Preparing your child for Kindergarten: 10 Tips for The Reluctant Writer

This week’s blog will commence our new series, “Preparing your child for Kindergarten”. This series aims to tackle some of the most common issues facing parents of children who are about to start Kindergarten in the New Year. The blogs will be filled with practical examples and give lots of ideas of how to ensure that your child’s transition is a smooth one.

The first blog in this series deals with the issue of pre-schoolers who are reluctant writers. Before I begin this blog, I want to make it very clear that it is not expected that children are able to write words or even letters before commencing Kindergarten. However; by the age of 4 – 5 years old, most children become interested in print and how we use it to communicate messages.

It is very common for a child to begin Kindergarten, being able to write their name and for some, they are able to identify the names of the letters in their name as well. There are children, however, who are very reluctant to pick up a pencil and therefore parents become concerned that their child will struggle in their first year of formal schooling.

This is by far the most common issue I get asked about. Many parents want to know how they can motivate their child to write their name or even participate in drawing activities. Below is a list of 10 facts that will help all concerned parents of reluctant writers.

  1. Pre writing skills

imgresBefore children can start writing formal letters they need to be given MANY opportunities to participate in activities that develop pre writing skills. They need to be able to draw straight lines from top to the bottom, humps, zig zags and draw circles (preferably anti clockwise). I like to get children to do this through their drawings. I encourage them to draw rain or grass or flower stems that incorporate a lot of straight lines. I get them to draw waves or clouds for hump practice, zig zag patterns on clothing and circles for faces and eyes for circle practice.

  1. Do it with them

imgres-1Children love to spend time with grown ups, so this would be a perfect opportunity to do something with them. You need to ensure that it does not become a teaching session where a child can become quite stressed. Simply drawing a picture with your child will develop all the pre writing skills that they need. Make sure you talk about what you are drawing and ask them to talk about what they are drawing. This is where you can gently guide them by saying “I like to draw my lines from top to bottom because it is easier”

  1. Variety of tools

imgres-2It is essential that children are exposed to a variety of tools to write with. They need to work with larger tools such as thick chalk and thick paintbrushes to develop their skills and then move onto thinner chalk, markers, crayons and pencils.

  1. Writing must be meaningful

imgresChildren will only want to write something if it is meaningful to them. Get them to write a word on your grocery list (like ham) and take them shopping with you to buy that item. When there is a purpose for their writing, children are really motivated to do it.

  1. Give them ownership

imgres-1Talk about the importance of writing their name on their artwork when they attend preschool or daycare. Explain to them that their name is special and it belongs to them. Start with the first letter and then you can fill in the rest. When they are confident with that, move on by getting them to write the first 2 letters.

  1. Forming letters

imgres-2It is important to not enforce the correct formation of letters straight away. At the beginning, children need lots of opportunities to explore writing and they need a no fail environment to motivate them to keep going. Once your child begins writing letters often, you may mention to them the correct way to form that letter. But remember it is still in the experimental phase.

  1. No lines

imagesChildren should not be writing on lines until they are writing lots of sentences and are very confident with their letter formations. We should not restrict children to write straight at such an early stage. They need lots of room to form their letters.

  1. Restricting their size

Try not to restrict the size of their writing as well. Children start big and as they develop it will naturally get smaller.

  1. Fine motor skills

imgres-3Many children who are reluctant writers have poor fine motor skills. As a result I tend to find reluctant writers also struggle to operate small tools such as scissors. If your child finds it difficult to use their pincer grip (thumb and index finger) to pull coins out of play dough or thread small beads on string or open and close pegs with their pincer grip they may have underdeveloped fine motor skills. This will need to be checked out by an Occupational Therapist as soon as possible.

  1. Use what they like

Most children have a few obsessions and it is important to tap into it to motivate them in an area that they may struggle with. Get them to write the toy they really want for Christmas on a paper and send it to Santa or get them to write one of their friend’s name on an invitation for their party.

The key to motivating reluctant writers is to create a no failure environment, ensure that the writing activity is meaningful to them and make the activities fun which you both can enjoy.

I hope that this first blog in the new series “Preparing your child for Kindergarten” gives you food for thought in how to encourage your child to start writing.

Our next blog in the series will be dealing with the issue of how to keep your child engaged in a task for longer than 5 minutes.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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3 Games That Will Give Your Preschooler A Head Start In Mathematics and English

As parents we all want to give our child the best start in life. We want to give them as many opportunities as possible to reach their full potential. We aim to create the best learning environment at home to enable them to develop their skills in many areas. This is particularly true when it comes to education.

