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

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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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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Anxious Child

How do I Help my Anxious Child?

I was recently asked by a parent of a 6 year old, ‘How do I help my child who worries a lot. He’s anxious, but won’t always tell me what’s going on?’ First thing – give him regular hugs and tell him how much you love him – that’s always a good start!

The following will give you some ideas on how to assist your child if they have a tendency to worry or be anxious.

 

Where did the anxiety come from?

It’s always useful to look at the background of the child… the parents, the home and the past experiences. Sometimes there is an overly anxious parent who constantly gives children messages to: ‘be careful’, to ‘watch out’, or ‘you might get hurt’. When children are told this often enough, they start to believe that their world isn’t safe. In regards to the home situation – has there been a trauma? eg a death, a serious accident, or parents separating, where there’s been a lot of heightened emotions – some children tend to make this mean that’s there’s immediate danger to them or those around them – they fear ‘bad stuff’ will happen to them. There are also children who have been affected by alcohol or drugs when in utero. When a woman uses these during pregnancy, they can affect the developing foetus, and may cause brain changes, which can affect a variety of functions, including being anxious or lacking impulse control. Obviously we can’t change what has already happened in the past, so let’s look at what we can do now, and also in terms of building resilience in children.

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Christmas Kids

All I want for Christmas is…

So want do you say to yourself at this time?

  • Yahhhh I love Christmas;
  • It’s so expensive;
  • I can’t want for it to be over;
  • I love watching the kids faces on Christmas morning;
  • Family disagreements – no thanks;
  • I love family get togethers, especially Christmas;
  • I love the excitement and special treats.

 

Which ever sentiments you have about Christmas, the reality is it is approaching fast! What can we do to make it a pleasant, positive experience for children and families? Here’s some ideas…

 

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Two Languages at Home

Two Languages in Your Home?

When parents have two (or more) languages, they often discuss whether they should introduce them to their children. They wonder if it is confusing for their little ones to hear two languages spoken in the home environment, and may worry that it’s too difficult for their young children to learn to speak both their native language and English also. In fact the opposite is true!

Babies are born able to hear the sounds of all languages, and are able to link together the ‘like’ sounds which they hear, in their brain – eg they store Danish sounds together, and the English sounds together. Isn’t that amazing?

It’s been found that children who have two languages spoken in the home tend to be more creative and more flexible in their thinking than children with just one language!

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The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

We become healthy humans, not just through the foods we eat and the activity we engage in, but also though the messages we receive and the raising of our positive self-esteem. You can assist your children by:

1. Being a role model yourself.

We all know that children are like little sponges – they copy what we say and do – regardless of whether we are doing something ‘good’ eg eating an apple, or being polite; or something ‘not so good’ like yelling, or smoking in the car. Young children don’t screen or filter this information, they just copy it – ‘If it’s good enough for Mum or Dad, it’s good enough for me!’ So, if you want healthy children, lead by example with the food you eat, the exercise you do, and the attitudes you display.

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