Why am I Writing this Blog?

I am very concerned about the growing level of illiteracy among our children. This blog is for parents who are homeschooling, parents whose children are falling behind at school and they don't know how to help them, teachers who would like to bounce ideas off an experienced teacher or get ideas to help student with problems. I will do everything in my power to help anyone in the areas of reading and writing.

In this blog I'll be using the original English spelling forms, so please make allowances if you're American or have been taught the American spelling form.

Please be understanding about the advertisements on the blog. It gives me the opportunity to earn a little to add to my pension.

Related links for teaching training, lesson plans and worksheets:

Fantastic Free Video series on how to teach handwriting:
by handwriting expert Nan Jay Barchowsky
by handwriting teacher Matt Nisjak

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://www.handwritingebooks.com/
101 sheets of lower case and 101 of upper case letters, plus a bonus book on numbers and another on words for $5.95 for the lot - A great bargain.

Information on Education and Homeschooling
EducationBug: Education Directory - articles, directory, newsletter and profiles on schools

Free Worksheets:
Eastside Literacy
First - Schools

Lined Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting For Kids

Making Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting Worksheets
Ed Helper

Videos About Teaching Handwriting:
Teachers TV

Free Lessons and Ideas:
The Electric Company
First 55 Come Alive
Literacy, Families and Learning
ESL Partyland

Ed Helper - Spelling
Ed Helper - Reading Comprehension
Ed Helper - Vocabulary
First - School
Sites for Teachers
Sites for Parents
Clipart for Worksheets
The Teacher's Corner
Teaching Made Easier
School Express

Membership Sites:
Ed Helper
Reading A-Z
ELSIE: Reading 0-6

Inexpensive Handwriting Books
Staidens Homeschooling

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

To all my readers,

May you celebrate the birth of Jesus with joy in your heart

Wishing you a wonderful
Christmas and a blessed,
joy-filled and prosperous

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What to Expect When Your Child Begins Preschool

Preschools may just look like a jumble of toys, books, activities etc, to the uninitiated, but in reality, they are very carefully planned to stimulate your children's interest and motivate them to explore and discover.

They are geared towards fine honing children's conceptual skills, to prepare them for learning to read and write, to count and figure. They're also set up to give your children that wonderfully creative but incredibly messy play that's essential to develop the finer muscles and coordination they will need to launch successfully them into the world of learning.

For those whose children are about to begin their education, here is a great description of what to expect when you first visit the preschool. Read THIS and look for similar organisation in your child's preschool.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.7 - Understanding Spatial Relationships

The directions that teachers use to teach handwriting in the school assume that children understand spatial and temporal(related to or limited by time) concepts. Hey what???
These are obviously terms used to confuse any but the initiated, but all it really means is can they get their minds, to communicate to the hand, the directions the teacher is giving them. Terms such as "on top of the line, "above the line," or "between the lines" and many more, are used in handwriting instruction.
An ability to understand these terms is acquired as children develop both physically and mentally. The age at which the average child begins to understand the position "in" is 2 years. Additional positions or locations are learned as the child increases in age, with the most challenging locations, "back/front" usually understood by the average child at 4 years 8 months.
Practice in understanding locations or positions is covered in the preschool curriculum, but it is often assumed by Kindergarten teachers that this concept has already been gained and they proceed from there. If a student's concepts in this area are only a few months later in developing, than their entry to kindergarten, it can effect their self esteem, or belief in themselves, to the extent that they cease believing that they can succeed.

I'm going to get on my favourite hobby horse here, about mid-year intake in Kindergarten. What this actually does is take a child into Kindergarten who is approximately six months younger in age, skill and concept development and only give them half a year of Kindergarten before they are required to keep up with the curriculum in year one. Now I ask you - does that sound, in any way at all, logical to you, or good for your child? If you answer "Not logical at all." and you say "I'll never do that to my child", I'll give you an A++++++++. Please, please, please, even if you do think you have a genius on your hands, and you may, hold your child back until the beginning of the next year.

Activities to help your child with positions are fairly obvious. I've given you some below, but you'll probably think of lots more as you progress.
1. Take something in your hand. Hold it in different positions and ask your child to tell you where it is.
2. Find the object. Hide something and give the child instructions, one at a time, on how to find it. Use a lot of position words. such as in, on, under, over, above, through. If you want to brainstorm about position words use the sentence. "The fox jumped..................the gate." Any word that fits in the space in this sentence is a position or location word.
3. More advanced practice. Take a picture with objects in it and ask the child to describe to you where one particular object is. Make it simple to begin with - not many things on the page. As they gain skill you can make the picture more complicated. Repeat their instructions out loud as you find the object and be very positive when you do.
4. Give your child an object to hold and then give them instructions about where to hide it. You can leave it at that, or you can prolong the game by getting your little student to give someone else position/location instructions on how to find it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Educators Are Best Understood as "Ignorance Engineers"

This is a reprint of a very thought provoking article by Bruce Deitrick Price.

I tend to agree with him, on the whole, both about the Maths and Reading. It's been heartbreaking, tutoring children who are the product of this type of education. They are so worn down by the process, with poor self esteem and no faith in their abilities.

Of course there are some children who will learn, no matter how they're taught, or should I say in spite of how they're taught. If you have a child like this, then thank God. Most children do need good teaching and they haven't been given that. The most terrible thing is that they've not only received poor teaching, but they've been blamed for their own failure and believed the lie they've been fed.

It's not their fault! They still have the ability to learn if they're taught properly. The problem that we run into, is to convince them that this is so. It's very, very hard to ask someone to believe this truth, when they've accepted a lie about themselves for so long.

Here is the article.....

Public schools seem to be in a constant state of disarray and low performance. We have to wonder: are our educators hopelessly inept? Or is intellectual sabotage a factor?

Some experts argued that educators have been sidetracked by social engineering. Here, the main goal is that students have correct opinions rather than that they learn a lot. (The Civil War? Oh, that´s about the injustice of slavery. What else needs mentioning?)

Note that schools in Socialist and Communist countries engage in endless indoctrination, but they also find time to teach a lot of information, as required by the traditional educational model. So it´s clear that both can be done.

