Bright Shiny Things

I’m wondering what image these words evoke in your mind? For some it could be Christmas baubles on the tree, others might think of diamond jewellery, others the shimmer of the moonlight glistening on the water and others the magic of a sparkly rainbow.

 

For each of us, the words ‘bright, shiny things’ creates a different image in our minds, yet the words are the same for each of us. What it really means is something (an object) which attracts our attention and is something which we desire, and it also probably helps to create a smile on our faces!

 

I’m lucky enough to be having a mini-break for a few days. In Tasmania it’s winter, it’s cold and today has a grey sky. This morning I went for a walk on the beach, and as I walked my eyes were drawn to a small, beautiful piece of driftwood laying in the sand – pale in colour and well tumbled by the ocean. It was smooth to touch and for me was a ‘bright shiny thing’. It appealed to me and I bought it back, so I could continue to admire it. It definitely brings a smile to my face, and will continue to remind me of a few beautiful days here. Read more

8 ways to enjoy messy play at home

8 Ways to Enjoy Messy Play at Home

How many of you breath a sigh of relief, when the Playgroup or Kindergarten your child attends does Messy Play – I mean it gets you off the hook right? No paint at home, no playdough on the carpet, no glue stuck to the table – phew!

Have you ever asked yourself, why the Playgroup teacher/ co-ordinator seems to be so keen on providing messy play for the children?

Educators know that children learn through all their senses, of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. We aim to provide activities which stimulate the senses – know as Sensory Play. Messy play is one type of sensory play.

It is particularly important for young children’s development, as it allows them to explore a variety of mediums; to develop their tactile skills; and in some cases also their fine motor muscles. It also allows an opportunity for language development (words such as rough, smooth, crunchy, cold, slimy etc) and for the child to expand their thinking skills.

Sensory activities facilitate exploration, and encourage children to learn while they play, create, investigate and explore the materials provided.

Here are some easy Messy Play activities to do at home to assist your child to grow and learn even more: Read more

Helle & Sonja – Sisters reunited after 40 years.

The Missing Sister

In honour of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I’m reprinting my personal story of a mother’s love…. my mother x x

I was born as the eldest of three girls to my parents Bill and Marie. Dad was British, Mum was Danish, and they met in Norway while they were both working there. My father then travelled to Canada with his work, and sent for my Mother to travel there to marry him. I was born there as was my next sister, and then we migrated to Australia, where another sister was born.

I had a happy childhood in that I was loved, and had two parents who wanted to provide for us, even though they were starting from scratch here. They bought a house, and we were all settling into our new homeland when tragedy struck – my Father died at age 39 from a cerebral haemorrhage. My mother was left alone in a foreign country, with no family support, three children aged 9 months, 7 yrs & 9 yrs, and at that time my mother didn’t qualify for any Govt benefits as she wasn’t an Australian citizen!

Life was tough – we lived on food parcels and clothing vouchers from charity organisations for six months, until legislation was passed in Govt allowing foreign residents to claim benefits. Even though we had so little, my Mother surrounded us with love and good home cooking. She nurtured us and included us in both fun and work activities around the house whether it was gardening or doing the dishes. People would have said we were poor – but it truly was only in the financial sense. Mum taught us how to cook and sew and do repair jobs around the house. She also made magic happen – putting our food on the plate in the shape of funny faces, or hiding little elf figures in pot plants. For birthdays she’d make a treasure hunt, with clues for us to find our gift. The neighbourhood children also loved her because she loved and nurtured them too with hugs and stories. She was the best mother!

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Go to Bed

Go to Bed! – How to Get Children to Stay in Bed

Okay, so you’ve read three stories, tucked them in, kissed them goodnight and switched off the light.

Just as you settle into the comfy chair with a cuppa… “Mum, I’m thirsty” or “Dad, I just need to tell you something” or even little footsteps coming down the hall!

How do we get children to stay in bed once you’ve completed the bed-time routine? (As a reminder, a routine generally is something like… Bath, milk, teeth brushing, toilet, stories, kisses and cuddles.)

