A Different Easter….

Amongst the gloomy news – Easter is still happening. The Resurrection message of faith and hope is even more important at times of sadness and uncertainty like this. It is vital that we still celebrate all the aspects of Easter with children to help them feel some normality, enjoy their faith traditions and deepen their spiritual understanding.

We are adding lots of crafts, recipes and special Easter activities to the KIDS FOR CHRIST facebook page.

So what can this “new” way of celebrating HOLY WEEK and EASTER look like?

The week begins today: Palm Sunday. Of course we cannot gather in Church and make palm crosses together and wave and sing together BUT we can make crosses with palms if you have some or make paper crosses instead.

(Plenty of ideas on the facebook page)

Parents can gather their children to sing a hymn and walk around the garden or their house together, waving their “palm” and perhaps thanking God for something special about each room or part of the garden.

Make sure you tell the children the story of the first Palm Sunday.

Great re-telling here: https://youtu.be/lTmbTuutBgg

Do your children know the beautiful old tale of why donkeys have a cross on their backs? Read about it here:

https://luscofarms.org/rescue-cases/f/the-legend-of-the-cross-on-the-donkeys-back

Fantastic collection of activities for Holy Week here:

https://www.faithgateway.com/holy-week-activities- kids/#.XonP0XJS9PY

From Maundy Thursday the pace quickens:

Tell the Holy Thursday story or share this link:

https://youtu.be/r-F9p279tTQ

You could play quiet music in the background and respectfully take turns at washing each other’s feet.

Good Friday

Why is it called “good” when so much bad happened?

The answer: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27067136

Perhaps do the traditional practice and eat no meat this day and say special prayers to thank Jesus for suffering on the cross for us.

Children can make special crosses for art/craft.

Start some sprouting seeds- they take about 3 days to start so perfect for resurrection studies! Chick peas are great and taste great if roasted with a little soy sauce!

Easter Saturday:

Children could decorate a tomb and add some flowers in preparation for Easter Sunday. They might help to make a special feast or cake for tomorrow.

Plant an Easter plant/bush/tree and children can measure each week and keep a nature diary on how much it grows, how often you water it etc. You will be able to go back to it each Easter and remember the 2020 Easter that was commemorated a little differently!

EASTER SUNDAY:

Make this a really joyful occasion this year. Go over the top with hidden eggs, bunny footprints and lots of Easter songs and music.

Serve a special Easter feast and facetime friends and family.

The Easter message is as joyful as ever- this year let’s put even more effort into celebrating the sacred aspects of this special festival!

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“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!

http://victoriacarlton.com.au/doubles-books-2/

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!

 

 

 

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NAPLAN NONSENSE

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-

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-07/naplan-call-review-after-report-reveals-no-change-in-decade/9519840

 

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The ABC of Child Whispering: R is for READING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading is a huge pleasure for many of us and we hope children will also experience this wonderful opening to many worlds, knowledge and ideas.
I notice that most teachers attending my literacy courses tend to read more non-fiction than fiction and report lack of time to be a major reason for this.
Actually I wonder if this is really true. I would bet even money that most of us spend more and more time on Pinterest,  Facebook, Netflix etc and that reading is not always the chosen “go-to” for spare moments. I also wonder if perhaps there is a sense of guilt associated with reading fiction and “escaping”.
In order to be a model for children, parents and teachers need to read and be seen to read for pleasure. They need to see us reading non-fiction AND fiction. They need to know that reading is an enjoyable and popular pastime and to see it is valued by the people they love the most.
Reading, and in particular reading fiction, opens up other rooms in our minds. It gives us opportunities to develop empathy for characters and to explore different settings, plots, ideas and scenarios. Reading fiction helps us to grow and problem solve. It stimulates our brains and helps our EQ to grow.
Reading fiction does the same for children. There are so many wonderful picture books and novels written for children of all ages.
It is worth spending time to find out about great authors and to help children discover books they can really engage with. Our libraries are a fantastic source of FREE books- both

paper and digital, and there are endless lists of children’s literature to explore.
I have a Pinterest Site to help parents and teachers find great books: https://au.pinterest.com/victoriacarlton/books/
This colder weather is perfect for snuggling up with a book, reading to your children and also establishing a family reading time each evening.
Simple switch off the TV and enjoy 20-30 mins where EVERYONE reads. Play quiet music in the background and at the end encourage  some discussion but DON’T make your children talk about their books if they prefer not to. Don’t turn a pleasurable exercise into a chore!
Happy WINTER reading. I’m off to curl up with a blanket, book and hot chocolate!
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The ABC of Child Whispering P is for PLAY

