Tuesday, August 19, 2014


When I was a girl at school in Australia we had school mottos. As a five year old we learnt and then would say the motto, "In knowledge we grow", in the weekly school assembly. At high school the school emblem displaying our motto, "Truth. Unity. Concord.". It was plastered over everything from school take-home notes, stamped on texted books,to adorning the exterior of buildings. 
It is probably still the same today in schools, but do schools actually have a motto nowadays that is known by their pupils? And does that motto affect the school's operations, the strategy of teachers and attitudes towards students, as they work towards making them ready to enter adult life?
"The logo is both a symbol and an introduction to the school; it tells a story about the school and reveals some of the significant values espoused by the school's community." Alfriston College.
For many schools the school motto is mixed into the Vision, Mission Statement or Purpose documents of the school.
In Judi Stell's article, "Making a Motto Meaningful in the Modern World", she says, "we regularly ask: “What is the purpose of a school motto and how can it guide our school today?”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a motto as “a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals on an individual, family or institution”.
John Paul College include their school motto in their school crest. "Our College crest represents the values and ideals which our community upholds and which all students are encouraged to follow." As to if they are referring to the school community or wider community,it is not clear.
Elmer W, a retired school principal and author writes in an article titled, "Does your school have a motto or creed that you are committed to follow? How do you use it? What about a family motto or creed?", "I used the following school motto for many years and in many schools, as a very effective tool in communicating to children, parents, and the community that we care. At the beginning of the year, the motto, “At (Name of School) every child is important. We care about kids!” was displayed on a large bulletin board by the office. It was printed at the bottom of practically every newsletter throughout the school year. As a spin-off activity, a poster was placed on the door of every classroom with the following words and signed by the teacher, “In this classroom every child is important. I care about kids!” One way to communicate that we care is to keep saying it over and over, and the school motto is a good tool to use in doing so. Of course, we also must show that we care in as many ways as possible for the words are empty and meaningless without the substance; it is however, very important to keep saying it over and over." Elmer then closed throwing our a challenge to parents to consider a family motto that could be said together each day, and then asks if that would affect things at home.  
I have been wondering about the effects of mottos on their schools, as I drive past and read the mottos that are there on their gates. It has made me wonder what are they saying to the community about themselves?
Here is a little research of 25 school mottos around Auckland, along with the year they were founded. It's interesting to see a shift over the last 150 years, in what the founders held dear and wanted to aim their students towards.  
“Let me be of service to others” 1877
“The difficulty through the narrow” 1888–used by many other schools for the next 40 years.
“Be strong” 1903
“By love, serve” 1915
“To love, to serve” 1939
“Faith is to be saved” 1953
“A mind aware of right” 1953
“In bravery” 1955
“Look around, take everything into account” 1956
“Loyalty and courage” 1959
“The sky is open” 1960
“Worthy to hand on the torch” 1960
“Let courage be thy test” 1961
“Charity fulfills the law” 1962
“To wisdom with honour” 1963
“Character opens the way to the heavens” 1964
“Exert effort” 1968
“Innovative. Individualised. Connected.” 1970
“Building Greatness” 1972  
“Where everybody is somebody” 1972
“Equipping Individuals for lifelong learning” 1974
“Virtue mine honour” 1980
“Proud of who we are, what we know and what we can achieve” 1991  
“Faith is our compass” 2004
“Celebrate diversity” 2005
“Nurture each other, Inspire each other, Empower each other” 2010
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Does your child's school have a school motto?  Does your child know it or understand what it means? Do you agree with it? If not, maybe you can create a better one and suggest the school rethink the old one.


