Setting Up A Reading Nook - 5 inspiring ideas

reading quoteChildren need to be encouraged to develop a love of reading and what better way than setting up a cosy area in your home or classroom as a reading nook.

In this last blog of the “reading series” we share 5 inspiring ideas that will have children wanting to curl up with a book in no time. All these ideas are simple, inexpensive and easy to recreate in the home or classroom.

If you have missed the first two blogs of the “reading series” please click on the links below to catch up on what you have missed.

Reading Strategies to teach children 4- 9 year olds

Concepts about Print – 22 concepts that all parents and teachers need to know

Use a tent

tentA tent inspires children to be transported into an imaginary world that is separate from their daily routine. You can decorate it how you wish and it is easy to set up in any space. There are many tents for sale in shops at the moment or some creative people might find a pattern online and create their own. Fill the tent with cushions and blankets and have the children’s reading books close by.

 




Using book shelves

book shelvesUsing book display shelves is a great way of storing even the largest of book collections. It is easy for a child to see which book they want and an effective way of keeping all the books in a neat way on the wall. Rotate the books continually so children have new books to select from. Book display shelves are inexpensive and can be bought from many shops including IKEA. This would work really well in a child’s bedroom, a play room or on a wall inside the classroom.




Create a space within a space

own spaceChildren love to feel like they have found a secret room so why not create one at home or in the classroom. A secret room can be made with curtains, bunting or any other material lying around. Display books in the secret space with comfortable seating that children really want to sit in. Involve the child in putting the room together and have books on a rotating system.

 




Reading bench

readingbenchUsing an old bookshelf, turn it on the side and buy some foam to go on top of it. Buy some material to go over the foam and put some cushions on it. You may also have an old mattress (like a cot mattress) that you could use instead. If you prefer the reading bench to be off the floor screw in some legs at the bottom of the shelf. Put the collection of books on the shelves underneath. If you attach wheels to the bottom it will become a movable reading bench.

 

Choose a theme

themed areaUse your child’s interest to create a unique spot for them to read. There are so many free printable templates online that you can use to create a great reading nook with any theme. This would also work well in a classroom as it can relate to the theme that the class is studying. You can incorporate reading tubs or reading shelves nearby to hold the book collection.

 

This concludes our reading series blogs. Hopefully you have been inspired to create your own reading nook in your home or classroom. We will be starting a new Mathematics series of blogs soon so stay tuned.

If you would like to read some more blogs from this author please click on the links below.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words

Literacy in the Primary classroom: Lower Case Letter formation

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Concepts about Print - 22 concepts that all parents and teachers need to know

imgres-2Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. This is our second blog in our new reading series. If you missed last weeks blog, which was the first blog in the series, click on the link below to read it.

Reading strategies to teach children 4- 9 year olds

This blog is all about the essential concepts about texts that children need to know in order to become successful readers. These concepts develop over time and it is hoped by the end of Kindergarten most children would know all 22.




Below is an outline of what each concept is, how you can check if your child knows each concept and a free concepts of print table that you can print off and use with your child or children in your classroom.

The concepts of print can be categorised into five sections.

Section 1 - Book concepts

imgres

1. Identifies front of book - does the child know where the front cover is?

2. Identifies back of book - does the child know where the back cover is?

3. Identifies the title - can the child find where the title is?

Section 2 - Reading Concepts

imgres-1

4. Words carry meaning - does the child know that we read the words and not the pictures?

5. One to One correspondence - can the child point to each word when an adult is reading?




Section 3 - Directionality Concepts

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6. Identifies the beginning of the text - can the child point to the beginning of the text on the correct page?

7. Left to right and top to bottom - does the child understand that we read left to right and top to bottom?

8. Return Sweep - does the child know that when you finish one line you go down to the next line, starting on the left?

Section 4 - Letter and word concepts

imgres-2

9. First word on page - can the child point to the first word on the page?

10. Last word on page - can the child point to the last word on the page?

11. Identifies one word and two words - can the child point to one word and then show two words with their fingers?

12. First letter in a word - can the child show the first letter in a word?

13. Last Letter in a word - can the child show the last letter in that word?

14. Identifies one letter and two letters - can the child point to one letter and then show two letters with their fingers?

