School Finder – Finding the right fit for your family!

When we landed in Sydney almost 5 years ago, it was probably the most overwhelming yet exhilarating time of our lives. Where would we live? Where would I buy my groceries? What is the traffic like? And most importantly, how on earth am I going to find the right school?
In order to settle into life ‘Down Under’ and get sorted with all the things necessary to ‘live’ as a family, we had given ourselves about 10 weeks leeway.
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First day at Aussie School!! 
A few days after arriving, our relocation consultant, turned up! Lisa drove us around for three days looking for the best location in Sydney, to fit what we were looking for to build our new life. (A dream right??)… Yes, we were spoilt, but using a service like this, meant we landed on our feet in the perfect spot for the whole family!
I am well aware that lots of expats arrive in Australia without this kind of assistance, and that’s why I want to introduce you to a couple of amazing women who are dedicated to helping you find the perfect school & location for your family even if you’re not on Aussie soil!!

Meet Steph & Claire from School Finder!

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Steph is a mum to 3 kids,  who lives in Bayside, Melbourne. Steph worked for 6 years at Kilvington Grammar before having her first child and taking 6 years off to expanded her family. She completed her masters while away from the classroom and got involved in community kindergarten where currently she is President. Steph went back to the classroom in 2017 working in the state system and now works 2 days a week teaching Year One. Steph loves teaching because no day is the same, the kids make you laugh and you’re always kept on your toes.
‘Teaching is so rewarding!  Seeing your students ‘ah ha’ moments and pride in their success makes all the tough moments worthwhile’ – Stephanie Murphy
Claire is also a mum and has worked for 11 years in the Catholic system across different areas of Melbourne from Cheltenham to Melton and now based in East Malvern. She has her masters in ‘Inclusive Schooling’ and is currently working 2 days a week in Year 6. Claire has taught extensively in Prep and has been a transition coordinator welcoming children in at the beginning of their primary school journey. Conversely Claire has also taught 3 years in Year 6 and has seen her students graduate and transition to secondary schooling. Claire is a lover of learning, challenging herself to always think differently, try something new and see where it leads. She also has the most infectious laugh making it hard to not all end up in stitches.

What made you decide to set up School Finder

School Finder was borne from our own personal experiences. When I (Steph) was looking for a school for Henry (my eldest) I found not only were my choices limited (at the time we lived further down the Peninsula) but the variety of offerings was so diverse it was hard to really decide what I wanted. At the same time Claire had just had her first baby and so, as I searched Claire answered my phone calls about what I liked, what I didn’t and things I noticed while looking at different schools. 2 things were really clear – even with our teaching background, we still needed a clear criteria and set of parameters that met our children. Parents on tours with me spent most of the time smiling and nodding uncertainly, whilst I spent a lot of my time deciphering jargon for them.
After I had chosen a school for Henry and we were in the process of moving and finding him a kindergarten, we decided to write down some of the things that Claire did with me, informally, as a framework for what now we call our Welcome Survey. My husband built the website, we started putting our name out there and between friends, family and word of mouth our little start up was born and we began to get clients and test out our service.
‘In our first year we didn’t charge any of our clients, we wanted to see if what we did worked for families, we wanted to review and refine our service and build relationships with new people and schools. Now we have clients from all over Melbourne and interstate Australia. Including several international moves also’ – Stephanie Murphy 

What services do you offer expat parents moving to Australia for the first time? Can you assist parents even when they have never visited the area?

When families move to Australia we want to ensure we talk to them about what the Australian school system looks like, how the calendar year & terms work, and educational approaches. We then walk them through the online resources they can access including MySchool, Find my school and bettereducation.com.au.
As with all of our clients, whether local or far away, we start by sharing our welcome survey which really identifies what parents are looking for in a school setting. We question the pragmatics of location, after school care, and canteen, to the values and ethos by which people raise their families and what they want from a school. We also question how much involvement a family wants to have in a school community.
Then, via Skype or if in Melbourne in person, we coach parents on how to use online tools, how to build a personalised criteria and how to write direct questions that relate to that criteria. If parents have never visited the area, we go for them and report back or book them in for when they arrive in Melbourne!
School Finder has 3 staggered packages depending on need. So if parents are happy after the one on one they are not locked into the next step. If we tour on behalf of the client we go with their criteria and questions and operate like a proxy for them. Schools are often really happy to take us through and because we are teachers who walk the walk and talk the talk, we can be quite direct in what the family is looking for.

