Like most kids, I hated grammar at school. It consisted of long lists of thing with names like  possessive pronouns and past participles and seemed totally unrelated to anything else in the universe!

Interestingly, (and somewhat sadly,) it did not appear to have any relationship with our writing lessons- these I adored!

I was totally surprised to find the JOLLY GRAMMAR program was actually interesting- with signs, actions and colours for each part of speech and easily relatable to writing. In fact, the Jolly Grammar program informs the writing program adding structure and coherence to children’s writing and empowering them to say exactly what they mean!

I have never in 20 years of teaching Jolly Grammar, had a child complain they are bored, In fact they enjoy the power over the tricky English language it gives them and they particularly enjoy their improved writing!

If you haven’t heard of JOLLY GRAMMAR I recommend you give it a try.


I also train teachers to use it and the results are excellent.

On Sunday 30th August I am offering a 2- hour INTRODUCTION TO JOLLY GRAMMAR session. This is suitable for all interested educators and parents and also works well as a revision session if you need a refresher.

Email me on victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au if you would lie to attend. It will be held over ZOOM from 4-6 this Sunday-31st August (Perth time) Cost is $80.

All attending teachers will receive a free copy of the GRAMMAR BUFFET game from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This truly is the only grammar program I have ever found to deliver consistent results and engage children so effectively. A Perth Principal will be sharing some of the research from her school at this session and you will learn a little about all levels of Jolly Grammar and the colours and actions for all the parts of speech. It will be a jampacked, fun-filled session! Hope to see you there!

The ABC of Child Whispering: T is for Telling Tales

Telling tales is considered to be a very “un-Australian” behaviour but let’s face it- as adults we often call it “whistle blowing” and often admire the truth tellers!

Children tell us “tales” for many reasons.

For sure they might be seeking to get their siblings or classmates into trouble. They also might be trying to become more popular with a teacher or to in some way weild personal power.

However- over my career I have often found these 2 reasons to be more evident-

  • Risky behaviour has been witnessed – behaviours we would DEFINITELY want to be told about.
  • A child has been bullied and is frightened and definitely want the behaviour to stop.

So- the message is- listen carefully and don’t just send children away before listening to them. At least listen and if their tale telling is inappropriate tell them why BUT do not tell them they cannot come back if something is important and needs to be communicated.

Children must ALWAYS know they can depend on parents and teachers to be there and to listen in troubling and problematic situations.

The following link raises some important points. Sure- especially as teachers, we get sick and tired of tales but we need to look closely at the reasons for the tales and consider if some action needs to be taken- even if it is just to be a receptive listener or to encourage a child in a situation that is bothering them.

Children Bullying and Telling Tales: The Link


Finally, my colleagues are vindicated in their anti-NAPLAN comments! This morning’s news featuring the report from Dr Ainley showing:

“There has been no improvement in maths and reading among students in a decade and the results of disadvantaged students have declined sharply, a major report obtained by the ABC reveals.” (link at end of this blog)

I train teachers around the country and many outstanding educators have privately shared their NAPLAN concerns with me.

These concerns include:

  • Having to teach to the test- not the curriculum.
  • Reducing child development to grades and benchmarks and not taking learning styles into consideration
  • Children’s fears and anxiety around these tests.
  • Parents making children work on endless worksheets that purport to give better marks- a whole industry has grown up around this reduction of the education process to grades and numbers!
  • Children are pretested,  post – tested- they are tested so often there is little time to teach!

I regularly give workshops to SE Asian teachers as well, and my Singaporean colleagues have asked me why we have so many national exams.

Singapore has very high standards of education and has been very exam oriented in the past but is gradually injecting more creativity into the curriculum.

We NEVER had to go this way.

Sure- literacy and numeracy standards needed to improve and we needed more rigour in our education process.

This could have happened with a tighter curriculum, more effective professional development and extra teachers and assistants to work with children.

NAPLAN was always a broken, inferior tool to mend an education system that needed serious improvement.

Read more about it here-



In Praise Of Teachers

Lately I have been in many schools to train teachers how to use JOLLY PHONICS and JOLLY GRAMMAR.

 Yes, I know there are unkind,  harsh teachers who may lack some skills.
There are disinterested teachers and some who simply picked the wrong profession. This occurs in ALL professions. There are unkind, disinterested and  inept doctors, lawyers, accountants, politicians etc.
There always will be.

Teachers are particularly on public show and many people harbor thoughts that anyone who has been to school can teach. WRONG!

Just try to teach a group of youngsters with varied needs, learning styles and often with insufficient time, resources and with the huge demands placed on teachers to interpret the curriculum, continuously assess children and deal with many difficult parents.

Our teachers are well trained, extremely caring about the needs of the children in their care and often put their personal needs aside as they give up night after night to plan and mark. It is pretty much impossible to get all these tasks done in a school day, not to mention the research of new methods and searching for better methods to ensure ALL children are learning.

