N is also for….News

NDo you know who the Prime Minister is?  What does the government do?  Who’s the President of the USA?

It’s amazing how many people don’t know the answers to questions like these.  Not just children, but adults too.  That’s really not a good thing, because it’s important for everyone to know what’s going on in the world around us for many reasons.

Information like this isn’t usually taught in school, though, so you need to find it out for yourself.  You can ask your parents if you want to know something, but one of the best ways to know what’s happening in the world is by watching the news on TV or reading a newspaper.  This probably sounds like quite a hard thing to do, but don’t worry.  The news can be complicated, even for adults, and that’s why there are news programmes and magazines especially for younger people.  Check out www.bbc.co.uk/newsround, or ask your parents if you can get “First News” from the supermarket or newsagent

If you think the news might not be much fun, yes there are some very serious topics sometimes, but there’s lots of enjoyable stuff too, about subjects you’ll probably be quite interested in like space, nature, sport, or entertainment.  You’ll be amazed how many unusual or funny things happen around the world every day!

Knowing what’s happening in the world is useful to help you understand who important people in the world are, what they do, what different parts of the world are like and why things happen.  But it can help your school work too.  Information from the news will make PHSE lessons easier to understand, the different stories, characters and situations you find out about from the news are things you can use in your creative writing, you will be better at non-fiction writing, especially reports and persuasive writing styles, and your speaking and listening skills will improve by hearing lots of different people talk about their opinions.

Keep up to date with the news and it will help you be well-informed, smart and better at your school work.  Who knows, one day people might be seeing you on the news doing something important in the world.

Thanks again to Ian Braisby, Blue Badge Guide for this post

Related posts: M is also for….   O is also for…

The Difference Between Teaching Children and Adults

I was once asked in an interview what I thought the difference was between teaching adults and teaching children.

There is of course the obvious factor that adults are in a classroom because they want to be there and because, for the most part, they have chosen to study the subject you are teaching. Children on the other hand are in the classroom because the law states that they have to be. You would think therefore that the adults would be more motivated.

However, children have learnt to learn, whereas adults have forgotten how. Children come to school each day expecting to learn, and they know that they will be required to put in some effort and take responsibility for their own learning. Adults arrive at their evening class tired after a full day at work and think that sitting in a lesson and just listening is the same as learning. Children are prepared to practise a new skill for a longer period of time because they know they need to. Adults tend to try one or two examples and decide that’s enough, so they don’t complete the embedding process. I’m not criticising. I’m often guilty of this myself.

So much for the difference in learning between adults and children. What about teaching methods? When I first started out I thought that teaching adults and children would be very different. I imagined that teaching adults would be a lot more serious, but this turned out not to be the case. I discovered that the more games I introduced, the more the adults engaged with the lesson and the better they learnt. Songs and video clips proved equally popular. After talking to other teachers of adults I have come to the conclusion that there really is no difference in methods that work.

So, back to the original question: What is the difference between teaching adults and children? I think the main difference is the content and context rather than style. Depending on the subject adults may require content to be more in-depth than children, or they may wish to focus on a smaller area such as handling money and paying household bills. I wouldn’t teach children how to order a beer in a foreign language, whereas this is a favourite for adults! Context for children will focus on their limited life experiences, and relate to school, playground games, holidays. Adults will be less interested in school and playtime, but will relate to the context of work, home and holidays.

What do you think the main differences are?

For language, maths or English tuition in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall area visit www.sjbteaching.com.  For links to other interesting education-related articles, please like my facebook page.

What’s the best age to start teaching my child a language?

This is a question I get asked a lot – especially by parents who are holding new-born babies in their arms. My recommendation would be to start getting them accustomed to the sound of the language you have chosen straight away – not by engaging a home tutor, but by playing them a CD of nursery rhymes at least once a day.

Wait until they are at least 3-5 before you think about having a language tutor, and then consider making it a family learning experience rather than a lesson just for your child. This will make the experience less intimidating for your child, will enable you all to practise together in between visits from your tutor, and will help your child retain the language better.

What is the best age to start private tuition?

As soon as you realise that your child needs some extra help. Struggling at school affects a child’s confidence, and the less confident they become, the harder they will find it to catch up. It’s fine to book a tutor for children as young as 5 or 6 if that is when they are starting to fall behind their classmates, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will need extra help for the rest of their school life.

Numeracy in a School for the Deaf

From the time I spent observing and teaching in a school for the Deaf, I found that maths lessons were the ones most like lessons in a mainstream school. The main difference is the fact that because class sizes are so much smaller (between 5 and 9 children), lesson objectives are more targeted for each individual child rather than having the same objective for a whole class or whole set.

There is also more support – two to three TAs in each classroom – so during independent activities each group still has an adult to support them. The children are mainly below the level of their peers in mainstream schools, because of their delay in language acquisition. However, teachers still have high expectations and lesson plans have both age-expected learning objectives, to make sure that staff bear in mind where these children *should* be, as well as realistic objectives.

To help the children catch up, they have two maths lessons a day – an hour-long one in the morning in their own class,  and a 15 minute ability-grouped one in the afternoon which focuses on particular areas of weakness such as mental calculations and maths vocabulary.

Teaching is, obviously, very visual and kinaesthetic and happens mostly in English with signs to support.

In the lower school, children can choose whether they record their maths in figures or pictures. Some  are happy to write 4 + 3 = 7, but many prefer to show this as   4+3=7

and either is considered acceptable. Higher up the school they record their work in figures only.

One thing I became very aware of during maths lessons, is that for some children, having BSL as their first language hinders their maths. For example, hearing people naturally count on both hands whereas counting in BSL is done on one hand only: you start with your thumb for one and put up an extra finger for each number up to 5; then you come back down again, so 6 is represented by just the little finger, 7 by the little finger and ring finger together and so on. Now imagine trying to do 7 take away 2 on your hands: you put up two fingers to show 7, and then take away 2……  Hardly surprising that 7-2=0 appears so often in their books…

With so many extra obstacles in their way of their learning, it’s a true testament to their perseverance, and their teachers’ dedication that they manage to learn.

Related posts: Literacy in a School for the Deaf    Deaf Studies in a School for the Deaf