Greatness comes in many forms and is quite subjective depending on an individual’s age and abilities. For a child overcoming anxiety, greatness may be winning a public speaking competition or finding the courage to confront a new fear. For others, greatness may reveal itself through academic or sporting achievements, kindness, creativity or thoughtful leadership. In any case, discovering one’s unique strengths or passions is easier with the help of a caring coach, an attentive teacher, or a dedicated parent.
According to a recent survey of Australian students in Year 4 to 12, parents and teachers are the greatest influencers of a student’s sense of satisfaction and fulfillment (State of Victoria, Dept of Education and Training, 2017). Therefore, it is essential for parents and teachers to give sound advice on the subject of achieving greatness as defined by the child.
Leadership expert, Robert Kaplan (2013), developed a roadmap for reaching potential. In brief, he suggests greatness is achieved when we know our strengths, take the initiative and connect our daily actions to a clearly defined goal. For most children, defining a goal is easy but taking the initiative to make it happen is usually dependent on the adults around them. That’s where we come in!
Here’s what you can do:
Foster their self-belief. For example, if you know a child who aspires to be a professional soccer player, help them find a great coach or coaching clinic. For those with more left-of-centre skills outside the areas of sporting or academia, keep an open mind to the activities available that might help push their strengths to new levels. Show them that you believe in them and make it happen!
Research together. Show young people how to take the initiative by helping them to research and connect with experts in their field of interest. A child with a passion for making robots would be forever empowered if you showed them how to contact the Head Inventor at Battlebots. Imagine if they said yes to a Skype call?
Use a wide-angle lens. Think broadly when it comes to inspiring young people. Be proactive and organise a range of guests to visit your school to spark an interest in every child. These could include artists, refugees, adventurers or someone with a “diffability” who is pursuing a passion. You never know when inspiration will strike!
Set an example. Take on a challenge of your own and you will inspire others to do the same. Show some initiative and take steps on a daily basis to reach your goal. Share your journey’s highs and lows with the young people around you and make haste towards your destination.
Work together. Challenges aren’t meant to be simple, but staying focused on the task at hand is easier when those around you are doing the same. Achieve greatness among your classmates, family or friends and your success will be even sweeter!
Our online Performance Psychology program Power Up! has been specially created for kids who want to push their performance skills to the next level. Power Up! gives them the power to: build self-confidence, cope with the pressures of competition, overcome self-doubt and negative self-talk, set goals and make plans to achieve them and maximise performance in any chosen field.
Kaplan, R.S. (2013) What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching your Unique Potential.Ebook. HBR.
Right School-Right Place (2017) State of Victoria. Department of Education and Training (Vic).
We love learning at Quirky Kid. Every day our team review articles, attend workshops and complete hours of clinical supervision. We are really excited to invite you to our HQ’s so we can all learn together. Welcome to our ‘Lunch & Learn ‘ sessions – a fun, practical, informative and yummy learning space at our Sydney and Wollongong clinics regularly.
The ‘Lunch & Learn’ will provide practical and informative 60 – 90-minute sessions to expand our knowledge in emerging topics andcurrent child development and family issues. Topics that we will be addressing are:
Acceptance Commitment Therapy
Writing Reports for Family Court
Self Care for Psychologists
Each session will be different to the last with highly regarded professionals in the field presenting on a range of different topics.
Who Should Attend
‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions will be beneficial for any psychologists, school counsellors, teachers and health or educational professionals working with young people.
Workshops will be run on a not-for-profit basis and subsided by Quirky Kid. ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions will cost between $35 and $50 (+GST) only. BYO lunch (so long as they aren’t too messy, and no nuts to be safe). Drinks provided.
What to Bring
A pen, paper, a smile and you laptop for notes. If you want to get the most of ‘Lunch & Learn’ we recommend that you come prepared with questions for the speaker. The sessions are intimate in size so there will be a great opportunity to interact with the speakers, other professionals and to ask questions.
Upcoming Sessions are:
Friday, 23rd June 12:00 – 1:30pm (Sydney)
Writing Therapy Reports for Family and Children’s Court – The Do’s and Don’ts by Dianne Starkey.
Monday, 3rd July, 12:00 – 1:30pm (Sydney)
eSafety. Looking out for Children and Adolescents Online by The Office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner REGISTRATIONS CLOSED
Friday, 14th July, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Austinmer)
Narrative Therapy. What and Why by Rebecca Sng
Friday, 21st July, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Austinmer)
Non-drug Approach to treating ADHD by Stuart Johnson
Friday, July 28, 12:00 pm – 1:30pm (Sydney)
Flexible Parenting. How can Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) Help? by Louise Shepherd
Friday, 1st September, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Austinmer)
Can Food Affect a Child’s Behaviour? by Stephanie Meades
Friday, 22nd September, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Sydney)
Time-Out in the Age of Attachment and Trauma Informed Treatments
Lunch & Learn Session will take place in
Sydney – Level 1, Unit 2, 83-85 Queen Street, Woollahra
Wollongong – Unit 105, 62 Moore Street, Austinmer
Register Your Interest
(Register your interest in order to get updates on times and dates for our upcoming speakers).