ImaginationThis blog focuses on games that you can play with your preschooler to give them a head start in understanding numeracy (mathematics) and literacy (English) concepts prior to Kindergarten.

Children learn best through play experiences. It is very important for children to direct their own play and have a lot of opportunities to do this. However, if your preschool child is anything like mine, you will be constantly nagged to participate in the same game with them, over and over again. For my daughter, it is playing the “baby game” and her baby is always doing the wrong thing and needing to go to the timeout corner. There are only so many times I have the enthusiasm to play this game.

Playing with your child is important and a parent’s enthusiasm is equally as important. Playing a game together that stimulates imagination, stretches their vocabulary and teaching important educational concepts can be very rewarding for both the child and parent.

As parents, we can maximise their learning by setting up games that have a purpose of teaching them about Mathematics and English while still being very engaging and above all, fun! Children learn new concepts at the point of need. This means that children are only ready to learn a new skill if it is important for them at that exact time. (e.g. learn to write their name on their painting so they don’t mix it up with others)

Below is a list of 3 imaginative games that target these learning outcomes and a list of parent tips to get the best out of each game.

1. Doctors and Nurses

All children experience going to the doctors and visiting the nurse at some stage before they go to school. Unfortunately for some, a little more often than others. This is a familar context (situation) for your child, so your child will be really engaged with this game.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a space for a doctors room with a table, doctors equipment, somewhere to lay down and some pencils and paper. You would also need a waiting area, with a small table and chair for the receptionist, chairs for patients to sit, books for people to read and pens and paper for reception.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Be as creative as you can with your costumes. Get your child to help you write some name tags that could be used when you or your child is playing a character. Talk about the names and sounds of all the letters on each name tag. (literacy) Name tags could include Doctors, nurses, receptionists and patients
  2. Get your child to play different roles. You also play a role so they can see what you say and what you do when you play a character. Children learn so much through observation. Play the receptionist role first, and demonstrate how you write down the patients name, what time their appointment is and then you put it into a tray for the doctor. You could focus on showing your child the clock and show them where the hands of the clock have to be to show that time. (Mathematics) Encourage your child to keep watching the clock until it is their appointment time.
  3. You and your child can make up forms that patients need to fill in when they arrive. It could have a space for the name, age, doctor they are seeing and time of the appointment. (Literacy) Have your child write the words with your guidance.
  4. In the doctors room you could get the doctor to check the temperature, blood pressure, look at sore body parts, conduct an X-ray, give advice on what to do to get better, give a needle and write out a prescription for medicine. You can help the child write out a prescription and draw a picture to represent it. (literacy)
  5. Get the patient to pay at the reception when they have finished their appointment. (Have play money and use each coin as one dollar). The child has to count the amount of coins that they have to give the receptionist. (Mathematics)

You can play this game over and over again with a different scenario. Get your child to play different roles constantly and give them lots of praise for communicating in character.

2. Post Office

images-2A post office environment may be less familar to young children but it offers so many opportunities for children to learn literacy and numeracy concepts. You could take your child to a post office before you play it so they have some understanding of what happens in a post office and what its purpose is to the community.

How to set it up

Get your child to talk to you about what you would need to set up for this game. You would need to include a table for where the post office assistant will sit, an area for customers to write letters, put stamps on and get their parcels ready to be sent, an area for customers to line up and a post box to put all letters and parcels in.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Get your child to help you to collect and sort all the equipment that you need for the game. You will need to gather blank pieces of paper, small envelopes, large envelops, pencils, stamps, bubble wrap and sticky tape. (You can make envelops and stamps out of paper or cardboard) Get your child to write labels for each of the stationary to put up in the post office so the customers know where to find them on the shelves. (literacy) Do not forget to include how much they are. (mathematics)
  2. Get the customer to buy some stationary that they need to send a letter to someone they know. They will need to purchase the paper, pencil, stamp and envelop from the front counter. Ask lots of questions to your child about what they have. (e.g. how many things are you buying?, if you bought another pencil what would your new number be? - Mathematics)
  3. Help your child construct a letter to someone they know. Focus on the structure of a letter. (who is it to?, what do you want to say? who is it from?) Get your child to help you identify the sounds and names of the letters being used. (literacy)
  4. Show your child what we put on an envelope (the name and address of the recipient on the front, the sender details on the back, the stamp on the top right hand corner of the front of the envelope) - Literacy
  5. Get your child to write an invitation for a party to send. Focus on the structure of the invitation (who, what, where, when, rsvp) Ask your child how many invitations would you need to send to your whole family? - Mathematics
  6. Make a parcel to send to someone. Wrap it in bubble wrap and explain why we have to protect it. Explain the whole process of how their parcel gets from the post office to the person they are sending it to. Your child may want to role play that process.
  7. Talk about the price of stamps. (you can make up a simple amount e.g. $1) Ask them if they needed 3 stamps how much it would cost? (Mathematics)

