Dear Parents,
Welcome back to our last term for this year. I hope you have all had the break you needed.

I spent the beginning of my holidays at the ADEC (Australian Democratic Education Community) conference at Pine Community School in Brisbane. It was a fantastic conference and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with like-minded educators who are passionate about providing an alternative approach. I brought back some beautiful dance and movement ideas which I have had fun teaching the children this week.

Using our upcoming excursion to the zoo as inspiration, we’ve begun to explore the theme in our literature and beyond. After reading the book “Apollo, The Powerful Owl” we had a fantastic debate on the merits of keeping animals in zoos at all. We asked the question, “Would animals be better in a zoo or in the wild?”. It was fantastic to hear all the children express their thoughts so eloquently and even better to observe them listening and considering each others opinions. At the beginning of the session we had all the children standing on one side of the room or the other with firm beliefs. By the end of the session, many children had moved to the centre of the room, showing conflicted and mixed thoughts on the issue.

In maths we’ve begun to explore three dimensional objects. We had lots of fun closing our eyes and feeling mystery 3D objects and describing them to our partner. It was fun to open our eyes and to see what we were holding all along! (an apple, a block, a Lego figure etc…) We’ve also used paper to model a simple pyramid and have learnt words like ‘edge’, ‘vertex’ , ‘surface’ and ‘face’ to describe them.

Thank you to all of you for sending the children already in their swimmers on Tuesday. It made for a much faster getaway and more time in the water.

I’m looking for a handy volunteer who might be able to fix our easel. I think we have all the parts, but Jane and I can’t work out how to make it stand up by itself! Any help would be welcomed.

In other news, we have begun our concert preparations. But its top secret…so no clues here…

Warm wishes,

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 What Is Grit, Why Kids Need It, and How You Can Foster It?  by Jenny Williams

You’ve probably heard the word grit mentioned several times in the recent years in the context of raising kids who go on to fulfil their potential.

While the word grit may conjure images of Rocky Balboa or Dirty Harry, in the past decade or so it has taken on a whole new meaning that has stolen the attention of parents and educators alike.That’s because according to University of Pennsylvania psychologist and MacArthur ‘genius’ Angela Duckworth, grit, defined as a child’s “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” is a better indicator of future earnings and happinessthan either IQ or talent.

Today’s mounting research on grit suggests that your child’s ability to work hard, endure struggle, fail, and try again may be the key to determining his or her long-term success and happiness.

So, What Is Grit and Why Does it Matter?

When we are in pursuit of a lofty goal, we don’t know when or even whether we will succeed. Until we do.

Grit is a distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus that allows a person to maintain the discipline and optimism to persevere in their goals even in the face of discomfort, rejection, and a lack of visible progress for years, or even decades.

To be a gentle, supportive parent who raises gritty kids, click here to get our FREE mini-course How to Be a Positive Parent.

Through extensive research, Angela Duckworth and her team have proven that the common denominator among spelling bee finalists, successful West Point cadets, salespeople and teachers who not only stick with, but improve in their performance is grit.

And according to study after study, people who are smart, talented, kind, curious, and come from stable, loving homes, generally don’t succeed if they don’t know how to work hard, remain committed to their goals, and persevere through struggles and failure.

Can We Foster Grit in Children and How?

As word of Duckworth’s research has spread, grit has become a hot topic in education and parenting circles, and supporters want to know how to build grit in children. Although Duckworth herself says she doesn’t know definitively how to increase grit in young people, she is hopeful it can be taught, and she and her team are working with researchers and schools across the country to find out how.

In 2004 and 2006, Duckworth and a team of researchers tested the grit and self-control of several thousand incoming West Point cadets before their first summer at school. The summer program, known as “Beast Barracks” is designed to push cadets to their mental and emotional limits, so much so that about 1 in 20 cadets drops out.

After taking their measurements, researchers looked for correlations between summer retention rates and cadets’ Whole Candidate Scores (a number calculated by West Point’s using, in part, SAT scores, GPA, and leadership potential), their grit scores and their self-disciplinescores. It was grit that predicted retention better than any other score; cadets who scored at least one standard deviation above the norm in grit were 60% more likely to remain at West Point after the first summer than those with lower grit scores.

