Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Man and Woman hugging their young daughter

What Do Children Need from their Parents?

We all know that children need food, clothing and shelter to ‘survive’, but besides the basic needs, how do we truly grow them into curious, strong, resilient children?

When your baby cries, s/he is telling you something – eg I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve have wind. As parents our response determines what message the child gets. For example if the baby cries because they are hungry, and you feed them, they learn that you will give them what they need. As you consistently do this, they learn that they can trust you to continue to meet their needs, and this is called building Secure Attachment. When you do this, it also creates new ways of understanding for the baby in his/her brain, ie new brain cells (known as neurons) are formed.

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Toddler playing outside

What is my Baby Hearing?

Hearing is an important and necessary part of speech development. Babies are now given a hearing test at birth, as if there are any difficulties they are detected early so that measures can be taken to optimise the development of language and speech.

As with most development, it is an on-going process. So what can your baby hear at different ages?

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Young boy reading a book

Ready for Kinder?

Is you child starting Kinder (Tasmania) or Pre-school (NSW) in 2016? Are they ready? Are you ready?

There are many things you can do to help your child have a smooth transition into this new experience, both practically and socially.

In a practical way, is your child able to take themselves to the toilet unassisted – to wipe themselves, wash their hands etc. If not, starting showing them and encouraging them to take a more active role.

Can they open or unwrap the food you will be providing? Have a practice with undoing a foil wrapped biscuit or a glad-wrapped sandwich, as well as opening the lunch box or unzipping it themselves. While teachers and aides are very willing to assist the children, it may take a while if there are 10 -20 children requiring help! There’s also a real ego boost for your child when he/she manages to do these things themselves – a real sense of achievement!

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Mother and child walking through a japanese garden.

Going For a Walk

Today I went for a walk through a quaint little town, exploring it and the surroundings. As I walked, I noticed a beautiful feather on the ground and picked it up. Immediately it reminded me of walking with my young children some years ago.

We regularly went walking whether it was around our property (we lived in a rural area), around town, at the beach or in the bush. As we walked, I always seemed to have a ‘Collector’ with me….. at least one of my children would be in a collecting mode, and I learnt to always carry a small basket or bag for their collections. Sometimes it was leaves, other times it was shells, and sometimes it was stones – from pebbles to rocks! The child would decide if the speciman was ‘worth’ collecting….. maybe based on the colour, the size, the shape, some patterns on it, or just because they liked it! As they collected, they would be describing to me, what was special about it.

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Image by Mindaugas Danys via Flickr

No, No, No – Do you ever feel like that’s what you say all day?

Some days with our toddlers and children feel like they are filled with events which aren’t going well… the children are yelling at each other, or smearing paint on the floor, or hassling the cat, or jumping on the sofa. And we hear ourselves saying ‘No’ for the umpteenth time today… And the children don’t really seem to be listening to us!

Most of us ‘zone out’ if we hear words repeated over and over – meaning that they become less effective in their message because they are overused. ‘No’ may one of those words your child hears too often, and they lean to ignore it.

Do you wish there was another way? Well, here are some other ways to give the message ‘No’, without using that word!

  • The first is to tell the child what you want them to DO rather than what to ‘stop’. Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t jump on the sofa’… instead say: ‘Sit on the sofa, chairs are for sitting. If you want to jump let’s go out to the trampoline.’
  • Use distraction – Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t do xyz’ instead, ask them could they please get the cloth from the kitchen or get your glasses from the bedroom – most young children are keen to help.
  • Give them a choice. ‘Would you like to play Lego blocks now, or go out to the sandpit – you choose’ (to get them away from the dolls they are hassling over.)
  • Ask him to move away – ‘Please come here and help me with….’ Or ‘Please move away from Sarah and let’s read this book.’

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Image by National Assembly for Wales via Flickr

Activities to Enhance Literacy Skills

Do you often find yourself wondering what you can do for fun with your child today?

There are many simple activities you can do, which will also help your child’s emerging Literacy skills.

Literacy includes development in the areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Here are some activities which you can start today:

  • Read the cereal box together – this may be looking at the picture, asking the child if they can guess which words say: ‘Rice Bubbles’ and asking them if they can see any letters which are in their own name.
  • Draw pictures (both of you) of your favourite foods – ask the child to describe hers, and whether she’d like you to write the words under her picture (showing her that spoken words can be put down on paper).
  • Go into the backyard or for a walk and collect leaves or rocks. Sort them into size groupings and using language to describe them eg small, big, biggest. Or sort them according to color eg grey, white, brown, dark brown. Or sort them according to weight etc. Count them – ‘How many do you have – do you know how to write the number 8?’

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Image by Harclade via Flickr

Learning Styles

Have you ever noticed that learning new things isn’t always easy? That sometimes you ‘just get it’ quickly, and other times it feels hard to learn?

We all have different ways in which we learn best.

 

There are four main ways in which we learn, and once we know and understand our preferred learning style, it makes learning so much easier – it doesn’t matter whether it’s learning how to make a new recipe, or to change a tyre on the car, or to master something new on the computer…

 

The different ways are: Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic and Auditory-Digital

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Gratitude in Parenting: Being grateful and teaching our children gratitude.

I recently had a trip overseas to see my family in Denmark. While I was there, I was away from the busy-ness of my daily life and so had more time to relax and think.

Flying gives me great pleasure – I get excited just like a child – the thrill of taxiing down the runway, and the glee when the plane lifts and soars above the ground – I sit there, almost grinning like the Cheshire Cat in ‘Alice in Wonderful’.

The next day I’m lying on the grass in my sister, Anita’s backyard, in the sunshine with my niece, gazing through the dappled light of the giant tree at the moving clouds. I felt grateful and blessed to be there, for Cecilie’s company (I only see her every 4-5 years), for the sun when it was mid-winter back home in Tasmania, for being able to laze about instead of working, for the fact I had enough money to take such a trip, and for the joy of being with family again – so many things to be grateful for! Read more

Playing with Blocks

Playing With Blocks

At 1, I taste the blocks, and throw them.
At 2, I stack them or line them up, noticing the edges of the blocks.
At 3, I build towers or trains, and can tell you about what I’ve made.

Blocks are one of those toys which last for years, and can be used in a variety of ways by children of many ages.

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