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Resilient kids

Monday, Oct. 24th 2016

Resilient kids are optimistic kids.

Parents play an important role in helping their children build resilience so that they can deal with friendship dramas and bounce back from disappointments.

The International Resilience Project led by Edith Grotberg in 1995 found that children who have positive attitudes are often more resilient. She defines resiliency in terms of three sources, which she labels I HAVE (social and interpersonal supports), I AM (inner strengths) and I CAN (interpersonal and problem solving skills).

You can help your child to be more resilient by encouraging them to have an optimistic approach to solving problems

I have

‘People around me I trust, and who love me no matter what’
‘People who set limits for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble’
‘People who show me how to do things right by the way they do things’
‘People who want me to learn to do things on my own’
‘People who help me when I am sick, in danger or need to learn’

I am

‘A person people can like and love’
‘Glad to do nice things for others and show my concern’
‘Respectful of myself and others’
‘Willing to be responsible for what I do’
‘Sure things will be alright

I can

‘Talk to others about things that frighten or bother me’
‘Find ways to solve problems that I face’
‘Control myself when I feel like doing something not right or dangerous’
‘Figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone or to take action
(Reproduced from Grotberg, E. (1995))

Top Five Reasons Why Maths Is Important to Children

Wednesday, Sep. 7th 2016

Math is a basic skill in life and its applications are strewn all over the walks of life. Doing Math with seriousness is an important aspect of successful education and it needs planning right from one’s childhood. Below are the top 5 reasons why you need to teach Math to your kids.

1. Gathering problem solving skills – The “Problems” are the lifeline of Math. When students solve Math problems in its various branches, they gather abilities to organize information, rearrange the information and test hypotheses.

2. Learning to live smarter – There are various occasions in life where one has to use his mathematical abilities. Calculating the tip in a restaurant, checking the warranty of a product, smart driving without wasting time and fuel, buying grocery in a shop and business deals are occasions where one uses his mathematical knowledge to make proper decisions.

3. Gate keeper subject for other academic subjects – Math is the gateway for Science subjects like Physics and Engineering. Without Math abilities, accomplishment in higher studies is out of the question.

4. Wide scope for different careers- Right from computer programmers to tradesmen and doctors, people need mathematical knowledge in their respective fields. A fundamental knowledge in Math paves way for successful career prospects.

5. Proving smarter in work places – Math deals with analytical capabilities, structure and organizational skills. Any employer expects his employee to face challenging situations in the workplace with an analytical brain and give a solution to the situation. Math skills shape a person’s analytical abilities to a great extent.

Are you concerned about your child’s dyslexia or ADHD?

Wednesday, Aug. 24th 2016

Are you concerned about your child’s dyslexia or ADHD? Of course these learning disorders can be hard for them at school and in later life.

But don’t despair; there can be some positives.

Advances in brain science and other fields mean that dyslexia and ADHD are now much more responsive to treatment. Also, these conditions are often accompanied by a number of strengths that can set them apart from other students.

In many educational and medical settings, common learning problems such as attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia are viewed from a deficits model. Under this approach, an expert makes a diagnosis by assessing a person’s behaviour or thinking abilities. If the child has a deficit compared to typically developing individuals, he or she is given a diagnosis of ADHD or a learning disability, for example. While there are some historical and scientific reasons for approaching learning differences in this way, many patient advocates are calling for a move toward a “strengths-based” approach to understanding these conditions.

In recent years, the autism community has gained attention for a novel way of looking at autism spectrum disorders. Many individuals in the higher- functioning Asperger’s syndrome category embrace their diagnosis with pride. Calling themselves “Aspies,” these people say that they recognise their information processing differences but would not want to be “cured,” even if a successful treatment for autism spectrum disorders were available. Rather, the Aspies celebrate their learning differences and say that their different way of approaching the world has a lot to teach others.

Famous authors Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald struggled with dyslexia. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Airlines, has ADHD but put his strengths of creativity and curiosity to work as an entrepreneur. Looking at these role models (and many, many others) and taking a strengths- based perspective gives people living with these diagnoses a better opportunity to understand their own unique strengths and contributions. If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADD or dyslexia, what strengths do YOU notice?

Home hints for parent tutors

Wednesday, Aug. 17th 2016

The following are some useful hints to be used by parent/tutors;

Utilisation of the Pause Procedure

Good parent-tutors are characterised by allowing their student’s voice to be heard more than their own. To ensure your child does not tune out and lose interest in what you are teaching, use frequent pauses to ensure the student has understood what you have just been explaining. For instance, ask them to summarise the idea you have just espoused and if you are teaching more than one child, ask them to summarise what they have just learned to each other. Alternatively, during pauses, ask children to answer a short test or complete a problem using the skills you have just explained.

Use of Fast-Paced Drills 

If you are tutoring your student in a subject that involves a significant degree of memory work (such as Biology), drill your students frequently on particular points to ensure they retain important facts and information.