15. Naming 3 letters on the page - Can the child name and point to three letters?

Section 5 - Punctuation marks

imgres-3

16. Capital letter - can the child point to a capital letter on the page?

17. Lower case letter - can the child point to a small letter on the page?

18. Full stop - can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

19. Question mark - can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

20. Exclamation mark - can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

21. Comma - can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?

22. Quotation marks (Speech Marks) - can the child name this punctuation or identify why it is used?




If you are checking to see if your child or a child in your class has an understanding of each concept you can use the questions below to guide you. You can pick any book with large print and ask a few questions for each page. Do not try and ask all questions on one page. Ensure you read the child the story as well so it is an engaging task for them. You can start the session by asking them to help you learn about books.

Concept

 

What to ask
Identifies front of book “Show me the front of this book.”

 

Identifies back of book “Show me the back of this book.”

 

Identifies the title “Show me the name of this book or story.”

 

Words carry meaning “Show me where I start reading.”

 

One to One correspondence “You point to the words while I read the story.” (Read slowly, but fluently).

 

Identifies the beginning of the text “Show me with your finger where I have to begin reading.”

 

Left to right and top to bottom “Show me with your finger which way I go as I read this page.”

 

Return Sweep “Where do I go then?”
First word on page “Use your finger to show me the first word on this page.”

 

Last word on page “Use your finger to show me the last word on this page.”

 

Identifies one word and two words “Move your fingers until I can see one word. Now, show me two words.”

 

First letter in a word “Show me the first letter in a word.”

 

Last letter in a word “Show me the last letter in a word.”

 

Identifies one letter and two letters “Move your fingers and show me one letter. Now, show me two letters.”

 

Naming 3 letters on a page “Show me three letters that you know on this page and tell me the name of each one.”

 

Capital letter “Use your finger to show me a capital letter.”

 

Lowercase letter “Use your finger to show me a small letter.”

 

Full stop “What is this called?” or “What is this for?”

 

Question mark “What is this called?” or “What is this for?”

 

Exclamation mark “What is this called?” or “What is this for?”

 

Comma “What is this called?” or “What is this for?”

 

Quotation marks (Speech marks) “What are these called?” or “What are these for?”

The questions above can be used every time you read with your child. You wouldn’t ask all these questions each time but you may pick a few to focus on. It is important for children to know how texts work in order to have a great start as a beginning reader.

Below is a free card that we have made that you may want to put in your child’s book or somewhere in the classroom as a reference point for you. Click on the document link and simply print.

Concepts about Print CLE

We hope you have found this article insightful and helpful. Next week the third blog of the reading series will be uploaded. If you would like to read more from this author please click on some of her recent articles below.

10 Ways To Help Your Child With Math

10 Ways To Help Your Child Learn To Read

How to increase your child’s achievement through a “growth mindset”

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Reading strategies to teach children 4 - 9 years old

imgresWhen we start teaching children to read, it is essential that we give them the “tools” to be successful. The main purpose when teaching a child to read is that they develop their level of comprehension. There are many elements that affect comprehension such as fluency, level of vocabulary, field knowledge (Are they familiar with the concepts that the text presents eg Antarctica or a circus?), reading strategies and their critical thinking skills.

This blog is the first article in our new series about the little details every parent and teacher needs to know about reading. In the blog today, we are focusing on 12 strategies that children must be taught to be able to work out unknown words.




Successful readers are confident at using many of these strategies and are able to select the correct one to use when faced with an unknown word. Many children plateau on a reading level because they have insufficient strategies. Their strategies may work at lower level texts but as the text gets more complicated they need to develop other strategies.

Below is a list of the 12 strategies with a brief description about each. How many of these does your child use?





imgres1. Look at the Picture

The child needs to do a “picture walk” through the book before reading it. Ensure that they understand what could be happening. Get the child to look for clues in the picture to help them decode an unknown word.

imgres2. What sounds are in the word?

Try not to use the words “sound it out”. Encourage your child to look for all the familiar sounds they know and put them together. eg ing, sh, er, br, ough




imgres-13. Look for smaller words within the word

Encourage your child to find smaller words in the unknown word that may help them. Eg homework

imgres-24. Break word into syllables

Breaking the word up will help the task of working out the word seem more achievable for your child. eg unbelievable    -un be liev a ble

imgres-35. Use the punctuation to help

Get your child to look all around the word to see if there are any punctuation clues. A question mark at the end of the sentence could help your child work out what type of word it may start with. Speech marks or quotation marks helps the child realise that it is what the character is saying. This may give them another clue.

imgres-46. Go back and read it again

When your child solves an unknown words, especially if it took them a little while always encourage them to go back to the beginning of the sentence and read it fluently to ensure they are reading for meaning.

imgres-17. Read on

Children can skip a word and read on until the end of the sentence. This strategy is like a cloze passage and checks to see if they are reading for meaning.

imgres-28. Listen to your voice

Many children do not listen to themselves while they read. This is essential at the beginning stages and children need to hear how they sound to check they are saying the correct word. You can even record them reading and play it back to them.

imgres-39. Does the word look like another word you know?