If a parent was moving to Victoria, from overseas, what would be the reason they would choose your help?

For a family moving to Victoria we would start with the welcome survey then set up a Skype or Zoom meeting to chat and talk through the Australian schooling, personalised criteria and questions. We use multiple screens to teach parents how to use online tools and we discuss some of the issues with sites like bettereducation.com.au which is advertising heavy. This is the ‘Check In’ and is vitally important for introducing families to us and the Australian Education System.
Our next package up called the Line Up – sends us away from the check in to do the research and take the leg work out of ‘what’s out there?’ After we have done our research we come back to the client with 3-5 schools to tour, how they meet their criteria and contact/tour information all in one document ready to go. We also tour for our clients so if they have completed the Line Up, then they want us to tour, we can do that on their behalf, either charged as part of the full relocations package or by the hour depending on the clients needs. In some cases we have already toured the school so we don’t need to tour again but do some fact finding in terms of class sizes, entry points, availability of spots.
We try to keep our service really personal, so what we do for one client may not match the needs of another. We make sure we tailor our service to your family’s needsStephanie Murphy 

In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing when helping overseas/expat families find the best school for their child?

Apart from the time difference which makes it near impossible to get on the phone to chat to the schools, we have found that expat families find the difference in the Australian and UK education models quite significant. That, combined with understanding the VCE end of the journey can be tricky.

Why do you think your services are important for parents moving to a new country?

As one of our clients recently said ‘You’ve been our woman on the ground’. Moving to a new country is exciting and daunting but when you’re migrating with children there are so many things to consider. Where do we live? How far is that really to work? What is close by? Do we want to go to the local school? Can we walk there? Is there childcare I like close by?
We believe we can give expat families a helping hand in understanding what Australian schooling is like and help them to feel a bit more ready for what they are arriving into when they get here.
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Recently I was on a school tour and met a family who had arrived from Scotland 4 weeks earlier. The family had toured over 12 schools, been looking for housing in 5 suburbs and were still living in their AirBNB feeling utterly overwhelmed. Their kids were, on the whole, happy to be living in a new place but, their youngest was struggling without a routine.
Within a week we found them a school, helped them settle on a location to live and now 3 weeks on they are much more relaxed into Aussie life.
Claire and I got into teaching because we love helping people, forging good relationships and a great rapport with those around us and seeing the results.  This is exactly what we do with School FinderStephanie Murphy 

 


 

I understand that leaving your home can be overwhelming, let alone struggling to build a new life so far away! Claire and Stephanie have made this process a whole lot easier for you, so I hope you will support them in their crusade, to make expat family life a lot easier to build! Recently the team at School Finder have connected with a relocation company who specialise in Melbourne rentals (hurrah)! This means that they can help you find the right school and get you into your new rental stress free.

I’d love to hear how you found the right school for your new expat kids!

Liv xx


 

School Finder Consulting

Qualified and expert educators guiding you through the school-finding process.

Our Team: Expert educators who have worked across the sector. But just as importantly, we are also parents.

Our Services: From a simple sounding board to a comprehensive one-on-one plan that will get your child from kindergarten to grade prep and beyond.

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We’ve found the perfect Aussie pen pals!

Since moving to Australia, I have found buying gifts for friends children, here and overseas, a nightmare. I always want to buy something interesting, not made of plastic, and an experience rather than a toy! I try and choose a gift that is typically ‘Australian’ but other than books or cuddly Koala toys I find myself stumped for a unique idea. **You’re going to thank me for this, I promise!!

If you’re like me, and have searched to no avail, for the perfect gift for a special child in your life then let me end your searching!  I have recently discovered The Adventures of Ash & Indigo, and would love you to check it out!

Give a wild gift of adventure, story telling and nature connection. Waste free, no plastic packaging, delivered to your door, and spreading beautiful messages – The Adventures of Ash & Indigo

 

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The Adventures of Ash & Indigo is the brain child of Brenna and Becky, two ex-primary school teachers, who had a dream to bring the Aussie bush to children across Australia and the world. They are both mothers, trained forest school leaders and hugely passionate about inspiring kids to get out into the wild, wherever they may live, through their monthly letter subscription service.

