The NSW Selective High School Placement Test, held on March 14, determines which current Year 6 students will be offered a place in selective public high schools around the state next year. A record number of students are expected to sit the test in 2019.
The exam measures comprehension, problem solving skills and writing ability. Due to the level of competition, it’s designed to stretch students. While innate ability is important, students can significantly increase their chances of success through good preparation.
The Selective High School Placement Test consists of four papers in the areas of reading, general ability, maths and written expression. The first three papers are multiple-choice tests, with 40 minutes allocated for each section. There are 45 questions for the reading section, 40 for maths and 60 for general ability. 20 minutes is allocated for the written component.
For the reading section, students are required to read short passages and answer multiple-choice questions which measure their comprehension. For maths, students must have a thorough grounding in addition, subtraction, division and multiplication, as well as shapes, areas, co-ordinates, volumes and patterns. The general ability section tests students’ aptitude in recognising relationships between numbers, words and letters, and identifying patterns. For the written section, students are given a stimulus to develop a written response.
Students who are familiar with the format of the test have a major advantage over those who don’t know what to expect. The single best way to become familiar with the exam is to practice regularly using sample papers which are available from the NSW Department of Education.
Through consistent practice, students learn how much time to spend on each question, and how to pace themselves. To complete the test in the time available, it’s recommended they spend 30 seconds on each reading question, 1 minute on each maths question, and 40 seconds on each general ability question. Considering the level of difficulty involved, it requires a lot of practice to become this fast and accurate.
While practice is important, students also need to develop tactics for answering questions.
The first weeks back at school after the Christmas holidays can be difficult for kids as they adjust to new classes and routines. Sleep is one of the first areas to suffer when children are feeling unsettled. It takes time to get back into a regular sleep pattern after the long break, especially when the nights are still warm.
All these factors can lead to poor or interrupted sleep. On average, children aged between 3 – 5 years need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night, while those aged 6 – 13 need 9 to 11 hours, and 14 – 17 year olds should be getting at least 8 to 10 hours a night.
Without enough sleep, children feel drained and exhausted. They don’t want to get up in the morning, and have problems concentrating at school, which may lead to behavioural issues. It’s vital to address sleep issues early before they affect learning.
February 5th is Safer Internet Day, and the purpose of this annual worldwide event is to encourage people to use the internet responsibly. With children spending more time online than ever before, the major concern for parents is online safety.
To put the issue in perspective, 97 percent of homes in Australia with children under 15 years now have internet access. It’s estimated that kids aged between six to 13 years spend 12 hours a week online, while teenagers are spending up to 1200 hours a year on social media alone.
Being able to access information and create and share content online has many benefits, but the risks include privacy breaches, identity theft, cyberbullying and exposure to adult content.
While the dangers are real, these five steps will help you keep your kids safe online:
This is the number one strategy for protecting kids online because young people need to know what to look out for and how to react if they find themselves in a risky situation. You can discuss what to do when strangers contact them, or how to handle it if their friends want to look at adult content. Talk about the reasons they should always use privacy settings and never disclose personal information, and the fact that anything posted online is potentially there forever.
Even when they’re aware of online dangers, children are still prone to risky behaviours, which is why parents are wise to monitor and control internet usage. You can limit what your kids have access to by choosing an ISP that provides parental controls or by using kid-safe browsers, search engines and filtering software such as Net Nanny. There are also apps available, including ScreenTime for Android and Apple devices, that allow you to remotely check your child’s browsing history and set time limits. More sophisticated applications let you track their location and read emails. These should always be used with children’s knowledge as it’s important to maintain trust.
To have a healthy relationship with technology, kids need to know they can live without it. It’s a good idea to set limits on how long all family members spend on devices each day, and to ensure kids have outside interests and hobbies. There are strong links between excessive internet usage and teen depression, and the best way to avoid this is to establish good habits at a young age. Those who have a happy, full life in the real world are less vulnerable to cyberbullying and internet addiction
Talking to children about privacy and online safety is important, but the impact will be limited if they see you posting personal information and photos to a wide network of acquaintances and strangers. To set a good example be discerning about who you accept as a friend online and the information you share with them, particularly when it comes to your children
Technology is evolving rapidly, and parents need to make the effort to keep up. If your children know more than you, they have the skills to hide their online lives, which may lead to risky behaviour. Take the time to research the social media platforms, apps and games they use so you can stay one step ahead.
These tips will help ensure your children are safe and happy online.
Students who lack time management skills struggle to finish tasks in class and have difficulty organising their schoolwork. Good time management skills reduce stress and anxiety while helping students to reach their potential. Those who develop these skills while at school will reap the rewards for the rest of their lives.
The beginning of a new school year is a perfect time to put time management skills into practice as students are fresh and motivated, but many will muddle through another year because they don’t understand why time management is so important.
