June 2, 2009
What a busy, and exciting time we have been having.
Over the next few days I will be posting some photos of the recording session that Alex and I were involved in on Friday, at good friend Angie’s studio. Tina, another good friend, (from The Purple Jam Music Studio – link below) was also there – Tina and Angie have written the music and provided the technical support as we develop a package of goodies to go with our ‘in the Garden’ texts which were published last year. This is an exciting time – the package will be launched in mid-September, so keep watching this space!
The new learning calendar is up as well, with more training going ahead in July, for teachers, teaching assistants and childcare workers. So take a look if you are interested.
August 23, 2008
On Wednesday, another successful professional learning session took place! The PD on untangling the learning pathways, an exploration of the role that perceptual motor or sensory motor skill development plays in the acquisition of literacy and numeracy, was a wonderful experience (according to feedback). Again, lots of laughter and learning, lots of fabulous people, wonderful presenters and excellent food (thanks again Rochelle). Our aim with these sessions is to tap into what participants know, but to extend those understandings and share our knowledge. Alexandra (Alex) is a speech pathologist with an explicit understanding of the classroom, Lisa is teacher extraordinaire and Melinda (Mel or ‘M’), with her dual degrees in Occupational Therapy and Education, has such a unique pespective on the classroom as well. Additionally the participants of this PD were wonderful, contributing so much to the success of this interactive PD.
The picture shows one of the activities, where participants are untangling learning pathways! What can I say? If you want more information, please check the website for the next PD session!
August 19, 2008
Quite a number of years ago, while team-teaching at an inner suburban school with an amazingly intuitive teacher Kate C, we had sixty five year old children between the two classes. These children were as all five years olds are: enthusiastic, full of energy, bubbly, determined and fun to teach. Kate was (and probably still is) such a great teacher that each day was an adventure for all of us. However, we were having difficulties when it came to writing, with at least half the class beginning on the right side instead of the left, with some children writing straight down the middle of the page, and some even from bottom to top. Despite the best of modelling, reminders, huge ‘X’ at the left hand side, the whole exercise was getting to the anxiety stage – for us as teachers!!
Fortunately a friend had introduced me to the joys of perceptual motor programs, and we began a fortnight of ‘right’ activities. Everything, from foot placement, to throwing activities, to dance sessions, to using musical instruments, everything began with the right hand or foot. Within a fortnight, every single child knew immediately what we were talking about if we said to find the right hand, foot or side of the body. Seems too logical doesn’t it? Sometimes the best journeys begin with a magical ‘aha!’ moment, don’t they?
Long story short, we then took a look at other areas, and began a structured perceptual motor program for every child in that dual class – and the results were astonishing. By the end of the year, there were few children wtih learning difficulties, and if they were still identifiable, and had been referred to professionals for specialist attention, they were deemed as very minor delays, and to continue our program of assessment, focussed activities and extension in a remarkably fun environment.
*** Please note: Our introduction to ‘Untanging the Learning Pathways: Perceptual Motor Skills’ is taking bookings now. At 5energies, we are all converts to the importance of finding out what each child’s learning pathways are doing from a sensory perspective: if you want an excellent introduction, please give us a ring to book in for this workshop.
August 5, 2008
I was recently out shopping when a child who used to be in my class, shouted my name across the vegetables. I waved, but in an instant, child and her parent came across to talk to me. One of the joys of being a teacher is watching children we know well, growing up and succeeding.
In the meantime, after the usual courtesies and chat, Mandy, the mother, came to the point. Her good friend Belinda had a child who was not doing well at school, and was at her wit’s end trying to find the right help for her child. I asked the usual question about what the issues were and what followed was a detailed and highly descriptive learning journey for this child. This was a mother who KNEW her child very well: she had observed her child at work, watched her play, noted her child’s confusion, particularly with making sense of instructions and following through. If a television was playing in the background, it was pretty certain that Belinda’s daughter was unable to complete tasks.
I thought then, as I have thought many times over the years, that parents have such valuable information about their children. With that detailed information, a good speech pathologist would be so far ahead in identifying the issues preventing Belinda’s daughter from learning effectively. I guess the message from today was that Belinda was wise to be concerned, and wise to be asking around for help. That is one of the reasons we started 5energies©: we are a one-stop shop with an experienced speech pathologist, occupational therapist, educational psychologist and educators and a variety of strategies to help children.
That is also why we love parents as astute and observant as Belinda – parents are such clever people.
July 21, 2008
Memories… Can you hear background humming of that song from the musical Cats?
I was visiting a friend yesterday and was watching her grandchild playing quietly on the floor while we had our coffee. The four year old, working intently on a puzzle, had tipped the puzzle pieces out of the puzzle, so they were all upside down. He looked at the pieces for awhile, mulling the problem. He tried different strategies. First he turned them over with his fingers (hand-eye coordination and manipulation skills). He started at the outside, using the smooth shape of the outside border to try to find the right pieces (logic and visual discrimination). He ‘asked’ his grandmother for her help by just looking up at her (non-verbal language) and she immediately leaned over to play with a piece to put it in the right spot to get him started.
They both smiled at each other (love and trust). He then put the pieces where they belonged, actively selecting and matching the colours and shapes this time (visual discrimination). Then, he showed his grandmother the completed puzzle (independence and perseverance) before racing off (as four year olds tend to do) to see what grandpa was doing. What memories will this little boy take away from his day? What skills has he practised? What a wealth of information this young man gave me, as an interested observer of his developmental achievements.
Contrast that with a child who does not have the well-developed manipulation skills to turn the puzzle pieces over, or the logic skills to determine that starting from the outside of the puzzle is a good strategy. This is likely to be a child who loses interest in puzzles very quickly, but also has troubles even putting the darned thing away. Who cares? It is only a puzzle, isn’t it? Well, yes but it is a also a tried and true school activity which encourages visual perception, independence, logic and the ability to take risks when choosing strategies. What memories would a child with delays in these areas take away? What behaviours would this child show, when faced with the same activity? How frustrated would this child be? Imagine a childhood where the overwhelming memories are of frustration, anger or confusion…
Parents have such a wealth of information about their children. It is these simple daily tasks that soon add up to an overall picture of a child’s abilities. Our aim is to create wonderful childhood memories, ones that bring feelings of satisfaction and success. If a parent is concerned about his or her child’s progress, how fortunate that we live in a time where help and advice are available from a general practitioner, occupational therapist, speech pathologist or from 5energies©! What do you think?