Ask your child if they know any other words that look similar and could help them work out the word. eg trough for an animal is like cough. Same sound ending with the same spelling.

imgres-510. Imagine what is happening

Get the child to visualise what is happening in the text. This will really help them to connect with what they are reading and work out possible words that may come up. eg Reading about putting out a fire usually would include the words fireman, hose, ladder etc

imgres-611. Ask a question

The child can think about a question that might help them work out the unknown word if they are reading for meaning. Eg What is the name of a car that has no roof? = convertible

imgres-412. Does it make sense?

Get the child to ask themselves, does their reading make sense?. If it did not then they have to go back and read it again.

Below is a table with all the twelve strategies for you to share with your child and help them to remember what tools they have in their reading tool belt to help them solve unknown words.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 4.44.59 pm(Copyright) Creating A Learning Environment

How to use the table?

  • Put colour counters on a strategy each time they use one
  • Use it as a memory card that can fit into their home reader. (like a bookmark)
  • Talk about two strategies the child is going to focus on by pointing to them.
  • When a child gets “stuck” on a word, give them the table and they can choose a strategy to try.

It is important that children can name their strategy that they are using. This helps with their metacognition - deep understanding about the concept of reading. The strategies increase in difficulty but it is important for children to use all strategies to be a successful reader. It can be tempting to just give the answers to a child but they learn nothing from that experience. They need to try and use some strategies themselves to work out the unknown word to experience real learning. As adults, these strategies are built in from years of reading. For a beginning reader (4-9 years old) they need to be explicitly taught.

Next week, part 2 of this blog series will be online. In the meantime if you want to read more articles from this author click on the links below.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words

20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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Kindergarten interviews - What you need to know

It is this time of year that many primary schools commence Kindergarten enrolment interviews with children and their families for the next year. It may seem quite early but most interviews are in full swing across the country.

This can be an anxious time for parents as they are afraid of the unknown. Many parents want their children to “perform” in order to get a place at the school they believe will offer their child the best opportunities. In this blog I share 5 myths about the Kindergarten interview to help shed some light on some of the worries that parents hold.




  1. Your child will be offered a place if they perform well

schoolcatchmentGetting offered a place for your child for primary school the following year is determined by many things, but one of them is not how “academic” they are. Most places are offered on catchment area (the proximity that your residential address is from the school) Occasionally state schools do offer places to children who are on the border or have extenuating circumstances. In most faith based schools places are offered in order of what category that you fall into. Category one are baptised children who practice the faith in the Parish area. Category two are siblings of children already attending the school. Category three are baptised children who practice the faith in a different parish area. These three categories are given priority. After the places have been filled by children in these three categories all other children are considered. This includes baptised children who do not practice their faith, children from other faiths and other pastoral reasons.




2. I need to prepare my child for the interview

imgresParents may feel anxious about the interview because they do not know what to expect. They may feel that they need to “prepare” their child but are unaware of what they need to be focusing on. Firstly I want to say that you do not need to PREPARE your child for activities they may need to do in the interview. Think of the interview as a conversation between the school and family. It is a time for you to ask questions about the school and get a feel for the culture of the school. I would encourage parents to talk to their child about the upcoming interview to reassure the child that they get a chance to have a look at a “big” school. Children like to know about what will happen in order to feel comfortable so mentioning that the the Principal and possibly another teacher may ask them some questions about themselves will put them at ease. That is as much as you need to tell them. Get them excited about this new adventure and rest assure that no matter what happens in the interview places are given by a strict protocol not by what your child says or does not say in the interview.




