Conference Keynote Topics

Mothering Our Boys (conference keynote only)

Mothers of sons are worried about raising their boys in a world where negative images of masculinity are front and centre of our media, almost every day. Also, statistically our boys are still struggling in many ways. Even though we live in a time where we recognise nothing in gender is fixed, it remains a fact that the influence of a mother on her son is massive. In this keynote address, one of Australia’s favourite parenting authors Maggie Dent explores the power of mothering our precious boys in a warm, firm, fair and fun way from birth to adulthood. A mother of four sons herself, Maggie draws on research and personal experience – and over four decades work as a teacher, counsellor and now author and speaker – to help build understanding, empathy and compassion for our boys. Although aimed primarily at mums of sons, the seminar will be useful and insightful for dads and other father figures, to help build a better understanding of the importance of cooperative intimate relationships. In her lighthearted way, Maggie offers insights and  practical tips and suggestions for ensuring your son will grow up to become a respectful, responsible and loving good man.



Giving Boys a Great Start: Understanding & Nurturing Our Boys, Birth-6

This is an important topic as 99% of ECECs are women and so building greater understanding, compassion and empathy for our boys is essential if we are to help them thrive. A former teacher and counsellor, Maggie, who has four adult sons, draws on current research, common-sense wisdom and her own experience to discuss what boys need at in early years education and care settings to thrive. In this presentation, Maggie will help you appreciate the key differences in boys’’ development and behaviour and address our main worries about the sad/angry boys we meet in early childhood education and care. Maggie outlines the keys to improving communication with boys, examining expectations and helping boys experience external forms of success so they can shine. (NQS- Outcomes 1, 2, 3,4,5)  

Back to Nature Through Play

Around the world there is a resurgence in the passion and desire to create opportunities for more play in nature for children in their daily lives. The benefits of spaces that encourage engaging, adventuresome and highly creative play are undeniable. Passionate nature play advocate and parenting educator Maggie Dent has visited dozens of amazing adventurous nature spaces in schools and communities, and what she has seen time and time again can be summed up in one word: ‘MAGIC’. In this keynote address, Maggie will inspire anyone who has dreams of creating a nature play space. She explores the enormous benefits of nature play, how to build a powerful connection with nature – often at a do-able cost. Maggie shares stories and practical suggestions from those who have joined the revolution to make this vision a reality and who have also created a stronger school culture and community in the process.

9 Things: Why the Basics Matter for Early Years’ Educators

(based on Maggie’s book, 9 Things: A back-to-basics guide to calm, common-sense, connected parenting Birth–-8  for parents)
More children than ever are arriving in our schools with one or more developmental delays and this creates a “gap” that is almost impossible to overcome throughout the school journey. Maggie explores the role of healthy parenting and quality early years’ education with a back-to-basics, common-sense guide to what is essential for babies, toddlers and young children and which allows children to be able to thrive and be ready for school and life. The motif of Aunty Wilma the wallaby is Maggie’’s guide for those who care for children – she promotes being a positive parent advocate and supportive guide to enable healthy partnerships with ECE services. (NQS- Outcomes 1, 2, 3,4,5)  

Real Kids in an Unreal World: Building Resilience and Self-Esteem in Today’’s Children

Children need many essential experiences to build the competencies that will help them manage life –— the good, the bad and the ugly. Maggie’s common-sense, practical model of 10 building blocks will reassure those who work with children that what they have always known to be important in the early years of a child’’s education is still important! In this keynote address, Maggie will take participants through her building blocks to resilience, a model that will resonate with anyone who works with families and help our world to raise healthier, happier, more resilient children. (NQS- Outcomes 1, 2, 3,4,5)


Helping All Boys Shine in Our Schools (K-6) – NEW (also available K-12) – NEW

In this keynote address for educators, Maggie presents the latest research and strategies to address the decline in boys’ achievement and to re-engage the disengaged lads we are seeing far too often. Maggie will help you appreciate the key differences in boys’ development and behaviour, and explore the additional stressors impacting today’s boys in schools. She outlines keys to improving communication, examining expectations and helping boys experience external forms of success so they can shine. Maggie will also address creative ways to help boys when they fail, and how to help boys explore vulnerability and manage big ugly feelings so they can thrive in their school years. (Kindergarten-Year 6)

