Tuition for dyslexic children in scotland

Dyslexia Support and Advice for Parents in the UK

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a term many of us have heard and we associate it with people who struggle with reading and writing or confuse b and d but few people know much about this neurological condition which affects 10-15% of the UK population.

Dyslexia, sometimes termed word blindness, has been documented for over 100 years.  The first recorded case of dyslexia appeared in the British medical journal in 1896.  W. Pringle Morgan, described the case of 14-year-old, Percy F, who could not read and wrote his name as Precy, but he could multiply 749 by 887 quickly and correctly.

famous dyslexics Albert EinsteinThere have been many famous dyslexics such as Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Agatha Christie to name a few.

Dyslexics tend to be very creative and often Entrepreneurial.

The British Dyslexic Association defines dyslexia as:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is likely to be present at birth and to be lifelong in its effects. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities”.

In a modern world, where reading, writing and maths are given high status and employment opportunities depend on mastery of these skills parents can become worried when their child is not achieving in line with their peer group.

What should parents look out for?

  • Delayed speech
  • Difficulties in converting speech sounds (phonemes) into written text (graphemes), resulting in their reading and writing being below that expected for their IQ.
  • Confusion over the letters b and d after the age of 8
  • Difficulty in recalling times tables or sequences such as days of the week and months of the year.
  • Poor organisational skills
  • difficulty copying text which is increased when copying from a board
  • Slow reading speed
  • Poor sight words
  • Adding in/missing out letters when reading or spelling
  • Guessing words
  • Reversal of words when reading or spelling (on/no, was/saw)
  • Difficulty mastering new skills
  • Difficulty transferring thoughts to paper

This is not an exhaustive list but good signs to watch out for.

Research into Dyslexia

There has been much research into the causes of dyslexia and this is still ongoing. It is believed that dyslexia is caused by an hereditary gene (although this is not always the case). A dyslexic’s brain works differently to a non-dyslexics and there is less activity in the language areas of the brain during reading and writing.

If you are concerned about your child what can you do?

1) Talk to your child’s class teacher, Special Educational Needs Teacher (SENCO)
2) Request a dyslexia screening test, especially if there is a family history of these difficulties
3) Follow a systematic multi-sensory programme such as Alpha to Omega or Toe by toe
4) Find a qualified specialist to assist

Teaching Methods

A dyslexic student will need a multi-sensory approach to learning reading and spelling. This will need to be very structured in filling in the phonic gaps.

Multi-sensory
Seeing, hearing, saying, writing, feeling/ making. The student will need to engage as many senses as possible in order to stimulate the language areas of the brain.

Handwriting
It is beneficial for the dyslexic to join their handwriting as this helps them to remember the word shape.

Using the sense of touch

The use of sandpaper letters with a blindfold (removing the sense of sight heightens the sense of touch), play dough, sand, drawing in the air/ on the child’s back will increase the number of senses a child uses, stimulating the language areas of the brain.

How Can We help at Kip McGrath?

Kip McGrath Education CentresKip McGrath has over 40 years experience of helping children across the globe do better at school.  The very core of the Kip McGrath programme uses a systematic multi-sensory approach to learning (seeing, hearing, saying and writing).  This approach has been proven to be most effective for dyslexic students.

The Kip software was also designed on a blue background.  Dyslexic students often struggle to read on white.  Many such students read better with a coloured overlay or coloured lenses. Testing to see if this will help your child can be carried out at an optometrist. At home on the computer try changing the background colour or font colour. Writing on coloured paper can also help.  Kip McGrath developed some new programmes in 2008 which develop visual and auditory memory and these are  also valuable to the dyslexic student.

