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

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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Young baby boy being fed with a spoon

Nutrition for your Infants

On my home visits with families, one area of concern for parents is that of nutrition – in terms of when do I start to introduce solids, what to feed their growing child, and how much to feed them. Let’s start at the beginning, with pregnancy.

During pregnancy, it is important that the developing foetus receives adequate nutrition via the mothers diet. When the mother eats a mix diet of healthy foods and adequate intake of water, she is giving her baby the best start.

There is a lot of evidence to show that breastfeeding is the best possible food for your new baby, with all the nutrition they need. There are many cases where breastfeeding is not a possibility, and an appropriate infant formula, when it is made up as per the instructions on the label, can provide the required nutrition. Both breast and formula milk contains a particular fatty substance which is essential for the optimal development of neurons (brain cells) – this is why formula milk should not be diluted.

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Two young children playing in the creek

Developing a Curious Child

“Oh he’s into everything” complains a Mother. “She’s always pulling things apart”, states a Dad. It’s always said to me like a complaint, as if it’s a bad thing to have a curious child!

Curious children are GREAT – it means their developing brain is seeking to understand, to know how and why things work (or don’t work), to understand ‘what happens if I do xyz…..’ and does the same thing happen if I do it twice, or 12 times? A curious child is the result of a learning brain, and that’s a GREAT thing! People who are curious are the ones who become explorers, researchers, musical composers or inventors. This may be in any field of science, music, the environment, the arts etc Or it may be in the social world, or understanding how people interact or communicate – so many possibilities!

How do we assist the growth of curiosity in our developing children?

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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:


Love and Belonging;


Power; and


Let’s look in more detail…

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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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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.


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’. ‘Do you want 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 por them, please.

Conservation of mass – When you have one lump of playdough , 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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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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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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