We are on Facebook and Twitter!

Like us on facebook - www.fb.com/thelearningcraft
Follow us on Twitter - @learningcraftNG


Independence Day and My Child

My oldest child is now 7 years old and is beginning to ask too many deep questions. Everything must make sense to him! He asks, "why do we have to celebrate Nigeria's Independence day?" I had a whole lot to explain some of which I will share with you.

Before I do, let's review the relevance of Independence day celebration to children. When children get older, they begin to put the meaning of independence in perspective. Independence is an attribute every individual strives to attain in life. Most of what parents hope to achieve with their kids is to help them gain some sort of independence....for decision taking, family-life, work, income etc. We teach our children to survive on their own and when they do so successfully, we feel accomplished having played our role in their story. The world becomes their oyster. In this, we find relief.....isn't it?

I explained that whole idea of an Independence day celebration is to mark a country's birthday. A day the citizens of a country begin to take charge of themselves. That when one becomes independent, they get a lot of freedom but it also comes with a huge responsibility. A responsibility to ensuring that the right things are done at the right time for the right reasons. My son is fond of saying that he wants to be the 'Emperor' of Nigeria; (these cartoons have definitely taken their space in his vocabulary)....meaning President. So I say to him that he should take a few minutes to think about what he can contribute to his country and to the world. And he said something that struck me......."I will make sure that every place is clean and everyone tells the truth no matter what". I wondered.....why telling the truth? How is he perceiving his country? He will often say that Nigeria is not like many others? I asked him why. He says that if everyone tells the truth, we will have a country that isn't this old looking. Old looking? You can only imagine how i felt! I stopped to think! Really, if everyone told the truth relatively enough in Nigeria, we sure will fare far better for it.

Discuss the day with children. Ask what contributions they can bring to make Nigeria better. Tell them they have to show responsibility in all things. Visit any National Heritage site if there is any close by. Explain that being patriotic does come with some price but a price that leaves a lasting legacy for their own children; and enjoy watching them giggle at the fact that they will have their own kids.


Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Start well, start early!

All young children should experience a feeling of success and pride from early years in their reading and writing exercises. Children must also be encouraged to take risks in reading and errors should be viewed as a natural part of growth. As they feel more successful reading, their interest for books/reading increases and the better their comprehension abilities. Any child who is great at comprehending texts will keep on overcoming most school work feats. A WIDE vocabulary helps in Math word problems, Science, Socials, ICT etc.

Take time to regularly read with your child from a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books. Explain what non-fiction and fiction stories mean. For example, a story that narrates how a lizard winked at a person; pause to ask if it's possible and explain that it's a make-belief story written to tickle our minds. You should see how kids light up when inanimate objects are given life and when discussed, they get more excited about reading and create ideas of their own! Always pause during reading time to check that they are applying a good listening principle, and test their comprehension by asking about hidden clues in stories.

Reading skills should be strongly focused on oral language and to be successful, it must include speaking, listening, writing, poetry, rhymes and drama.

Children's early writing attempts (between ages 4-6) should be encouraged especially on handwriting skills. Do not be overly concerned about correct spellings especially in the earlier years. Don't be too quick to give harsh comments about their writing but be encouraging. You should often say that they can do better. Use positive reinforcement where necessary. Attaching monthly gifts to a good handwriting achieved isn't a bad idea. 

As they enter into formal school, introduce the concept of 'tricky words'. The concept of tricky words allows younger children to understand that some words do not follow the 'sound rule' pattern; that they must practice writing and spelling them as 'sight' words.

You should be the model of a good speaker that children will look up to and emulate by using language appropriately. Listening and responding to their very many talks and engaging in their own reading and writing goes a long way to encouraging childrens' interest in reading, writing and speaking. If you are able to do this, you do not need to worry about any weak language spoken around the kids through home-helps, relatives and/or peers. They will decipher naturally right from wrong and always bounce back to speaking eloquently.