If your child has been diagnosed as dyslexic, you may wish to consider extra tuition.  Talk to your local Kip Centre teacher to see if they can help.  Many centres have teachers experienced in Special Needs Education.  To find a centre near you, please click on the links below:

Find a Kip McGrath Centre in Scotland >>

Find a Kip McGrath Centre in England, Wales or Ireland >>

What else can I try?laws_mindmap

Magnetic letters for creating words
Mind mapping by Tony Buzan
Recap and Review work frequently
Subtitles on the TV, audio books

A Neuro-Science Solution

Introducing Cellfield

For some children a more intense solution is needed.  When the traditional approach fails and a student hits a brick wall a more drastic solution is required.  As dyslexics under use certain parts of their brain and overuse others (compared to a non-dyslexic reader).

Tuition for dyslexic children in scotland

it may be necessary to use neuro-science research (which shows that the brain can change itself) to treat the underlying cause. Cellfield is an innovative, proven, sustainable treatment for dyslexia and is available in the UK.  Cellfield takes a multi-disciplinary approach, building on neuro-science research to stimulate the auditory and visual parts of the brain and make the messaging between these areas more precise.

Cellfield UKCellfield achieves remarkable gains, on average a child will make 2 years on phonics and 1 year on comprehension after only 2 weeks treatment.  These gains are sustained and increased over 6 months.  Cellfield has assisted with reading accuracy, reading fluency, spelling, memory and maths skills as well as an increase in self esteem.

For more information visit www.cellfielduk.com

clare powellThis blog article was written for us by Clare Powell who is the Centre Director at Kip McGrath Scunthorpe and also Cellfield Reading Matters South Yorkshire.   Clare  holds a Bachelor of Education degree and is an experienced School teacher who has worked with students at Primary, Secondary, GCSE, A level and Degree level and has seen these students make considerable progress.

 

English Tutors UK

English Tutors in the UK

The tutoring industry in the UK is booming.  There are many private tutors, tuition centres and after school clubs offering practice in English and Maths throughout the whole of the UK.  In 2013, the tuition industry will continue to grow.

In Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, we have some fantastic schools but a great deal of controversy still reigns in our education system and many parents continue to seek out private tuition to ensure that their children achieve the best education and exam results possible.  Children are receiving extra tuition from as early as Year One (if not earlier) and especially in High School.  Some children do fall behind in school and extra tuition can quickly bring students up to the level of their peers.  However, it is not only children who struggle who attend private tuition as many parents wish children to be stretched to achieve the best possible results whether that be 11+, entrance exam, GCSE, SCE or Higher/A-Level results.

Find an English Tutor in the UK

If you make the decision to find a private tutor in 2013 then why should you choose a Kip McGrath Education Centre?  Well, we have over 200 centres in the UK which are run and taught by qualified teachers.  English and maths are our core subjects but many centres offer other additional subjects.  Our qualified teachers offer a FREE educational assessment for every child and create an individual lesson plan for every child based on their own individual learning needs.  As qualified teachers, we know the local school curriculum and what is needed by every child to reach their full acadmic potential.

Are English Tutors Qualified to Teach English?

KIP MCGRATH-LW.The site of the former Birgitte, 41 King Street.-We may harp on about this but a tutor does not need to be a qualified English teacher to tutor English according to UK laws.  When you employ an English tutor please ensure that you take out references and speak to previous students.  Ask to see credentials and results.  At Kip McGrath Tuition Centres, we are qualified and experienced teachers, have taught in local schools and understand the school curriculum.

National Tuition Centres

There are a few large, national tuition centres who offer maths and English tuition like Kip McGrath.  Don’t be fooled.  Kip McGrath are not the same and cannot be compared.  These centres are not in the main run by teachers and rely on worksheets and computer exercises that parents sometimes have to mark themselves.  When choosing a tutor to teach your child it is important that parents do their own homework and know the facts.

KIP MCGRATH ARE DIFFERENT!

assessment

Maths and English Tutors in East Kilbride – What’s Happening at Kip McGrath Education?

Kip McGrath East Kilbride Tutoring Centre

It’s been a wonderful term at our Tuition Centre in East Kilbride.  With the exception of our Scottish Exam students who are studying for very important exams, our students are currently on holiday for the Spring Break.  We hope all of our students have a lovely break.

