Blog

Favourite activities for new families in Gympie and children in child care

Favourite activities for new families in Gympie and children in child care

As a centre we get a little bit of a feel of just how many people are moving to our beautiful town of Gympie! We have met numerous families looking for care at Parkside ELC and usually they come with a range of child-related questions – Where is the best Swim school? What can you do on the weekend? Is there a child-friendly restaurant (other than McDonalds!)?

This is why our Parkside ELC staff have created this must-do list of their family favourites. Here is their top 10 in order of popularity:

  1. The new Aquatic and Recreation Centre -its just down the road from our centre in Tozer Park Road! Indoor and outdoor swimming, a gym and outdoor waterpark awaits you
  2. The Gympie Jungle indoor playground – our centre’s go to place for vacation care and parties, like our graduation party.
  3. The duckponds and playground, officially known as Lake Alford Park. Watch the birds, have a picnic and enjoy the fence playground with your little ones.
  4. A drive to Rainbow Beach. Great for swimming and playing in the sun, climb and slide down Carlo Sandblow or go for a family drive in a 4WD.
  5. Cobb and Co – a camp ground but open to day visitors. The families can choose from activities such as flying fox, farm yard, the creek, train ride, BMX track or fun on the pirate ship playground. There is also some nice walking tracks around. Day visitor fees apply.
  6. Cooloola Berries Farm – another one of our vacation care favourites. Pick your own juicy strawberries, eat fresh ice-cream and room the farm to meet the animals.
  7. Fishing at Tin Can Bay – there are plenty of fishing spots around Gympie but if you leave early enough you might get a glimpse of the dolphins at Tin Can Bay waiting for the many visitors.
  8. Bunnings – you can’t beat the DIY and craft sessions at Bunnings. And did we mention they are FREE!
  9. Skate Zone – fairly new to Gympie but super popular! Fun for the whole family…
  10. Ten Pin Bowling – another family favourite. Go out together for a game of Ten pin bowling or use some of the arcade games in the separate room. They serve food, too!

This is of course not a complete list of things to do but we hope the Parkside staff could be of help with their tried and trusted activities in and around Gympie. For more information check out the Gympie council website.  https://www.gympie.qld.gov.au/whats-on

Teaching the Spirit of Christmas to our Children

Teaching the Spirit of Christmas to our Children

When we hear the words Christmas time many different thoughts come to mind – it will be different for everyone. Every family celebrates or enjoys this time in a unique way. Our culture, believes and own childhood will determine how we appreciate this season.

Christmas Hailey

For some it will be a joyful time when family gets together, we eat too much food and relax over a few days off. Then there are those who dread the time because it reminds them of loved ones passed away or rifts in a family or friendship. Others again would like to enjoy the time more but may need to work or suffer financially, wanting to offer their children a rich Christmas experience but can’t really afford it. Whatever Christmas is to you it is a wonderful time to slow down, reflect and teach our children a few life lessons:

Our Kindergarten teacher, Miss Letitia, has recently helped the children write their Christmas wish lists. Looking at my own children’s list “Santa” could easily go bankrupt! However, Miss Letitia’s class reflected on the difference between what we really want versus what we actually need. The children shared some amazing (and funny) insights! Who would have thought that they know ‘our families NEED vegetables’ as one little boy wrote. 😊 The children were taught that we can’t have everything we want and our basic needs need to be met first before we can splurge on our wants. Miss Letitia used this activity to teach children about sustainability.

Christmas Richie

Following on from that we can teach our children thankfulness for the things we receive. Children need to learn to be appreciative for what they have or they will grow up taking things and people around them for granted. Thankfulness can be taught by encouraging children to think about people who help them and get them to create a little thank you for them, e.g. a home-made card or small gift. Children could give it to their teachers, the postman, their doctor or the rubbish collectors. Gratitude is a positive attribute in children that can be modelled by us adults and taught in many practical ways, especially around Christmas.