3. The interview is like an exam

examWe need to put the interview in perspective. The interview is conducted about 8 months prior to starting school. The principal and other teachers on the panel are well aware that children will change so much in that time. Some children will take leaps in their learning, will mature over that time and really become ready for school even though you can not imagine them at school now. The principal or teacher may ask your child a couple of questions and ask them to do a couple of tasks. This is not a test but simply a basic measure to see where the child is at with their learning and identify any obvious areas that may need further investigation. They may be asked to name some colours, write their name, count some objects and answer questions about their interests.

4. I wont tell them about my child’s need as I fear they will not get offered a place

imagesDuring the many kindergarten interviews that I have done, this by far is the one that parents are most fearful about. They are worried that the Principal or teacher will see their child’s “true” colours in the interview and as a result will not get a place. It is so IMPORTANT to ensure that the school has a true image on what your child’s needs are. Early intervention is the most successful strategy to helping children develop skills or concepts so it is important that schools are made aware of any current intervention happening. This may even be notifying them about an appointment time to a specialist in the upcoming months. Schools appreciate parents being proactive and by giving the school this information they are able to make the transition for your child smoother and more successful. If the school knows your child’s needs from day one they are able to put strategies in place for your child to help them make the change from preschool to primary school with less stress and anxiety. Remember that children are not given places in regards to their academic skills or behaviour.

5. I do not want to appear silly so I will not ask any questions
imgresThe interview is not only a chance for the school to learn more about your child but a chance for you to learn about the school. Ask questions about what you want to know. What features of a school are you looking for? You want to walk out of the school with a really good understanding about what they are on about and the priorities they have. Each school is different and it is important to find one that suits your family.

Hopefully you have found this blog insightful and you are feeling more positive about the upcoming kindergarten interview that you have. Enjoy this experience as you begin this new chapter of parenting.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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If you would like to read some more articles by this author please click on the links below.

Big School: 5 tips for making it a smooth transition

Preparing your child for Kindergarten: 10 tips for the reluctant writer

10 ways to help your child learn to read

 

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What every parent should know: The three reading levels

Term 2 is in full swing as children have settled into their new classroom and have developed their relationship with their new teacher. It is usually at this point that many parents want to know how they can help their child by supporting what is happening in the classroom. However, many parents feel quite anxious as their child moves up a grade as they find it difficult to understand what support their child needs. In this blog I am going to share a strategy that all parents can use with their child no matter what their child’s age.

imgresThis strategy is focusing on developing a child’s comprehension of a text and how they engage with the text. A text is any visual or written stimulus that a child is required to make sense of. It is important that they are given a variety of texts such as factual, fiction, and visual (eg advertising brochures) in order to have a deep understanding of how texts work and what they can learn from each.

I have named this strategy : THE THREE LEVELS OF READING

To see if a child truly understands what they have read they need to be able to answer questions about the text. These questions can be divided up into three categories.




Level 1 - Reading ON the line

on the lineThe answers to Level 1 questions are found ON the line of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 1 question the child needs to go back to the text, find the answer and say it. This is a very literal level and requires simple comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Remembering and Understanding

Question starters for this level: Who, what, where, when

Types of activities for this level: List, define, cite, define, retell, explain, describe




Level 2 - Reading BETWEEN the lines

betweenThe answers to Level 2 questions are found BETWEEN the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 2 question the child needs to go back to the text, look for clues that might help them answer it and form their answer with supporting evidence. This is an inferential level and requires good comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Applying and Analysing

Question starters for this level: How and why

Types of activities for this level: Categorise, examine, demonstrate, dissect, implement, compare, contrast




Level 3 - Reading BEYOND the lines

beyondThe answers to Level 3 questions are found BEYOND the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 3 question the child needs to use the information from the text, their own knowledge and understanding of how the world works and apply it to form an answer. This is thematic level and requires high comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Evaluating and Creating

Question starters for this level: What would it be like if …? What is another possible title for this text?, What would you do if…? How does this text connect with your life?

Types of activities for this level: Create, develop, generate, produce, imagine, justify, assess, conclude

It is important that children are asked questions from all levels no matter what their age. Many parents tend to stick with Level 1 questioning because it is simple but it does not give your child enough opportunity to develop their comprehension skills. Asking questions does not have to be a formal task that is done at the end when they are finished reading the text. Ask questions throughout to gauge their understanding and help clarify if needed. Get them to point out what they used to help them answer the question. Encourage your child to return to the text as many times as they want as it is not a memory test. Teaching comprehension skills will give them a solid foundation for reading and as a result help them in all subject areas.

