A message from the Head of Campus
Walking in my neighbourhood on the weekend, and being at Woodleigh’s Senior Campus on Saturday for the Beanie Festival, were timely reminders of the stunning natural environments that we are immersed in every day. We do live in a beautiful part of the world. Welcome to Term 3, everyone!
We can be most grateful for the beauty of each Woodleigh setting including the diverse range of experiences that enable us as a learning community to positively care for country with humane and environmental sensitivity and action. Congratulations to all involved in the recent Beanie Festival; an occasion inspired by the Alice Springs Beanie Festival - a community arts event that provides opportunities for artists from remote Indigenous communities and the wider community to make, exhibit and sell beanies. At Woodleigh, the local community, including students, parents, friends and the local Aboriginal organisation, Willum Warrain, gathered together in the spirit of Reconciliation.
Understanding our country, its people, history and environment are fundamental concepts that children learn from the time they enter the world. Whether it be from family, friends, stories, movie/technology, pre-school or school environments, children are influenced every day in the decisions they make and the actions they choose.
Terrific to be back!
Term 3 involves many of these experiences. Beginning with a two-day International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) training, staff continued their inquiry into concept-based learning within an integrated and transdisciplinary curriculum. We look forward to sharing the learning with parents at a PYP Workshop for Parents organised by Jodie Kirchner (PYP Co-ordinator – Minimbah and Penbank) on Wednesday 6 August. More information is included in this Letter Home.
Launching into the first week, I had the pleasure of joining the Year 5s on their camp to Sovereign Hill. Bringing to life the excitement and significance to Australia of the goldfield days, the students were able to engage in a comprehensive 1850s experience.
The children explored many different environments, participated in role plays and re-enactments, and discovered the impact on the environment and the personal implications for the local Aboriginal Wathaurung tribes and the many migrants who ventured to Ballarat to seek their fortune. Our young gold miners discovered real gold to be panned, ventured down gold mines, observed the skilled craftsmen at work in the blacksmith’s forge, the candle works, the wheelwright’s plant, the coach builder’s and the confectionery factory. They also visited the Gold Museum that displayed a most informative exhibition of gold and Ballarat history. Consistent with previous expeditions to the goldfields, excellent accommodation in the Barracks and good food at a number of old-style cafes and lounges, ensured the three days away were a truly experiential endeavour.
Looking back on the chilly days together, immersed in the beautiful wintery atmosphere of Sovereign Hill, it was a pleasure to be with such interested and engaged students. Well done to all, and thank you to the Year 5 team for planning such a meaningful experience that is already informing some excellent research and ideas back at school.
Coming up, the Year 6 students head to Wugularr NT for their next Wugubank adventure. Later in the term, Year 3 & 4 head to Camp Jungai, a camp with an Indigenous focus - all wonderful experiences that develop ideas, provoke thinking and develop understandings.
And next week… approximately 70 students from Prep to Year 6, with their Minimbah counterparts, venture to the city to perform in the Boite Schools Choir. The Beanie Festival provided a lovely opportunity for the children to perform some of the songs to be presented at the choral performance next week. Terrific to see the enthusiasm and collaboration of staff and students. Congratulations!
Literacy, a constant feature in all elements of our work, will be celebrated during Book Week. The theme: ‘Reading is my Secret Power’ will certainly inspire the imagination and interest in reading, writing, drawing, storytelling and creating!
I am delighted that Lorraine Ford has returned to school with a much-improved arm! I also welcome the Swales Family to Penbank. Little Skip has joined Britt’s Prep Group.
A term ahead complete with sport programs, music events and lots more, I encourage you to jump in and make the most of our wonderful school environment... and with this quote in mind...
Take care... look to the skies, into the trees, across the water and dream good thoughts!
My warmest regards,
Spending time in nature helps kids do better in school, in a number of surprising ways.
By Ming Kuo – 7 June 2019
Some years ago, Richard Louv made the case in his book, Last Child in the Woods, that kids were spending so little time in nature that they had “nature deficit disorder.” The consequences they suffered were dire: more stress and anxiety, higher rates of obesity and ADHD, and more.
Many parents probably recognize that being outside in nature is good for their children’s health. But they may also see a trade-off: encouraging their kids to get outside means less time hitting the books. And less time studying must mean less academic success, right?
Wrong. Remarkably, it turns out that the opposite may be true. As research has grown in this area—including my own—we’ve discovered that nature is not just good for kids’ health; it improves their ability to learn, too. Even small doses of nature can have profound benefits.
