally the starting point going down to around 12 mm by the time children get to the end of middle and the commencement of the upper primary years. Handbooks and exercise books can be purchased where lines are divided into thirds. This helps children when it comes to tall letters (t, f,) and letters having tales (g, y q,). The dimensions associated with writing can be trained with children developing that discernment over time. Over time, the one third divisions can be left and children go to straight lines for their writing activities.

These days specific handwriting lessons are often not offered in class. Or it may be that there is a handwriting text where children simply open and copy what’s written for them. I believe that those texts are enhanced by use of a transcription book and also with teachers demonstrating letter formation, joins, words and so on the whiteboard. The idea of children learning by copying really helps when it comes to handwriting development.

The way paper or writing books are positioned helps when it comes to the slope of letters. Writing from left to right is part of this and can be difficult particularly for left-handed children. Left-handers tend to “drag” their arms across pages as they write from left to right meaning that dog ears and crumpled pages become the norm. Train children as they finish a line of writing to lift their arm going back to the start of the
And then working across the page from left to right that overcomes the shuffling of arm on paper that can occur if this is neglected.

Steadying the paper or page onto which writing is being done helps. For this purpose the spare hand can be used. So often it is seen propping up children’s heads as they write where that writing is the task of one hand alone. Rather than the spare hand being a head prop, metaphorically describe it as an anchor which holds the boat (paper or book) steady against the wall so that it doesn’t rock back off fourth, or similar. This will involve a lot of reminding and correction easily seen as being in need of remediation when teachers are walking around classrooms.

Support children with lessons as a transition from printing to writing script style. Linked script is part of this and it does take time to teach. Little and often is important and I would suggest a handwriting lessons every day.

Remember to comment on handwriting and praise the effort that students put in to the script. Be they printing or writing this praise will help.

Handwriting is so important. It needs to be revived not neglected.