The striking thing about American public schools is that students stop learning even the simplest things. Children are in school roughly a thousand hours a year, for a total of 12,000 hours from grades one to 12. But in that vast mansion of time there doesn´t seem to be room for a match box of facts. Find Japan on a map? Don´t be silly. Nobody needs to know that.

Can social engineering, as normally defined, explain why American children know very little? I don´t think so. The ignorance is too towering. The more I looked at the shortcomings of our public schools, the more I was forced to conclude: somebody is deliberately aiming very, very low.

The picture starts to make sense if you assume that American educators, at the PhD level, are not social engineers so much as ignorance engineers. All their ideas and policies appear directed at mass-producing mediocrity, to the degree they can get away with it.

Their concern seems not to be with shaping opinions so much as making sure nobody learns anything worth having an opinion about! Perhaps this nihilistic kind of social engineering is more easily snuck into classrooms.

I didn´t reach this distrustful view casually or in a sudden epiphany. No, it was slowly forced on me as I contemplated the pitiful spectacle of math courses that don´t teach any math, a reading pedagogy that doesn´t permit anyone to learn to read, and geography, history and science courses that are not concerned with anyone retaining information.

What we seem to have is a widespread war against civilization, especially American civilization, conducted in every subject and at every level. Here´s a quick run-down of the incriminating evidence in the main disciplines:

MATH: Decades ago, our educators concocted a fatuous fraud known as New Math. The public laughed. The educators went underground for several years and came up with a bunch of replacements now known (sarcastically) as New New Math. Some of today´s leading textbooks are called TERC, Connected Math, Everyday Mathematics, MathLand, etc. Children taking these courses learn virtually no real math.

To understand this craziness quickly, please see a wonderful video on YouTube titled "An Inconvenient Truth" by M. J. McDermott. Give McDermott 15 minutes and you will understand the vacuity of these programs.

What sort of people would devise math books that don´t teach math?? Ignorance engineers.

READING: It was by studying Whole Word (also known as Look-Say) that I really came to understand the scandal of our schools. This unworkable pedagogy has created 50,000,000 functional illiterates. What could be more vicious?

By all accounts, 99% of children taught with phonics learn to read by the age of 7, or 8 at latest. But children stuck in Whole Word classrooms are made to memorize word shapes one by one (a tedious process), thereby guaranteeing that most of these children will be semi-literate well into high school.

Still worse, this bogus pedagogy is shrouded in sophistry. Even highly educated people rarely understand what Whole Word is. How can the public defend itself against this dangerous hoax? That seems to be the point. I´ve created some graphic videos that try to explain Whole Word in a few minutes. Please visit YouTube and enter "phonics versus whole word."For a longer, more historical analysis, please see "30: The War Against Reading" on Improve-Education.org.

FACTS, IN GENERAL: The dogma is that children should not be expected to memorize ANYTHING. Teachers say: "They can look it up." In real life, this means that nobody knows nothing. About history, science, geography, the arts, or which way is north.

This rampant ignorance is dramatized every time Jay Leno goes "JayWalking." I developed "The Quizz--100 simple facts that every high school student should know" to spotlight the same emptiness. (Google "20: The Quizz")

IN CONCLUSION: Throughout all the years that this dumbing down has been going on, our educators have been yelling for more money. As if that is the key to the kingdom. Not at all. Genuine educators with half the budget would easily outperform the ideologues now in charge.

The central tragedy is that these misguided educators seem to have little concern for the needs of children or the good of the country. Let the people eat cake. (Please print this piece and follow up the leads at your convenience. That our so-called educators would actually function as anti-educators is THE story of the 20th century.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fun Alphabet Games

This list of games is taken from a blog called Walking Paper. I would recommend a visit. It has jokes, pictures for colouring in and lots of fun websites.

Alphabet OrderFrom Learning Planet.

ABC Writing SlateThis is a fun activity which will also assist in mastering maneuvering the mouse.

Alphabet AnticsPractise the letters of the alphabet with this game.

Alphabet Book GamesOrganize the out of order books. Click on the books in alphabetical order.

Alphabet Letter Puzzle

The animals at Alphabet Zoo are all mixed up. Help to sort them by putting the animals in ABC order. This game has 5 questions.

Fun Sites!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows?

A friend of mine sent this to me today, and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to share it with you.

It was originally circulated by Linda Fitzwater. She says 'The Text of this beautiful story was forwarded to me by a friend without an author noted. We have just found that this is an Uncle Arthur story. I think the title was "I can sleep on windy nights" from -- Uncle Arthur's Online.

I used to have a book of Uncle Arthur stories when I was a little girl and read and reread them until the book almost fell apart. They're wonderful short stories to read to your children at night. They all have a moral. My favourite was about children squabbling about whose turn it was to lick the bowl that had the cake mixture in it. That used to happen in our household regularly.

Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows

Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the
awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man.

Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!"

The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows. "Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.

To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God. We don't need to understand, we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the middle of storms.

A friend of mine sent this to me today, and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy your day and you sleep well.

The Text of this beautiful story was forwarded to me by a friend without an author noted. We have just found that this is an Uncle Arthur story. I think the title was "I can sleep on windy nights" from -- Uncle Arthur's Online.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.6 - Basic Stroke Formations

One of the hardest things for a child when learning handwriting, is fluency. He is so concerned with getting it right, that instead of a uniform curve or circle, it becomes a wobbly formation.

To help with fluency Danielle Dumont, an expert from France, teaches children using a ribbon and making waves and squiggles with the ribbon in the air (rather in the way that a gymnast uses the ribbon). Once the circles, waves and squiggles that the ribbon is making are fluent, transfer that same fluency with chalk to the chalkboard. This helps the student to feel that flow and to use it when working on a smaller area.

Proficiency in basic stroke formations is a tremendously important part of handwriting. What is an intelligent child likely to do, if you put some lined paper in front of him. with strokes done in dots - you then tell him to trace the strokes, but be careful not to go below the line? That's easy! He'll start at the line and go up the stroke so that he'll be sure to get it just right. It makes perfect sense to him, because he hasn't been told that this is practice for writing letters and they begin with a downward stroke and never an upward one. The solution to this is to explain this to him.

