Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Understanding the Children’s Learning Styles

Children are born with different kinds of learning styles. The education experts suggested that the learning styles are grouped into auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. The experts said that 80 percent of what we learn is through our vision. Children of this style are drawn to paintings, craft and other arts. They also have a wonderful sense of imagination and are known to be very creative (Fiona Baker, n.d.). Visual learners learn more through matured and developed reading skills from books, and visual materials like flashcards.

Here at Letzhop, we teach children to learn through watching videos of topic related and content-based in order to help them to read and understand reading better. It is believed that visual and auditory learning styles to be the most dominant and many traditional classrooms are geared with such styles and suitable to cater to our visual learners (Fiona Baker, n.d.). As a teacher, we agree that for the children learning to make sense, they need to be able to see, visualise and illustrate their knowledge skills and concepts. We see our children here improve day by day. Visual and auditory learning styles motivate the children to enjoy reading and recognizing the letters or words. Visual learners will eventually get motivated to read more with stimulating reading skills games prepared by the teachers.

A sample of a game reading activity we did with our children at Letzhop, bring a hat (like a magician hat) into the class and hide as many words flashcards related to the story or topic learned during the day. The teacher says the word, “abracadabra!” and take out one card, show the card to the children and invite them to say the word aloud. This leads the children to read and the activity is later repeated, but teacher picks one of the children to say the magic word and pick a card from the hat. Let the child leads the class and this activity will encourage others to read along. The flashcards used as the visual materials attract the children’s interest and something for them to look forward to every time it is reading class!

Better learning is acquired by the children at Letzhop via matured and developed reading skills and attractive learning materials like flashcards. However, it is still important to acknowledge the children’s best learning behaviours, whether they are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners. When parents or teachers know their children’s best way to learn, learning would be easier and more effective for the child.

Authored by,
Teacher Ila & Teacher Anem
LETZHOP Bandar Baru Bangi

Baker, F. (n.d.). Mum's School Zone. Retrieved August 22, 2014, from kidspot: http://www.kidspot.com.au/schoolzone/Learning-Learning-styles-Visual-learning-style-in-children+4086+391+article.htm

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

TV: Good or Bad for Kids?

Parents are often mistaken with the idea of putting a child in front of a TV and assuming that the kid will absorb whatever language or content they listen to and watch. Well, yes, it is somewhat true that nothing can occupy a child quite like television. However, Alice Park, a journalist from TIME Magazine stated that the more time children spend sitting in front of the screen, the more their social, cognitive and language may suffer (2009). Television also delays learning by reducing the youngsters’ ability to communicate and socialize with others. However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician from the University of Washington, looked at one major weakness of the study but he can’t say for sure whether kid-targeted programming could really lead the children to vocalize, talk and interact with their parents more. That is if the parents put on the TV and really engage with the child verbally. There may be several drawbacks on the idea of exposing the preschoolers to the television, but never to assume that there are no advantages of it if the content showed to the youngsters and preschoolers are properly tailored for the specific learning objectives. 

In an article taken from IFAS Extension, Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning, and the Cognitive Development of Young Children (2011), it has evidently stated that the content for pre-schoolers has been around for decades and one of these contents would be the Sesame Street English. The content was specifically designed for pre-schoolers and are marketed as educational materials to optimize child development. 

In addition, television and videos are quite common in the lives of children and can influence their development. Hence, the exposure of a significant amount of adult television might be inappropriate for the children especially when they are exposed to it without any supervision or verbal interactions – explaining to them about what’s going on or pausing and responding to the child rather than being too occupied with the show. Meaning to say that, early brain development of children starts when they have positive interactions with their environment in which the development of neural pathways enable positive development (Going to School by Craig T. and Sharon L. Ramey). So, it is important for the parents and teachers to know the kind of television or content to be shown to the children. 

Children whose parents allow them to watch more educational tv program would usually excel in school, have higher grades, speak wider vocabularies, and show more creativity due to the massive information and activities that they see on TV as compared to those who watch more violent or purely entertainment content of television. In an article, A Teacher in the Living Room? by Garrison and Christakis, the Sesame Street program, probably the most studied television programs of all time, has shown to have a variety of benefits for preschool children, including increases in vocabulary, ability to count, and general school readiness. So, this Sesame Street English program would definitely help our children to develop their learning styles – to not only be able to speak, read and write but also to show their creativity and ability to initiate self-learning. This is an absolute difference that our Malaysian children need. 

“With respect to development, what children watch is at least as important as, and probably more important than, how much they watch.” ~ The Future of Children, 2008. 

Authored by, 
Teacher Adeb 
Master Trainer, HQ 

  1. Craig T. Ramey and and Sharon L. (1999). Going to School : How to Help Your Child Succeed. Goddard Press, Incorporated. 
  2. Garrison, M., Christakis, D. (2005). A teacher in the living room? Educational media for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Kaiser Family Foundation. 
  3. Park, A. (2009). Study: TV May Inhibit Babies' Language Development. TIME, 1-2. 
  4. Toelle, D. C. (2011, December). Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning and the Cognitive Development of Young Children. University of Florida IFAS Extension, 1-3.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Inspiration to Inspire

Hi there readers!