After playing this game many times you might want to take your child to the post office to send a real letter to a friend or family member. You can get them to buy the stamp, put it on the letter and then put the letter in the post box. This will translate their knowledge into the real world.

3. Toy shop
Setting up a toy shop is a great activity for your preschooler as it combines their love of toys with learning about numeracy and literacy concepts. Taking your child to the shops and pointing out all the environmental print (print of everyday) in a shop will help give you and your child ideas of what your toy shop might look like.

How to set it up

Dedicate an area in your house to be used as a toy shop for a couple of days. It is important not to pack it up as soon as you have finished as this game could be played each day so your child can build on the skills he/ she has learnt on the previous day. Use lots of print in the toy shop to help your child with the beginning stages of reading.

Parent tips on playing the game

  1. Let your child choose a name for the shop and together make a poster with the shops name on it. Focus your child’s attention on the letter names and sounds in the name of the shop. (Literacy)
  2. Encourage your child to set up the toys in lines and count how many he/she has of each type of toy (13 - cars, 16 - soft animal toys) Get your child to record how many they have with a numeral and picture on a sheet. When someone buys a toy they can cross off one of them so they always know how many they have on their shelves. (Mathematics)
  3. Make advertisements with your child to encourage family members to buy toys from their shop. Stick them up around the house. (Literacy)
  4. Assign dollar amounts to each toy and make a sign to stick near the toy. Talk about how we write money amounts. Talk about the dollar sign with your child. (Mathematics)
  5. Count dollar coins to pay for toys being bought (Mathematics)
  6. The child can give customers a receipt documenting what they have purchased. Parents can help with spelling or they could use the signs in the shop to help spell toy names. (Literacy)

The best gift you can give your child is a variety of experiences. Although many of us are time poor, it is essential that we make as much time as possible to play and communicate with our young children. Playing is how children learn. As parents if we invest a little time in preparing purposeful play, children will reap the rewards of having a deeper knowledge and understanding of many numeracy and literacy concepts.

For more information about creating the best learning environment for your child please visit my website http://creatingalearningenvironment.com or my Facebook page regularly.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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

How do we motivate a child to work hard and achieve?  Is there a secret? How does one teach a child about motivation?

My blog this week explores the idea of children’s success related to their motivation intent. How to motivate a child is a question that many parents and educators of children ask everyday.

Everything we say and do sends a message to children. Some of these messages will increase a child’s level of motivation, whilst others will be the complete opposite.

In a survey conducted by the Canadian Education Association, over 80% of parents indicated that they “thought it was necessary to praise children’s intelligence to give them confidence in their abilities and motivate them to succeed.”(Boosting achievement with messages that motivate by Carol S Dweck) Unfortunately recent research indicates that this theory is wrong!

The research suggests that the most resilient and motivated children are the ones that believe that intelligence is not fixed (born with it mentality) rather it is something that can be developed through effort and learning. This research really emphasises the point that the key to achievement is what a child believes about intelligence.

The fixed mindset

A child with a fixed mindset will limit his or her chances to achieve. They want to look “smart” at all costs and do not like to undertake a task that may provide some challenges for them. Children with a fixed mindset tend to follow three rules:

1. Don’t make mistakes

mistakesA child with a fixed mindset believes that making mistakes shows a lack of ability. They would believe that the mistake indicates that they are not good at that particular area and would try to avoid it in the future.

2. Don’t work hard

imgres-3A child with a fixed mindset believes that intelligent people should not have to work hard. If you work hard, it means that you have low intelligence and indicates a limited ability. The idea that high effort equals low ability is one of the worst beliefs fixed mindset children have. (Boosting achievement with messages that motivate by Carol S Dweck)

3. If you make mistakes, don’t try and repair them

imgres-4A child with a fixed mindset is only interested in whether an answer is right or wrong. If they get an answer wrong, they tend to not care about what the correct answer was. They do not want to correct their errors and understand the concept for future learning.

