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

Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Smiling young toddler eating breakfast

Our 5 Core Needs – for both Children and Adults!

As human beings we have core needs to survive, grow and thrive. Some core needs we are born with, some we develop. As individuals we needs these things in varying amounts – some people will need more of one than another person. We work in ways to have our needs met, so that we are fulfilled.

So what are these Core Needs? They are:

Survival;

Love and Belonging;

Fun;

Power; and

Freedom.

Let’s look in more detail…

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday recently, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

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Image by familymwr via Flickr

Maths is Everywhere in the Home

Maths is everywhere in the home, and without you maybe even realising it, you are setting up your child with a solid Mathematical grounding.

How?

Let’s look at some of these concepts within the home and play environments and how it happens…

Shape recognition – at an early age we start to point out shapes to our children – ‘The orange is round and your plate is round’. ‘Would you like square or triangle/ sandwiches today?’

Volume – when cooking  – ‘We need ½ cup of flour and one cup of milk – can you help to measure and pour them, please.

Conservation of mass – When you have one lump of play-dough , you can show your child how to roll it into many different shapes – a ball, a sausage, a dish shape, lots of tiny little eggs, but the mass doesn’t change despite the change in shape!

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crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

  1. MODELLING:

 

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if my Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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Movement at All Ages and Stages

I remember the first time I visited an indoor play centre with my toddler. Although I did not like the idea of an indoor play centre after the third day of rain I was willing to give anything a try. House bound boys have a lot of energy, so off to the indoor play centre we went.

The first thing that struck me was how loud it was in there. Kids were laughing and talking and excited to be there. Indoor play centres are bright and cheery places where kids can run, crawl, scoot, jump, leap, slither and slide and get buried in balls. So can mums. For the mother it is a wonderful well rounded, whole body functional workout (see what I did there – I used all the words the latest and greatest exercise routines use). I recall feeling absolutely bone weary after 2 hours of following my child!

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Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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3 smiling kids

S.M.I.L.E. – 5 signs to look for that your child is developing well

How’s your smile going? Some days in parenting there are so many things to smile about…. Your toddler saying something cute; your baby sleeping; your children playing together; or watching your child ‘read’ to Grandma. And then there’s all the firsts… the first tooth, the first time they crawl, or take their first steps, or tie their shoelaces – all of these lead to smiles from us and no doubt from the proud child as well!

S.M.I.L.E. is also an acronym, which some Parenting Consultants use as a checklist for development. It stands for:

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