The Deeper Learning Initiative

We know that the skills your child will require to thrive in future job markets go beyond just excelling academically and that our education focus needs to strategically build competencies in the following areas:

Our future industries need creative thinkers…the next Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison or more recently Elon Musk or Lori Greiner.  Interestingly, research tells us that our youngest students should be our most creative. Adults have a habit of squashing creativity with our blunt need to give the facts and “educate” our children. At St Columba, we are aspiring to continue the magic of allowing students to think outside the box. It is something we celebrate and encourage. Therefore we ask over the next few months that you reduce the structure in your child’s lives and allow boredom to take over. Only when we are truly bored are we able to escape from the everyday regimes and allow our imagination to take control. When left unchecked, this is where they can build cubby houses from sheets, design intricate castles at the beach or maybe even imagine things not yet known to the rest of us. Embrace those moments as sheer brilliance rather than moments of madness.

“Critical thinking skills…one of the key entrepreneurial skills where one can analyse, synthesise, evaluate, reflect and problem solve.

Most young children are trusting of many, especially if they hear it on television or social media. Yet as adults we have learnt the important skill of analysis, checking reliability and authenticity. In our very young students who are so very curious, we begin encouraging them to make connections between different parts of information they hear, reflecting on what it means to them. We expose them to a variety of opinions, often different from their own. I imagine many of your children already have strong opinions but over the next few months, I encourage you to begin challenging their thoughts or pose questions such as how do you know? How do you know that is correct? Have you heard anything like that before? By doing this you will plant the seed of doubt and with that comes deeper thinking.

Communication is the way of expressing our needs, wants, frustrations and dreams. Through your child’s time at St Columba, they will learn effective and appropriate ways to communicate with different audiences. As you prepare your child for school, ask yourself is your child able to communicate clearly to others? Are they understood by those less familiar with them and will they even communicate with unfamiliar people or are they shy? Do they understand the inferences of language that we just assume are understood? Finally, are they aware of the need to communicate differently to different people? This is something young children learn very early on in life—who will pander to their dramatic outbursts and who they are wasted on. We will have a speech therapist running a session that will elaborate further on this in the coming weeks. Over the coming months, we ask you to encourage your child to talk to many different people and to avoid doing the talking for them. We also ask that you follow the advice of Mem Fox and read three books per night—one chosen by your child, one in line with a personal interest for them and one that is different and exposes them to something less familiar. Reading not only expands your child’s vocabulary but teaches them the social intricacies of the English language.

This refers to developing the skills of self-awareness and self-reflection that allow your child to learn deeply and continue being a lifelong learner. This is about developing independence, tenacity, perseverance, resilience (or grit as many refer to it). As your child prepares for Kindergarten, ask yourself are they ready? Do they show an interest in learning? Do they persist when things don’t come easily or do they give up? This is something we will determine as we get to know your child. These are also the skills we will build. Be prepared that through your child’s schooling they will struggle at some things. We hope they struggle often as it is the moments of struggle where our character develops the greatest. Over the next three months allow your child to struggle and experience frustration. Avoid rushing in to help.

The future requires people working in teams, sharing ideas, brainstorming together and to do this they need to be great collaborators. This is a highly valued skill in adults that begins in the youngest children through play. Our playgrounds require good collaborators yet we have learnt that sometimes our young students are not ready and so we give great focus in the early time at school to developing these skills. Sadly our busy lives and quest for safety means less time is given to unstructured social interactions in young children. Playdates are organised where parents step in at the first sign of harmony being lost. Recreational activities involve lining up and following sequences but little time is left for students actually interacting with one another. Have you ever sat back and watched how your child interacts with other children of a similar age? Do they watch but play alone? Do they copy or follow others? Do they want their own way and not cope when others do not oblige or do they boss? Do they prefer playing with one friend or lots at one time? Spend time over the coming months watching how your child interacts. Avoid jumping straight in to undertake negotiations for them and watch how they learn to work out problems. While this may be really tough to watch, the skills they learn will be of great value for their time at both school and beyond.

SCAS students are part of a global network who work to ensure the world is a better place. There are so many opportunities for our young students to develop a sense of their role within the community. From the day they start school they are part of the SCAS community. They are also part of a class community, grade community and house community. Being part of these communities has obligations, just like being part of your family no doubt comes with set rules and expectations. Each term, our sports houses engage in charity events, chosen by our high school leaders, to raise awareness and funds on a local, national or global issue that they feel is worthy of the SCAS community learning about. Our young students will also be involved in supporting compassion children, earning pocket money by doing simple jobs to contribute. The message here is that they are showing care and kindness to those less fortunate than themselves. Our students are also encouraged to be kind to our earth, being taught to recycle, to reuse and to minimise waste. We strongly encourage nude lunchboxes as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Our Year 1 students are currently working as part of Koala Education group … and even began money collections in the playground as they wanted to help save our injured koalas.

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