Principal’s Message Week 5

Upcoming Events

I trust everyone enjoyed the long weekend. It was lovely to have a change in the weather. I’d like to draw your attention to the assemblies that we have scheduled this term. The first will be held this Friday, to introduce the newly elected Student Councillors and Faction Leaders. I’d like to acknowledge all those who put themselves forward to be considered for these positions, and to thank them for the time and energy they invested in their written application and verbal presentation to their peers and teachers. The voting process was facilitated by an officer from the WA Electoral Commission again this year, and included printed ballot papers prepared by the Commission.

The following assembly, led by the children in 3H on Friday 20 March, will celebrate Harmony Day. They will be joined by the Choir, for their first public performance – having started rehearsing only last week! I hope many of you can join us. The third assembly will be hosted by the students in 4ZW.

In the meantime, students in Years 4-6 will participate in our Faction Swimming Carnival on Friday 13 March, at HBF stadium. The carnival will take the morning only, and all students are expected to return to school as a group, returning to their classes after lunch. Whenever students are involved in group activities off-site, the expectation is that they travel to and from the venue as a group or team. In addition to reinforcing that they are part of a team, it enables us to maximise their safety, which can be problematic when families wish to take one or two children directly from a venue. Occasionally, there will be an exception which can be negotiated in advance, for example if a student is going directly to or from PEAC, but generally we appreciate your support in ensuring children travel as a team/school group.

Supporting Children’s Learning and Development

We have arrange of strategies, both in place and continuing to be developed, to support Kapinara students’ learning and development. Consistent with our strong focus on health and wellbeing, this includes strategies and resources to support personal (emotional) and social learning and development, as well as intellectual learning and development. Our staff were recently joined by Dr Helen Street, who presented a two-hour session focused on wellbeing; particularly what she refers to as ‘contextual wellbeing’. We are also planning to attend a day of the Positive Schools’ conference in May, which will also focus on wellbeing; and more specifically on anxiety in children. But what other sorts of things are in place?

Right from the beginning of school, a community health nurse, screens all students’ vision and hearing. Community Health Nurses, who are partly funded by the Department of Education WA, can also assist with the early detection and referral of children showing mental health risk factors; and referrals to other specialist services such as the Child Development Service. Occasionally we may seek your permission to check the vision or hearing of an older child. In 2020 our community nurse is Kate McGahern. Families of younger children will be advised when she is visiting Kapinara to undertake screenings.

We also have access to School Psychologist Richard Luyke (pronounced Loo-kee), who is with us at Kapinara on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child, please mention this to your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher may suggest passing on your concern to Mrs Knowles, who works collaboratively with teachers and Mr Luyke. At this point, your child’s teacher and Mrs Knowles may speak in general terms with Mr Luyke, to see if his support might be helpful. They will contact parents of a child to offer support if appropriate. This will often involve meeting with at least one parent to chat more specifically about an individual child. There is no stigma whatsoever attached to seeking support for a child, particularly from our Community Health Nurse or School Psychologist. We are very grateful to have access to these valuable resources, and the sooner we can monitor and potentially intervene in a situation that isn’t working as expected, the better.

I appreciate that it can be difficult for parents to know if and when to approach someone at school if things aren’t going smoothly. As you know, children will become more easily upset if they are tired or becoming unwell; and even a single lunchtime without their closest ‘friend’ by their side can be upsetting. You will no doubt have heard the cry ‘She’s not my friend anymore, today she played with ….’. Children are learning how to manage their emotions, ‘read’ the emotions of others and navigate a range of social contexts. They are often completely unaware that something they have said or done has actually upset someone. It is important that we help them to ‘unpack’ those situations. This would normally acknowledge how a child is feeling, assuring him/her that its normal to feel like that, and sometimes offering some alternative ways of looking at things ‘Perhaps Max just didn’t feel like playing soccer today.’

If however, your child continues to be upset, and shows signs of things such as changes in sleep, not wanting to go to school, becoming withdrawn etc then I urge you to speak to your child’s teacher and/or Mrs Knowles or me … sooner rather than later. Supporting children and their families is a priority for us. Further, if something significant is occurring in your family, even your extended family (illness, separation, changes in employment, a death etc) it is really helpful for us to know so that we can simply monitor your child. It can also help explain an out-of-character upset or outburst. Thank you to families who have done this recently.

Best wishes for the next fortnight.

Elizabeth Blackwell