I know one thing works; being consistent and speaking appropriately. Repeat the right pronunciation after a wrong one has been said without correcting forcefully! Be an example and you will see results.


Punishments OR Positive Reinforcements. Which one works?

Many tutors, relatives and parents find themselves battling with ways of modifying behavior in children. A lot of us think that going down the 'tough' route always does the job.....not always I may say. 

The best way to reduce misbehavior is to provide abundant positive reinforcement for good behavior. Punishment in the form of unpleasant consequences might stop misbehavior, but it often has undesirable side effects. A child whose behavior is punished excessively may react emotionally, strike back or avoid the person delivering the punishment. Instead of excessively punishing misbehavior, use firm reinforcement to get your child to do good. Tell her that you appreciate what she's doing, and do so frequently and consistently. At the same time, make sure misbehavior doesn't pay off by enabling your child to avoid homework or chores OR to gain attention. Ignore any temptations to give in to their desires at this time.

The most common type of positive reinforcement is praising children after they demonstrate a desirable behavior while negative reinforcement occurs when the child is made to remove all unpleasant stimulus. Most punishments aim to deter repeating negative behavior; but is this a possibility through and through?

Reinforcement must be immediate, frequent and enthusiastic. Everyone should use eye contact and explain CLEARLY the behavior being rewarded. Eye contact is something that one should develop with the child as it also fosters bonding.

What about Timeouts?

Timeouts have become a quite common disciplinary action for children, but do you know that overuse can decrease its effectiveness? If the time period is too short, it belittles the punishment, and if too long can cause isolation and ultimately more negative behavior. It is a delicate balance which must be used carefully and be tailored to age/individuality. I have seen children and teenagers who are just super excited to be in their space during timeouts so you may want to try another type of reinforcement or punishment that could be in form of periods of deprivation from what they enjoy doing. At least, a four-minute timeout is most effective for elementary school students. However you should explain any kind of reinforcement used. Children need to understand why they are being punished because this helps them to identify consequences of their acts before entering into timeout. In groups e.g at home with siblings or with school mates, younger children tend to observe an action by peers, see it praised and then imitate the action hoping to receiving praise also.

Do you know that punishment does not exactly provide an appropriate model of acceptable behavior in the way that positive reinforcement does? Approach punishment from a calm, centered place instead of reacting in angerHarsh and severe punishments will actually increase the likelihood of a child developing a habit of lying. Consequences to bad behavior is crucial, but it is also just as important to keep a level head when communicating it to your kids. Remember behavior modification is not meant to strictly create obedient children, but rather help children understand right and wrong and the consequences of their behavior.   


Introducing your CELEBUTORS™ and CELEBRIKIDS™

Just like Oprah, I love and celebrate teachers. That is why it's no surprise to me that I became one; but a good number of people who know me well still wonder how come. I guess I was just born a teacher. From the inception of this blog, I always planned to create a page that will celebrate the people who played a major part in your lives; most of which you may never forget - your best TEACHERS. You are all invited to share yours too and this is how it goes! 

This page is called CELEBUTORS™. Notable teachers will be celebrated daily or weekly depending on certain criteria. The information needed for entry is simple:

  • name
  • school 
  • years of experience
  • subject/s taught
  • achievements - special recognition, contribution to the school and/or education
  • favorite student taught/reasons (this could be your most improved student)
  • inspiration to the teaching profession
  • Celebutor gist ( hobbies, favourite books read, favourite destination etc)
  • changes you would like to see happen in Education in Nigeria

We celebrate your teacher as you get your old school mates to comment on the effect the particular teacher had on you. The teacher with the highest number of comments wins recognition on TheLearningCraft blog. Schools may celebrate their best teachers and administrators; they can get their colleagues and students to comment.

So, there it is! Celebrate your teachers here. Send a mail with the completed profile and picture. However, entries will be reviewed so we celebrate worthy Celebutors. Looking forward to this. I have a long list of Celebutors!