Scottish Exams start in just over a week and we would like to wish every student the best of luck.  You have been working hard towards this and we have every confidence that you will receive great pass results!  Be confident!

Last month, we had a professional photographer in our centre at East Kilbride taking photographs for our webpage and they were so good, some photos have made it onto the national website!  Thank you to our students for posing and to Lenny Warren of Warren Media for taking such great photos at such short notice.

We are in the process of adding photos to our webpage but have created a Youtube video in the meantime of some of our students.

To arrange a FREE assessment in confidence, call Margaret Carmichael on 01355 266566 or click here to visit our main website.

Struggling Pupils don’t catch up according to Department of Education

In a report published by the Department of Education in England, just one in 15 (6.5%) pupils starting secondary school in England “behind” for their age goes on to get five good GCSEs including English and maths, official data shows.  Read more details of the report as reported on bbc.co.uk here.

Obviously this report applies to the English education system.  Scotland has a completely different curriculum.  However the statement that “struggling pupils don’t catch up” is not only true for England. It applies anywhere.

The number of children our qualified teachers at Kip McGrath assess who are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy skills is a concern, especially in those pupils making the transition from Primary seven to S1.

This is one of the main reasons students come to Kip McGrath (or any tutor for that matter).

At what level is your child really performing academically?

Early intervention with a structured consistent approach is necessary.  Reading problems must be tackled early since it affects maths and how the wider curriculum is embraced.

Parents must ask teachers specific questions to establish exactly how their child is performing within the class.  I hear many parents mentioning a common phrase used by teachers at parents’ night “your child is performing well at his/her level” without actually revealing which level the child is on compared to his/her classmates.  If your child is coping well but is in the bottom group for maths or English, is this acceptable to you? How can you help your child move to be “performing well” in the top group?

Is your Child Actually being Assessed?

Under the old 5-14 assessment guidelines, every student was assessed regularly and parents could see from certificates which level their child had reached and from the guidelines assess if their child was on target for their age group.  As part of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, this is no longer the case and I wonder if this is why we at Kip McGrath are receiving many more calls from concerned parents requesting an educational assessment by our qualified teachers.

Expectations and Aspiration

Another issue is expectation. If teachers set low expectations for children this will become a self fulfilling prophecy.  Some students have been discouraged to sit exams at certain levels as the teacher believed they would struggle.  Many parents refuse to accept this and enrol the services of a tutor.  At Kip McGrath we have heard many variations of this. This was a comment from a very happy father at our Kip Edinburgh South Centre in 2011.
OMG.  Graham got a credit 2 and Craig got an A! Thanks,thanks,thanks!  I can’t begin to tell you what you have done for my sons who both hated English.  Craig was told he was going to fail Higher English by the school and thanks to you he got an A!  Graham got a Credit 2 and now English is his favourite subject.  I have no qualms about recommending your services to the school.”
To read more examples of these testimonials please click here.

How can Parents Help Children?

Our children deserve the best education possible and in Scotland many of our schools and teachers are performing exceptionally well with excellent student exam results. Sadly, this is not always the case and many students are ‘slipping through the cracks’. Longer working hours for teachers and large class sizes contribute. Some teachers are exceptional and can motivate struggling students whilst others struggle. I would urge parents who have concerns that their child is under-performing to talk to the teacher and discuss options that you can put in place to help your child reach their full academic potential.  Don’t settle for “performing well at his/her level”. It is not too late to help your child get back on track and aspire to achieving the best education they can.

