Though we are all experiencing our own range of struggles and challenges at the moment, I am sure you’ll agree that these are nothing in comparison to the citizens of Afghanistan. The distressing scenes we have seen this week in the news, showing Afghan citizens desperately trying to flee their country have had an effect on all of us, I am sure.
World Vision is already seeing the effects of Taliban control: “Territories and control are changing at frightening speed, schools are closed, food is scarce and forced displacement figures are soaring. Children and families are in hiding or fleeing and their fundamental rights are being denied.”
Brother Samuel (Open Doors) tells us, “Though the Taliban promises a more modern and reformed approach to government, fears remain as to how they will impose Sharia (Islamic law) in the days to come. Secret believers in Afghanistan are especially vulnerable. Prior to Taliban rule, they already had a very difficult time living out their faith, as they had to keep it secret from their families for fear of being shunned, or worse, killed. Now that the Taliban is in power, their vulnerability increases tenfold. It would be almost impossible to be a follower of Jesus in this country. This is the time for us to ask God to have mercy not only on His people, but on this country as a whole.”
This weekend, you may like to take some time as a family to light a candle and pray, using the following prayer, or modified words depending on the age and understanding of your children, to ask God to keep these Afghan people in His care.
- We pray for the small group of Christians in the country who are uncertain who to trust. We pray that they find strength, wisdom, and supernatural peace in God’s promises. Lord, hear us
- We pray for the displaced. A new wave of refugees is expected to come from Afghanistan to many parts of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Pray for God’s protection and provision over them in their journeys. Lord, hear us
- We pray for the women. Many women fear that the Taliban rule would mean they would be stripped of opportunities for education. Women involved in education during the past years could also be at risk – we pray for their protection. Lord, hear us
- We pray for the sick. Though underreported in international media, Covid-19 cases are spiking in the country and hospitals are limited in what they can offer. There is no certainty as to how the healthcare system will be able to sustain itself with the new Taliban government. We pray that the healthcare system will not collapse. Lord, hear us
- We pray that the country will not be a haven for extremists. The Taliban government of 20 years ago are known enablers of extremist Islamic organisations. We pray that this new generation of Taliban does not allow the country to become a host to a new generation of terror groups. Lord, hear us.
We ask these prayers through Christ, our Lord, Amen
We will be continuing with home learning for another week, following the announcement on Thursday that we will remain in lockdown until August 28th. We understand that home learning is not the ideal for anyone, however when we see that 31% of the current COVID cases are children and young people up to the age of 19, this brings home the seriousness and the justification for keeping our children at home.
Thank you so much for all you are doing to help your children with their home learning. We are seeing some amazing work from Kinder – Year 6 along with great improvements in all our tech skills. We understand that some days it is not possible to get through everything that has been put on OneNote; we understand that if you are juggling a job and three children you have a near impossible task in front of you each day; we understand the pain you feel if your children have finished all their work by 10:30 and are ‘bored’ and hungry and want you to entertain them while you are working from home.
Please do not worry if you and your children are unable to manage all the learning each day. It may be that if you have a few children, some days you work with one or two of your children on their OneNote tasks and your other child doesn’t do their OneNote work that day. They may read, draw, create, undertake some of the ‘Can Do’ tasks that don’t require logins, typing or adult support. It may be that instead of writing 5 sentences your child writes 2, instead of completing all Maths questions they manage half. All children and the way in which they learn, the time they take to do things and their levels of engagement are different. For this reason if the teachers were to change the amount of work, either to increase it as some parents have requested or decrease it as others have asked for, we still wouldn’t be providing what is manageable, sufficient or achievable for all children. The teachers will continue to prepare the high-quality learning experiences that they have been doing for the last two weeks and we strongly encourage you to make the decisions about your children’s learning, taking into consideration what is appropriate for your children, the time available to you and your family’s circumstances. Only you know these things and what is best for your family. Do not compare your home learning situation or your children’s work to anyone else’s. You are all unique and comparisons only serve to make people feel bad.