Except for v,w,x,y,z, which start with a slanted downward stroke or in the case of z a horizontal stroke, (none of which, by the way, begin on the line) all other small case letters start with either a vertical down stroke or a curve moving in an anticlockwise direction.

Children should never be taught how to write the letters, until they have considerable skill in tracing pictures or shapes. You can use ordinary cheap colouring books for this and textas or coloured pencils (thick, three sided ones). At this stage don't worry about the direction in which your child traces. The aim (or I could call it a game) here, is to trace without straying from the picture outline. He needs to be able to keep the texta or pencil tracing that line, for as long as possible, before he stops, lifts it up and then puts it down on the line, to begin tracing again.

Some of this can be done without you supervising. You'll usually be able to see the stops and starts and judge how proficient your child is becoming. It is wise though, to sit with him sometimes to observe and also the encourage - encouragement motivates! After the outlining is done, he may see the picture as being finished or he may want to colour it in further. Go with the flow. Colouring in also requires a certain control of the pencil.

Once he has shown proficiency (not perfection!!) with tracing, you can progress to formal pre-writing sheets. Here is where you need to sit with him and watch him like a hawk. It's good to verbalise with him as he does the strokes - 'start at the top and trace down'. He'll probably get sick of your verbalisation after a while and just want to get on with the job. Just tell him that you'll stop, but if he starts at the line and goes up, you'll have to help him again by verbalising. Children usually find this a fair bargain and it will motivate him to concentrate harder.

All the curved shapes on the pre-writing sheet must be done in an anticlockwise direction and again you need to watch all the time. Where to start when tracing circles?? Different writing schemes teach different ways, when the student begins on the letters of the alphabet. Picture in your mind a circular head with ears. Actually draw it, if you're working with your child. Some writing schemes teach that you form a,d,g,o,q by starting at the top of the head, or on the line, and drawing an anticlockwise circle. Then for f,s,c, you start just above the right ear, go up to the line and then proceed to finish your letter.

In theory this sounds fine, but what often happens is that students also persist in starting their f,s,c on the top of the circle, or on the line, too. It's so much easier to have an obvious starting point. You can imagine the finished product - it's long and skinny and undefined. I recommend starting all these letters above the right ear. It's much simpler in the long run and the letters have a better flow to them.

Okay! Getting back to pre-writing sheets - make a small mark on any circle just where the top of the right ear would be and get your child to begin tracing anticlockwise from there. If there are spirals, or any other curves, make sure they're traced in an anticlockwise direction too.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.5 - Utensil or Tool Manipulation

No! This doesn't mean that you get out the hammer, the electric saw and the drill set. It's just
psychologist's jargon for the level of skill, with which children use ordinary, everyday things like a spoon or fork, crayons, plastic scissors, glue brush, paintbrush, etc. Can they tie their shoe laces, clean their teeth properly, get a top to spin?

These are skills that can be developed. For those of us old enough to remember, there was junior mechano and the progression to the even smaller parts of the regular mechano, with the tools to join parts together. Most boys had a set of some size to make all manner of wonderful inventions. There were even small motors, that moved parts.

Then there were those kits with tiny pieces to build model, ships, cars and many other things. Hours were spent in this way and these were wonderful for creating exceptional manipulative skill with hands and fingers.

For girls, who had kind brothers, the mechano sets were often a favourite, but I also remember making pictures with tiny beads, learning to sew with tiny stitches, making little tea sets with clay, colouring, drawing, painting, or french knitting. I remember my brother was addicted to french knitting for a while. He ended up with a length that stretched all the way from the front fence to the back fence. We ended up making a mat with it.

And now the good news - all these things, including some great mechano are still available today, plus many more activities to get little fingers nimble and clever with manipulating tools - large and small - and increasing the strength of those tiny muscles needed to successfully guide a pencil.

Before we go any further, I want to stress, really stress, the importance of your prospective writer being given the thicker, three sided pencils to use. You can get them in plain lead and colours. I know they are more expensive and need sharpening more often, but they encourage the tripod grip and are much easier to manipulate than the thinner ones.

As in any kind of tool manipulation, there is a way to hold a pencil which has been proved to cause the least stress on hand muscles and help writing to flow more evenly. This is called the dynamic tripod grip. Children develop the habit of holding their pencils in ways different to this, for a variety of reasons. The most common reason, is participating in lots of writing before their hands are developmentally ready for it.

Other than forming a habit for the wrong pencil grip, the most common problem is how much pressure your young student is putting on the pencil. Some children press too hard, writing slowly and deliberately and putting great stress on the muscles in their hands and fingers. Obviously, this will prove to be very uncomfortable for them and they won't be at all motivated to practice their writing. To help them realise how hard to press, put their writing paper on a thin foam board. When they press too hard, their pencil will go through the paper into the foam. Make a game of it, to see if they can write without the pencil going through, but heavy enough to make the writing clear.

The opposite problem - not pressing hard enough - can be helped if you use paper with a carbon backing or just a piece of carbon paper stapled between two sheets of paper. If the writer doesn't press hard enough, the copy won't be seen on the sheet beneath.

Other ways to improve manipulative skills are:

1. String plastic, ceramic, glass or even beads you make yourself from paper mache etc, and decorate them.
2. Sew with wool to make felt hand puppets, pillows or clothes for dolls, little purses, marble bags or whatever your little creative genius desires.

3.Weave placemats with craft foam, coloured paper, craft ribbon, crepe paper or anything else you discover will work.

4.Make flower necklaces out of real flowers or the small craft ones.
5.Make pom-poms from two cardboard donut shapes and wool.

6.Make paper flowers from tissue, crepe or ordinary coloured paper. If you've used the type of paper, on which you can use glue, sprinkle with sparkle or decorate in some other way.

7. Check out a library book and learn to make origami animals. Best to check one out from the children's section if possible. Some of the designs can get very complicated.