10 Questions to ask at Parents’ Evening

My colleague at Kip McGrath Luton has published a blog entitled “10 questions to ask at parents’ evening” and we would like to list the questions we feel parents should be asking of teachers:
  1. Is my child happy at school?  This means on an emotional and social basis.
  2. What is my child’s attitude to learning?
  3. Can he/she make friends easily?
  4. Does he/she contribute to class discussions?
  5. What does my child enjoy doing? Does my child prefer practical subjects (eg P.E, art, Design Tech), sciences (eg maths, science, geography) or humanities (history, English)?
  6. What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  7. How can I help at home?
  8. Is he/she at the right/expected level for his/her age group? Don’t accept “performing at his/her level”.  Ask which group he/she is in and how you can help your child reach the top group.   If you are worried about your child having learning difficulties then bring this up as well.  If your child is getting extra support at school then ask for details so that you know exactly what is being done to help your child.
  9. For older children ask about any outstanding work and when school exams are.
  10.  How much homework should my child be getting?

What Next?

If after having talked to the school you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to consider extra tuition for your child.  At Kip McGrath, our fully qualified teachers will provide a full FREE educational assessment and will advise you exactly how your child is performing.  If you wish to enrol your child, an individual learning programme will be created to concentrate on specific areas of weakness. To read our full learning programmes and further information please visit our main website at www.kipmcgrath.co.uk.

You may also wish to consider other tutoring agencies or a private tutor.  These options are discussed in our article “Does your child need an English or Maths Tutor?” and may help you make the right choice for your child.

Author

Margaret Carmichael is a former Deputy Head Teacher of Paisley Grammar and Master Franchisee of Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland since 1999 and has over 40 years teaching experience in Scotland.

Power of Practice – Is talent or hard work the answer to succeed in Education?

We previously posted a blog on “How to help your child reach their full potential in life” in 2011 which was written by Angela Mitchell, a teacher and Director of Kip McGrath Cambuslang.

In our blog, we referenced an article by Mathew Syed, former three-times Commonwealth table-tennis champion.  Mathew Syed has now a best selling book called Bounce based on his view that everyone can succeed if you put in the hours and work.  He refutes the myth of the “child prodigy” and “child genius” and is adamant that practice and hard work can make any child a success, whether that be academic or sports related.

I subscribe to an excellent education blog written by Bill Boyd whose blog is at literacyadviser.wordpress.com and tonight he posted an article based on Mathew Syed’s new book called “Bounce -The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice“.  This has prompted me to re-post our earlier blog.

We would thoroughly recommend reading this book and truly believe that born talent is a myth – the key to success in all aspects of life is not ‘born talent’ but is down to hard work and practice.

However, when we are dealing with children, this advice is only good if a child is receiving support from parents at home and teachers at school.  Many children are slipping through the cracks in education and not being engaged or encouraged to reach their full academic potential.  I despair at the number of children coming to me in primary school who cannot read properly.  How can children progress to Secondary School and learn and progress if their reading and writing skills are at P3 level?  Teachers are doing their best but with class sizes so big there are always going to be children with potential who are not achieving. What do we do?

This is our original blog post from 2011. I would like to mention Carol Dweck’s input from her link http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/index.html

Praise Your Child’s Efforts

I read an interesting article the other day, written by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion, about how we can possibly hold our children back with the words we use and set them up for failure in the future both academically and personally.

We’ve all heard a phrase like”my daughter is not very good at maths or sports – she takes after her mother!”  People assume that talent is all about genetics and parents can unintentionally influence their childrens’ achievements by repeating this type of phrase to spare a child’s feelings if they struggle in a particular area and praise their children highly on achievements and results.

However, there has been lots of research into this subject (see link below) and it shows that every child has the potential to excel in all areas whether it be Maths, English, Science, Sports, Arts etc regardless of genetics.  The brain has the capacity to learn and excel at anything, as long as the effort is put in and encouragement given in the right way.

We need to remove the mindset in children that they have talent for certain things like sport but are not academically gifted.  This is not necessarily true – every child has the potential to be an academic given the correct teaching methods and putting in the effort.  It is very important that a child has the correct mindset and realises that effort will bring them to the top in any field, not ‘talent’.

