Chaplain Chat – Reduce Holiday Stress

As we enter the two weeks of school holidays, childrenwellbeing.net.au highlights that holidays can bring up a mix of emotions for parents. For some parents, the school holidays are a time to rest from the busy routine they have to maintain during the school semester. However, for other parents, this is a time of increased stress as they may have to entertain their children during the day alongside their completing their usual household tasks. I would like to provide four health tips/strategies which would be helpful for the parents in both of the above categories, to help decrease stress and have a more restful school holiday.

  1. Cook with Your Children

Easter holiday break is a time where children and adults are more likely to consume more sugar from Easter eggs or hot cross buns. So, to encourage children to eat healthily it is helpful to teach them how to cook. According to a study conducted by the Journal of nutrition education and behaviour, young adults have been observed to have better nutritional outcomes and consume less fast food when they had acquired the basic cooking skills earlier in life. School holidays are a great time to experiment with kid-friendly recipes with your children.

  1. Be Active for an Hour

According to healthdirect.gov.au, children aged five and above should have at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. Some fun activities that you could do with your children are riding bikes, skateboarding, swimming, dancing, and a lot more. According to verywellfamily.com, fresh air and exercise are essential for boosting mood which can alleviate holiday stress and anxiety.

  1. Sleep and Rest Schedule

Children need sleep for their wellbeing and development. When children get enough sleep they are happier, better able to concentrate, and improve their behaviour. So, it is important to try to stick to a child’s regular bedtime routine during the holidays. Another helpful tip to help children rest is to have a set quiet time at home to do calming and mindful activities such as reading, colouring-in or painting.

  1. Avoid Overscheduling

Limiting the number of parties or social activities can help both parents and children to not feel overwhelmed and rest during the holiday. Having obligations on a daily basis may lead to more stress and anxiety during a time where your family is meant to be resting.

Finally, I hope that you all have a safe and restful Easter school holiday. Please visit the below websites for more information on the above four points. I would also like to leave you with a little animation to go along with the above points as well.

 

Thank you

Rumbi   

https://www.verywellfamily.com/holiday-stress-and-anxiety-in-children-620516 

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/healthy-things-to-do-with-your-kids-these-school-holidays

Chaplain’s Chat – Harmony Week

Harmony Week is recognized nationally and dedicated to celebrate Australia’s multicultural society. The pillar principles of Harmony Week are inclusiveness, respect, and belonging for all Australians.  These pillars are not only important in the larger Australian society but it is crucial to cultivate within our own families. When children come from families that nurture inclusiveness, respect, and belonging they are better able to express these principles to other people outside their families. Collins dictionary states that “if people are living in harmony with each other, they are living together peacefully rather than fighting or arguing”.  Unicef.org also highlights that parents are role models to peaceful and loving relationships. Furthermore, parents can nurture a peaceful and joyful family environment by modelling positive behaviour, positive language, and empathic listening. For this newsletter, I would like to expand upon how parents can model positive behaviour, positive language, and empathic listening.

  1. Role Modelling Positive Behaviour

Children are influenced by the way their parents interact with others. The way adults communicate with each other gives children a template of how they will communicate with others as well. It is essential to model peaceful and respectful behaviour. This could look like using manners and talking kindly to others with your family and community.

  1. The Power of Positive Language

According to Unicef.org, there are two ways that parents can create a more peaceful home environment through positive language. The first way is to avoid telling others what you do not want them to do, rather tell them what you want them to do. For example, if someone is being loud instead of saying “stop shouting” try saying “please speak quietly”. The second way is through praise. Praising and affirming family and others around you will make them feel respected and appreciated. This could be done by simply saying “thank you” for what they have done for you or saying “good job”. Your child will pick up the positive language that you use and they will use it to make others around them feel appreciated and respected.

  1. Be an Empathetic Active Listener

Listening to family members and others in your community can be done by showing them that you are open to hearing what they need to say and this helps them to feel like they belong. To show others that you are an active listener you can start by summarizing what you heard the other person saying such as “what I hear you saying is”. If you model empathic active listening to your children, this will allow them to do the same to their peers, teachers, and others in the community.

Finally, I would like to leave you with the following quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Peace, like charity begins at home”. If children can see what it looks like to live in a peaceful, respectful, and inclusive environment at home, they will be able to foster harmonious relationships with others outside their immediate family.