Although the terminology may be different, the Army includes this concept in the evaluation of even its most elite soldiers. My husband tells the story of his qualification to attend the U.S. Army’s Ranger School, its premier small-unit leadership course.

In the final exercise before soldiers were chosen to attend the school, he and his fellow soldiers were told to “ruck up” with 35-pound packs and start walking. The instruction was something like, “We’re not going to tell you how far you have to walk or what the cut-off time is, but if you don’t finish under time, you’re going home.”

The would-be Rangers started walking, fast.

Finally, after hours of walking, the soldiers came to the spot where they had begun. From a distance, it looked like the finish. But as each man approached the sergeant yelled out a time and then said, “Good work. One lap down.”

More than one soldier crumbled there, dropping his pack and surrendering his spot in Ranger School. But those who continued walking found that the real finish was just around the corner, a few hundred yards away.

“Never quit in a valley,” says Angela Duckworth. Indeed, had those soldiers who quit maintained the fortitude to go on and move past that low-point they would have secured their spots in Ranger School.

As parents, it is up to us to cultivate the confidence and optimism in our children that will allow them to power through those low moments. A mother of two, Duckworth told Marguerite Del Giudice, “Kids are not able to just spontaneously grow up to be gritty people without being supported in that.”

So as parents, what can we do to provide that support? How do we teach our kids to push themselves? What can we do to help our kids be receptive to these tough lessons? Here are few ideas gleaned from the “grit” experts about how to be intentional in our quest to build grit.

#1 Find a Passion (or At Least an Engaging Activity)

Okay, so it’s probably overkill to expect your five-year-old to have found his “passion.” But as children grow older, pursuing a particular interest of their own choosing can help them to identify a passion and understand that practice, hard work and perseverance are surest way to achievement.

One of the characteristics of “gritty” people is that they are “especially motivated to seek happiness through focused engagement and a sense of meaning or purpose,” (Duckworth Lab Research Statement), so letting a child find his or her own passion is necessary in the long term.

In a story for NPR, Duckworth told Tovia Smith, “I don’t think people can become truly gritty and great at things they don’t love, so when we try to develop grit in kids, we also need to find and help them cultivate their passions.”

But even if our kids haven’t found their life’s work yet, we can help them learn the habits and traits that comprise grit.

At the Duckworth house, they have implemented a “Hard Thing Rule,” which says that every member of the family has to be working on something difficult at any given time. Each person can choose his or her “thing” but it should be both interesting and require “deliberate practice almost daily.” And everyone has to stick with his or her selected activity for a set period of time. No one is allowed to quit mid-season because things seem too hard.

The idea is to teach kids to commit to something and work hard. The learning process is not always fun, and improvement does not come without effort. But if a child is motivated to improve at something because she likes it, then the struggle will seem worthwhile and success will be its own reward.

Be it ballet, soccer, violin, or karate, allowing a child to choose an activity and work at it for a whole season (or longer for older children) not only helps children find and cultivate a passion, it also teaches self-discipline and reinforces the idea that practice begets skill.

#2 Recognize That Frustration, Confusion and Practice Are Par for the Course

According to the Duckworth lab, those who believe that diligence and perseverance pay off beat out their less optimistic, and often more talented, counterparts nearly every time.

In a 2013 TED Talk, Duckworth said it is the “best idea” she has heard about how to increase grit in children is to teach what Stanford professor and author of the highly acclaimed book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, calls a “growth mindset.

Dweck has found that people with “growth mindsets” are more resilient and tend to push through struggle because they believe that hard work is part of the process and they understand that failure is not a permanent condition. Those with “fixed mindsets” on the other hand, believe that success stems from innate talent and tend to give up easily—why work hard at something if you don’t believe you can change anything?

The Duckworth lab’s recent research, undertaken in partnership with classroom teachers, shows that students become less frustrated with the learning process and put forth more effort when they understand that even experts struggle to learn their craft.

First-hand accounts of the obstacles that experts have to overcome to “make it” have a real impact on helping kids manage frustration.