“This work is so important to us because we know that kids who are in nature care about it, they are connected to it and they will act to protect it as they grow’ – Becky

Having received our first two letters, I can assure you that your children will delight when they receive theirs. With a subscription, a special letter will arrive each month from Ash and Indigo, two kids growing up in the Australian Bush. The letter shares their adventures and helps builds a strong connection with nature through the power of story telling.

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Tracks in the mud, bird calls and warm tea (July)

Monty thinks these letters are the most wonderful treasures when they arrive in the mail.  The letters have brought him so much joy whilst teaching him about life in the Aussie Bush, a place we love to explore. It has also sparked our imagination as parents, and we are much more conscious of creating numerous ways to bring more of the outdoors into our everyday lives!

Monty’s first letter (July) was so beautiful; bright blue paper with a majestic Cockatoo peeping at us from the envelope. The theme for July was focussed on the tracks wild animals make in the bush. Monty’s idea of heaven is following creatures footprints, so this was a winner!

We loved reading Indigo & Ash’s letter with Monty. The delightful way in which it was written, really took us into the bush, we could almost smell the eucalyptus trees and the lemon balm, and I adored the conversations it brought about in our house.

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Monty’s imagination was ignited when he was wildly telling me about the footprints he thought he’d find in his ‘Track Trap’! I was a little unsure we would find crocodile tracks in the morning but he was full of hope!

A letter from Ash & Indigo would be the perfect gift for a little person in your life. How magical for your child’s long distance friend overseas to open the letter box and see an envelope all the way from Australia, teaching them some of the wonders of life Down Under. There’s nothing quite like receiving a letter that someone has taken time to pen, and these letters sent from the bush, are not only well written, they are well thought out, fascinating and encourage exploration of the outdoors (winning).

The fun tasks included are designed so that children of all ages can enjoy them. This makes a subscription the ideal birthday gift for a classmate, a Christmas gift for a relative or just a darn good gift for a jolly good soul!

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Just to clarify, this isn’t a ‘paid ad’, this isn’t a friend of mine whom I’m celebrating. This work of genius is brought to you by two nature loving, Aussie mums, who have created something that I truly think deserves your attention. These letters will not only teach your family about the wonders of the Aussie bush, will not only encourage your family outside, it will give you a beautiful reason to sit down with your child and spend some time focussing on mother nature and the precious gifts she gives us all.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better – Albert Einstein


 

The Adventures of Ash and Indigo🌱
🌳Gift Certificates Available🌳Perfect for Birthdays, I Love You’s, Christmas, or just because. Get in touch to order your gift certificate!

~3 Month Subscription $30~
~6 Month Subscription $55~

*If you are looking for a subscription for a child overseas, please contact Becky for pricing!

You can find The Adventures of Ash & Indigo on Facebook & Instagram

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I hope you can give this wonderful gift to someone special! xx Liv 

Build and play with Playgroup Victoria to celebrate 50 years of DUPLO

The Ultimate DUPLO® Playgroup is coming to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre® and you’re invited!

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Your little builders are invited to LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre on Wednesday 11th  September for a fun and inspiring morning with Playgroup Victoria to celebrate 50 years of DUPLO® fun!

The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup will take place from 8:30am-10am, giving families with kids aged 0-4 the opportunity to enjoy building activities, storytelling, a visit from Emmett from The LEGO Movie (YAY!!!!), and enjoy the arts and crafts in the centre’s new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at a discounted rate.

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Playgroup Victoria and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are hosting the special event to mark 50 years since LEGO created DUPLO, the big bricks for small hands.

DUPLO was designed to inspire toddlers to unlock their full potential through interactive, creative and playful experiences.

According to the LEGO Play Well Report, 95% of parents believe play is essential for children’s well-being and is a vital educational tool.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre supports the important role Playgroup Victoria plays in bringing young children, parents, families and communities together to learn and develop through informal play and social interaction. DUPLO Farm Adventure (1).jpg

“Participation in playgroup positively impacts so much of children’s development as well as parent’s capacity to engage with their children through play,” Danny Schwarz, Playgroup Victoria CEO.

“LEGO is a wonderful tool that allows children to practice their fine and gross motor skills. Moreover, it encourages them to create, be curious, be innovative, share, imagine and play – all which feeds into their greater understanding of the world and its concepts,” Sinead Halliday, Playgroup Victoria.  

The new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is an interactive experience where toddlers can let their imaginations run wild. Behind the giant barn doors, children can explore a multi-level farmhouse where they can build with DUPLO and climb, crawl, slide and swing!