8. Make paper chains as decoration. These can be used also to hang up and write the name of each book you've read together on a separate chain. It can cause great excitement and even motivate children to ask to have books read to them, to fill up the chain completely. Try having a blank chain for each month with a do-able number of links.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Christmas Child Box Time Again



Operation Christmas Child
Just a heads-up to those that usually make up Christmas Child Boxes at this time of year. It's Time!!!!
To those who haven't done so or haven't heard of it, a click on the link above will take you to their website which will tell you all about it.
If you haven't done this with your children, it's a wonderful way of teaching them to look outside themselves and a great lesson in generousity. I found when I first started it with my children, we'd go to the Mall to look for small gifts to put into the shoebox and it would be all about them.
You all know the "Can I haves.....", but gradually it moved to - and get this - "This would be great for our Christmas child and can I have one too?" Eventually they got the idea that this wasn't about them at all and only about children that have nothing at all and for whom this will probably be the only gift they every get in their lives.
This is such a hard concept for our children to grasp in our rich, material world, and let's face it - even those of us who are struggling greatly financially are better off than these children living in poverty in third world countries or even worse in war zones in those countries.
Just check the official website for what's allowed and what's not allowed in the boxes, grab yourself a shoebox of the right size and cover it with Christmas paper (or if you're as hopeless at covering shoe boxes as I am, you can probably get a Christmassy coloured box at one of the Bargain Stores nearby) and set out to look for small gifts that will fit in it. They don't need to be expensive, just sturdy. I usually look out for bargains through the year.
Have fun with this and teach your kids generousity early in life.

Read to Your Baby

This article is from Vanderhoof Omineca Express but I'm reprinting it here to emphasise what I've been saying about starting to read to your children early. It's called Learning to read by Elaine Storey.

It is never too early to start creating learning experiences for children:
Your role as parents, take in laying the building blocks that form your child’s language and literacy foundation. Your baby’s brain is equipped to absorb enormous amounts of information.

We know that the time before babies start talking – from birth to two is a crucial time for their future language development. Let’s look at different ways your baby will benefit from a daily read-aloud routine.

Read-Alouds promote listening skills:
Listening is a crucial skill in the formation of language. Your baby has been listening to your voice, since the last few months of pregnancy and by birth has a fairly well developed hearing ability. Newborns instantly recognize their parents’ voice. Repeated exposure to reading, gives children a head start once they go to school. This allows them to comprehend more complex stories, and ease into the reading and reading process.

Read-Alouds develop attention span and memory:
Babies are capable of an intense concentration; their brains are searching and scanning everything they come in contact with in order to get information and meaning. Reading aloud to your baby is the best way to help develop attention span and memory.

Read-Alouds promote bonding and calmness for both baby and parent:
Reading aloud is one of the easiest and least complicated of daily tasks you do with your baby. It helps you bond and attach to your child. It promotes family togetherness.

Read-Alouds instill the love of books and learning:
When you read to your baby, you are giving your child some of life’s greatest gifts: the cuddly, loving warmth of a close, one-to one, daily reading aloud time enriches vocabulary that forever expands the mind. So start reading to your baby today!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

16 Signs That You Are Having A Bad Day

Hi everyone! Here's another funny 'forward on' that's doing the rounds at the moment. I must say that there are some days that I identify with some of these. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

First you had trouble getting out of bed
You had a stiff neck
You washed your hair and then couldn't do a thing with it

You had a problem when you went to the toilet

Your new diet just doesn't seem to be working out
You pulled a muscle when you tried to exercise

Your new hat looked better on you at the store

You keep losing things

You feel like you're always in the wrong place at the wrong time

No one is laughing at your jokes

You got caught in the rain at lunch time

The lunch you had didn't seem to agree with you

You feel trapped

Uninvited guests turned up at dinner time

On top of that you think you're coming down with the flu
And finally, you're alone in the house at night and you think you hear a noise in the basement

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Diversion From Reading and Writing to Maths

I've just been answering a question on a blog by a mum, homeschooling her child using cuisenaire rods and it occurred to me that some of you out there, may be experiencing the same problem, so I've copied and pasted the answer to this post below:

My name is Wendy Anderson and I have a blog on Teaching Reading and Writing, but I'm actually a maths specialist teacher. Would you believe that I went through exactly the same thing as you did in school with my maths. I was taught how to add, subtract,etc and because I have a good memory I received very good marks up until I reached high school.

Then I became a dismal failure in maths and never recovered. The reason that this happened, I didn't discover until after I'd bailed out of school at 15, worked in an office for 7 years and then decided that I wanted to become a teacher and did my year 11 and 12 at night school after working all day. I received my graduation from high school (Aust) college in the US I think, by doing English, Modern and Ancient History, Economics and Geography. Not a hint of science or maths.

It was only when I was learning to teach maths in Uni that I realised what had happened. I spent the whole time saying "Oh is that how it works out" The problem in primary school was that I learned how to get the right answers by doing step 1, 2, 3, etc, but I never really understood why I was getting the right answer, and the sad thing was that I didn't even know I was supposed to understand.

When I reached high school and I was expected to work on an understanding of the maths I'd been doing in primary school, I was lost.

Cuisenaire Rods are really necessary for teaching an understanding of the Base 10 number system and you're right, this should be explained to parents. It's just a fancy name for the number system that we all use and that has been chosen to be used world wide, because it's the easiest one to work with. The reason that it's called Base 10 is because it's all based on the number 10. We count by tens easily - 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. When we multiply a number by 10, we merely have to add a zero to the original number eg. 325 x 10 = 3250. Everything in the system is based on ten. Start counting by 10 from any number and you get a pattern eg. 39,49,59,69. That's really all there is to it. Well almost.

You see, some children see this pattern and sail ahead, but some like you and me, missed it and because of that flunked out in maths.

Base 10 blocks and Cuisenaire Rods are a way for children to see that system, in a way they can handle and visually work with. Because you've got Cuisenaire Rods, I'll concentrate on those.
You've actually started off right, by letting your son play with them. Now gradually begin to play with him and introduce the numbers that the rods represent.

This little white rod is called a one rod. Now let's figure out what the other coloured rods are called. Let's try this red one. I know that it's called a two rod, can you think why? If he can't just place a single white one rod on top of the two and say, "How many more can we fit? Well look how clever you are. The red rod must be called a two because two white rods fit on it. What number are the white rods. That's right they're one, so that means that means one and one make two, Now lets look at the light green. I wonder how many white ones fit along it?"

