15 Mar 2019

From the Head of Lindfield

Social Media: Friend or Foe

I recently came across an interesting article by New York Times Columnist David Brooks around social media. He asserts that high-tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are in danger of becoming “social pariahs” like the tobacco industry, which makes billions “peddling a destructive addiction”.

Brooks points out some criticisms of the tech giants. There are two, especially around social media, that are relevant to our boys and their situation:

  • Their negative impact on young people – “Social media promises an end to loneliness but actually produces an increase in solitude and an intense awareness of social exclusion,” he says. “Texting and other technologies give you more control over your social interactions but also lead to thinner interactions and less real engagement with the world” – less physically spending time with friends, less interaction with others, less experience with actual work.

I catch the train to Lindfield every morning and home again in the afternoon. My times are more congruent with many high school students and upper primary students who often arrive early and leave later due to sporting and extra-curricular commitments. I am constantly intrigued by the absence of interaction between these teenagers. They are glued to their phones and do not interact with others around them. We have a plethora of senior schools further along the north shore line and when groups of these students get on the train, they may sit together but even then they all have a phone out and interact online and not much in person.

  • The Attention Economy – Most tech companies make their revenue from the amount of time you spend on their site and so the structure and engineering of social media sites is designed to hold you there. “Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain,” says Brooks, “and they lace their products with ‘hijacking techniques’ that lure us in and create ‘compulsion loops’.” Examples cited from Marshall Memo are: Snapstreak that rewards friends who send Snapchat photos every day; “bottomless bowls” in news feeds with one page leading to another and another; irregularly timed rewards so people are constantly checking their devices.

This idea ties in with a very interesting podcast by Sam Harris, around what technology is doing to us and how tech companies manipulate users. The podcast interviews a former design ethicist at Google – Tristan Harris. Harris looks at the ethics of human persuasion in the online world. In the podcast, he talks about some of the data around the measures of regret. These measures look at a person’s response after spending time on different apps. It was found that the apps that achieved the highest measures of regret were the social media apps – Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. These are all apps where the revenue is based on the time users spend on the site on a regular basis. When you realise that this is the motivation for all the features of a particular site then it does change the way you feel about interacting with that site.

But there are certain core issues with social media, says Brooks: These technologies “are extremely useful for the tasks and pleasures that require shallower forms of consciousness, but they often crowd out and destroy the deeper forms of consciousness people need to thrive. Online is a place for human contact but not intimacy. Online is a place for information but not reflection… Online is a place for exploration but discourages cohesion. It grabs control of your attention and scatters it across a vast range of diverting things.” 

The Newington Headmaster, Michael Parker was fairly candid when he spoke to the parents at last week’s P & F meeting about the limited upside and considerable downside of social media proliferation in young people. His message mirrored that of Brooks, social media is a poor substitute for actual interactions, social media provides a distorted view of relationships, self-perception and values. If as reported in the Harris podcast the average smart phone user checks their phone over 150 times a day, then we need to be very careful about how our children, many of whom have smartphones, are spending their time.

As parents we are aware that our children should not be accessing the well-known social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (because these platforms require users to be 13+). But as social media platforms evolve they continue to target newer and younger audiences with their kid friendly flashy graphics and animated images – TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) and Episode Interactive are two recent examples (and these platforms require parental consent for users between the ages of 13 and 18). Episode Interactive boasts “6 billion episodes viewed … which adds up to over 83,000 years of combined viewing time! …with over 12 million registered creators and 100,000 stories.” Ultimately all social media platforms are designed with the same goal in mind: to hook kids into time on site with the idea that you need to be active on social media or you or your son is missing out.

There are short term fixes to overusing technology – for example, an App called Moment to track and control phone usage or Screen Time which is now part of the Apple iPhone, however, parental monitoring of children’s online lives is vital.  It is difficult for our boys to understand the long-term effect of being online without parents repeatedly discussing internet and phone safety with them.

