Seminars focus on children and behaviour

Published 19 June 2006

Helping parents communicate better with their children and providing teachers with strategies to deal with challenging behaviour is the aim of seminars being hosted by Southern Cross University's Centre for Children and Young People on June 22 and 23.

A twilight seminar for parents will be held on Thursday evening followed by a one-day conference 'Children & Behaviour: A Strengths Based Approach to Education' for primary and high school teachers on Friday, June 23.

The events will involve input from a group of students from regional high schools, who will also take part in a workshop on Thursday.

Centre for Children and Young People director, Associate Professor Anne Graham, said the seminar and conference would draw upon the expertise of Helen Cahill from the Australian Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne, as well as a range of other speakers. The conference is being co-hosted by the NSW Department of Education and Training North Coast and supported by the Catholic Education Office, Lismore.

Professor Graham said the students would provide input for the parents and teachers.

"If we don't hear from the students we run the risk of missing the mark. Sometimes what young people need or find helpful at school is quite different to what we as adults think they need," Professor Graham said.

"In terms of the parent seminar, we were keen to provide an interactive forum between parents and young people that explored ways we can foster and encourage conversation and better communication between parents and kids about issues that matter to both of them.

″Helen Cahill will be drawing on research evidence about what works whilst the parents and young people will bring their own all-important perspectives to the discussion," Professor Graham said.

"The session will explore some of the key challenges for both parents and young people in talking over school-related issues such as friendships, behaviour, effort, completing work tasks and finding a future to aim for."

The one-day conference for teachers will focus on children and behaviour.

Professor Graham said difficult and/or challenging student behaviour was one of the most commonly cited problems confronting schools and teachers.

"Research suggests that positive and proactive behaviour management is one of the most critical building blocks for effective classrooms," she said.

"Most teachers recognise that behaviour is closely linked with learning outcomes as well as to issues of care, respect and safety.

"There are a lot of teachers who feel that they are now being presented with a range of behaviours that weren't there 20 or 30 years ago. They are looking for positive ways to address the diverse range of behaviours they are seeing in the classroom," she said.

"In education particularly, but also in families and the community, it is critically important that we focus on what is right with children and young people, not only on what is wrong.

"We want to explore skills and strategies to help identify and nurture students' strengths in order to better support student engagement in the learning process."

The conference will be chaired by Ms Anne Riddell, school education director, NSW Dept of Education and Training, Richmond Valley. Presenters will be Ms Helen Cahill and Dr Fiona Bryer, School of Cognition, Language and Special Education, Faculty of Education, Griffith University.

Friday's conference for teachers is being held in the SCU Whitebrook Lecture Theatre from 9am to 4.30pm. For registration details contact Norsearch Conference Services 6620 3932

The free twilight seminar on Thursday will be held from from 5pm to 7pm, in Z181, SCU Lismore Campus. Numbers are limited. To book, phone Wendy on 66203605 or email

Media contact: Brigid Veale SCU communications manager 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.