Bullying in schools has become a nationwide concern, with many anti-bullying practices being implemented in every state. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can provide an effective foundation for reducing bullying in schools. Practicing SEL skills will create a school environment that fosters positive interactions. Here are four characteristics of SEL, that aim to curb bullying in schools:
1. Open, supportive relationships between students and teachers.
Opencommunication between students and teachers presents an opportunity for students to learn positive conflict resolution techniques. These techniques allow students to resolve problems before they escalate into fully fledged bullying.
2. Solid communication between schools and families.
Families need to be involved with their child’s school. When a parent is actively engaged in what happens to their child at school on a daily basis, they can help teach positive behaviour and reinforce messages from the teachers. Working as a team with the child’s school, ensures that the same positive messages are being taught on a variety of levels and in a variety of environments.
3. Emphasis on respect and tolerance.
SEL requires school policies that highlight respect for peers, acceptance and appreciation of everyone’s differences. A school community in which students understand and embrace differences is a place where positive behaviour will thrive.
4. Teaching skills that allow kids to recognise and handle emotions, and engage in caring peer relationships.
In addition to school policies requiring respect and tolerance, students must be taught how to engage in positive social interactions and develop caring peer relationships with one another. Teaching students how to express and handle emotions positively will support responsible decision-making and avoid negative scenarios that could escalate into bullying.
SEL skills arm students with the ability to handle their emotions in a positive way that results in enhanced social problem solving, supportive attitudes toward others, and overall academic success. Social and emotional learning provides students with many benefits that enhance the school community as a whole, creating a caring and nurturing environment in which bullying has no place.
Quirky Kid has also recently published a comprehensive SEL program called The Best of Friends. Find out more about it online. Equip your child with some of our therapeutic resources such as the Quirky Kid ‘Face It’ cards, which are designed to increase emotional awareness. Most importantly, please feel free to contact us to learn more about the benefits of social and emotional learning.
The word ‘homework’ for many teenagers and their parents evokes feelings of dread, frustration and sheer agony. While most teens and parents understand the reasons for being given homework, namely to help develop sound study habits, to foster learning outside the school environment, consolidate the learning undertaken in class and foster independence and responsibility, homework time can quickly become a battleground in which family tensions can rise to boiling point. The debate surrounding homework and its benefits have been ongoing since the early 20th century.
During the 1940’s homework was given less emphasis as schools moved away from utilising rote- learning and memorisation as a key teaching focus to a more skills-based problem solving approach to learning. Again in the 1960’s, homework was given less emphasis as concerns were raised about it’s detrimental impact on children’s social and recreational activity time. Nowadays, there appears to be a more balanced approach with a recognition of the importance of children enjoying recreational time as well as time engaged in more structured homework activity.
Benefits of Homework
Research is clearly telling us that homework can have significant benefits for a child. Generally speaking, studies are showing us that academic achievement is improved for children who partake in some homework (Cooper, Robinson & Patall, 2006). However, there are additional factors which appear to influence the positive relationship between homework and academic achievement. Firstly, the relevance and applicability of homework appears important, with homework that has clear, specific learning purposes having a stronger positive relationship with academic outcomes.
Additionally, the time spent on homework does not simply have a linear relationship with academic outcome. Interestingly, research suggests that there is a point at which too much time given to homework can be counterproductive and fail to enhance academic achievement for children. Lastly, the amount and type of parental involvement can moderate the benefits of homework. Parental involvement in homework which is over-structured, controlling and negative can diminish the positive effects of homework on achievement for children.
Where should our focus be?
While there are a multitude of factors which may impact on how children respond to homework tasks, such as the family environment, their relationship with the school and teacher, personality factors and learning strengths and weaknesses, children’s organisational skills play an important role in how they achieve academically. Organisational skills are skills that relate to not only a child managing their own belongings and materials (for example, transferring their homework into their diaries and bringing the diary home), but also their ability to plan and allocate time to tasks such as homework (for example, breaking down projects into manageable sections and allocating time to each section accordingly) (Langberg, Epstein, Becker, Girio-Herrera & Vaughn, 2012).