The growth mindset

A child with a growth mindset is focused on the learning instead of the grades. Their main aim is to build on previous understanding and push themselves to the next level. Although they are not fixed on achievement, achievement usually goes hand in hand with this mindset. Children with a growth mindset tend to follow three rules:

1. Take on challenges

A child with a growth mindset often accepts many challenges that they could fail at. They want to stretch their abilities and learn new things.

 

2. Work hard

A child with a growth mindset believes that the harder you work at something, the better you will be at it. They do not believe that you are born with high intelligence or low intelligence but you can work hard and get success.

3. Confront your mistakes and correct them

A child with a growth mindset is very eager to remedy their mistakes and learn from them. They want to focus on their mistake and get feedback to show them where they went wrong.

Let us return to the initial questions I posed at the beginning of the article. How do we get our children to be motivated and work hard in order to achieve? The new question that we should ask ourselves is “How do we get our children to have a growth mindset and not a fixed one?

As parents and educators we need to focus on the process or journey that the child undertakes instead of the finished product. We can give praise to a child in regards to their persistence, strategies used, their change of thinking due to new learning, their questioning, critical thinking and creative ideas.

We can celebrate how a child solved a problem or how they undertook a difficult challenge. This is what will motivate a child to have a growth mindset. They need to see us as the parents and educators going through this process as well and observe how we deal with difficult and frustrating setbacks within a task.

It is great to praise a child’s finished task (a child loves this intellegence praise) however, praising a child’s process which could be their effort, concentration, choices and persistence is more powerful to help a child achieve, have confidence and be a motivated learner.

I would like to thank a good friend and work colleague, Leanne for alerting me to this new research. This blog is dedicated to you.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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10 Ways To Help Your Child Prepare A Speech

Your child comes home from school and explains that they need to prepare a speech to deliver to their class in a couple of weeks. Where do you begin? How do you guide them to write and deliver the best speech that they can?

Look no further than “Creating A learning Environment’s” latest blog. In this blog, author, Kelly Pisani gives parents and educators 10 ways to help children prepare a speech. Remember if you find this article useful please share with all your friends and family.

Welcome to my next blog which 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.

Please find below my 10 best tips on preparing a successful speech:

1. Research the topic

researchingChildren are either given a topic, given a list of possible topics or given the opportunity to write a speech about anything they want. It does not matter how a topic has been selected but it is important for the child to engage in some research about it, to gain a deeper level of understanding. Work with your child to try and locate some factual evidence that supports their point of view. Adding quotes from well respected professionals, current statistics and current new headlines will give a lot of substance to their speech.

2. Know the purpose and who the audience will be.

Knowing the purpose of the speech will help you guide your child in achieving the aim of the task. Commonly in primary school, a speech is given to present an assessment, to persuade, to instruct, to engage, to enter into a public speaking competition or to entertain. The speech’s purpose may be a combination of a few of these. The speech should be written with the purpose in mind. It will influence what you put in the speech and how it is delivered.

It is equally as important to know the audience. Will it be said to children, to adults, to an external adjudicating panel or a combination of these? This will influence the type of vocabulary in the speech, the types of stories that should be said and the type of humour (if any) that could be included in the speech.

3. Structure of a speech and time limit

In most cases, children are given a strict time limit that their speech must be said in. If it is too short, there is not enough information in the speech and if the speech goes over time, it means there is too much content and it should be revised. Children need to say their speech in a slow, yet purposeful way. It is important that they are clear and use intonation in their voice to emphasis key points. Most children are nervous and rush through their speech. Encourage your child to say it slowly as their speech will have more impact as the audience will understand what is being said.

Most speeches should follow the simple structure of introduction, arguments with supporting evidence and finishing off with the conclusion. Use the time limit as a rough guide of how long each part should be. 20% of the time should be for the introduction, 70% of the time for the arguments with supporting evidence and 10% of the time for the conclusion.

4. Importance of a draft

assessmentsIt is essential that a child’s speech is their speech. It is very easy to “take over” and write what you believe they should say. You need to find a way of guiding your child, yet it is important that their ideas are directing the way the speech is constructed. Work on one part of the structure of the speech at a time. Writing a whole speech can be daunting so tackle a small section at a time. Ideally the introduction and conclusion are written after the main part of the speech has been written. Your child needs to understand that a speech can be modified many times. It can even be modified when they are practising their “finished speech” as something they said might not sound correct or flow properly. A speech is an evolution of ideas and children need to be encouraged to make lots of changes throughout the process of preparing a speech.