Christmas Frankie

Aside from teaching thankfulness to our children and that we can’t have everything we want we can also teach the joy of giving as part of the Christmas tradition. Children are quick to express what they want but the concept of generosity might come a little harder.  When in the supermarketyou’re your little one makes requests maybe buy a few extra treats or necessities and together donate them to a charity helping the homeless or others in need. In the past Parkside ELC together with the families made a collection of food items which got donated to the local Salvation Army Service.  At home you could have a sort out of your child’s toys and see if they would like to donate them to a local Op Shop. If your child asks why people live in such dire situations we can say that things might have gone wrong in their lives (e.g. they had a bad accident and couldn’t work anymore) or they may have made choices that weren’t good at some stage and sometimes it is very hard to fix them again. Teaching generosity builds empathy and a caring nature in children. It trains them to be less self-centred and to look out for others. Another idea for slightly older children could be to help out at a soup kitchen. You could make this an experience for the whole family, especially if you can not help financially but have a little time at your hand. This brings us to another type of giving – the giving of time!

Spending quality time with other people is just as precious! Often we travel far over the holiday period to meet people who we have not seen in a long time. Giving up our time to be with others communicates our appreciation and value of others. This year the vacation care children will be making small baked goods for the elderly at a local retirement home and spend time with the people there. They will be singing Christmas songs and play board games with them. We hope the elderly will have a good time with our school-aged children in this pre-Christmas season and be reminded of their own childhood!

Christmas Letters

Christmas often appears to be about presents and gifts. But maybe time, thankfulness, generosity and the thought of our world’s future are gifts even more important. They cannot be bought but have to be taught. We have an important job to ensure our children have wonderful memories, traditions and values – especially at Christmas Time.  The Parkside Team hopes you will be able to take some time out and make them happen together with your children!

 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018 from everyone of the Parkside Team!

Preparing Children for School in Child Care Centres

Preparing Children for School in Child Care Centres

Occasionally, we get asked by  parents “Do children really need to be exposed to early learning programs before he or she goes to school?” The answer we always give them is a resounding ‘yes’!

 

Our own two children went to a Kindergarten program. My oldest daughter, now 10 years old, went full time and my younger son, now 6 years old, only went 1 day per week. We certainly noticed the difference in the smoothness of their transition and readiness for school. Although we provided a loving and caring home where early education was valued, we could not create an environment similar to long daycare or school where the social skills are challenged and developed in a unique environment away from us as protective parents. We realised that exposing our own children to such a learning environment benefits them hugely in their transition to school, builds confidence and resilience.

Happy Children ePacket

Attending a long daycare service like Parkside Early Learning Centre or a Kindergarten Program exposes children to larger group learning with activities planned specifically for their developmental stage, individual needs or personal interests. All this is done by well qualified staff who build ongoing relationships with the children and after a while know them very well. The difference of early years education to school is that all our experiences at Parkside ELC are play-based in nature. Educators observe the children and use their natural and current interests to further develop their knowledge and development.  Aside from these planned and spontaneous activities children can explore their social skills in a larger group of children. This exposure to diversity builds confidence over time and resilience. Such an environment cannot be re-created on the same scale at home.  Therefore, children who are not attending a pre-school or Kindergarten Program may lack in the areas of social and emotional skills.

Choose Day Care

This personal insight is well backed up by recent research:

The website for the Early Learning: Everyone benefits campaign summarises several benefits of early education from an Australian Study done by the Melbourne Institute. Here some examples:

  • Australian and international research tells us that attending early learning improves children’s educational outcomes at school up to 13 years later.
  • Children who attend a high-quality early childhood program in the year before school are up to 40 per cent ahead of their peers by the time they reach Year 3 in primary school.
  • By age five, a child’s vocabulary will predict their educational success and outcomes at age 30.

http://www.everyonebenefits.org.au/about

Another interesting source to gain more research based information is the Life Course Centre. There you can find several in-depth studies about the positive long-term implications of early education and care programs for Australian children.

http://www.lifecoursecentre.org.au/publications/long-term-implications-of-early-education-and-care-programs-for-australian-children

As parents, we want the best start for our children. This includes the transition to big school!

So… the question is not any more whether we should send our child to long day care or a Kindergarten Program but WHEN! We encourage you to come and see our centre for yourselves. Meet the owners, director and educators together with your child and get a feel for the place. Once you have enrolled we encourage you to prepare your child for the transition from being at home with you to a pre-school program. The Queensland Department of Education provides some helpful tips on how to transition your child successfully on their website:

https://det.qld.gov.au/earlychildhood/families/kindy/getting-ready

Contact us today to find out more here or call 07 5482 7738

 

Childcare, Child Care, Early Learning, Kindergarten, Kindy, Pre-school, Gympie, Daycare

Learning Curriculum for Early Learning and Child Care

Learning Curriculum for Early Learning and Child Care

Some of our parents have asked about the curriculum that we use to teach and educate our children. We’ve collected this information from the department of education that we thought would help in this blog article.