Just repeat this with each coloured rod until he knows the number that each rod represents. Keep repeating the fact that the white rod is a number one rod, just to keep the association between the colour and the number of the rod.

The next step is to take the orange 10 rod and put two other rods that equal it underneath, such as black and light green. Then point out that if the black and the light green are the same as an orange, then that might mean that 3 + 7 = 10. Will we find out? Go back to sitting the little white one rods on top so that he can see that this works out. By now he may or may not have twigged to the system. If he hasn't, then just keep playing with him as I've described. Sooner or later the penny will drop and this is a great way to teach the numbers that combine to make 10. This will be used later in teaching the more complicated addition and subtraction.

Once you've done this you can get back to me if you like and I'll give you any info you need.

myLot User Profile

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Run Your Car More Cheaply??

This is a really off the subject of teaching reading and writing and I'm the first to admit that I don't know anything about cars at all, but this seems to be creating quite a bit of excitement on the net at the moment, so I thought that I'd just let you evaluate it for yourself.

It's called water4gas . They tell you a lot about it on their site and they give seven free lessons. They have two books for sale that aren't very expensive, that take you through the conversion step by step, but they also say that if you have mechanical savvy, you can probably do the conversion without the books. It seems that it's only an addition to your original engine and entirely reversible. The parts needed will cost approximately $60.

Anyway, if you're interested just click on the link above and read all about it for yourself and make up your own mind. If it works as well as they say, it will cut down on the amount of fuel you use and clean up your car's emissions, as well as making it run better.

I know how many of you are struggling at the moment and I hope that this does work. I showed it to my mechanic and he says that it seems feasible, but I really want to stress that I know nothing about these sort of things and encourage you to make your own decision.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Handwriting Resource Links

These links come from a blog called Baraka Education (with permission) There may be some duplication of links that I have already entered on this blog, but many are new. I'm really indepted to Barakaedu. This must have taken days of research. She has only just begun her blog, but keep an eye on her. I'm sure there'll be more valuable information. By the way, she has a recipe section. There's only one there at the moment but I've tried it and it's delicious.

Prewriting Worksheets to help develop pencil control:

Donna Young Printing Readiness

Kidzone Pre-Printing Skills Practice

Preschool Learners Pre-Writing Worksheets

SEN Teacher Pre-writing Set 1 and Set 2

Free Handwriting Fonts.

If you're intending to send your child on to school, please find out which handwriting font that school uses and teach that one to your child. Otherwise there'll be a lot of confusion when school begins. If you're homeschooling, you can choose whichever appeals to you.


Learning Curve - cursive

National First

Primer Apples

Print Clearly

Trace Font

Zyia Learns Letters

Handwriting/Tracing Pre-made Worksheets

There are many thematic tracer (days of week or colours) or alphabet pages available.

Abcteach - tracing and letter practice worksheets in d’nealian and zaner bloser

Boggles World Alphabet Tracing Pages

First School Alphabet Handwriting Practice Sheets in Standard Block and D’Nealian, numbers, colours, days of the week, and months of the year with flowers

Handwriting for kids - also has a worksheet generator

Home Education Resources - reference sheets, print read colour, cursive. These are copywork rather than tracing.

Jan Brett Alphabet Tracers - traditional manuscript, cursive manuscript or modern manuscript all with beautiful illustrations

Learning Page has lots of worksheets - free to join and totally worth it!

Preschool Learners Handwriting Worksheets - helping your child to improve his handwriting, alphabet and rhyming words worksheets

Primary Games Activity pages - alphabet, numbers, colours and months of the year

PrintActivities.com - alphabet, numbers, shapes and names. They even have Aaliyah!

School Express Handwriting - alphabet and numbers in both modern and traditional

Sparklebox - lots of alphabet and number worksheets


These sites enable you to create worksheets using your own words.

Abcteach Handwriting Worksheet Maker

ESL Writing Wizard - search for other people’s pre-made worksheets also

Create tracing worksheets online

Handwriting for kids - also has pre-made worksheets

Online Fun

Handwriting animations of the alphabet

Writing the alphabet and numbers

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.4 - Eye-Hand/Foot Coordination

Eye hand or foot coordination is simply seeing something and moving your hand or foot to intercept what you see. When you catch a ball or hit it with a bat, when you reach up to take something from a shelf, when you catch something you've dropped before it hits the floor (very good), when you kick a ball, when you simply walk up or down steps, you're using eye hand or foot coordination.
Eye-hand coordination, although part of a child's conceptual development, is also a skill which can be improved with practice. You can't start too soon. Babies lying in their cots are building their hand to eye coordination as they watch a mobile move above them or reach out for toys you hold near them.
From the age of about four months, your baby will use his mouth to discover the world around him. Hence everything he can get his hands on, goes to the mouth. From about six months his hands join in and begin to examine the object they're holding. By this time hand-eye coordination is established and he will begin to improve his fine motor movements and skills.
Each child moves at his own pace with coordination between hands and between hand and eye, as he attempts more and more difficult tasks.So with hand-eye coordination the concept has developed early. From here on there is something you can do to help. It becomes a skill which improves with practice.
You can step in and help your child to improve in this area.Blocks or the large Duplo are great for developing hand-eye coordination. Building with these helps your child learn what items fit most easily on one another and how much pressure to put on a block as he positions it. If your student is having trouble figuring out what to do, resist the temptation to jump in and show him how it's done. Part of the fun with these toys is discovering how they fit together and work. Doing it himself, gives your child's brain and skill building a much better work out than if you show him how.
This isn't to say that you can't play with him. This is part of the bonding between you and your child and great fun for both of you.Following is a list of activities to advance your child's skill in eye-hand coordination:
1. Lace cards - this involves sewing on a card with a large needle and different coloured wools or cottons to make a design.

2. Make mosaics with anything really. Try dried beans or peas, nuts, pasta, tissue paper or even small scraps of coloured paper.

3. Make tissue paper flowers by taking a strip of paper and rolling or folding it. Crepe paper is good and cheap for this too. It's colour does tend to run if it gets wet, but it comes in the most incredible colours - even fluorescent ones. Cellophane paper does a good job as well. It tears more easily, so takes more skill and let's not forget the silver foil from the kitchen. It makes great flowers, stalks and leaves.

