Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Reading with your children really makes a difference.

Dear Parents/Caregivers

In recent PISA findings (Programme for International Student Assessment) researchers found that parents who read regularly with children in their first year of school make the equivalent of 18 months progress above the levels of their peers who did not have regular reading at home. The children were tested at age 15, so what you are doing now has long term effects.

The first year at school is very important. Did you know that the highest level of truancy in New Zealand is amongst 5 year olds? Our unjustified absence rate is also highest amongst our 5 year olds. On average our New Entrants miss nearly 10 % of school in their first year.  If children are sick please keep them home but otherwise make sure they come to school every day.

The report also says that students are also likely to be much better readers if their parents read books and talk to them regularly about what they are reading. This applies to all age levels. As your children get older you may read to them or with them less, but it is still very important to talk with them about what they are reading and what you are reading. Being a reading role model is very important.

At our place we have no TV or digital entertainment on a Monday and Tuesday night to encourage homework and reading to be done. This is also a good opportunity for me to take an interest in their Maths, music practice and what they are reading.

The main component of homework at Papakowhai School is to read regularly. If your child says, “I have no homework” then let them know that Rata and Rimu children should be reading for 10 -15 minutes every night, Totara for 20 minutes and Kauri for up to 30 minutes.

We have the world’s best school librarian at Papakowhai School. If your child is not reading at home or you find it really hard to motivate them to read, maybe they just haven’t found the right book or author. You could talk to or email Judy ( if you need some suggestions.  If your child says they have nothing to read and don’t bring any books home contact your child’s teacher. Fluent readers should be choosing their own reading material or library books. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Road Safety 2

Two children were seriously injured in Auckland yesterday. One before school and one at 5pm. The 13 year old girl was struck on a pedestrian crossing at 8am the 9 year old boy was hit by a car at 5pm. We don’t want this for our children at Papakowhai School. What can we do?

Here is what the staff at school are doing:
  • Talking to children about road safety
  • Celebrating road safety with our annual walk/bike to the lagoon
  • Being on duty before and after school in Spey Place and at the dairy
  • Creating blog posts about road safety

Here is what most of our parents are doing:
  • Respecting the no stopping signs in Spey Place so that vehicles can easily enter and exit the street
  • Respecting that the carpark and driveway are for staff cars and deliveries only
  • Walking with children to school
  • Showing good manners to other drivers

Thank you!

Here is how you can help even more:
  •          Never open the school gate to let unaccompanied small children out into the street
  •          Travel slowly in Spey Place and Tweed Road
  •          You can set down passengers in the “no stopping area” but the driver must not leave the vehicle to let passengers out
  •          Park on Tweed Road, Yarrow Place or Cromarty Place and walk the rest of the journey
  •          Get your children to use a walking school bus. There is currently hardly anyone using the Tweed Road bus.
  •          Offer to “drive” a walking school bus
  •          Never sit in your vehicle and tell your children to cross the road.

This week I have been writing to councillors and regional councillors about a pedestrian crossing on Tweed Road and a bus service from Aotea to Papakowhai.

Do you have any other ideas about how we can keep our children safe arriving at Papakowhai School in the mornings and leaving in the afternoons? I would be pleased to hear from you.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I Love Maths

Dear Parents/Caregivers

The subject that I liked best at school was Maths. I know! It is still the subject I like best. My daughter is currently doing NCEA Level 2 and I feel quite excited about trigonometry again. I firmly believe that Maths is not a hard subject that only a few people can do, in fact I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy success in Maths.

Many of you have children have who are going well with their Maths learning. I know that from our National Standards data which shows that 82% of students at or above the standard. Children who find Maths easy need to be extended and challenged. Children at Papakowhai School are grouped according to what they have already achieved in Maths.

If your child seems to need extension beyond what has been planned for their group talk to your child’s teacher or to our DP Shane Robinson about moving them up a level in Mathletics, challenge them with problems to solve around the dinner table or while you are out driving in the car or look at our cool new Maths blog and look at the year levels above the year your child is currently in. Keep communication about Maths open with your child’s teacher. Remember all our teachers have email addresses: .

Some of you will have children that find Maths more challenging. It is really important that you talk positively about Maths with your child. Comments like, “Don’t worry I was never any good at Maths”, may spring from good intentions, but research shows that comments like this from mums to their daughters are especially unhelpful. Focus on what your child can do and build on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

At home focus on building up your child’s Maths knowledge. To find out what that should look like go to our new Maths blog and look at the year level your child is currently in or the one below to look for any gaps in their knowledge. Using Mathletics as a tool to work on basic facts may also prove useful for 5- 10 minutes per day. Keep Maths sessions at home brief and fun, if your child becomes frustrated or upset take a break. On the Maths blog there are lots of fun and simple ideas that you can do with your child to build up their confidence in Maths. Keep talking to your child’s teacher. You are your child’s best advocate and if you feel they are not making expected progress then raise this issue early with your child’s teacher.

I am always pleased to discuss Maths with people. If you would like to discuss your child’s Maths learning with me or our DP Shane Robinson please email us or make a time to visit. Shane has also prepared Reading and Writing blogs if these are areas of focus for your child. You can access all blogs from the school website.

Kind regards
Mark Smith