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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. 🙂

From a parent…

Wednesday, Jun. 1st 2016

FROM A TUTORING PARENT:

One of my friends asked “Why do you pay so much money and spend so much time running around for your daughter ?” Well I have a confession to make: I don’t pay for my daughter’s Maths and English tutoring. Or her pens, textas and text books. Or her scores of trips to the tutoring centre.

So, if I am not paying for tutoring, what am I paying for?

– I pay for those moments when my girl becomes so tired she feels like quitting but doesn’t..

– I pay for the opportunity to be influenced amazing teachers, that will teach her that Maths is not just about numbers but about life.

– I pay for my child to learn to be disciplined.

– I pay for my child to learn to deal with disappointment, when she doesn’t get that score she hoped for , or couldn’t attempt some of the more challenging questions in a paper, but still gets up and is determined to do her BEST next time…

– I pay for my girl to learn to make and accomplish goals.

– I pay for my daughter to learn that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and practice to create success, and that success does not happen overnight.

– I pay so that my daughter can be learning some important study and life skills, instead of in front of a screen…

I could go on but, to be short, I don’t pay for tutoring; I pay for the opportunities that tutoring provides my child to develop attributes that will serve her well throughout her life and give her the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen for many, many years, I think it is a great investment!

Skimming and scanning basics.

Wednesday, May. 18th 2016

When studying, it’s not recommended that you read the textbook straight from the first page to the last. There’s just too much information, you’ll tire yourself out, and the worst part is that in most cases, you don’t need everything the textbook has to offer. That’s not to say the textbook isn’t helpful, but what you need to do is pick out the important points and remember those. So, what is skimming and scanning? Is there a difference? Skimming is quickly reading a piece of text to gain a general idea of what the information is about. This is used to summarise the main idea from large text blocks, or to determine if a paragraph is with reading into.

Scanning is reading a piece of text to find a specific piece of information, and is more used to find facts about a certain topic. Both techniques sound easy to do at face value, but it’s how you prepare to do these skills that will affect your skimming and scanning success. First, make sure you know what you’re expecting. Read the table of contents for the chapter, as well as any important headings and keywords. At this point, you can already start deciding which aspects you might avoid and where your attention might be needed more. When browsing through

First, make sure you know what you’re expecting. Read the table of contents for the chapter, as well as any important headings and keywords. At this point, you can already start deciding which aspects you might avoid and where your attention might be needed more.

When browsing through material, look out for core keywords. These might be emphasised words on the page, or terms you find to be important. These will usually help you locate helpful sentences of information about that specific keyword. You might also look out for listed items or information boxes on the sides of the page.

While these techniques to save time and effort in reading text, most textbooks usually have chapter summaries that already encapsulate the main ideas. So why not just use those? The problem with any summarisation technique, including skimming and scanning, is that they lack details. You’ll get the basic idea, but that’s more or less all you’ll get. Or maybe the summary doesn’t mention an idea that is crucial to your studies.

What you can do instead is to combine skimming and scanning with the text summaries your textbook provides. In this way, if you can use the textbook summary to fill in any gaps you missed when skimming and scanning, as well as pick up any details you might find important while reading through the textbook information.

While there’s much more to skimming and scanning, these basic tips should help you get an idea about how you might go about using these techniques. Perhaps as you practise skimming and scanning, you could apply these skills outside the context of study and become a more efficient reader in general.

What are your favourite children’s books?

Tuesday, May. 10th 2016

One of THE best ways to teach your child how to enjoy reading, is to model being a reader yourself. Whilst instructional, directed teaching of decoding skills is critical to young and developing readers, so too is the reading process itself. Especially if mum and dad are seen doing it and enjoying it.

ALL readers have favourite books and authors. As adult readers, many of us have very fond memories of discovering a new author, or a new series of books written by a new author. We remember the pure enjoyment of being unable to put the book down, often resorting to ‘torch-light reading’ in order to finish the next chapter.

Well, many of those authors and the magical stories they told, are still around and freely available.

One of the very best ways you can demonstrate the joy of reading, is to read to your child and be seen as a genuine reader, simply by reading.

This week’s reading tip, is to write a list of your favourite authors or children’s stories and place it on the fridge. This can easily become a springboard for discussion and maybe even a birthday present or two. Enjoy the memories. 🙂

Learning with awareness

Tuesday, Mar. 22nd 2016

There’s a beautiful dance of the mind that starts with stimulating the senses in some way and ends with taking action. However, we often forget the silent steps of reflection, contemplation and feeling, that gave the dance some meaning.

During these steps, attention dives deep inside and weaves its magic with invisible threads that connect ideas with possibilities, experiences with meaning and dreams with resolve. This is true for all of us but especially for children, as they are less hindered and don’t have as many personal and societal ‘filters’ that often second-guess some of these steps, thinking that ALL action is the same and action is just action.

However, it’s in the gaps between attentive tasks, when the mind is released from the tight grip of immediate matters that unexpected solutions, eureka moments, sudden realisations and moments of clear insight can emerge. our students, euphemistically refer to these moments as ‘Jot-Doining’ ( a fun play on dot-jointing – when things finally make sense to us at many levels ).