If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember this “Comprehension floats on a conversation”. Talk with your child about what you or they have read and ensure they really understand the purpose and ideas that are trying to be conveyed by the author.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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If you want to read more articles from this author please click on the links below:

10 ways to help your child to read

How to help your child form their letters correctly

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading levels

 

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10 Great Mother’s Day Ideas for Kids

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and what better way to show your appreciation for your mum than a handmade gift especially for her. In this blog we have put together 11 great, simple and inexpensive ideas that will inspire your child or the children in your class to make a beautiful gift for the special lady in their life. These ideas can also be adapted for grandmothers and aunties as well.

  1. Handprint Bouquet 

handprint bouquetWhat you need: Different coloured paint, paper, ribbon,  glue

Method: Children dip their hand into the paint and make four handprints on the paper. When it is dry, paint a heart in the middle of each and paint a stem from each to the bottom of the page. Attach a bow to the stems to make it look like a bunch of flowers.

This would also work well for a large Mother’s day card or on a canvas to make an original artwork.




2. Handprint Poem

HandprintpoemWhat you need: a computer, paint, white paper and a piece of coloured paper.

Method: Choose a Mother’s day poem or type an original poem on white paper. Trim 1-2 centimetres on each side of the white paper. Children dip their hands in paint and make a few handprints on the white paper. When dry, stick the white paper on a coloured piece of paper.

 




3. Photo Collage

collage of photosWhat you need: camera, printer, chalk, computer

Method: Children can draw a variety of backgrounds on the ground with chalk. The child then lays on the ground and you take a picture of them. You can arrange the photos together as a collage and put them in a frame. You might even write some text on it saying “Happy Mother’s Day 2016”




4. Tissue paper flowers

tissue paperflowersWhat you need: coloured tissue paper, pipe cleaners, scissors

Method:  Cut tissue paper into squares according to the size of flower you want. ( I do 15cmx15cm) Put 12 squares together (one coloured or multi) and do a fan fold. Tie a pipe cleaner around the middle ensuring there is a long stem. Round the edges of the tissue paper while folded with scissors. Open up one layer at a time and fluff up the tissue paper.

 

5. Mother’s Day Card 1

card1What you need: Card stock, Markers, colour paper, string or ribbon, glue

Method: Do a tri fold with the card stock. On the front page write the word “MUM” and stick coloured pieces of paper that have been ripped off the larger paper. On the second fold, stick a coloured piece of paper and write “I LOVE YOU” on it. Draw a heart on the third fold and fill it with ripped coloured pieces of paper. Underneath the heart write “TO PIECES”. When finished, close the card and tie ribbon or string around it.

6. Mother’s Day Card 2

card2What you need: cardstock, coloured pieces of cardboard, scissors and markers

Method: Fold the cardstock in half. Cut a variety of circles of varying sizes from different coloured cardboard. Cut strips of cardboard for the stems. Cut a square or rectangle and stick on the front ensuring you leave the top side open. Assemble 3 flowers using 4 coloured circles. Glue the stem on each flower and glue stem in vase. Write a Mother’s Day message on the inside.

7. Candle art

candle decorationWhat you need: White tissue paper, coloured markers, hairdryer, baking paper, candle

Method : Children draw pictures and/or write words on the tissue paper that has been cut a little smaller than the candle. (be careful as tissue paper is delicate) Hold the tissue paper on the candle and wrap a larger piece of baking paper around it. An adult needs to hold the hairdryer on each part of the candle until the tissue paper melts into the wax of the candle. This will take a couple of minutes. When complete take off the baking paper and the image is now on the candle.

8. Footprint art

footprintartWhat you need: Canvas, paint, marker

Method: Children put their feet in paint and make two sets of footprints on the canvas. Use green paint to make a stem for each and put some leaves and grass on the artwork. Using a marker, write a Mother’s Day message. Wait for it to dry before wrapping it up.

 

 

9. Pot plant art

flowerpotWhat you need: Terracotta pot, acrylic paint, baking paper and newspaper

Method: Put newspaper on the table and put baking paper on top. Turn a terracotta pot upside down and place in the middle of the baking paper. Squeeze the paint down the sides of the pot. Do not remove until it is completely dry. The baking paper will easily come off with the extra dried paint on it. Add a plant and you have a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day.

