vl1As you know, the annual National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests will be held from 10 to 12 May 2016. It will involve Year 7 and Year 9. Now that the Australian Curriculum is being implemented in each state and territory, Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) aligned NAPLAN to the Australian Curriculum: English and the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. As such, NAPLAN should have less impact on your child’s day-to-day learning, as the best preparation for NAPLAN is for students to continue learning what they do every day in the classroom.

NAPLAN is an important tool for parents, educators and the public to see how Australia’s children are meeting essential literacy and numeracy standards. It’s a point-in-time snapshot assessment of students’ achievements in these important areas. It certainly doesn’t replace the important tests that are regularly held in classrooms around the country. It simply complements existing tests and adds a valuable national dimension.

In August–September you’ll receive your child’s NAPLAN results. If you have any concerns, you should speak to your child’s teacher, as they know your child’s learning best. Some students may feel anxious about NAPLAN, but it’s up to the adults in children’s lives to help keep NAPLAN in context. It’s a test that is only taken four times in a child’s schooling life – over three days, there are four tests that take around one hour each. NAPLAN tests what students should already know from their everyday learning, and there are no prizes or repercussions for doing well or not so well in the tests. NAPLAN doesn’t test everything that happens in a classroom – it isn’t intended to – but it does look at the critically important areas of literacy and numeracy – skills that your child will take with them to their adult life. For more information about NAPLAN, including fact sheets, FAQs and examples of tests, please visit the NAP website


Don’t threaten, bribe or deal – breathe and act instead

Outrageous mom screaming at kids with laptop using megaphone

Outrageous mom screaming at kids with laptop using megaphone

Five great discipline habits to add to your parenting repertoire.

Getting kids to cooperate is tricky. One method doesn’t necessarily fit all kids so as a parent or teacher it helps to have a broad repertoire of responses to draw on when kids are less then perfect or you want more cooperative behaviour. 

Disciplining a child can also make many parents feel decidedly uncomfortable, as it doesn’t generally fit an idealised picture of parenting that many of us may have. Discipline is about helping kids stay safe, become social and also be savvy and astute when they interact with others, which makes discipline a positive and very necessary part of the parenting process.

Bad discipline habits

Unfortunately, it’s easy as a parent to develop bad habits to get cooperation from kids. For instance, it can be easier to offer a simple bribe such as “I let you use my iPad for 10 minutes if you can be quiet in the back seat of the car”, rather than battle with kids for their cooperation. This type of bribe can work wonders to get some peace and quiet and is infinitely better than engaging in a slanging match while you’re driving. Well, it may seem that way!

However, it’s easy for both parents and kids to become hooked on bribes. As a parent you can easily fall for the trap of offering a bribe to induce good behaviour because it often works. A child learns to cooperate on his terms and soon learns to think, “What’s in this for me?” Soon kids learn to wheel and deal to get better terms so today’s ‘quick 10 minutes on an iPad’ becomes tomorrow’s shiny new piece of technology bought in return for cooperation. Bribery and dealing almost always escalates in scale. The stakes rarely get smaller.

Similarly, idle threats of withdrawing co-operation if a child won’t behave well soon falls on deaf ears as kids have a built-in radar for knowing if a threat is real or not. “If you continue to argue with your sister I’ll cancel your birthday” is the sort of threat that many of us have made in desperation just to get some peace and harmony at home.  Again, threatening all types of dastardly consequences can become a habit, particularly when we don’t have many other options at our disposal to get better cooperation.

Most of us will default to our lowest level of skill when we are tired, stressed or under pressure. When a child yells, “I hate you! You never listen to a thing I say” just when you’re trying to get her to bed you’re likely to return fire in spades. ‘What do you mean I never listen to you! I always listen to you. You never…” and away you go chastising a child in a way that only exacerbates her lack of cooperation.

Good discipline habits

So it helps to develop some good discipline habits instead so that when we do become stressed or tired they are so ingrained in us that they become second nature.  Here are five good discipline habits to develop:

  1. Avoid the first impulse so you don’t overreact

A good rule of thumb is to stop yourself from reacting when children misbehave. As much of children’s poor behaviour is purposeful, in that it keeps parents busy with them or is designed to let parents know that in fact you can make a child do anything they want to do, your impulsive reactions reinforce the behaviour. At times stopping and doing nothing is better than saying something you regret later on or can’t follow through with.