My view as a Parent

As a parent I quickly became aware of the value of commenting on behaviour as this was something my children viewed as changeable.  They knew I was angry with the negative behaviour and I praised their effort for trying hard to change it.  Something as simple as teaching them to ride their bikes meant commenting on how hard they were trying and with practise/effort they could achieve their goal of no stabalisers. Shouting to remind my oldest about a previously learned skill, such as timing it right to put both feet down after breaking, saved her from smashing head first into a tree in the park, then praising her for working hard on this –  previously she fell off every timed she braked and nearly killed off a few cats in the process!

My view as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have to get to know the children you work with and build up a relationship with them.  However, the last thing you want is for them to perform a task just to receive praise from their teacher.  Praise can either be a bond or barrier.

Allan McLean, ‘The Motivated School’ (2010) talks about contaminated praise where a teacher gives praise with the add on of ‘but I wish you could do that all the time’ or ‘why can’t you always..’  McLean states that praise should be relevant, specific and immediate.  Praise for effort encourages children to concentrate on their learning as opposed to showing off their ability.  It teaches values and builds confidence and much research points to the fact that it is related to self-esteem.  It is important to be confident in your ability to deal with difficulties and to know you will progress if you work hard and use the correct approaches, especially when the going gets tough. Confidence in ability is only useful when pupils are doing well, therefore, praise for effort changes their mindset to cope when they come up against a challenge.

This links with Carol Dweck’s research where she states that praising effort and not talent encourages children to view challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats.  Hers and McLean’s research impacts on our beliefs about talent and influences the way we respond and think.  We need to promote the view that IQ is not fixed and the brain is like a muscle – the more we exercise it the more it grows and our skills expand with practise.

My experience at Kip McGrath Education Centres

The foregoing is at the heart of the Kip philosophy and the materials we use.  As tutors we have to remind ourselves the impact words have and can either hold back or encourage an individual.  The materials provide students with skills practise and as they move through the programmes they can experience first hand how their efforts reap rewards.

For example, I have a young student who is dyslexic.  The computer programmes use a multi sensory approach where he hears, sees, touches and responds.  The written materials provide practise and the tutor teaches the skills and approaches to use when meeting new challenges.  He told me he hated language work in school but after coming to Kip for a while he now likes to read books and enjoys sitting in the library corner at school.  He knows he finds reading challenging but now has the confidence to use his skills and knowledge about language to tackle words when reading.  His mindset has changed.  He views himself as a reader and believes if he works hard and keeps practising his skills will expand.  He no longer believes he can’t read because he is not as clever as the other children in his class but is something he can work hard on.  His mum told me today that his class teacher can’t believe the difference in his attitude.  He contributes in class, asks for help and is determined to succeed.  He still has many challenges to face but with the support of his tutor, the Kip materials and praise targeted to his effort he has the capacity to deal with the learning challenges he faces.

Getting it Right

As a person I am not saying I am perfect.  It has taken me years and lots of courses, assignments and analysing my behaviour to make sure the impact I have on children/students I teach is a positive one.  Sometimes I get it wrong and feel like kicking myself but self-reflection is a great tool to put you on the path to getting it right.

Angela Mitchell (right) runs the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Cambuslang together with Lesley McAteer (both fully qualified teachers).  To contact us, please click on the photo to take you to our main website or call us on 0141 646 2314.

Sources and useful links for this Blog

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/3546553/Praise-your-kids-for-effort-not-being-bright.html

http://mindsetonline.com/

http://www.themotivatedschool.co.uk/

National Literacy Trust Survey Reveals Almost 4 million children in UK do not own a book – What can we do?

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Concerns about Childrens’ Literacy in the UK

In September 2011, The National Literacy Trust undertook a survey of school aged children across 111 schools in the UK.  Worryingly, it suggests that 33.2% of children (approximately 3.8 million) in Britain do not own a book.  This has shifted dramatically since 2005 when 1 in 10 children owned a book compared to 1 in 3 in 2011.  The survey reveals that girls and children from wealthier areas were more likely to own a book and that these children were more likely to excel at school.
As highlighted on the BBC website  on 5th December 2011, Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said the steep rise in the number of chilren without their own books was of particular concern. This is what he had to say:

He said: “We know there is a direct correlation between book ownership and childrens’ reading abilities”.

