Balance needed: Year 9 Catholic Ladies’ College girls learn
As schoolkids approach year 9 amid the more often than not bumpy transition into adolescence, the strains begin to show, both at home and in the classroom.
“Year 9 is a psychological no-man’s land academically for many kids because nothing about school is particularly new,” says Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a renowned child and adolescent psychologist.
“Unless they can be engaged, and their imagination captivated, they can become disenchanted with the whole process.”
With the gloss of high school having worn off after the first couple of years, and a long stretch to go before year 12, there’s not a great deal to look forward to. Add the whirlwind of hormones that comes with adolescence as children’s bodies mature faster than their minds, and you have the year-9 dilemma.
Dr Carr-Gregg says it’s a time when teenagers become increasingly independent, self-centred and resentful
“The adjustment can be difficult,’’ he says. “They have reached full adult size physiologically, but quite often parents don’t realise their brains have quite a long way to go.”
Of course, it’s not just parents who can find the adjustment testing. Catholic Ladies’ College in Eltham helps year 9 students ride out the bumps by giving them more say about how they learn.
The girls are allowed to use their mobile phones in school, and can use iPads in class to aid their studies. Mary Farah, deputy principal of learning and teaching, says the aim is to give students a sense of autonomy that heads off any rebellious feelings.
“We allow for individual pursuit,” she says. “It’s all about engaging them, and tailoring our programs for individual needs.”
Farah acknowledges that year 9 is an important period for the girls as they move from childhood to become young women. As well as a much more flexible approach in the classroom, the school also takes year 9 students on various off-campus trips, including surfing lessons and the two-day Healesville program, where the girls stay with the Sisters of Charity, engage in community work, learn about indigenous history and visit the Healesville Sanctuary.
“It’s basically about allowing them to be themselves,” Farah says. “We need a balance between active learning and more traditional methods. We really listen to the girls and allow them to build relationships.”
Dr Gregg-Carr says this sort of approach is much more likely to be successful.
“Anything you do that recognises the unique developmental characteristics of this particular period is going to be valuable.
“The kids who do well are the ones who feel valued and listened to, while the greatest enemy is boredom. If you keep them busy and allow them to discover their identity by taking a succession of healthy risks, they not only learn about themselves but come to appreciate what they have, rather than focusing on what they don’t.”
Diary dates campus tours & events
Fintona Girls’ School tour July 26, 9.15-11am. Tour the early learning centre, junior and senior school campuses at 79 Balwyn Road, Balwyn.
To book, visit www.fintona.vic.edu.au or contact the registrar on 9830 1388. All welcome.
St Monica’s College, Epping, invites you to a morning tea with the principal and tour of the junior campus. For dates and further information, contact the registrar, Enza Sinopoli, on 9409 8911 or email email@example.com
Strathcona \ School at Work open morning on Wednesday, July 25, 10am-noon, for junior and senior campuses, at 34 Scott Street, Canterbury.
Inquiries 8779 7500.
Santa Maria College school tour on July 27, 9am, at 50 Separation Street, Northcote.
Bookings essential. Details 9489 7644.
Eltham College \ Eltham in Action tours for all year levels on July 27. Arrive by 9am at 1660 Main Road, Research. No bookings required. Call 9437 1421 or visit www.elthamcollege.vic.edu.au for more information. Personal tours on request.
Yarra Valley Grammar \ To book an individual school tour or for further information, contact director of admissions and marketing, Natasha Alexander, on 9262 7700.