The ABC of Child Whispering: M is for MAGIC and MYSTERY

 

Cute school boy sitting on floor and using his smartphone

I am getting ready for tomorrow’s NEW-START workshop and thinking of ways to introduce some magic and mystery to the environment.

Last year we ran this workshop in Singapore and Perth and we turned the lights out and had scores of twinkling electric stars and candles when the children came in.Charlotte 2

The room felt like a IMG_3221cosy but mysterious cave and the children were all asked to remove their shoes as they entered. This signalled that we were going to be doing something quite different. We were going to get in touch with our deeper selves and try some transformation- all of us- adults and children!

We try very hard to create an air of mystery and magic at ICE and surprisingly it isn’t expensive or hard. You simply have to view the environment through the eyes of a child and then let your imagination run wild!

We have a star of learning that is switched on at every session to show how much we value learning and a learning tree complete with coloured lights that is hung with symbols of all the important learning activities we do as we go through the year.star

We always have quiet, relaxing music and some soothing art/craft or books ready for the children when they arrive. I love watching the way they visibly relax as they enter this magical space and start to interact. Children are so ready to enter into their imaginations and learn when given environments such as this.

I have been into so many amazing classrooms this year to train teachers and I have seen some wonderful, inviting environments deliberately crafted by wise, child-whispering teachers who understand the effect these surroundings make for children.IMG_5199

Parents can create a sense of sacred importance when they eat together as a family. Simply dimming the lights and lighting a candle to represent the love of the family, can create a special atmosphere. Children are far more likely to want to talk and communicate deeply in such special spaces.

Giving ourselves a magical interlude calms us and helps us open up to each other. It is no accident that romantic restaurants have candles and dim lights! Let’s also provide those spaces for our children to nurture their wonderful sense of magic and mystery. This is how we grow the imaginations and rich neural connections children need for learning!learning tree

The ABC of Child Whispering: L IS FOR LISTENING

 

Listen, Hear and Understand words on a red button or light to illustrate the need to pay attention to learn, comprehend and retain new information

Natural child whisperers LISTEN to children and know how to kid-watch.

Everyone can learn this- it just requires us to shut down our internal chatter for a while and just observe and listen deeply.

When we listen like this something different is happening. It is not just our ears working- our eyes, hearts and brains are all working to help us UNDERSTAND and you  cannot do this at speed.

The problem is that often we think we know what children need and so often we are wrong.

One of the best questions I  ever ask children is, “What do you think you need? Are we helping you? Is there anything else we could do?”
I have had some surprising and very perceptive answers. Children (if allowed to speak for themselves and not rushed) have a pretty clear idea of how they learn and what is helpful in terms of teaching input.

This also works for behavioural issues.
”What would help you to stop getting in to trouble like this? What do you need?”
Then let them take their time, draw their responses, think for a while, even make a time to chat on a  different day to allow them to think deeply.

No child wants to be in constant trouble, excluded from class, shamed and embarrassed. Give them the chance to delve deeply and come up with their own solution. That sometimes involved throwing out preconceived notions and that can be hard.

The more we are sure we are right- the more we’re not!

Try it today. Don’t be on the lookout for bad behaviour. We’re not prison warders. Be on the lookout for good behaviour and reward it- every time! Wrap your pre-conceived notions up and stick them in the bottom drawer. Clear your mind and LISTEN!

All teachers and parents should be grateful for the Greek philosopher, Epictetus who reminded us we have 2 ears but only one mouth. The equation is very clear.

LISTEN twice as much as you speak.