A quiet moment, when a student starts to ‘gaze away’ from the task at hand, may allow an answer to a problem they have been trying to solve for hours.

We’ve shut the door to a large part of our mental experience, and we have evicted a valued tenant, our own steady source of wisdom, patience and insight.

In our ignorance, we swamp these rich moments with more noise, mistakenly assuming they were empty and wasted. A brain in a state of forced focus, operates very differently to a brain set free. It’s the difference between listening to one instrument, or a whole orchestra. In a busy mind, attention jumps randomly from instrument to instrument, creating a cacophony of noise that holds little pleasure and delivers little reward. It’s only when the busyness subsides, that attention opens widely enough to allow the rest of the orchestra to join in. It’s the synchrony of many parts working in harmony that creates the magic.

Yoga for Learning ~ Developing your child’s confidence and self esteem.

Wednesday, Sep. 9th 2015

The ancient science of yoga provides some of the best tools for strengthening young bodies, minds and emotions: asana ( stretches ), breathing, visualisations and positive communication. Combine these and you can equip your children with valuable tools to make school life significantly more pleasurable, together with important tools to take into adult life.

One very desirable outcome is self-confidence. Numerous studies continue to demonstrate that good self confidence with assist children at school, in relationships and later in life, in the workplaces. If coupled with the quiet humility that yoga tends to manifest, your little one will be well-equiped for the road ahead.

Yoga practise for children is not a panacea of course but it certainly helps create and build an inner backbone that significantly helps them become more resilient, especially in the early high school years.

Having tools like yoga, significantly adds to children’s ‘learning toolbox’, enabling them to adjust to the many learning challenges ALL learners must face.

Namaste.

Whether you say “I can” or “ I can’t”, you’re right!

Monday, Aug. 24th 2015

Your parents almost certainly disciplined you for using all sorts of bad language when you were young. You may have even had your mouth washed out with soap for saying certain naughty words. However, there’s a few bad words you probably didn’t get into trouble for using.

Let’s take a look at the word don’t for a moment. If you say “I don’t want to be fat” or “I don’t want to be single”, your subconscious mind doesn’t register the word don’t. Instead your mind hears “I want to be fat” or “I want to be single”. When you say statements like this, whether to yourself or others, you are focusing on what you don’t have, so you will get more of it! Instead, you would be far better saying “I want to be slim and healthy” or “I want to be in the relationship of my dreams”.

By focusing on what you don’t want, you are sending out a negative signal (or vibration) to the universe, and what you give out you will get back. If you focus on what you do want, you are sending out a different signal (a higher vibration) to the universe.

Another really negative word is the word try. When your body hears this word, it shuts down. When you say “I’ll try to go to the gym tomorrow”, you are not committing to doing it. You are giving yourself an out and allowing all kinds of excuses to rear their ugly head and prevent you from going to the gym.

When tomorrow comes, you will most likely look for reasons not to go to the gym. You’ll be too tired, too busy, too hungry or whatever. When you say “I will go to the gym tomorrow” you are making a definite commitment to yourself, so when tomorrow comes, you are more likely to actually go.

An example of the word try that you may have heard from your friends, or even used yourself, is “We should try to catch up on the weekend”. If you read between the lines, what that really means is I’m really busy and I’m not sure if you are a high enough priority to fit into my schedule. If I have some spare time and I can be bothered, I might give you a call. How different is that to saying “Let’s catch up this weekend”?

The only exception to this rule is when you use it when someone scores a “try” in football – that’s perfectly acceptable! In this case, it’s used as a noun, not a verb, which you would do to remove from your language all together.

Another naughty word you would benefit from removing from your vocabulary is but. When you use the word but in a sentence, you cancel out whatever you said just before it. For example, “I’d really like to exercise more but I work long hours and I have to look after the kids.”

Can’t is one of the worst words in the English language. When you say “I can’t“, you are giving up before you have even started! Can’t is a defeatist word that comes from a pessimistic attitude. Eliminate it from your language and replace it with “How can I?”

The question “Why me?” is also a representation of the attitude of the person who said it. It is a thought that constantly occurs in the minds of people who have a victim mentality. Instead of thinking your circumstances are happening to you and are out of your control, focus on what you can change. If you feel yourself sliding back into victim mode, repeat this powerful phrase; “I have the power to change my reality.”

If you say “I should do this” or “I should stop doing that”, you are not committing to it. Although you are recognising the need to make a change, using the word should does not enable you to find a solution to your challenge. You are criticising yourself and at the same time accepting a situation you are not happy about. Put simply, you are should-ing all over yourself! Next time you say or think the words I should, replace it with the question “What do I need to do differently?”

The challenge with the word problem is it sounds difficult, feels heavy and does not lend itself to being solved. A problem puts a heavy weight on your shoulders, whereas a challenge says “How can I do this?” Swap the word problem for the word challenge if you want to help yourself and others work out a solution.