4. Here's a messy one. Make paper mache glue and use that and paper to build anything you want. Come on! There must be something inside you that wants to get messy and if there isn't, it's probably more important to do it to stretch your borders. Here's a link for the recipe for the mache glue and some more ideas. Click here!

5. Play a game where you have to get a small ball into a cup. You can actually buy a toy that has the cup on a stick and the ball attached with string, but you can make one just as easily.
6. Let's not forget all you mad golfers out there. Buy one of those cheap little plastic golf sets for your child and teach him how to putt.
7. Whoops!! I almost forgot the most common. Play ball. First rolling to a younger child and getting him to roll back. Then throwing or bouncing a short distance. Make it further and further away as skills improve. Anyone remember that song "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts. There they are a'hangin in a row" Well we don't have Coconut Shy Stalls anymore, but the idea is simply to aim the ball at any target - preferably not a brother or sister - and try to hit it, or knock it off something. Tin cans on a fence used to be a favourite one, but there'll always be something you can buy that will do the same thing, if you want to get fancy.

8. You can also get tough plastic adjustable basket ball equipment that will last your child for years, because you can adjust the height until they're seven or eight years old. Just make sure older brothers or sisters give your little one a go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Importance (and Simplicity) of Play

Hi Everyone,

I've found a great blog called "Literacy, Families and Learning" I wholeheartedly recommend it. It's got some great ideas on creativity and learning with young children. The blog is written by Trevor Cairney. I'll print the first part of the blog and you can click on the link if you're interested in reading more.

The Importance (and Simplicity) of Play by Trevor Cairney
I've written a number of posts about play and argued that it is important for many reasons. Broadly, it stimulates children's creativity while assisting their development cognitively, emotionally and socially.

It also encourages their imagination, fine and gross motor skills, decision-making, problem solving and risk taking. As well, it helps children to learn about themselves through success and failure and to build relationships with parents, their siblings and friends.

However, in this post I want to make just one key point - that simple play is best. Simple opportunities for play will always (well, almost always) capture their attention, that's why the box so often wins out over the expensive and complex toy.

Stimulating play does not require expensive equipment or toys, multimedia excitement or body numbing entertainment (though that stuff can be fun too!). In fact, I want to argue that children if given some control over their play will often choose the simple. What do I mean by this? I mean that they will often enjoy:

  • the repetitive and the predictable
  • the unexpected and surprising (yes, that's the opposite of the above - they can love both);
  • the silly over the serious;
  • activities that stimulate their senses (not necessarily all at once);
  • play that involves other people, both actively and passively (this is especially true of parents).

It is important as parents and caregivers to be on the lookout for opportunities to structure situations during the day that permit and encourage stimulating play. While its hard to do fancy stuff when faced by the demands of 2-3 children (or even more in the case of some readers of this blog), if children are engaged in stimulating activities they are less likely to be driving you nuts. And the simple stuff is the easy stuff.

One final thing, as I indicated in a previous post it's also important to allow your children to take lots of initiative - play is when they can take the lead and show you how to do things. Click here for the rest

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Great Escape - Does Anyone Relate?

An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard; I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head;
he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall,
curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

An hour later, he went to the door and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.
Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.3 - Small Muscle Development

Large muscle development in a small child's hands takes place quite early. Any parent who's tried to take something away from a child who really wants it, will vouch for this. However, there are numerous smaller muscles in the hand that need to strengthen before a child can successfully guide a pencil. If a student is asked to begin writing before he has full control over these muscles, letter formation will be effected.

Following are exercises to aid in the development of the smaller muscles in a child's hand.
1. Colouring and drawing with crayons is a great way to develop these muscles. The resistance that a crayon gives, strengthens the fingers and provides tactile (feeling) feedback to the brain in a way that textas and pencils will not. Colouring with crayons on construction paper will provide even more resistance.
Construction paper is a stiff, heavy, inexpensive matte or eggshell finish paper. Made from ground wood pulp, it is available in a variety of colors, and its primary application is children's arts and crafts and school projects. It can also be called sugar paper and is typically available in large sheets and sometimes rolls. The texture is slightly rough, and the surface is unfinished. Due to the nature of the source material from which the paper is manufactured, small particles are visible on the paper’s surface.

To save money on crayons and make the exercise more interesting, let the student peel the paper from the crayon stubs or broken crayons, that can't be used any more (great fine motor control exercise). Place them in foil made into different shapes and melt them into new rainbow coloured crayons.
2. Squeezing and rolling clay, plasticine or play dough is also good for strengthening tiny hands. Children love to roll it into a ball and then pushing holes in it with their thumbs or rolling out long sausage-like sections and making shapes with them. If you're working with play dough or plasticine children can cut the lengths with their craft scissors. For clay a ruler separates the pieces quite well, as long as the clay is soft enough.

3. Make stamps from potatoes or other vegetables. A spoon can be used for this and if the vegetable is too hard, just stick a fork in it a couple of times to help out. Doing the carving and then learning how much pressure to apply, to actually use the stamp is a terrific exercise for tiny hands. Tip: use paint and not ink for this.

4. Make old fashioned tin can lanterns with a hammer and nail. Take an ordinary tin can and remove the paper from the outside. With supervision let your child put holes all over it with a nail and small hammer. Then put a candle inside the can and the light will shine through the holes. The student can paint the outside of the can if he likes, but make sure that he doesn't use anything that will melt.
5. Draw with chalk on a board or on the concrete pathways, steps, terrace, patio, outside brick wall - it will wash off with water. You can get packets of sidewalk chalk that's very thick so that your child won't scrape his knuckles on the concrete when he tries to draw.

6. Playing Jacks. Click here for a great explanation on how the game is played and there are other old fashioned games on this site that you might want to use with your child as well. Sometimes I think that the saying 'everything old becomes new again' is very true. For Jacks you can use flattish stones, you can still buy Knuckles or Jacks games from some games shops, or you can do it the way it was done fifty years ago by actually getting five sheep's knuckles from the butcher and leaving them on an ant's nest until they're nice and clean and dry and ready to be used - great natural science lesson. You can paint the bones different colours later or just leave them as they are.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.2 - What are Fine Motor Skills?

