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.



Are Year 7s really ready for High School?

I am not sure they are.

I often work with year 6 students who h

ave learning difficulties, but they are ALL excited about the move to high school. They feel it will be a fresh start with new possibilities. Some do really well with the change in environment, but many don’t.

Common problems include  –

  • Timetabling issues, being late, missing lessons and sports practice sessions.
  • Difficulty finding correct rooms for lessons and getting lost on campus.
  • Balancing homework tasks- many now have 3 – 4 hours of homework each evening! This is not because they have been given that much. It is because they cannot pace themselves and time manage.

Year 7s in High Schools is now a fact in all states except SA and that will change in 2021.

I am aware of the wonderful transition programs most schools run but the kids I see often so desperately want to show they can achieve in their new school and won’t ask questions.

One of my students has been so stressed this year that we have had to spend a huge amount of time on mindfulness and stress management strategies. He is  not sleeping well as he is so worried.

Another one of my students is falling apart this week with homework tasks and myriad tests. I just read his writing and he is not coping and sent out an SOS to us in his writing.

Why on earth should a child of this age be subject to that stress level? What sort of long-term effect might this have?

Teachers and parents can help their children hugely by sticking to a few sensible guidelines:

Don’t threaten children with, “You’ll be at high school next year and they won’t stand for this work” just does not work on a stressed – out Year 6.

They already know they are failing! They are hoping high school will give them a new start. We need to stop blaming children for having difficulties.

Observe Year 7 students closely:

  • Do they need extra help?
  • Are they stressed?
  • Are there ways you can quietly help?
  • Check students know exactly how much homework they are really meant to do.
  • If necessary, enrol students in tuition or a study skills course.
  • Do students understand how to use lockers? Many of my students carry ALL their books with them “just in case!” I cannot even lift their backpacks!

I have no doubt Year 7s will continue to be classed as High School students, BUT can we try to get into their shoes, imagine their stress load and consider how we can give them practical help?

What’s the Time Mr Wolf?

I am in Singapore to conduct some workshops. On Sunday I took the chance to relax by the pool and prepare my mind for the busy week.

As I lazily let my mind slip into the relaxed surroundings and half-heartedly tried to read, I heard such a familiar chant. I was immediately transported backwards over decades to when I was a little girl.

“What’s the time Mr. Wolf?”

I am imagining the mounting excitement until it is time to be eaten! I listened to the squeals of terror and nervous giggles and so the old game is played out- this time with local kids from Singapore. This game has jumped geographical, historical and cultural boundaries and not even SLIGHTLY changed!

Kids love repetitive games like this- they have common elements-

  • Can be repeated easily- often for hours and hours.

  • Need no props and can be played ANYWHERE.

  • Kids of any age can join in

  • Have an element of chance and a good healthy dose of fear!

These games teach children to collaborate, cooperate, stick to rules and much, much more. Games prepare children for life!

They need plenty of time to play these games. PLAY is not an optional element in childhood- it is ESSENTIAL!

Without play, children’s social intelligence would be stunted and this can affect their whole future. Already, we require children to spend large amounts of time on homework and often “play” is confined to I-pad and You-Tube time.

If we are serious about nurturing children and providing optimal learning environments we MUST allow adequate time for play.

Read some more about this important topic here:



We all learn differently- guest blogger perspective: Andrew Herrmann


I love to talk to parents about their own personal learning experiences with “THE SYSTEM.”

Andrew Herrmann Managing Director – Access 1 Security Systems, father of four talented and creative children had this to comment:

Dear Victoria ,

Thanks for the quick chat reminiscing through my early childhood studies.

It was amazing to realise how the general government school system misses opportunities for talented students and fails to recognise the potential in some children.

After describing my childhood schooling, we soon realised that  I excelled in the more advanced classes but produced less than average grades in the general classes.

Victoria, you immediately identified after asking me a series of questions what my schooling environment was like?

Was I challenged in the normal classes?

Did the teacher provide direct input with me or was I even pushed?

