Dyslexia

As a tutor I work with a few children who have had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia.  Often it is the parent’s who struggle more than the child.  They wonder if or how to tell the child, what it means for their future and sometimes even what they have done wrong.  The simple answer is you know what is right for your family, but you have done nothing wrong, nothing at all.  You wouldn’t ask yourself this if your child had blue eyes or was tall, so why ask it about another fundamental part of them?  There is often a sense of relief to the child when they find out.  They realise that it is not their fault learning can be hard at times.  But there are also a range of other benefits to being dyslexia.  These can include –

Determination

It is at this stage that parents struggle to see how dyslexia has helped form their wonderful child already.  For a start, they are going to have a range of coping mechanisms already in place.  They have found what works for them and they use it.  These children are often determined and find a way to make the world work for them.

 

Spotting Links

Those with dyslexia can often see the big picture a little clearer than those without.  They can often identify the odd one out or find the thing which is out of place.  This helps them memorise and identify complex images, a great skill for engineers or scientists!

 

Thinking in Pictures

Whilst those with dyslexia can have huge verbal dictionaries they tend to think in pictures.  This can make thing lego or art a lot easier for them.

 

Business Entrepreneurial Skills

One in three entrepreneurs in the states have dyslexia.  Their brains perhaps are more strategic and creative than others and this can be a real business advantage.

 

Highly Creative

Johnny Depp, Picasso and Davi Pilkey (author of the Captain Underpants books) are just some famous creative people who have dyslexia.  Depp needs to learn his lines and Pilkey writes books, just because your child has dyslexia does not mean they are in any way restricted.  Plus, they tend to be more creative!

 

There are many more strengths of dyslexia.  It really is not a bad thing!   Have a look at the below image for an idea of some careers where dyslexia can be of benefit!

 

dyslexia strengths

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Outdoor Learning Ideas

In my weekly update last week I mentioned outdoor learning.  Today I thought I would share some of my favourite activities, across the curriculum, that are easy and quick to do!  Some of these have come from Pinterest, some from CPD courses and some from my own warped mind.  My philosophy here is that outdoor learning should compliment your teaching, it should never be an add on.

 

Splat Spelling

A part of spelling is word recognition.  Could you write the words outside in chalk and get the children to then throw water balloons?  Each time a balloon hits a word they need to read it and then use it in a sentence.

 

Jump Spelling

Write the letters of the alphabet, in whatever order you like, in chalk.  Children can then jump from one letter to the next to spell the word they are working on.  Their partner can check the spelling is correct as they go!

 

Senses Poem

I see… I feel… I smell… I taste… I hear…

Simple sentence starters which are suitable for any age group.  The children can write or draw the rest of the line.  I love to do this lesson each season and see how the poems progress.  At the end of the year you have a wonderful poem which reflects on the changing of the seasons.

 

Time Line

Sometimes it is hard for children to comprehend just how long ago, or how recently, something happened.  A while ago I was teaching a class about the stone age.  I created cards for different historical events from the stone age through to the present day.  Each step a child took represented 100 years.  They quickly understood the concept of time in a way that made it meaningful for them.

 

Around the Clock

I had a class last year that were struggling to remember their 5-minute intervals.  I had tried everything in class and nothing seemed to help.  I decided then to take the lesson outside.  The children were in groups of 4 and each drew a large clock.  I would then shout a time, i.e. 5 past or twenty-five to and the children had to jump to the appropriate number.  This really seemed to help all children begin to understand and remember!

 

I Need/ I want

With a younger class den building can be a great way to explore the difference between needs and wants.  They can design their den using basic materials, tarps, string, tent pegs etc.  They start adding things like Playstations, beds, fully functioning kitchens etc to their designs.  This helps open a discussion over what is a need and what is a want.

 

Natural Art

I love Andy Goldsworthy’s art.  It soothes my cluttered mind and children just seem to get it.  It explores colour, texture, shape and more besides.  I often use his style of art as the stimulus for the first lesson I have outside with the children each year.  The children create something beautiful but you also have the time and space within the lesson to explore some behavioural techniques and ensure the class understand that when learning outside the playground becomes the classroom.

 

One of the great strengths of outdoor learning in Scotland is how well we all share ideas.  There are 2 websites I truly love though.  The first is Juliet’s http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/ and the other is https://www.ltl.org.uk/scotland/resources.php.  Both have ideas for every age, stage and curricular area.

What are your favourite outdoor learning activities?

 

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Learning Websites

I am often asked by parents which web sites they should steer this children towards.  Children often do not realise the amount of learning they are doing whilst playing online and how much it can improve their reading skills.  There is a myriad of sites out there and it is hard to know which sites are best, but let me help you by listing my favourite 10 free websites.

  1. Newsround 
  2. Dogo News

I find children are interested in their world.  Newsround and Dogo have news, facts, games and videos to help children begin to engage with current affairs.  Both these sites are similar but have slightly different outlooks.  Newsround is created by the BBC and Dogo by a mum in the USA.  However, both a relevant and a range of sources help children develop their questioning and critical literacy skills.