For more information on cultivating a harmonious family environment, please visit:

https://www.unicef.org/vietnam/stories/family-harmony-home

Thank you,

Rumbi

School Chaplain

Rest and Self-Care

Hi Everyone,

Rest and Self Care

As most of us have enjoyed an extra day of rest due to the long weekend, I would like to discuss the topic of rest and self-care. According to Raisingchildren.net.au, looking after yourself is essential. Self-care allows you to be the best version of yourself and in turn the best parent, wife/ husband, boss, co-worker, etc. Looking after yourself is not only beneficial for you but when you actively take care of your mental, physical and social well-being it sets you up to give your best to your children so that they can thrive and grow as well. With the busyness of life and balancing so many components, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. With this post, I would like to provide a few practical tips on how to take care of your physical, mental/emotional, and social well-being.

Physical wellbeing

According to Psychology Today, physical wellbeing is the ability to improve the functioning of your body through healthy living and good exercise habits. Some of the things you can do to improve your physical wellbeing are:

  1. Stay active. Exercising regularly not only helps you get physically fit but helps you feel better. There are many fun and different ways of exercising (cycling, walking, weightlifting, etc.), so find what works best for you and your schedule.
  2. Healthy Food. Nourish your body with foods that will give you sustained energy throughout your day such as home-cooked meals made with whole-foods. Also, limiting takeout as well as foods with lots of caffeine, sugar, and high-fat.
  3. Raisingchildren.net.au states that there are two golden rules to resting. Firstly, go to bed early. Secondly, have a nap if possible.

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Psychology Today defines emotional wellbeing as the ability to practice stress-management and relaxation techniques, be resilient, boost self-love, and generate the emotions that lead to good feelings. There are many challenges that come from raising a family which can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. To help deal with stress the following components may be helpful:

  1. Writing or journaling. You may like to focus on writing about the things you are grateful for or anything frustrating you at the time.
  2. Speak to trusted people about how you are feeling. This could be your partner, family members, or close friends.
  3. Take time to do activities that you enjoy such as cooking, watching a movie, or walking. Find time to do it alone or even with your family.

Social Well-being

Psychology Today states that social well-being is the ability to communicate, develop meaningful relationships with others, and maintain a support network that helps you overcome loneliness. You may like to take the following steps to help improve your social well-being:

  1. Seek assistance from support services such as parenting hotlines, which can help you cope with the challenges of raising a family.
  2. Asking family or a friend for support if needed (for example to babysit).
  3. Make time out of your busy schedule to nurture your closest relationships. This can include having a date night with your partner or having a coffee with a close friend.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with the following quote:

Thank you,

Rumbi

For more information about self-care as a parent or caregiver please visit the following websites:

https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/looking-after-yourself/parenting/looking-after-yourself

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/self-care-support-for-parents-caregiver-14

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/self-care-strategies-for-parents-no-time#1-minute

https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/wellbeing/things-to-try-self-care/how-to-make-self-care-a-family-priority

From the Chaplain – 19 February 2021

Welcome back everyone!

This new year of school did not necessarily start the way that most of us would have expected. I would like to focus on providing information on how parents can assist their children to transition back into their school routine.

Occupationaltherapy.com.au highlights that children may experience stress and anxiety when returning to school after a lockdown. Learninglinks.org.au also states that the longer days and different school routines are likely to affect some children more than others, which may result in higher levels of stress. Thus, supporting your child’s back to school transition is integral over the next few weeks. Theconversation.com provides parents with the following strategies to help their children have a positive back to school transition:

  1. Highlight the good about returning to school.

Parents and carers need to motivate their children to think about the things they are looking forward to, like seeing their friends, peers, and teachers. As children transition back to school parents need to portray a confident and optimistic attitude, by using positive and cheerful language around the topic of school.

  1. Provide support for emotional regulation.

Some children may express excitement regarding their return to school. However, for others the significant shift in structure and routine can be difficult. As a result, some children may have difficulties controlling either their feelings or behaviours. According to learninglink.org.au, the following steps can help ease your child to adjust to the long-structured day at school:

  • Afterschool let your children unwind if they enjoy having quiet time. Create a space in your home where they can retreat and process the events of their day. However, if your child is the opposite and is quite active, do fun activities that would help them to blow off some steam, such as exercising.
  • Create some time where you and your child can talk and reconnect without distractions. Have a conversation with your child to check-in and see how they are feeling (this may occur while you are driving back home from school, at dinner time, or before bedtime).
  1. Let the teacher know how your child is feeling.