For children in their teens, organisational skills appear to play a significant role in predicting children’s academic achievement (Langberg et al., 2012). The difficulty is, the teen years, particularly those around the transition into high school are a time when children’s organisational skills appear to be most compromised, given the changing environment associated with high school (for example, multiple classroom and teacher changes), increased demands on children to be independent and greater amounts of work (Langberg et al., 2012).
So how can parents help?
Research and clinical experience tells us that parents play an integral role in helping their children manage their homework tasks.
Evaluate your own attitude: Look closely at the messages your child hears or sees from you about homework. It is likely that if you have a negative attitude, your child will also. Reframe homework as a task that is part of every child’s schooling life and focus on the benefits it can bring, such as greater academic confidence, a sense of achievement and important life skills.
Establish a routine: work with your child to develop a shared structure of when and how they will do their homework. Empower your child to be part of the process and let them make some of the choices around homework time. Try to have family routines set, so children can plan homework and other activities around family time such as dinner. With your child, also establish some boundaries, such as charging their phone in another room at homework time and having the TV off as well as an appropriate timeframe for homework completion.
Set the scene: make the best of homework time and ensure your home environment is set up to help your child focus and feel comfortable. Set children up in a quiet area and ensure your child has appropriate seating, lighting and other things necessary for homework, such as pencils, snacks and water. It can also be helpful to look at your child’s goals and focus on how homework may help them achieve those goals (for example, how maths can help them in opening their own cafe).
Natural consequences: rather than engaging in a battle about homework, it may be appropriate for your child to learn the consequences of not handing in their homework given by their school. This may help to develop your child’s sense of responsibility and ownership over homework completion and relieve some of the pressure parents may feel with homework tasks.
Communicate with your school and teacher: find out from your child’s teacher your role in their learning and homework and what added supports you may need to provide for your child. Communication with your child’s teacher on homework tasks can also help you to support your child’s organisational skills, ensuring they are managing their time and on task for homework deadlines.
Timetable relaxation time with plenty of options: exercise and relaxation time are well established to not only be beneficial for our stress levels, mood and physical health, but also for our concentration and attentional abilities. Scheduling time off will help your child develop their own hobbies, skills, gifts and talents and support their learning.
Help your child develop their organisational skills: Helping children become better organised not only enhances the possibility of homework arriving home, but also of it being completed on time! Develop an organisational system to help children remember to write down their homework and bring it home (for example, develop a colour coded timetable for each subject or a checklist for what they need to remember to pack before home time). Visual reminders with pictures of what a child needs to remember can be helpful. Additionally, when your child receives an assignment help them break it down and plan out how they will approach it. It is often helpful for children to work out what is most difficult so they can work on those tasks first when they feel more alert and focused.
Set an example: children will generally find it difficult to go off and start their homework if the rest of the family is enjoying a TV show. When your child is doing their homework try and engage in a similar activity, such as reading, completing your own work or household chores. This demonstrates to your child that you too have discipline and responsibility and that you are respectful to the effort they are putting into their work. Being interested and helpful without being too interfering or directive will also help develop your child’s sense of responsibility and independence in homework tasks. Praise your child for effort and commitment and utilise rewards that are unlikely to compete with homework activities, such as verbal praise and time with you rather than extra TV or iPad time.
Develop incidental learning experiences for your child: take opportunities to learn outside desk-based homework time. This will help foster your child’s enjoyment in the learning process.
Recognise when things are difficult: Some children find learning more difficult than others and may find homework tasks overwhelming and deflating. If you are concerned your child is having significant difficulty with their homework tasks, consult with their teacher and utilise resources that may be available, such as homework club, learning support or tutoring. Most schools have a homework policy which may be helpful in reviewing homework for your child.
While homework can be a tricky time, particularly for teens and their parents, supporting children in developing their organisational skills, sense of independence and responsibility can help foster a sense of achievement and confidence that will help set them up for future success!
1. NSW Government Education and Communities Public Schools NSW Fact Sheet: Homework: a parent guide http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/learning/homework/index.php
2. Langberg, J., Epstein, J., Becker, S., Girio-Herrera, E. & Vaughn, A. (2012). Evaluation of the Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS) Intervention for Middle School Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as Implemented by School Mental Health Providers. School PSychology Review, 41 (3), 342-364.
3. Cooper, H., Robinson, J. & Patall, E. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987-2003. Review of Educational Research, 76 (1), 1-62.
4. Knollmann, M. & Wild, E. (2007). Quality of parental support and student’s emotions during homework: Moderating effects of students’ motivational orientations. European Journal of Psychology of Education, XXIII (1), 63-76.
School can be both an exciting and a challenging experience. A young person’s experience of school is influenced by many factors, such as peer relationships, learning ability and family life. Problems in these areas can lead a young person to develop a negative experience of school. Actively avoiding school, either by not attending school or not staying at school for the duration of the day, is known as school refusal.