Basically the answer is consistency. Once a child is put to bed, with the established bed-time routine, then you follow through with consistency. If a child gets out of bed, you take their hand, walk  them back to bed, tuck them in, saying  “It’s bed-time”. If they get up again, you repeat. And repeat as many times as is necessary. Once you try to rationalise (“you’ll be tired in the morning”; you’ve already had a glass of milk”; “you should have eaten more dinner”) – then you have opened the door, for the child to engage in a conversation. They will feel the need to justify how hungry they are, or how important it is to tell you something – which then leads you to reply, and so it goes on.

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Friends are the Sunshine in Life

I recently returned from a work trip interstate, and was able to finish the week staying with an old school friend. Meredith and I first met in Primary School, when my family moved to the area. It was a very small school, with just 12 children in my grade. Meredith and I seemed to ‘click’ very quickly. This relationship was also enabled by our parents, who fostered the friendship by meeting each other, by ‘allowing’ Meredith and I to go to each others homes for play dates, and later sleep-overs. As it was a small community we also connected via a church our families were involved in and and also in a community group for girls.

We continued on to go to the same High School, though in different classes. When we were 15years old, Meredith’s family moved from NSW to QLD – so for the first time we were separated by 900km!

However, as we’d developed a close relationship we were able to continue the friendship by writing letters to each other, with a phone call at times – this is before the advent of the internet, Skype and mobile phones.

We maintained connection as we continued our tertiary studies, dated, married and had children. On rare occasions we’d see each other on holidays. We may not see each other for periods of up to 5 years, yet we re-connect easily each time. We have a lifetime friendship, which is beautiful! Read more

Motor Development 8 months - 3 years

Developing Motor Skills: 8 months – 3 years

Last week I wrote about the development of motor skills from birth to 8 months old. Let’s look at how they next develop…. 

During 8 – 14 months babies learn to pull to standing, walk along furniture, and may walk alone. There are known as Gross Motor (GM) skills. They can stand and then lower themselves to the floor (not drop down), and they begin to go up and down stairs, usually by climbing. They now use the  pincer hold – they pick up objects using their fingers (instead of the palm of their hand), and are beginning to stack blocks. These are known as Fine Motor skills (FM).

 

You can help your toddler by: Once the baby is able to pull to standing, you can encourage the next level of movement, by placing an interesting object just a few steps along the sofa or whatever they are resting against. Finger food is great once they start using the pincer hold – give them small piece of appropriate food, whilst supervising in case of any choking hazards.

 

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Motor Development

Developing Motor Skills: Birth – 8 months

Motor development refers to the muscles – both large and small, in our bodies.

Gross Motor (GM) are the large muscles in our head and neck, arms and legs.

Fine Motor (FM) refers to the small muscles in your fingers, and eyes.

 

Children develop their muscles from top to bottom, and inner to outer. This means that babies’ muscles develop and strengthen first from the head, then torso, then legs; and from their arms and then out to their fingers.

Remember that wobbly, very heavy head when babies are first born? Gradually over the first few weeks they are more able to control their neck muscles to hold their head upright.

Children develop their muscles through opportunity to exercise them, at the appropriate time. Here’s a summary of the muscle skills they are developing, the approximate time frames for them, and how you can help them:

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Parent or Friend?

Parent or Friend?

Over the years of being a Parenting Consultant, I’ve spoken with may parents about what they see as their role, and what they want for their children. So many parents have said, that they want to be their child’s friend.

I believe that when you gave birth, you became a parent, and that is your role!

Over their lifetime, your children will (hopefully) have many friends – some short term, some long term, but they will only ever have you as parents – that is your role!

All children need parents to guide, teach and encourage them – and that is your role.

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Telling Stories

As parents we know of the importance of reading to our children regularly, to encourage our children’s love of learning, and excitement about what books have to offer.

 

We also know that books can be a part of the night time routine, to help settle children down with quiet time before bed.

 

Reading to children is also useful when children have to sit whilst waiting at the Doctors, where they need to be quieter for a while.

 

Children often grow to love stories and books, via our enthusiasm and by the tone of our voice when we read to them.

 

Another thing which children grow to love is when you actually tell them stories. 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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