Our program supports children to reach their full potential. This is a wonderful story of how one Pyjama Angel has had a wonderful impact on a child in care.
“Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some kids are born “stronger” in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies and engage in practices that help improve their ability to focus and sustain their attention”
– Dr. Jamie Howard
Children in out of home care often lack interest in learning and find difficulty in concentrating and staying on task. With 92% of children in care below average reading skills by the time they are seven years of age and struggle to catch up, it is important as mentors to help our children build and train their ‘concentration muscle’.
Here are some tips for our Pyjama Angels to implement in visits to help their children stay on task.
1. Set A Plan
It can be a good idea to create a plan for your visits. At the beginning of your visit you can work with your child to write out a set plan for the visit. This gives both you and your child the opportunity to decide what you will aim to achieve within your visit.
2. Set Time Lengths For Tasks
When setting a plan or just completing tasks, it is important to set appropriate time lengths for specific tasks. As a Pyjama Angel, you will get to know the typical time length your child will concentrate and focus on a task. Use your understanding to set appropriate time lengths on tasks you aim to complete.
3. Use Timers
When aiming to complete a task for a specific time, it can be helpful to utilise timers or stopwatches. Clocks or stopwatches can provide a visual aid for children, and help them understand when a task will finish.
4. Planned Breaks
It is also important to ensure that you build in planned breaks. After spending some time concentrating, it is useful to take a break – whether that be a small physical break such as throwing a ball around or trying a Brain Gym exercise.
These exercises can be utilised if child become distracted or simply as a planned break. These small physical activities will re-engage the brain and can help a child re-focus on a set task.
* Brain Gym exercises adapted from margdteachingposters.weebly.com/thinking-processes
Incorporating these tips will hopefully see your visits become more productive and time efficient, though it it important to remember that every child is unique and requires different techniques. Be patient and kind and see what works best for you and your child during your visits.
If you ever feel stuck and need any assistance or tips, our team is available for a chat at 07 3256 8802 between 9-5pm Monday-Friday.
One week ago, we hosted the night of all nights — an evening of glitz, glam and giving back. Guests came from as far as Western Australia to celebrate The Pyjama Foundation’s Big Dreams Gala Ball and raise much needed funds for children in foster care. Attendees were met with some of Brisbane’s best views, with the balcony of Room ThreeSixty at QUT providing a perfect outlook to the Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point.
The theme for this year’s event was inspired by the very core values of The Pyjama Foundation — every child should have the opportunity to dream big and go far. Each child should be given the tools to follow their wildest dreams!
Children living in out of home care often bounce between different homes and to different schools, which can affect their opportunities to read and learn, causing them to fall behind their peers academically. Dreams are no good if they remain just dreams and the Big Dreams Gala Ball was for the 52,000 Australian children living in foster care, with a focus on letting them know that their dreams and desires are just as valid as the next child’s.
Our guests were met at the door with a 9ft angel pouring bubbly for each willing patron (see below if you don’t believe us!), live entertainment, a photobooth setup worth marvelling at and a constantly stocked candy bar. It was a magical start to the evening!
We were lucky to be joined by former and present Pyjama kids, as well as many of our Pyjama Angels who continue to inspire us every day. Senior Executive Director, Accommodation, Respite and Forensic Disability Services at Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors Matthew Lupi was the entertaining MC for the evening, surprising guests with dream themed trivia between meals. Matthew welcomed the Honourable Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence to give a powerful address to start off the evening.
Guests were thrilled with the banquet-style dinner, flowing beverages and incredible prizes. Our token instant win mystery envelopes were a hit again this year, with everyone walking away a winner thanks to our incredible prize sponsors! Raffle tickets were available to purchase on the night with more amazing prizes up for grabs, those who won the accommodation in Phuket and the Lamborghini driving experience were envied by all!
Our live auction also went off with a bang thanks to our friends at Watt Realty who got the crowd rearing for our big-ticket auction items! Accommodation on the ski slopes in Canada, a stay in a five-star lodge in Queenstown, and a private chef dinner in your own home all sold at generous prices to those in the room.
The money raised on the evening will go directly towards our Love of Learning Program which aims to improve the educational outcomes of children in foster care, just like 9-year-old Frankie who spoke about his special Pyjama Angel at our gala. A few words from his speech on the evening:
“Cathy has been visiting me for almost five years. The things we do together are read, play sport, watch movies, play iPad games, play with kinetic sand and sometimes go to the skate park. We have dinner together every week,” he said.
“I look forward to Wednesdays. Every Wednesday I ask mum, ‘Is Cathy coming today?’. I like Cathy a lot.
“Thank you for helping The Pyjama Foundation, so kids like me can have a special friend.”
There was so much love, laughter and great acts of generosity on the evening, to which we thank each person who attended. It was truly a wonderful night and we are so thankful to have spent it with so many people who are crucial to our foundation.
Thank you for supporting The Pyjama Foundation’s Big Dreams Gala Ball, we couldn’t have pulled it off without your support and we hope to see you all again next year.
Father’s Day has a different meaning to everyone, but for children in foster care it can be a reminder of what they are missing and how important it is to have a positive male role model.
Townsville’s Andrew Pangrazio, 30, was placed with an 11-year-old boy living in care four years ago after volunteering as a mentor ‘Pyjama Angel’ as part of The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program, which supports children in foster care.
The now 15-year-old aspires to become a mechanic and the weekly visits from Andrew where they practice hands on mechanical work was key to helping make this possible.
“My child has learning impairments and finds it easier to be working bikes or engines as it is his passion to become a mechanic,” the psychologist said.
“I try to combine as many instruction guides and manuals in our work to continue to work on focused reading.
“[He] doesn’t have many male role models in life so the male attention I believe has been healthy.”
The child Andrew visits is just one of the 95 children in care currently supported by a special Pyjama Angel volunteer in Townsville, a number the Foundation hopes will steadily increase with a total of 41 children currently waiting for a Pyjama Angel to come into their lives.
One of The Foundation’s Townsville carers detailed just how special this unique interaction is for her children.
“B* waited a long time for a Pyjama Angel and Alex is absolutely perfect for him, he turns up to B’s soccer games and cheers him on from the sideline which we think is absolutely brilliant,” the carer said.
Currently, 93 per cent of The Pyjama Foundation’s volunteers are female and moving forward The Foundation is hoping to see more male involvement.
As a carer of young boys with Pyjama Angel’s, she sees the importance of the positive male role models and the difference it is making for her boys.
“The world needs more male Pyjama Angels, so many boys in care have never known a positive relationship with a man,” the carer said.
“It’s time we show our boys that there are good men out there that genuinely care and want to help them learn and help shape the young men they become.”
Pyjama Angel Andrew believes helping others is a form of self-help, acknowledging that connection and meaning are all major contributors to psychological wellbeing.
“I would encourage everyone to join and I think males especially as not only will the kids benefit from having healthy male role models in their life, but helping others is helping yourself and is an important lesson to teach the future generation,” he said.
Founder of The Pyjama Foundation, Bronwyn Sheehan says the number of foster children is continuing to grow every year and without extra support, empowerment and encouragement, many of the children’s futures will be compromised.
“Currently there are more than 51,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that approximately 32,250 of these children will not complete high school,” she said.
“Many children in care bounce from home to home, and to difference schools which greatly hinders their learning.”
Head to www.thepyjamafoundation.com/volunteer to see if you’re eligible to become a Pyjama Angel to help support and mentor a child in foster care.