Why we don’t coach kids for NAPLAN at Victoria Carlton Programs

We used to do this and realised it was a form of cramming and not teaching.  Cramming does not work. Good teaching does!  NAPLAN is a national testing instrument that was full of promise but has not delivered.

Instead we see terrified kids, stressed parents and too often term 1 spent coaching kids for NAPLAN instead of teaching them.

Teachers generally, (for their own sanity), prefer to teach non- NAPLAN years.

Many of our enrolled parents are choosing to skip these tests as they are trying to build self-esteem- not rip it to shreds.

There is now a whole industry around NAPLAN. Parents and teachers buy access to websites for coaching purposes, buy books of NAPLAN style tests and even run “off NAPLAN year” testing.

Let’s get back to good, evidenced based teaching practices and allow teachers the right to test their own children and evaluate their progress. (Something they are trained to do!)

NAPLAN funding could be put into providing extra teaching assistants to ensure children at risk get the help they need BEFORE they fail a test that has unproven efficacy!

Read this for a balanced perspective:

http://theconversation.com/lets-abandon-naplan-we-can-do-better-95363

 

 

I CAN DO THE SPLITS!

I was recently asked to read our  new Prince Nila picture book to  some enthusiastic youngsters at Times Junior in the new Jewel shopping centre at Changi Airport.

There were thousands of people milling around and it was hard to concentrate but gradually the kids fell into STORY entrancement!

After this we noisily made storm noises, threw everything overboard from our sinking ship, including Prince Nila’s crown and all the children did very creative pictures. One very small child came up to me and waited patiently to tell me something. She whispered to me, “I can do the splits!”

I was honoured that she had shared this and told her how great this was and how I wished I could too!

Then we all did more messy painting and I autographed many books and was getting ready to pack up when I heard the same little girl calling, “Aunty Vicky!”

I went over to her and there she was, ignoring all the parents and children milling around and doing the splits!

I love the fact that she knew she could share this great feat with us and waited patiently for me to finish. This small child had hugged her special secret to herself but was DETERMINED to show me her newly mastered skill! It was my favourite moment of the afternoon!

This is one child who will never lose focus about what is important to HER! I love the single-minded focus and determination of small children! They can teach us a thing or two about sticking to the most important thing!

We are not stamped out with cookie cutters!

Cookie dough with christmas stars

My wise yoga teacher made this comment during a rather difficult posture today where she asked us to adjust to our own abilities.

I immediately thought of children and teachers. It would be so much easier if children were all stamped out in the same shape- but they are not and we are not either!

Teachers teach differently and kids learn differently! We all need to adjust, be flexible and bend a little.

I didn’t really want to get spotty paints out at 7:30am this morning but it ensured Jamie learned about long A. I don’t really fancy using Minecraft paper for writing with Scott this afternoon but if I do I know he will write more!

Planning lessons- whether for individual, group or whole classes is tricky. It requires the sort of thinking used by a conductor with a symphony orchestra! All the different instruments have to be invited in and all the different learning styles must be catered for within our teaching repertoires.

Is this easy? No- it requires HUGE amounts of skill, energy and training and TIME but most teachers are actually very good at this and it ensures ALL children learn!

If a child does not learn well in the classroom, (some don’t), we determine the best way to teach them the basic literacy and maths skills and help them. We enjoy sharing our findings with parents and classroom teachers and feel collaboration between all stake-holders is the most effective mode of remediation.

I also think it is essential and respectful to ask the child what they feel they need!

Call us today on 08 9 2777596 or email victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au so we can arrange some targeted educational help for your chld. We are in Guildford, WA and travel 3x per year to Singapore to train teachers and arrange assessments for children.

 

Tips for Term 2

Term 2 is a VERY important one.

Once NAPLAN is over, a great deal of new concepts are taught. During Term 1, teachers revised the previous year’s work, got to know your child and started to teach the curriculum for the new grade level.

Now the weather has cooled, children seem to come to life and have far more energy!

More indoor pursuits can take place as the pool and beach are not so attractive now!

Homework schedules have now been set and most kids are aware of their new teacher’s expectations.In order to maximise success at school this term a few tried and tested practices help-

  • Children DO need to learn their times tables and they need to be automatically recalled by year 5. (right up to 12 x) There are many ways to do this but ALL the strategies utilise repetition and this needs to be at least 4-5 x per week. If you would like to know some effective strategies email me at victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au and I will send you some ideas.
  • Spelling is an important skill and also needs to be learned util recall is automatic. Unfortunately your children are often judged by their poor spelling levels so we use a very systematic approach.
  • Children need to read on a daily basis from books that challenge, interest and stimulate their imaginations and thinking skils. If you email me I will send you my favourite list- broken down to age levels. The best family practice to encourage reading is to make a specified time every evening when EVERYONE reads. Just put some quiet music on and encourage at least 15-20 mins of curl up time with a book!
  • When this time is finished each family member can share something about their book- or not!
  • This practice ALWAYS has a positive effect  on fluency and comprehension levels and is great for you too!
  • Above all, let your child know you believe in them and if they show signs of academic weakness in any area- this is the term to do something. We take children’s learning styles into consideration when planning programs and ALWAYS seek to make learning a happy, enjoyable experience.

