There is often a bit of friendly rivalry between primary school parents when their sons and daughters head off to secondary school. The mother of a friend of my son texted me the other day confirming that her son could go to the football with my Sam; but only as a reward after her son had done some exam revision. I could not resist the temptation to text back that my Sam could go too; but only after he arrived home from his Carey Community Service commitment. I felt that a Saturday afternoon spent helping in the community was so much more ‘age and stage’ appropriate for a Middle School student than hours swatting for a Geography exam.
Over the years, Sam and his elder brother have made quite a contribution to a kindergarten in Eltham. They have washed furniture, entertained children, run the face painting stall at the fair, erected raised bed vegetable gardens, and packed up after garage sales. Other Year 8 Carey students complete their community service with local primary schools or nursing homes, or link in with bigger events such as the 40 Hour Famine, the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, and the Melbourne Marathon.
This semester, Year 7 students have been provided opportunities to visit St Hilary’s Church in Kew, where they assisted with organising bags, pamphlets, maps and instructions for the Annual Hope for Boroondara Food Drive. The food drive organisers are exceptionally grateful as the Year 7s reduced several days of organising into just a few hours. Year 9 C-Change students have also begun work on their community projects. When I visited classrooms the other day, one group of students were enthusiastically telling me of the website they are creating where you can access recipes to replace products that contain palm oil, while another group was involved in sourcing books for children in Africa. When you listen to these Year 9s talk, you realise that they are becoming the wise, independent and motivated learners that are at the heart of the Carey model for positive learning.
Whether the organisation is big or small, I am certain that they are very grateful for the efforts of the Carey students. Interestingly, they probably forget to stop to reflect on the very positive emotions that emerge in the student as they complete their community service. Sam came home very pleased with himself and his efforts at the kindergarten, and I am sure that you have noticed a similar buzz in your child. According to Professor Lea Waters, the process of GIVING to others is one of the little moments in life that accumulate and lead to our enduring happiness. Each small experience in which we get pleasure BUILDS our happiness bank account. Her strong message is to encourage us all to do the small things for ourselves and also do the small things for others. The benefits of the Carey Community Service commitment are wide spread. If your son or daughter has not yet completed this requirement, please encourage them to engage in this valuable program. Students should then upload, to the Assessment Dropbox, evidence (photos, video, letter, etc.) of their activity and will then receive positive feedback from their CARE teacher.
Of course, academic pursuits are extremely important and as the semester draws to a close, our Middle School students are very busy completing assessments in a variety of subjects. In the next two weeks we will see subject-based tests, projects submitted through the Assessment Dropbox, and oral presentations being delivered in class. It is always a time of high tension both at home and at school, and some students will need our support to meet deadlines. Teachers are aware of the number of assessments that are due and will provide appropriate revision activities and scaffold larger tasks. House mentors can provide assistance with organisation and study time. Parents can also help with time management and provide a quiet place to study.
Ultimately it is up to the students to accept that there will always be times of peak demand, that this is part of their learning journey and that it forms a very important part of their future exam preparations. They may need to spend less time on social media, turn off MasterChef and maybe even say no to a movie with friends. Our Year 7 solo starters seemed to know what to do when Michael Nelson asked them recently at a catch up. They suggested that they should keep building their friendship group, plan their time carefully, remember that there are people in House and Student Services that can help, and to go to bed early. Pretty impressive advice. I am so glad that they also found time to enjoy the Year 7 Disco last Saturday night! As the days get colder and shorter, our emphasis on positive learning should help your son and daughter thrive. Please let me know if I can help them in anyway.
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Learning