Pandemic Amnesia

The recent NAPLAN results seem to have pandemic amnesia!

Many of these kids have had interrupted schooling with lockdowns, learning from home and living with fears of serious illness and death. Countless students have viewed horrific images of covered bodies being loaded into refrigerated trucks and hastily dug graves on hillsides in Brazil.

These are disturbing images for adults and far more for children. How could they possibly be at the same standard as if we had not just been through a serious pandemic?

We know that explicit teaching leads to higher results, and most schools are now taking up this option. I teach teachers how to adopt and utilise a synthetic phonics program as well as grammar and spelling. Most schools I work with need no convincing about the explicit nature of teaching. They need resources and a budget to cover ongoing training and enough trained staff to ensure ALL children are progressing. Sadly, this is often not the case.

Schools will be coping with pandemic disturbances for some time yet, so let’s support them and stop this ridiculous panic reporting about so-called standards! We need to get some balance into our educational thinking. Yes – explicit is needed for beginning readers and maths concepts, but let’s not forget to allow time for creativity and divergent thinking in our race to appear politically correct.

Teachers don’t need NAPLAN to pinpoint problems that children have. They already know this. They need support and resources and less unhelpful criticism from the media and public at large!

Just because we’ve all been to school does not mean we all know how to teach. We were all born – that does not make us all capable midwives!

Let teachers get on with what they are well trained to do, and give them your support!

Does ART really make us SMART?

Pictures like this have far-reaching effects!

Does ART really make us smart?
Turns out it does and I have included some links to prove my point.
I have noticed that when my sessions begin with ANY sort of art, children pay closer attention, concentrate more fully and enjoy the learning and relax.

It is a no-brainer for me: START WITH ART and get better academic results!
Lately, I have been using DIRECTED DRAWINGS as the process forces children to pay attention, carry out sequenced instructions and feel pride in their finished work-engendering an I CAN attitude before we even commence academic work.

There are many of these on you-tube, Pinterest, and sites such as Twinkl and Teachers Pay Teachers. Have a look- they are also great for adults.

Basically, they all involve students looking, often listening to directions and copying carefully and they are usually pretty happy with the results- even when they are convinced they have zilch art ability.

What’s NOT to love about this learning enhancement tool?

Blogger and Digital Marketer, Maria Bereket gives 8 major reasons Art has huge benefits for students.

As well as other benefits, ART heightens brain activity, develops core skills, enhances well-being, makes us more attentive and increases creativity.


I can always tell when I need a holiday by the way I sharpen my pencils or colour in. I don’t want to think, and if not doing menial tasks I can sit and stare at walls! In other words, my brain is desperate for nothing time.


The holidays start on Friday and tired, stressed teachers around Aus. will breathe a collective sigh of relief as they leave school for a much-needed rest.

In WA (as in other places) teachers have had to battle Covid, staff shortages as well as the usual end-of-winter colds and nasty viruses.

I have noticed how incredibly tired my students are as well. We are at that stage when spring is struggling to shine through, and we are all slowly warming up!

These two weeks are needed for renewal and the return of hope. Teachers and children need to rest, and that means exactly that- sleep, spare time, fun, reading, movies -whatever you need.

Make sure you get that rest, or you might fall foul of that awful condition teachers are very aware of: leisure sickness, a phrase first coined by a psychologist in the Netherlands.

Ad Vingerhoets said that people suffering from leisure sickness typically had a stressful job and they simply couldn’t switch off, which triggered a whole host of symptoms.

Here are a few tips that seem to work for me and believe me I have the WORST case of workaholism ever!

  1. Break the usual cycle. Sleep in, escape with a book, Netflix etc for the first few days.

2. Eat high-energy food to help your energy reserves build-up. I make a super-teacher mix for end-of-term- nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc and I DON’T share with kids!

3. You do NOT need to get all your usual holiday chores done during the first few days. Let your body, mind and soul recover. You made it. You reached the finish line, and REST is big on the agenda.

4. Parents – let your kids do pretty much nothing for a couple of days other than normal chores. It has not been an easy term for them either!

