Going back to school might not be the most appealing prospect for kids, but parents can make sure their little learners have everything they need for the school year and they can buy it all locally.
Robinson’s Department Store stocks uniforms for nearly all of the schools in Narrandera – and a couple outside of town too.
“We supply the Narrandera High School and the Narrandera Public School and we supply St Joseph’s Catholic School. We also supply St Francis in Leeton,” co-proprietor David Robinson said. “For St Francis we supply all their uniform. We don’t do their school hats and that’s about the only thing we don’t do.
“We also do Matong School polo shirts.”
The only local school that Robinson’s do not supply is East Infants Primary School, due to the fact that the school stocks its own uniforms.
“We supply, shorts, shirts, dresses, sports uniform, tracksuit pants, jumpers, caps, so basically all the summer and winter uniforms,” Mr Robinson said. “We also do other things supporting school uniforms like socks and netball knickers for the little kids who wear dresses and we supply school shoes and sports shoes.”
Robinson’s stock a wide range of school shoes, with brands like ROC, New Balance, Clarks, Asics and Grosby, as well as sneakers from Adidas, Asics and more.
“We have an extensive range of schoolbags; we’ve probably as good a range as most shops in Wagga. We have brands like Billabong, Quicksilver, Hurley and Ripcurl. We also do pencil cases. We carry stock of everything.”
Alongside affordable back to school stock, Robinson’s also frequently have specials, including boys’ grey school shorts for $5 a pair. According to Mr Robinson, the key thing the business always strives to do is keep the prices down as much as possible, often buying in bulk.
“We’re constantly trying to keep the prices down; we’d like to keep as many people shopping locally as we can.”
There are a lot of benefits to learning karate beyond learning to throw a punch.
“It’s been proven to improve focus and attitude,” said instructor Paul Baldwin. “There’s the added benefit of self-defence, which concerns a lot of people these days. A lot of parents like knowing their kids can defend themselves. We’re not serious all the time, so we get to have a bit of fun. And of course, there’s the fitness side of it, which is a bonus too.”
Starting a new year can be the chance to try something new. Learning martial arts can also build resilience in children and give them the focus to see tasks through to the end – particularly if they choose to move through the levels.
“We don’t push them, but that incentive is there to concentrate hard and move up the levels. There’s also an opportunity to go to Sydney for a national tournament. There’s a no-losers element for the younger kids – they can just have fun without all that competitiveness getting in the way,” Mr Baldwin said.
The club meet on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Narrandera High School hall, with practice starting from 6pm.
“We also train two to three times a month on a Saturday, and we also go to Wagga to our affiliate club for the odd training session.”
Opportunities aren’t just for children.
“It’s open to all ages. We start with kids from five years old and go all the way up to adults,” Mr Baldwin said.
The Narrandera Karate Club is gearing up for a busy 2018.
“We have five people in the club either trying to get their black belt or move the black belt grades,” said Mr Baldwin. “There’s a lot more to learn once you move up into that black belt grade. Once you get to that part of it opens your eyes to what you can do with it.”
Due to the style of karate taught with the Narrandera club, there are almost no limits to the opportunities available for students. One of the styles will be brought to the Olympics, when karate is included there.
Teaching a child to fight as a way of building respect might seem slightly counter-intuitive, but not according to instructor
Dwayne Matthews of Bujutsu Narrandera.
“You’re going to gain self-confidence. You’re going to learn self-defence techniques. And you also make a commitment to a task.”
Mr Matthews specialises in teaching mixed martial arts, particularly Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ).
“We also do fitness, so I’m a qualified fitness instructor as well. We’ve got a very strict regime for BJJ training. We also have a code of conduct that kids and parents have to abide by, and if they don’t follow it there will be disciplinary action. So it’s about
Mr Matthews mostly teaches students of high school age. As he also works full-time, it would be difficult to allocate training
times for a younger cohort.
“It’s not that the younger kids can’t come along, it would just mean that their parents might need to get involved. But parents can ring up and have a chat.”
Bujutsu Narrandera also works closely with the Narrandera Karate Club, alternating their training nights so that the clubs can double up or take the opportunity to train together.
One of the big highlights coming up, which is available to both clubs, is a workshop with Richard Norton. A fourth black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Mr Norton has also worked in film since 1970. He was the fight co-ordinator in the film Suicide Squad and
was also the fight co-ordinator and had a supporting role in Mad Max: Fury Road.
“Some parts of the workshop will be restricted to kids 16 and older, but other than that it’s a really great opportunity. This guy is
just a legend.”
Mr Mathews travels to Sydney once a month to the Bujutsu headquarters in Smeaton Grange.
“I go there to make sure I’m up to date all the latest techniques and teaching methods. I’m the only one in the gym who’s properly qualified, and I have all my working with children checks done as well – in case any parent wants to ask.”
Studio 3 School of Dance is now taking enrolments for dance classes in 2018.
Emily Hannan, now in her fourth year of teaching dance, offers classes to children of all ages ranging from three years.
“Last year I had a few 15 and 16 year-olds, but I have a lot of juniors. I try to cater to all ages.”
Ms Hannan teaches a wide variety of dancing styles to her students.
“I teach ballet, jazz, hiphop, contemporary, and I teach solos. Normally I also teach tap and gymnastics, but not this year; it just got a little bit too hectic last year. I also put people through exams.”
According to Ms Hannan, every year she accesses the syllabus to teach her students who wish to undertake their exams. At the end of the year they are assessed by an independent examiner from the Royal Ballet in Melbourne.
“I only started taking kids through exams last year, but I’ve got about eight girls going for them this year,” Ms Hannan said.
Lesson costs start from $8 for a half-hour, $10 for 45 minutes, $12 for one hour and $25 for a private, individual lesson. Class times will be between 3.30pm and 8pm.
“Lessons are at the Presbyterian church on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – and possibly Fridays too, I’m not 100 per cent sure.”
Dancing has a huge amount of benefits for children, both physical and mental. Not only does it improve co-ordination, muscle
strength and heart function, but it also improves mental function, confidence and social skills.
Dancing can also improve other sporting skills, with many professional athletes – particularly boxers – turning to dance to improve their footwork, balance and co-ordination.
Enrolments began yesterday (Wednesday January 24) and will continue today.
“I’ve got quite a few girls coming back; I’ve got some new babies and a few boys who are interested in starting,” Ms Hannan said.