5. Eye contact

eyecontactGiving a speech is not the same as reading a speech. Many children do not focus on their presentation skills and only focus on writing the speech. Eye contact is essential to ensure the audience is engaged. If a child is not looking at the audience it can be seen, that they lack confidence, have not practised it enough or it can cause the audience to lose interest. If your child finds it difficult to look at people in the audience, encourage them to look at the hair on the audience’s heads. This way they can focus on the hair of people instead of their faces. The audience will not know that the child is doing it.

6. Engaging introduction

It is important that an introduction is engaging. The child needs to grab the audience’s attention from the second they start delivering their speech. With this in mind, we should not encourage a child to start with “Good morning …. or Good afternoon …” The first few words are vital to set the audience up for an engaging speech. If the introduction is written after the main part of the speech, the child will have a clear understanding of how to introduce it. How can we encourage children to write an interesting introduction? Your child may want to start with a story that emphasises what they are going to be talking about. They may start with “Imagine you are …..” or “By the end of this speech 500 people will …” or “Bang, woosh, whip …..” or ” I’ve got a secret …” There are so many ways to spark interest from your audience. After your child has said their story etc, then they can say their greetings to the audience. Eg Good morning adjudicators, peers and fellow competitors, today I am here to tell you about ….”

7. A powerful conclusion

microphoneGet your child to think about what they want the audience to take away from their speech. Is there a clear message that they want everyone to think about? This is what they need to include in the conclusion. Asking questions in the conclusion can be a powerful way to encourage the audience to think about the content that has been delivered. The last sentence is the most powerful. Usually I encourage a child to pose a question eg What will you do when you are faced with this choice? or give a reminder to the audience eg “Next time you throw rubbish in the ocean remember all the lives that you are endangering” There is some debate, whether you need to thank the audience for listening. I always discourage this as I want the audience to remember the last thing that has been said and I do not want it to be “Thank you”

8. Using gestures

Adding some gestures throughout the speech will add interest for the audience and also help the child emphasise key points. Over using gestures can make the speech turn into a dramatic performance. The general rule is one gesture per 30 seconds. Gestures could include using fingers when counting, palms out when asking a question or moving one hand when saying a key point.

9. Use of palm cards

It is important that your child knows their speech. If they want people to listen then they need to be engaging. Constantly looking down at palm cards makes it difficult for the audience to stay focused. The palm cards should be used as a reminder for your child for the next part of the speech. We call them palm cards because the speech should be written on small cards that fit in the palm of their hands. Business cards make the best palm cards for speeches. Ensure that the palm cards are numbered to make it easier to check they are in order.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

In order to get better at anything, we need to practice. Children should practise in front of the mirror in order to evaluate their eye contact, gestures and posture. A child needs to stand still, project their voice and practise with a microphone (if this is what they will have to do when it is time to deliver their speech in the classroom or competition) Have them deliver their speech in a variety of environments and in front of many different family members.

Public speaking is an essential skill that our children need. It will give them confidence, help them to structure their ideas and be able to give their opinion in a clear and concise manner.

I hope this gives you lots of useful tips and that the information is clear enough for you to be able to put this advice into practice the next time your child tells you that they need to prepare a speech.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Early Intervention Matters: Speech and Language Development

Welcome to my new blog series “Early Intervention Matters”. Through this series I will look at all the different services available for children and how each can make a big impact on a child. Each blog will have a different focus and will give useful information about which children would benefit from the particular intervention.

Early intervention is so important for children. It enables the child to start targeted therapy to work on skills that are underdeveloped. It is essential that parents work closely with day-care teachers and preschool teachers to establish if there are any concerns with their child. If in doubt, get them assessed by a professional. Children under the age of 6 are high priority for all paediatric speech pathologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

images-1In this first blog, I will focus on the importance of addressing speech and language development concerns. A lot of children begin primary school with a communication delay that has been undiagnosed. They may have trouble with their speech with includes their articulation or phonological skills, their fluency or their voice. They may have trouble with their language, which could include understanding others (receptive) or expressing themselves.