“How Evil Is Tech?” by David Brooks in The New York Times, November 21, 2017,



Making Sense Podcast



Time Well Spent Foundation



David Brooks on the Scourge of Technology, Marshall Memo, Issue, 713, November 27, 2017


Ben Barrington-Higgs


Pastoral Care

Building Respectful Relationships at Home

Through our Pastoral Care Policy we focus on the total development of each student and the enhancement of the dignity of each person. We nurture success and have a commitment to forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. As teachers, we seek to motivate young people to be socially responsible and committed to building a better world through a partnership of the school community, teachers and parents. We do this under the banner of ‘RESPECT FOR ALL’ which is visible in all our learning spaces and referred to regularly when working with students on their Social Emotional Learning, their behavioural choices and their interactions with each other and adults.

Teaching, modeling and developing students who understand, value and demonstrate an appreciation and application of the concept of respectful relationships requires collaboration from all stakeholders in the life of a young person; teachers, community members, peers, parents, friends etc.

As we continue to build the important links between home and school, the following information, taken from the Kids Helpline website, is particularly useful in supporting parents. The page contains a collection of tips to support parents in developing respectful relationships.


Respect is a word that often gets used but is quite difficult to actually define. Most people would tell you they know when they are being treated respectfully, but might have trouble identifying their own disrespectful communication styles. Self-respect is commonly spoken of, but it might be surprising to learn how often people struggle to consistently achieve it for themselves.

Respect can mean treating ourselves and others with consideration, care and esteem. To show respect means to have regard for other people’s feelings and to treat them with dignity.

Parents and carers play an important role in assisting children and young people to build self-respect, and then – through the child’s personal understanding of that experience – develop the values and skills needed to express respect to others. This interactional process becomes a continuous cycle, as children with strong self-respect engage in constructive positive behaviours towards themselves and others, attracting praise and reinforcement, thus building further self-respect and further facilitating the capacity to demonstrate respect for others. Of course the counter to that occurs when a child experiences continuous disrespect, fails to build healthy self-respect, and then responds to those destructive and negative feelings by treating others in similarly disrespectful ways.

How to recognise a respectful relationship?

Respect is an important part of healthy relationships, and everyone has the right to be respected. A respectful relationship is characterised by the following:

  • people make their own choices and form their own views consistent with their age and developmental level
  • feelings of self-worth are fostered
  • people’s points of views and beliefs are valued
  • the rights of a person to be safe, valued and cared for are understood
  • people are accepted
  • people are able to disagree at times and say what they think or feel without being put down or hurt in anyway
  • people can listen and be heard
  • ‘No’ is accepted for an answer
  • a person can make mistakes and still be accepted and respected
  • it is never controlling, and encourages personal growth and fulfillment
  • it nurtures a culture of trust, honesty and happiness

As parents and carers there may be times when you find it difficult to show respect to young people – especially when a young person’s behaviour is really challenging. Remember, respect is an important ingredient in being a positive influence on the life of a young person.

Calm conversations with your kids will always be more productive.

What happens in the absence of respect in a relationship?

Respect is a key step in building strong relationships. When it is absent or lacking, conflict or relationship breakdown often occurs. Absence or lack of respect can lead to problems at an individual, family and/or community level.

What is the role of parents and carers?

Parenting experts believe that young people look to the adults around them for guidance and role modelling.[2] For example, if an adult treats a young person with consideration, they will learn from this positive experience and will be able to build respectful relationships in the future.

Young people with parents and carers who respect each other are also more likely to form happy and healthy relationships with others and themselves. Parents and carers can actively promote respectful and caring relationships by modelling behaviours in their day-to-day living where each party feels safe, valued and cared for.

Let your kids know you care and remain approachable.

How to help children and young people build respectful relationships?

It is important to note that adolescence is a crucial period for young people to learn how to develop and maintain respectful relationships with others. Building such relationships requires a range of capacities and skills. If adults develop these capacities within themselves and use them in their relationships they can become positive role models for children and young people and teach them about healthy relationships.

Following are some examples of skills and approaches that can help create respect in relationships. Please note, there may be some variation in what constitutes respectful behaviours from culture to culture. However, in any cultural context, respect is about behaviours that convey valuing and caring about another person.

Understanding and empathy

This is the ability to feel for others by trying to put ourselves in their shoes. As parents, empathy can be modelled by striving to understand a child’s point of view.

Empathic listening

This is the ability to listen and convey understanding. Parents can practice this with their children by hearing and considering their ideas or problems. They can also show interest in what their children have to say and avoid rushing in with ideas or solutions.

