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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It’s report season! - 10 Facts That All Parents Must Know Before Reading Their Child’s Report

Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. I can not believe that it is nearly the end of Term 4. Where has this year gone? The end of a Semester, means a very busy time for teachers. This is the time where teachers use all their observations and assessments to provide a formal document about each child in their class, to reflect on what that child has learnt and developed over the two terms.

This blog will look into the world of “grading” for reports and give parents information about what they need to know before they even open their child’s report.

New South Wales Primary schools send student reports home twice a year. The first one being at the end of Semester 1 (End of Term 2) and the second one at the end of Semester 2 (End of Term 4). The report’s aim is to give parents information about their child and give the parent an understanding of whether their child is meeting benchmarks for their age.

Reports can cause a lot of mixed emotions for many households. It can be a time of celebration of a child’s achievement or a realisation that your child is struggling to meet the expected level of a particular grade. With all situations, reports need to be used as a conversation starter between you and your child and between you and your child’s teacher.

Below is a list of 10 facts that all parents need to know before they read their child’s report.

1. The Board Of Studies - What is a KLA?

BoS%20Logo[1]The Board of Studies is the governing body for the implementation of teaching and assessing of students in NSW. They are responsible for setting the core curriculum that is being taught in schools and regulates how much time is allocated to the teaching of each KLA (Key Learning Area). A Key Learning Area is a term used to name a particular area of study.  There are 6 KLA’s in Primary School. They are English, Mathematics, Human Society and Its Environment (History), Science, Creative Arts and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Some schools may have the addition of Religious Education as their seventh KLA. All these KLA’s need to be assessed by a child’s teacher and a child is given a grade for each of these KLA’s on their reports.

2. Time allocation for each KLA

KLAsSchools are restricted to how much time they can allocate to the teaching of each KLA. Teachers must assess each child for each KLA in the allocated time per week. In Primary school the time allocations are; English (25%-35%), Mathematics (20%), Science (6%-10%), HSIE (6%-10%), Creative Arts (6%-10%), PDHPE (6%-10%) and additional time for Religious Education, assemblies etc (up to 20%). As a general guide 6%-10% is usually 1.5 - 2.5hrs in a typical teaching week. Many infant classes use combined units to incorporate a few KLA’s in the one learning experience.

3. Stages in Primary Education

children readingThere are 4 stages in Primary Education. Early Stage 1 is Kindergarten, Stage 1 is Years 1-2, Stage 2 is Years 3-4 and Stage 3 is Years 5-6. There are many different types of schools within NSW. Some schools operate in year groups and some schools operate in stage groups. Some schools operate in single classrooms while others have open learning (a few classes work in their own space in a large room). All students are different and they thrive differently in different environments. All schools are bound by the same curriculum, time allocation for teaching each KLA and grading responsibilities, however, schools can chose the best way to deliver the teaching and learning experiences to their students.

4. Outcomes

teacher assessingEach KLA has outcomes that address a particular concept in the area of study that is related to what stage level the child is at. Teachers assess whether a child has not achieved, achieved or has gone beyond each outcome at the particular stage of each KLA. A teacher must look at the child’s achievement across all the outcomes in a KLA that have been taught and then communicate that to the parent and child in the form of a grade for that KLA. An example of a Kindergarten outcome in Mathematics is “Counts to 30, and orders, reads and represents numbers in the range 0 to 20”

5. Kindergarten grading

reading 1Kindergarten is the only grade in Primary school that does not have “Grades”. Teachers generally communicate a child’s achievement in relation to them achieving an outcome or working towards an outcome. This is their first year at “formal schooling” and being it is its own stage, grading does not commence until the children move into Stage 1.

6. What does a “C” mean?

Grade AThis is an area that causes the most stress to parents as the meanings of grades have changed a lot since they went to school. Most parents want their child to receive an “A” but many parents do not realise how difficult it really is to receive an “A”. A “C” is given to a student who is meeting all the requirements of that stage level. They are able to work efficiently in the classroom and achieve all benchmarks at that stage. Most students, as a result, will receive a “C”. Even though some parents are not happy with their child’s “C” for a KLA, it actually informs them that their child is doing exactly what they are meant to be doing.

7. How a teacher grades

assessmentsGrading is not an easy task. Many students can be on the border line of two grades. Two students could receive a “C” for a KLA but one could actually be a high C (nearly a B) and the other could be a low C (just higher than a D). Even though each grade could have such a big spectrum this is not written on the report. A teacher must use all the assessments completed, written evidence in work books and their own observations to give one grade for an entire KLA. They must look at everything that has been taught during the Semester and the contribution that the child has made to group tasks, individual tasks, projects and class discussions to get an overall achievement level.

