Vocabulary in Primary School

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Vocabulary knowledge has a wide-ranging influence on a child’s reading comprehension ability. Therefore it is important to ensure that students are being taught vocabulary in an effective and long-lasting manner. Below is a program designed by Dr Lorraine Hammond from Edith Cowan University on effective vocabulary instruction however, there are other ways of teaching vocabulary as well.

Dr Hamond separates words in Tiers. Examples of Tier 1, 2 and 3 words are below:

  • Tier 1 (everyday words) – lamp, spider, shirt, flower, mouse
  • Tier 2 (language of academics, business, government) – illusion, improvise, meticulous, glimpse, edible
  • Tier 3 (domain-specific terminology) – hydraulic, asymmetrical, monograph, periodical

1. Decide which Tier 2 words are relevant and teachable to your students.

When choosing tier 2 words to teach your students, it is important to consider the importance and utility of the word, as well as its instructional potential: you mus be able to explain the words using concrete, simple terms. It is also important to consider whether the students already have the vocabulary to explain this word.

2. Write some child-friendly definitions that are meaningful to your students

Use language that your students are familar with and try to capture the definition of the word in its broadest application. For example:

Furious: Someone who is furious is extremely angry

Premonition: If you have a premonition, you have a feeling that something is going to happen, often something unpleasant.

3. Provide an additional context for a word

For example, Furious doesn’t always mean extremely angry. Furious can also be used to describe something that is done with great energy, effort, speed or violence.

4. Provide opportunities for students to actively process word meanings

The key to effective activities is that they require students to attend to the meaning of a word in order to apply it to a given situation. Some examples of opportunities for students to engage in words include:

  • Word associations
  • Have you ever? questions
  • Idea completions
  • Questions, reasons, examples, making choices

5. Provide for a high frequency of encounters over time

Frequent encounters with words make new knowledge ‘stick’. It is recommended that teachers provide their students with 10 new words per week, with daily activities, as well as ongoing revision of words that have already been introduced.

6. Review student learning

The most effective way to review student learning is by asking, specifically about the new vocabulary. Learners need six (meaningful) exposures to a new word during the initial lesson and at least 30 additional exposure during the ensuing month.


Information for this page was taken from Dr. Lorraine Hammond’s lecture, “Teaching Vocabulary: One component of reading comprehension” presented at the SPELD Conference 2009 on 7th October, 2009 . The Quirky Kid team attended to this event.


Global Nomad Kids

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker

It is now common for children to travel overseas with their parents on holidays, but what about children who live and travel internationally?  Global Nomad Kids are young people whose parents are in professions that require them to move outside of the country they were born, and to move frequently throughout their childhoods.

What makes a Global Nomad Kid different?

Global Nomads have a strange connection to their citizenship country, especially if they have not really lived there. Global Nomad Kids often have a confused sense of identity, whereby they feel their “home”, may not be where they were born. Global Nomads are exposed to a number of cultures and gain valuable experiences by moving around. They learn how to adapt to new surroundings, gain language skills, develop an understanding and respect for different cultures, and get a unique education from their international upbringing. Global Nomad Kids also have the advantage of making friends all over the world.

What difficulties do Global Nomads experience?

Difficulties faced by Global Nomad Kids may include; trouble finding a sense of belonging, not feeling able to set down and grow strong roots or friendships, feeling disconnected from others, feeling helpless and not in control of where they are, feeling alienated in a new culture and grieving for the lost cultures and places they have been separated from.

Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker

A big question that Global Nomad Kids  face is “where are you from?” Often a Global Nomad has spent a limited amount of time in their passport country and feels more connected to their host country. Despite the bond, the Global Nomad Kid cannot fully own the identity of their host country, maybe due to not speaking the language, or not having the expected racial appearance. This means that while the Global Nomad feels a connection with the place they live, they may also experience a sense of alienation from it.

What do Global Nomads Kids say?

When interviewing Karina, a nineteen year old half British, quarter Chinese, quarter Filipino girl, who grew up in Hong Kong, I asked her if she thought she would ever live in the United Kingdom, which is where her father is from, and where his side of the family still lives.

She replied that she wouldn’t, as she doesn’t “feel British”. This is a common sentiment held by children suspended between different cultures, especially those of mixed race or those who have spent years of their childhood outside the country of their birth.

(Click here to see the full interview on Facebook)

Being a Global Nomad can be quite overwhelming and upsetting, and expatriate parents need to be aware that the experience of starting a new life in a new country may be a difficult process.

Preparing the young Global Nomad for their next move:

  • Keep anxiety levels low by communicating with your child and letting them know, with as much advanced warning, when you may move.
  • Allow them some time to farewell their friends and favourite places and perhaps help them collate a special box of pictures and memories so that they may have comforting objects nearby.
  • Let them know that they can come back and visit their friends, or help them set up an email account or social networking account to allow them to keep in touch.
  • Help them research the new destination and find out fun things you can do as a family, or activities they can become involved in when they first arrive. This may lead to some new friends and can help ease the transition.

Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker

Being a Global Nomad Kid means being bonded to a special group of people who have had similar experiences. Though it can be a hard process and may take some time to get used to, the cultural exchange experienced by Global Nomads and their different host countries is invaluable.

Remember to include your child in discussions, and listen to their fears or concerns about the change of environment. It may be that what their really afraid of or sad about, is something you can explain or talk through.

Join the discussion at the Quirky Kid Huddle!

