THE SIMPLICITY OF HAPPINESS

I am in Bali to work with some schools and knit myself back together! (A few dropped stitches to pick up!)

I am trying to get away here twice a year to “just be” and plan and write.

After rest and sleep the words start flowing in and the simple happiness and kindness of the Balinese washes me clean of the crazy pressures I willingly take on!

When I can’t stare at my computer screen any longer I  walk through fields and stare at rice paddies instead. I watch very old men working hard in the fields, cheerfully calling out to me as I slosh past in the new mud and puddles!

I meet heaps of giggling kids as they run up, ask our names and try out their English. (FAR better than my Balinese!)

Grandmas and Grandpas delightedly cuddle and play with babies and toddlers- no play-pens, walkers, bouncinettes needed here!

I watch the faces of the Balinese women as they watch their kids at play. They take real pleasure in their children’s carefree happy antics. There is time to play.

I am lucky enough to meet a family in a traditional village and have kids stare at me in amazement when I ask them, “Do you have much homework today?”

I request a coconut juice and the guy climbs up, picks me a perfect coconut, chops off the top and hands it to me. The warm, sweet juice is about as close to heaven on earth as i can imagine.

People here are not concerned about

  • wasting time
  • using spare time wisely
  • filling up every minute of the day

They don’t proudly describe themselves as SO BUSY.

Time has a different meaning here. Balinese people truly do know the thing we have forgotten-

HOW TO JUST BE

Everything is on a different time-line here.

It’s like entering another dimension. There IS time to think, reflect, chat, meditate and solve problems at a deep level.

I’m not naïve or romantic enough to think there are no problems here. Of course there are major poverty, sanitation and water supply difficulties etc but the rituals, ceremonies and nurture of village life help people KNOW they belong and are loved.

Kindness dwells here.

We are here for a full moon celebration and watch lines of white clad men women and children joyfully join another village to celebrate. They walk along tracks and through rice paddies with a single purpose- to unite, celebrate the joy of this special celebration and spread blessings.

I know one thing -the Balinese HAVE got it right. They know better than to sacrifice their entire lives to the great money god or to become like “machines addicted to machines.”

Bali does more than provide a holiday. It teaches us how to stop, become sane, get off the pointless “busyness” cycle and reflect, think and get back to important values such as kindness, tolerance and patience.

Balinese live their religion every day- rather than appearing for a fast “feel-good” pharisaic hour on Sundays.

They deserve their happiness. Coming here is worth thousands of self-help seminars and books. To BE happy we need to BE with happy people and study them deeply.

There is a tangible beauty of spirit here that we lack.

They get stuff done- but at a rate that allows reflection, smiles, chats and yes- happiness!

It’s not too late to dismantle the “busyness cycle “ and allow a small stream of Bali sanity, warmth and friendly spirit to creep in.

It could transform your lives- just one week of it has transformed mine!

To get my experience try Putri Ayu cottages (super cheap, massive room and huge private balcony and best vegetarian brekky ever!) JL Bisma, Ubud , and Wayan Suweca – best guide ever if you want to dive deep below the surface of Balinese culture- he taught us so much!  (facebook: Bali Hidden Paradise Tours)

Suksema   Bali

The ABC of Child Whispering S is for SEARCHING

 Kids are natural searchers.

We all are really except kids have not given up!

They are curious about EVERYTHING and with any luck our over- teaching strategies will not kill that. They are not frightened of being wrong but we quickly change this when they
come to school.l.

I want to awaken curiosity and encourage children to think and take risks.

In fact that is what my programs are designed to do. I want to wake up their brains- not put them to sleep!  Read this very sad piece of writing I was given from a young child after the holidays. She was crying as she handed it to me!

I will translate: “All my imagination has to be locked up. I feel sad about this. Because school has started again. There is no time to imagine any more!”

What a perceptive child!

We need to stop giving answers to questions that are not being asked and concentrate on stimulating yet more questions- questions that MATTER to children!

As teachers we need to ask more questions about practices we blindly follow rather than consider more child-friendly alternatives.

We also need to control the amount of time spent on digital devices because they STOP thinking. Yes- they DO and all parents and children know that. I now have high-school kids coming to me for coaching about HOW they can break their addiction. These kids tell me they cannot think, lose sleep because they find the devices no matter WHERE their parents hide them and generally CANNOT academically succeed.

