07 Jun 2019

Tweens (Eight-Twelve Year Olds): Then and Now

On Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with some Year 6 boys visiting the Powerhouse Museum. It was fantastic and I highly recommend all families to spend some time there. One of the exhibitions we visited was called Interface and it charted the evolution of technology in computers, phones and gaming. It is amazing to think that a 10 year old today would not remember a world without iPads or mobile phones.  One of the boys on the excursion assumed that I had a mobile phone when I was at school and was surprised when I told him otherwise.

I was thinking about this when I came across an interesting article on tweens. Tweens are children aged between 8-12 and this article looked at the development and changes that occur in the years before puberty and adolescence.

In this Kappan article, the author Fagell stated that there are many similarities between challenges she faced as a young adolescent in the 1980’s and tweens today. She wrote “As their prefrontal cortex develops, they’re malleable, impulsive, and impressionable. They’re capable of reasoning intellectually, interpreting emotions, and taking a moral stand, but they lack perspective or life experience. Sorting out social drama can consume large chunks of their time, and they tend to experience emotions in polarities. Any mishap can register as a catastrophe, and they have little understanding that negative feelings are temporary. They’re trying to figure out what coping skills work for them and where their strengths and interests align. They’re hyperaware of an invisible audience judging their every move and picking up on their shortcomings and limits… It’s a time of insecurity, hormonal changes, and contradictions. The only other time a child experiences so much development is between birth and age two.”

While physiologically young people are developing in the same way as their parents, the author believes that there are also significant environmental differences for young adolescents growing up in today’s rapidly changing world:

  • Technology is permeating every aspect of their lives.

Many kids are online almost constantly and this brings a myriad of complexities. Unrealistic societal expectations, graphic images (the NZ mosque attack was streamed online, pornography), gaming and the mixed blessing of social media. “On the social side, kids who are developmentally wired for adventure somehow have to preserve their reputation, stay safe, be kind, and make solid judgment calls online without the benefit of face-to-face social cues.”

Whilst as a child we were probably just as prone to mischief it did not have the potential to be immortalised and transmitted around the globe.

  • Tweens have more mental-health issues

Today’s families are more open about relationship breakdowns, job losses, health issues, and other acute stressors. Many parents are very involved and overly directive, which may result in children having less autonomy and not feeling they have as much control and choice in their lives (parents who crush their children under the weight of their own aspirations). In addition, many parents are putting more emphasis on achievement and competition and less on caring for others – and this is true across racial, cultural and economic groups. There may be a gap between what the parents believe and the way their actions are interpreted. Kids need an environment to learn problem-solving skills, make mistakes, resolve conflicts, and build a sense of confidence and independence. These and other forces have contributed to an increase in anxiety and depression among young people.

  • Hate Speech and Politics are very much part of mainstream media.

There’s been an increase in the propensity for extremist views to permeate our lives through the internet. Fringe and extremist views on race, religion, gender and sexuality now have a powerful medium to transmit to a broad audience. Ironically, this is happening against a backdrop of young people’s heightened interest in issues like same-sex marriage, climate protests (staged by students in Sydney and elsewhere), and efforts to build emotionally healthy boys by pushing back on the traditional concepts of masculinity and trying to adjust to the #MeToo era.

Fagell feels that despite the challenges faced by tweens we are moving in the right direction: “Young people have always been tuned into justice and fairness, but today’s tweens are perhaps even more likely to take on an activist role, whether they lobby for equality, … the environment, or immigration rights.”

“How Childhood Has Changed for Tweens” by Phyllis Fagell in Phi Delta Kappan, April 2019 (Vol. 100, #7, p. 8-12), https://bit.ly/2I0pB9M; Fagell is at contactphyllisfagell@gmail.com.

Ben Barrington-Higgs


Pastoral Care

Student Wellbeing and Digital Citizenship – Managing Time Online

As our students head into a long weekend and soon a three week holiday break, it is timely to consider how much time your son spends online and how you manage his screen time, in general. Screen time limits are about making sure your son enjoys lots of healthy, fun activities – both with and without screens. Limits mean looking at the time your son spends on screens and making sure it doesn’t get in the way of sleep and activities that are good for his development. These activities include things like physical play, reading, creative play like drawing, and social time with family and friends. This animated introduction to the issue of children spending too much time online, including the impact on sleep and school work and how parents can help children achieve a balance is worth watching.  https://vimeo.com/110950040

It is important to set clear rules about when and for how long your child can play games or use the internet — the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines provide a useful benchmark. It may take time to strike a balance but a minor reduction each day or ‘15-minutes to switch-off’ warning can help the transition.