  1. Step away and take a breath to gain control

When you feel annoyed, angry or hurt by a child’s misbehaviour temporarily step away from the situation and take a few deep breaths before you speak or act. This meta-moment will not only buy you time but will quickly calm you down and change your thinking, putting you back in control. Better self-management helps you respond more effectively when kids misbehave.

  1. Lower your voice to be heard

Do you typically repeat yourself or raise your voice when your children ignore your request for better behaviour or even cooperation. If so you are training your kids to ignore you. Try lowering your voice rather than raising to be heard.  This has the double effect of being easier to hear as well as carrying a greater sense of authority.

  1. Move toward them to be noticed

Moving into children’s space to deliver a message is usually more effective than issuing an order across a lounge room when you are competing with a screen for attention. It does require effort but the results in terms of getting cooperation is generally worth it.

  1. Use a consequence to teach

Not all children respond positively to consequences. Very sensitive children can take consequences personally so use them sparingly with more sensitive. Sometimes a change in the tone of your voice is enough for these children. But generally reasonable consequences that have a relationship to children’s misdemeanours and that are respectfully delivered are effective in teaching children to behave responsively. The trick is to deliver them like a neutral cop – cool, calm and with not too many words.

Good habits are best developed in low or no stress situations so if you’d like to add any of these ideas to your parenting repertoire start putting them into practice in every day interactions with your children, so that they become second nature when you really need some cooperation from your kids.

(By Michael Grose, )


Mother’s Day 2016

vl3This week, we had a beautiful Eucharistic celebration to honour and pray for our mothers and mother figures. It was wonderful to see over 120 assorted mothers and grandmothers, with their daughters, in St Michael’s Parish Church. We thank Fr Janusz for celebration the mass with us. And a special thank you to Mrs Karen Cotogno-Young who made our guests’ special gifts and cards. It is one of the most special days in our year. Here is a reflection that was read out at the end of mass.

Your Mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, the fragrance of life itself, she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well, she’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colours of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning.

Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space . . . . . . . . . not even death!



Prayer for our Mothers

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
We thank You for our mothers to whom You have entrusted the care of every precious human life from its very beginning in the womb.

You have given to woman the capacity of participating with You in the creation of new life. Grant that every woman may come to understand the full meaning of that blessing, which gives her an unlimited capacity for selfless love for every child she may be privileged to bear, and for all Your children.

Watch over every mother who is with child, strengthen her faith in Your fatherly care and love for her and for her unborn baby. Give her courage in times of fear or pain, understanding in times of uncertainty and doubt, and hope in times of trouble. Grant her joy in the birth of her child.

To mother,  You have given the great privilege and responsibility of being a child’s first teacher and spiritual guide. Grant that all mothers may worthily foster the faith of their children, following the example of Mary, Elizabeth, and other holy women who follow Christ. Help mothers to grow daily in knowledge and understanding of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and grant them the wisdom to impart this knowledge faithfully to their children and to all who depend upon them.

Assist all “spiritual mothers”, those who, though they may have no children of their own, nevertheless selflessly care for the children of others — of every age and state in life. Grant that they may know the joy of fulfilling this motherly calling of women, whether in teaching, nursing, religious life, or in other work which recognizes and fosters the true dignity of every human being created in Your image and likeness.

We beseech You to send Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to all mothers who sorrow for children that have died, are ill or estranged from their families, or who are in trouble or danger of any kind. Help grieving mothers to rely on Your tender mercy and fatherly love for all your children.

We ask your blessing on all those to whom You have entrusted motherhood. May Your Holy Spirit constantly inspire and strengthen them. May they ever follow the example of Mary, mother of Our Lord, and imitate her fidelity, her humility, and her self-giving love. May all mothers receive Your Grace abundantly in this earthly life, and may they look forward to eternal joy in Your presence in the life to come.

We ask this through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.


We keep in our prayers Natalia Kaskoutas (8) whose grandfather sadly passed away this week.


Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
Vicki Lavorato