I couldn’t care less about wonky figures from researchers claiming to show kids only use devices for 4 instead of 6 hours per day- anything more than 2 hours is OUT as far as I’m concerned. If you give a fig about the kids you teach or parent (and I’m sure you do) you need to take this very seriously and act.

Your children CAN’T control this but you are able to. You can model self-control and practice BEING THERE IN THE MOMENT and impose reasonable controls. Otherwise your children will lose the ability to focus, think, create, ask questions and enjoy their naturally curious natures.

Read about the ways that creativity is killed in schools- Sir Ken Robinson is a leader in the creativity area.

He believes creativity is at least as important as literacy.

https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?utm_campaign=tedspread–a&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Then watch this entertaining but sad video- you won’t regret it!
https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

 

We CAN act and for the sake of our children we need to.

 

The ABC of Child Whispering: S is for SINGING

 

 I am fascinated by the high musical intelligence of many of our children. These children learn so well when we develop songs and rhymes to help them to remember important facts.

We have recently started using a great app: Maths Rockx to effectively help children to remember times tables. This is working for many children.

http://www.mathsrockx.com/

We have also developed some GRAMMAR songs to help children remember learning from Jolly Grammar.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/GRAMMAR-revision-with-SONGS-FOR-GRAMMAR-AND-SPELLING-1775336

The LEARNING STATION have many songs to help children to remember important facts.

http://www.learningstationmusic.com/

Most children will respond well to regular use of music within their learning programs. Both parents and teachers can improve their children’s learning by utilising  music, rhymes and songs to help children remember concepts.

Music is also useful for maintaining calm and concentration while children are writing or completing written work assignments.

Try playing quiet music when you want children to calm down, do their homework or improve concentration as they read or write.

 Try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LXhPbmoHmU

Singing aids brain and language development as well as being a great aid for learning.

http://www.teenstarcompetition.co.uk/advice-for-unsigned-singers/benefits-of-children-singing#.Wa529tFLfIU

 

Encourage your children to put facts to music, raps or poems. This will make them SO much easier to learn.

There is no doubt that singing raises the enjoyment level of any classroom and is a great aid to learning.

We ALL have voices and can sing.  The benefits far outweigh the slight embarrassment you might feel as you lead your youngsters in song!

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

– Plato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This made me cry!

You only need one of these……………

Dear Victoria

We wanted to write you this letter to express our appreciation to you and your staff for the help and support you have given our son this year, the benefits of which cannot be understated.  

The International Centre for Excellence – your name says it all!  Once you make the decision to bring your child along you soon discover what a wonderful thing you have just done for them.  

The Centre is holistic, vibrant and an incredibly unique learning environment where each child has their individual learning objectives met in a setting that encourages creative thinking, individual self esteem, cooperation and productivity. Your hands-on learning approach is rarely seen in either the public or private school systems and should be applauded for its successes. 

Your staff are positive, talented, passionate and amazing people who work hard to build a strong rapport and trust with the children who attend. Each child is immediately put at ease from the moment they walk through the door. 

To us, it’s a lot like the premise of putting hidden veggies in meals, the kids don’t realise how much they are actually learning as they are having way too much fun to notice!

Your uncanny ability to relate to children gives you a unique perspective of each child and allows you to discover their often overlooked talents and skills.  In the same way that you do this you also build up each child’s self esteem to a level where they are able to realise and utilise their strengths to overcome their “weaker” areas of learning.  This also assists them in collaborating and interacting with other children as often these skills can deteriorate with learning difficulties which can negatively impact on the child’s confidence. 

Our son loves coming to ICE each week to find out what’s new!  It makes tutoring so much easier when your child is wanting to come and learn, rather than being coerced, and for this we cannot thank you and the staff there enough. 

Keep doing what you are doing!

With grateful thanks,

L and S

This brought tears to my eyes!

 

I received this testimonial in the mail yesterday and felt so happy and blessed to know that people really GET what we try to do! Whenever I have a bad day I will re-read this!

Dear Victoria

We wanted to write you this letter to express our appreciation to you and your staff for the help and support you have given our son this year, the benefits of which cannot be understated.  

The International Centre for Excellence – your name says it all!  Once you make the decision to bring your child along you soon discover what

wonderful thing you have just done for them.  

The Centre is holistic, vibrant and an incredibly unique learning environment where each child has their individual learning objectives met in a setting that encourages creative thinking, individual self esteem, cooperation and productivity. Your hands-on learning approach is rarely seen in either the public or private school systems and should be applauded for its successes. 

