I knew she was the Child Whisperer the moment I wandered into her cave. Victoria Carlton is no ordinary educator. She is a hoarder of trinkets and toys, books and baubles, paint and phonics games. She weaves magic out of found objects, creates games from egg cartons and marbles and she can spark the interest of every child she meets.
When she listens to children, she focuses her bespectacled eyes right into them, seeing beyond diagnosis, labels, tantrums and reports to really see what makes this child tick. Her head of flaming red hair frames a kind and intelligent face and she often giggles with delight at the wonders that children share with her.
Kindness informs all her practice. Once assured that the child in her care is valued and respected, she then sets about the task of working with them to get them the kind of education they need, one tailored for them to reach their potential.
She strives for excellence at all times and demands it from herself, foremost, her staff and the children themselves. She questions children deeply and asks them to look at themselves in a way that they might not have previously. Their minds and hearts open. It is beautiful to watch.
Victoria mentors teachers and shares her insights widely. It is her sincere wish to transform education to meet the needs of all children. She envisions a world in which every child is educated in emotionally intelligent ways, in creative and literature soaked lessons and in ways that all children can access phonics, grammar, maths concepts and a life-long love of learning.
Victoria Carlton is much like the dragons she loves, magical, wise and formidable. She is the Child Whisperer.
Children are natural jigglers and wrigglers. They don’t stay still for a good reason. I am sure I am not the only teacher who has stared at her class and drawn a sharp comparison with a basket of wriggling worms!
They learn by moving, touching, pushing, pulling, moulding, grabbing ……. just watch a group of pre-schoolers at play!
This does not magically stop when they reach a certain age.
Sure their concentration span lengthens but even 10/11 year old need to move.
We are kidding ourselves if we think passive children sitting in desks doing worksheet after worksheet are really learning.
Learning can be interactive, challenging, messy, satisfying, frustrating, joyful ……… all within one lesson! Of course there is a place for worksheets. A well designed worksheet can help children to revise and deepen understanding. But- worksheets will never take the place of a good teacher who can adapt the learning environment very skilfully and often quite quickly to improve learning outcomes.
If we force children to sit quietly for longer than comfortable they will often put all their energy into trying to do just that. For a child that is a bit like us wanting to visit the bathroom BADLY after the seat-belt sign is switched on for landing!
Wise Child Whispering teachers and parents understand this and ensure youngsters have plenty of opportunity to JIGGLE, JUMP, RUN, MOVE – children learn by moving!
Here are some really effective ways to include movement activities in classrooms. We use these regularly as part of Victoria Carlton Programs
Start each day with some movement education- either some Brain Gym or maybe the fantastic Harry Potter Yoga! If you do this you are stimulating their brains and helping some of them deflect some excess energy. https://youtu.be/R-BS87NTV5I2.
Allow your VERY jiggly children a stress ball or similar so they can squeeze and concentrate.
Don’t ask children to concentrate for more than 15 minutes without a stretch, quick exercise, change of activity etc.
Ensure you have plenty of learning strategies drawn from the physical intelligence area of MI so that children can learn while moving!
Try human sums! Children can act like human counters for various operations.
When children sound out words let them jump up and down or bounce a ball at the same time!
Practise word recognition and sentence structure by standing in a line and holding up words and punctuation marks.
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar are incredibly effective ways for children to learn literacy skills and I am convinced that a large part of their effectiveness is due to the huge movement and activity component of the program. Ask us about training opportunities for these courses.
Allow plenty of time for art and craft as it calms children and the amount of learning increases.
(See my FAST ART AND CRAFT ACTIVITIES for ideas https://www.pinterest.com/victoriacarlton/fast-artcraft-activities/
Change the learning environment and displays often so children feel stimulated and enjoy exploring the environment.
Don’t always teach from the front- occasionally teach from the back of the class, have them out of chairs close to you (even big kids!), go into another learning area or even outside. To wake up children’s brains we can’t be TOO predictable!
Choose NOT to notice every wiggle and jiggle. Constantly stopping our teaching for very small lapses of concentration is incredibly annoying to other children and they start to lose the thread of your lesson!
Consider teaching some strategies to let some of the excess physical energy out! (Sort of like opening the steam vents on a cooking pan!)
I teach my chronic wrigglers to curl their toes or fingers and then let them go. This gives a slight movement outlet. They can also tap quietly with feet.
Make daily MINDFULNESS time an integral part of your program. Children sit for a minute in silence, letting go of any worries and just emptying their minds. The quality of the learning after the mindfulness minute is easily observable!
Consider using our visualisations programs: Mind Journeys. We have over 50 of these ready for teachers and parents and provide examples on social media and the whole lot are available in our forthcoming MIND JOURNEYS BOOK. (You can pre-order this now) We have found that using this method to teach creative writing and thinking, has had HUGE benefits for children who normally cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes.
If you would like to know more about your own “jiggling worms,” their cocktails of intelligences and how to increase them, order our ALL KIDS ARE SMART book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are in SE Asia order through www.september21.com.sg
Children are MEANT to jiggle and move so let’s go WITH it in our learning programs rather than putting all our energy into trying to change something that is not actually meant to change! ACTIVE learning and ACTIVE teaching strategies work!
Children are intrigued, interested and in love with life. The art of child whispering includes the capability to provide enriching, interesting experiences to help children pay attention and engaged with their learning.
Children do not pay attention to BORING, and neither do we! There are boring things that we need to teach children (e.g tables, spelling etc) but it is up to us to find interesting ways to make that happen. Just this morning I found a Superhero program that will zap up our tables practice and no doubt I will be looking for another one within 6 months!
The ability to sense children are switching off is paramount to acting quickly and facilitating optimal learning. Watch their eyes- boredom is easy to spot!
Here are 10 ways to keep learning interesting–
Use auditory, visual and kinaesthetic strategies to make sure ALL children are engaged.
1. Vary your voice so it is not a monotone.
2. Use colour as a learning aid and allow children to respond in colour rather than just grey pencil.
3. Include lots of experiences with the natural world as children are totally intrigued by nature.
4. Be clear about the outcomes and standards you expect.
5. Be clear about discipline and rewards and consequences.
6. Encourage children and show them HOW to improve.
7. Ensure your learning program can be “tweaked” so that children who need to have their learning extended or slowed will have needs catered for.
8. Be enthusiastic yourself and allow children to see you are also a learner.
9. Make sure children have some spare time to do anything they choose (within limits!) The biggest complaint I hear from children of all ages is that they have no spare time.
10. Model leading an interesting life so that children will see that you have fun too and love to learn and experiment with new things.