  • Call Victoria Carlton programs on 2777596 or email us for more info. We wish ALL students a fantastic successful, creative and happy term!

The Da Vinci Program

We are launching the Da Vinci program next term.

The aims of this program are to:

  • Stimulate scientific thinking and enquiry
  • Foster a spirit of curiosity
  • Encourage children to think innovatively
  • Foster effective divergent, thinking skills
  • Nurture and grow children’s imaginations
  • Foster creativity in many forms

Children will be taught how to-

Collaborate in small groups as well as conduct individual projects that interest and excite them.

Set a hypothesis and test their ideas

Mind-map, explore ideas and think “differently”

Formulate effective questions and utilise a range of thinking strategies to find answers

Use de-Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats

Utilise their interests to plan projects and confidently present their findings

Their literacy and maths skills will be stimulated and grown as they explore themes, conduct experiments

They will study the lives and works of great thinkers such as-

Da Vinci

Einsten

Madam Curie

Edison

 

The 7 habits of Happy Children will be woven into the program.

  • Be proactive

  • Plan with the end in mind

  • Put first things first

  • Think win-win

  • Seek first to understand and then to be understood

  • Synergise

  • Sharpen the saw

  • Enrolment is generally for the term and the fee covers all materials, stationery etc.

Email victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

EASTER- renew, refresh and resurrect!

Easter is the greatest Christian festival although I am sure most present-hungry children would tell you that Christmas is more important!

The focus on the Resurrection and the cooling of harsh Summer temperatures can also lead to a renewal time for all of us in Oz!

Term 1 seems to fly by in a flash and suddenly we find ourselves at the end and wonder, “How did that happen?”

EASTER can be a time to stop, evaluate the year so far and maybe go within to reform goals for the year.

It is like a resurrection of our spirits and bodies as well. I like the image of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.

The going within ritual happens best when parents model this to children.

Here are some ideas for this:

  • Set your goals in front of the children and write them up where children can see them. Alternatively, write them on slips of paper inside the plastic Easter eggs you can easily buy at this time. They could stay in a basket for children (and parents) to look in occasionally and remind themselves of their goals.

  • Discuss your day with children and let them see you also experience positives and negatives and the negatives help you to grow.

  • Talk about life cycles- chickens from eggs, butterflies from a chrysalis etc. and how living things grow and change and discuss how change and growth is inevitable.

  • Make times for family quiet and re-charging of batteries. Help children to develop positive mind-sets by adopting one yourself.

  • If you are a Christian, you can help children to discuss the significance of the Resurrection and how we all need mini-resurrections in our lives.

  • I have many Easter themed resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This is an excellent site for parents and teachers who are looking for quality education products at very reasonable prices. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Victoria-Carlton-Programs

Easter Blessings to all of you! If you are already enrolled in our classes I look forward to seeing your next term. If any of you would like to know more about our programs- please do not hesitate to email me on victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au

The ABC of Child Whispering: V is for VACATIONS

I keep a lot of detailed observational records of the kids we teach and I see a large spike in improvement levels at the beginning of each term. This data is consistent and it does not surprise me!

 

Children are more responsive, relaxed and above all refreshed!

Kids need holidays and they don’t need every day to be crowded out with planned activities.

Give them some time to do NOTHING, whatever time, PJ time – whatever you want to call it! I assure you relaxed and refreshed kids will achieve more during the following term.

 

Set an example yourself. Make sure children see you occasionally doing NOTHING on holidays. It is only by emptying our minds that new ideas, insights and understandings can flood in.

Time off is NEVER time wasted.

Plan your next PJ day today!

I’m writing this in my PJs while propped up in a hotel room in Bali so I should know! I have had 4 full days of space to empty and think and my mind is starting to flow with ideas again.

It is like letting the tide go right out so it can flow back in with more vigour!

 

HE’S NOT THERE YET!

Last week was the last week of Term 1 here in Western Australia. This means teachers worrying about children who have not reached desired levels in various subject areas. It also means anxious parents who get told comments like, “He’s not there yet.”

What does this really mean? The child I have in mind here has struggled with literacy skills for 5 years . He took longer to develop phonological awareness and start reading. Unfortunately for Jamie, (not his real name); his school did not use a synthetic phonics program so he lacked tools to begin his literacy journey.