When a skilled performer does something well, it looks easy. Watching Jordan Spieth drive a golf ball, Taylor Swift perform a song or Ina Garten prepare a meal can make success seem easy because we never see the frustration, fatigue or years of practice and preparation that precede the final product. In working to develop grit in children, we must point out the toil that goes on behind the scenes.

Duckworth is fond of quoting world-class dancer Martha Graham who said, “Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to the paradise of achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration, there are daily small deaths.”

Last summer while at the City Farmer’s Market, my children and I stopped to watch a talented tap dancer performing a street show. My daughter Sue* was mesmerized. “I want to dance like that,” she said. “I want to take tap.”

When the dancer took a break, we asked him how long he had been dancing.

“14 years,” he said.

“And how much do you practice?” I asked.

“Three hours a day,” he said.

Later, Sue and I got out the calculator. That’s 15,330 hours of practice!

It’s not that we should never let our children change interests or shift activities as they grow—they are kids after all—but understanding the value of practice, hard work and even struggle may be the thing that carries them across the finish line.

#3 Take Risks (and Tell Your Kids About It)

 Grit demands risk taking. Successful people are willing to step out of their comfort zones and risk failure in order to learn something new or pursue a long-term goal. And while, by definition, a risk may end in failure, successful adults don’t give up.

Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed says, “Lots of parents don’t want to talk about their failures in front of their kids, but that’s denying kids the potentially powerful experience of seeing their parents bounce back.”

The Summers boys were 9, 11, and 13 when the late Dr. Robert Summers, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, applied for a Ford Foundation grant that would allow the family to spend a year in England.

As his wife, Dr. Anita Summers, tells it, the Summers decided to share their risk-taking with their children by telling the boys about the application months before they knew the outcome.

In addition to wanting the boys to “get their arms around the possibility of being away for the year,” Dr. Summers says they wanted their sons to see that if their father didn’t win the fellowship they “would be very disappointed, but [that] life goes on.”

Either way, the boys would gain valuable insights from their father’s experience. They could feel the anticipation and excitement that accompanies risk-taking as they waited to learn their fate, and then either experience the joy of success or share in the disappointment of failure, but, win or lose, their father would continue to pursue his life’s work.

On the day that Dr. Summers finally received his letter, the family waited for him to come home and deliver the news. And when he produced the acceptance letter, the boys were able to celebrate with their parents in a way that they could not have if they hadn’t felt the apprehension and excitement that preceded the acceptance.

Further, if the boys hadn’t been privy to the discomfort of not knowing the outcome, they might have been left with the impression that winning a prestigious fellowship simply falls into one’s lap rather than being sought after and hard won.

The lesson seems to have worked. All three of their boys have gone on to successful careers in law, medicine and public policy. Their oldest, Larry, has served as Secretary of the Treasury and President of Harvard University.

When Dr. Summers shared this story, I thought about the handful of high school seniors I had met who were afraid to apply to certain colleges out of a fear of rejection. Some were kids with high-test scores and exceptional GPAs who refused to strive for acceptance to an elite schools because they didn’t think they would get in, and others were lower achieving students who refused to apply at all. It’s hard to imagine that those kids would not be better off today if they had possessed the courage to risk rejection in pursuit of success.

It’s easy to spout aphorisms like “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” but letting our kids see us put a little skin in the game may build the optimism and courage they need to take some risks themselves.

#4 Teach That Failure Is Not the End

5,127 – The number of failed vacuum prototypes created by James Dyson before he came out with the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner that made him a billionaire.

30 – The number of rejections Stephen King received before his first novel, Carrie, was finally accepted by a publisher.

$4 million – The number of dollars lost on GoPro inventor, Nick Woodman’s, failed first company.

According to the Duckworth lab statement, gritty people have “cognitive dispositions that incline [them] to look for changeable causes of their current problems.”

Grit means maintaining the hope and vision to change even under the most challenging circumstances.

The internet is littered with one-liners about overcoming failure, but inspiring aphorisms are not enough to convince children that they should endure rejections, setbacks and failures, especially painful ones.