Guildelines for Healthy Growth and Development for Children and Young People – Brochure

Reducing your own screen time also sets a positive example. We need to make sure that the time we are spending looking at our screens is truly appropriate. In an article written by Sierra Filucci titled, ‘Screen-Time Limits for Parents?’ she states, ‘If parents are going to be smart about our smartphones, we do need to make a few rules for ourselves – Smartphone users tend to underestimate the time they spend staring at their phones instead of their kids. It might feel like 20 seconds, but really three minutes have passed.’ Too often you see a child have an accident when someone was looking down at their screen. If we want our children to be great digital citizens, then we need to model this behaviour. Sierra Filucci offers some great advice on how to get that balance right for yourself. She encourages: · No devices during mealtimes. If a topic comes up that you would normally google, add it to a list to look up later.

  • Leave the game-playing (Words With Friends!) until after the kids are in bed.
  • No texting or talking on the phone while driving.
  • Put away the phone if the kids are swimming unattended or doing anything else potentially dangerous.
  • Designate “no-tech zones” in your home — and respect them!

The following sites provide a large amount of useful research and suggestions for managing your son’s screen time.



Set clear rules about when and for how long your child can play games or use the internet—the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines provide a useful benchmark. It may take time to strike a balance but a minor reduction each day or ‘15-minutes to switch-off’ warning can help the transition. Reducing your own screen time also sets a positive example.

Pascal Czerwenka – Deputy Head of Lindfield

Faith Matters

This term in Chapel at Lindfield we’ve been looking at children in the Bible and exploring what they might mean for the young people in our midst. We started with this passage from the Gospel of Mark where Jesus blessed the little children after the disciples were trying to dismiss them.

Mark 10:13-16  – Jesus Blesses Little Children

Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them.

We’ve looked at the boy who offered two loaves and five fish to Jesus and Jesus used that to feed 5000 people. that reminded us that even the little things that young people can offer can make a big difference. We’ve looked at God calling the boy Samuel to be a prophet from the Old Testament and seen how that reminds us that young people have special roles to play in their school or their communities. We’ve also looked at the story of David and Goliath and how that reminds us that young people can have the courage to take on tasks that others might think too difficult. And finally, we’ve looked at the story of Jesus aged 12 in the Temple which reminds us that young people can have great wisdom and knowledge.

These stories are powerful reminders for our boys of the unique and special abilities for young people. My hope has been that it has inspired them to think about what difference they can make in their communities and their world at large. Just because they’re in Prep School doesn’t mean that they can’t do something to make the world a better place.

As I’ve reflected on these readings, personally I see them as a challenge to us as adults and the way we sometimes look over or dismiss the role that young people can play. As a youth minister, running programs in Churches for young people, a University Chaplain, a teacher and now a School Chaplain I have always sought to be challenged by the example and leading of young people in our world. In the story of David and Goliath, a story many are familiar with, we see David, a young boy, having the courage to take on this difficult task while all the adults around him laugh at him saying he’s too young to do that. I wonder, how many times we as adults have dismissed the role that the young people in our midst can play.

This reading from Mark, which I’ve quoted above, has always been a guide for me in my ministry to young people. In this we see Jesus welcoming the children around him while his disciples were trying to get rid of them. It should remind us to try to always find space for the young people in our midst, even when they’re difficult or troubling.

Cindy Brandt Wong, an American Theologian and Parenting Advisor, has taken this passage a bit further. She suggests that in this act Jesus isn’t just blessing the little children he’s using them as an example to the adults around him. Here he’s challenging the adults to be led by the children.”

I think that’s a powerful challenge for us as adults, how can we be led by the example of children in our midst? Not just welcome them but be willing to be led by them. How might we be willing to be inspired by the example that children in our midst set for us? And, how might we in turn encourage their talents to shape the world around us?.