  • “With one in 6 in the UK struggling with literacy it is very worrying that many children could be missing out on opportunities to develop these essential skills.”
  • The trust said that children who owned books were more likely than others to read every day, and that book ownership had a clear link with reading ability.
  • Of the children and young people with books of their own, more than half read above the level expected for their age, with fewer than one in 10 reading below the level.
  • The survey also revealed links between reading ability and receiving books as presents.
  • About a fifth of children said they had never been to a book shop or a library.
  • But the survey also showed that reading any type of material, for example magazines, outside class at least once a month was also associated with greater reading attainment.
  • In light of these findings, The National Literacy Trust have launched  the Gift of Reading this Christmas by asking the public to make a donation which could give a disadvantaged child a book of their own for the first time.You can buy the ‘gift’ for yourself or give the unique present to the booklover in your life. Those giving the Gift of Reading will be able to choose an exclusive Christmas card designed by a children’s author including the wonderful Julia Donaldson & Alex Scheffler who created the Grufallo.
  • To support this wonderful cause and read the original report, please visit the National Literacy Trust website.

Why is this happening?

One of the findings of the National Literacy Trust Survey is that poverty is a factor in children not having access to books.  I don’t think poverty is really the issue here.  Many children from lower income families have access to expensive games consoles, dvds etc.  Books can be cheap.  Going to the library is free and there are numerous charity shops and book fayres where you can pick up childrens’ books for pennies.  I would suggest that lack of the parents’ education have reflected on their children.  If parents were never encouraged to read then why would they consider encouraging this to their children?  This survey shows that children who read at home are more likely to do better at school.  If a parent is not a reader, then they are less likely to gift books and put as much importance on it.  It is up to the parents and family members to encourage reading at home from an early age.

A major concern to the Trust is the steep decline in readers since 2005. This apparently could be in part to blame with the boom in information technology.  Children are texting, on social networking sites, playing computer games, watching dvds and surfing the web.  Of course this is going to have an impact on the next generation.  There is so much more access to entertainment now than the previous generation had.

However, children are missing out out so much by not reading books at home.  This is what one of our students at Kip had to say:

Why I love books by a 9 year old Kip Student.

Heather, aged 9

I enjoy watching films on dvd, but I think reading is much better as I can imagine all the characters so vividly and it boosts my imagination.  Reading means a lot to me as I like to read in bed instead of watching films.  I love to imagine what the characters in a book look like in my mind.  When I am reading a good book, I can read for hours but if I fall asleep, I can pick up the story in my head the next night”.

“I love to read books.  My absolute favourite book is called ” Lily Alone” by Jacqueline Wilson and is about a family of young children and their mum (no dad).  Lily is eleven and the oldest.  Her mum leaves her with her brother and sisters to go on holiday with her new boyfriend, Gordon,  but her mum thinks her ex husband Mikey is taking care of them when he did not receive her message properly and Lily is left alone with her younger brother and sisters and is forced to run away and hide in the park in fear that she would be found and taken into care.”

My Experience as a Teacher

I have been a teacher for over 40 years and since 1999 I have been the person who runs Kip McGrath Education Centres in Scotland.  I also continue to run and teach in my own Tutoring Centre in East Kilbride.  I have found that my own experiences since 2005 reflect the findings of the National Literacy Trust and that the reading age of children is on the decline.  This has been a worry for myself and our other Centre Teachers for a number of years in Scotland.  It will be interesting to read what others have to say on this subject.

As a teacher and grandmother to a 4 and 6 year old, I love getting children to realise why they are learning to read as it is so much fun. Even if you are out visiting with your family, no-one thinks it’s rude if you are reading!!