Cute little girl is blowing a soap bubbles

We all know that children need to play but do we really understand why? Actually it is VITAL that children play and that we don’t over-schedule them so their play times are eroded.

Play

  • develops creativity and imagination
  • improves fine and gross motor skills
  • builds emotional intelligence – especially empathy and resilience skills
  • is important to healthy brain development
  •  helps children to learn about their world and appropriate ways to interact

Play can take many forms and does not always need to be structured.

It is often during solitary play times that children think deeply and examine feelings and solve problems.

Intra-Personal intelligence is strengthened when children have plenty of time to play.

The following link will give you many ideas for ensuring your children are not PLAY DEFICIENT and grow into healthy and well-adjusted young people.

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/why_play_is_important.html

 

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They look but never see!

I have just returned from a trip to the UK for a conference and holiday and have been reflecting on all the wonderful sights, places and people I encountered.

I have plenty of time to think (as severely jet-lagged) so have twice the time for reflection!

I love the National Gallery in London as it houses so many of my favourite paintings and each year I notice how few people really look at paintings.

While in the room with many of Van Gogh’s paintings I just sat and watched people. There was a huge crowd jostling for the best space to click, click, click with their mobile phones and NOBODY looked. NOBODY gazed and tried to take in the incredible beauty, challenging messages, colours, juxtapositions of objects and sky and strange unsettling images.

Sadly they just wanted to have these little rectangular pictures on their phones to show and prove they had been there.

Why?

Don’t people want to SEE anymore?

Is it really too hard to interact and to have to think and reflect?

I was with my cousin, his partner and young daughters (4 and 5 years) and witnessed completely different reactions from the kids.

Their parents encouraged them to stand and stare at a couple of the pictures and then to try to draw them. The kids were SO engrossed and spent around 45 minutes at their drawings. They SAW far more than these people who were “doing the National Gallery.”

I want the kids I IMG_3250teach to SEE and to BE and to not fall into the trap of interacting with their environments in such  shallow ways. To do that I have to plan learning activities where they can really THINK, REFLECT and INTERACT with learning materials.

When children are rushed they are troubled and the world is already so full of troubled people living lives at headlong speeds. Taking time, reflecting and really SEEING can be healing opportunities where we grow, find out who we are and dwell in the deep end for a while!

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Switching off to switch on with more power!

“Please Sir, Can I have some more?” (Oliver Twist)more

I am in a thinking space. A place to reflect.

I’ve only been here 3 days and the magic is already working!

Bali weaves a spell around us all and like Oliver Twist I want more!

I am working over the next 2 days giving JOLLY TRAINING in a school in Sanur and really enjoying the change of pace, beautiful environment, smiles everywhere and warmth.

I’ve had time to think hard about our educational programs and future directions.

Time to just be!

I’m always talking about Gardner’s 8 intelligences and the need to develop the Intra-personal intelligence for children.

But adults need it too. This is the one we so often ignore as we plod on and on and on without ever stopping and asking ourselves important questions such as:

Is there a better way?

Are we missing something important here?

Are we fulfilling our visions? If not- how can we adjust?

Times like this are like flight-plan adjustments!

If I can think, reflect and feel this good within 3 days – then I need it more often!

To really put 100% of our passion and energy into our lives we need this time-out to switch off, and then switch on again but with a brighter light!

The thinking and reflection I have done here will last a year- and then I’ll be back for MORE!

Thanks Bali- 3 weeks next time!

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THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN – HARD TIMES ARE BACK!