We take well developed fine motor skills for granted, but they are required for successfully completing simple tasks such as using a knife and fork, punching a phone number or texting on those tiny mobile phones. threading a needle or sewing, playing most musical instruments, playing computer games, gardening, using tweezers, putting on makeup and even tying your sneakers.

These fine motor skills are basic prerequisites for students to succeed academically. That's why helping children develop finger strength and tactile dexterity is so very important. Of course you can do this after they've tried to write well and failed, but it's much harder to turn a failure in any area into a success, than to put in the preliminary work necessary and go straight to success. The trauma of failure in front of all their peers, is not really something to which we want to introduce our children, in their first year of school.

If you take your child to a play group or preschool they will get some of the activities there, that are needed to develop fine motor skills. Don't, however, count on that!

Boys, especially, would in general, much rather be outside playing cars in the sandpit or climbing on the gym equipment, than sitting inside threading wool through a card or playing with the play dough. The preschool teacher will try to make sure that each child has an equal opportunity to develop both gross and fine motor skills, but don't just rely on that.

As a parent, keep an eye on your child's development. How skillfully does she use her knife and fork, can she tie her shoelaces properly - that doesn't mean eventually. If she need a few tries before she succeeds that's fine, but if she's up to number five or six and she's still not been successful, it may be a sign that she needs to further develop those fine motor skills. Another way to check is by doing some craft with her, where she needs to work with small items and note how nimble her fingers are.

There are so many fantastic activities you can do with your children at home, to help them develop great fine motor control. Some of them are messy, but aren't your kids worth that? If you're worried about the carpet, pick a fine day and take a card table or plastic table cloth outside. Maybe you'll have to move the daily grind around to make time for the activities, but just think of all the time you'll save later on in their lives, when you're trying to explain their homework to them and you're hitting a brick wall because failure has become ingrained in their minds.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Handwriting Readiness (Pt.1) in Children aged 3 - 6 years

"What's all this about handwriting readiness?" you might say. "You just give the kid a pencil and off she goes. Right!"

Well, actually, No! Giving your child pencils too early in their development, can quite often lead to illegible, untidy, badly formed and badly sized writing, which will take a great deal of time to correct later on - that's if it can be corrected. It takes a great deal of determination in a student to change a stongly ingrained bad habit and some find it just too hard.

Handwriting is a complex operation. Activities that use all senses (multi-sensory) and feeling and moving (kinesthetic), prepare students for letter and number formation before they begin learning to write.

Well developed fine motor skills are necessary for a student to write well and it is the very, very, rare three or four year old, who has these skills. A five year old, who has had sufficient pre-handwriting experiene may be ready, but sometimes a child may be even older before these skills develop.

Handwriting readiness is dependent upon the presence of seven foundational skills.

  1. small muscle development
  2. hand-eye coordination
  3. utensil or tool manipulation
  4. basic stroke formation
  5. alphabet letter recognition
  6. orientation to written language
  7. understanding of spatial relationships

Fomal handwriting instruction can begin as early as kindergarten year and some children will take off and never look back. Some, however, will struggle for the rest of their lives, because one or more of the above seven developmental stages had not been reached, when they were required to learn letter formation.

In following blogs, I'll explain more fully the seven prerequisites for handwriting readiness and give activities that can aid in the formation of each.


There also needs to be gross motor activities to get the brain going and give students more control over their bodies. Try dancing, little athletics, skipping, running around kicking a ball with them - get them moving and away from the TV and computer games. Not that these things are necessarily bad, but there needs to be balance.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What are Phonics?

Emma Hartnell-Baker is a guest blogger this week. Check out her website here

When is a good time to start teaching children to read?
A child begins learning at birth. Early experiences with spoken and written language set the stage for a child to become a successful reader. The more you talk, read and interact with your child, the better chance he has to become a good reader. A good time to start teaching your child about letters and sounds is when he begins to talk.

What is print awareness?
When a child learns about print and books and how they are used, this is called print awareness. He becomes familiar with the idea that the words he sees in print are related to the words he speaks. For example, words can be seen in books or on billboards.

What is alphabetic knowledge?
When a child begins knowing the names and shapes of letters this is called alphabetic knowledge.

What is phonological awareness?
When a child begins to understand that sentences are made up of words, and words have parts called syllables, he is beginning to develop phonological awareness which is the ability to learn about sounds of spoken language.

What is phonemic awareness?
When a child also understands that spoken words are made up of separate small sounds, he is developing phonemic awareness. These individual sounds in spoken language are called phonemes. For example, there are three phonemes (or sounds) in the word big, /b/, /i/, and /g/. (A letter between slash marks shows the sound that the letter represents, not the name of the letter).

What is phonics?
Phonics is when a reader learns to use letter/sound relationships to form words and is able to recognize words when he sees them.

What is blending?
Blending is when the reader puts together sounds to make words.

What is Segmentation?
When the child takes spoken words apart sound by sound.

What is phonics instruction?
Phonics instruction is when the instructor helps the beginning reader see the relationship between sounds of spoken language and letters of written language. Understanding these relationships gives the child a tool that he can use to recognize familiar words and figure out words he hasn't seen before.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More on Toxic Words

Here is a follow up on the entry by Guest Blogger, Carole Rule on Toxic Words. This is an enormously important subject when trying to teach your child. It takes strength of mind to change the way you react, but if you've chosen to help your child to succeed, you have that strength of mind.

Toxic words cut into the ego even when we use them on ourselves, so imagine how much worse it is on a child who looks up to you and wants to please you. I mentioned some of them in my last blog but there are others.

Let me list the words and how they cut.

'but' - negates what you just said, so even if it was praise, you have just taken it back or worse.

'if ' - presupposes you may not succeed, setting YOU up for failure be it a child or yourself.

'would have' - draws attention to what didn't happen, nullifying what did happen.

'should have' - not only draws attention but implies guilt because it didn't happen.

'could have' - tries to take credit for what didn't happen and ignore what did happen.

'try' - not only presupposes failure it gives permission to fail!

'might' - leaves options for the listener, not definitive answers.

'can't or don't' - forces focus on the opposite of what you want.