I soon realised that in the general classes I was treated like any other child left to my own measures to complete whatever I was asked, but in the advanced classes the teachers took a more focused view point and pushed the students to complete their tasks.

Being a creative type I needed the additional push to excel in what I was doing be it maths or science. The difference is obvious:

Achieving A averages in the advanced classes but in the general classes only achieved D averages. I am glad all my children have been and are still doing your courses, I can see the results in their grades at school.

Thank you, Victoria for your educational input please keep it up. Warmest regards


Sometimes we have to throw away our “maps” and become enlightened scientists digging and delving till we find WHAT WORKS!

Any other parents who would like to share their experiences of “the system”- please contact me-

“DOUBLES BOOKS” for Doubling Reading Progress

This is my second blog about DOUBLES BOOKS.

You may want to look back on the first one to read how they were started!

Lately I have been using the strategy again- for my very visual learners who need lots of repetition and have lost their confidence with reading and spelling.

It is a method that harnesses their own interests and well worth the small amount of time it takes to construct these simple books.

They work particularly well for students from 4-8 years of age and beyond for those with learning problems.

Milly is a very creative 7- year old student. I see her once a week and she is intrigued with everything to do with fantasy.

Milly has done well with the Jolly Phonics program but her word-recognition and spelling skills are still a little low.

Recently she was keen to write a story about fairies and as I need to improve her word recognition and spelling skills, we used the DOUBLES approach in her tuition session.

Milly dictated her story to me. I typed it with a simple font she could easily trace.

Milly read it to me and did not complain about the doubled words. In fact, she was so proud that she could read the words 100% accurately!

Milly then chose colours to trace the words and neatly worked her way through our “book.”

She had her book to show Mum at the end of the hour and was SO proud.

Some readers might remember this approach from the LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE method. Simply double whatever they dictate and either leave lines for them to copy or provide traceable fonts.

This method is successful with young students who need a boost of confidence, word-recognition and spelling skills and really accelerates their literacy skills in a non-painful and enjoyable way!





I have used digital notebooks for some years to record assessments, organise my thoughts, ideas etc and have recently used them wth great success wth all students.

Over the last 6 months we have introduced Noteshelf 2 to most of our students. This means they get their individualised digital notebook to work in and they LOVE it.

They get to choose their own covers and we choose lined paper, graph paper and blank paper for the notebook. The children write with an Apple pencil and immediately their handwriting improves. Of course they prefer to write thoughts in the great range of ccolours and enhance their work with the huge range of highlighter colours.

We don’t always use these digital notebooks- they also use pencil and paper but they love the time in their special notebooks.

We can print pages out for our records and email specific pages to parents. The children use them for reading, spelling practice, comprehension, writing and maths and sometimes are rewarded with inclusion of a blank a page for drawing.

This is really helpful technology and has enhanced our learning programs for ALL ages- and we get to save trees!

I recommend this app to parents and teachers- well worth the investment and you can add as many notebooks as you wish!

Was Leonardo da Vinci ADHD?

An article in the weekend West about this subject made me laugh!  Of course da Vinci showed all the supposed signs of ADHD and thank goodness! Without his quirky, creative brain we would not have Mona Lisa and countless innovative ideas that have lead to amazing modern inventions.

We call our Saturday morning program the Da Vinci Program. I asked the students why they think I wanted that name. I was stunned by the answer from a ten year old kid, “Because we are all mini da Vincis!” He is so right!

We encourage creative thought, inventive ideas and research. However we also teach kids how to organise their amazing brains so they can actually FINISH things and manage their time. I don’t want to dumb down their ideas and creativity- rather to encourage and grow them!  However, we can help these kids  to manage themselves so they can learn to “play the game” and fit in while they get educated.

Students who attend my program know they must learn times tables, spell conventionally and read fluently otherwise they will be judged to be deficient by society.

They must also learn to be resilient and develop self-discipline and positive mind-sets.

Our programs cover all of these areas and we create a happy environment where all kids are affirmed and learn to grow their gifts. There are many ways to learn and many ways to teach and a true educator is an enlightened scientist searching for the learning keys for all their students.


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:




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 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.