Friday, June 27, 2014


                              Illustration : John Spooner

How over-sharenting can harm your kids

Joanne Orlando June 25, 2014  the age.com.au
"Are you over-sharenting? That is, sharing too much information about your kids online? Children have a fundamental right to privacy, but the choices adults are making with technology, especially social media, is challenging that right.
A US study has found two-thirds of parents posted pictures of their children online, raising important questions about potential violations of privacy, especially considering this material could potentially be mined by future employers and other authorities in decades to come. How can a parent have an honest discussion with children about the inappropriateness of sharing information online, when they have been posting intimate details online about them their entire lives? While your children may be offended if they are left out of stories you share with loved ones online, there are still questions around the level of personal detail in the funny photos and anecdotes being shared.
A new trend is the growing selection of footage online from parents who have attached a GoPro (a personal camera often used for action video) to a toddler’s helmet so that they can see what life is like from their child’s point of view. This techno-documentation of infant lives is now extending beyond social media and making its mark as a tool to measure intellectual growth. I recently researched an early childhood centre that attaches a GoPro to children to record what the child does and so evaluate their development.
Sure the desire to understand a child more fully is understandable, however recording the movements of toddlers and babies raises particularly significant issues as they are not in a position to give consent. A similar act of placing a camera atop of an adult’s head without their permission would be rightly considered a massive invasion of privacy. So how is monitoring a baby in this way any different from Robin Williams' sci-fi movie The Final Cut, where, without consent, implants are placed in the characters’ brains and their lives are recorded?
The trend for improved techno-documentation of children is making gains on a large scale. With the increasing obsession for collecting information, data mining and data sharing of information is really threatening children’s right to privacy.
In the USA, the Obama administration has recently supported a new initiative aimed at tracking children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers. The databases are being built in nearly every state at a total cost of well over $1 billion. They are intended to store intimate details on tens of millions of children and young adults — identified by name, birth date, address and even, in some cases, social security number. Data will be collected in response to hundreds of questions: Did the child made friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he she graduate from college and how much does she earn? The database is being promoted with the intention of helping officials pinpoint the education system’s strengths and weaknesses and craft public policy accordingly.
While there is an important place for data-driven policies that support children, there are also serious ethical implications regarding such a massive data mining operation. "Did he/she make friends in Year 2?" is not something you as a parent want dragging around decades later, and nor would your child. We've already had laws passed banning the use of DNA for excluding people — now we should be interrogating whether our digital DNA will run into the same abuses. It has now accumulated to a point where we should start calling our online data "eDNA" as a point of comparison. While we expect this data to be secure, we are increasingly confronted with more evidence of the lack of security of information stored online. 
What may be driving this desire to techno-document every aspect of children’s lives is that we have the technology to do it. However the capability of technology requires us all to be responsible and make informed decisions about what information we collect and make available, and the possible consequences to the rights of children.
We have come to accept the information gathering obsessiveness that defines this era, while recognising that this is the first generation of children who may grow up without anonymity. Techno-documenting children’s lives from cradle to grave on their behalf raises important issues regarding privacy, and is a crucial issue of respect for children. They are not there for us to run social experiments. They are just as important as adults, and we should respect their privacy, regardless of the latest technology we would like to try out."
Dr Joanne Orlando is a researcher in technology and learning at the University of Western Sydney
I am putting other things ahead of regularly write my blog at the moment.  I was sent this article and would love to know other people's opinions on it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014