 

10. Child blowing kisses

photocanvasartWhat you need : Canvas, Photo of child, paint, coloured paper

Method: Take a picture of the child in a kiss blowing position. Print photo and cut out around child. Paint the background of the canvas and wait until it is dry. Stick photo in corner of canvas. Cut out little hearts using a variety of paper. Stick hearts on the canvas from the mouth of the child going upwards.

 

Hopefully some of these ideas have set your creative juices going. On behalf of Creating A Learning Environment, I would like to wish all mothers a wonderful day on Sunday full of special memories and lots of kisses.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Open letter to parents - The damaging craze sweeping our primary schools

Dear Parents,

I am concerned. Actually, I am very concerned. There is a craze that has filtrated into most primary schools that is having a negative affect on your children. It’s survival relies on your vulnerabilities and insecurities. It has even made its way into the life of children at preschool and daycare.

What am I worried about? TUTORING!! I realise this is going to open a can of worms as many of you will swear by this service for helping your child. There are many aspects of tutoring that I strongly oppose. I hope to outline some of these in this letter and give you a clearer understanding of how children learn. I am finding more and more of you are turning to tutoring in order to “help” your child and what is more shocking is that many of you feel it is necessary to send your preschooler to educational companies to “prepare” them for school. I am annoyed with societal pressures and companies that are causing stress among you all in order to persuade you to signing your child up for these tutoring courses. I am really quite furious that you are pushed into thinking that your child is not ready for school? How ridiculous that you are being preyed upon and feeling that you must spend money to ensure your child is being given the best opportunities to learn. These are the 5 things I do know and I encourage you to read them carefully and form your own opinion.




Children and rote learning

imgresChildren do not learn through rote learning. Now I hear you saying “Thats how I learnt” but was it really learning? You did not learn concepts but you learnt processes on how to solve problems. You did not know why you did certain things but you just did them anyway as that is how you were taught. A prime example is the “borrow and payback” method most of you learnt when solving subtraction problems or the wording of “9 doesn’t go into 7” when solving long division problems. The problem with most tutoring companies is that children are taught processes and not an understanding of concepts. They are taught quick methods that get the right answer but they can not understand how they solved it, therefore not having a deep understanding of the concept.




Children learn in context

rotelearningThis follows on from my first point. Children need to learn concepts in a meaningful context. There is so much research out there supporting the idea that children learn so much more from the conversations they have with others than while doing drill and practice type activities. These drill and practice type activities are focused on in tutoring programs. For younger children it may be learning sight words and times tables. Where is the link for these children to the everyday world. If the relationship between the concept and your child’s world is the most important aspect to a deep understanding why is it not even considered in these tutoring companies? Why are sight words being learnt with flash cards instead of within a text? The answer is simple. Tutoring companies are looking for quick fixes and a surface level understanding to “help” your child. As a result your child will need “tutoring” for a VERY long time as they will never get a deep understanding and therefore can not apply their knowledge to a variety of problems.




Learning needs to be individualised

contextThe learning must be centred on your child’s learning style and interests and this is something that the “one size fits all” model of tutoring is unable to do. Most tutoring companies try to “tutor” more than one student at a time with the same activity. No consideration is taken about a students prior knowledge, what they need to help them build a strong foundation or simple how they learn. Many children do have learning difficulties and unfortunately no matter how many tutoring sessions you pay for, your child will not improve if the learning style is not being taken into consideration.

Worksheets = Ridiculous

worksheetI had to write the word ridiculous on this one as many of my close colleagues hear me say this word a trillion times a day. What I believe is the most ridiculous idea is getting many students to complete the same task that does not allow for difficult thinking. What is the purpose of educating a child? It is to guide them from a place of confusion to understanding by not telling them but providing the tools to help them get there on their own. Filling in a worksheet is basically busy work. I hate them and they have no place in the classroom or home. Tutoring companies love a worksheet. Remember their idea of learning is to practice and practice until it becomes perfect. I challenge this notion as I believe that practice and practice makes permanent. Teaching children how to complete 100 of the same problems with different numbers or words does not help the child become perfect but it does permanently alter the use of strategies as they believe that only the one that has been shown is the correct one. We all know that there are many ways to solve a problem and it is important for each child to come to the realisation that some strategies are more efficient than others on their own.

