Children are amazing! We need to learn from THEM!

I was recently working with a child who has difficulty processing sounds as she writes. We had tried various methods that “sort of” helped but there was some distance to go!  Her reading was rapidly improving- but NOT her spelling!

She is a very observant child and always looking for an adventure!

I have some castanets I use to introduce the c/k/ck sound in Jolly Phonics. Sophie’s sharp eyes spotted them and wanted to know what they were and why they were in my classroom.

I explained and she seemed to be happy. We continued sounding out some words from our word-lists, clapping out sounds and tapping on the table.

Suddenly, Sophie stood up and grabbed one of the castanets. She started sounding out words while clicking the castanets- a click for each sound!  I stared as she confidently worked her way through the word list.

When we moved into dictation she listened carefully and then wrote every word with  100% accuracy as she literally clicked her way through each word.

I just sat there in complete shock. After all my methods, apps, games etc- she chose something that worked for her.

Sophie is going very fast with her spelling skills now and this is largely due to “CLICK SPELLING!”

Try it- it may or may not work for your children, but the real take-a-way is to allow children to have some choice in methods that work for them- and they might be unusual!



Throughout my teaching career I have worked with children who struggle to learn these pesky words that generally cannot be sounded out- so must be learned by heart.

That presents a problem as kids these days HATE rote learning and will do all they can to avoid it.

When I wrote this product I was determined to come up with interesting ways to get kids excited about these essential words.

Without being able to read and write these words, kids have NO chance of reaching full literacy.

I have made this product FREE so just join TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS, (,) find my store-Victoria Carlton Programs and follow me. The free TRICKY WORDS package is my featured product and as mentioned, it is FREE!

Don’t forget to follow for more great freebies coming over the next few months.

This very full – 9 part learning package is designed to help children learn to read and spell the 72 TRICKY words taught in the first two years of school. It follows the same sequence as that used by the JOLLY PHONICS program.

However, the learning activities would suit the needs of any young literacy learners.

The suggested learning activities can also be used to help older children to close the gap and achieve better literacy outcomes.


1. Suggestions for multi-sensory teaching of the TRICKY WORDS.

2. Strips of TRICKY WORDS to read and trace.

These can be stapled into paper chains to decorate literacy centers and classrooms.

The TRICKY WORDS can also be glued into children’s writing books for reference and practice.

3. Sentences for the reading practice of tricky words.

These can be copied, cut up and used as flashcards. Children can read these words and also be directed to copy them for spelling practice. The TRICKY words are underlined.

4, Sentences for tracing whole sentences that use tricky words.

These can be copied and traced by students to reinforce the spelling of TRICKY WORDS. They can trace with bright colours to aid memory.

5. Sentences for children to read and insert the missing TRICKY WORDS.


7. A PowerPoint of all the 72 TRICKY WORDS

8. A recording form for you to mark off when children have mastered the words. This form can also be used for flashcards.

I suggest you make a copy for each child.

9. Certificate for children who have mastered the TRICKY WORDS.

I have also made a certificate for children who are trying hard but haven’t yet mastered the words.


The ABC of Child Whispering: T is for TEMPER TANTRUMS

We are all familiar with the 2 year old temper tantrums and feel sorry for parents as they try to coax angry (and often very cute) children to calm down.

We feel less sorry for parents of older children who “lose it” in public. These kids are often ridiculed and teased by their peers and in fact goaded as they provide ready entertainment in the classroom.


We tend to label parents of these children as laissez-faire, ineffective and uncaring and yet the reverse is often the course.

Some kids have huge problems coping with big emotions and need help to handle their anger. They don’t want to be out of control and desperately need intervention.  It is as if they have more triggers than other kids and need to desensitise them.

We help students with anger management problems within our individual and group learning sessions and employ a range of very practical measures to help children self-regulate.

Please email me on for specific advice and recommendations, or call Victoria Carlton programs on 92777596 or 0409911135.

We also have our EQ4KIDZ and ART FROM THE HEART programs to help children understand their feelings and develop a more positive mindset and higher levels of resilience. We help these children grow an extra “skin” so they can lengthen the time from stimulus to response.

They CAN all be helped but it takes time, patience and persistence. Their parents need support, empathy and encouragement- not unhelpful criticism.

These links have some helpful ideas:


Beginnings are magical….

We are 3 weeks into term and kids have been excited about getting back to school, seeing their friends, meeting their new teachers and so on.

They have been bringing their brand new text books and reading books along to show us and even excitedly showing us homework programs and exam dates. There is ALWAYS some excitement about the start of the school year- they are filled with hope and optimism and the scent of new beginnings.

I love this time- each year it feels like the regeneration of the earth after the Autumn summer rains!

However, sadly any inherent problems start to emerge again.

Some of our children are already feeling dejected as they face the disappointing results from beginning of the year testing, realise the homework HAS to be done and that they still experience problems.

A number of young children have told me, “I am dumb, Vicky. I’ll never be good at school work,” and similar statements.

We are weaving lots of positive mind-set activities into our teaching sessions in an effort to build resilience and positive, I CAN attitudes.

To sum up, there IS magic in these early school days but let’s be well aware of the hurt and disappointment starting to emerge from low-performing students. Let’s make sure they get the support and empathy they need rather than the negativity and blame that unfortunately often comes their way.

Any readers who would like to discuss problems with their children, please email me on so I can offer you some helpful ideas and support.








So many of our students HATE maths and cannot see the relevance to the real world. They can’t join the dots from what they learn in the classroom to how real maths is essential to our world!

We have set out with our MAKING MATHS MEANINGFUL program to remedy this. We want our students to join the dots and see how relevant maths is to EVERYTHING!

We noticed many of our students have been experiencing difficulties with money problems.