Early Years Learning Framework

Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 2 July 2009. It is the first early learning framework to be nationally endorsed for use by educators in a range of early childhood settings just like Parkside Early Learning Centre.

Here is some information straight from the Department of Education and Training’s website:

What is this new learning framework about?

We have developed the Early Years Learning Framework to ensure your child receives quality education programs in their early childhood setting. This is a vital time for them to learn and develop.

The Framework‘s vision is for all children to experience play-based learning that is engaging and builds success for life.

It is a guide for early childhood educators who work with children from birth to five years. They will use the Framework in partnership with families, children’s first and most influential educators, to develop learning programs responsive to children’s ideas, interests, strengths and abilities, and recognise that children learn through their play.

EYLF Image 1

The Early Years Learning Framework describes childhood as a time of belonging, being and becoming.

  • Belonging is the basis for living a fulfilling life. Children feel they belong because of the relationships they have with their family, community, culture and place.
  • Being is about living here and now. Childhood is a special time in life and children need time to just ‘be’—time to play, try new things and have fun.
  • Becoming is about the learning and development that young children experience. Children start to form their sense of identity from an early age, which shapes the type of adult they will become.

Play is learning

Play is very important for children. Through play babies and young children explore and learn to understand the world around them as they come to communicate, discover, imagine and create.

When children play they are showing what they have learned and what they are trying to understand. This is why play is one of the foundations of the Early Years Learning Framework.

By using this Framework educators will guide your child’s play by carefully designing learning activities and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments.

Relationships are key

It is well known that children learn best when they have secure relationships with caring adults. When children from a very early age develop trusting relationships they feel more confident and able to explore and learn.

In early childhood settings, when children feel emotionally secure they learn through play to develop the skills and understandings they need to interact positively with others and gradually learn to take responsibility.

How will it work?

Educators will use this new Framework in a range of early childhood settings, including long day care, preschools and family day care to ensure that your child receives a high quality experience. It has been created and trialled by experienced early childhood educators, academics, parents and carers.

The Framework focuses on your child’s learning. Educators will work with you in order to get to know your child well. They will create a learning program that builds on your child’s interests and abilities, and keep you in touch with your child’s progress.

Through the Framework’s five learning goals educators will assist your child to develop:

  • a strong sense of their identity
  • connections with their world
  • a strong sense of wellbeing
  • confidence and involvement in their learning; and
  • effective communication skills.

EYLF Image 2

Watching your child’s progress

Using the Early Years Learning Framework educators will observe your child’s learning so they can build on it and plan the next steps.  They will do this by listening, watching and talking to your child.

They will keep in touch with you regularly to discuss your child’s progress. They may use photos or keep a folder of your child’s work to show what your child is learning,, how they are developing and what particular learning interests them.

Before your child starts school educators will prepare information about your child’s learning and development to share with their new teacher. This will help ensure that your child’s new school is well prepared to continue your child’s learning.

Working together

By working together parents and educators can enhance a child’s learning and wellbeing. As the most important person in your child’s life you can make a difference by talking regularly with your child’s early childhood educator and asking about their learning. Information you provide allows educators to link your child’s experiences at home with the time they spend together in the early childhood setting.

Find out more

This booklet is an introduction to the Early Years Learning Framework: https://docs.education.gov.au/documents/belonging-being-becoming-early-years-learning-framework-australia-information-families-20

To find out more or to access translations visit www.deewr.gov.au/earlychildhood or ask your child’s early childhood educator. Produced by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments.

 