Pastor Richard La’Brooy – School Chaplain

PYP – Agency

As we explore the framework of PYP the third circle talks about Agency, Action and Exhibition. In this issue we will look at Agency in depth and the changes and impact that will be developed in the classrooms. There are three elements where agency is impacted – the learner, learning and teaching and the learning community. Agency, within each of these elements, means the same thing – the ability for each to have voice, choice and ownership. It is these three aspects that we will briefly consider in this edition. The enhanced PYP encourages everyone who is part of the learning community (students, teachers and parents) to have the opportunity to have agency. Possibly one of the best examples of agency is demonstrated in the PYP Exhibition – an opportunity that all Year 6 students experience in their final year of the PYP. 

PYP learners as agents of their learning:·

  • are actively engaged in various stages of learning including thinking about, planning, modifying and creating learning experiences;
  • are actively involved in discussion, questioning and being self-directed in their creating (as opposed to passive receiving);
  • apply their understanding of concepts through the construction of their learning;
  • make connections to the real world by taking past experiences into their play worlds;
  • have an active voice and stake in the classroom and school community · face challenges and are given the freedom to independently overcome these or fail through trial and error or experimentations;
  • are risk-takers;
  • express their theories of the world and these are honoured in the environment, and
  • reflect on their action and are able to self-regulate.

When we encourage voice, students’ question, guide and direct learning. They propose and initiate action and participate in decision making as a learner, in the classroom and their learning experiences and goal setting and in the school community. Choice allows the co-construction of learning goals and engaging with multiple perspectives in their learning experiences.

As a result of learners having voice and choice, ownership of and responsibility for learning transfers from this. They can define their own learning goals and reflect on these to produce the next steps. Their ideas are supported throughout planning and taking action. Our students have been drivers of their learning throughout the PYP. Voice, choice, ownership and, therefore, responsibility for their learning will develop further as the staff increase the focus on agency for the learner, learning and teaching and the learning community.

Sue Gough – PYP Co-ordinator

Words that Pack a Punch – Stage 1

In Year 1 and 2 we have been sharing our opinions and exploring how to persuade our audience through writing. There are two key elements of a successful persuasive text, the organisation of an argument (we have been using the OREO structure, Opinion, Reason, Engage, Opinion) and word choice (words that pack a punch!).
We have shared our opinions about whether we should squish or save an ant, written letters to Mr Barrington-Higgs and all the boys in Junior Primary and are currently trying to convince the whole school on what we believe is the best superpower. Our writing is currently in display in the library but here is a sneak peek of one or two of our sentences.
Sam – Telepathic movement is the greatest superpower. Imagine locking yourself outside, you could easily unlock the door!
Corbin – Teleportation is the most amazing superpower, it will allow you to go to a spa and be relaxed.
Christian F – The greatest superpower is map reading knowledge. This power will give you the spectacular ability to know all the roads in the universe.
Jackson – Incredible speed is the best superpower you could ever have. Imagine winning every single race you try!
Christian H – Have you ever wanted to make characters in a book come alive? Did you know you have had this power inside you all the time?
Ted – I believe that moving things with your mind is the best superpower. Imagine you are in the art room and paint brushes were falling on the ground, the power of mind control could stop the paint brushes making a mess!
Hamish – I believe that shape shifting is the most handy superpower. You must want to shape shift into a book so that you could read yourself.
Rhys – I believe the power of shadows is the best one you can have because if you get in jail you can escape with no one knowing.
Jamie – The wand of destiny is the strongest wand in the history of the world. It will devour a mess and clean it up in seconds.
Alex – I believe that teleportation is the best superpower you could possibly hope for. Teleportation allows you to get to work super fast and you can get to where ever you want to go!
Lucas – I believe that time travel is the best. It would let us see dinosaurs.
Jonathan – I believe that teleportation is the most amazing super power because you can go wherever you want!
Taichi – I believe that moving things with you mind is the most marvelous superpower you could ever imagine. For example, you are playing basketball and losing by a lot, you could just mind control the ball in the basket!
Ethan – Invisibility is the best superpower. It is great because you can rob sweet shops easily. You can also take famous art from art galleries!
Jake – I believe that fast reflexes absolutely rocks! For example, if the books are falling off the shelves I could use my super fast reflexes to stop them hitting the ground.
Oliver – The Elder wand is the greatest and most destructive wand ever. It lets you teleport and use every other power.
Carol Peterson – Year 2 Teacher

Year 3 – Technology

Have you ever wondered what it would be like not to have an iPhone in contemporary times? The Year 3 boys were asked the very same question as a provocation to how technology has changed our lives.