Coming soon.....CELEBRIKIDS™. 
Celebrating excellence in students from all areas (and they don't have to be 'Einsteins'). My intention is to celebrate success stories of children from a wide skill area; Music, dance, drama, poetry, speech, Math, Languages, Science, playing instruments, sports, handwriting, respect, etc.


Does preschool matter? The little Einsteins' case file

Again, another group of preschoolers being asked to label the parts of a plant! I keep hearing these things and I am amazed at how young children are tasked to do things that are not useful at this age. They should be getting separated parts of a plant, know the names verbally  and helped to place the parts correctly instead.

Parents who have the time and energy can provide the basic ingredients of early childhood education in their homes.  If you have the resources to provide your young child with a variety of learning experiences and exposure to other children and adults ( possibly through neighborhood play groups), along with the opportunities for extensive play, then home schooling may sufficiently educate your child. Seems like a huge feat right? Especially in an economy like ours!

If the opposite is the case as it is most likely for  a lot more people, then it DOES matter whether a child attends preschool. In Nigeria, preschool begins between ages 2-3 and ends at age 4. Most of our kids have started elementary by 5 years of age. People tend to think that preschool attendance ensures that the pupils will finish early or on top in an educational race not realizing that in some cases, starting too early might do more harm than good.

Do you know that in Denmark for example, reading instruction follows a language experience approach and formal instruction is delayed until the age of 7? And guess what.....illiteracy is virtually unheard of! By contrast, France, where state-mandated formal instruction in reading begins at 5, 30% of children have reading problems. With this backdrop, how are we faring in Nigeria? See what a preschool curriculum should.

Preschool education should not be stressful for young children. Early childhood education should have it's own curriculum, it's own method of evaluation, classroom management and it's own teacher training programs.

Preschool does matter. The idea is for young children to derive best results from the experience. Let preschools be what they are; a place where age appropriate learning is practiced. A place where creativity, problem solving, exploration and discovery of the world through play is built. They can be Einsteins' but absolutely not through stress. 


Does 'texting' put grammar at risk?...txt, 2day, fone etc

Almost everyone who sends text messages tends to occasionally or frequently as the case may be, use shorthand or  a variety of abbreviations for words. It is now difficult for many to write in social media  using proper spellings and honestly it has become quite embarrassing and difficult to read some texts. I'm sure most people will agree with me on this one. But does this shortened language of 'text-speak' as I'd like to call it, have a negative effect on student's grammar skills? According to a recent study, YES it does!

A group of 11-15 year olds were surveyed on the amount of texts they sent and received. The survey was followed up with a grammar test that was focused on the usage of punctuation, possessives, apostrophes and comma. It was found that the more often a student sent and received text messages using text-speak, the worse their grammar was! Shocking? I think not! Whatever is practiced often becomes a part of you obviously.

It is time for everyone to control the usage of text-speak and if you have to, use it sparingly. Encourage your teenagers to practice using full/correct spellings  and punctuation marks as much as possible. English Language is a pre-requisite to entry into any university around the world. They shouldn't have to begin to jeopardize their opportunities in any small measure, especially not through 'text-speaking'.


The blacks and blues may fade away but hidden scars won't go away.

"Why me?"....the cry of a woman whose child had just been raped. The occurrence of these kinds of issues is seemingly on the rise. The truth is that it isn't! The media boom in Nigeria has only just helped to broadcast stories such as this one.

The adverse effect of sexual abuse on a child's future and education is astronomical. I have witnessed how devastating it can be. Everyone needs to be on the watch to protect children. Adults need not shy away from discussing sexual issues with children from an early age. You may think they (kids) are not aware but they are! Trust me, children get educated from their surroundings; much more than is pleasing to bring to our knowledge! You will find that children do not forget their childhood experiences when they become adults. Has yours been deleted from your memory? I'm sure it's a unanimous NO.