The evidence for this comes from hundreds of studies, including experimental research. In one study, fifth-grade students attended school regularly at a local prairie wetlands, where science, math and writing were taught in an integrated, experiential way as students participated in onsite research. When compared to peers attending regular schools, those who’d attended school outside had significantly stronger reading and writing skills (as measured by standardized tests) and reported feeling more excited about school because of the experience. Students at the outdoor school who’d previously had low attendance rates ended up with higher attendance, too.
Other studies echo these findings. One study found that students at schools with more tree cover performed better academically—especially if they came from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Still another compared students randomly assigned to take science lessons either in a classroom or in a school garden and found outdoor lessons more effective for learning—and the more time they spent in the garden, the greater their gains.
How do green spaces and nature help kids learn? In a surprising variety of ways, we’re discovering. Nature improves children’s psychological and physical well-being, for sure—and that can impact learning. But it also seems to affect how they attend to and engage in the classroom, how much they can concentrate, and how well they get along with teachers and peers. Here is what we know so far.
1. Nature restores children’s attention
Attention is clearly important for learning, but many kids have trouble paying attention in the classroom, whether it be because of distractions, mental fatigue, or ADHD. Luckily, spending time in nature—taking a walk in a park and even having a view of nature out the window—helps restore kids’ attention, allowing them to concentrate and perform better on cognitive tests.
2. Nature relieves children’s stress
Just like adults, children are less stressed when they have green spaces to retreat to occasionally, helping them to be more resilient. Studies have found that holding a class outdoors one day a week can significantly improve the daily cortisol patterns of students—reflecting less stress and better adaptation to stress—when compared to kids with indoor-only instruction. Also, in a study looking at children in rural environments, those with more nature nearby recovered better from stressful life events in terms of their self-worth and distress.
3. Nature helps children develop more self-discipline
Many children—particularly those with ADHD—have trouble with impulse control, which can get in the way of school learning. My colleagues and I have found that green space near kids’ homes helps them to have more self-discipline and concentrate better—especially girls. Also, parents of kids with ADHD report that when their kids participate in activities outdoors versus indoors, it reduces their ADHD symptoms. Since self-discipline and impulse control are tied to academic success, it’s perhaps no surprise that…
4. Outdoor instruction makes students more engaged and interested
Kids seem to like classes outdoors. Unfortunately, many teachers fear bringing kids outside to learn, worrying that they’ll be ‘bouncing off the walls’ afterward and less engaged in the next (indoor) lesson. Luckily, research seems to suggest that kids are more engaged in learning not only during outdoor classes but also upon returning to their classroom afterward—even if the subject they return to is not nature-related.
5. Time outdoors may increase physical fitness
While physical fitness is important for children for many reasons, one that may not immediately come to mind is the role it plays in learning. In particular, cardiorespiratory fitness seems to support efficient cognitive processing, and kids with higher fitness levels do better academically. Though it’s not clear that nature affects physical fitness directly, it is true that the more time kids spend in nature, the better their cardiorespiratory fitness. Having access to nature may encourage children to be more physically active and keep in shape longer as they age.
6. Nature settings may promote social connection and creativity
The social and physical environment in which children learn can make a difference in their academic success. Letting kids spend time in settings with natural elements or giving them structured nature experiences can make for a calmer, socially safe, and fun learning environment. And being outdoors can also enhance peer-to-peer relationships and student/teacher relationships needed for learning, even for students who otherwise feel marginalized socially.
Some argue that nature provides a rich tapestry of ‘loose parts’—sticks, stones, mud—that encourage pretend play and exploration, creativity and problem solving. Indeed, teachers’ and principals’ observations suggest that children’s play becomes strikingly more creative, physically active, and social in the presence of loose parts. It’s clear to me that we need to do more to bring this important resource into our schools. Architects and city planners should keep trees and green areas in and near schoolyards. And teachers and principals should incorporate lessons outdoors and use recess not as a reward for good behaviour, but as a way to rejuvenate students’ minds for the next lesson. By doing so, we won’t only be benefiting our kids’ psychological well-being—though that’s reason enough! We will likely help them perform better in school, too. And, as a connection to nature breeds more care for nature, we may also be inspiring the future stewards of our natural world.
Humans evolved to grow and thrive in natural environments, and research is showing the costs of indoor childhoods. It’s time to cure ‘nature deficit disorder’ in our kids by giving ‘nature time’—not just studying and extracurricular time—the importance it deserves.