Our current Unit of Inquiry has the transdisciplinary theme of How We Organise Ourselves which has been our second unit for the year. Our central idea is People use technology to solve perceived problems that impact on the world around them. Our lines of inquiry have been the impact of technology on society, the process of developing technological innovations and designing new technology to solve a problem.

One area of technology the Year 3 boys have explored is when they compared Google Maps to a street directory. They explored both of these items in great detail and compared the advantages and disadvantages with both navigational items.

The boys gained an understanding and appreciation of how navigational techniques have developed over the years from the ubiquitous street directory, which was an essential in everyone’s motor vehicles. Having to rely solely on the street directory for directions compared with the methods available now with global positioning systems, technology has come a long way, and even more remarkably on everyone’s mobile phone! The boys were fascinated with Google Maps and interestingly, not all the boys were aware that they could view the front of their own homes in this app. It was fascinating view for them.

Here are some of the comparisons the Year 3 boys listed in their books:

  • a street directory can’t run out of battery
  • easy to see big areas and can see different directions
  • a street directory doesn’t need charging and never goes out of range
  • sometimes Google Maps doesn’t give the right directions
  • the street directory will date over time and doesn’t show new areas
  • Google Maps is conveniently accessible in your phone
  • you don’t have to work out the route yourself as Google Maps does it for you.

Great work Year 3!

Leonie Russell – Year 3 Teacher








Stage 3 – Reading and Writing with Purpose and Passion

The Year 5 boys have explored a number of environmental issues as a part of our current unit of inquiry into animal adaptations. In addition to this they read a number of persuasive texts related to the environment and environmental issues which led to the boys researching an issue and writing their own persuasive letter to the Prime Minister with a particular focus on the ‘Word Choice’ writing trait.

We have now moved onto Non-Fiction texts for our reading and writing workshops and this has seen the boys in Year 5 build IKEA boxes (following visual instructions and working collaboratively) and selecting non-fiction texts of interest that we are reading as a class and independently to identify and understand the features of these forms of text and the similarities and differences that exist between all texts. Following on from this we’ll be writing many informative texts… Keep an eye out for some examples in future editions of Prep Talk.

Readers and writers workshop is a method of instruction that often requires a paradigm shift, a shift from the teacher making all the choices and telling students what to learn within a text, to students making choices, and through practice and application of skills-based lessons, learning as they read and write.

Language and Song

Singing – part of the language learning

Do you like to sing? Do you sing to your children often? Does your boy come home and sing songs in Mandarin?

Please rest assured that I do not sing to your boy! The last thing I want to do is to corrupt your boy’s musical potential with my singing voice! However, I do enjoy finding all the catchy songs for boys to learn. Learning a foreign language through songs can reduce the anxiety of learning – which is known as Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) or Xenoglossophobia. Some students would get very tense and anxious if I asked them to read something for me in Mandarin, they would get very tense and not be able to make a sound. But when I played the songs we have sung since Term 1, they would be able to sing along.

Apart from the obvious enjoyment of singing, teaching language through songs can also develops vital communication and social skills. For example, through our greeting songs, the students learn the vocabulary and how to greet others in Mandarin. For sensory learners, once they recognise the repeating patterns of sounds, it helps to retain the knowledge in long term memory.

These are some of the songs we have learnt in this term.

Hopefully during the school holidays, the boys can keep listening to the songs to refresh their memory.

My humble wish as a language teacher is that even if the boys choose not to take Mandarin in the future, there will always be a song to remind them that once they learned Mandarin…


Eva Angel – LOTE Teacher


Winter Sport

Despite the drop in temperature in the mornings, all of the 3–6 boys have been out having a great time representing Newington College in AFL, Football and Rugby. This week marks the half way point in the winter season and is a great chance to reflect on the first half, and look forward to the final 5 weeks. Training up at Koola Park on Wednesday and Friday afternoons is a joy to stand back and observe. We have great external staff in AFL, Football and Rugby supporting our classroom teachers and the boys really are getting a lot of attention to assist in the development of their skills and game play.


The Lindfield AFL Team have enjoyed a great start to the season, with the Year 5 and 6 boys getting to know each other and creating great combinations on the field. Last weekend the boys were welcomed by the Stanmore AFL Community and played at Marrickville as part of community day, fundraising to bring a group of boys from Clontarf Foundation to Newington in 2020. The Clontarf Foundation is based in Perth and exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so equips them to participate meaningfully in society. The boys were able to spend time with the Wyvern Team, and some players that had come through both the Prep schools who are now playing in the Opens Team at Stanmore.