Anger management

Managing anger is about avoiding hurtful reactions. Some anger management skills include thinking first before speaking and using strategies to stay calm. You can model this behaviour to children by managing your own anger and assisting them with skills such as counting up to ten or taking deep breaths to help them calm down.

Taking responsibility for managing your own anger helps to avoid impulsive acts that are potentially destructive to yourself or others.

Conflict resolution

Disagreements are normal in any relationship and there are ways to respond to, minimise and resolve conflict. It is helpful to try to understand and consider the other person’s point of view. Winning an argument is not good if it makes the other person feel hurt or embarrassed. A win-win situation, where give and take on both sides is involved, is always preferred. Parents can model ways to have a difference of opinion with someone that is respectful, and how to accept ‘NO’ for an answer.

Problem solving and decision-making skills

It is easy to fall into the trap of telling young people what you think they should do. Parents can help a young person to develop their own capacities and solve their own problems by holding back on these thoughts for a time, allowing the young person to generate their own solutions. This also helps show that you value and have confidence in their abilities.

When helping your child with a problem, it can help to define the issue or concern, understand its impact and generate various options before making choices. Parents can help young people learn these skills by:

  • assisting them to name the problem
  • encouraging them to express any feelings around the problem and
  • inviting them to consider available options and their possible impact

This enables young people to effectively think through options and their impacts before making decisions.


Honesty is encouraged in relationships where there is trust and acceptance. You can encourage honesty in your children by being honest with yourself and true to your own feelings. Young people learn there is no need to lie when they are able to openly express themselves to others and feel accepted even when their choices may have been questionable. Young people will be more open to exploring constructive options with an adult when the reasoning behind their earlier choices has been listened to respectfully.


Assertiveness is about acknowledging another person’s request or need and being able to ‘own’ and speak up about your needs in a clear way. Being assertive also allows people to maintain healthy boundaries.

Learning to be assertive yourself can be a great way to encourage your children to develop this skill in their own life. If you can effectively stand up for yourself and say ‘no’ without being aggressive, you will also show your child how to stick up for themselves while still respecting others.

Assertiveness skills can assist young people to deal with a range of life experiences where they may feel pressured to do things they don’t want to do or that put them out of their comfort zone. Assertiveness skills can be helpful for many people who may be either too aggressive or too passive when feeling threatened.


Pascal Czerwenka – Deputy Head of Lindfield Campus

Faith Matters

Newington’s motto ‘In Fide Scientiam’ loosely translates from Latin into ‘To Faith Add Knowledge’ and refers to a passage in the Bible from 2 Peter 1:5-8. From the time I started at Newington this motto has always struck me as a highly enlightened choice for our founders to make some 150 years ago. Yet I think this motto is just as relevant to our 21st Century context as it was in the late 19th Century when the College was founded. It’s an inspired choice because it the highlights the importance of faith and knowledge held in tandem, and further than that it encourages an inquired faith that engages with the knowledge we have around us.

At Lindfield, I’m constantly amazed and impressed by the questions that I, as Chaplain, get asked from the boys.  I hear boys asking deep questions about the intersection between faith and life, the often-perceived tensions between religion and science and ways in which different beliefs and values might interact with each other. These boys, at their age, are often asking me deeper questions that what I was asked in a previous role as a University Chaplain. This, I feel, is what it means to live out our school motto; holding faith and religion in tandem with worldly knowledge.

In Religious Education classes and Chapel Services I seek to create a space where boys, no matter what year level, might engage with Biblical stories and traditions and where they learn about the teachings of Jesus and other Biblical figures. Often this is done through collaborative storytelling or discussion-based lessons where boys are encouraged to bring their different ideas and perspectives. My hope is that by hearing from my perspectives, but also the ideas of their classmates, the boys might develop a more deeply engaged idea of what faith looks like. 

There’s a common phrase often found in children’s and youth ministry studies which suggests “faith is caught not taught”. Now although this is a pithy and somewhat simplistic way of looking at it it’s useful in that it pushes us towards an experiential and explored understanding of faith. Faith doesn’t come through only learning facts and words, like you might a maths problem. It comes through exploring and grappling with tensions. It comes from learning and questioning.

This is what Newington’s motto points us towards, faith and knowledge explored together, and as a result that is what our Newington boys, no matter what age, are encouraged to do.