Please be aware that the teachers are viewing the work that is submitted however they are unable to provide individual feedback on every task the children do. There may be 5 tasks a day that the children are asked to complete and when multiplied by 30 students in the class this results in 150 work samples for the teacher to view and give feedback, each day. This, on top of lesson preparation, mastering of IT skills, phone calls and emails to families, various staff meetings and continued professional learning makes this impossible. All whilst managing their own family commitments and supervising children on site at school. Just like in the classroom, individual feedback is not always given for each task but collective feedback is often given to demonstrate successful work and how to do things, or improve on things, using examples of students’ work and this will be done through the Teams lessons at times.
Zoom Music Lesson
Ricky Kradolfer’s online Zoom Music lesson was the hit of the week! The children had a ball with these lessons and Ricky gave very generously of his time for them to go ahead. The lessons were a mix of live teaching and interactive activities for the children along with pre-recorded video snips, to help illustrate his teaching points of musical concepts such as volume, speed, dynamics, verse and chorus …. The lessons were highly energetic and engaging. Ricky, on occasion, even managed to get some of the teachers and parents involved. It was terrific to see some of our guitarists join in with Ricky at times, but most of all it was fabulous to see the children at home having fun with their friends, even if it was remotely. A number of them also joined in as a family and to see the siblings singing and dancing together was terrific. Lots of noise, joy and learning came from these sessions. Thanks to all the girls and boys who made it so much fun for everyone and a big thanks to Ricky.
Book Week is Here!!!
We may be in lockdown but we are still going ahead with Book Week next week. Nothing is going to stop our St Joey’s community celebrating the joy of books and reading!
We will kickstart the week with our annual Book Week launch, in Monday’s Teams lesson. There is a surprise for every class, so please make sure your children are on time for their lesson, so they don’t miss out.
On Tuesday there is an ‘out of this world’ creative activity planned that will no doubt take a few days to complete.
Wednesday is a’mix-it-up’ day. Who knows which teacher will take what class for reading one of the Children’s Book Council shortlisted books?
Thursday requires some serious thinking about story characters and reading in general, with a couple of separate tasks for the Infants and Primary students.
That just leaves us with Friday – which will be our Book Character Parade! The parade will be done in class groups via that day’s Teams lessons and we will record them all for you to watch back later. Start thinking now about your costumes. It may be of a character from an old world eg Laura Ingles Wilder from Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables or perhaps Biggles or Robin Hood! Or perhaps a new world character – Pig the Pug, or one of the many characters from The Treehouse series such as Mr Big Nose or Ahn Do’s Littlest Refugee. Other world characters might include Aladdin on his magic carpet, Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit, the lion looking for courage in the land of Oz or the White Witch from Narnia.
Why not help your children to see what is on their bookshelves to get ideas and/or Google search for Book Week 2021 costume ideas. Please do not go out shopping to try and source materials. Our costumes this year are to be simple, fun and creative ones, using what you already have at home. The creation of costumes for all the family might be this weekend’s shared family activity. Have fun. I know they will all be out of this world, this year!
Guess Who's Coming to Big School?
It has been exciting to see photos come through our inbox this week with some of our new 2022 Kinder children modelling their customised “I’m going to BIG school at St Joseph’s Merewether” t-shirts. On the front of these t-shirts is a unique piece of art from one of our current Kinder students along with our school crest. Don’t these cute kids look so ready for Kindergarten?
|13 September||Pupil Free Day|
This time has forced our students to work online. Greater reliance on devices has been unavoidable, especially for our older students. For all, including staff, this again has been a whole new learning experience. With children being online more often now, it is a timely reminder of online safety. The safety of our students online is everyone’s responsibility. This includes parents, teachers and the child themselves. We know that cyber safety lessons are explicitly taught at the beginning of each term by our Teacher Librarian, Dee Milgate. Lessons continue in class as teachers remind students of the importance of always keeping our passwords secure, of using an alias where appropriate or how to keep away from cyber bullying or reach out for support if necessary. At St Joseph’s we have clear expectations of online behaviour communicated through our Cybersafety Code of Conduct. Please take the time to again read over this document with your children as it still stands even during this time of learning from home.