Let the teacher know if your child has any worries or anxieties related to school, this will allow your child’s teacher to create specific strategies to help your child over the next few weeks.

Finally, I would like to leave with a word of encouragement. While all parents and carers are trying to make sure that back to school transitions are as smooth as possible, do not forget to take care of yourselves as well. Theconversation.com states that, “Parents who care for their wellbeing and mental health are better able to care for their children.” So be kind to yourself during the next few weeks.

Thank you,

Rumbi

Chaplain Chat

I would like to dedicate the last Chaplain’s notes for 2020 to the year six cohort moving onto high school next year. As previously mentioned in the last newsletter, this time of the year can be bittersweet for the year six students. This week, I would like to discuss what both parents and students can do to make the transition into high school as smooth as possible.

Raisingchildren.net.au highlights that some of the most common worries that arise in children when transitioning into high school include nervousness and anxiety about:

  • Learning new routines
  • Making new friends or not fitting in
  • Handling the workload

Theconversation.com provides several strategies from psychologist Michael Lee Zwiers on how to help students transition easily into high school and how to decrease any fears children may experience during their transition period. I will focus on the topics of friendship, study habits, and monitoring stress.

  1. Friendship

According to Zwiers, one step that children can do in their high school transition is to identify friends from their previous school who will be going to the same high school as they are. Zwiers states that, having the same friends from primary school who are transitioning to the same high school as your child will make the transition smoother and help to ease your child’s stress levels. After talking to some of the year six students, I have gathered that a few will be going to the same high schools. So as parents, it is important to encourage your child to connect with their primary school friends who have transitioned with them into the same high school. They may like to meet with them at the beginning of school, during lunch breaks, or even travel to school together if they live close to each other. Zwiers highlights that peer socialization is critical for a successful school transition. However, if your child is in a completely different school from their primary school peers, Zwiers recommends that a great way for new students to making new friends is through joining school clubs or interest groups. Encourage your child to join school clubs, as they can be an easy way to connect with other students who have the same interests as them. School clubs also help new students to build a support network and they offer an opportunity for your child to explore their interests in a safe environment.

  1. Study habits- Start to build study habits early

According to RaisingChildren.net.au, in high school students are more responsible for their learning and their workload gradually becomes heavier and more complicated. Thus, setting a foundation of having a regular set time for homework at home will help your child to adapt to the new assessments and the wide range of subjects they will be introduced in 2021. Zwiers states that family support and parental engagement are linked to academic success. Another practical thing parents can do is to make sure that their home is a comfortable place to study after school, ensuring that there is a lack of distractions (e.g. TV or phones).

  1. Monitoring stress

With the change in both academic and social demands in high school, parents must monitor how their child is coping with these demands. Parents must be ready to offer support if needed. Raisingchildren.net.au states that parents can monitor their child’s stress levels by regularly talking to them about how they are feeling about high school and what they are worried about. The transition into high school can be a life-changing and empowering journey that has great potential to set your child up for an amazing future, so planning and support during this season are essential for their success.

Finally, I truly hope everyone has a safe and restful Christmas break. I am so excited to see what 2021 will hold for Glendale Primary School and I wish all the year six students great success in high school and beyond. I would like to leave the six cohorts with this final quote.

For more information on how parents can help their children transition into high school, please visit the following websites:

https://theconversation.com/how-to-help-your-kids-transition-to-high-school-81018

https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/school-education/school-choosing-starting-moving/starting-secondary-school

Thank you,

Rumbi

Wrapping Up the 2020 School Year

Hi Everyone,

The end of the school year can bring up many different emotions in students including joy and excitement of completing another year. However, for others, this time of the year may be filled with some sadness. The sadness of leaving behind a year filled with great experiences, teachers, and friends. Children may start to become more anxious about the possibility of not seeing their friends for a long period as well as the unfamiliarity of the 2021 school year. Thus, this time of the year can both be a bittersweet period especially for children moving into different classrooms from their current classmates, schools and for the year six students moving onto high school next year.