To purchase tickets to the special event, enter the promo code “ultimateplaygroup” at www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.com.au. Families can stay at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre after The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup concludes.

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As well as DUPLO Farm Adventure, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is also home to two thrilling rides, a 4D cinema and 11 LEGO build and play zones to keep kids of all ages entertained!


The Details:

What: The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup

Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Chadtsone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, VIC 3148

When: Wednesday 11th September from 08:30-10:00 (families can stay after the event)

Cost: $25 per adult; $20 per child 3yrs and over, free for children 2yrs and under

Bookings: www.LEGOLANDdiscoverycentre.com.au

 

***Adults will only be admitted to The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup with a child and children must be accompanied by an adult.

A massive anime and manga expo is about to hit Melbourne!

Melbourne’s annual Anime, Manga and Gaming Convention is back, and bigger than ever before. It’s promising to be a weekend you’ll never forget!!

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Are you ready for the giant that is the Animaga Expo? This years expo promises to be it’s best yet, so for any one who loves Anime, Manga and Gaming you do not want to miss out!

‘Animaga is bigger, better, bolder. Consisting of a team of anime lovers, the Animaga team aims to bring fans and creators together to celebrate their love for anime culture from Japan by presenting a range of fan-driven interactive activities to Melbourne’

Event organisers are promising more than ever before! More guests, more activities and lots more fun! This really is the leading Anime event in Melbourne!

Manga (漫画 manga) are comics or graphic novels created in Japan or by creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century. They have a long and complex pre-history in earlier Japanese art

Created by fans for fans, the Animaga team is bringing world-class anime and first class manga games, all combined with the very best of Japanese fashion and pop culture! There will be so many awesome things to spend your money on, so make sure you take your reusable shopping bags and all your pocket money!


This event will be a Japanese pop culture fan’s dream. 

Animaga 2019 highlights will include: 

  • Meet and greets with your anime, manga, and gaming idols.  
  • The Animaga Maid Café, where the much loved kawaii Maids are happy to entertain guests with games, dancing and much more!
  • Gunpla Workshop where you can learn everything about the Gundam models- Gunpla and what you can do with them. 
  • Animaga Gaming Area -Yes! It’s back!!! Take time out to enjoy a variety of games!
  • Karaoke Video Gaming
  • Drawing Tuition
  • The famous cosplay competition featuring stunning guests Hakken and Onnies, who shall bear witness to the fascinating craftsmanship displayed on stage. Whether it’s the coolest armour or the delightful gags, these competitions always bring in a wide range of skills and characters who are just eager to show them off!!

….and much, much more.. including drawing and origami stations!! 

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Animaga 2019 is your premiere anime festival in Melbourne


Expo Details

Date24 & 25 August, 2019

Venue: Royal Exhibition Building,
9 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053

Price: Adults – 1 Day $40 Weekend $60 Children – 1 Day $25 Weekend $40  (Children’s prices apply for 3 to 12 year olds.) Companion cards are welcome.

Book tickets here


TOP TIP: The immediate area surrounding the building offers an excellent setting for cosplay photography.

The word anime is the Japanese term for animation, which means all forms of animated media. Outside Japan, anime refers specifically to animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterised by colourful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes.

 

 

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory is ‘Gobstoppingly Glorious’

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perhaps Roald Dahl’s best-known story and has proved to be one of the most enduring children’s books of all time. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Willy Wonka has become firmly embedded in our culture since it was first published in 1964. Conservative estimates suggest the original book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide; it is now available in 61 languages. That’s pretty incredible!

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory The Musical has landed at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre following a hugely successful six month season at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. 

We checked it out last night and I know you’re going to love it. Whether your children have read the book or not,  now is a great time to introduce it it in truly delicious way!

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If you’re die hard Roald Dahl fans, be aware that this show tweeks the original story a little, to fit the stage. Having said that, the magic is still there in glorious Wonka style!

The orchestra create musical wizardry (and lots of goosebumps) with brand new numbers, alongside the classics of the 1971 movie,  like Pure Imagination, The Candy Man, and I’ve Got a Golden Ticket. You can’t help but sing a long..

The staging of this classic Roald Dahl story is incredible.. Yes there’s a chocolate river, there are plenty of Oompa Loompas and Mike TV gets shrunk! I know right!!!