Without effective time management skills, genuine organisation is not possible. Young people today have busy lives and those who don’t know how to manage their workload often leave things until the last minute, resulting in unneeded stress and poorer quality work.
Cramming for exams is particularly detrimental because information is processed in a shallow way. For deep learning to take place, students need to do more than hastily read through their notes the night before a test. They need take the time to study properly, using a range of techniques.
It’s not just school work that is impacted by poor time management skills. Virtually all areas of adult life require time management. To become independent, young people need to start by managing their daily lives. Those who can manage their own time feel confident and in control, boosting self-esteem.
All students can benefit from help with time management using these strategies which are easy to implement and monitor:
Goals give students a sense of purpose and achievement. Setting clear goals allows them to work towards what they want, which in turn fosters valuable life skills, such as perseverance and resilience.
By setting goals, students learn that short-term sacrifices are sometimes required for long-term success, and that they are responsible for their own achievements. Clearly defined goals can improve academic results and increase self-confidence.
Follow these five strategies to help your student set effective goals in 2019:
The first step when coming up with goals is to brainstorm what your student wants. This should be fun, and the sky’s the limit! Encourage them to be adventurous and think about what they’d like to achieve throughout their lives. They can write it down or just talk about it, but the point is to get them thinking about their goals and seeing the bigger picture. Goals need to be personally meaningful. When students understand what they are working towards, it can help them to persevere when they are feeling stressed or unmotivated.
After you’ve brainstormed what your student wants, it’s time to set small, clear goals that will help them succeed. While goals need to be realistic and achievable, they shouldn’t be too easy. Research has found that the most effective goals are those that are reasonably difficult. The whole purpose of goal-setting is for students to improve and stretch themselves, and goals should reflect this. It’s helpful to list goals in order of priority and break each one down into smaller steps or create an action plan. Start with a couple of goals to build confidence and work from there.
The SMART model for goal-setting is based on the idea that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Applying a timeframe is very important because goals that are open-ended will not increase motivation as effectively. Knowing when a goal needs to be achieved by gives students the opportunity to assess how they are going and take remedial action if needed.
After you’ve come up with some goals and a timeframe for achieving them, it’s time to write them down. A chart or poster that your student will see every day is helpful as it will keep their goals in mind. The wording and timeframe for each goal should be clear so that students know exactly what is required and when, and the results should be easily measurable. Language should always be positive and focus on what will be gained, not what is lacking.
Reflection is an essential part of goal-setting. When students achieve a goal, they can reflect on what they did to make this happen, furnishing them the skills and self-knowledge to achieve further success. Failure is also an important part of the process and provides a valuable learning opportunity. Rather than casting blame, students can evaluate their progress and pinpoint why they didn’t achieve their goal this time, allowing them to make different choices in the future.
It’s almost time to say goodbye to long leisurely days in the sun and get ready for another school year. Returning to the classroom after the summer holiday requires some adjustment, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
Follow these tips for a productive and successful year!
Tailoring your study techniques to suit your style can make learning easier and more enjoyable. Simply reflecting on the types of classroom activities you like will give you a good idea of your favoured learning style. You can also take an online quiz to find out.
The three most common learning styles are:
While everyone uses a combination of learning styles, one is usually dominant. Typically, younger children are taught kinesthetically, then as they progress through school, visual techniques become more common. In later school years auditory techniques are used often in lectures and classroom discussions.
These study techniques will help auditory learners make the most of their learning style.
Auditory learners are very sensitive to sound and work better in quiet environments. This allows them to concentrate on tasks and absorb information. It’s important to have a peaceful study area at home if this is your learning style. Noise-cancelling headphones and relaxing music can aid concentration. In the classroom, auditory learners should be seated away from doors, windows and talkative students.
Because the most effective learning takes place through listening and talking, auditory learners need to make the most of time in the classroom. This means practicing active listening and joining in class discussions. If you’re an auditory learner don’t be concerned if you take fewer notes than others. People with this learning style tend to have very good memories and retain information differently.
There are many excellent tools available to help auditory learners, including digital voice recorders, videos, audiobooks and transcribing technology. If you are struggling to understand a topic or a written text, there’s a good chance someone has made a video on it. Just make sure the video comes from a reliable source. When studying it’s helpful to record yourself reading your notes and play them back. Transcribing software is useful for essay and report writing.
Tutoring and study groups are especially beneficial for auditory learners because of the verbal interaction involved. When working with a tutor, students can discuss information and ask questions. In study groups, participants can take turns explaining concepts to each other, reading notes out loud and coming up with jingles and rhymes to help them retain information.
There are many benefits to being an auditory learner, and you can demonstrate your strengths by taking part in debates, making oral presentations and participating in group work. In high school, students should choose subjects and assessment tasks that will allow them to shine and display their abilities.
There has been a push by governments and educators in Australia in recent years to increase awareness and improve results in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This is due to the declining popularity of these subjects and lagging results compared to international standards.