Our education system is broken.
We have lost the plot – seriously!
We treat children like vessels to be filled with knowledge- like Mr Thomas Gradgrind, the school board superintendent, in Charles Dicken’s “Hard Times.”
“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.”

There are more and more schools that rip kindergarten children from the sandpits and plop them in front of boring workbooks, taking them away from play-based learning and thrusting them into formal school learning – all in the name of acceleration. Acceleration for what? Acceleration towards boredom and disengagment!

Some schools have the stated aim of getting all the children to be 1 year ahead before they get into year one! Why? What will this tension lead to?

Broken children will be the end results and already our level of anxiety amongst children has grown to worrying levels.
https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/25294925/anxiety-rising-among-children/
We are enrolling more and more children who are very anxious about NAPLAN, reports, academic performance and not managing to get all their homework done!
Schools are discussing children in terms of marks, stanines and percentages – not needs, personalities and learning styles.
The humanity, fun and excitement has gone from education and will continue to go.
Just over the last 7 days I have met broken children who believe they are failures at 8 years of age! I have met broken teachers who love children but have been instructed that children are no longer at the centre of the educational stage – it is all about exams results and, marks.
Even children are now describing themselves using the marks they get. I have children who have told me they desperately want to achieve a pass or get better than a C but believe this is no longer possible.

I have seen many reports that tell the exact position children come in their class. That is unbelievable and unacceptable in this day and age. It has to be stopped.
We are dishonouring our children and robbing them of motivation, hope and love of education. We CAN improve standards and reform our education system without taking away all the hope, enthusiasm, fun and creativity and breaking the hearts of the next generation!

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PAY IT FORWARD for kids

 

The phrase Pay It Forward in red text on a yellow sticky note posted on a green notice board

Last night I watched the classic 2000 PAY IT FORWARD movie: https://youtu.be/TlZDDACt8Nw

If like me- you missed it- watch it today! Martin and I ended up blubbering on the couch but at the end decided that really PAY IT FORWARD is an amazing concept. I know there are various organisations, websites etc out there who organise this and we have used the concept in our EQ4KIDZ programs – especially with older children….. but somehow last night’s viewing has changed me. I want to consciously PAY IT FORWARD each day and help children to do the same.

I notice how excited our kids at ICE get when we talk about BIG IDEAS. They are fascinated and want to become involved. I am going to let this PAY IT FORWARD concept sit with me throughout Lent. (Always a good time for me to reflect!)

Then at Easter I hope to birth the idea to our kids in a really practical format.

What a simple concept. Strip away all the hype, publicity etc and just look at the idea. Imagine-  if we all gave 1 act of generosity a day- even a week or a month- and asked the recipient to simply pay it forward.

Seriously, the world COULD change. we could DO that! Before you call me a dewey eyed idealist- watch the movie and if you’ve seen it- watch it AGAIN.

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ART FROM THE HEART

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset

I woke this morning with that Christmas morning feeling you get when you are anticipating joy!
All week we have ART FROM THE HEART classes and I know the atmosphere at ICE will be peaceful, excited and yet strangely calm.
We do a little bit of art in every course we run and of course HEAPS of art in ART FROM THE HEART!
ART should always be from the heart. Art engages the left and right sides of the brain as children imagine, plan, organise, “feel” their way in, create and revise. I love to watch their faces as they engage in art- they GLOW and all concentration and tension issues seem to fly out the window.
Interestingly, the learning that takes place after art is ALWAYS deeper.
Sure issues of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and worries about it not being perfect surface but the art time is a great place for these things to come up and be dealt with. Teachers who help kids engage in art are really not just doing art- they are helping to grow more centred, creative and self-aware people!
Should we ALL be drawing/painting/crafting?
Maybe hardened criminals and terrorists should attend daily art classes! It truly seems to make for calmer, happier children so let’s try it on some big people.
I am starting an ART FROM THE HEART pinterest board today and will be sharing lots of techniques and ideas as well as displaying kids’ work. Please follow and share some of your own creative ideas too!
Let’s make this a week where we ALL indulge in some creative practices and share.

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