  1. How Stuff Works

Is your child a budding engineer?  Do they have a real interest in how things work?  Here’s a great website for them to explore and discover answers to their current questions and many more besides!

  1. Nasa

Is it space that captures your child’s attention?  This site is filled to the brim with information and games for them to play

  1. Fun Brain

This site has games in literacy, numeracy and more.  It also has online books and comics.

  1. Oxford Owl

This site is great as it has a range of free ebooks for children to enjoy.  It also has some maths activities and even tips for parents!

  1. Nat Geo Kids

Who doesn’t find the National Geographic captivating?!  They even have a kid friendly site!  It contains everything from animals to wildlife, science to nature, archaeology to geology, geography to history.  I am sure your child will find something which interests them.

  1. Top Marks

This is one that teachers will often suggest as homework.  Why?  Because it is brimming with free games which help support maths and literacy

  1. Teach Your Monster to Read

This is a great site for supporting your child’s reading, I find children adore it.

  1. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is another fascinating website for kids, it has games and fact files.  This is really a great educational resource and endlessly captivating.

 

There you have it, 10 of my favourite learning websites.  Hopefully it helps you and if you have others to share please feel free!

Music in the Outdoors

My school teaching highlight last week was the two music lessons which I delivered to my primary 6 class.  I am not musical and will admit that there were children in the class that understand musical terms and techniques better than me.  These are children who benefit from the council music tuition programme.  Today we will talk about these lessons and later this week we will explore why music education is tricky for teachers yet vitally important.

As I said, I am not musical.  Despite over a decade in the classroom, I still lack confidence in teaching music.  When we lack confidence we reach for our comforts.  For me, that is outdoor learning.  Whilst these lessons started in the classroom, we quickly got out into the playground.

The Grounds for Learning website has some great resources and lesson plans.  I love their plans as they are brief, simple and adaptable.  I used the Bang, Crash, Whoosh plan with a You Tube video from Stomp.  (plan is – https://www.ltl.org.uk/resources/results.php?id=419 , Stomp video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ7aYQtIldg ).  The video helped us explore the difference between beat and rhythm,  different techniques to make music more interesting and “instruments” we could use before heading out to the playground to work in groups.  The children had themselves, their school bags and the bag contents to use as instruments.

Quickly, the children began, exploring different ways they could create noise and the turn that into music.  They worked as teams and communicated well.  Yes, it was noisy, yes it looked a little crazy but yes, the kids were absolutely on task.  They had time in groups to create their music before each group performed for the rest of the class.  What started as a noise soon became music.  The lesson was simple but effective and the pupil’s came back into class buzzing.  They must have enjoyed it as I had the pleasure of observing them from my window at lunch continuing playing with ways to create sound and rhythms.

I had them interested, so it was time to develop the lesson.  As said earlier, I am not musical in the slightest, however, I once had the opportunity to watch an amazing music teacher teach notation and could use his techniques.  Each group created a simple sheet with 8 beats.  Each instrument was represented by a symbol and was noted on a different line.  It may have looked a little like this

Screenshot_20180419-092013

 

We could then explore why we would want a visual representation of our piece of music.  Children, who like me, do not feel talented in this area realised it could really be simple and accessible to them.  They participated and worked together in a way I have rarely observed from this class.

And me?  Well I left the lesson feeling I might just be able to teach music.

Look out for our blog on Thursday where we explore why music education is important.

Why Read?

I recently posted about reading, why children may not enjoy their school reading and approaches you can take to it.  Whilst I happily state I really do not care what a child reads, whether it is games, websites, books, comics of even the Argos catalogue, I really do believe they should be reading something.  So today, we are going to explore five of the reasons why it is important to read.

  1. Vocabulary

Reading helps a child expand their vocabulary.  Think of all the different genres and the different types of words you will find in therein.  They will discover words they never knew existed and then begin to add them to their vocabulary.  How many kids love dinosaurs when they are young due to the fancy sounding names?  That magic of words never leaves you!

  1. Success

There have been studies conducted which show that children who read and were read to achieve better results all the way through to university!  Did you realise that short 15 minutes together a day could make such a difference over such a long period of time?

  1. Improvement

Children who read are exposed to different ways to write.  This can improve their writing, grammar and spelling.  I have seen whilst tutoring that improvements can be made through an increased time in reading books children enjoy.

  1. Confidence

The more you do something the easier it becomes and the more confidence you become at it.  This is true for reading!  Even reading to your child helps improve their technical reading skills.  As they grow more confident they will become more independent and be able to read alone.  This also has the advantage of keeping them occupied and out of mischief.

  1. Exploration

Reading exposes children to cultures different from their own.  It opens their eyes to the possibilities that exist in their world.  This increased understanding of others can help a child develop empathy.  So often children at young ages are playing violent games.  This can have a detrimental impact on them.  Carefully chosen books can do the opposite and help create children who care for their world.

I may have said five reasons but here is an extra one – it is free!  We are lucky in that we really do have some great libraries and they are free to borrow from.  From books to graphic novels, magazines to audio books, you can borrow them for free!  So why not get along and visit your local library?

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