The Football season has also been brilliant under the guidance of Mr Brian McCarthy’s (Director of Football at Stanmore) junior program. The boys are engaged and getting plenty of touches of the ball and game time at training each week. We have had some great games on Saturday’s also, with many close results. The boys always enjoy playing Wyvern, with our 9’s and open teams all having some tough contests. At the end of the morning it was 3 games each way, setting up a great final contest between the top Prep teams at Back to Newington Day in August.


The Rugby 7’s program at Koola has continued to be a great success each Saturday. The boys are improving and becoming more confident and more physical each week. A couple of our Junior players represented Newington at a March Past before the Waratahs & Jaguars game at Bank West Stadium a few weeks ago, before enjoying the match with junior players from clubs and schools from all around Sydney. The Year 6 boys will also be looking forward to the chance to play Wyvern at Back to Newington Day.

Representative Success

Almost every sport offers an opportunity for boys to trial for representative teams over the course of the year. Boys who are successful in trialling for NSW Combined Independent School (CIS) Teams then have the opportunity to play at the State Championships in their chosen sport. This term we congratulate Henry Yeoland who is representing Newington this week in a very successful CIS Hockey Team. Next week Connor Mosely will compete at the NSW CIS Cross Country at Eastern Creek and in the holidays Sam Schultz will be representing Newington at the All Schools Snow Sport Championships. Congratulations to all these boys!

Eliza Larkin – Sport Co-ordinator


Maths Anxiety

Ever felt like you weren’t a ‘maths person’? As if it wasn’t your thing?

Ever had that one negative maths experience that you always remember?

Ever felt nervous or overwhelmed when approaching a task involving numbers?

You may have experienced Maths Anxiety. But, what is it? It is defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in … ordinary life and academic situations” (Ashcroft, 2002). For some, they are unfortunately born with this feeling. For others, it slowly develops over time due to negative experiences involving maths. This could be that one topic that you couldn’t understand, or that teacher that did not make maths enjoyable.

What can we do? Stanford maths professor, Jo Boaler challenges this idea of people being a ‘maths person or not’. With too many negative experiences stemming from how maths is taught, both in the classroom and at home, something needs to change. As educators at Newington College, we strive to provide learning opportunities that offer the boys authentic maths experiences that help them develop a love for numbers and a resilience to persevere when faced with a difficult problem. Maths should be made relatable to their lives, hands on and engaging.

What about at home? You are your son’s first role model and they look to you for guidance every day. To help foster a love of maths, we need to approach maths with a positive attitude and not allow our experiences to become theirs. Every experience can turn into a positive learning experience through simple questions that promote thought and curiosity. Asking boys to visualise how big a number is, how far a location is from home or even allowing them to pay for items and asking how much change you should expect back. These little and simple questions cannot only help bring a love of maths and numbers now, but a love of maths and numbers for life.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician to have a feel for numbers.” – John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Hugh Tomkins – Learning Enhancement Intern

Lindfield Music Concert

Each year, all the boys perform at the Lindfield Concert.  This year the Concert will take place on 25 June at 6:30pm in Centenary Hall, Stanmore.

There is an over-arching theme of Dreams. The theme is very loose, some pieces fit easily, others you have to dig a little. Dreams could be interpreted as part of the sleeping process and therefore also the waking up from sleep. Dreams can also be seen as being things that you can aspire to or imagine that you can achieve.

The Concert will begin and end with whole school songs. Between these bookmarks all the boys will sing as part of their stage choir. For the boys in Years 2, 3, 4 and 5 they will also be playing the instruments they are learning as part of the class instrumental program. This is a great achievement, especially for those in Year 2 and 4 and also some of the boys in Year 5 as these groups of boys have only been learning their instrument for less than 6 months. (They should all be playing and working on their piece at home every day!) 

The final group of performers are those in the School Ensembles – Band, Strings, Choir and Year 6 Jazz Group. All these groups rehearse before School and during recess or lunch. They put a great deal of effort and time into learning a selection of repertoire.

The boys are working on these items at school with some music and words getting sent home to be learnt. It is a fun night and the focus is on the boys’ enjoyment and participation in the music program at Lindfield.

I hope you enjoy the evening.

Vanessa South – Music Co-ordinator