Childcare, Early Learning, Gympie, Daycare, Kindergarten, PreSchool, PrePrep, 

Separate Nursery Room for Child Care in Gympie

Separate Nursery Room for Child Care in Gympie

Parkside Early Learning Centre has made available a separate nursery room for children from 6 weeks of age.
The move has been because of growth in the amount of families enrolling at Parkside and the need to have babies and infants in a separate environment. The nursery has its own spacious room along with a separate sleeping room. Both the sleeping room and the classroom have air conditioning and views out over the natural parklands that surround the centre.
The nursery and toddler rooms have their own private covered balcony and outdoor play area. This keeps them safe and in an environment of age appropriate play experiences. The nursery staff exceptionally experienced and have a special passion for the nursery age group. For safety of our children they follow SIDS protocols. Parkside also offer all meals.
little-guy
Many centres in Gympie don’t offer care for the younger age groups. For the owners Andrew and Carolin being able to offer a full child care service for all ages was always part of the plan. “We want to be able to offer families the convenience of having all their children in one service in a safe and caring environment.” says Andrew
Children can start from the age of 6 weeks and then progress through the different classrooms with their friends and up until the Kindergarten room where they run the Queensland approved kindergarten program before heading off the school.
Toddler LP
The nursery is almost at capacity on many days now with more families to start in the coming weeks. If you are interested in finding out more call on 07 5482 7738 or here.
Child Care, Nursery, Gympie, Daycare, Childcare, Early Learning Centre, Babies, Infant, Toddler
Sibling Rivalry in Early Childhood

Sibling Rivalry in Early Childhood

If you are a parent of more than one child than you most like have experienced sibling rivalry, that constant nagging, pushing the other person’s buttons, wanting what the other one has or can do, or the “he said/she said” scenarios! Sibling rivalry can be so frustrating for parents but I am sure it is frustrating and stressful for the siblings, too. Yet there can be a daily soap opera playing out before our eyes of the good, the bad and the ugly of sibling relationships.

We straight away wonder ‘Is it just our children? Why are THEY so bad?’

Social development of children starts right from birth. Babies hear our voices even when their eyes cannot see perfectly yet. This is the beginning of social interaction-listening to someone. They then move on to establishing eye-contact and then we see that first smile that shows the connection we have built in just a few weeks! This first year is all about the enjoyment of interdependence. In the following two years, we move on to more autonomy – children become more wilful and often this age is marked by what we call tantrums! During this time, we teach children to share, take turns and become more aware of the negative impacts of some of their actions. From 3-6 years, children show more initiative and purpose to what they are doing. They have developed a feeling of guilt if they have done something wrong.

Sibling Rivalry

When families grow and more siblings come along problems can occur right after birth of a new brother or sister. The other child has to adjust their position in the family hierarchy and this can lead to behavioural problems. As they get older sibling rivalry can present as jealousy, competition and in fighting with each other. Many parents are worried about this.

Children display sibling rivalry for many reasons: It can just be part of normal development. As children grow their own personality and become independent individuals they express this and it can clash with other individuals around them, in this case their siblings. The home environment is often a safe place for self-expression in a way children (and adults) would not act in public. As long as it is not harmful to them or others it can be seen as normal growth of their own identity and an experiment how to express this identity. However, aggression and physical fighting should not be seen as normal and must be addressed and redirected.

Other factors can influence sibling rivalry like the mentioned arrival of a new baby: if parents favour one child over another, which can often happen subconsciously, if parents or children are particularly stressed and have a short fuse, parents going through a separation can or major changes in a child’s life (death in the family, moving house/town).

Sibling Rivalry3

The way to address sibling rivalry is by spending equal amounts of quality time with each child. This can be tricky with the demands of younger children but often time can be spent after younger children have gone to bed or special one-on-one time can be scheduled maybe once a week like a date. Avoid favouritism and allow each child to develop their individual personality. Outbrakes of fighting, especially if they become physical, must be stopped and as parents it is our job to role model positive alternatives to fighting like having a civilised discussion where everyone will be heard and everyone can learn to make compromises. Parents can watch out for triggers like time of day, level of tiredness, stress factors like school or other issues in the children’s lives – these can be used to give early warnings to prevent a quarrel or fight. Some children may need extra help managing anger issues which can be provided by a specialist like a therapist or councillor.

In a quarrel help your child to express feelings rather than engaging in argument over who started it. Allow them to share their side of the story and support them to find resolutions. Aim for a win-win result but even if not everyone is happy at the end, it will be a long-term lesson in how to negotiate in an appropriate manner. Regular family meetings can be a helpful tool to bring everyone together and teach those skills.

Sibling Rivalry4

In time children will get to know each other better, accept each other’s differences and individuality and learn to avoid arguments in the first place. This should restore the peace in your house again!

Using Technology in Early Childhood and Child Care

Using Technology in Early Childhood and Child Care

“Hand up if you have ever given your child a mobile phone or tablet to play with, especially when you needed them to be quiet or occupied for a little bit longer?”

“Hand up again, if you felt a bit guilty for doing so?”