By Ming Kuo
Ming Kuo, Ph.D., leads the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research convincingly links healthy urban ecosystems to stronger, safer neighbourhoods, lower crime, reduced AD/HD symptoms, reduced aggression, and an array of other mental and physical health indicators. Dr. Kuo’s work has spurred increased urban forestry efforts in Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, the Caribbean, and the United States, and, in 2018, she was awarded the Heinz Award for the Environment.
As a learning community we value the attributes that make us life-long learners, such as curiosity, critical thinking and reflection.
We seek to live these attributes as adults as much as we desire them for our students. This was evident as the term began when all our teaching staff immersed themselves as learners through our two-day IB sessions which were facilitated by IB workshop leaders who came from international schools in Vietnam and the Philippines.
Throughout the two days, we had the opportunity to build our understanding of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) through the expertise of our workshop leaders, as well as by connecting with teachers from other PYP schools around the world, engaging with literature and research about learning, and through collaboration with colleagues across both of the junior campuses. We were able to make strong connections between the core elements of Woodleigh’s Personalised Learning model and the PYP, while extending our thinking about learning and teaching. It is a privilege to work in a community that is so enthusiastic about learning and being the best educators we can be for our learners.
The workshop was an important part of the programme implementation at the school. Staff development sessions were also a feature of professional learning meetings during Semester 1. The focus areas for these earlier sessions included exploring the essential elements of the PYP, collaborative planning, professional reading and research. We have also been working with a consultant from the IB who will come and spend two days in the school later this term to work with school leadership and teachers.
In order to help build understanding of the PYP in the whole community, we will be holding an information session for parents on Tuesday 6 August at 7pm at the Penbank Campus. During this session we will explore the connections between the philosophy of the PYP and Woodleigh, as well as the plan for implementation.
Week 6 is Book Week and this year's theme is READING IS MY SECRET POWER.
On Thursday 22 August, we are having a Special Book Week School Meeting and are encouraging all students to come dressed as their favourite book character.
We can't wait to see all the amazing costumes!
WEEK 3 – Maths Week
- PFG Meeting – Wednesday 31 July 9.00 am
- Year 12 Dinner Dance – Friday 2 August
- PYP Parent Information Evening – Tuesday 6 August 7.00 pm
- Boite Performance – Melbourne Town Hall – Thursday 8 August 1.00 pm
- Penbank Year 6 and Woodleigh SC students leave for NT – Friday 9 August
- Woodleigh Comedy Night – Saturday 10 August
WEEK 5 – Activities Week & Wugubank Week NT
- Students return from NT – Friday 16 August
WEEK 6 – Snowsports & Book Week
- Penbank Athletics Day – Year 3 to Year 6 @ Ballam Park ALL DAY – Wednesday 21 August
- Senior Campus production – Wednesday 21 August
- Book Week School Meeting – Thursday 22 August 8.50 am
- Bunjil Concert – Monday 26 August 4.00 pm
- Magnificent Men’s Breakfast and School Meeting – Thursday 29 August
- Minimbah Production – Thursday 29 August
- Father’s Day – Sunday 1 September
- PFG Meeting – Wednesday 4 September 9.00 am
- Camp Jungai Year 3 & 4 – Wednesday 4 – Friday 6 September
- District Athletics, Ballam Park – Thursday 12 September
- Parent/Teacher Interviews – Thursday 12 September
- Bike Ed Testing Day, Year 5 – Friday 13 September
- Parent/Teacher Interviews – Tuesday 17 September
- AFL 9s – Wednesday 18 September
- Penbank Soiree – Wednesday 18 September 7.00 pm
- Year 10 Formal – Wednesday 18 September
- Term 3 Ends – Friday 20 September
- Term 3 Ends NT – Friday 27 September
*Vegetarian and special meal options available.
Please include any dietary requirements you may have in your RSVP.
Barn & Co.
238 Myers Road, Balnarring
See you there!
Now in its eighth year, the Woodleigh School Comedy Night is the Minimbah Campus PFG's largest community fun(draising) event.BOOK TICKETS NOW!
Promote your business by donating goods and services to our live auctions and raffles!
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Thank you for supporting this great fun night!
Legally Blonde: the Musical chronicles the resilient rise of the effervescent Elle Woods, an ever-friendly, fashion-savvy sorority girl who finds her life turned upside down when she is dumped by her boyfriend Warner for not being ‘serious’ enough.
In an effort to prove to Warner that she is marriage-material, she follows him to Harvard Law (‘What, like it’s hard?’), where she struggles to fit into the conservative cliques. As she struggles to remain true to herself she finds new strengths and new friends.
A truly uplifting tale of the underdog showing Harvard Law a thing or two.