The problems with STEM arise partly from the belief that these subjects are too difficult for young children. Children unconsciously absorb this fallacy, causing them to grow up with an aversion to STEM. This is particularly a problem for girls who are underrepresented in STEM courses and careers.
The truth is children are naturally curious about their environment and they engage with enthusiasm when they can see STEM’s application to the real world. STEM skills, like literacy skills, should be developed from a very young age by encouraging children to be observant and think about how the things they encounter in their everyday lives function.
Experts agree that STEM skills are critical for productivity and innovation. It is estimated that up to 40% of jobs will be affected by automation within the next 10 years. Students today will be working in roles which have not yet been invented. Studies have found that those equipped with STEM skills are more creative and flexible, giving them a major advantage in the future job market.
It is essential for Australia’s economic growth that young people are inspired to study STEM. According to chief scientist Alan Finkel, those with STEM skills and qualifications “are the lifeblood of emerging knowledge-based industries — such as biotechnology, informational communications technology and advanced manufacturing — and provide competitive advantages to established industries such as agriculture, resources and health care.”
STEM skills are needed for more than jobs and productivity. To be informed citizens in the digital age, young people must have a good understanding of how technology, science and engineering shape society. This allows them to participate and make informed decisions.
Kids should become involved with STEM as early as possible so they a develop a positive outlook towards these learning areas. Teaching concepts in a fun, accessible way and showing their practical applications are the key to taking the fear out of STEM and equipping children with essential skills for the future.
Deciding which career path to follow can be daunting for teens when they are just discovering where their interests and passions lie. Young people should never feel pressured to make major career decisions too early in life, but there are many things you can do to get your teen thinking about the future.
Teenagers who have an idea of what they want to do after high school are at an advantage because they can select subjects relevant to their career choice, increasing motivation. Those who have considered their career options are also less likely to enroll in the wrong university or vocational course. This is very pertinent in Australia were university fees are increasing and drop-out rates have reached record levels.
To help your teen make the right career choice:
A career should provide financial stability, but there is so much more to a career than just money. It should also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Encourage your teen to think about their interests and personal qualities, and the type of careers they might be suitable for.
You can offer an opinion, but don’t make the mistake of trying to live out your own career aspirations through your child. Choosing a career is one of life’s biggest decisions, and it’s important for young people to pursue something that aligns with their interests, talents and values. Self-knowledge is the best indicator for success when it comes to career choice.
Careers counsellors have a range of tools at their disposal to identify personality traits and measure aptitudes. While their recommendations should not predetermine a career path, counsellors can provide helpful information and advice. If your teen shows limited aptitude for a career they want to pursue, now is the time to get them additional support. You can also encourage them to consider other options in the same field which may be more fitting for them.
Talking openly your own career decisions, triumphs and regrets with your teen is a great way to get them thinking about their choices. Also encourage them to speak to other adults in their lives about their jobs and how they ended up where they are. Most people’s careers don’t follow a straight line, and it’s helpful for young people to understand there will be surprises and detours along the way.
Big changes are on the horizon when it comes to work. Many of today’s jobs will soon become automated or disappear entirely and new ones will take their place. To thrive in this dynamic environment, young people need to be flexible and multi-skilled. One of the key ways you can help your teen choose the right career path is by ensuring that they have the education and higher order skills to adapt quickly to change.
Teaching children how to give is one of the most powerful lessons they’ll ever learn. It’s easy for parents to get caught up in the excitement of the Christmas season and forget that kids need to give as well as receive, but this is the ideal time to nurture the spirit of giving in children.
You can inspire your child to give by:
Helping choose gifts for family and friends gives kids a chance to experience the pleasure that comes from making other people happy. When they put real thought and effort into picking a present, they understand the rewards of giving.
This is also a great opportunity to teach children that gifts don’t have to be expensive to be worthwhile. A simple handmade card, a cake or even a story can be more meaningful than an expensive item. By giving gifts from the heart they will learn that the intention behind the gift is more important than the gift itself.
You’re the best role model when it comes to teaching your kids about giving, so take every opportunity to show them what it looks like. Young children struggle to understand abstract concepts, but they will recognise what giving means when they see you help out neighbours perform kind acts for family and friends or volunteer at their school. When you joyfully give to others, your kids will do the same.
Spending time together helping others is one of the best ways to teach kids about giving. Options include visiting an elderly person in a retirement home, participating in community clean-up days or looking after a rescue animal. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as kids get to experience what it means to give.
Teaching kids that giving is an ongoing process, not a one-off event. Ask kids to keep their eyes open for charities and volunteer opportunities and encourage them to give to others in their daily lives. This may involve befriending a child at school who seems lonely or mowing the lawn for a sick neighbour. When kids practice giving regularly it becomes a natural impulse.
When you teach your children about the gift of giving the lesson stays with them for life.