Pastor Richard La’Brooy – Chaplain


The Learner Profile

In the previous edition of PrepTalk I mentioned the learner profile being at the centre of the framework. These are the ten attributes that are the focus of the PYP as a holistic programme that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

In the subsequent issues of PrepTalk the framework will be unpacked and explained fully. In this edition will focus on that element that is the centre of the framework – the learner profile.

What is the Learner Profile?

The IB describes these ten attributes as “a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond academic success. They imply commitment to help all members of the school community to learn to respect themselves, others and the world around them.”

Each programme is committed to the development of students according to the learner profile. The learner profile provides a common language for all in the school community to use. It provides a clear and explicit statement of what is expected of students and teachers and what is expected of parents in terms of support for that learning. It can be considered a map of a lifelong journey in pursuit of international mindedness.

Throughout our involvement with the PYP we hope that all learners will be:

  • Inquirers – We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
  • Knowledgeable – We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.
  • Thinkers – We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
  • Communicators – We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
  • Principled – We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
  • Open-minded – We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.
  • Caring – We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.
  • Risk-takers – We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.
  • Balanced – We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical, and emotional – to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognise our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.
  • Reflective – We thoughtfully consider the world and our own idea and experiences. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.


Over the past several weeks Year 5 have been working towards developing their own understanding of the learner profile and how each is relevant to their lives in and away from school. Working in small groups, the students used the dramatic strategy of frozen pictures to show their interpretation of one of the leaner profiles.

On Thursdays in class we have been exploring the PYP elements with Mrs Gough. We have been learning about the Learner Profile which is made up of ten different attributes including Inquirers, Caring, Communicators, Knowledgable, Reflective and many more. The latest lesson we have had on this subject was based on the Learner Profile ‘Reflective’ we did an activity where one person jumped once and the rest of us gave them feedback then they jumped again. At the end we were then told we had just been reflective and we realised that we had.  Being reflective means that you look back and see what you have done then act on that. Charlie Cooper – Year 5W Student.

In PYP on Thursday we are learning about the 10 learner profiles inquirers, caring, open-minded, balanced, communicators, thinkers, knowledgeable, reflective, risk taker and principled.  In the past few lessons we have tried to relate books Ms Gough gave us, the next lesson we drew pictures about the Canberra trip and gave it a learner profile, a few lessons later we jumped so we could see how far we got and the learner profile for that activity was reflective because after the jump the other people in the group gave us feedback. – Kiran A – Year 5B Student.

My Grandparents

It is always a great occasion to welcome our grandparents and special friends into the classroom.  The boys absolutely love to have visitors to the classroom and show them their skills. Thank you to the Year 2 parents for organising and delivering an exceptional morning tea.

I asked the boys of Year 2 to give me one sentence about their grandparents.

Ted – My favourite thing to do with grandparents is to play board games with them. My Dad’s dad is really good (but maybe he doesn’t always listen to the rules).

Lucas – I have four grandparents, two of them live in Australia and two of them live in China. I like them because they are friendly and they love me.

Jamie – My grandparents are special and I wish that I got to see them more, but they live in England.

Sam – I like my grandparents because they are funny and they always bring me treats!

Rhys – My Grandad is very nice to me and he’s also very very funny!

Ethan – I love spending time with my grandparents because they are fun and funny!

Hamish – I think my grandpa is really funny because he always gives me playful headlocks when I come to his house.

Alex – I love my grandparents because they spend time with me watching the Adelaide Crows win.

Taichi – My grandparents are funny and buy me new things like my baseball glove.

Christian H – My favourite thing to do with my grandparents is have fun doing everything we can!

Corbin – My grandparents are really great because they do lots of kind things for me.

Christian – My grandparents are really kind because they give me treats!

Jake – My grandparents are great because they help me with stuff I am stuck in.

Oliver – My grandparents are special family members who help my mum look after my brothers and they take me to my soccer training.

Jonathon – My grandparents are really great because they play board games with me.

Jackson – My grandparents are very adventurous because they go on cruises all the time!

Carol Peterson – Year 2 Teacher

Years 5 and 6 – Canberra Excursion

Canberra Excursion

It was with great excitement that our Stage 3 boys participated in their three day excursion to Canberra earlier this term where they explored and discovered our National Capital. They were inquiring into various aspects of the Parliamentary System as a tuning-in activity for their unit of inquiry on How We Organise Ourselves. To give some practical understanding of this system, the excursion also involved a visit to Parliament House.