How accurate are children's long-term memories? One study shows that  an infant's memory is fragile and short-lived, except from memory of perceptual-motor actions (movement related skills). Young children can remember a great deal of information. Memories of pre-schoolers are also quite consistent. A recent study tells that young children are less likely to reject that there was  occurrence of an abuse than older children, the older ones may just be too scared to disclose. There is a consensus among memory researchers and clinicians that most people who were sexually abused as children remember all or part of what happened to them although they may not FULLY disclose it. Most leaders in the field agree that although it is a rare occurrence, a memory of early childhood abuse that has been forgotten can be remembered later. So, there is an alarming percentage that memories of the experience stays with them.

We must teach children to speak up boldly, protect themselves in their own little way and be able to determine when an act is wrong. We may leave our kids with home-helps and teachers; but we must leave them with the confidence that they can TELL US whatever is going on when we are not with them. Make them know that they shouldn't tell a lie whether GOOD or BAD! They should be confident knowing that we have their backs and will stand by them no matter what! If the CULPRITS find that a particular child can't be lured so easily, a good percentage of these 'hideous' crimes will be reduced. 

Share an unbreakable and undivided bond with your child. Do not put your child's future at risk by just being distant to matters such as these. Never stop asking questions as my husband will insist! Keep track of their movements. Give your child a voice. Build a confident and  an abuse-free child.


Looming Teachers' Strike

The Chairman, National Union of Teachers, Lagos Chapter, Mr. Samson Idowu, has said  teachers will go on an indefinite strike come September 21, if the Lagos State Government fails to  fully implement the 27.5 per cent  increase in salary in line with  the new Teachers Salary Scale.

While speaking to journalists, Idowu said that the state government had only paid nine per cent out of the 27.5 per cent.

“We had a meeting with the Lagos State Government on Wednesday and they said that the remaining balance would be included in the 2013 budget. This should not be so. Why do teachers have to wait so long. We are not going to relent on our proposed strike until the Lagos State Government hearkens to our demand. We want this money paid this year. This money has been due since 2008.

“Come September 24, the Lagos State government will see the other side of teachers. We will come in full force. No going back; enough is enough,” he said.

Now, this is partly the reason for the decline in student- knowledge output; Low motivation and remuneration of teachers. These teachers should take a cue from the ongoing Chicago teachers' strike and doggedly speak up for themselves.


School fees on the rise - The 'BUSINESS' of Education

Reviewing this trend and I'm yet to 'get the hang of it' (as my son would say). Many years ago, our parents paid reasonable school fees; their options included good private, public and federal government schools. I am afraid the choices are now rather difficult relative to value and affordability.

Today, some schools sell infrastructure, facade and exploit unemployment situations in the country to the fullest. Imagine a situation where a graduate of Yoruba language teaches physical education along with his subject. In some of these schools, if you cannot take two or three subjects as a teacher, there goes your appointment. Teachers teach just to get paid.

Many parents are having to break-the-bank to pay fees of schools considered worthy of their children. Good education is expensive no doubt but does it have to be that expensive? Is it commensurate to the value of 'education' you get? There will always be expensive schools but it is hoped that they embody the full value of the cost on teacher quality, teacher-training, top-notch textbooks, world-class extra curricular activities and amenities.

I think that many school owners/administrators have no business being in the sector in the first place. They embellish fees probably in guise of extra curricular activities and programs such as after-school clubs, some excursions, parties, mothers day, fathers day, etc. Some school uniforms are more expensive than 'choice' clothes for kids. Overall, they fall short of their claims.

Check the payroll of their average teacher. It is surprisingly a far cry from what is expected hence they cannot claim they have employed the best hands. However, a handful of schools are doing well in terms of remuneration. Some include monetary incentives alongside awards of excellence.

There aren't many good teachers who are products of expensive schools. I have heard people say that they will get into the 'school business' because it is now a cash cow......very worrying! No wonder some of us teachers refuse to succumb to teaching in just any school! The reason is because we know on a first hand basis that their vision is not basically to impart knowledge but to take advantage of less informed parents who can afford it.

It is even more surprising to note that pre-university education overseas is less in monetary terms and you get a better deal. So what is going on? Who do we lay the blame on? I see many parents complaining, but how can we help?