The ABC of Child Whispering: L IS FOR LOVE OF LEARNING

heart learning

If we want children to engage and reach their learning potential, they have to ENGAGE and LOVE the process.
That does not mean that learning does not get hard. In fact, children can really enjoy the bumpy parts if they feel supported and believe they CAN solve problems. This means that we have to use child-friendly themes and ensure we differentiate the learning. It can never be one size fits all!
This also means teachers need to research their children’s interests and to tweak the programs so ALL children can experience success.
It might mean asking for slightly less written responses or cutting back on homework requirements.
For very able students more complex reading material can be chosen. Luckily, with the huge amount of material available on websites devoted to children’s interests and text and work books readily accessible, this is not hard.
It is essential that parents understand their children are all amazing gifts and definitely do not all respond to the same teaching styles.
Some children need to move more as they learn and often respond well to visual stimuli. Others can easily concentrate and take in information in auditory ways.
We regularly conduct assessments for children to determine learning styles and both strong and weak intelligences. This allows us to offer more targeted tuition that will really meet students’ needs.
Parents and teachers who would also like to assess children’s predominant learning styles and strengthen weak intelligences can order a copy of ALL KIDS ARE SMART from us. (Order by emailing victoriacarlton@iinet.net.au) This book will provide testing tools and give you a HUGE amount of information for maximising children’s progress.AllKids are Smart Front Cover
Try to keep your tension away from learning situations. We know students learn more when relaxed and are therefore open to new information and experiences.
We can ALL love learning as long as we perceive it as possible!
Plan plenty of learning games and “hands-on”, active learning experiences. You will be rewarded by happier, more motivated students who feel EMPOWERED and LOVE their learning experiences!

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.

JIGSAWS- A POWERFUL LEARNING TOOL!

jig 2

I have always loved jigsaw puzzles.

Children learn so much by the manipulation of shapes to create pleasing images.

Recently I watched children complete a simple, colourful jigsaw about the farm.

To complete it they had to think logically and find 4 right-angled corners, border pieces, keep checking the picture and go from large picture to small details. They had to concentrate fully and commit to actually completing the puzzle. So much learning took place!

There were various times when it wasn’t going so well and they had to problem solve and cooperate. There were some cross words as they disagreed on various methods. (It was a large and difficult puzzle for a 3 and 5 year old!)

Finally I watched their increasing concentration and mounting levels of anticipation and excitement as the gaps decreased and the picture came together.

And finally it was done!

One child wanted to rebuild straight away, the other wanted to just enjoy. We are all different!

Then the teacher in me kicked in.
We talked about the content and colours. We counted the animals and talked about the theme of the picture.

It sat on the floor for hours. A proud testament to their ability to stick at something,

Jigsaws are also good for adults. Studies have found that active adults who regularly complete jigsaw puzzles and crosswords experience longer lives and have less chance of developing Alzheimer’s, memory loss, dementia and other problems related to old age.

Dopamine production (crucial for learning and memory) is increased when we do jigsaws. They also increase our concentration, develop creativity and helps us to visualise, lower breath rate, reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
What’s not to like?
Start a jigsaw today!

Musical Intelligence

music 2

“Yea, music is the prophet’s art; among the gifts that God hath sent, one of the most magnificent.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Music is the first intellectual capacity to develop. Children respond in a positive and specific way at birth to the human voice. It seems that even while in utero the baby develops some musical ability. Babies in the womb are affected by many sounds-tones from their mother’s speech, laughter, singing, sound of mother’s heart, muffled sounds of music from radios and CDs and other’s talking. Music is one of the eight intelligences identified by Howard Gardner and indeed a very important one!
“In many ways music and rhythm are more foundational to our species than language. They have a power to evoke and express that no other medium expresses. Mothers use it to lull their children to sleep. Armies march to war to the beat of drums and national anthems. The use of chanting as a religious practice has been a part of every major world religion. And of course, the development of a wide variety of folk music has been used for entertainment and dancing, as an expression of grief, and as a declaration of love”
Eight Ways Of Knowing, by David Lazear, Hawker Brownlow 1999.
We can observe this intelligence at work as we watch young children enjoying singing, dancing, swinging their legs and enjoying the rhythms and beats of nursery rhymes. Children are delighted by music and certainly this is an important intelligence for many reasons-not just for enjoyment. Music is a civilising intelligence and our lives are all the richer for its development. It unites us and helps our children develop a sense of community.
We know that children can be helped to remember important facts by making up songs about them e.g. in grammar- Nouns are people, places things, just like desks, Marie and rings………..
Teachers are beginning to incorporate musical intelligence into all parts of the curriculum as it enhances learning as well as increasing enjoyment.
Children can be enthused by certain types of lively music and soothed by quiet lullabies. Tense, worried children can be helped to relax and improve motivation.
We all possess some degree of musical intelligence, whether or not we sing or play instruments. We can help our children to improve this intelligence through the following strategies:
 Encouraging children to listen to many types of music and draw their emotional responses is an excellent way to stimulate this intelligence. Whenever possible take children to concerts and expose them to as many varieties of music as possible. Develop the habit of singing along as a family.