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Lenny Thomas as Charlie

Charlie Bucket (played by Lenny Thomas last night) stole everyones hearts from the moment we met him. Lenny is obviously a talented all rounder, who enchanted the entire audience with his tenderness and his pitch perfect voice! We were all desperately willing him to get his little hands on that Golden Ticket!  Paul Slade -Smith kept all of Gene Wilders kookie traits, whilst creating a brand new, (more believable than Johnny Depp) Willy Wonka. This is a man who’s talent seems endless and who’s onstage presence is electrifying!

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The nitty gritty!

The stage adaption of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory seemed a little confused about the era it was set in. The original little Bucket shack appeared to be set a long while back (like the original story), then the other characters are introduced with Mike TV on an iPad with a mobile phone, Violet Beauregard being a YouTube sensation addicted to social media.. (Yawn). Lots more references to the modern day were thrown in too, in a rather irksome ‘pantomime-esque’ way. I thought this was a shame. Must we really modernise EVERYTHING?? LOL! IMHO!

I was also a little disappointed that adults were playing the Golden Ticket winners meaning Charlie was the only child on stage. That’s just me though!  Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, and Mike Teevee have been thrust into modern day life in this adaption, still as vile as ever, but managed to create a new, vibrant and interesting take on the story!

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Charlie & the Chocolate Factory the Musical is pretty long for smaller children… 2hrs and 30 mins! The first half is a little slow to get going, however once the second half rolls round, and we enter the factory, the true Wonka magic hits the stage! We were wide-eyed when we spied the chocolate waterfall, oompa loompas and all of Wonka’s awesome imaginings! The special effects are stunning, and not like anything I’ve seen in a huge musical like this! I won’t spoil it for you… although I really really want to tell you about…. No! I can’t…..! You’ll have to go and see it for yourselves!

Despite the little modern additions, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical is huge fun for the entire family, and a must see!!!

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Poppy wanted to keys to the Wonkamobile! 

SEASON DETAILS

MELBOURNE

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne

Season Performance Times & Prices:Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm* From $59.90** To 3 November

Bookings: Charliethemusical.com.au or ticketek.com.au
Groups 12+ call 1300 364 001

BRISBANE

Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC From 20 March 2020
Season Performance Times & Prices: Tues 7pm, Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm* From $59.90**
Bookings: charliethemusical.com.au or qpac.com.au or phone 136 246
Groups 12+ call (07) 3840 7466

 

* Performance times vary weekly ** Transaction fees apply

Fuel your child’s imagination at PLAY WORLD AUSTRALIA

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A magical event fuelling the imagination of young Aussie minds is about to hit Darling Harbour in Sydney and you could win tickets with us!!! 

In 2018 fun legends, ReedPOP introduced Sydney to their most marvellous creation yet, Play World Australia. It was an event so large, so incredible, and oh so epic that the brand new, upcoming (even more amazing) event is going to blow you and your little ones away! 

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Presented by Nintendo, this 2 day event in Sydney, creates the most unique atmosphere for our littlest generation and allows them to play in a dynamic, fun and educational environment that is bound to get everyone excited!

Play World will light up Sydney’s ICC this October school holidays where, kids aged 4 to 12, can let their creativity and imagination run free. This is your chance to play with the latest games from Nintendo, go on a musical adventure with The Beanies, laugh until your belly hurts with The Listies, take part in drumming workshops and explore the world where kids’ imagination is the only limit. 

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With so much to explore from the minute you walk in, this high energy atmosphere entices you to the interactive and colourful exhibits inviting kids to laugh, play and dance all weekend long. Play World Australia gives kids the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on some crazy skills; from intricate coding with the experts from Code Camp to creating beautiful flower crowns with Sydney Flower School. Find some imagery from our 2018 event Here. 


The details

Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney, Darling Harbour, 2000

When: October 5-6, 2019 Time: 9am – 5pm Saturday & Sunday

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Play World Australia are proud to support Kids Helpline as the official charity partner, helping raise funds and awareness for the essential service they provide for young Australians. Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people ages 5 to 25. Find out more here 

Let’s Laugh, Play, Sing and Dance Together on October 5th & 6th 2019! 

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The Greatest Magic Show- Honestly!

