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DecemberReturn to top

Anaphylaxis information

The safety and wellbeing of your child is of paramount importance to us, including where your child is diagnosed at risk of a severe allergic reaction.. It is important that parents notify the school if their child has an allergy. Anaphylaxis is a severe and sometimes sudden allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening and always requires an emergency response. As with other serious health conditions, schools put in place strategies to support students at risk of anaphylaxis at school or while they are engaged in school related... Read more

NovemberReturn to top

Body image and girls

Body image is the number one personal concern for young people aged 12 to 24, with research showing they feel under more pressure than ever to look a certain way. Butterfly Foundation's education manager, Danni Rowlands, goes into schools every week to talk to students about body image. In a revealing podcast, she explains to Rachel Friend what she finds when she talks to girls and young women, what's healthy behaviour and what parents should be concerned about. Listen to the podcast on the School A to Z website.... Read more

How to plan a safe party

Parties are part and parcel of teenage social life and help mark the move from childhood to adulthood. While most parties go off without a hitch, celebrations can go wrong and get out of hand – particularly if the party is unplanned. If you are hosting a party here are some tips to help to ensure your teenager and their friends have fun but remain safe. Communication and careful planning are the keys to hosting a successful party. While the internet and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are great tools which can be used to... Read more

Preparing for high school

What is the best way to prepare kids for high school and make the move less daunting for them – and you, their parents and caregivers? Sometimes parents think that when their child goes to high school they need to take a step back but teachers involved in the transition say it is more about a change of focus. Here are some tips: In Year 5 start thinking about which high school your child should attend. Help them become more responsible by encouraging independence and responsibility. Get into a homework and study routine. Put their school... Read more

SeptemberReturn to top

Developing resilience in your child

Growing up can be tough. Things don't always go to plan. So how can you help your child to develop resilience? Research shows children with good resilience perform better at school and are less likely to take part in risky behaviour, particularly as they enter the teenage years. The education department's principal psychologist, Ron Balderston, describes resilience as a shock absorber for the potholes of life. "Resilient children know how to cope and have developed skills that enable them to flex so they can manage life's blows when they... Read more

AugustReturn to top

Cyberbullying prevention tips

While the statistics around cyberbullying are sketchy, we do know that the likelihood of children being bullied online or over the phone increases as they get older and use technology more frequently. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has created tips for parents to help keep their kids safe online and to give some direction for those who think their child may already be experiencing online bullying. They include: Talk to your child about cyberbullying before it happens. Work out strategies to address cyberbullying that both... Read more

Premier's Spelling Bee goes mobile

Looking for a great way to help your child practise their spelling? To coincide with the launch of the wordlist for the 2012 Premier's Spelling Bee, a companion app is now available for download. The app features almost 3,000 words and sentences used in the spelling bee initiative, which is aimed at primary school-aged children. The free Premier's Spelling Bee app has junior and senior primary categories with levels of spelling words that increase in difficulty. The game, which features Australian accents, randomly selects words from the... Read more

Is my child ready to start school?

Starting school is such a big step. How do I know if my child is ready? The parent website School A to Z has spoken to a range of teachers about how to make the right decision for your child. Here are some of the key points and questions to ask: Children may enrol in Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they turn five years of age on or before 31 July in that year. All children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday. Are they physically ready? Are they socially and emotionally ready? Kids don't need to read or write... Read more

Preparing for the HSC

The period leading up to the HSC can be a difficult time for parents as they try to help their teen manage the study load and stress. The parent website School A to Z has spoken to teachers about the challenges parents and students face. Here are some of the key points: You don't need to be a subject expert to help your child prepare for the HSC. Make sure your teen is getting enough sleep. Good nutrition is vital. They can reduce stress by balancing study with physical activity, social life and other interests. Part-time work shouldn't be... Read more

JulyReturn to top

New Maths Monkey’s Quest game available

School A to Z has just released an exciting, new maths game app, taking kid-friendly learning to the next level. Maths Monkey's Quest was created by the NSW Department of Education and Communities and designed for kids from Year 3 to Year 8. This new release engages children (and adults) with addition, subtraction, ratios and percentages, as they unlock new levels and strengthen their mathematical skills. At each level the Maths Monkey enters a new world of mathematical challenges, starting at the Jungle level (aimed at Years 3 and 4 students)... Read more

JuneReturn to top

Books to get kids reading again and again

There's nothing like a series to inspire the bookworm in your child. Just think of the way kids reacted to the Harry Potter novels. Establishing a good relationship with the first book in a series means children can generally be confident they will feel the same way about the rest of the series. The books in a series often become easier to read as time goes on. Once your child is familiar with the first book's characters, the landscape, style and the author's voice, they can simply sit back and enjoy all the subsequent tales. Another benefit... Read more

Year 10 subject selection tips

Should Year 10 subject selections be an opportunity for your child to get a head start on their career, or to simply to choose the electives they most enjoy? This month, School A to Z features two articles with expert advice on how to help your child choose subjects that will give them the most options later on, regardless of whether they want to go to university, or they see themselves pursuing a trade or apprenticeship . Year 10 subject selection looks at what subjects your child is most likely to succeed in, and how to help them choose the... Read more