Term 4 is the hopeful, happy term. Summer is returning, and we have 4-5 months of warm weather to look forward to. Christmas is coming and lots of celebrations are on the horizon. Children somehow seem more light-hearted and open to new ideas and new ways of learning in Term 4!

And, of course, we have the long, long holidays to look forward to!

No doubt I will again be sharpening pencils and staring at walls in mid-December!

Why I am still JOLLY excited.

I have used JOLLY PHONICS and JOLLY GRAMMAR for over 20 years and never expected to feel this excited and enthusiastic still.
It fascinates me that the results of this program continue to grow, and I am continually finding more ways to help children learn from them. Many of the JOLLY products have been “freshened” up and given a more “now” look. They offer an updated, improved Phonics handbook and many new quality reading books.
The students I teach with these programs NEVER get bored with the programs. They make rapid progress and enjoy learning to read and write!
Because it is so multisensory with actions and colours it appeals to all students, and they fully engage with all aspects.
The new Jolly Classroom program is the cream of this program. It will eventually cover Jolly Grammar as well as Jolly Phonics. This new program is a massive time-saver for teachers and the children I have trialled it with, absolutely love the activities!
I am demonstrating this during my training, and it is available now on subscription.
Our next full-day ZOOM training dates (in term 4) are Monday 14/11/22 (Jolly Phonics) and 21/11/22 (Jolly Grammar 1,2,3)
Teachers still need to weave these programs in with their writing and literature programs, so children develop an understanding that these phonics and grammar concepts are an integral part of reading and writing.
If you haven’t yet explored these programs do some research:
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar now cover the entire pre-school and Primary grades. These targeted, systematic programs are all supported with examples of lesson plans, and many well thought out lesson plans and lots of extra creative ideas on their website not to mention the many helpful Facebook pages and friendly WhatsApp groups.
Please contact me if you would like any training or information about these wonderful, child-centred programs. or join our WhatsApp group:

I have used JOLLY PHONICS and JOLLY GRAMMAR for over 20 years and never expected to still feel this excited and enthusiastic.

It fascinates me that the results for this program continue to grow, and I am continually finding more ways to use these programs to help children. Many of the JOLLY products have been “freshened” up and given a more “now” look. The students I teach with these programs NEVER get bored with the programs.

Because it is so multisensory with actions and colours it appeals to all kids and they fully engage with all aspects.

Teachers need to weave these programs in with their writing and literature programs so children develop an understanding that these phonics, grammar and concepts are an integral part of reading and writing.

If you haven’t yet explored these programs do some research:

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar now cover the entire pre-school and Primary grades. These targeted, systematic programs are all supported with examples of lesson plans, many well thought out lesson plans and lots of extra creative ideas on their website not to mention the many helpful facebook pages and friendly whatsapp groups.

I have some full day ZOOM Jolly Grammar workshops coming up in 20th June (Jolly Grammar 1.2.3) and 23rd June (Jolly Grammar 4,5,6)

Please contact me if you would like any more information about these wonderful, child-centred programs. or  join our whats app group :

2022: Year of the WATER TIGER

On February 1 millions of people will celebrate the beginning of the TIGER year.

Children will be excited to receive presents, houses will be cleaned and special foods prepared. Often new clothes will be worn.

I believe that a knowledge of all major cultural festivals and events is important for children if we are to help prepare them to understand each other’s cultures and lead to greater empathy and harmony.

Each year I have always helped children understand all the major festivals and the LOVE the themed art/craft/maths and literacy we use at these times. It helps children get in touch with the wheel of the year and appreciate each other’s traditions.

I have just finished updating our Chinese New Year package and to help educators and schools I have greatly reduced the price, just for a few weeks. Here is the link on Teachers Pay Teachers:

It is reduced to $3.50 so affordable and is updated each year.

I wish you all a year filled with strong, brave, confident “tigerish” energy! Victoria

Learn Slowly and Deeply

Last year I decided to fulfil a dream and learn the piano. One of my mastery trainers bought me a fantastic keyboard for Christmas so I was all set. I chose the SIMPLY PIANO app and started.

