Aquinas College, Head of Junior School Nicole Monzu says when the college first considered introducing an Extended Day Program for its junior students, it knew it was going to be extremely popular.
And it is. Up to 150 of its 264 students in those junior school grades are thriving in the after-school clubs that offer them a stimulating range of fun learning activities including robotics, cooking, podcasting and even a mini-Vinnies where boys come together to create new ways of helping others.
The program is particularly popular for parents with children in the Kindy and pre-primary grades, where students stay in their own classroom and work to age specific programs, across activities that include yoga, dance and Lego.
In a typical day, students finish school at 3pm and have afternoon tea. From 3.30 to 4.30pm they participate in their enrichment clubs; like robotics and if staying longer, then transition to more traditional after-school activities where they’ll finish their homework and play a little sport. Students whose parents work are given priority.
Mrs Monzu explains the extended school day only became an option for parents at the start of 2021.
Mrs Monzu says the transition to the Extended Day Program has been a huge success with really positive feedback from parents.
Aquinas is a Catholic day and boarding school from Kindergarten to Year 12 located at Salter Point. It’s among Perth’s most respected private schools whose alumni includes Fred Chaney Jr AO, former Attorney General Peter Durack and athlete Herb Elliott MBE.
The school says it’s not its intention to make longer school days for its boys its preference. Rather parents are encouraged to spend as much time as they can building family and letting their young boys play, relax and grow in unstructured and nurturing ways.
However, it recognises some families simply don’t have the same work life balance as others.
Mrs Monzu explains that the Aquinas demographic is one where parents are most likely active in the workforce, the extended day is a complimentary service upon enrolment to support our working parents and their children.
“This is something we could add to what we already provide. We wanted to acknowledge that parents are often rushed trying to finish work to get to their child and feel they may not have been able to give their full selves to work nor be fully present for their child when they collect him.
“They pick their child up and they are stressed or stay at work longer and have to find ways of getting their children picked up from school then pay for extra childcare and then rushing home.
“We just wanted to make that work life balance easier for families and give them back time.
“The clubs help our school community by providing enriching opportunities for the boys.
The yoga, basketball, soccer and Chinese clubs are run by external providers and incur an additional fee. All others are delivered by teachers as part of the ‘service’ component of their Catholic school working agreement with the College.
Ms Monzu says the programs are designed around values already embedded in the school ethos.
“So, if we’re looking at robotics, we’re building teamwork and Lego is about perseverance and mini-Vinnies about empathy.
“Teachers are not bound by the curriculum when delivering these programs and that makes them really interesting for the students, fun and developmentally appropriate.
“There are no assessments or grades given, they can simply learn for the pure joy of it.
“Parents can feel assured too, they are taught by teachers who know the students already.”
“The introduction of an extended day program has built a sense of gratitude within our community. Families are appreciative of what we do, they can see that as teachers we care about and know our students, we build community, and we understand our families.
“We give time back, we value time. We are not simply here to teach in the confines of a traditional school day, we go further and educate outside a specified interval.
“We get to know every student and provide opportunities for them beyond the confines of a curriculum. That’s perhaps the biggest difference about an education at Aquinas, whether it is in the extended day or the regular day, every boy is provided an abundance of opportunity and how he uses that is up to him.
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