I now have him on a strong phonics and individualised literacy program and he IS making progress. As Jamie also has HUGE self-esteem issues and is regularly bullied, paying attention in class is difficulty for him. He has told me he is terrified of play-times! I am helping him become more resilient but WHY should this happen? He is called, “Veggie,” because he struggles, tripped up, has his lunch stolen most days and  last week was told to , “toughen up!”

His mother came to me crying last week. His teacher had told her “He’s not THERE yet and I am not sure he will ever be!”

My point is- where is this mythical THERE?

Why must we all go there at the same time?

Why can’t we go somewhere else first or follow a different pathway?

Why must we treat kids like robotic machines who have not achieved the correct speeds, skills etc?

Why do we still accept ANY bullying in our schools?

I rejoice in my kids who are not THERE! They are somewhere else instead and they teach me more than I teach them. Of course I work to improve their literacy and maths but I know there are many paths to get there and we don’t want literacy clones- we want thinking, feeling REAL chilldren with all their gifts, failings and differences.

Let’s celebrate EVERY CHILD and their amazing potential and open our hearts and brains to the possibility we may actually be wrong. That failing child might actually be a creative genius who needs a different approach.

Jamie is! He is already a gifted artist and poet and yet not honoured for these skills!

Please email me direct at victoricarlton@iinet.net.au if your child needs some help to find their learning pathway.  As part of my very different educational assessments, I assess learning style and look for strengths as well as weaknesses.

The ABC of Child Whispering: U is for UNIQUE and UNUSUAL

I teach children who are unusual.  The usual strategies have to be put away and I am forced to think out of the box.

I am like an explorer whose maps don’t work.

How do they learn? What do they need?

If you have an unusual child, please honour them. Celebrate their difference. Look for their gifts. Reassure them you are there for them.

Don’t be too quick to put a diagnosis on your child. Use your intuition and just love your kids through it all- unusual kids tread a very thorny path- they need love and understanding.

These kids will be our leaders, our innovative thinkers, our entrepreneurs. They are the ones who will help generate ideas to solve climate issues and get the world out of the mess my generation put it in!

These kids are the ones who make me dog- tired every night but immensely stimulated and happy!

Just over the last few term we have:

  • Written a book with comprehension and spelling about UNIVERSAL studios in Singapore for a child who has just returned.
  • Helped a child who LOVES fairies to “elf” herself by placing her photo in an elf picture and then to write about it.
  • Discussed the possibilty of unicorns existing and used them in art.
  • Designed a literacy program around an app FARMING SIMULATOR 19 to re-engage a child.
  • Helped a small group to learn about features of report writing by choosing their favourite animal- the PENGUIN as our focus.
  • Designed a series of MAGIC MIRROR lessons for a small group who love fantasy but need help with elements of narrative
  • Helped a child to make a “maths drum” to practice counting and mental facts.
  • Designed digital notebooks for all our students to use with our i-pads.
  • Made an art project for a child to learn the “ig” word family.
  • Taught kids about fractions by cutting up pancakes and waffles!
  • Found novels and picture books to fit with children’s interests and needs
  • Used JOLLY PHONICS and JOLLY GRAMMAR to accelerate children with learning gaps- written our own support materials for children who take a little longer to absorb these concepts.
  • Tomorrow we will be doing lots of messy experiments about eggs, Easter and weather for our Super Science Saturday group.

I could NEVER get bored. And guess what? There are many teachers like me who prove you CAN individualise programs. It is hard work but these capable, unusual kids NEED programs that engage and utilise their interests and strengths. It is well worth putting in the time and effort.

Occasionally we hold CHILD WHISPERING workshops for teachers and parents who would like to know how to individualise the curriculum. Let me know if you are interested.

Anyone interested in our individualised and vibrant, exciting group tuition or teacher training and licences- please contact me on 0409911135, 92777596, victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au

In Praise of Teachers

Yesterday I gave my last JOLLY LEARNING session for this term to teachers at a WA school.

I could see tiredness etched into their faces as I began my 3 hour session. (They had already taught full classes all morning!)

I knew that as soon as we finished they had parent interviews to arrange so were probably working at least 10-11 hours!

And yet- they concentrated fully, took notes, ask HEAPS of questions, laughed at the silly videos I showed and even stayed back to ask me more questions.

Their dedication was so apparent as they shared successes and concerns and I was struck by their level of passion for their students.

They had bothered to reflect and come with all their questions and I LOVED running this workshop.

To be honest I enjoy running ALL of my training in literacy or emotional intelligence because teachers are amongst the most creative, hard – working, passionate and dedicated professionals you could ever meet.

We need to honour them more and realise how precious they are- they truly are transforming the next generation.

Tell them how much you appreciate all their efforts- put a smile on a tired teacher’s face today!