".... the muscles and joints of the" gymnast, "the vocal organs of the singer, the finger-ends of the watchmaker, the palate of the tea taster, grow to the uses they are steadily put to; and, much more, both in the case of the brain and all other organs, grow to the uses they are earliest put to." Charlotte Mason: Parents and Children. p. 90.
Many people of all ages, personalities, cultures, intelligence and philosophies, see life as dreary. Actually everyone suffers with this attitude in some measure at some time.The regular routines and predictability of life seems to trigger this condition of heaviness, dullness and lack-lustre mindset.
Charlotte Mason says there is. "It rests with parents to see that the dreariness of a motiveless life does not settle...on any...of their children." p.81. She then gives a method ~
1. Parents have the responsibility to do something about the situation to bring change to the child.
2. Find the abilities, talents or gifts natural to the child. For example - 
they may be a great listener 
have a sense of humour 
be a quick worker 
a fantastic cook 
good at games 
an organiser 
have a warm personality 
a fine sportsperson 
clever with crafts 
make people feel comfortable...
3. Show the child how to cultivate one of their skills so it is of use to others not only for themselves. For example - 
a musician can regularly play to bring enjoyment to others 
a child who is good with games can set up a weekly game with an elderly relative or lonely neighbour 
a child leader or organiser can get involved in a community child program or buddy coach in a sport....
4. A feeling of well-being, satisfaction from being helpful and contributing to others, is a rich benefit when we choose to live to be of use. "... the child into whose notion of life that idea is fitted will not grow up to find time heavy on his hands." p. 81.
As with all habits, a child needs to practice being of use to others, seeing their abilities as things to benefit others, for a time period. The longer that period the firmer the new habit will be in place, as the quote at the start of this post truthfully states. Charlotte Mason cites 20 or more practice times or a month of purposeful working to establish the new habit without allowing any regression to the old. 
If there is a return to feeling bored, the established practice of being of use to others, blocks and makes it hard for the child to return to their old habits. However if the child struggles at this point, they will only need a little parent's assistance to once again stop focusing on self and instead be of use to others.
"The fair conclusion appears to be that each is greatly the cause of the other; that the character of the persistent thoughts actually shapes the cerebrum, while on the configuration of this organ depends in turn the manner of thoughts we think." p. 88.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ take up this great encouragement to step in and help your child to move out of boredom and other motiveless life habits. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The forming or fashioning "of a child's brain depends on the habits which the parents permit or encourage;... the habits of the child produce the character of" a person, "because certain mental" habits "once set up," will "go on for ever unless they should be displaced by other habits. ... Ever day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend."  HOME EDUCATION : CHARLOTTE MASON. p 118.
Are there certain character traits that you hope your children will have locked in their nature once they become adults? These may not be evident in their life now, but like many parents, we hope somehow they will be picked up and established by the time they leave home!!
The Oxford Dictionary says, "A person's qualities, reputation, good repute, personal appearance, collective peculiarities, nature, style, the distinctive mental or moral qualities of an individual..."
Charlotte Mason has written extensively on the subject of Character, saying that each child has a particular, unique nature. They have tendencies and dispositions which make some character traits automatic, while others are foreign and therefore difficult to adopt and lock into one's developing Character. 
Charlotte says that parents make the greatest contribution towards how their children develop in their character and in how they 'turn out' in the end. 
The easiest place to start working on anything is at the beginning, when our children are very little, but regardless of age you can still begin work on their character now. It is never too late.
I completely agree that, "the habits of the child produce the character of the" person. It is our responsibility to recognise, "permit or encourage" the habits of our children.
If it is important to you that your child be honest, or hardworking, an independent thinker, reliable, a listener, humorous, a reader, articulate, tidy, perceptive, helpful, even tempered, compassionate, punctual, friendly, forthright, polite, motivated, a forward thinker, an inspirer, observant....., you have a role in building this into their Character. 
Every day you see your child practicing good, acceptable and not acceptable habits. These will continue to be practiced year after year and form their character, unless they are "displaced by other habits."
How do you change the habits a child practices?
 # "A baby falls, gets a bad bump, and cries piteously." An experienced mother doesn't make matters worse by talking about what's happened or lavish emotional 'sorries', 'it must have hurt', 'poor little busby'... Instead she "hastens to change their thoughts", by taking the baby to the window to watch the trees blowing, gives them their favourite toy, shows them through a picture book...., diverting the child's attention and gradually "the child pulls themselves up in the middle of a sob, though they are really badly hurt." This is exactly how an adult's will works in the many daily situations of life. "It is by force of will that a person can change their thoughts, transfer their attention from subject to another. ... this is enough to save... and to make" a person of character, "this power of making themselves think only of those things which they have beforehand decided that is good to think on." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 324.
What is happening here is that the baby or child is learning a self-compelling power, that they have a say in controlling how they react, what they will do and think.
Habits form Character.
# "Her thoughts are wandering" on to unhelpful things, "to the hindrance of her work; she pulls herself up, and deliberately fixes her attention on those incentives which have most power to make her work, the leisure and pleasure which follow" after hard work is completed, the responsibility that she has to "fulfil this task. Her thoughts run in the groove she wills them to run in, and work is no longer an effort." Home Education " Charlotte Mason. p 324.
Habits form Character.
Children can be taught this simple practice.
"Are you cross? Change your thoughts.
Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts.
Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts.
There is a power within you, your own will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right. And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields - he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 326.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Do you believe that as a parent you can contribute to changes in the habits of your child? Does all this seem daunting or does it ring true? More to come.