I bet many hands would go up to answer both questions! Technology is all around us these days. We love it and loathe it at the same time! Of course, technology is not just screen devices but when it comes to children that’s what we often think about. The use of screened items such as phones, tablets or computers help us every day to find information, or the way somewhere or it buys us that extra bit of quiet time when we allow our children to play on them. We try and choose “educational” games to make us feel better as we know “too much screen time is bad!” There are definite benefits of exposing children to modern technology but also the dangers of over-exposure.

Child with iPad

We see children, teenagers and even adults hovering over their phones and not acknowledging the world around them as they are so engrossed in what happens on that screen. Some children spend so much time on phones and tablets that it impacts their speech and social development, and their physical abilities. Even the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that his children would not be allowed to use an iPad! The Department of Health warns of the dangers of the negative impacts of being on devices for long periods of time, too. (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-indig-hb~inactivitiy They recommend no screen time for kids under 2 years and a max of up to 1 hour per day for children 2-5 years. One hour per day can actually be a lot!

Child with LightboxHowever, children are also very open to new technology and therefore adapt a lot quicker to the change that it brings. Fact is that this technology is here to stay and develop further. All the areas say that too much screen time can affect negatively it can also support for the better: Language development can be fostered through apps that teach early numeracy and literacy skills or even teach second languages.  The use of devices like the Wii can encourage children to become more physically active or the use of Skype can build a relationship with families living overseas. From the recommendations of the Department of Health it seems it is the balance that is important as well as how we use screen time.

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we spend daily time outside, even when the weather is not perfect. Fresh air, connecting with nature and physical gross motor activity is highly important for growing brains. Without this, children will not be ready to learn more detailed or complicated concepts and engage in fine motor activities that require higher concentration levels.

Children climbing tree

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we have introduced the use of iPads after discussing this with staff and families. Educators and children use them to record learning in all areas by writing observations and taking photos, we use them daily for our ELLA second language sessions for all Kindy children. IPads are also a tool for research – children ask many questions and educators show the young learners how to search for information.

The use of technology goes beyond the use of screen devises of course. At Parkside we have used traditional cameras, battery operated or remoted controlled toys, poChild with Mixer 2wer tools like a battery operated screw drivers (Mr Andrew likes to share his tools!), kitchen mixers or blenders, listening to CD stories or experimenting with light boxes.

The use of different technology inspires discussions with children about related topics like safety, life before modern technology, cyber safety or how things actually work.

So if you are in doubt about whether to allow your child the use of technology, especially screen devices, then ask yourself if their development will benefit from it or not. Also does your child spend regular time outside enjoying physical activities?

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we understand some parents’ worry about the over exposure to screen time. We carefully consider the benefits every time we use screens to ensure this time is spend as a teachable moment and benefits the child’s development. As part of our ‘School ready program’ we are committed to getting children prepared for the prep year. Children will begin using computers and tablets from day one at school and we want all our children entering prep being confident in using technology and screen devices.

 

Childcare, Kindergarten, Early Learning, Gympie, Day Care, Technology, Best

Getting My Child School Ready

Getting My Child School Ready

Entrance to school is a major mile stone in every child’s life – and in the parents’ too! For us grown-ups it’s the realisation that they are not little anymore!

Many children attend a Kindergarten Program before they start the Prep year at school. In Queensland the Queensland Kindergarten Program which is government funded can be joined in a sessional Kindergarten (usually 5 days in a fortnight) or in a long daycare setting like Parkside Early Learning Centre. Our centre is open from 6.30am to 6pm and our Kindy program runs within these hours every day from 8.30am to 4pm. This gives parents who are working or just need more than the sessional hours offered elsewhere a much greater flexibility.

The Kindergarten Program aims to support young learners from about the age of 3 ½ years old.

The Department of Education gives lots of helpful information about the Queensland Kindergarten Program on its website. The program intends to teach the following:

  • use language to communicate ideas, feelings and needs
  • make friends and cooperate with other children
  • become more independent and confident in their abilities
  • develop self-discipline
  • creatively express ideas and feelings through art, dance and dramatic play
  • identify, explore and solve problems
  • develop reading, writing and numeracy skills.

happy-child-at-a-desk

At Parkside Early Learning Centre we believe that the learning journey of getting ready for school begins much early than the year before school entrance. We focus our daily programs on ‘school readiness’ right from the time a child enrols with us.