Brighter days ahead! Basic-9 Subjects revised.

Brighter days ahead LC readers! I sincerely hope that this is carried through a detailed and committed process that will involve well-equipped and trained teachers in the effective delivery of the project. It is a brilliant plan which will eliminate repetitive contents in a variety of related subjects. I hope that the curriculum developers are working hard now to create these revised subjects. I especially like the addition of 'security education' in the face of security challenges in our country - I believe in the power of re-orientation.

This is the good news....

Culled from punchng.com
The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) has announced that the implementation of the revised curriculum for basic education will commence in 2013.

Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Executive Secretary of the council said the agency decided to start the implementation after the conclusion of the review of the nine-year basic education curriculum. This reduction in subject’s listings, according to the NERDC boss, was achieved by grouping related disciplines.

He said, “Related UBE subjects curricula like Home Economics and Agriculture are brought together to create a new UBE subjects curriculum called Pre-Vocational Studies. Similarly, Islamic Studies, Christian Religious Studies, Social Studies, Civic Education and so forth that focus primarily on the inculcation of values (societal, moral, interpersonal) now form a new UBE subject called Religion and National Values”

“Key concepts in the former curricula now form integrating threads for organising the contents of the new subjects into a coherent whole. In the process of the review, particular efforts were made to eliminate content repetitions within and across subjects to further reduce the overload and encourage innovative teaching and learning techniques.”

He added that in line with the framework for reviewing the curriculum adopted at a national stakeholders’ forum on February 9 this year, pupils in primaries 1-3 are to offer a minimum of seven subjects and maximum of eight subjects. Pupils in primaries 4-6 are to take a minimum of eight subjects and maximum of nine subjects while JSS 1-3 students are to offer a minimum of nine subjects and a maximum of 10 subjects.

He explained that the unnecessary workload on pupils was one of the reasons for the reduction of subject listings at the basic education level from 20 to 10.

“A major outcome of the presidential summit on the state of education in Nigeria which held on 4th and 5th of October, 2010 was the need to reduce the curriculum offerings. For example, pupils in Kenya offer seven subjects; Tanzania, eight subjects; United States of America, six subjects; Malaysia and Indonesia, nine subjects each. Consequently, NERDC was mandated to revise the 9 – year BEC.”

The subjects listed in the new curriculum for primaries 1-3 are English Studies, Mathematics, one Nigerian Language, Basic Science and Technology (under which are also Physical and Health Education and Computer Studies/ICT), Pre-vocational Studies (comprising of Home Economics, Agriculture and Entrepreneurship), Religion and Values Education (made up of Social Studies, Civic Education and Security Education), Cultural and Creative Arts and Arabic Language (which is optional).

Way to go Naija!


Chinese colonization: Lagos state introduces Mandarin language in public schools' curriculum.

It is no more news that Lagos State has announced plans to introduce Mandarin (Chinese language) in her public schools' curriculum starting from next year's school session. The idea is that the students will be able to learn to speak the language and adapt to the Chinese culture. The commissioner of Education in Lagos was quoted as saying that the language has become necessary because China has become the next destination for economic growth and development. She also said that it will help students to further their studies in China so they can carry out various fields of human endeavor. I sincerely feel like screaming my lungs out!

Research shows that the ability to be multilingual is helpful to children because it makes them become multi-taskers and it increases IQ levels. It also shows that it brings about higher level of phonological awareness. 

But let me start by asking this: is this one of priority? Have you been around our public schools in Lagos State? There is some improvements going on but we are in still in the oven. You see, I think that we should get done with cleaning up the structures and environment in which the children learn first. A curriculum without the right context in which it is to be taught is futile. Not all the schools have windows, desks and chairs to work on. Our local teachers are yet to be fully trained and some to be sacked! The teachers and materials to be used to teach Mandarin will cost money! Why do we feel the need to spend such money for now?