Tutoring preschool children

upsetPlease, I beg you all to save your money and let your kids be kids. Children learn through their social interactions, games, conversations and at a time of need basis. I want to share an example with you to drive this point home. As an adult, you are probably sent to many work seminars, professional learning courses or training sessions. How many of you actually come away saying that all the information was relevant and that you can put it all to use right now. Probably not many of you. We all learn at a time of need basis. We will learn the information when we need it. It makes sense doesn’t it? Therefore a child will learn letters, numbers and the periodic table when they need to. Before going to school, there is no need for them to write a letter or read a sign. In saying that, some children are naturally interested it reading and writing but their questions should guide their learning. Too many adults assume they know what children need to learn but if they are not ready to learn or do not need to learn it for that particular time in their life how would they gain a deep understanding of that concept. All that a Kindergarten teacher wants from children when they first start school, is that they have good social skills, are keen to learn and have independence. The rest will come through meaningful learning experiences.

What do you do if your child is struggling in a particular area? The best place to start is to ask your child’s class teacher. They may suggest some activities to do that is specific to your child’s need. All parent’s have the ability to help their child and if they feel a little uncomfortable or out of their depth, there are many teachers that offer private lessons to help give you ideas on how to help your child. Unfortunately you can not just pay money and assume that your child will be “fixed”. It does take hard work and does take a long time.

I never want you to feel pressured to get tutoring for your child. Research, ask for help and consult a professional to help your child overcome a gap in their learning. Put your wallet back in your pocket and do not start sending your child to tutoring.

Kind Regards

Kelly Pisani

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If you would like to read some more articles written by this author please click on the links below.

10 Ways To Help Your Child With Math

10 Ways To Help Your Child Learn To Read

How to increase your child’s achievement through a “growth mindset”

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Information and advice to help your child in school- Part 3

In this week’s blog we focus on another 5 educational concerns that parents have and offer advice and practical solutions to try with children at home.




1. How to help your child write a speech

microphoneThe article below focuses on 10 ways to help your child prepare their speech. Many parents feel overwhelmed when it comes to helping their child write and deliver a speech to an audience. It may be because of their own previous experience or that they don’t understand how a successful speech is structured and what presenting skills are important for a speech to be engaging. Click on the link below to read the tips in the article.

10 ways to help your child write a speech




2. Building resilience in children

mistakesAs parents and educators we want our children to be happy, successful and have a strong sense of personal worth. We want them to aim high and reach their potential. Unfortunately this can be confused with giving our children everything and doing everything we can to protect our children from undesirable feelings of despair and stress.

We need to give our children many opportunities to practise coping skills when they are aged 2 - 12 years old in order to set them up for a solid emotional foundation for the older years. We need to expose them to challenges that allow them to practice these developing skills.

Below is a list of 15 challenges that we can use to help our own children or children in our class develop their own resiliency.

15 ways to teach resilience to your child




3. How to read with an older child

imgres-4There is so much information for parents and educators on how to help children in the younger grades achieve their potential but it seems to taper off when a child reaches 9 or 10 years old. In the article below, there are lots of practical advice and tips to help parents of children aged 9 - 12 years old to be able to support the learning which is going on in the classroom, at home.

Reading with your older child

4. Teaching science to children

researchingScience is a key learning area that is not taught well in Australian primary schools compared to other countries. Maybe this is the result of many teachers not having a deep understanding about scientific concepts or that parents place a higher emphasis on numeracy and literacy concepts. Regardless of the reason, it is our role as educators and parents to ensure that children are having the opportunity to conduct a variety of science experiments which will help them form a strong understanding about the world around them. Below is a link to an article which shares 10 science experiments that all children will enjoy.

10 Science experiments that children should conduct

5. Helicopter parenting

imgres-5Helicopter parenting is a term used to describe a method of parenting that involves constant monitoring of a child’s experiences. The use of the word “helicopter” describes the parent’s behaviour of hovering above their child through their play, behaviour, sport and educational experiences. Interested in seeing if you are a helicopter parent? Click on the link below to read more.

Are you a helicopter parent?

This blog concludes our information and advice series. Stay tuned for another exciting blog series starting shortly.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Information and advice to help your child in school - Part 2

Welcome back to CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.
meaningful tasksWe started our blog series,”Information and advice to help your child in school” last week. This week we have Part 2.  In this week’s blog we have put together 5 insightful articles from Creating A Learning Environment that will help parents with support, advice and tips to ensure their child is reaching their potential. The articles cover a variety of topics in order to give specific assistance to all parent’s concerns.