How excited I was as I finally learned musical notes and started to play simple tunes. I started using both hands and I was on cloud 9 and could play some popular songs. I drove friends and my kids crazy making them listen to my recordings and thought I was well on the way. Pride really does precede a fall!

I passed through the first 2 stages and started to feel a little uneasy as there were some tricky parts and I was too proud to ask for help. Pity!

I started to avoid daily practice and barely went near the keyboard. I had so many excuses. I was too busy, too much work and would get back soon. Time passed and I realised sad truth. I had gone too fast and did not understand deeply and felt like I was drowning each time I tackled some difficult notes. I still avoided asking for help and just felt miserable each time I looked at the keyboard or saw ads for SIMPLY PIANO with people who were so good after only a few months.

Truth was- I had slipped into the “learning difficulties,” “remedial”, “lazy” categories.

I had gone too fast-buoyed along by my own pride and delight that I could do this.

Actually, I couldn’t do “this” at all. In fact I was stuck with a capital S!

What to do?

I knew the answer but avoided it.

Finally, I faced it. My playing was crapola and if I REALLY wanted to learn I had to start over and work my way up again-slowly, painfully, deeply and allowing enough time to learn thoroughly.

I am now in the “remedial” group and slowly moving up the ladder again. I no longer care what anyone thinks. This is MY journey, and I will do it my own way. I WILL master this and become proficient!

However, the whole painful episode has made me think deeply about the kids who learn differently. We race through the content, trying to meet school deadlines and curriculum expectations. If kids start to fail, we put them into the remedial group with the one program we have selected.

So- what if it does not work? The kids must be lazy, avoiding or perhaps it’s the parents’ fault- no discipline or ability to MAKE their kids learn!

The truth: These kids are hurting. We need to repeat lesson material in different ways, slow down, meet their needs exactly where they are and let the kids set the pace.

There is no such thing as fast learning for most kids. If they are 3 years behind- start right there!

Let’s do it properly and make 2022 the year we stop trying to hurry, hurry!

We will help kids get results if we slow down and do the job calmly and thoroughly. This is NOT rocket science and yet we miss the importance of slow, deep teaching and learning so often.

If we truly care about our students, let’s stop the collective denial and start giving kids what they actually need.

A Sad Tale


After Church today I was telling a group a rather comical account about a person who clearly does not like me and enjoys finding trivial and often rather silly ways to express this!

We were talking about how surprised we often feel when we realise someone genuinely does not like us and then the tone of the conversation abruptly changed. A friend, (a very confident capable and intelligent woman,) told us she had excelled in English at school. This was a source of deep enjoyment and satisfaction and she expected to do well in upper secondary school with English. Unfortunately, during her final school years, she had a new English teacher who consistently failed her assignments and exams with very little helpful feedback. Eventually, the disillusioned and disappointed student decided not to choose English as a graduation subject and yet it had been her passion and strength. This teacher wore her confidence down and left her convinced she had no ability in English.

My friend went on to have a long and distinguished career in a different subject area which she very much enjoyed. She told us it was only recently she had realised this English teacher really did not like her and now perceived what a massive impact this had on her life.

I felt sad but this further reinforced a great truth I am forever weaving into my training. Our attitudes towards our students have HUGE impacts – far beyond that of choosing a quality teaching program.

We must be nurturing and helpful for all our students – not just the ones we particularly like. We should all be respectful and kind to all of them, regardless of our personal feelings. I honestly believe that if we cannot do this, we need to take a break or change career directions. We leave large footprints on our students’ hearts and minds – let’s ensure we nurture and build confidence.

Our students of all ages deserve nothing less than this!


I love long train journeys! Lately, I have learned to use that time to think, observe and daydream. I treasure these times. It is a dreaming space and I intend to find more. I used to fill every spare moment with work-related projects on my phone or iPad but I am re-learning to think and daydream and it feels good!

I also notice so many children with this “busyness” complex. Their lives are full of arranged activities and they don’t have time to think or even play. They no longer have time to wonder and dream.