The Chinese became great not by learning other languages but by using the language they understand to master the world's skills that have helped them develop. Particularly with numbers, in English, after ten the teens each have a unique name and each tenth following that gets their own name. In fact, one would need to learn 28 unique words to count up to 100 in English while in any Chinese dialect, Japanese, or Korean, one only needs to learn 11 – one through ten and one hundred.

In Asian languages like Chinese, numbers after ten follow a precise logic. Eleven in Mandarin is shi yi or ten-one, twelve is ten-two, thirteen is ten-three, and so forth. When we get to fifty-nine, the logic continues, five-ten-nine. Five tens and a nine, 59. The internal logic in counting numbers with Asian languages results in kids who speak Asian languages are able to count beyond a hundred before English speakers can even count to 40. But the Asian language advantage doesn’t stop in counting. Remember those dreaded fractions? In English we would read 3/4 as three-fourths. But for languages like Chinese, 3/4 is literally translated, “out of 4 parts, take 3″.

Lagos state is the most populous state in Nigeria and has indigenes from all over Nigeria in her schools. It could be difficult to learn all languages we speak BUT our core languages are not celebrated. We have not even talked about re-designing our curriculum to feed our needs. Should we not build our languages so  we carve a niche for ourselves and begin a process that will lead us to the greatness we see in China OR do we think greatness easily comes by learning the Chinese language or emulating their culture?

Learning Mandarin adds little or nothing in statistical terms. If part of the idea is to adapt their culture as quoted by the honorable commissioner, why do we have to? What is the significant percentage of our public school children that will make it to China for studies and come back home to apply gained knowledge? What about the curriculum currently used in the schools? Is it even healthy enough to get our children the best education - the one important thing needed for success? I think there is a much more to look into in our schools. Let the priority be in preparing children properly by laying a solid foundation so they can pass WAEC with much higher grades first! When we succeed at that and intend to introduce Mandarin and it's cohorts, it may be a welcomed idea BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT NOW!!!


Child minders and the 'African Magic' saga!

Have you noticed this unpleasant trend? I refuse to be amused by it no matter how hard I have been cajoled! I have no issues with the Africa Magic channel, but the message passed by many TV channels to the younger viewers concerns me.

I have noticed that these video clips leave our children with more negative than positive values. As adults, we may able to discern or discriminate what values we choose to imbibe BUT children must be given a clean bill! 

So, this is my issue with it. There is no substantial educative or informative  gains for kids in these movies or clips in question. Most of their content are adult based and not child-friendly. I literally want to jump out from my seat when I get some TV time and my kids are around me. Why? To flip the channels as we are barraged with all kinds of embarrassing scenes!

There are some sides to the matter! One is the fact that parents are oblivious of what goes on when they are away from home. Some of these nannies take charge of the TV and insist on kids watching their own interests. In some cases, the kids are threatened or subdued to not tell their parents. In this, I think there is always a way to ensuring some rules are followed around the home. You must consistently insist clearly that these channels are banned for kids in YOUR home. You could threaten that you are able to gain possible knowledge from service providers - do whatever can curb the trend.

Another is where kids are allowed to watch these clips because the child minders do not appreciate the importance of visual learning. Some parents unknowingly can't distinguish good or bad viewing for kids. There are  thousands of affordable and fun educational visual clips for children.  There should be strict orders that the kids be allowed to watch educative programs. They could even be comics! Their function includes providing a visual representation of something that regular text or oral presentation cannot do as well as contributing to oral language skills. Visual clips helps children break down information and manage it on their own which is in turn more memorable. Whatever they watch will make an abstract idea become more concrete. It is imperative that we regulate their viewing exposure.


OBAMAMANIA: Edu-solutions by a great man to his great nation at the 2012 DNC

Wow! This is a pleasant surprise! You see, no nation is without challenges. The difference lies in the passion to drive change. If a great nation with incomparably higher educational standards still seek ways to improve their education system, then in Nigeria we remain in our 'weaning' days. 