If there are any concerns with your child’s speech or language development, teachers will immediately request for an assessment to be conducted by a speech pathologist. There are a variety of assessments that can be done and depending on the findings, children can be “funded” to get extra support in the classroom. Unfortunately, most parents are in denial and do not want their child “labelled” with a diagnosis. Speech and Language issues are extremely undiagnosed because parents do not get their child assessed early and therefore their child will struggle in a formal school setting.

According to the American Speech – Language- Hearing Association the three goals of speech and language early intervention are:

1) Prevention: to hinder the occurrence of a communication disorder or delay by providing Early Intervention (EI) services to at-risk children and their families before an official diagnosis of a communication disorder is made.

2) Remediation: to provide EI services to children and their families who have already been diagnosed with a communication disorder or delay to decrease the long term occurrence or adverse impact that the communication disorder could possibly have on children later in life.

3) Compensation: to provide effective and functional communication strategies or intervention to children and their families with disabilities or impairment that is irreversible to increase the children’s quality of life.

images

Does your child who is aged between 5 to 12 years old need to be seen by a speech pathologist? Look at the list below to see if your child is able to do these specific skills at each age. (This milestone checklist has been compiled by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association) If they can not do some of these, most teachers will strongly recommend a speech and language assessment.

 5 – 6 Years old

 Listening

  • Follow 1-2 simple directions in a sequence
  • Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud
  • Follow a simple conversation

Speaking

  • Be understood by most people
  • Answer simple “yes/no” questions
  • Answer open-ended questions (e.g., “What did you have for lunch today?”)
  • Retell a story or talk about an event
  • Participate appropriately in conversations
  • Show interest in and start conversations

Reading

  • Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
  • Understand that spoken words are made up of sounds
  • Identify words that rhyme (e.g., cat and hat)
  • Compare and match words based on their sounds
  • Understand that letters represent speech sounds and match sounds to letters
  • Identify upper- and lowercase letters
  • Recognise some words by sight
  • “Read” a few picture books from memory
  • Imitate reading by talking about pictures in a book

Writing

  • Print own first and last name
  • Draw a picture that tells a story and label and write about the picture
  • Write upper- and lowercase letters (may not be clearly written)
  • Beginning to write simple sentences

6 – 7 Years old

Listening

  • Remember information
  • Respond to instructions
  • Follow 2-3 step directions in a sequence

Speaking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
  • Tell and retell stories and events in a logical order
  • Express ideas with a variety of complete sentences
  • Use most parts of speech (grammar) correctly
  • Ask and respond to “wh” questions (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Stay on topic and take turns in conversation
  • Give directions
  • Start conversations

Reading

  • Create rhyming words
  • Identify all sounds in short words
  • Blend separate sounds to form words
  • Match spoken words with print
  • Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
  • Identify letters, words, and sentences
  • Sound out words when reading
  • Have a sight vocabulary of 100 common words
  • Read grade-level material fluently
  • Understand what is read

Writing

  • Express ideas through writing
  • Print clearly
  • Spell frequently used words correctly
  • Begin each sentence with capital letters and use ending punctuation
  • Write a variety of stories, journal entries, or letters/notes

7 – 8 Years old

Listening

  • Follow 3-4 oral directions in a sequence
  • Understand direction words (e.g., location, space, and time words)
  • Correctly answer questions about a grade-level story

Speaking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
  • Ask and answer “wh” questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, why)
  • Use increasingly complex sentence structures
  • Clarify and explain words and ideas
  • Give directions with 3-4 steps
  • Use oral language to inform, to persuade, and to entertain
  • Stay on topic, take turns, and use appropriate eye contact during conversation
  • Open and close conversation appropriately

Reading

  • Have fully mastered phonics/sound awareness
  • Associate speech sounds, syllables, words, and phrases with their written forms
  • Recognise many words by sight
  • Use meaning clues when reading (e.g., pictures, titles/headings, information in the story)
  • Reread and self-correct when necessary
  • Locate information to answer questions
  • Explain key elements of a story (e.g., main idea, main characters, plot)
  • Use own experience to predict and justify what will happen in grade-level stories
  • Read, paraphrase/retell a story in a sequence
  • Read grade-level stories, poetry, or dramatic text silently and aloud with fluency
  • Read spontaneously
  • Identify and use spelling patterns in words when reading

Writing

  • Write legibly
  • Use a variety of sentence types in writing essays, poetry, or short stories (fiction and nonfiction)
  • Use basic punctuation and capitalisation appropriately
  • Organise writing to include beginning, middle, and end
  • Spell frequently used words correctly
  • Progress from inventive spelling (e.g., spelling by sound) to more accurate spelling