In order to teach children to be resilient, we need to show them real examples of how failures and setbacks can lead to success—by talking about them regularly, sharing our own experiences, and most importantly allowing them to fail.

In his New York Times article “The Secret to Success is Failure,” Paul Tough says,

It is a central paradox of contemporary parenting, in fact: we have an acute, almost biological impulse to provide for our children, to give them everything they want and need, to protect them from dangers and discomforts both large and small. And yet we all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can.

As parents, it is important that we don’t let our protective instincts rob our kids of first-hand experiences with hard-won victories.

This winter my husband and I put Paul Tough’s assertion to the test. At our local gym, kids who pass a swimming test are given a wristband that allows them to swim in the pool without a life jacket on. Despite having taken several years of swimming lessons, our daughter, Sue, has struggled with swimming and been slow to master floating on her back.

Until a few weeks ago, she would not attempt the swimming test because she was terrified of failing. Likewise, while we wanted her to earn her band, we did not want her to become discouraged if she failed.

Finally, we put a deadline before her: She had to attempt the swimming test before spring break. We weren’t sure whether or not she would pass, but decided that Sue facing her fear of failing was paramount. “If you pass,” we told her, “you’ll get your wristband, and if you don’t, we’ll know what you need to work on. We’ll practice and take the test again.”

When the moment came, Sue hopped into the pool and swam her freestyle without any trouble, but when it came time to float, she couldn’t flip onto her back and tried several times before she burst into tears.

“I want to practice. I want to practice,” she begged as we got out of the test pool and back into the kiddie pool. We spent the next 15 minutes half playing, half practicing before she said, “I want to take it again.”

While I was proud of her resilience, I was also apprehensive about a second failure and told her I didn’t think she had practiced enough. When she insisted, I summoned the lifeguard. Then Sue failed her test for a second time.

At home that night, we celebrated Sue’s decision to take the test but talked about how we’d need to practice her back float a lot more before she tried the test again.

Sue is still working toward her swimming test goal by taking weekly swimming lessons and practicing on her own, but the failure has not kept her out of the pool or dampened her resolve.

Now that she’s failed once, the prospect of another failure remains unpleasant but no longer deters her from trying. We are all confident that with practice she will also succeed in earning her wristband.

As parents, we all want to see our kids succeed, but as they search to find their footing on the pathway to success, it is important to show them that failure is part of the process, not an endpoint, but a necessary crossing on the road to achievement.

And if we don’t let them see us fail or experience a failure themselves in the safety of our presence, they may not have the stamina to overcome one when they are on their own.

In the months leading up to December 2014 Tyler Wagner trained to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. He sacrificed time with his family, a wife and four children, for training and shared his excitement about the challenge with them as he worked toward his goal. His daughter even checked out a library book with a picture of Mount Kilimanjaro on the front.

Then, the day after Christmas, he left his family and journeyed toward the peak with a group of friends. But before he could reach the summit, Tyler became so sick that he could not go on.

Even now months later, he finds it difficult to reflect on the failed attempt. “I know I was a mess with a fever and cough and physically unable to continue,” he says, “but even that excuse doesn’t make it okay in my head.”

Still, he and his wife, Lauren, have turned his failure into a lesson for his kids.

When Tyler talked to his family on Skype soon after leaving the mountain, he shared his sadness and frustration over not finishing the climb. But since then they have talked a lot about his experience in Africa, not just the climb but also the safari that followed—the animals, the food, and the way Tyler adapted daily routines in this foreign environment.

“Fear of failure and disappointment is something I don’t want them to focus on,” he says. “I hope they saw that I took a chance and stepped out of my comfort zone, and while I didn’t climb to the summit, I was still able to have a great experience.”

Today Tyler is talking about a second attempt, and Lauren says it may be a family affair. “The kids believe that Tyler will definitely try again,” she says, “and they plan to be there with him. It has now become a goal of theirs to do it with him.”

Failure is painful and humbling, and as parents it is difficult to admit to our kids that it happens to us too. Yet exposing them to failure may be the very thing to inoculate them against giving up when they come face-to-face with failure themselves. They need to know that frustrating and painful moments are not the end of something but a natural part of the journey toward achievement.