Please read patiently a portion of this great speech by President Barack Obama concerning education during the Democratic National Convention 2012.
"You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have. Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. It was the gateway for most of you. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle- class life.
For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning. Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.

And now you have a choice. We can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don't have the money. No company should have to look for workers overseas because they couldn't find any with the right skills here at home. That's not our future. That is not our future.

A government has a role in this. But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning, and students, you've gotta do the work. And together, I promise you, we can out-educate and out-compete any nation on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers within ten years, and improve early childhood education".

Ok! It's much longer but I took the part I needed. He infered that education got him and Mitchelle where they are today. Education has the key to all the answers! Can we focus on it? Can we speak more about it? Can we stop being ahead of ourselves and keep education in track? Enough with the hype on meretricious media! Coming from a 'super-power', there is no better time to realize how much further up the ladder we have to climb in the face of this speech. The time is now!


'LUDO'.... 'AYO/NCHOROKOTO' - Family Bonding & Fond Memories!

Playing traditional home games is a form of education that builds skills and encourages family bonding. 'Ludo' and 'Ayo' or 'Nchorokoto' were such games we shared in my family.
Ludo is a board game for two to four players, in which the players race their four tokens from start to finish according to dice rolls. It is simple.
  • I'll refresh your minds on how its played. You choose a color and place your playing pieces in the starting section for your color. There is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing one color over another (but everyone has their own favorite color; mine was yellow and green). Roll the die to see who goes first. The highest number wins the advantage to start. The first to get all their playing pieces home wins. Pieces from the Ludo game are small and can be choking hazards for younger children. It's a good idea to keep them out of reach of those that are under four years of age.  This game was originally designed for children but is popular among adults and children in Nigeria. Skills learnt include dice rolling and right movement.
  • Ayo/Nchorokoto was another one for us. I wasn't so great at it but I did my best. It is played by two people, facing each other, over two rows of six pockets, or holes in the ground. Each player places four seeds or stones in each of their six pockets and the players then take turns of picking up all of the pieces from one of the pockets and dropping one of them into another pocket one by one. The first player to empty all of the other player’s pockets wins the game. Ayo is an important 'mind sport game'. It has been known to help sharpen math skills.

    These two games still gives me fond memories and I can't wait to share them with my kids. The skills learnt and type of family bonding it creates is one of those that's worth passing on to my next generation.


    I cannot afford University.....what next?

    It is practically impossible for every Nigerian to have a University degree. We can barely even make allocation for 10% of the population of entrants! Where are the universities, faculties, lecturers and facilities that will absorb all the students? Even those who are able to get one struggle to earn a living with it.

    There is a pertinent need for much more Technical and Vocational schools. These types of schools serve students in skilled areas - ICT, Design, smithing, carpentry, woodwork, sewing, photography, home economics, plumbing, shoe-making, even cement making and crafts of varying types. You should see the amazing quality shoes, artwork and clothes I saw 'challenged' children and youth create during a courtesy visit @ a training in 2010. Anyone could buy them! The idea is to groom individuals who will be self sustaining and useful in the society. Here is a true story I read from nigeriadailynews.com that paints a brilliant picture telling us that even though you grab a university degree, it may not always pay the bills or build your dreams.

    Like many university graduates, after completing his first degree programme, his efforts to get a white collar job were fruitless. Nnamdi, a 2008 graduate, is now comfortable as a successful furniture maker in Abuja. Unlike in public job, he is not only the Managing Director of his outfit, he also doubles as the Chief Executive Officer, the accountant, the cashier and the company secretary.

    Today, he sees white collar jobs as waste of time, since he earns more than a university graduate and he is an employer, while contributing to the Nigerian economy. “After my service year, I started furniture business with initial capital of N40,000 which was the little money I was able to save but today, I know how much I am counting,” he said joyously. Mr. Nnamdi whose business is currently flourishing in Kugbo village of Abuja said: “Furniture making is a very lucrative business. When I ventured into furniture making two years ago, my plan was to be in it for some time and quit as soon as I get a while collar job but as time goes on I discovered that I am earning more than a graduate so I decided to stay put,” he said.