8 - 9 Years old

Listening

  • Listen attentively in group situations
  • Understand grade-level material

Speaking

  • Speak clearly with an appropriate voice
  • Ask and respond to questions
  • Participate in conversations and group discussions
  • Use subject-related vocabulary
  • Stay on topic, use appropriate eye contact, and take turns in conversation
  • Summarise a story accurately
  • Explain what has been learned

Reading

  • Demonstrate full mastery of basic phonics
  • Use word analysis skills when reading
  • Use clues from language content and structure to help understand what is read
  • Predict and justify what will happen next in stories and compare and contrast stories
  • Ask and answer questions regarding reading material
  • Use acquired information to learn about new topics
  • Read grade-level books fluently (fiction and nonfiction)
  • Reread and correct errors when necessary

Writing

  • Plan, organise, revise, and edit
  • Include details in writing
  • Write stories, letters, simple explanations, and brief reports
  • Spell simple words correctly, correct most spelling independently, and use a dictionary to correct spelling
  • Write clearly in cursive

9 – 10 Years old

Listening

  • Listen to and understand information presented by others
  • Form opinions based on evidence
  • Listen for specific purposes

Speaking

  • Use words appropriately in conversation
  • Use language effectively for a variety of purposes
  • Understand some figurative language (e.g., “I’m on fire!)
  • Participate in group discussions
  • Give accurate directions to others
  • Summarise and restate ideas
  • Organise information for clarity
  • Use subject area information and vocabulary (e.g., social studies) for learning
  • Make effective oral presentations

Reading

  • Read for specific purposes
  • Read grade-level books fluently
  • Use previously learned information to understand new material
  • Follow written directions
  • Take brief notes
  • Link information learned to different subjects
  • Learn meanings of new words through knowledge of word origins, synonyms, and multiple meanings
  • Use reference materials (e.g., dictionary)
  • Explain the author’s purpose and writing style
  • Read and understand a variety of types of literature, including fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, and poetry
  • Compare and contrast in content areas
  • Make inferences from texts
  • Paraphrase content, including the main idea and details

Writing

  • Write effective stories and explanations, including several paragraphs about the same topic
  • Develop a plan for writing, including a beginning, middle, and end
  • Organise writing to convey a central idea
  • Edit final copies for grammar, punctuation, and spelling

10 – 11 Years old

Listening

  • Listen and draw conclusions in subject area learning activities

Speaking

  • Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience
  • Maintain eye contact and use gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate voice during group presentations
  • Participate in class discussions across subject areas
  • Summarise main points
  • Report about information gathered in group activities

Reading

  • Read grade-level books fluently
  • Learn meanings of unfamiliar words through knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Prioritise information according to the purpose of reading
  • Read a variety of literary forms
  • Describe development of character and plot
  • Describe characteristics of poetry
  • Analyse author’s language and style
  • Use reference materials to support opinions

Writing

  • Write for a variety of purposes
  • Use vocabulary effectively
  • Vary sentence structure
  • Revise writing for clarity
  • Edit final copies

imgres-5

One of the limitations of many speech therapy services is the availability and flexibility of appointment times. Many parents find it difficult to juggle work, school and other commitments to make an appointment. We need services that can adapt to the ever changing society that we now live. A few speech pathology services are trying to be more flexible to allow more children to have access to this service.

“Modern Speechie” offers one of these services. It is an innovative and personalised speech pathology service operating in the Inner West of Sydney. It is a mobile service where sessions are conducted within the child’s home, child care or school setting. This enables the speech pathologist to tailor the best service that meets the needs of each child and their family. Sessions are available on the weekend; which is a big bonus for many families. To contact them directly you can go to their website http://www.modernspeechie.com.au/ or visit their Facebook page.

I hope in reading this blog, you realise the importance of early intervention for speech and language development for children. The next blog will focus on the service that paediatric physiotherapy can offer families.

Knowing this information is important for parents so please share the link so everyone can be well informed.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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15 Ways To Teach Resilience To Your Child

In such a fast moving, busy society where we demand information straight away and do not want to wait for anything why is it so important, more than ever before, to teach children to be resilient?

Welcome to my next blog “15 ways to teach your child to be resilient”. In this blog I look at the reasons why resiliency is so important to a child’s development and ways parents and educators can help their children develop this important skill in life.