There are a number of websites and forums about Global Nomads which you and your child could explore together which may help to make them feel less isolated. Some of these will be listed on the Quirky Huddle, as well as the full interview with Karina.

We would love to discuss with you your Global Nomad Kid stories, or techniques you’ve used to make transitions between countries easier for your child.

This article was written by Paris Herbert-Taylor, Quirky Kid Creative Writer
Source Mary Langford’s Chapter Global Nomads, Third Culture Kids and International Schools from International education: principles and practice (1998). Radio discussion of Third Culture Kids hosted by Richard Aedy


Kids Writing


Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

By: Paris Herbert-Taylor
Nurturing and developing writing skills in young people allows for development of great  tools that aid children throughout their schooling years and into adulthood. Writing and storytelling let children expand their imagination, extend their communication abilities and it also offers them a space to explore their feelings.

As children grow, their understanding of themselves changes. Writing about thoughts, feelings and ideas is one way in which children are able to distinguish themselves as separate from their family unit, and unique among their peers. Sharing their stories, or their journal entries in the lower primary years allows for a sense of self to develop and lets the child understand that their ideas may differ from those of the people around them, and that what they are sharing, writing, and thinking about are valuable and interesting entities.

As children progress through Middle school and High school, writing and being able to communicate through the written word becomes vital as many of the subjects offered at this level are centered upon the need to express thoughts and ideas, as well as recount learned facts.

Kimberley O’Brien is the principal psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic and has worked as a child psychologist for 16 years. Kim notes that from a mental well-being point of view “writing provides a healthy outlet for self-expression, reducing the likelihood of behavioural, social and emotional issues.” Positive outcomes of getting your child to write may be: better communication skills, a developed imagination and pride in creating something creative.

If your child is struggling to write or express themselves with the written word, there are many positive ways to encourage them.

Encouragement Tips:

  • Consider finding a diary for your child to decorate and make their own, and ask them to jot down ideas, feelings or even little stories or funny lines. Have a sharing time allocated each week in which they can read you, or let you read, what they have written. Offer praise and encouragement.
  • Suggest your child participates in writing competitions or to write a letter to their favorite magazine. Even if the child doesn’t win or have their work published, the process of completing a formatted writing piece, with encouragement and praise, will build confidence to keep writing.
  • Ask your child to write a letter or make a card for someone, and then send it. It could even be a letter to someone in the household, like the family pet. This way the child is learning about writing as a communication and can be a fun exercise that they will enjoy, especially if they receive a card or letter back!
  • Use resources like the Tell Me A Story Cards to encourage imagination and support for creative writing.


  • It is more important to get a young child writing than to worry about sentence structure, grammar or spelling. Those things will improve with the frequency of writing, and if you daunt them with too many rules and regulations, they may not enjoy the experience and realize that writing is actually really fun!

Discuss children writing with Paris and our team at the Quirky Kid Huddle – our parenting forum. We have also prepared a list of some upcoming writing competitions for kids and are keen to hear if you have any more tips and ideas.


Paris Herbert-Taylor is a Creative writer for the Quirky Kid Clinic. This is her first post. © Quirky Kid
Information for this piece was taken from the Raising Children Network website, parenting Discussion forums and from an interview with  Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien.




Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Bullying occurs when someone or a group of people cause psychological or physical harm to another person, or damage their property, reputation or social acceptance, on more than one occasion. Bullying can take on many forms. Direct bullying involves physical aggression and verbal attacks. Indirect bullying is more subtle and can include actions such as exclusion and ignoring, spreading rumours, embarrassing and humiliating others.

It has also been reported to occur in internet chat rooms, and via email and text messaging – cyber-bullying. Children who are bullied experience real suffering which can affect their social, emotional and educational development.

New Anti-Harassment Laws will give legal protection for young people tormented by Bullying. The new legislations means young people under the age of 16 will be able to use sexual harassment laws to protect themselves.

How can I tell if my child is being bullied?

  • Does your child find excuses for not going to school, e.g. being sick?
  • Is your child tense, tearful and/or unhappy before or after school?
  • Does your child have unexplained bruises or scratches?
  • Is your child showing difficulties sleeping such as nightmares or bedwetting?
  • Does your child talk about not liking school or other children at school?
  • Have you noticed your child’s standard of school work declining?
  • Have you noticed a change in the usual behaviour pattern of your child?
  • Does your child have a lack of friends at school?

How can I tell if my child is bullying others?

  • Does your child talk about his/her peers in a negative or aggressive way?
  • Does your child have money, toys or other items that do not belong to him/her?
  • Does your child have difficulties getting along easily with others?
  • Is your child involved in a peer group that supports bullying behaviour?

What can I do if I am or someone I know being bullied?

  • There are many things you can do to deal with it and this includes trying to deal with it yourself, like ignoring the bully, hanging out with friends, and being confident.
  • If bullying does not stop, you should seek help. Talk to a friend, a family member, teacher  or psychologist. Talking to someone will help you feel better.
  • Find out about your school anti-bullying policy. Not dough this has happened to many other people before and there will be a standard approach to addressed.
  • If it happens outside school – it can be useful to ask any witnesses to support you as you approach authority figures like bus drivers, police or similar.
  • It is important to deal with bullying immediately to reduce the likelihood of it reoccurring over a longer period of time.

How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help my child?

If you suspect your child may be experiencing bullying, or bullying others, please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 to discuss the following options:

  • Individual counselling and therapy with one of our experienced Child Psychologists
  • “The Best of friends” and “Self Esteem” workshops for individuals and class groups
  • School-based intervention and support