If you would like to know how you can support your child at home then the eSafety Commissioner website is an excellent resource. This resource provides support with topics such as:
- Time spent online
- Unwanted contact and grooming
- Cyber bullying
- Sending inappropriate messages or pictures
There are also resources that could be used when having a conversation with your child. Some of the topics include:
- Someone is being mean to me online
- How to get the most out of gaming
- I saw something online that I didn’t like
- Things to watch out for online with friends
The website can be found here
Here in our Maitland Newcastle Diocese the Office of Safeguarding have also complied a number of resources to support online safety. These too are very practical resources that support parents in their own knowledge and understanding, as well as providing age appropriate resources for their children. These links can be found below.
Tell Them From Me Survey
Upon the recommendation from leadership at the Catholic Schools Office, it has been decided that the Tell Them From Me survey will be pushed back this year. We believe that this is a wise decision because of the current circumstances we are in. The survey will now be opened in Term 4 and the specific dates will be shared with our community as soon as the final decision is made.
As we have already begun the process of asking parents if they’d like to withdraw their child/ren in Years 4-6 from completing the student survey, we’d like to continue and finalise this step. As mentioned in the last newsletter, if you would like your child to opt out, please complete the appropriate section of the attached note (see link below) and send it back to school by 3rd September 2021. If you are fine with your child completing the survey, there is no action required.
Upcoming event: National Child Protection Week 2021
Positive Behaviour Learning (PBL)
Congratulations to the Gold Sports Colour House for achieving the most tokens in the first half of Term 3! These tokens were given out whilst we were at school, and even as we have been learning from home. Gold house will enjoy their reward for this achievement once we return to school. Looking forward, we will still be giving tokens out for this second half of the term. Teachers can be giving these out remotely, or for those who are at school. We’re not going to give up focusing on our four PBL expectations
- Act Safely
- Be Respectful
- Care for All
- Do Your Best
Our PBL focus this fortnight is Care for All - Care for yourself and others. Who would have thought when we put our scope and sequence together for our PBL lessons across the year, that this particular topic would be as relevant as it is right now! Now, more than ever, it is important to care for ourselves and others. We may not be able to see each other in person, yet there are many ways we can still stay connected. We also know it’s important to care for our whole beings. This includes our physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological well-being.
Below is an image of different ways we show care towards ourselves and others. It may be a way to begin a conversation with your child/ren. Why not set a goal over this next fortnight to really focus on how we demonstrate care.
2021 Australian Mathematics Competition
Students in Years 5 and 6 were scheduled to complete the elective Australian Mathemetics Competition at school the day after we went into lockdown. This was disappointing, especially because we facilitated the competition for those in Year 3 and 4 the day before lockdown! We managed, however, to accommodate these students in an online setting. On Thursday, over 30 students completed the competition from home and school. This was a first for us at St Joseph’s! We used a Teams call to supervise the students remotely and are extremely proud of the way everyone adjusted to this new format. Below is a photo of everyone concentrating so hard! Well done!
Save The Date
Interrelate is a not-for-profit provider of relationship services that specialises in supporting parents and children. St Joseph’s has benefited from their service in the past and we have now secured a date for two evening sessions this year (13th October, 2021).
The two sessions are:
Session 1: Where Did I Come From?
Audience: Year 3 and 4 students and their parents/carers
(Students from Year 5 and 6 are welcome to this if they have not particpated previously) Program focus: • Discuss the male and female reproductive systems, foetal development and the birth process • Personal safety and protective behaviours
Session 2: Preparing For Puberty
Audience: Year 5 and 6 students and their parents/carers Program focus: • Discuss the physical changes of puberty, emphasising that it can be different for everyone • Develop students’ understanding of periods and sperm production, as well as the physical, emotional, social and intellectual changes associated with puberty for both boys and girls • Enhance awareness of children’s personal safety and protective behaviours Note: Younger students are welcome to attend at the discretion of their parents/carers.
These sessions will take place in the evening on 13th October. More details and booking information will be available closer to the date.
We are all reminded during these difficult times to be there for each other.
Message of HOPE
You’re invited to create a message of HOPE to share with our community!
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to experience feelings of isolation and despair as our everyday lives change on a daily basis. In the first lockdown, community initiatives such as painting rainbows and teddy bears in windows helped develop a sense of connection and sparked joy for many. However, months on, and in the face of ongoing restrictions, such tangible symbols of hope have begun to diminish.
This week, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle encourages individuals and families to renew their sense of HOPE.