Friday, May 16, 2014


                                    Mom Thinking xhorni.com
This Qu is asked by every mother at least once in their lifetime, but it may be asked even more today as there are so many different ways people parent and it’s easy to find yourself lost in the sea of indecision.  To learn how to parent it’s a good habit to watch how other families live. The routines and difficulties are often similar but other families can live out different ways to handle them. Some examples will be encouraging and give you ideas to think about trying in your family.
All the ideas and quotes in this post come from Anne Ortlund's book Disciplines of the Home.
Every area of parenting whether it is how to discipline your child, how you get them to eat well, tidy up their mess, not answer back, or do the pooh in the toilet… starts at the same point – it begins with YOU.
1.   Anne Ortlund says, “The parenting thing isn’t so much ‘Do what I say’ as it is ‘Be what I am’ and ‘Do what I do’. Like it or not, what you are and do will speak so loudly they can’t hear what you say. They will become like you. Scary, isn’t it!” p 279.

I think this is fairly clear – we can have all the right rules and say all the right things, but in the end kids learn far more from who their parents are and what they do.
Then Anne goes on to give her first principle of what successful parenting means – BECOMING WHAT YOU SHOULD BE”
Whether there is one parent or two, Anne Ortlund says, become what you should be. “Give your children not only rules for living but your own lives as well...” p 280. They need to see what you are telling them to do and be like in action, right there in your life!
We can become mesmerized by all the wrong things our children are doing and worry if we are parenting in the right way BUT the key is to start with ourselves “becoming what you should be”. 
Off the top of your head, what does “becoming what you should be”, translate into for you right now, given the current situations at home in your family? How are you doing personally in these areas?
your temper
your anger
genuinely listening to family members
being tidy
being organised
getting to bed at a reasonable time
getting up at a reasonable time
sharing your possessions
eating a balanced/sensible diet
eating with the family at a table...
Anne’s second principle of what successful parenting means – STAYING CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE CHILD FOR IT TO RUB OFF”
She suggests we follow three points from Dr John Perkins who worked with troubled inner city families. These three points show how we are to relate to our children – being close enough to them so the good things rub off on them.
Perkins says, “There are three basic human needs, and all three ought to be met in the home." 
     A. Every human needs to be loved, to feel he belongs.”p 271. We must say it over and over, day after day, even when our child seems most obnoxious, you still need to be saying in a million way – I LOVE YOU.  “They must learn that your love for them isn’t based on their works and that your acceptance of them isn’t conditioned on their behavior.” p271.
 B.  “Every human needs his own space, a place which is no one else’s, and a sense of assurance that nobody’s going to take it away.” p 271. This is about letting your child develop their ‘territory’ – a room, their shelf, their garden… somewhere they can claim as their own.
C.  “Every human needs to be affirmed, to be considered significant.” 
p 271. You’re actually aiming at communicating, “I’m aware of you, and 
I like you..."
“To feel loved, to belong, to have a place, and to hear one’s dignity
and worth often affirmed – these are to the soul what food is to the
body. And as you provide these for your youngster, you’re confirming 
their dignity, their worth, and their projected place of value in 
tomorrow's world.” p272.
“These basic needs cannot be fulfilled by many of the parents today who divorce, work, travel, or who simply are too busy or too distracted – at the children’s lifestage when they’re most impressionable, fragile, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, the substitutes for meeting these three needs are everywhere: alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex. So misery abounds, abortions multiply, and prisons overflow.
However you can manage it, be there! Be available in your home for all the children-years. And deliberately seek to meet these three basic needs, by words and actions, as fully as you can.
But you’re saying, ’Look, I have to face the practical realities of living in this world. This seems too drastic to be taken totally seriously!’” p 273.
We just read that these are three basic human needs and they ought to be met in the home. “The kids…must hear loud and clear how loved and wanted they are in this world! What more powerful way can they learn this than for you to be saying by your very presence, ‘You’re wanted. I’m here for you. I like to be with you. I enjoy you. I delight in you! I’m available.’” p 273
“Every family experience determines a child’s adult character, the inner picture he’ll harbor of himself, how he sees others and feels about them, his concept of right and wrong, his capacity to establish warm, sustained relationships necessary to have a family of his own, his attitude toward authority and toward the Ultimate Authority in his life, and the way he attempts to make sense out of his existence. No human interaction has greater influence on his life than his family experience.” p 274 – Armand M Nicholi II, “The Fractured Family”. Christianity Today. May 25 1979.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS - Take time to think through Anne's two point on what successful parenting means. Pick up some ideas from families that function successfully as you watch other families live.