Introducing humour into the tutoring session

Studies have shown that the use of humour can have highly positive effects on students, greatly increasing their level of engagement and interest. Encourage student to find comics, funny quotes or jokes to their learning session and dedicate a few minutes to having a good laugh.

Hints and tips for better organisation.

Tuesday, Aug. 16th 2016

One of the most often asked questions we’ve received over the years is ‘how can I get better organised?’. Wouldn’t we ALL love the answer to THAT question! 🙂

Below are some ideas, primarily for senior students, that can be a wonderful springboard for better organisation and therefore significantly less stress. In particular leading up to major assignment and exam time.

  1. Delete social media & email notifications. They just distract you and make every task take longer. Assign time to work in email & social media to avoid the multi-tasking habits that can come with responding to every ping.
  2. Set up your daily schedule and appointments/tasks in Asana, and link it to your calendar, so that you can keep your task management, systems and schedule all linked.
  3. Tidy your desk once a week (more if you need to!)
  4. Use Evernote to brain dump your notes, reminders, ideas etc – it’s much more reliable than your brain, and doesn’t fill up like a notebook!

If nothing changes, then nothing changes. I hope these ideas springboard you towards better organisation, better marks and more piece of mind.

Mindfulness in Schools

Monday, Aug. 8th 2016

Principals in Melbourne schools are now saying that meditation for children is more important than ever.   A recent report in the Herald Sun states that;

“Students as young as five are doing daily meditation in class as the mindfulness movement sweeps Victorian schools.  Wellbeing workers are becoming more common as schools integrate mental health into learning to improve student wellbeing, grades and social skills.”

In today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, it’s pretty easy to become over-stimulated and children as absorb the energy of the environment which they live in. We expect to concentrate and focus. Meditation brings about better concentration, increased focus, and boosts of memory.

So, so grateful that we share this wonderful practice with our students.

Be the change…:)

Thursday, Jul. 21st 2016

Matthew’s Journey…

This past February, we were contacted by Matthew’s (not his real name) mother, as he was having “loads of trouble with his learning.”  He didn’t like his teacher or the school and didn’t have many friends to play with at break times. Pretty sad space to be living in, when you’re only 9 years old.  Mum had tried everything she new or that was suggested to her; speech pathology, OT (occupational therapy), counselling, even spiritual balancing – nothing seemed to provide either of them with the constant outcomes they needed i.e. a nine year old boy who was happy to attend school and engage with a healthy circle of friends.

Matthew was referred to us by a client we hadn’t heard from in nearly 5 years. Matthew initially presented as an extremely nervous and quite agitated child. His eye-contact was good and his natural curiosity to examine the many puzzles and playthings in the room, indicated a robust intelligence. However, no matter how he tried, he simply found it difficult to stand still. Still enough even, to have a simple conversation. Still enough to look like he was even remotely connected to his own little body. I could see that this was quite involuntary and was very disturbing for Matthew too.

We administered all the usual academic testing with Matthew. As it turns out, his reading and especially his spelling, were better than age-appropriate. He could pretty much read whatever he needed to but was choosing to somehow be completely dis-engaged with the entire school process.

We established an appropriate learning support program for him. His program was primarily vertical in nature. Although still in Year 3, his thinking and reasoning skills were very advanced and often very intuitive. So, he focussed on skill-sets more appropriate to Year 5. We also exposed Matthew to a variety of texts that required some higher order critical thinking skills. Matthew seemed engaged enough in his program but one hour a week of intense focus wasn’t enough. Mum was increasingly concerned about Matthew somehow ‘wasting’ his other 30-odd hours of structured learning.

Who knows where, when or how, some things come from? Who knows where inspiration comes from? That spark of,  ‘Aha!’ That ‘out-of-the-blue idea’. No matter where  these things originate, when I receive one as download, I’m impelled to take action. Taking my surfboard off my car this morning, was my latest cosmic offering. I have absolutely no idea about the celestial link between Matthew and surfing but somehow, the planets aligned this morning. Years before, I had attended a workshop, where we were exposed to successful non-medicated, alternate methods of working with ADD/ADHD children and adults.

One of these strategies for learners like Matthew, was to eliminate as many static devices as possible and replace them with objects that engaged the body and the mind. Things like chairs replaced with inflatable gym/exercise balls; soft squishy hand-held ‘stress balls’; chewing something that required some type of mouth focus; soft 80 beats-per-minute music, specific essential oils; even creating a roll-around floor space so that Matthew ( and others if they chose), could literally roll around gently on mats, pillows and rugs.

I contacted Matthew’s mum and shared my insights. Most were implemented before the end of the day!

I’m delighted to say that Matthew is now fully integrated at school, has many friends (he was invited to one of his first birthday parties last weekend and was tickled pink) and is just loving working on ‘hard Year 6 stuff’. Matthew’s story reminded me of the importance in working with who we are and not what others want us to be. Being willing and humble enough to really ‘look outside the square’ for solutions. To embrace new ideas and strategies in our lives. We never know, we could even be the solution to many of our own problems. 🙂