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Fresh out of the car, I just had to tell you about The Greatest Magic Show currently playing at The Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood as part of the Melbourne Magic Festival!
Yes, the name raises your hopes…… for good reason!  My little people were convinced it was the best thing they’d ever seen… Sorry Taylor Swift! Plus, my ringing ears only go to prove that the whole audience agreed with the very fitting title.
The Greatest Magic show is a full hour, jam packed with laughs that make you need a wee, and mind blowing magic tricks. (I’m still trying to work out how they did them!) There are hilarious props, including a pair of my enormous undies (how did they get those?), lots of audience participation, and some ‘death defying juggling’ to keep even the hardest crowd on the edge of their seats.
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There’s no denying that Sam & Justin know kids and understand exactly what makes them chuckle. Their jokes, their body language, and the way they move on stage had the entire audience glued and giggling! They even managed a heart warming few minutes assuring the audience that if they believe hard enough, they can be whatever they want to be! *Melt!
The Greatest Magic Show is a must for the winter school holidays. Sam and Justin deserve to sell out every day! They really have created The Greatest Magic Show; just ask any kid who’s seen it! This is a delight from start to finish, regardless of your age!

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Make today magical!

Where: Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood (lots of on street parking locally)

When: Tuesday 2 July to Saturday 13 July 2019 – 12:30pm-1:30pm

Ticket Price: Adult $24.30  Concession: $24.30 Family of 4: $85.04 

Tuesday discount: $16.20 

BUY


 

‘The juggling on the chairs was scary and funny at the same time’– ★★★★★ Monty Wilson, Head of the Fun Department, The Wilsons of Oz  

‘Sam & Justin were the best entertainers…. really funny. ’ ★★★★★ Poppy Wilson, The 11 year old Boss, The Wilsons of Oz

‘Sam and Justin have worked hard to create a show that delivers the kind of laughter we all need in our lives! ★★★★ Olivia Wilson, Chief caffeine consumer, The Wilsons of Oz

‘Quite possibly the Penn &  Teller of Australia!’  ★★★★ GLAM Adelaide

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‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’ – Roald Dahl

Don’t ban mobile phones, teach children the importance of honesty! 

I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.

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Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.

Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked?  Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!

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It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?

I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.

According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.

It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.

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Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!

We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!

Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.

You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.

We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!

Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.

The village needs you!

Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!

It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.


It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost

Liv xxx

 

Suncorp ‘Team Girls Rally Cry’ encourages and motivates young girls to embrace life confidently!

Do your daughters play sport? Are you struggling to keep them engaged in sport as they get older. Well, it seems like you aren’t alone! We were invited to watch the Vixens play netball a few weeks ago and to witness the powerful launch of Suncorp Team Girls!

Suncorp recently revealed the shocking findings of the ‘2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report’, revealing more than half of parents are concerned about their daughter’s self-esteem. Hands up who can relate to this!

I was so shocked to learn that these findings coincide with 46% of Australian teen girls turning their back on sport by the age of 17, despite two-thirds acknowledging that sport can make them feel more confident. Why are our young women giving up on sport when they know it makes them feel great?

The national survey of over 1000 Australian parents and teenagers conducted as part of the Suncorp Team Girls initiative, also revealed that confidence and the perception of themselves is one of the most commonly discussed topics in their home.

 Sport plays a pivotal role in building confidence in all areas of life, and it’s so important that we are getting and giving the support our daughters need to keep them on the court. For all of us with daughter’s who still play on a team, we know just how beneficial it is, in so many ways. The confidence I see in my own daughter when she is on the netball court is proof alone, that playing sport is a valuable weapon in combatting a mental health condition. 

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Have a Hero – Poppy & her hero Caitlin Thwaites

“Our research tells us participation in team sport nurtures perseverance, resilience and confidence; essential skills teen girls need now and in the future. This, in turn, can have a real positive impact on their health and wellbeing, career prospects and financial security moving forwards,” Suncorp’s Executive General Manager Brand & Marketing, Mim Haysom

“We are Team Girls – hear us roar!”

In response to the new findings and to drive awareness of the plight that parents and young girls face, Suncorp has launched a new Team Girls Rally Cry to encourage and motivate young girls to embrace life confidently, on and off the court. Championing the cause and inspiring Australian girls to stay in the game, is Australian electronic music songstress, Thandi Phoenix, a rising star of an equally male-dominated scene.

Suncorp’s research draws a direct link for girls of all ages between being confident and achieving success in a range of life dimensions, including their work and social lives. The benefits of sports are widely recognised to have lifetime impacts, as sport is felt to build fundamental life skills like team building, leadership and resilience.


