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: V is for victory

We cannot all be victors and children need to understand this.

Children have to learn about losing as well as winning. Losing feels bad but failure is part of life and all kids need to get up, dust off and try again.

This applies to most things that kids do BUT when it comes to learning and continuous failure this does not stand up so well.

The sweet smell of success is important- especially to children who struggle so as parents, carers and teachers we need to be wise and help children to achieve this.

Success and victory over problems is a huge motivator to carry on and develop persistence and resilience.

We talk a great deal about resilience at the moment but we must remember that it does run out. Without any encouragement and ability to perceive progress- signs of victory- we do eventually crumble and lose the will to fight and to persist. Children reach that point quite quickly if they are not helped to perceive how far they have come.

In my work with children I have learned to document the steps of progress so children can see them. This might be as simple as graphing their levels of reading progress, showing them writing samples over 6 months etc. Children NEED to know they are improving and that albeit in small ways, are victors over what often seem to be insurmountable problems.

We know so much about Howard Gardner’s 8 intelligences now and by helping children chart these in their own lives, we show how much each intelligence is important. See this article for a clear description of each intelligence.


Kids with high visual-spatial intelligence need to know it IS an intelligence and ways they can develop this to enhance their life and possibly build other intelligences. Similarly, kids with high physical, naturalist or music intelligences need to feel their particular cocktail of intelligences is honoured!

We so often in schools show how much we value the linguistic and maths-logic intelligence and yet fail to help kids see the value of the other 6- creating a very lopsided approach to teaching and learning.

By helping children to perceive their “smarts,” and by providing rich learning environments that cater well for all learning preferences, we can turn this around and help them realise we can ALL be successful learners.



Children are the great gift-givers

For every child that is born, it brings with it the hope that God is not yet disappointed with man. 

Rabindranath Tagore

Some years ago, I gave a talk about learning difficulties at an amazing school in India where this quote was given prominence on the classroom walls.

What a hopeful message and a message we need to remember this week!

As children prepare to head back to school and we reluctantly shake off holiday mode, it is helpful to remember the amazing gifts children bring to this world- ALL children!

They bring us:

  • Honesty
  • Scarily clear and sharp minds
  • Curiosity
  • Fresh insights
  • The ability to sense when they are not liked and to react strongly- usually negatively!
  • The energy to rebel and look at things differently
  • Never ending questions
  • Energy to push back barriers
  • Love of learning (unless we flatten this)
  • Models of resilience as they get up from disappointments over and over again!

Children challenge us and help us see the truth!

We need the gifts children bring. The trick is to remember Rabindranath Tagore’s quote and to keep it uppermost in our minds each day as we re-commence our sacred task of educating these amazing kids.

Truly, every child is a gift from God to the world!

Let’s unwrap them and nurture their talents with care.

As educators we are part of a great revolution to transform the world! What a privilege.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

―Malala Yousafzai





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.


Teach like a kindergarten teacher


All I really need to know… I learned in kindergarten: Robert Fulghum

“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum

Kindy teachers are different!

  • They don’t serve up learning in pre-parcelled lots- they knit it together so that little children make connections and learn deeply.
  • Kindy teachers know that if a child doesn’t understand- then show them in a different way.
  • They know children learn differently- very differently.
  • Kindy teachers are tired- often!
  • They can never say, “Turn to page 35 and do all the questions.”
  • Kindy teachers HAVE to be present.

They HAVE to be well planned and above all they HAVE to love children – a lot. They certainly don’t do it for the money. They are never paid enough to cover what they do!

All of us can learn from watching our immensely creative kindy teacher colleagues. imagine if all teachers taught like kindy teachers- children would be happy, be allowed to develop their strengths and learn in ways that suit their learning styles.

What a radical idea!

They have got it right and we need to study them and learn from them.

Be there. Be present. Love your children. Expect the unexpected and FLOW!

If you teach like a kindy teacher you will probably have premature grey hairs, lots of “crinkles” and have a desperate need for sleep. But be assured- you have more effect on your students than anyone else.

I am sure God has a special place in Heaven for kindy teachers- huge comfy beds, warm scented baths and trashy magazines with wine and very good chocolate!

What you do MATTERS and we admire you greatly!



So now Year Ones are to have a new test to determine who has problems.

By this time of the year Grade One teachers have already identified these youngsters and doing all they can to help them catch-up and have success with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

The money to develop this new test could be used to put extra teacher assistants in the classrooms and purchase adequate teaching resources. (Teachers buy their own!)

Australian kids are over-tested and under-taught!

There are problems that results from this over-testing:

  • Parents naturally worry about the tests and are concerned the results will affect their children’s futures. According to parents, judgements about who can enter certain private schools are sometimes made using NAPLAN results.
  • MANY schools are holding time-consuming NAPLAN coaching sessions for entire classes and teachers who attend our professional development sessions are concerned about this.
  • Every time teachers coach kids to pass a test they are not teaching to the needs of their classes.
  • Students are really worried- we have so many year 3 children who are really frightened of NAPLAN
  • Parents are buying assessments books by the dozen and coaching kids at home. Kids are not getting to play and relax. This leads to stressed kids learning less in classrooms.

NAPLAN has always been a very expensive, ineffective and time wasting stick to try to scare teachers into somehow drilling facts into kids in Dickensian “Hard Times” scenarios.

I had a parent tell me her Pre-Primary son has been identified as at educational risk because he counted to 100 and missed 89 and became mixed up!  This is the result of teacher stress reaching out and affecting children.

We taught this particular child with some extra “hands-on” sessions. He had NO problems at all – in fact his maths intelligence was very strong.

We need to regain our sense of perspective and look at what actually DOES work. We say we do this but Finland is a leading light and they have very little testing.

Singapore is known to be a school system that is reliant on rigorous testing but I am regularly asked by my colleagues there why we have SO MUCH testing in Australia- and yet very little effect!

We need to honour and trust our teachers as professionals and give them the resources and help they need to help ALL youngsters reach their potential!


New mindset new results motivational phrase sign on old wood with blurred background

Our EQ4KIDZ course leads to better academic results. This is because children develop an I CAN attitude and therefore stop holding back in the classroom.

They are more positive, resilient and improve general self-esteem and develop an I CAN attitude.

This course teaches kids to understand themselves and develop more positive attitudes.

EQ4KIDZ is offered in Australia and SE Asia. Our goal has always been the same: To help all children reach their potential.

Students are led through art and drama activities, proven to help them understand themselves and others.

Training is also available for schools. We can provide trained teachers to run this transformative course in schools and we are also available to go into schools and train staff.

Readers who are interested in enrolling children in this course can contact ICE on 9271 4200 or email International Centre for Excellence iceinfo@iinet.net.au


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!


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