We often use the shopping catalogues from our mailboxes and ask friends to collect for us. Then we utilise these catalogues to help students problem solve using undertanding of our money system.

This week we managed to get some K-Mart catalogues and we have written some maths problems designed to utilise the mathematical opportunities offered by K-Mart this week!

Kids LOVE this very relevant, “hands-on” approach!


I have provided tuition for hundreds of students over the last 20 years and one thing that stands out is the success of small group tuition.

Why is this?

This is what I think is happening:

  • Children are social creatures and they love to know others have difficulties as well.
  • Problem solving, interpersonal and conversation skills are difficult to teach without a group context.
  • Students bounce their ideas off each other and when we share ideas, writing, ways to solve maths problems etc they enjoy learning about other perspectives.
  • There is plenty of opportunity for humour in a group as well as discussing common problems without necessarily identifying the person who is having the difficulties.
  • Language is best learned in a social context with plenty of opportunities for oral interactions and fast feedback. Literacy is literally built on a base of talk!
  • In a group context we can play many learning games and we know learning increases when children are relaxed and play games.
  • Quite a few of our students, (some who have great difficulties making friends,) have made firm friends withi the group.
  • A group can have rituals and traditions. We always say our motto, acknowledge custodians of the land, do some Brain Gym, review previous session’s learning and set new goals. We call this time THE GATHERING and if we miss it the children are pretty annoyed! They love this sense of community.

4-8 children works well for small group learning. Many more and children don’t get much attention. Many less and there is not enough interaction.

I found this blog post from a UK tuition company quite interesting and it expands this topic a little further:

5 Benefits of Small Group Learning

Call us on 92777596, 0409911135 or email for more info about Victoria Carlton Programs.

The ABC of Child Whispering: T is for TESTS

Tests are important. They can be signposts along a child’s educational journey showing us whether they have understood and where we need more revision.

Provided the tests are well written and paired with successful teaching practices and adherence to the curriculum, they can provide revealing information.

They help children to realise if they don’t  study they may fail and also to be able to clearly see areas that need more work.

Judicious testing and feedback can actually help students develop resilience and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.

However, we have now approached the over-testing zone in Australia. Many students we teach have weekly tests and their study consists of test preparation rather than carefully lessons and planned study timetables.

Anxiety is high and parents are forever talking about test results rather than progress.

Children with serious learning difficulties should never be subjected to the continuous FAILURE  loop with its accompanying feelings of hopelessness and depressive tendencies.

Sadly, this is happening at a time when forward looking education systems are lessening reliance on tests in favour of improving teaching strategies and taking note of students’ learning styles.

Singapore has recently loosened the straps on their system to allow more choice, thinking skills and creativity. Children in Finland sit for very few tests and yet their academic results lead the world.

Why do Australian Education authorities choose to ignore good practice principles and continue with over-testing?

Parents need to be aware when their children are being over-tested and try not to stress children about results.

Both the primary and high-school school systems need to help children learn the basics but also be challenged, extended, develop curious natures and therefore develop a deep love of learning.

Over-reliance on testing and results often means students are not given study skills or helped to develop emotional intelligence and general life skills.

This article provides more information:






Nothing and everything.

Kids come to Victoria Carlton Tuition to get better in specific areas of school work.

They are given high quality tuition in individualised, small group or skype sessions and they get access to quality, evidence- based programs to help them achieve their potential.

Progress is monitored weekly and parents given regular updates and specific feedback.

So, don’t most tuition centres provide similar services?

Hopefully yes.

Now comes the difference!

Kids love coming and thrive. Victoria Carllton tuition is not just about academics. It is about the WHOLE child.

If a child is “hot-housed” and drilled without any enjoyment or understanding of what they are doing, the results will not stay.

At Victoria Carlton tuition, children are assessed and placed on enjoyable, evidence-based programs that suit their learning style and harness with their interests.

Teachers of this program understand that harnessing interests and motivation is PARAMOUNT for lasting academic results. Students are led through incremental steps designed to suit their learning styles, with plenty of hands-on, multisensory materials to cement the learning and provide engagement.

In other words, they get results, they enjoy the process and they learn to love their learning journeys.

The EQ4KIDZ program, written and pioneered by Victoria, is woven into all sessions so that children attending experience higher emotional intelligence, higher self-esteem and higher levels of motivation and resilience.

The EQ4KIDZ program is also available each term as an adjunct to boost self- esteem and motivation.

To find out more about the Victoria Carlton program call 92777596, 0409911135 or email

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





What an art class can teach us!

I did an art class this week and learned so much. To be honest I didn’t really want to go and tried to dream up 100 excuses! I was terrified that my complete lack of talent would be obvious within 5 minutes.

My fear was well founded but the teacher and the rest of the class were gentle with me!

I learned some surprising things that I probably should have learned decades ago!

  • How to concentrate on one thing at a time

  • How to listen to instructions carefully and what happens if you don’t!

  • How to admit I had made a huge mistake and ask for help.

  • How to stop worrying about ANYTHING else.

  • How to hold a paintbrush.

  • How to choose colours and make a decision.

  • I CAN draw a bird (so can everyone.)

  • How to blend colours.

  • How to work out where highlights and shadows should go (this was where my huge mistake occurred)

  • How to be quiet for a long time and stop making self-deprecating comments.

  • How to actually enjoy the fact that I finished a piece of art I sort of like. Each time I look at it I am reminded how much I didn’t know and still don’t but CAN learn!

Just reading through this I am realising that most of the things I learned were universal truths and skills we want all children to learn! So why would we ever miss ANY opportunity to include art in every subject areas?

Thank you Dinky Di Art –

Now, at this time of the year I am recrafting our teaching programs and choosing themes, academic content and creative art activities.

Most definitely, my art class has ensured we will ALWAYS have a creative component in every lesson!