I always give books and book tokens to my family and I think this is very important.  Of course, no matter how hard we try there will always be those children who are reluctant to pick up a book.  That is why we have compiled the list below of some of the most recent magical books which have been highyl accclaimed to inspire even the most reluctant of readers.

Books To Inspire Reluctant Readers:

Early Readers

Elephant & Piggie – We are in a Book! by Mo Willems – Part of the “Learn to Read” series, this is the latest and possibly funniest story yet about Gerald the Elephant & Piggie.  Be prepared to laugh out loud (children and parents alike) when the pair discover that they are actually in a book and can control what the reader says.  What happens when they discover that there are only so many pages left?

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story —and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is HANSEL AND GRETEL or LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD or even CHICKEN LITTLE, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly thing. Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting?

Princess Poppy Series – The Tooth Fairy by Janey Louise Jones –A brilliant fairytale adventure that little princesses will love, Princess Poppy – The Tooth Fairy comes complete with a lovely pink tooth bag and is guaranteed to reassure little ones when their teeth come loose! With adorable illustrations and an easy to read and easy to follow plot, this is a wonderful bedtime story that kids will ask for time and time again. Poppy is desperate for a visit from the tooth fairy but her teeth just won’t come loose!

Middle Readers

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng – Molly Moon is treated like dirt in her squat English orphanage, with only her pal Rocky, starry Qube soda ads, and the library stacks to give her comfort. After she discovers Hypnotism: An Ancient Art Explained in her favorite library spot, Molly begins learning the ropes and takes mental control of Petula, the orphanage’s grumpy pug dog, and the nasty staff members. But when Molly finds out that Rocky’s been suddenly adopted in New York, she hypnotizes her way to the city, into Broadway stardom, and — unfortunately — into a wicked professor’s plot to rob a high-security bank. Thankfully, though, she and Rocky finally meet up, and with a few surprises, the two hatch a plan to set things right for themselves and for their orphanage.

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Another hilarious and moving novel from bestselling, critically acclaimed author David Walliams, the natural successor to Roald Dahl.  A story of prejudice and acceptance, funny lists and silly words, this new book has all the hallmarks of David’s previous bestsellers. Our hero Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma. 1) She was once an international jewel thief. 2) All her life, she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels, and now she needs Ben’s help…

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She doesn’t have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya’s visions show a powerful hurricane – Katrina – fast approaching, it’s up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz -F0rget everything you know about Hansel and Gretel. What you were told was the lite version, where all the interesting violent bits got cut out, or so the omniscent narrator of A Tale Dark And Grimm would have us believe. AND YOU GUYS, A Tale Dark And Grimm is WAY more kick ass, than the Hansel and Gretel we remember .

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz – What would happen to a fairy if she lost her wings and could no longer fly?  Flory, a young night fairy no taller than an acorn and still becoming accustomed to her wings — wings as beautiful as those of a luna moth — is about to find out.

Older Readers

Artichoke Hearts by sita BrahmAchari – Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it’s not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie’s health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers – like those of an artichoke – around his heart. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. This is an incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance, and often injustice, of life and death – but at its heart is a celebration of friendship, culture – and life. This book is the winner of the 2011 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize.

Rise of the Wolf – Werewold by Curtis Jobling ‘You’re the last of the werewolves son. Don’t fight it…Conquer it.’ When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator. When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him. And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms …Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan’s men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy. Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him – and master the animal within?

How to help your child achieve their full potential in all aspects of life.

Praise Your Child’s Efforts

I read an interesting article the other day, written by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion, about how we can possibly hold our children back with the words we use and set them up for failure in the future both academically and personally.

We’ve all heard a phrase like”my daughter is not very good at maths or sports – she takes after her mother!”  People assume that talent is all about genetics and parents can unintentionally influence their childrens’ achievements by repeating this type of phrase to spare a child’s feelings if they struggle in a particular area and praise their children highly on achievements and results.