This learning experience served as a great provocation for their first unit of inquiry of the year. When visiting Canberra the boys were able to reflect on how different cultures are represented and appreciated. They also reflected on the importance of being an open-minded learner to gain greater understanding and respect for the many cultures that exist in our country and the world!

Further opportunities to supplement our curriculum were provided with sessions at The Electoral Education Centre, The CSIRO Discovery Tour, Questacon, The War Memorial, The Royal Australian Mint, The Australian Institute of Sport and a leisurely drive by the Embassies and the Lodge.

The Australian Government recognises the importance of all young Australians being able to visit their National Capital as part of their civics and citizenship education. To assist parents in meeting the cost of this excursion the Australian Government contributed funding of $20 per eligible student under the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) programme toward the travel expenses incurred. This contribution was paid directly to the school upon completion of the excursion.


Pascal Czerwenka, Phil Trethewey, David Musgrove and Sam Watson – Stage 3 Teachers

Kids Giving Back – Year 6

“To those whom much is given, much is expected.” Robert Frost.

The current Year 6 cohort of boys spent a lot of time last year considering how they could be of service to others. We used the quote above to encourage them to be grateful for what they have, but also to think about how they could make a difference to the lives of others. They had a fantastic 2018 helping at Cromehurst School, aiding children with physical and intellectual difficulties, which I believe gave the boys a greater sense of worth based upon their reflections at the end of last year.

Last week, those same boys, who are now in Year 6, spent some time at Kids Giving Back, an organisation that works with others to feed and clothe people who need a helping hand. Throughout the course of the day the boys prepared approximately 50 fresh meals for a local homeless shelter. They also worked collaboratively to sort approximately 4500 items of clothing, many intended for an asylum seeker centre in Sydney’s West. The experience proved to be a powerful one for the boys, and they summarised what the day meant through a quote. Here are a selection of their responses:

Sam C – Even though people may have lost their dignity, there is always hope that they will get it back.

Angus – One weight tips the scales towards restoring people’s dignity.

Felix L – After we finished I was very satisfied because we fed many people and gave people clean fresh clothes. 

William E – By helping others, it can make people’s day but it also makes your day.

Jake – Even the slightest thing can make the biggest difference.

Jack I – The impact you make is the impression you leave.

Aidan C – It’s amazing that one person can give someone a chance at a new life and know that people notice and care for them.


I believe that it is important to remember that sometimes we all need a little help getting back on our feet again, and the boys spent the day helping people less fortunate than themselves to have a sense of dignity again. Thank you to the Year 6 boys for their effort and contribution.

Sam Watson – Year 6 Teacher


The sporting year is well and truly underway with Lindfield boys representing Newington in swimming, basketball, cricket, touch football and AFL already in 2019.


Swimming has been a school wide focus over the first 6 weeks. NewSport have introduced the Learn to Swim Program at Lindfield on Saturday mornings, available to all students and the K-2 boys are benefitting from this program during their PE Lessons. In the space of just a few weeks I have seen many gains by our younger students. It is great to have a school wide program in line with Wyvern and Stanmore.

The older boys have also been in the water with more of a focus on preparing for the swimming carnival before leaning towards swimming for fitness. The swimming carnival was a great day with all of the primary boys hitting the water at least 3 times. It was a great community event which could not have run without the assistance of many parents who timed races. Following our carnival, 11 boys went on to compete at the IPSHA Carnival – Aiden Ng, Oliver Fisher, Dylan Henry, Hugh Jones, Lachlann Mosely, Kiran Ayer, Tom Fuzes, Harry Keeping, Jesse Omozusi, Connor Mosely and Oliver Senior. Many of these boys swam PB’s on the day and came home with place ribbons from their heats.

Saturday Sport

The summer season wraps up this weekend after a brilliant start to the year. All coaches have commented on how much the boys have improved in such a short time and every team has had at least one victory to show for their efforts with the Senior B’s Touch team undefeated.

