Dear Parents and Carers
We now have a little over a week before face to face learning resumes for children in Kindergarten, Years One, Two and Six on Monday October 25th. Remote Learning will continue for children in Years Three, Four and Five, before students in those classes also recommence, in person, on Monday November 1st.
Our staff has been busily preparing for the safe re-entry of the children. The central task has been the planning of new arrangements during break times to limit the amount of co-mingling between cohorts. Other considerations have concerned the reintroduction of protocols associated with maintaining a clean and safe environment. I will outline those new routines in a letter early next week.
While You Were Away
I wanted to provide you of some idea of the work that has been commenced during the Lockdown. Some of the work has been routine maintenance, however the long absence, without children has enabled our new Janitor an opportunity to start some new projects.
Our old basketball backboards on the Top Courts, which have served many budding NBL players, are currently being replaced. This initiative was funded by the Community Council and should be completed before the children return to school.
The fence at the Eastern (Kindergarten) end of the building has been moved to allow for easier access to a proposed new garden bed. Work commenced on clearing this area during our Autum Working Bee in Term One. The relocation of the fence will now enable this project to be completed.
Our new Janitor has been cleaning up areas of the school grounds to allow for improved access, the external entrance to the Corridor is much tidier and will allow children to move more comfortably around the building
We have purchased another basketball pole and backboard which will be constructed on the Belway Oval playground, this will allow our children more opportunities to hone their skills during their break times.
The teachers will continue to seek out Virtual Excursion opportunities for the children during the remaining weeks of this year. If, as anticipated, unspent funds remain we will use these monies to fund a replacement and replenishment program of our class ipads and Chrome Books. We have also ordered a new Promethean ActivPanel for our Library.
Work is continuing behind the scenes in the planning of our school’s 50th anniversary. A small committee has now booked the Pialligo Estate and a band for 2nd September next year. Whilst I realise that the social calendars of most people have been bare for many months can I still urge you to claim the date for what promises to be a wonderful night. Thankyou to Chelsea Rey, Julia Rutter and Jessana Pirotta who have been busily checking venues.
This week's contribution is from Hilary Seselja (nee Baron)
I went to St Matthew's from year 2 to year 6 in the 80s. I have many great memories of my time there. I remember fabulous fetes that were the highlight of the year. Many lunchtimes playing handball or tips or hanging off the monkey bars. I also recall wonderful teachers like Mrs Staines, Miss Reynolds, Sr Karen and Sr Peter Julian who, all this time later, I still think of fondly.
However, what I remember most of all was how incredibly supportive the St Matthew's community was when my family went through a very hard time. When I was in Year 6 my younger sister developed a terminal brain tumour. The school community did everything they could to help our family though it and make us feel like we weren't alone. I feel very lucky to have been part of such a wonderful community during that time.
Happy 50th anniversary St Matthew’s!
May God bless you and your families
Sun Protection at Saint Matthew’s
We are very much looking forward to the return of our students in just a few weeks, and the beautiful warmer weather will be enjoyed as we play outdoors.
Staff at St Matthew’s actively promote positive sun UV protection behaviour and attitudes by applying sunscreen, wearing hats on duty, and seeking shade whenever possible. Before going outdoors, all teachers encourage students to bring and apply their own SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen, or to use the sunscreen that we provide in pump packs.
To make this even easier and so much more fun, you’ll be pleased to know that St Matthew’s Primary School has been announced as the ACT winner of a SunSquirt Lite Kiosk! Each of these vending machines dispenses a single measure of the highest quality SPF50+ Ultra Cancer Council sunscreen. The kiosk will offer a an easy-to-operate alternative to a sunscreen pump pack. Each machine also has educational information about sunscreen quantities and the correct application process. What a wonderful way to develop in our children a sun smart habit for life!
We have worked with the SunSquirt team and approved a design that will include our beautiful logo and now, we just have to determine where best to place the kiosk!
Happy birthday wishes to Sofia C, Evie E, Angus M, Archie L, Alexander A, Kora B, Maya D, Madeleine R, Felicity B, Luke, G, Leia T, Austin Pollheim, Hana G, ARcher P, Austin Z, Alice C, Samuel B, Elijah O, William L and Jacob W, who celebrated birthdays recently and in the holidays.
Help kids to beat COVID induced anxiety
Since COVID has entered our lives I’ve had countless conversations with parents and enquiries from schools seeking presentations on how to support kids who with COVID induced anxiety.
It’s wonderful to see how kids’ mental health and wellbeing is being prioritised, and importantly, resourced. However these conversations show we still have some way to go as a community to fully grasp the nature of anxiety.
While the current situation we are all living through is extremely difficult, it does present an opportunity to develop sustained growth and vitality in anxious children and young people.
In Anxious Kids, the book I co-authored with Dr. Jodi Richardson we wrote, “Anxiety doesn’t have to be the shadow that clouds the days of children and young people. Understanding that anxiety is a well understood and manageable condition brings anxious kids such relief.”
We wrote this pre-COVID and nothing since has caused me to change my mind. In fact, experiences of this COVID era have reinforced that the more we know about anxiety the less fearful we are and better equipped to move kids from anxiety to real resilience.
There is no cure for anxiety
Just as there’s no cure for the common cold, and it would appear the coronavirus, there is also no cure for anxiety. We know that anxiety runs in families. Children are born with a predisposition for anxiety. There is every likelihood that an anxious child will have at least one parent who experiences anxiety, maybe not clinically, but one who is familiar with a churn in their stomach, the constant overthinking and the desire to over prepare when they face new or unfamiliar situations.
The impact of anxiety can be minimised
Anxiety may be a constant companion for many children but it’s certainly not their best friend. Often, it’s a demon with which they are locked in a long-running, laborious battle where simple activities such as attending school camp or doing at home learning become something they dread. Alternatively, they can avoid events or situations that make them anxious or bring them discomfort.
It’s better to give an anxious child or young person tools such as mindfulness, checking in and deep breathing with which they can manage their anxiety, rather than allow them to miss out and be miserable, or tackle discomfort full on and be stressed out.
You can build anxiety resistance
While we can’t necessarily tackle anxiety at its source and make the situations that overwhelm a child disappear, we can help them to develop a lifestyle that builds their resistance against the very worst of anxiety. Plenty of sleep, adequate diet, regular exercise and sufficient time in nature are some of the lifestyle factors that builds strength against the psychological ravages of anxiety.
You can help kids reduce their ongoing anxiety
While the world waits and prays that we’ll come up with a coronavirus vaccine, we don’t have to wait to help a child or young person with anxiety. A combination of being nurturing and firm (features of the authoritative parenting style) offers the best protection against ongoing anxiety. A child is best prepared to face difficulties when they have a confident, calm adult in their life who says, “I think you can do this,” encouraging them to face their fears. This approach needs to be supported by an empathetic adult who understands the impact of anxiety and makes sure that kids feel safe and secure.
While parenting an anxious child or young person can feel overwhelming and difficult, I encourage you to think about it differently. We can’t change what is happening right now, and we can’t undo it. Help your anxious child to flourish in this COVID era by building their understanding of anxiety. Give them the tools to help them push anxiety into the background. Promote a lifestyle that will protect them from its affects by ensuring they experience nurturing, firm, brave and hopeful parenting. We hope coronavirus will one day disappear, but your child’s ability to be impacted by difficult events will still be an issue unless you take some preventative action now. The good news is that there is so much you can do to help.
Online Mental Health Resources