Scholastic.com wrote an article called “Wrapping Up the School Year”. In this article, parents are provided with a variety of tips on how to ease the anxieties or fears students may experience during the end of the school year. Here are some helpful tips that may assist in easing any anxiety children may experience during this time of the year:

  1. Develop a plan to help your child to stay in touch with their classmates during the holidays: This can be done by asking them which friends they would like to continue seeing during the break and before school is over you can gather information from the other child’s parents/caregivers to organise playdates or hangouts.
  2. Help your child write a thank you card or letter to their classroom teacher: this may be a great idea if your child has grown to be attached to their teachers. Scholastic.com states that creating a project with your child to express gratitude and say goodbye to their classroom teacher will help them to process and accept that they will have a different teacher in the next school year.
  3. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about the end of the school year: This is a good opportunity to support and empathise with your child. In this conversation, you might discuss how they are feeling as well as allowing them to reflect on the positive parts of the school year. Also, open conversations with your child will allow you to comfort them by sharing your own experiences of times you felt sad about the ending of a school.

Scholastic.com also recommends the following two tips to assists parents, to help their child/children gain closure and celebrate the end of the 2020 school year.

  • Encourage them to participate in the end of year celebrations: towards the end of the school year both the school and classrooms will do many different activities to celebrate, so it is important to encourage your child to participate in these activities as this is a great way to gain a sense of closure and accomplishment for their hard work through the year. Especially, if this is the final year that your child will be attending the school.
  • Verbally reinforce to your child how much you are proud of their work throughout the year: consistently encourage them on how much they have learnt no matter how they do in their report card; this will set a positive tone for the next school year

For more information on Wrapping up The School Year, please visit following website:

https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/wrapping-school-year.html

Thank you,

Rumbi

Yarning

Hi Everyone,

This week was NAIDOC Week.  One aspect of Indigenous culture that I would like to discuss is ‘Yarning’.

Yarning or talking has traditionally occurred in a group setting which is referred to as a yarning circle. In this space, the group discuss different issues in a supportive manner. The practice of yarning has been integrated into the larger community to help tackle mental health and wellbeing issues among indigenous and non-indigenous children.   Telethonkids.org.au has written an article on how parents can use yarning on an interpersonal level to discuss the issue of bullying with their children.

Kids helpline defines, “bullying as an ongoing or repeated misuse of power in relationships, to cause deliberate psychological harm”. Bullying can happen in physical or in online social settings for example at school or social media. If parents are worried their kids are being bullied at school, Telethonkids.org.au highlights that yarning is a great practice that parents can use to create a supportive space where their children can learn to understand and cope with bullying.

Telethonkids.org.au suggests the following tips for parents to utilise during their yarn if their children are experiencing bullying at school: 

  1. Tell your child that bullying is wrong and that they have the right to feel safe and happy
  2. Ask your child if this is the first time this has happened and, if it is not the first time, talk about what has been done to help the situation so far. After, parents can then create a plan which could help the situation such as making sure your kids know how to get help and support at school
  3. Always talk to the school about the bullying issues; they may not know about the situation or may not have the whole story. Also, as a parent be willing to work with the school to make sure the bullying stops.

I would like to leave you with the following information from research conducted by bullyingnoway.gov.au, which states that students up to year 6 who are experiencing bullying are most likely to go to either a parent or caregiver for help regarding their situation. This research highlights the importance of yarning and creating a safe space where children feel heard when seeking help regarding issues of bullying in school and out of school.

For more information on yarning with children about bullying, please visit the following websites: 

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/understanding/Documents/research-snapshot-role-of-parents-and-carers.pdf

https://www.telethonkids.org.au/our-research/aboriginal-health/cre-aboriginal-health-and-wellbeing/solid-kids/solid-families/yarning-with-the-young-ones/

Rumbi

Resilience in Children

Hi everyone,

What an exciting start to term 4, especially for the year six cohort who went camping, as well as Book Week. During Book Week I visited the library and saw two amazing books which I would like to recommend, “The Treasure Box” and “Suri’s Wall”.  Both books are about resilience. Psychologist and author Salvatore R. Maddi states that, “Resilience or hardiness is the ability to adapt to new circumstances when life presents the unpredictable.”  According to www.education.gov.au, resilience is essential for both children’s academic and social development.  Thus, cultivating greater resilience early in childhood will be greatly beneficial for children who may struggle with issues around friendship, academics, or family difficulties.