8. Student’s strengths

littleboyParents may find a grade unjust for their child if their child may be particularly gifted in an area of that KLA. For example, If a child is a particularly gifted skier and they receive a “C” for PDHPE, their parent may believe that this grade is not a reflection of their child. What the parent does not realise, is that within each KLA there are many strands that need to be taught. In PDHPE there are several strands. All health modules, Dance, Gymnastics, Games and Sports, and Active Lifestyle. This child may be gifted in Skiing but that is only one sport out of many that may or may not be taught within the school. They may achieve at a “normal” level with all other sports and their understanding of the theory component associated to PDHPE, so their average grade for all areas of PDHPE is a “C”. This is reflected in all KLA’s.

9. Report Comments

ParentsreadingReport comments can be particularly difficult for a teacher. They are restricted by how many characters they can write and also how they are allowed to describe different learning attributes of a student. The best advice I have for parents is LISTEN in your parent-teacher interviews. This is a time where teachers can go into more detail about your child and show you examples of your child’s work. They can suggest specific activities you could do at home with your child that targets your child’s area of weakness. Always attend the parent-teacher interviews as they usually offer so much more information than a grade on a paper.

10. Working out a plan

parentteacherPrior to reading a child’s report, a parent generally has a good idea of their child’s academic ability. If you have concerns about your child’s rate of development and reading their report supports your thoughts, speak to the child’s class teacher about it. Just because a child is struggling it does not always mean that they will struggle for the rest of their educational journey. Work out a plan with your child’s teacher about the next steps that you or the school will undertake to identify what your child’s additional learning needs may be. This could include going to a GP, having a speech or hearing assessment or having an observation survey completed by an OT or specialised teacher. Early intervention is the key, so the earlier you identify the extra needs of your child, the more success your child will have. Always book a date for the next meeting with the teacher in order to discuss what has been completed since the previous meeting.

Grades of an A,B,C, D or E enables parents to have a small insight into the academic abilities of their child. Teachers encourage parents to not use grades as the only way to judge their child’s success at school. They need to also think about their child’s social and emotional development as a factor in assessing a child’s “success” at school.

If your child has special needs and you and their teacher believes that “no benefit” will come from your child reading all “E’s” in their report, you can request to have a report with no grades and just comments. The special need’s teacher at your school can offer more information about this idea.

Reports cause a lot of stress for children, parents and teachers. Always remember to use reports as a way of starting communication with your child about their strengths and weaknesses at school. Try not to compare their grades with their peers or with other siblings. Use it to get your child to set some academic goals they want to achieve before the end of next Semester.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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10 science experiments every child should experience

science experimentsWelcome to my next blog in the holiday series. In this post I focus on the value of children conducting science experiments at home and in the classroom.

Science 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.

I have put together a list of 10 inexpensive science experiments that can be conducted at home by children from the ages of 3 - 12 years old. Try one or all of them with your child and see your child develop their knowledge about a specific scientific concept.

1. Water movement experiment

Water movement

Materials needed: Cabbage leaves, containers, water, food dye

Concept taught: Osmosis (diffusion of water through cells) Plants rely on osmosis to move water from the roots to the tallest part of the plant.

 

1. Pour an equal amount of water into a few containers

2. Put a few drops of different coloured food dye in each container

3. Put a large cabbage leaf in each container

4. Observe cabbage leaves over a 2 week period

2. Rock Candy experiment

rock candyMaterials needed: 2-3 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, jars, candy flavouring, food colouring, skewers, large saucepan, pegs

Concepts taught: Learning about solutes and solvents. The solute (sugar) is mixed with a solvent (water) to make a super saturated solution. After taking the solution off the heat, the sugar will begin to crystallise.

1. Dissolve a cup of sugar in a cup of water over heat in a saucepan.

2. Slowly add more and more sugar until no more will dissolve. (the water will look cloudy)

3. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the candy flavouring if desired and allow solution to cool.

4. Cut the skewers to the right length, soak the end in water and roll the end of the skewer in sugar. Allow the sticks to dry completely.

5. Pour sugar solution equally into jars. You can add a few drops of different food colouring dyes to each jar.

6. Put a dried sugar coated skewer in each jar and secure with a peg. Make sure that the skewer is not touching any part of the jar.

7. Observe skewers over 2 weeks. (The children can eat the rock candy when the experiment is over)

3. Plant maze experiment

PlantgrowingMaterials needed: shoe box, extra cardboard, scissors, broad bean plant

Concept taught: Plants need light to grow. Plants grow towards the light.

 

 

1. Cut a small hole at one end of the shoe box. Ensure that all other holes are taped up so only the hole you made will let light in.

2. Cut two pieces of cardboard and stick one of the left (a third of the way up and one on the right. (two thirds of the way up)

3. Stand the shoe box up ensuring the hole is up the top. Put the broad bean plant down the bottom sidewards. (ensure the broad bean plant is well watered)

4. Put the shoe box lid back on and secure with tape. Put shoe box in a sunny position near a window.

5. Open the shoe box in 4 to 5 days and observe the results.

4. Elephant toothpaste experiment

FoamMaterials needed: 1/2 a cup of 6% hydrogen peroxide, empty soft drink bottle, tray, food colouring, dishwashing liquid, warm water, yeast

 

Concept taught: Chemical reactions using a catalyst. The hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water. The large volume of oxygen quickly explodes out of the bottle.