Managing your child's weight

Your family is the best influence for showing your child how to manage their weight. That's the advice of the childhood obesity experts for keeping a child's weight down. Dr Shirley Alexander, specialist in child obesity at The Children's Hospital Westmead, says: "Try and get the whole family to develop healthier lifestyle habits and through that, hopefully get some weight-loss in the children." The most recent official figures suggest as many as one in four school-aged children fits into the category of being mildly overweight to obese. A... Read more

MayReturn to top

Facts about tutors

Private tutoring to give kids a helping hand in their schooling is a growing business. However, it's also an area where parents can be vulnerable to bogus offers and misleading advertising. If you're considering using a tutor, you need to know how to get the best service for you and your child. It's important to know that the job of a school is to ensure your child's educational needs are met in line with the curriculum. Teachers in NSW public schools are university educated and use effective teaching and learning techniques. If you have... Read more

Parent-teacher interview tips

Parent-teacher interviews are great opportunities to meet your child's teachers and shouldn't be missed. Here are some tips from Harrington Street Public School principal Wayne Koboroff about how to get the best out of your time with the teacher. Do your homework Take a few minutes before your meeting to jot down any questions or comments you have. Because interviews usually only run 10 – 15 minutes it's good to have a reminder of the points you wanted to raise. Common questions may include: How is my child fitting in with other children?... Read more

Helping kids cope with Shakespeare

Shakespeare's reputation and language can seem daunting. So how do you make his work accessible? How do you open up his extraordinary world to your teen? Here are some tips from Bell Shakespeare's artistic director John Bell. Watch a good live Shakespeare production or DVD to get a feel for the language. Read a text that comes with a translation in modern language; it can help kids understand the language better. Suggest to your teen to imagine they are a detective who has to do some sleuth work to really understand the play. Discuss what... Read more

AprilReturn to top

Homework help newsletter

You can now easily subscribe to updates from the award-winning website for parents, School A to Z. Each term you'll receive newsletters with the latest information to help you manage your child's homework and study, health, development and technology use. School A to Z has been created by parents at the education department to answer the common questions and challenges we all face as we support our kids growing up. This month's newsletter includes: a series of videos to help you when bullying becomes an issue for your child tips for getting... Read more

MarchReturn to top

MP3 players and hearing loss

An MP3 player, such as an iPod, is an essential item for many kids but listening to them for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing loss. And the experts say the volume doesn't have to be ear-splitting to cause damage. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Conversation is generally 60dB. Traffic noise can be around 80dB. Louder noises, such as a plane taking off, a motorcycle or firecrackers can range from 120dB to 140dB. Listening to music at levels above 80 decibels is going to damage hearing. The... Read more

Taking a stand against bullying

A new website and mobile app have been launched to help parents and students address bullying. The Bullying, No Way! website includes interactive applications, including a choose- your-own-adventure game for students to learn how to deal with bullying, and videos for parents and students. The site also includes information on: helping your child if they are being bullied identifying the signs that your child might be bullying others getting help and support. The website and the Take a Stand Together mobile app were launched to coincide with... Read more

Reading with confidence

You may have already heard of ‘Pause, Prompt, Praise' or the ‘Three Ps' as the strategy is sometimes called. These three catchy words describe a simple technique that, used well, will help your child practise their reading and develop their reading confidence. The principle of pausing, then prompting and then praising is handy to remember any time your child is reading aloud to you. Teachers and trained tutors often use a more structured version, but the following tips can help you to try out the Three Ps when reading with your child at home.... Read more

Teens, homework and multi-tasking

Can kids really do their homework and multi-task? Parents around the world are divided on this. Half watch their teenagers sitting among a pile of books, ear buds in, computer on, TV humming in the background and think, "I wish I could multi-task like that". The others stride across the room, pull the plug on the distractions, and ask the age-old question: "How can you study with that on?" Somewhere along the line we seemed to have absorbed the idea that teenagers can multi-task perfectly because they're digital natives. Perhaps we read it... Read more

FebruaryReturn to top

Education Tax Refund 2012

Don't forget to keep all your receipts from back-to-school expenses so that you can take advantage of the Education Tax Refund. The refund gives eligible parents and caregivers a 50 per cent refund on a range of primary and secondary school education expenses, including school uniforms. For the 2011-2012 financial year you may be eligible for the following: Primary school child You can claim a maximum of $818 for each of your primary school children – that is a refund of up to $409. Secondary school student You can claim a maximum of $1,636... Read more

JanuaryReturn to top

Back-to-school support

A suite of resources, including the School A to Z website and the annual back-to-school hotline, is available to help parents prepare for the new school year. School A to Z website The School A to Z website provides you with practical help to get involved and support your children's learning and includes a webcast on the theme of ‘Getting off to a great start at school'. The School A to Z webcast answers commonly asked questions that range from how to motivate children for learning, to tips on how to manage technology use at home, bullying,... Read more