Yesterday I sat outside a kindergarten class waiting for the children to be dismissed as I was using that classroom for training. I was with a group of parents and grandparents who were watching their beloved children through the windows. I didn’t watch the kids- I watched the teacher.

I watched as she used a puppet to engage and enthuse the children, read a story with a wonderfully expressive voice and then lead the children to reflect about the morning’s learning. They discussed all their observations about the snails they were studying and were encouraged to postulate further questions to consider tomorrow.

Then these happy, excited kindergarten children spilled out of the class, many of them confidently saying “Hi!” to the stranger sitting there. (Me!)

Then after at least 4 hours of prep and teaching,  15 teachers sat and listened to me on tiny chairs, at tiny tables for another 3 hours as they ate their sandwiches. (No corporate training lunches for them!)

Without any break they encouraged me to begin, listened intently, asked many probing questions and examined ways they could use these programs to further improve literacy for their children. After 3 hours of presenting, I was exhausted but no- these amazing teachers wanted to ask questions, help me pack up and arrange to come to my center and borrow some teaching materials. 

This is a perfectly normal scenario. I often see teachers after exhausting days of teaching and no breaks as they often have playground duty and are faced with long prep hours at night.

They deserve better. They deserve our respect and admiration as they get on with their job of educating and transforming the future by their daily work.

Cut them some slack and forgive their occasional mistakes and grumpiness. Most of them LOVE your children and would do anything to help their young charges to reach for the stars.


The ABC of Child Whispering: Q is for QUESTIONS

We are all curious about our world, about possibilities, what ifs?

What if I did that?

What if I am wrong?

What if she does that?

Most of us imagine multiple possible scenarios dozens of times each day.

Forming questions leads us to problem solving and ultimately we decide which questions to follow, form a hunch, hypothethise and try to order our inquiry.

This questioning attitude is an essential part of kids’ minds. Unfortunately, we dull their minds by not encouraging their questions.

We learned about question marks last week and I was astounded!

 WHY IS GOD THERE? asks a 7 year old.

 WHY DO YOUNG KIDS SOMETIMES DIE? asks a 9 year old.

 WHY ARE TEACHERS SO STRICT? asks a feisty 6 year old youngster.

 WHY DO WE HAVE TO LIVE FOREVER? asks a six year old who attends a Catholic school and on and on to totally mind blowing and obscure questions about the Mosasaurs.

My brain hurts but I know it is my job to awaken their curiosity not dampen it.

The link provided here is an excellent blog post on improving our ability to teach kids about questions. Both teachers and parents can benefit from a careful reading!




A positive spin on FIDGET SPINNERS!

Yesterday I was given my very own fidget spinner and I am SO enjoying it!

So far I have “spun” before breakfast, through breakfast and while organising tasks, generating ideas for a creative writing program and now while writing this and it’s only 10:30am.

I love it. It seems to help me focus and feel less stressed.

Researchers are running around telling us how wrong they are for children, how right they are etc.

It’s not a big deal!

Crazes have always been with us. Marbles, dinky toys, slinkies, hula hoops, conkers, clackers, knuckle bones trolls slime  football cards, Rubik’s cubes, Transformers , slap bracelets, Tamagotchis,  Pokemon , Yo-Yos …………………….
Wise teachers know what to do- “Your spinners live in here!”  as they produce a special FIDGETS HERE basket!

Then we get on with it- just like our teachers did and their teachers before that.

Maybe or maybe not it is good for ADHD or Autistic kids. Who knows? The next craze will be here soon so we can all obsess about that while the kids just get on with the job of being a kid and having fun and avoiding homework.

We could actually learn a thing or two from the kids.

If you can’t beat them- join em!

During the next fortnight we will be studying the science of fidget spinners and making them- check our Pinterest page for ideas!


We will use them to revise seconds, circles, revolutions, moon around the Earth etc

Anyway- back to my little idea generator- my spinner!

Teach only with love

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library, girl lookinI decided to leave our Christmas decorations up until January 28th as I LOVE them and I figure I was away for a bit of December and this month so deserve a bit more!

I have not had enough of my “dreaming under the Christmas tree” time and my looking into the lit tree and imagining other worlds.

I want this year to be a year of going slowly enough to really notice what is happening- really deeply in all ways.

I have been kid-watching and teacher-watching this month and reflecting deeply on the REAL needs of kids. (And teachers!)

As I watched our teachers run EQ4KIDZ, BOOST, ART FROM THE HEART and YOUNG SCIENTISTS I noticed common threads.

It was all about CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS. As the kids bonded with teachers work improved. As teachers got to know their students their teaching methods became more precise, levels of humour increased and lesson enjoyment for both pupils and teachers increased!

As we begin our academic year and have our first staff meeting I want to posit that RELATIONSHIPS and love of children must come first.

TEACH ONLY WITH LOVE will be our mantra this year.