St Joseph’s is inviting families to create a poster with the word HOPE and place it in your front yard or front window. In doing so, you will be taking part in an initiative that’s happening in communities across the Diocese that includes more than 19,000 students. It’s also a fun activity to do with your children while learning from home and one that we hope will inspire many in the community as they go about their exercise.
Please know that this request is very much invitational, and by no means an expectation.
If you do wish to take part, follow these simple steps:
- Make a poster with the word HOPE. Lots of colour, particularly the use of the colour yellow (as it is the colour of hope) is strongly encouraged.
- Place the poster in your front window/ front yard
- If you are happy for your child’s photo to be published in future newsletters and on our Facebook page , please email to admin
National Day of Prayer
Let’s join together as families and friends to take part on this wonderful church initiative to come together to pray.
Catholic Care Hunter-Manning August Appeal
We are invited to support this wonderful Catholic Care appeal.
At Catholic Care Hunter-Manning, everybody is welcome. Their community programs receive no government funding so they are calling on the broader community to help. After a difficult eighteen months, Catholic Care are expecting to be welcoming even more people through their doors.
You can help Catholic Care
Help them feed more people in our community kitchens.
Help them support more refugees in our programs.
Help them deliver more meals to people in need.
Please give a gift to Catholic Care’s 2021 August Appeal today.
Your help will ensure that no one goes without and that all are welcomed with food, support, and a smile.
Find out more about the incredible work of Catholic Care here
So far after many generous donations that helped raise over $3,000, Catholic Care have seen an increase in demand and are hoping to get to $5,000 by the end of August.
We are going to get behind this very worthy cause by having a Joey's PJ Day on Tuesday 31 August. If we are at school, it's a no uniform day, or if we are at home we can just stay in our PJ's. we ask that you make a donation to this fundraiser via the QKR app, under “ Other school Activities”, Catholic Care August Appeal.
Thank you for your support.
Looking ahead to Father’s Day in September...
At school we would usually celebrate with a breakfast and beautiful liturgy celebrating all the dads and father figures in our lives. This year, as many restrictions are in place, it will be a little different.
We will not be able to have our breakfast in the hall this year. We will celebrate as a community over Zoom.
We are planning to do our Father’s Day liturgy live over Zoom at 2.10pm Friday 3rd September. We invite dads and families to join in at home or from your work desk over a break. This is a short opportunity to come together in community through prayer and to be present for some kind words of thankfulness for all you do as fathers and caregivers.
Stay tuned for more details and the Zoom invitation link.
Please see the Parish Bulletin for more details and registration for Masses in our area - https://www.newcastlecatholic.org.au/weekly-bulletins/
Physical Activity at Home for Primary School Children
Exercise remains as important as ever to help keep our population healthy. It is proven to support our immune system and mental health. However during times of stress it is often the activity we ignore. While your children are spending time at home, please make sure physical activity is part of your daily routine. Here are some free online resources your family can use to stay active, healthy and calm together.
This website has some fabulous resources for families to engage with at home during lockdown. There are a wide variety of videos and information including;
- Activities for Kids
- Activities for Seniors
- Accessible Activities
- General Fitness
- Sport-Specific Activities
- Healthy Eating/Active Living
- School Camp at Home
Here are simple activities to do at home with Kinder kids or younger kids.
Yoga mindfulness and relaxation designed especially for younger students. Includes 12 minute workouts based around a story told by an animated presenter. Lots of bright colours, words and situations that younger students can identify with.
Joe (The Body Coach) is adding videos especially for kids at home!
Balloon challenges Simple ideas for K-4
Paper plate challenge Short & simple 4 minute workout
Please see the resources below for some wonderful suggestions and videos on how to practise and improve your cricket skills at home.
Premier’s Reading Challenge
A few changes to PRC due to lockdowns:
- Closing date for completing reading logs has been extended to 3rd September
- Each level may now have 10 choice books (previously only 5)
Congratulations Clara P, Winston M, Alexandra B, Finn C, Grace H, Orla M, Edie C, Alexis T, Abbie H, Daniel S and Livinia S for completing your challenge!
Next week is BOOK WEEK. It will be a little bit different this year. Find out the winners of the Book of the Year by clicking here