This Week's Message from the Primary Division

Recently students in Years 4 to 6 participated in a digital literacy survey. The data captured from this survey will help the school in its information and communication technology planning. One area of interest was the use of mobile smart phones. The data indicates that over 60% of students in Year 4 to 6 have their own mobile phone and are using them in a very connected way. Over 50% of students who own a smart phone use them to connect to the internet regularly whereas only 26% of students indicated that they use their phone regularly to make phone calls. Students are also using their phones to access facebook, Instagram, listen to music or to take photos/videos. It is important for parents to monitor the use of mobile phones. Regularly check your child’s mobile phone and discuss the different applications that your child may be using. Please also check that appropriate privacy settings are activated and view the history of internet searches. These simple tasks will help you to monitor the safety of your child’s mobile phone use.

The survey also showed that 69% of students use their phone to access social media websites/applications. Some of the social media applications being used include: Facebook, Instragram, WeChat, Whatsapp, Snap Chat and Twitter. Please understand that these social media applications have minimum age restrictions placed on them. Please make yourself aware of these age restrictions and together as a family make decisions about the use of these applications. Just because our students/children seem tech-savvy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their brains are developing at the same rate as their digital acumen. Research shows that it takes children about 12 years to fully develop the cognitive structures that enable them to engage in ethical thinking and, before 12 years of age, it is difficult for a child to fully grasp the impact of their actions upon others online. Yet, as our survey indicates, young children are increasingly joining social networking sites, sometimes even putting themselves in harm’s way by becoming victims of online harassment and cyber-bullying before they are ready to respond appropriately. At school this year we have also been completing a digital license to help student understand and learn about their digital footprint and other cyber safety related issues.

What is the Digital Licence?

The Digital Licence comprises eight key digital topics, which combine learning resources and interactive quizzes to evaluate comprehension and knowledge around cyber safety. The learning modules are: Digital Devices, Protecting Privacy, Searching & Researching, Creating & Sharing, Social Networking & Gaming, Communicating Safely Online, Friends & Strangers, and Managing Money & Online Credits. The eight key topics can be retaken multiple times, for fun and for learning. When all eight topics are successfully completed, users will receive an eSmart Digital Licence – in recognition of being equipped with the necessary skills required to embrace and safely explore the wonderful world of online technology.

David Shirley | Assistant Principal, Primary

What school work should my child do over the term break?

As the parents of blossoming young children, there is no one who knows them better. You know how to make them smile, what their favourite hobby or food is and even who their best friends are. As such, there is no one more qualified to guide and support them as they continue to make meaning of the world in which they live. As a parent of 3 young people, I try to make sure that most decisions I make in relation to them are founded on good common sense, however, I don’t always get it right. As a lifelong learner, I continue to search for information which relates to my life situation and enables me to reflect or make changes which make me a better person as well as benefitting my children. One of the many sources I use are the TED Talks. Each talk presents a story, which may or may not be relevant to each of us. However, the great thing about them is that we can take the message or leave it based on its relevance to us and our lives. Having lived in Hong Kong for 9 years I, like most of us, reflect on the guidance I give my children and the path we are moving down. Below is a link to a TED Talk I recently watched. It wasn’t mind-blowing or awesome and it wasn’t even fully aligned with my opinions. However, it was thought provoking and as such, worth sharing. Please click here to view the talk.

Back to the topic of today’s article. I often get asked the question outlined above. Just like the TED Talks, (and most of my Dhanara articles) there are varying degrees of relevance to us all. My number one is to make sure your child spends time reading and doing it regularly throughout the break. What they are reading is not as important, as long as it is developmentally and ethically appropriate, it’s a good habit to maintain. It might be a picture book, novel, graphic novel, comic, football record, newspaper or something else aligned with an area of interest. Once you have them reading regularly, ask them about it every now and again, this helps them process what they have read.

The next priority is to find real life opportunities to practice the skills they learn at school and at home. Some examples might include:

  • Shopping, have your child give the money to the attendant and calculate and check the change. It might just be when buying an ice cream.
  • Take them to a historical or cultural environment, whether it be a museum, art gallery or science lab. If it isn’t their cup of tea, link it with something else they might like to do, i.e. a trip to a favourite food shop
  • Have them plan a family trip. It could be going to the movies, but they have to plan how to get there, what to take, what time they will need to leave home and how much it will cost.
  • Organise play dates with friends. This is where they learn the life skills of communication, cooperation, negotiation, empathy, resilience etc.
  • Give them opportunities to converse with adults, so that when they encounter it, it isn’t a foreign experience and they can build on their social interaction skills
  • Give them time to relax. They have had a busy term and their minds and bodies need to regenerate. A holiday away sounds like a great idea and usually, it is. However, how often have you returned from a holiday, feeling like you need a holiday to get over the holiday.

These are just a few suggestions. As previously stated, you are the best judge of what is best for your child. To conclude, my final thought is related to BALANCE. Make sure that this is the focus. A healthy balance of screen time with physical activity, family time, sleep and rest, structured and unstructured, planned and unplanned activities. Stay safe over the term break.

Cameron Reed | Dean of Studies, Primary