    Impressive! Inspiring!


    Make known your requests!

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu has slammed his own government for its incompetence. The bishop was attending a book launch of Father Michael Lapsley’s autobiography, Redeeming the Past, in Cape Town on Monday night, was quoted as saying: “How can we have children 18 years after apartheid who go to school under trees". The Nobel Laureate also asked how the country could have children go to school when their education “is being crushed as the children attend schools without textbooks and no one is held accountable? Have we so quickly forgotten the price of freedom?” The outspoken clergy was addressing the text book scandal where thousands of children never received their government-issued books. “People are going to sleep hungry in this freedom for which people were tortured and harmed,” he said, adding: “It is hard to believe people are getting such money and benefits, and are driving such flashy cars while the masses suffer in cramped shacks.”

    So around the world, people, notable people speak out firmly about the issues surrounding their education. Speak up Nigerians, speak up! 

    The Nature-Nurture Debate. Where do you belong?

    How many of us battle with the nature-nurture issue? In my profession, it is one of those debates that have to come up when assessing children's performances. Nature refers to our biological inheritance while nurture refers to our environmental influences.
    In my alter world, I would like to be a Genealogist because I am interested in understanding how the make-up of a person influences them.
    'Nature' proponents claim that the most important influence on development is biological inheritance. 'Nurture' proponents claim that environmental experiences are the most important influence.

    Human beings grow in an orderly way just like the sunflower grows-unless defeated by an unfriendly environment. The range of environments can be vast but nature gives a genetic blueprint that produces common-ness in growth and development and in education. Nature proponents acknowledge that extreme environments-those that are psychologically hostile or empty-can depress the development. However, they believe that basic growth tendencies and intelligence are genetically wired into humans.

    But how about nurture? All our experiences- whether biological ( nutrition, Medicare, drugs, accidents) to social ( family, peers, type of school, community, media and culture).

    Researchers have found that caring adults who provide a supportive and nurturing environment have a substantial positive influence on children's development. I suppose that given the right environment, whether your child is genetically wired to be smart or not, there will be a considerate percentage of improvement. Are you a ' nature' or 'nurture' proponent?


    GREETINGS BUREAUCRATS..... (an open letter).

    Considering your interests and efforts in the development of  Education, I wish to make a few suggestions.

    The emphasis on Early Childhood Education programs is to help children develop a solid foundation for reading, writing, science, discovery through experiments and math skills. Learning experiences are provided in all domains - physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

    Individual differences are expected, accepted and used to design appropriate activities.
    Teachers prepare the environment for children to learn through active exploration and interaction with adults, other children and materials.
    Children are expected to be mentally and physically active. They are provided with many opportunities to develop social skills such as cooperating, helping, negotiating and talking with the person involved to solve interpersonal problems.

    For many years, children (from working class and other lower income families) across Nigeria have consistently not received any/or proper education in our public schools before they begin Primary school. This is an affliction in our system because Early Childhood Education affords every child an opportunity to early skill acquisition.

    Early Childhood Education is averagely the education of a child from birth to 6 years of age; after which formal school begins. This period is considered priority as it constitutes a time where skills are channeled,cultivated and coached. It is in this period that the child develops lifelong abilities. This class of children should have special attention in the our Education System across Nigeria.

    There are lots of questions we should answer today. 

    1. Have our school standards not become watered down? We should have early-years government sponsored schools that will make demands on children and inspire a new generation to succeed due to early skill acquisition.

    2. Should schooling not pay more attention to the development of children's ability from a significant early stage so that children can process information more efficiently?

    3. Can we not dramatically change our schools?.... so they serve as a locus for a wide range of services, such as primary health care, childcare, preschool education, parenting education, recreation, family counseling as well as traditional educational activities.

    4. Will we allow our schools stay the same OR focus on changing the structure and curriculum?

    Questions will be asked and we expect our government to successfully answer them.