My name is Adeline and my students call me Teacher Adeline. I’m a part time teacher at Letzhop Mind Enrichment Centre at Bandar Botanic. Words could not describe how much I love working and spending time there and I believe that the students feel the same as well. We always look forward for classes (well, occasionally, kids will be kids) as they are always filled with great fun and joy…and at the end of the day, we go back home with something new that we learn.

Robert Frost once said that “there are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fills you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”

Allow me to share a story and experience that I personally went through as a child. When I was little, I was not very good with academics. I loved drawing, singing, playing the piano and making crafts. While on the other hand, I have two other sisters who are very good with studies. They are always the top in class, winning awards and on top of that, they are very good with music and sports as well. Almost an all rounder I would say. I remember wishing that I was as good as them. However, there was this beautiful lady; let’s address her as Miss C, who was also my piano teacher that changes my life. Every week as I went for my lessons, she never failed to encourage and inspire me. It made me wanting to do better each time. It is true that I improve so much in piano. I believe that the influence of a teacher is very strong and it has a great impact on a student’s life. Although Miss C was only my piano teacher but her weekly motivation has helped me to do better academically.

Just like most of the Malaysian students, we all have to undergo a major examination known as UPSR in Primary 6. On that particular year when I was in Primary 6, it was my turn. I remember I was so nervous when the examination was approaching as I wanted to prove it to myself that I could do it. I could pass with flying colours as well. As usual, I went for my piano classes weekly and Miss C continued to be an inspiration to me. On the day the results were released, to my amazement, I scored a string of As. It was one of the happiest days in my life as I had never scored all A’s in any examinations before.

Never did I dream that I would be a teacher one day. On the day I got the job at LetzHop, I told myself that I wanted to be a teacher just like Miss C. I want to inspire and motivate my students. I want to help them to reach their fullest potentials and still enjoy learning. I find that the approach and syllabi of the English programme at LetzHop are very interesting and fulfilling. I have never regretted being on this journey as there is so much fun in learning. I believe that in every class there is always a mutual exchange of ideas and thoughts for both the teacher and the students. That is one thing that I love about teaching. It is true that as teachers, we do not often see instant results from our hard work as teaching is a process. Nevertheless, for me, it is the journey that I walk with the students that matters. There is a special feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when you notice that your students are actually applying whatever they have learnt in class. I love to explore with the children and I am inspired to be a better teacher. Just like Robert Frost quoted;

I want to be the kind of teacher that gives my precious students a push from behind as they soar to the skies reaching for their dreams.

Authored by,  
Teacher Adeline

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I am not only teaching, I am also learning here at Letzhop

My first involvement at Letzhop started with teaching the Sesame Street English (SSE) part time. I enjoy teaching the English language as it is my cup of tea. It is a very new experience for me, surrounded with younger children as I was always been with teenage students for the past few years. Yet, this experience has been very interesting. I was later offered to teach full time at Letzhop. Consequently, the responsibilities shifted into something bigger, I am not only teaching SSE but also the ABCs, Islamic Studies, Mathematics and many more.
Apart from teaching young children the preliminary subjects, one of the other challenging yet fun tasks that I am handling here at Letzhop would be the Autism kids. I didn’t know that the centre offers Autism program at first as I was only here during weekends. My first encounter with the children was very difficult. I have neither experience nor idea on how to handle Autistic children but day by day, I learn on how to handle them. I observe the Autism teachers – the experts. I learned that in order for you to ensure a smooth day in class with them, you need to know what are their needs and interests. Don’t ever force them – pushing them doing things according to your way won’t help them, neither would it help you.
Here at Letzhop, Autism children will go for behaviour classes and therapy. As for first-timers, it is normal that you will hear them crying and screaming during the therapy. It is a way of how they overcome their fear and discomfort of a new place and environment. After a while, they will definitely be more calm and relaxed with the teachers. With Autistic children, teachers will have to use a similar teaching approach with the non-challenged children, demonstrate, assist and be involved in the activity rather than give a verbal instruction on how to do things. For example, a simple colouring activity – we sit and assist our children to do the colouring because we know, if we are to tell them, “Okay, now, colour the ball, red”, and the children will just do whatever they want and that is not anything that has to do with colouring. Teachers will then go back to, what are their needs and interests – not all of them like colouring. Surely, there is also other factor like, children with the condition lacks of reciprocity or joint engagement (Do You See What I See, 2011) in which, they lack the ability to engage others and communicate socially using non-verbal cues such as pointing, smiling, or making eye contact in a social and language development.
Eventually, after a few months of observing and teaching, it came to my realisation; Autistic children acquire the English language uniquely. Despite of the behavioural challenges that the Autistics are going through with every day, almost all of them understand English well and are prefer to speak in the language. They memorize vocabularies extensively, recognize the alphabets from A to Z and are always confident to say the alphabets aloud.
I must say that my earlier challenging involvement with the centre and the Autism children gradually changes to a dynamic, meaningful learning I have ever had with Letzhop. I am willing and still learning by mingling with them and the teachers so that I can learn and explore more about the little knowledge I had about them previously and that I can share it with others. I wish to also change the people’s sceptical perception and fear of Autism. They are after all, are indeed very special. 

Authored by,  
Teacher Edia
LETZHOP Selayang


Do you see what I see? Retrieved August 4, 2014, from Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/do-you-see-what-i-see