Love comes before the worksheets, teaching techniques, expensive resources. Teaching delivered with love is the way.

Teachers will never be replaced by machines. Teachers can love and love will always lead to higher results.

I declare this to be a year of unhurried, deep, effective teaching and lots of extended celebrations!


ABC of Child Whispering: P is for PETS







There is plenty of evidence to show that having pets into workplaces has really positive effects on morale.

Last week we observed the same with children. We were graced with the presence of George- a totally mixed up breed of dog with deformed paws and a wonderfully loving nature.

The children were so taken with his story- abandoned, picked up wandering the streets of Kalgoorlie, desperate for food and love and so on!

We were amazed as we watched children and dog bond and felt the sense of peace and happiness in our classroom.

Could this be a possible answer for kids who have been put off learning and need confidence, re-engagement and renewed faith in themselves?

Every now and again a child would quietly leave their chair and go give a very grateful George a huge hug! Then they would return to their work with renewed energy.

I noticed that the children who generally have problems with concentration and written work  appeared to be more settled and able to engage.

We were so pleased with the result that we will try the experiment again soon and monitor what happens.

It would be interesting to see other learning centers and schools try this PET LEARNING THERAPY!

GEORGE therapy seems to work!




bambino disperato si copre il voltoAlmost everyday I have sad conversations with parents and children about school work and homework they cannot understand.

A little challenge is healthy but to be constantly confronted with work they have no chance of succeeding with is just plain depressing. Then – just to rub salt in the wound, the NAPLAN results arrive and another nail is driven into the coffin of self-esteem!

F grade and a sad smilie, written in red letters in a spiral pad, shallow DOF

Of course there are curriculum guides that tell teachers the content expected to be mastered at different grade levels BUT a teacher’s task is always to take a child metaphorically by the hand and lead them through the curriculum. If they have not reached a certain stage you cannot just MAKE this happen. Children need to be given work they CAN do and then be shown how to get to the next level.

Children are not machines to be suddenly accelerated by a switch. They are wonderful gifts from God for us to nurture, love and lead gently through the education maze.

There is NOTHING more demeaning than to not be able to do school work all day (with classmates teasing and goading) and then to be given homework that you can’t do either. Schools need to be aware of how many families spend hours on homework tasks every night with resultant frustration and tears. These kids are not getting time to play, chat, daydream and generally be kids.

There is very little evidence that copious amounts of homework help children at all. Reading, practising basic spelling, phonics and times tables is appropriate. Any more than 30-40 minutes per evening is too much and children under 8 should have even less.

We need to stop robbing children of their childhoods and help them at point of need.

That’s why tuition that targets specific skills not understood, and that builds self-confidence and self-esteem really works!

The A-Z of Child Whispering O is for OPPOSITIONAL

Children Fighting In Front Of Mother At Home

What does OPPOSITIONAL mean?

You want the child to do one thing and they want to do the opposite.

Don’t we ALL have this at times? (I’m sure my husband would agree with that one!)

Why do some children become oppositional?

They do it because they don’t want to do what you want them to do. Simple!

What child ever wants to go to bed, pick up their toys, finish vegetables they hate, do boring homework or quietly accompany someone around a long trip to the supermarket, share toys with another kid they don’t like ……… (The list goes on!)

EVERY child in the world has had this so-called disorder at some stage.

Some kids are very strong and independent and really want to try to stand up to you, defy you and get their own way! (Could actually be a rather warped sign of strength and leadership!)

However, kids HAVE to learn to play the “game” and behave.

If parents don’t discipline their children, the world will!

You do know more than your child and you are the boss.

If no rules in the house- children will simply walk over you and demand their own way. They are wired to do this.

  • Make house and class rules and where possible involve children in this process. However, tell the kids about the non-negotiable rules- particularly the ones related to safety.
  • Stick to your rules and don’t threaten. Give a couple of warnings and then apply the consequences. It might be an isolation chair, quiet time in room, cancellation of privileges etc. No matter what you choose- make the consequences clear and STICK to them.
  • Begin straight away – if you ignore constant bad behaviour it just gets worse. It is OK to tell kids you understand how they feel. It is also OK that you tell them that some things are hard but we have to do them! This is part of character building.

You deserve some peace and quiet and you don’t want your home or classroom to be a constant battleground. It doesn’t have to be.

However, make sure you-

  • Do not have unrealistic expectations. Children cannot always be clean, neat and quiet.
  • Check children’s diets as many common foods contain additives that lead to low-level aggression.
  • Allow plenty of non-screen time and ensure they get outside and exercise.
  • Restrict time on digital media- it can lead to irritation and low level aggression.

We now have a label for oppositional behaviour:

Opposition Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Experts tell us that ODD kids might go on to develop Conduct Disorder. (CD)

Is it possible these kids actually have OOCD? (Out of Control Disorder) or NKS ? (Naughty kids syndrome)

This medicalisation of childhood needs to stop.

Take control today.


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