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And here we are – into our last term of the year!!!!!!
I am hoping that everybody had a nice break? From all the children’s accounts it certainly sounded like there were adventures had; places, friends & family visited and it looks like… a little bit of growing occured along the way (for some) too. It was so lovely to see ‘bright sparks’ come walking into the classroom on Monday morning, and for some to say they were Grateful to be back at school.

So what’s happening for us this term? Well, starting from next week, we will have a student teacher with us for 4 weeks. Her name is Tamara and she will be doing her final prac with our class, so will be teaching the children for the majority of time during this period. We will be looking at Poetry this term and starting off our Maths with Fractions & Decimals. Tamara will be doing some Science and we will be Swimming and Writing and developing and practicing our play for the school concert. And there will be an excursion, at some stage. And Camp for the Elders. And a few added extras along the way. Oh, and Personal Projects – of course!

Already we are off and running. This week, we discussed the plot for our play and the children have decided on their character. The school concert will be held at North Sydney Leagues Club in Week 6 on Thursday, 22nd of Nov. Put this in your diary now!!!! Start time will be 6pm. Unlike past years at this venue, their will be no tables in the auditorium this year, only seating. So plan your night to include a meal prior to the 6pm start or after the concert.

We are reaching the end of our spelling units and in a few weeks will finalise this with a ‘bumper’ spelling quiz. Implementing spelling strategies and skills learnt throughout the year the children will be quizzed on approx 100 words. Already, letting them know this will be happening has created a stir – enthusiasm, anticipation & some excited nerves. With all the effort placed on spelling throughout this year the majority of children are eager to know how they will do. We began swimming on Tuesday. What a fantastic effort and improvement the children have made. It really pays to keep up with lessons throughout winter and the colder months. Come spring/summer – they are strong, confident and ready to swim.

It will be our turn to visit Lane Cove Library next week, so please return any books you may have floating around at home.

I think that’s about it – for this week!
Love, Sarah

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Sylvie swan rules ok.

  Hey peeps! I can’t believe I’m leaving! I’ve been at Currambena for six years and a term (nearly!!). I know that sounds weird, but it’s true! I moved here from England with my family when I was five. I had already done preschool and kindergarten in England, so I only did a term of Fran’s class (kindergarten). Fran was GREAT!!! So thank you Fran!!

Then I went to Blake’s class, year 1. I made most of my friends that year, not including Amalia and Gillian, who I made friends with in Fran’s. Blake was also an amazing teacher, so big thanks to Blake!!

The next few years were fantastic as well. I went on camp in Sarah’s class, held rats in Louise’s class, and went WILD when Wendy wasn’t looking (soz!). I’ve made LOADS of loving friends along the way, so… Thank You So Much Friends!!!

I also have had two great buddies, Maya and Amaya. Thank you, Maya and Amaya!

Big Thanks to Crafty Chris, who helped me make some GORGEOUS things over the years.

My family is travelling around Europe next year, and I’m going to be coming to school for another term! See you then, folks!

Love you guys lots, and goodbye!

Sylvie xoxo 

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Welcome Everyone,

School holidays

First week –  Blue Umbrella will be operating Tuesday to Friday.

Second week-  Monday 8th October Acacia Tree people are coming to clear deadwood in all our trees.

  • Thursday 11th October The Pest Inspection people will be checking around the schoolThere will also be  a group of parents cleaning and oiling all our decks so be mindful where you step if are on the school grounds


    Fees – There are a few people that I would really appreciate if they could check that their fee payments are up to date as of the end of this term.