Suncorp Team Girls Ambassador Rebecca Sparrow – teen Agony Aunt, podcast host and author of ‘Game On! A Team Girls Guide to Getting Active’. offers her tips on what parents can do boost participation:

  • Encourage girls to try sports their friends are playing as they will be more willing to get involved.  If your daughter’s friends are playing netball or hockey or AFL — talk to your daughter about joining their team for a season. Or start playing a new sport with a friend.

  • Become a fan. Get your daughter excited about the sport by following the national league and experiencing the excitement of a live game. Introduce your daughter to a terrific role model like netball’s Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett, AFL’s Tayla Harris and Moana Hope or cricket’s Ellyse Perry. Start following the players on social media.

  • Chill out. Many kids cringe at their parents’ sideline behaviour.  Keep the focus on fun rather than form and leave the feedback to the coaches.  The goal is for kids to have fun and be active.

  • Allow them to try different sports. Some kids take a while to find the sport which ignites them.  Trying a few different sports is a great way to find the right fit.

  • If your daughter suddenly wants to quit her team sport, listen to her reasons and explore whether joining a less competitive team would be of interest.

 

 “Sport actively builds that inner grit we all need to handle life.” Rebecca Sparrow


Key Findings of the ‘2019 Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Report’:

  • Only 55 per cent of Australian girls age 11-17 play sport in a typical week, compared to 69 per cent of boys of the same age

  • 15-17-year-old girls are significantly more likely to be playing less sport (46 per cent) in the last 12 months or to have completely stopped, compared to 15-17 boys (30 per cent)

  • 11-17-year-old girls are significantly less active (-1 hr 18 mins) than boys of the same age in a typical week

  • 15% of girls don’t like playing sport because they don’t think they’re ‘any good’, a close second to ‘having too much schoolwork’

  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) of girls age 11-17 acknowledged that sport can make them feel confident or ‘good about themselves’

  • 54% of boys aged 11 -17 feel confident as a result of playing team sport compared to 37 per cent of girls in the same age group

  • The findings highlight the importance of peers and loved ones to drive their confidence; 9 in 10 girls aged 11 – 17 admit to deriving confidence through support from friends and family

  • 8 in 10 girls believe that it is important for girls to support one another.

  • Girl’s favourite sports include dance (24 per cent), swimming (18 per cent), netball (16 per cent), basketball, soccer and gym (all 10 per cent)

If you are struggling to keep your daughter in sport, have a read of the ultimate guide for parents to teach your teens and tweens about the benefits of playing sports.

 


 

Stay positive, stay fighting, stay brave, stay ambitious, stay focussed, stay strong!

Liv xxx

 

The MSO performs Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Concert

Get ready Melbourne families as this September we get to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disney’s classic 1989 animation, The Little Mermaid live in concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Yes, that does say 30th anniversary! If you weren’t feeling old a minute ago you sure are now!

Showcasing the Academy Award winning original score by Alan Menken and featuring the beloved characters of Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, King Triton and Ursula up on the big screen,  this uplifting score will be brought to life by the MSO in three magical performances, conducted by Nicholas Buc.

‘The Little Mermaid was responsible for reviving the animated musical genre, with Alan Menken’s Academy Award-winning score and songs playing such a huge part. Every kid who grew up with the film knows Under The Sea by heart, and they’ll get the chance to relive their childhood through this wonderful live experience,’ – Mr Buc.

 

The story… if you need reminding

Mermaid princess Ariel (Jodi Benson) has a dream of being human.  Much to her father’s dismay, Ariel frequently makes the journey to the surface. It doesn’t matter that Atlantica King Triton forbids her from doing so, Ariel is determined to visit the humans because some dreams can’t be overcome.

When Ariel finds herself drawn to a human – Prince Eric – during one of her forbidden trips she makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) to become human for three days… But when plans go awry for Ariel she must use her charm, wits and resilient heart to set things right.

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Book your tickets now, take your children, and all of you can enjoy the beloved songs from the iconic film! The performance will include, amongst others,  Under the Sea, Part of Your World and Kiss the Girl so, you can absolutely re-live this classic tale of Ariel and her magical world under the sea.


Tickets go on sale at 10am on Wednesday 19 June.

The Little Mermaid – in Concert
Friday 6th September at 7.30pm and Saturday 7th September at 1pm
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
mso.com.au | 03 9929 9600