So many children in schools have an undeveloped sense of resiliency. It is at an epidemic level compared to the past decades. Why are so many children of this generation unable to display inner strength to deal with everyday challenges that arise and have under developed coping skills? Research tells us, that it is due to the lack of opportunities that children are given to practice this skill when they are young.

As 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 practice 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.

1. Do not aim to accommodate their every need straight away

imgresSometimes in life our needs can not be met straight away. There are times that we need to wait for food to be prepared or wait for transport to take us somewhere. Children need to learn how to wait for things even if they believe they are dying of starvation.




2. Children need to serve others 

imagesSometimes it feels like everyone has a “every man for himself” mentality. Children need to learn that there are many people in this world and the world does not revolve around them. (wise words from my mother) It is very hard when children tend to be the centre of everything in their family. They are the most special gifts for parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. Encourage children to let others have a turn first or give other people food first before themselves.

3. Waiting without entertainment

imgres-1Think about when you were a child. If you went to a restaurant and had to wait for food after your parents had ordered it, how did you cope without an entertainment device? (ipod, ipad, DS). Or when you were driven by your parents for 20 minutes in the car, how did you survive not watching a movie in that time? We all survived and are well adjusted adults. Some of us anyway :). Children can only learn to wait if they are given opportunity to wait.

4. Do not eliminate all risks

imgresEliminating every possible risk that may pose a danger to your child will do more harm than good. Children need to assess the risk, problem solve and accept responsibility for their actions. If you take all the risks away they will not get the opportunity to practise these skills.

5. Children need to give

imagesIt is important that children understand that material possessions are not essential to happiness. This sentiment contradicts what advertisements are trying to convey to our children. Encourage your children to regularly give some of their clothes and toys to the less fortunate.

6. Problem solving skills

imgres-2When children come to you with a problem it is important that you help them work out the solution instead of just telling them what to do. Children need to have many opportunities to go through the problem solving process in order to understand how to solve problems successfully. Pose lots of questions to your child to guide them through this process.

7. Do not rescue your child straight away

imgres-3This is an area that most parents find difficult to do. Let your child get frustrated when they can not do something, so you are able to talk about how they are feeling and what they can do about it. They need to experience these emotions in order to learn how to deal with them.

8. Children need to help younger children

imgres-4Children need to be given many opportunities to help younger children. They could help with doing up shoelaces, reading a picture book to them and helping the younger child solve their own problems. This will help children develop their leadership skills and realise that all people are different and require different things.

9. Do not provide all the answers

imgres-5We need children to be able to discover answers for themselves. Children need to learn how they can answer their own questions through research and collaboration with others. Sometimes parents need to say to their child “I don’t know. Maybe you could find out and come and tell me what you found” to encourage their child to work it out for themselves.

10. No interruptions when adults are speaking

imgres-6Children need to learn when it is okay to talk and when they need to wait before talking. So many children are allowed to interrupt conversations that they learn quickly, if they are loud, they will get the desired attention straight away. You can work out a simple way between you and your child, so you know that they need to ask you something while you are talking. When you have finished the sentence, you then can turn to them and encourage them to say “Excuse me” before asking you something.

11. Do not give in

imgresIf you have set an expectation ensure that you follow through with what you have said. Children need to learn that there are rules and consequences if you do not abide by them. Eg If you said that your child must turn off the television after the show that they are watching has ended, then make sure this happens.

12. Identifying emotions

imgres-2Children need to learn to identify the emotions they are feeling. Read lots of books that deal with a variety of emotions and discuss how the characters handle these emotions.

13. Children need perspective

imagesChildren need to realise how fortunate they are compared to others. Give older children the opportunity to volunteer at a charitable organisation to gain a perspective about their own reality.

14. Allow your child to fail

imgres-3Children need to experience failure to learn valuable skills. Children who are always successful have not developed their coping skills when a stressful situation arises. One simple way is to beat them at a game that they really want to win. Help them work through their feelings and encourage your child to have some positive self talk sentences to get them through their disappointment. eg It is only a game.

15. Model resiliency

imgres-4Actions speak louder than words. Model the behaviour that you want your children to display in everyday situations. Have lots of conversations with your child about your own emotions and how you cope with stressful situations.

Children who are resilient become very adaptable adults. They have a strong sense of worth and are able to learn from mistakes and look forward to the future.

I hope these 15 ideas will help guide you in assisting your children in becoming resilient. Please share this blog if you believe it offers some interesting food for thought.

Until next time …Resiliencecollage

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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