School refusal can occur at any time during a young person’s schooling, however it is more likely to occur during high school. An Australian study prepared by Youth Support Coordinators highlights the increased likelihood of school refusal during periods of transitions, such as the move from primary to high school or the move from one school to another (2009). Australian research suggests that up to 9% of school population may experience school refusal at some point in time (Withers, 2004).
There can be multiple factors contributing to school refusal among children. Two significant factors appear to be experiences of anxiety and bullying (Kearney, 2007). Anxiety often manifests as physical symptoms, such as headaches and nausea, which can make it difficult for parents to distinguish whether their child’s complaint is medical or psychological in nature. Seeking medical advice and monitoring the timing of physical complaints can help discern the nature of the complaints. Being bullied at school is also another major contributor to children becoming fearful of school and thus attempting to avoid school (The Monash School Refusal Program). Other common factors include:
Difficulty in peer relationships
Fear/difficulties with teachers
Transition to high school
Traumatic life event
Warning signs that may indicate school refusal
Some indicators that your child may be school refusing are:
Frequent and unexplained absences from school
Frequent lateness to school
Absences on significant days (e.g., days on which tests or specific classes are scheduled)
Frequent requests to go to sick bay
Frequent requests to call home or to go home during the day
In the home
Complaints of physical symptoms when getting reading for school, e.g. headaches
A reluctance or refusal to get dressed for school
Negative comments about school
A reluctance to talk openly about their experiences at school
What can parents and teachers do to support children experiencing school refusal?
It is important for parents and teachers to address the initial concern(s) of their child, while at the same time supporting them to maintain school attendance. Asking open questions and engaging young people in collaborative problem solving allows them the opportunity to express their feelings and feel listened to. Things that may be helpful in addressing school refusal in your child are:
Identify the issue: Gaining an understanding of why your child is anxious about school can help with problem solving and developing strategies around helping them back into school. For example, if you child is being bullied, then a collaborative approach with the school on how to manage the issue may be the first step. If your child is nervous about a transition, then working through their fears and worries and equipping them with skills to manage stressful changes may be more appropriate. Seeking guidance with a Psychologist can help to clarify the issue behind your child’s school refusal and help to put in place effective strategies to facilitate your child’s transition back into school.
Keep things calm and predictable: Keeping morning routines and school routines (such as classroom and playground routines) calm and predictable can help to minimise your child’s anxiety about attending school and can facilitate positive school-based experiences. Routines can include things that you know your child finds calming, such as taking a shower, drawing, walking to school and meeting their friends at the gate.
Keep an open dialogue: Be your child’s advocate and support and keep the dialogue and communication open with the school as to why your child is fearful about attending school and what your child needs at school to help them feel safe. Help your child identify which staff they would feel safe with involving to support them and check in with these staff members regularly. Also be open with your child on the importance of school attendance and what things they, the school and you as a parent can do to support them.
Develop a sense of school connectedness: Feeling like a valued and important member of the school community can develop a child’s sense of confidence and happiness at school. Ask your child’s teacher for ideas of how to foster your child’s interests and gifts at school and strengthen school-friendships by inviting friends to play after school and on weekends. Praise your child for their efforts in attending school and don’t let the small gains they make go unnoticed.
Set some goals: Confronting feared situations is never an easy task, however, setting small goals with your child can help them gain a sense of confidence and mastery over their anxiety. With your child and their support team (eg. teachers, friend, grandparents), set small achievable goals to help them get back into their schooling, such as going to school for the morning, having mum walk them in, sitting near the teacher. Help your child challenge and replace any unhelpful thoughts along the way (eg. “I hate school”) and look for more realistic, helpful thoughts based on their experiences (eg. “going to school in the morning was ok, I was able to see my best friend and read my favourite book”). Reward your child for every achievement and continue to set small achievable steps to help them reach the goal of being back at school.
Withers, G. (23-24June, 2004) Disappearance: Some recent statistics and a commentary on non-attendance in school. Paper presented at the Learning Choice Expo conducted by the Dusseldorp Skills Forum: Sydney
Kearney, C. (2011). Dealing with school refusal behaviour: A primer for family physicians – workable solutions for unhappy youth and frustrated parents. Journal of Family Practice Online, Vol 55 No 8.David, P.
McLaughlin, R & Peace, D. Youth Engagement Strategy: Understanding and Addressing Chronic Student Absence Behaviour, School Refusal and Truancy in Primary and Secondary Schools: A comprehensive summary of reports http://education.qld.gov.au/studentservices/behaviour/docs/youth-engagement-strategy.pdf
Dudley, A. & Rollings, S. (2001). Anxiety and School Refusal. Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology, School Refusal Program