1. Put an empty soft drink bottle in the middle of a tray.

2. Mix the hydrogen peroxide, 3 drops of food colouring and a squirt of dishwashing liquid in the soft drink bottle.

3. In a separate container, mix 1 tsp of  yeast and 2 tbsp of warm water.

4. Pour the yeast mixture into the soft drink bottle and watch the chemical reaction.

5. Dissolving egg shells experiment

imagesMaterials needed: 4 clear cups, 4 eggs, vinegar,water

Concept taught: Acid base reactions. The vinegar is an acid and dissolves the eggshell which is made up of calcium carbonate (a base). When the acid and base react carbon dioxide is formed (seen as bubbles in the experiment)

  1. Put 1 egg in each clear cup.
  2. Add vinegar to two of the cups and water to the other two cups. (ensure each egg is submerged by the liquid in their cup)
  3. Observe the results over 7 days and compare the eggs that were covered in vinegar to the eggs covered in water.

6. Walking on eggs experiment

walkoneggsMaterials needed: many large trays of eggs, plastic sheet

Concept taught: Shapes of objects effect how pressure is distributed.

1. Put down a plastic sheet and lay a few trays of eggs together on it

2. Walk over the trays of eggs ensuring your feet are flat when walking

3. Walk over the eggs on heels or toes to see if it makes any difference

7. Lava lamp experiment

LavalampMaterials needed: One soft drink bottle, water, vegetable oil, food colouring, Alka-Seltzer tablet broken up

Concept taught: Oil and water do not mix. Oil is less dense and will stay above the water. The food colouring will drop through the oil and mix with the water. The tablet (citric acid and baking soda) releases carbon dioxide gas and the bubbles rise to the top, taking coloured water with it. When the gas is released at the top the coloured water will drop down again.

1. Fill the soft drink bottle a third of the way with water.

2. Fill the rest of the bottle with vegetable oil.

3. Add a couple of drops of food colouring into the soft drink bottle.

4. Add the broken Alka-Seltzer tablet into the soft drink bottle.

5. Observe results. When the experiment has finished, you can add another tablet to watch it again.

8. Make a thermometer

thermometerMaterials needed: 500ml jar, straw, clay, water, rubbing alcohol, food colouring, marker

Concept taught: Convection (the process of liquid expanding and contracting as a result of temperature) When a liquid is heated, it becomes less dense and expands. It will rise up on the thermometer (the straw). When the liquid is cooled, it contracts, becomes dense and goes down on the thermometer (the straw).

1. Fill up the empty jar with equal amounts of water and rubbing alcohol until it is ¼ of the way up the jar.

2. Put a few drops of food colouring in the liquid to make it easier to see.

3. Put the cap back on the jar and secure it with tape.

4. Mix up the liquid

5. Put a hole in the centre of the cap so a clear straw can fit through. (try to make the hole a similar size to the straw)

6. Make sure the straw is in the liquid but does not touch the bottom of the jar.

7. Use clay around the straw to ensure the jar is air tight and to hold the straw in position.

8. Draw a line on the jar with a marker to indicate room temperature.

9. Put the thermometer in different places to see what happens (eg direct sunlight, fridge)

9. Liquid explosion experiment

dietcokeMaterials needed: One bottle of diet coke, roll of mentos

Concept taught: The effect of carbon dioxide. Each mentos candy has lots of little pits over it, which means they have lots of great places for carbon dioxide bubbles to form. After all of the gas is released, the liquid is pushed out of the bottle at a great speed to form a big soft drink blast.

1. Stand the bottle of diet coke upright with the lid off in the middle of a large area.

2. Ensure everyone is standing clear

3. Unwrap the mentos roll and put all of them into the diet coke at the same time. (This can be quite tricky as you need them to go in very quickly)

4. Run into the safety zone and watch the reaction.

10. Bacteria/germs experiment

potato bacteria growthMaterials needed: two potatoes, zip lock bags, a variety of surfaces

Concept taught: The best surfaces for bacteria to grow. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that live everywhere. Certain conditions cause bacteria to be more prevalent than others. The importance of hygiene can be discussed after observing the results.

1. Wash hands with warm soapy water before commencing experiment.

2. Cut two potatoes into slices using a clean knife.

3. Label 8 zip lock bags with the surfaces : hands, mouth, toilet, dirt, floor, sink, bin lid, bench

4. Take one potato slice and rub it all over your hands. Once done put it in the corresponding bag and zip it up.

5. Repeat process with the other 7 surfaces.

6. Put bags in a dark warm spot for 1 - 2 weeks.

7. Observe which potato slice had the most mould as bacteria helps mould grow.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and are enthusiastic to try some of these at home or in your classroom. Science gets children to ask questions and clarify their own understanding of how our world works. For older children, encourage them to try and explain the science behind each experiment.

Next week I will be starting a blog series aimed at educators and parents of children aged 8 - 12 years old. Please continue to share, comment and spread the news about CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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