 Playing “Brain enhancement” music to help children retain information and learn new material. Mozart and other Baroque composers are ideal for this. This of course is also very helpful for adults who are trying to learn study or just think more effectively.

 Singing stories such, as OLD MACDONALD and AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY are excellent ways to improve reading while having fun! Make up RAPS and songs about events or items to be learned.

 Read children plenty of poetry, as this will encourage a sense of rhythm and appreciation of the sounds and cadences of the English language. Encourage the children to make up nonsense rhymes such as “One, one, eat a cream bun……..

Using chopsticks for to tap out rhythms of rhymes is great fun!

 Try using percussion instruments for playing while learning times tables or buy one of the excellent commercial music CDs to help children learn these important skills.

 Use music to teach the alphabet and phonics sounds essential to learning to read in English.

 Changing the words of well known songs e.g. Twinkle, twinkle little star, my Daddy drives a motor car…….

 Making up family songs. E.g. we love our family, of yes our family, we sing together all the time. We love each other. We help each other and we are happy to be close-to the tune of You are my sunshine/

 Study and listen to great composers. There are many excellent books and music CDs for families to practise together.

 Clap out the beats (syllables) in much loved songs and make up fun dances.

 Celebrate the rhythms of nature together-the turning on day into night, months, seasons, celebrations. Rhythms are integral to our human existence and children delight in the celebration of all the changes and rituals associated with these rhythms.

 Go outside with your children and listen to the “music” of the breeze in the trees or the “swishing” of grass

 Listen to music from different cultures as this increases musical intelligence as well as enlarging our understanding of each other and our traditions.

These strategies will help your children (and yourselves) to develop this wonderful musical intelligence and don’t forget the amazing music of silence as this can heal us and help our brains to prepare for the next beautiful melody we meet!

HOW TO CHILD WHISPER

As usual after our annual holiday, I start updating and writing new content for all our courses. For a long time I have known I should write a course on CHILD WHISPERING and share what it really entails and we are launching this course in Singapore in October.
As I write this course and consider content and ideas one concept becomes abundantly clear- this cannot be learned at speed. It takes time, patience and acute observational skills to learn to “Child Whisper”. You have to do the following and a great deal more-
* Be prepared to find out many of your assumptions and beliefs about the child were wrong. Be prepared for some surprises!
* Learn to get back into your “kid-spirit” and look at the child from a fresh perspective.
* Be WITH the child and don’t try to always lead. You need to earn their trust and this can take a long, long time!
* Understand that if you do not really LOVE children, you will NEVER succeed at CHILD WHISPERING because they will know! Children are far more discerning than adults and they see right through imposters!
Is it worth all the energy and time? Yes, yes and again YES! When you can really develop that empathy you can easily understand a child and provide for their needs and this makes a HUGE difference to their learning!
I will add more on this subject over the next few days as I make my long journey back to the world of WA, winter and responsibilities- the holidays are over and new beginnings are appearing! If any of you are interested in attending the 1 day CHILD WHISPERING workshop in Singapore in October, please contact Chew Yeh at www.september21.com.sg. We will also offer this workshop in Perth from February next year!