10 Secrets to Successful Teaching
(or 10 Secrets to Creating a Successful Classroom Culture)

The most successful educators are a blend of professional knowledge and competence as well as having the ability to engage, connect and communicate that knowledge to students. As the global world, educational practices and a continually changing National Curriculum in Australia evolve and change, how are our best classroom teachers using the principles of positive education to achieve the educational outcomes that both schools and families seek? Maggie spent many years as a secondary English teacher with a special interest in those who found the schooling journey a challenge. In this keynote address, she will explore some secrets she has discovered from successful educators that can help create a respectful classroom environment where positive relationships and academic rigour can co-exist. K-6 or 7-12.

Dare to be Exceptional as a Teacher

This keynote address explores the importance for educators in today’s busy and rapidly changing world to be better than average – indeed to step up to be exceptional.  From a strong background in the classroom and drawing on research Maggie will challenge your thinking and expectations in an entertaining and practical way. Many educators have called this – “the best PD I have ever attended.” K-6, or K-12 or 7-12.

Really Surviving Teaching:  Resilience and Wellbeing

This is a staff resilience session created to explore the role of stressors, developing protective factors and learning how to de-stress and relax. It explores “warning signs” and includes strategies to build your ability to cope with the unique challenges of a teaching career — long-term. This presentation is very practical and even old dogs can learn new tricks.

Calming Our Schools (K-6 or K-12)

Today’s world is full of the immediacy of a busy life and it is impacting on children. This seminar explores the what, the why and most importantly the how of calming our children. You will learn about self-regulation, how to calm hyperactive children and all about stress in children’s lives. You will discover the cognitive, social and emotional benefits of silence and stillness and how it will bring you immediate benefits in your classroom and school. Maggie also explores building mindfulness in young children and adolescents, which will help with their ability to interpret and interact more positively with their world.

Bring Back Play: How Play Builds the Whole Child

Maggie is a passionate play advocate and in this keynote address she explores it like no-one else! You will learn the vital aspects of play that build crucial brain connections at the same time as building emotional, social and spiritual competence. Maggie will also demonstrate how imaginary play can help children to heal from loss and hurt. Play is serious business and allowing children to play in many different forms will enable the wellbeing of both children and their carers.




Adolescence Unplugged (for parents, educators & community members)

From Maggie’’s extensive experience of working with adolescents for more than 30 years she has created an innovative, dynamic presentation for families, schools and communities to build resilience and connectedness in 12-25-year-olds. Adolescents need adult allies to help them navigate the tricky waters of the teenage years –– the art of guiding, and encouraging empowerment while strengthening self-esteem and personal autonomy is one that can be learned. This seminar explores the shift in raising children to raising adolescents, and what works and what won’t.

Adolescence Unplugged: Engaging Adolescents in the Classroom
(for Teachers)

From Maggie’’s extensive experience of working with adolescents for more than 30 years she has created an innovative, dynamic presentation for teachers to show how to build resilience and connectedness in 12-25-year-olds. Adolescents are digital natives and can struggle with engagement. This seminar explores the biological changes adolescents experience and how this influences what happens in the classroom. Maggie will give you insights into innovative ways of keeping students engaged and getting the most out of the high school, TAFE and university years.

Taming the Stress Monster in Adolescence

Today’’s world is full of the immediacy of a busy life and it is impacting on our children and adolescents. This seminar for people who support adolescents explores the what, the why and most importantly the how of calming our children and especially our rapidly transforming adolescents. The bumpy ride to adulthood can be challenging at times. Maggie explores stress and ways for adolescents to understand and help each other to navigate big ugly feelings, “ANT” attacks (automatic negative thoughts), failure and disappointment. She also explores great ways to calm and relax that will help the adolescents you work or live with to study better, think better and take the high road rather than the low road on the journey to being an adult.