    Term 4 – School resumes Monday 15th October

    Next Council meeting to be advised



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One of my favourite memories and skills was learning how to carve soapstone from Crafty Chris. I love soapstone and carving it.
The camps were so much fun and camping was a really new experience for me, with a large group. I found this challenging and rewarding even if it didn’t look like it. …Mowbray Park, Great Aussie Bush Camp, Little River, Canberra and Jervis Bay.
I did many, many sports at Currambena. My favourites include ice skating and soccer. Currambena is not competitive which allowed me to focus on enjoying the sport and not on winning.
My earliest Currambena memory is watching Kamu and Finn jumping around in preschool. I joined in and we had lots of fun. My Preschool teachers were Sue, Michael and Chris. My next teacher was Fran and after Fran was Blake. I remember rumbling with Blake in the top playground, trying to get him to the ground. We never succeeded! Then I went to Sarah’s. I remember helping Chris when he fell off a swing at Mowbray Park and I had to go into the mud!
In Louise’s class, I remember when Pepper and Grayster died. They were great class pets and I was really sad when they died.
Now I’m in Wendy’s and I’m looking forward to Jervis Bay and then high school.
Thank you to all my teachers and I hope that everyone who comes to Currambena has as much fun as I have had.
From James

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Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe it’s the end of term 3 already! The children are certainly ready for some rest and relaxation over the break!

This week we finished watching our project presentations and the quality has been really high. Term on term the children are showing how much they are learning about the process, the end product and the presentation of it. The improvement over the year has been dramatic.

In maths this week we continued looking at volume. We made some discoveries about how to find the volume of cubes and have started to see how that relates to finding the volume of rectangular prisms. The children have been enjoying the inquiry-based lessons; being about to spot patterns and relationships and extend their understanding further. In English we have been finishing graphic novels. Some will be coming home to be finished off during the holidays. We’ll then compile them into a class book that can be enjoyed by everyone.

On Tuesday we had a visitor from Rain forest Rescue come in and talk to each of the classes. We learnt about the animals living in the Daintree and why it is important to protect that habitat. In the afternoon each class ran activities around the science learning they’d been doing during the term. Our class split into small groups and chose an experiment or demonstration to show. They children loved sharing what they’d learnt about light, sound and friction.

Today we are heading to Pottery Green for our final sport lesson this term. The children received feedback on their games which they designed, they then had time to improve it by altering the rules or adding elements. The two games which the group wanted to play again, with the improvements, will be happening this morning.

Tomorrow is our class party. The children have voted to walk to Lane Cove to buy lunch. We’ll bring it back to school and eat it in front of our movie. The maximum amount for lunch is $15, although this is a lot and we’ve discussed sharing food with friends and only buying what they think they will reasonably eat. This is optional and the children can bring a packed lunch with them if they want to.

I hope you all have a fun and restful school holidays and we’ll see you back at school on Monday 15th October.

Love Louise

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Hello Everyone,

3 terms down and only one to go. The year has quickly flown by as it tends to do in the fast paced world of preschool!

We’ve had a busy term, going on many excursions around our local community and completing our astronomy unit which collectively the children really seemed to enjoy. We hope to continue this as we head into term 4.

This week we took part in a whole school science fair. The children made a fantastic instructional poster on how to make a model world with the 4 layers out of plasticine. The preschool children enjoyed guiding the children in primary in how to make these. Preschoolers had the opportunity to visit primary classrooms and take part in the science experiences they were holding. It’s always a great experience for everyone involved in preschool to take part in cross classroom activities.

We also joined Jess’s class this week to hear from an organisation called Rain forest Rescue. We heard about how the school raised enough funds to save 140 square metres of previously unprotected rain forest. Which is fantastic. A big thank you to Sarah for organising the talk and to everyone in Sarah’s class for putting on a great stall.

Thank you to everyone that has put their name down for a job on the list placed on the white board in preschool. There’s still a few jobs yet to be allocated so please come and place your name down if you’re in need of a few maintenance hours. A huge thank you to Candice and Andrew, Jett’s Mum and Dad for a fantastic visit to Bloomingtails Dog Grooming and Riverview Animal Hospital.

We look forward to joining preschool families at the Diddy this afternoon (Thursday) for a bit of an end of term celebration. We hope you can make it!

Michael and I are off with Wendy, Jess and Jane to the Pines Community School in Queensland over the weekend to a democratic school conference it will be great to meet up with like-minded teachers from schools similar to Currambena

Wishing you a restful and enjoyable break with your gorgeous children. Preschool will resume for children on Monday 15th October.


Katrina, Michael and Hannah

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