Your staff are positive, talented, passionate and amazing people who work hard to build a strong rapport and trust with the children who attend. Each child is immediately put at ease from the moment they walk through the door. 

To us, it’s a lot like the premise of putting hidden veggies in meals, the kids don’t realise how much they are actually learning as they are having way too much fun to notice!

Your uncanny ability to relate to children gives you a unique perspective of each child and allows you to discover their often overlooked talents and skills.  In the same way that you do this you also build up each child’s self esteem to a level where they are able to realise and utilise their strengths to overcome their “weaker” areas of learning.  This also assists them in collaborating and interacting with other children as often these skills can deteriorate with learning difficulties which can negatively impact on the child’s confidence. 

Our son loves coming to ICE each week to find out what’s new!  It makes tutoring so much easier when your child is wanting to come and learn, rather than being coerced, and for this we cannot thank you and the staff there enough. 

Keep doing what you are doing!

With grateful thanks,

L and S, Morley

 

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.

 

Hothousing Tuition- not our style!

The recent media attention on tuition for selective schools has once again put tuition companies under scrutiny.

          Really they are just responding to community demands and I     don’t blame them BUT……..

For a long time I have felt increasingly concerned about the incredible pressure put on students of all ages.

We seem to back in the HARD TIMES era of Charles Dickens with ramming facts into students’ heads.

“NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

Victoria Carlton Programs also provide tuition but we are opposed to “hot-house” methods.

We help kids to improve academic skills by leading them and engaging them so they start to LOVE learning. We stimulate their minds and increase their curiosity while building self-discipline and goal setting skills.

Yes- I know that we have chosen the least lucrative pathway but our goal with Victoria Carlton Programs has always been to nurture children and build on strengths and help them improve weak areas through effective, well researched and creative teaching methods.

I have noticed increasing numbers of  our parents are starting to rise up and express very strong opinions about wanting their kids to love learning. They want their kids to be kids and this will not happen unless some sanity prevails.

The world is NOT just about competition. There is so much more to education than becoming no 1.

We have a broad, rich and diverse curriculum in Australia with plenty of opportunities to deepen or modify areas to suit gifted students or those at risk.

Sure- having an effective guide or tutor might help children improve academic skills or gain entry to schools of choice- but let’s make sure our kids do not lose the ability to think, be creative and develop their emotional intelligence within this increasingly competitive education system!

Read this article for a balance treatment of this topic.

https://theconversation.com/selective-entry-schools-tutoring-improves-student-outcomes-but-adds-pressure-39683

 

The ABC of Child Whispering: R is for REAL

Working with children is both a privilege and a great blessing. They transform our understanding of the world and help us to become more real!

 

Of course the process of becoming “REAL” can be both joyful and painful!

 

This is my favourite excerpt about becoming REAL! (From the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.)

 

The toys are chatting one day……….

“Real isn’t how you are made said the skin horse. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real”

 “Does it hurt? asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes”, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

 “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

 “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”.

 Teachers and parents understand this. The whole process of becoming real IS painful and parenting and teaching will leave you raw, hurting, worn out but also (occasionally) incredibly grateful and joyful.

Kids always pick out the non-real teachers and make their life hell. They have an uncanny knack of doing this but also change quickly when a teacher shows their REAL side.

  • They read faces

  • Listen to voices

  • Look for congruence of actions and speech and if they don’t see it will not believe you!

They are wonderfully forgiving but will not EVER wholly their best to those who are not real.

Kids want us to become authentic and to share who we are and to really BE there for them.

Children ALWAYS know the difference between real/not real!

 

TWO NEW WRITING PROGRAMS FOR AUSSIE KIDS

 

Teachers at the Victoria Carlton Centre for Excellence in Bayswater have instituted several changes to their writing program with remarkable results.
MIND JOURNEYS
MAD WRITING
MIND JOURNEYS is a method of teaching that increases imaginative thinking and ability to create “mind-movies” as you write.
Victoria commented, “It is not uncommon for children to go from 2 lines to a whole page in 1 or 2 lessons! It is like a hole in the mind is opened and ideas pour out onto the paper!”
MAD WRITING stands for Modelled Awesome Daily writing and children watch a brief modelled session by trained teachers and then write on specific engaging topics. The results are immediate as children are given complete models, support and immediate feedback. Even their most reluctant writers will try with this method!
Training for these two methods is included in the Professional Development course, GROWING WRITERS available to educators.
Interested parents or teachers can contact VICTORIA CARLTON PROGRAMS on 92714200 for more information.