Beyond Blue identify five ways to help the development of resilience in children, these topics include:

  1. Developing communications skills
  2. Solving problems
  3. Encouraging independence
  4. Dealing with bullying
  5. Managing emotions

I would like to focus on the last topic of managing emotions. Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline has recommended the following practices which parents can do at home to help create a safe space where children can develop the skills to manage their emotions and aid in fostering resiliency:

  1. Create a safe and quiet space to talk to your children: This could at home or even the car rides before or after school. In this space you can comfort, reassure and support your child, letting them know that they are safe to discuss their feelings. The website education.vic.gov.au listed some very helpful statements parents could use to open their discussions with their children, one such statement is: “You seem [anxious/sad], what is happening for you? We can work it out together”.
  2. Do an activity: Sometimes children may find it difficult to express their feelings with words so another great option would be doing some activities like playing, painting, or even storytelling; these may be mediums that you may choose to help your child to express their feelings.
  3. Talk about how your feelings: During your discussion you may also talk about how you’re feeling (tired, excited, happy, or sad). When parents express their feelings to their children this may help them to open up, especially if they relate to your feelings.

Finally, I would like to leave you with the following quote which will highlight why helping children to communicate their feelings appropriately is important in fostering resiliency.

“Building resilience in children is not about making them tough.  Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties and manage how you feel.” 

For more information on cultivating resilience in school aged children please visit the following website:

https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/raising-resilient-children/developing-communication-skills

Thank you

Rumbi Tsokota

School-Age Friendships: How To Support Them

Hebert H. Humphry once stated that, “The greatest gift of life is friendship”.

I would like to share with you some tips written in an article from Raisingchildren.net.au called “School-age friendships: how to support them”.  Specifically, I would like to focus on how to support children experiencing friendship difficulties (making or keeping friends) in school.

According to the article, some signs which may indicate that children are experiencing friendship difficulties in school are: if they are upset/anxious to go to school, not eating their lunch, or suddenly shifting from being very social to spending time by themselves. If you do notice these signs, the articles states that parents may like to do the following:

  1. Communicate with your child’s teachers. This would also be a great way to identify if they are having friendship difficulties both in the class or in the playground.
  2. Have regular open discussion with your children about friendship. This will give them an opportunity to tell you if they are experiencing friendship issues. During these discussions it may be helpful:
  • To share any friendship issues you may have experienced as a child and how you overcame them.
  • Also, reading books which focus on friendships and how to navigate friendship issues is helpful when discussing friendship issues. According Psychologist Kathryn Hoffses states that, reading books or watching movies which highlight outsiders triumphing after being rejected or experiencing other friendship issues would help children build the skills to cope with the difficult social situations happening in their friendship groups. I would recommend reading “Sorry” by Norbert Landa and Tim Warnes. Also, “King of the Playground” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  However, if you do not have access to both of these books, I am able to bring them to the Lunchtime board games on Tuesdays, and I would be more than happy to read them to the children who come along.
  1. Help children to foster friendships with children outside of their school. It can be a great idea to get children to develop friends with other children who may not attend the same school as them, as it helps them to build confidence in different social events. It is encouraged that parents help children to foster relationships with: other children from their extra-curricular activities (Sports, dance or tutoring), with children in your neighbourhood and family friends.

I definitely recommend visiting, Raisingchildren.net.au for more information about how to support the friendships children develop in during school.

Kind regards,

Rumbi

From The Chaplain

I am really enjoying getting to know all the different people in this school community.

I have two exciting announcements:

Firstly, as of Tuesday, 18 August, students will be able to write me notes which can contain messages regarding:

  1. How the student maybe feeling
  2. Anything that may be bothering the student at the moment
  3. Why the student may like to see me

I have placed envelopes and note paper on the notice board opposite my office for the children to use to write to me.  The envelopes can then be posted at the admin building in the letter box marked “Chaplain Box”, on the outside near the side door.  I will follow up with the children on a Monday and Tuesday to see how they are doing and discuss their concerns.

Secondly, “Board Games with the Chaplain” is back! As of Tuesday, 25 August, students will be able to come play board games in the library from 12:55pm . This will happen every Tuesday. Anyone from years 2 to 6 are welcome to join.

I am excited to keeping meeting and engaging with all the children, staff and parents.

I would like to encourage you all to keep going and not to lose the drive and excitement you all had at the beginning of this term.

Thank you,

Rumbi

School Chaplain