True stories:

A boy and his cousin were playing in the yard and climbing trees when a storm blew in. The aunt called out to her son "Don't fall!" while the boy's father yelled "Hang on!" The boy hung on tightly to the limb and was ok but the cousin fell and broke his arm because the brain first has to figure what is supposed to be done before it can interpret not to do it.

On a little league team there was a pop ball to an area of the field with the weakest player. Dad yelled at him "Don't drop it!" but the coach yelled "Catch it!" What do you think happened? Well luckily the coach was louder and closer and the kid caught the ball. They didn't win the game but think how proud that boy was that he actually caught the ball.


If you get into the habit of watching what you say to yourself, maybe you will be better about toxic words to your child, so both of you will benefit. If you stop wondering what if or I should have, after making decisions, you will find you are less indecisive and will stop tearing your own ego down.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Super Teachers Needed

Explanation of the Two Major Approaches to Reading

The two best known approaches to teaching reading are the Phonics Approach and the Whole Language Approach. Below is an excellent article that clearly explains the origin and explanation of both. My writing it out for you would be a waste of time, so I've printed out the first paragraph and then, if you want to read more, just click on the link below.

While this is a well written article, the conclusion at which it arrives, is idealistic and unworkable. After all explanation of both approaches, it concludes that the teacher should aim to teach what the individual student requires from each approach. Keeping in mind that the teacher has, perhaps, thirty or more students in his/her class, that means thirty or more indivual lessons each day just for teaching reading and writing.

Of course the teacher could combine the students into groups so that each group needed approximately the same type of teaching, but even then there is the need to both plan and mark an inordinate number of lessons each day. This is just for reading and writing. What about time to teach the rest of the subjects? As you can see the end conclusion in this article would require an impossible amount of time and energy for any teacher, hence the need for super powers. However, do not despair, there is a way for you, as parents to help your child. I'll cover this in the next blog.


There have been, over the years, two general instructional approaches that have governed reading education. They have gone by many names, but today they are generally known as Phonics and Whole Language approaches. These approaches to reading instruction reflect very different underlying philosophies and stress very different skills.

The philosophy underlying the Whole Language approach is that reading is a natural process, much like learning to speak, and that children exposed to a great deal of authentic, connected text will naturally become literate without much in the way of explicit instruction in the rules and conventions of printed text.

The philosophy underlying the Phonics approach is quite different -- Phonics advocates argue that in order to learn to read, most children require a great deal of explicit instruction in the rules of printed text. Click here for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Toxic Words


This blog entry is by Carole Rule, a guest blogger. She has her own blog called Your Handwriting Explained, which is a fascinating read if you're interested in analysing handwriting.

Most of us perpetuate thoughts and actions, without realizing it, by treating our children and others as we were treated growing up. Not to say this is always a bad thing, especially if we were raised in a nurturing family.

We have all heard that abuse engenders abuse and how many of us as teens have said, "When I have children I will never do that to my kids", only to find as a parent we do the same things mom and dad did. If this something is making them hold to a curfew, do chores, be responsible, well great! These things need to be learned and followed. But the parent that uses toxic words or goes overboard on punishments, even if it is just timeouts, is fostering that use in their child and this we don't want to pass on to future generations

Lets look at toxic words, just simple everyday words we all use but oh how they can poison a child's mind. Always...now stop and think about it, no one 'always' anything. It's just, at that moment in time you think of how often they do something they were told not to do and forget how often they do right. Next is never...again no one never listens, never follows instructions, never does things right or whatever you are chastizing them for. Stop to think. Do you 'always' or 'never' do things?

How about 'but'? Do you praise a child for something only to take it away by saying 'but'? But why can't you do that all the time? But why didn't you do that the first time? Only a three letter word and it can do so much damage. And, yes, I nearly said 'but' it can do so much damage. And remember would'a, could'a, should'a. We often say these things about something we messed up and yes, even then they are derogatory, but to a child would, could and should can cut the self-esteem down so very badly.

Worst of all, we don't mean to inflict damage to their ego, but in frustration, anger or the heat of the moment it happens. We speak out, without a thought of the message we are giving out to our children. And while we are on the subject think of your own ego. These same words are just as toxic to us and maybe, if we learn to use other words in their place, we won't be so quick to use them on the children.

When you want to say "You did great today 'but'" why not say "I'm really proud of what you did today" and leave it at that. Or how about "That was great! Do you remember just how you did that?" This will tell them you are proud of them and reinforce to remember just what made it so great.

As for yourself, if you mess up and especially if its not the first time, then tell yourself "I really need to slow down and do this the proper way next time, because I really do know how to do it."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Preparing Your Child to Read

Reading is the basic skill upon which all formal education depends. Children who are poor readers at the end of first grade, will find it extremely hard to acquire the reading skills they need, to successfully complete primary school.

These students must be identified early in their school career and given the intensive intervention they need. Any child who doesn't learn to read early and well, will not easily master other skills and knowledge and is unlikely to do well in school or in their future work.

You, however, play an important part in whether or not this may happen to your child. Reading to your son or daughter is the most important part of helping them become a reader. Teaching reading involves teaching children to love reading. The more fun your child has with books from an early age, the more interested they will be in becoming a reader when they reach school age .

Reading to your child also improves your child's emergent literacy skills including vocabulary, knowledge and print awareness - the understanding of how a book works. Reading to your child on a regular basis gives your pre-reader a jumpstart in learning to read. Continuing to read to your child even after they learn to read, helps improve their vocabulary and reading skills.

This time spent with your son or daughter regularly, can also be a wonderful bonding experience. So many times, in talking to friends and acquaintances about this, I hear of the impact the time spent with Mum or Dad reading stories, had on their early lives. They speak of it with fondness and most have continued the tradition with their own children.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Would you believe.......?


Look at the top picture, then read the story first before you look at the second picture.

Look at the picture above and you can see where this guy broke through the guardrail, right side where the people are standing on the road (pointing). The pick-up was traveling from right to left when it crashed through the guardrail. It flipped end-over-end, across the culvert outlet, and landed right side up on the left side of the culvert, facing the opposite direction from which he was traveling. Now look at the 2ND picture below...