However, there has been lots of research into this subject (see link below) and it shows that every child has the potential to excel in all areas whether it be Maths, English, Science, Sports, Arts etc regardless of genetics.  The brain has the capacity to learn and excel at anything, as long as the effort is put in and encouragement given in the right way.

We need to remove the mindset in children that they have talent for certain things like sport but are not academically gifted.  This is not necessarily true – every child has the potential to be an academic given the correct teaching methods and putting in the effort.  It is very important that a child has the correct mindset and realises that effort will bring them to the top in any field, not ‘talent’.

My view as a Parent

As a parent I quickly became aware of the value of commenting on behaviour as this was something my children viewed as changeable.  They knew I was angry with the negative behaviour and I praised their effort for trying hard to change it.  Something as simple as teaching them to ride their bikes meant commenting on how hard they were trying and with practise/effort they could achieve their goal of no stabalisers. Shouting to remind my oldest about a previously learned skill, such as timing it right to put both feet down after breaking, saved her from smashing head first into a tree in the park, then praising her for working hard on this –  previously she fell off every timed she braked and nearly killed off a few cats in the process!

My view as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have to get to know the children you work with and build up a relationship with them.  However, the last thing you want is for them to perform a task just to receive praise from their teacher.  Praise can either be a bond or barrier.

Allan McLean, ‘The Motivated School’ (2010) talks about contaminated praise where a teacher gives praise with the add on of ‘but I wish you could do that all the time’ or ‘why can’t you always..’  McLean states that praise should be relevant, specific and immediate.  Praise for effort encourages children to concentrate on their learning as opposed to showing off their ability.  It teaches values and builds confidence and much research points to the fact that it is related to self-esteem.  It is important to be confident in your ability to deal with difficulties and to know you will progress if you work hard and use the correct approaches, especially when the going gets tough. Confidence in ability is only useful when pupils are doing well, therefore, praise for effort changes their mindset to cope when they come up against a challenge.

This links with Carol Dweck’s research where she states that praising effort and not talent encourages children to view challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats.  Hers and McLean’s research impacts on our beliefs about talent and influences the way we respond and think.  We need to promote the view that IQ is not fixed and the brain is like a muscle – the more we exercise it the more it grows and our skills expand with practise.

My experience at Kip McGrath Education Centres

The foregoing is at the heart of the Kip philosophy and the materials we use.  As tutors we have to remind ourselves the impact words have and can either hold back or encourage an individual.  The materials provide students with skills practise and as they move through the programmes they can experience first hand how their efforts reap rewards.

For example, I have a young student who is dyslexic.  The computer programmes use a multi sensory approach where he hears, sees, touches and responds.  The written materials provide practise and the tutor teaches the skills and approaches to use when meeting new challenges.  He told me he hated language work in school but after coming to Kip for a while he now likes to read books and enjoys sitting in the library corner at school.  He knows he finds reading challenging but now has the confidence to use his skills and knowledge about language to tackle words when reading.  His mindset has changed.  He views himself as a reader and believes if he works hard and keeps practising his skills will expand.  He no longer believes he can’t read because he is not as clever as the other children in his class but is something he can work hard on.  His mum told me today that his class teacher can’t believe the difference in his attitude.  He contributes in class, asks for help and is determined to succeed.  He still has many challenges to face but with the support of his tutor, the Kip materials and praise targeted to his effort he has the capacity to deal with the learning challenges he faces.

Getting it Right

As a person I am not saying I am perfect.  It has taken me years and lots of courses, assignments and analysing my behaviour to make sure the impact I have on children/students I teach is a positive one.  Sometimes I get it wrong and feel like kicking myself but self-reflection is a great tool to put you on the path to getting it right.

Angela Mitchell (right) runs the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Cambuslang together with Lesley McAteer (both fully qualified teachers).  To contact us, please click on the photo to take you to our main website or call us on 0141 646 2314.

Sources and useful links for this Blog

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/3546553/Praise-your-kids-for-effort-not-being-bright.html

http://mindsetonline.com/

http://www.themotivatedschool.co.uk/