1. Reading Levels

LeveledreaderA reading level (whether it be a number, colour or letter, depending on the book) indicates to the teacher what type of reader the child is. A child could be a beginner reader, emergent (developing) reader or an independent reader. The level is usually displayed at the front or back of the book. A reading level is given by a teacher who has conducted a “running record”, which is a reading assessment tool. Click on the link below to get essential information about reading levels.

What K-2 teachers want you to know: Reading Levels




2. Addition and Subtraction

CountingChildren need to have many opportunities to problem solve using mental strategies before they are exposed to more rigid, procedural strategies. We want our children to approach each Mathematical task creatively and critically. The link below shows addition and subtraction strategies that will benefit your young child. I like to think of these as tools for your child’s problem solving toolbox. Each tool has a different purpose and when used correctly can help a child solve a number problem successfully.

Teaching Mathematics to Young Children: Addition and Subtraction




3. Reading strategies

reading 2Teaching children about reading strategies is equipping them with tools to solve reading problems. Using reading strategies effectively will help children become confident, fluent and expressive readers who develop a love of reading. By clicking on the link below, you will read about effective reading strategies that will benefit your child.

How to read with your child - Reading Strategies

4. Print Concepts

readingIn order for children to read they need to know how a book works. This is what teachers call “Print Concepts”. Most children are expected to know about some of these concepts prior to starting school, while others are developed through Kindergarten and Year 1. In NSW schools, children are tested on their knowledge of Print Concepts at the beginning of Kindergarten, end of Kindergarten, Year 1 and at any other point for “at risk” readers (children not meeting benchmarks). It is important for parents to have a good understanding about Print Concepts in order to help develop their child’s understanding of them. Most parents refer to print concepts while reading to their child without even realising it. Below is the link to the Print Concepts article.

How to read with young children: Print Concepts

5. Place Value

numberfishingPlace value is the understanding of “where” a digit is in a number and knowing the value of it. For example, in the number 6 023, the place value of 2 is “tens” and in the number 2.43, the place value of 3 is “hundredths”. A solid understanding of place value allows the child to read, write, order and interpret numbers confidently.

Below is a list of the growth points of “place value” that children should move through and parent tips of how to support their child at home to achieve a given growth point.

Teaching Mathematics to Young Children - Place Value

Hopefully these five articles has given you some guidance and understanding when helping your child grasp literacy and numeracy concepts.

Next week, Part 3 of the series will be available with another 5 educational articles to help parents.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Information and advice to help your child in school - Part 1

Welcome back to CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

helicopter_parents_children_kids_new+york+timesWe have started our newest blog series this week. The title of this series is “Information and advice to help your child in school” In this week’s blog we have put together 5 insightful articles from Creating A Learning Environment that will help parents with support, advice and tips to ensure their child is reaching their potential. The articles cover a variety of topics in order to give specific assistance to all parent’s concerns.

1. Sight words

All children are asked to learn sight words to support their developing reading skills. It is important that children learn these words in context (within a text) as well as playing games to reinforce their memory of these words. Click on the link below to read more about learning sight words.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words




2. Times tables

Once the child has a clear understanding of multiplication, it is then time to learn all their facts. Most teachers set a particular times table per week that the children must revise. Below is a list of 20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.




3. Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are small movements that are achieved by using the smaller muscles in the hands. Some of these skills include cutting, doing up buttons and handwriting. Highly developed fine motor skills will influence the speed and accuracy of the task performance. Below is a list of 30 activities your child can do to strengthen their fine motor skills.

30 ways to develop fine motor skills: Early intervention matters




4. Handwriting

Although technology is embedded into everything we do, handwriting is still an essential skill to have in today’s society. Handwriting is a fine motor skill that can be developed through a variety of activities. It is strongly advised to hold off introducing the formation of letters until these pre-writing skills are developed. Below is a link to pre-writing skills that your child should be able to do before learning how to form letters and how to form each letter correctly.

Literacy in the Primary classroom: Lower Case Letter formation

5. Learning Sounds

Learning the sounds that letters make in our alphabet are the building blocks to writing and reading. Children need to have a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the relationship between the letter and the sound.  This will give them a solid foundation to learn to read and write efficiently. Below is a link to 20 fun and inexpensive activities that you can do with your child to learn their sounds.

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Next week, part 2 of the series will be online with another 5 articles that will give parents information and advice on various educational aspects.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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