When they are old enough, we give them phones and iPads and that sucks up any free moments. Just look around you- we are ALL plugged in. When do we dream, observe and THINK!

I have been talking to kids about the use of iPads at school. They have shown me their clandestine ways to play games while appearing to research and do their work. When I inquired how many students do this my students look at me with surprise- “pretty much everyone” is their reply.

They are so dependent on digital media- as we all are. I have to insist they turn their phones over so they cannot see the constant stream of messages coming in. Students often glance towards their vibrating machines and I am forced to remove them completely. 

There is no space. No nothingness. No time to dream anymore. Spare time is not there now. People sit at dinner while texting someone who isn’t actually there. And when they are actually with that person, they are texting someone else. Soon nobody will be able to concentrate at all! We have forgotten how to actually BE with someone!

A few years ago I visited a doctor who not only took the call- he actually said, “Won’t be a moment, “ and laid the phone down, continued to examine me and dismissed me so he could get back to the conversation. I was astonished but looking back it now does not seem like such a big deal! We are pretty much ALL in this now and we need to look closely at WHY we need to be so reliant on the buzz or beep. Is this OK?

It’s certainly not OK for the kids I teach. Some of them use this online world as a total escape. They don’t want to look at what is really happening around them and so elect to live in a shallow world that beeps every few seconds. Instead of the Enid Blyton enchanted lands at the top of the magic faraway tree, we have created the land of beeps, vibrate and weird rings. Are we too scared to be alone with our thoughts? Online learning, games etc are marvellous toots but we have to help children control them and that starts with modelling our own use of digital media. Let’s not give up!


How Bohemian Rhapsody has helped me understand kids

I am learning to play the piano. Thomas, my friend and trainer in Singapore, bought me a roll-up piano just before COVID started. Finally, I have stopped playing around and started to learn. I was scared to start even though I have always wanted to play.

I purchased the SIMPLY PIANO app and started. It was SO hard! I didn’t even know where middle C was, let alone the other notes!

As I practised, I observed myself closely. I felt great as I mastered a few notes and kept at it a few times each day. I was astonished when one of my students (a very talented musician) recognised Ode to Joy as he walked up towards my classroom for his lesson with me. I had nailed it.

I was on my way to becoming a pianist and I shared my prowess freely with and friends and boasted on Facebook.

And then I met Bohemian Rhapsody. I have been playing this now for what feels like months! I am thrown into the “sin-bin” and placed on PRACTICE MODE over and over and over! I took a day off and pretended to myself that I was very busy with my work.

Ha! That put me back by so many steps and I have had to discover more resilience and grit than I ever knew I had!

Poor Martin has had to listen to me playing this tune (badly) hundreds of times and now I am DETERMINED! I swear vilely and yell at the keyboard and blame the program but a little voice is nagging-“Keep going,” and so I do.

4 times a day! I am failing but now “failing better!”

I am just over halfway through the torture of learning this tune and hopefully will get onto the next bit before spring. Spending the whole of winter with Bohemian Rhapsody is not what I crave.

And yet- just occasionally, I am getting (almost) through the song and sometimes even get lovely words like “Awesome” or a nice green tick! I NEED the praise and encouragement and in no way would I let anyone hear me play so they could grin or give me sympathy.

All the way through this process I am acutely aware that THIS IS WHAT MY STUDENTS HAVE BEEN GOING EACH DAY!

With kids laughing at them, teachers trying to be encouraging and parents ready to scream.

I am feeling stupid. But I’m not! I am just very bad at learning the piano and will need to practise more and never miss another session.

I’m an adult. I can reason about this. Imagine how kids feel and how disheartened we would also be if we failed each day in front of our peers. How depressing might that be? Really, really get with that!

Yes- kids need to read, spell and do maths. There are many kids who go through hell with this process- they need all the support and encouragement they can get.

I recommend you all to challenge yourself somehow and learn to fail, fail, fail and fail better!

Resilience, growth mindset and EQ are not optional extras for kids. They need to be essentials.

I am now off to swear at my keyboard!