Paul Kelly Cup

This week 2 teams represented Lindfield at the Paul Kelly Cup. Both the A’s and the B’s won two games and lost one placing second in both of their respective pools. For many of the boys this was their first experience of AFL, and despite the rain it was an enjoyable day for all. Four of the boys trialled for the CIS AFL team, while they weren’t selected this year, they were strong team leaders in yesterday’s carnival.

The winter season officially commences next week with Football and Rugby Tournaments before trials begin for the IPSHA Season.


Eliza Monaghan – Sports Co-ordinator

Years 2 & 3 See ‘Billionaire Boy’

This term the boys in Year 2 and Year 3 had the opportunity to visit ‘The Riverside Theatre’, Parramatta to see the musical production of ‘Billionaire Boy’ (based on David Walliams novel). It was with great excitement the boys boarded the bus. On the bus one of the boys mentioned he had never been to the theatre before, he had only been to his sister’s dance concert. During the production the boys were truly enthralled. The costumes, scenery, song and dance routines kept the boys entertained from beginning to end.

On the bus ride home I asked a few boys on what they enjoyed the most about the production and what they would do with a billion dollars, their responses varied greatly:

‘My favourite part of Billionaire Boy was when he kept throwing out money. If I had a billion dollars I would buy a farm because I really enjoy the bush.’ Anthony

‘If I had a billion dollars, I would put half of it into charities, like animal charities and then I don’t know what I would do with the other half’. Oliver C

‘If I had a billion dollars, I would buy all the things I couldn’t afford like diamonds, a palace, and jewelry. But I don’t think it would make me happy.’ Jordan

‘My favourite part was when the boys were running in the cross country race. If I had a billion dollars, I would buy a house.’ Jonathan

‘My favourite part was seeing Raj, because he is a character in all of David Walliams books. If I had a billion dollars I would see if I could buy the Australian cricket team.’ Alex

‘My favourite part was when Joe Spud had a real friend in the end. If I had a billion dollars I would buy three million books and then I would read them and then I would play every sport in the world.’ Christian F


The boys are never disappointed when they pick up a David Walliams novel and this special theatre experience has cemented their love for this author.


Kylie Bain – Art Teacher/Librarian








Reading …

To Read or Not to Read—Supporting Reading at Home

Books have always provided an escape for the reader, time to explore another world of characters or broaden knowledge and understanding on a topic. The range of books, texts and stories available to us are never ending and it is up to us to find the one that will hook us and make us want to keep reading. As parents, teachers and models to the boys at Newington we can create a base where the boys want to read. Not read because they have to but read for the pure pleasure of doing so.

During the school day the boys have time for uninterrupted reading: any genre, text type or story line they choose! And wow do we have some interesting choices. Ranging from the wild heroics of Captain Underpants, to the dark and twisted tales written by Stephen King and even the biological findings of David Attenborough, our boys show their love for reading. There is always the space to develop this love further, so the boys continue to be avid readers in constant search of knowledge and meaning.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests a statistically significant fall in reading for pleasure in six-year period from 2006-2012. The highest fall is in ages 12-14. We have the ability to encourage the boys reading while they are still in primary school so that they want to read for pleasure, not just at school but at home and in other settings.

Allowing time at home for the boys to engage in voluntary reading time, of a text of their choice, has been found to have a positive effect on comprehension, vocabulary, writing and spelling. Not only do these improve, but voluntary reading time for students at school and at home improves:

  • Quality of reading
  • General knowledge
  • Understanding of the English language and its grammatical features
  • Overall thinking and analysing ability
  • Comprehension of discipline-specific texts

Successful reading is more than just ‘read aloud’ fluency and performance.  Providing a child with a secure, safe and comfortable environment for them to read to themselves, read to an adult, or listen to someone reading promotes confidence, modelling and a shared love for reading, even if it is just for 10 minutes a day.

Some ways you can help facilitate successful reading at home are as follows:

Asking questions to promote communication:

What do you think?

What would you do?

What do you think will happen next?

What do you know about…?

Why do you think that happened?

Sharing a book, taking the time to read it together each day whether it be a picture or chapter book.

Have quality books easily accessible and available.

Combine languages, reading and play to extend vocabulary in all languages.

Encourage children to read a text that they enjoy. Whether a comic book, picture book, graphic novel or chapter book it is still a starting place and can be developed as a child’s love for reading deepens.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

Elissa Julian – Learning Enhancement Intern