In several meetings with local Prep teachers in Gympie we have asked what is the most important skills they would like to see in the students when they first start the prep year. Surprisingly they were not so worried about early numeracy and literacy skills which is often what we would expect. Of course, it is helpful when they can write their name, can count to 10 or know some of the letters of the Alphabet but what teachers would like to see most are self-help skills, being able to cope with a structured environment, emotional stability and positive social skills amongst others.

At Parkside Early Learning we focus from a young age on independence. When they are under 2 years old it’s all about attempting new skills – we encourage them to use their words, help with basic tasks like putting their sheets into their bags or putting their dirty dishes into our collection buckets and begin toileting independently. As they get older they extend their skills in all areas of development and we practise sharing and turn taking with others, basic manners, listen to stories and joining into songs. We foster an interest in learning by providing for their interests and curiosity. Before they enter school we expect them to be able to use scissors, have a good pencil grip, be articulate with clear speech, cope well with transitions, be able to cope in a positive manner with emotional upsets or conflict and to carry out tasks with less teacher input and supervision (we are of course always there to give a helping hand). If educators or parents have any concerns on the way of getting ‘school ready’ we work together and may refer to a specialist as it’s always best to get issues checked out early to have a positive start at school.

children-music

So, as you can see these skills cannot just be achieved in one year of Kindergarten, it is a learning journey that starts from birth but recent research has shown the benefits of an earlier start and more time at a Kindergarten Program. It has proven to give children a better start to the prep-year as well as given them the long term skills to cope better in school and life compared to their peers who have not attended a Kindergarten Program.*

We strongly urge you to enrol your child in a quality early childcare setting like Parkside Early Learning Centre long before they enter school to ensure a positive start at Prep and to build a skill base that will last a life time! To explore the what makes Parkside Early Learning Centre different please refer to our unique benefits page

 

* Research summary of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Institute of Family Studies http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2012/ctgc-rs15.pdf

 

childcare, early learning centre, kindergarten, kindy, day care, gympie, child care, parenting 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVE PLAY IN CHILDCARE

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVE PLAY IN CHILDCARE

It is already February – the year is moving fast! Christmas is well and truly in the past and our kids’ rooms are full with new toys – often more than they can handle! The floor is in a mess and we can hardly see the carpet… and yet they come up to us and say they are bored!!!

This conversation usually plays out in someone threatening to get a big rubbish bag and bin all the new toys! How can they be bored with so many toys around, and most of them are only a month old? Did Santa get it all wrong?

Recently I came across an interesting quote saying that “the more the toy does the less the child does, and the less the toy does the more the child does.”

This really got me thinking, especially since we at Parkside Early Learning Centre in Gympie believe in play-based learning. Research has shown how important play is for children: Maria Montessori, known for her work in early childhood education and childcare, said:” Play is the work of a child.”; and Albert Einstein once said “Play is the highest form of research”. So, if your children spend extended time playing, they are in fact hard at work and researching the world.

But then my next question is what exactly is play and is any kind of play good?

We say ‘our children are playing’ when they are actively engaged with others in the sandpit building sandcastles, when they are solitary engrossed pushing trains around on their tracks or when they act out real life situations in the family corner pretend cooking or dressing up. And all this is work or research? Well, yes, it is! Children participating in play such as this practise and acquire important social skills, they explore ways of doing things or experiment what happens when we pour too much sand or water in a container. They gain confidence as they progress in the skills they acquire and learn to understand the world around them better.

Play often involves all 5 senses – this is the way children learn best. We see this in little babies: they turn their head when they hear a tune, they stick everything in their mouths or squish things with their little hands. Older children use their senses to explore textures, make sounds with instruments or use their eyes to follow a bird or butterfly. At our childcare centre in Gympie, Parkside Early Learning, we expose the children to lots of sensory experiences like painting, messy play like swishing shaving foam around, hiding animals in rice or making slime. We allow the children to explore real life natural materials like pine cones, seeds, drift wood or pumice stone rocks. They love it!

So back to the toys…Do we need them and what are good toys? Are we wasting our money on the shiny noise making toys advertised on TV as must haves?

Toys are objects for children to play with. Some toys on offer these days seem to do a lot and attract our children’s attention but, soon after every button has been pressed, the excitement wanes and the attention of our child moves away quickly (and we are disappointed about all the money we spend). Toys like that usually have a set of activities requested from the child and, once completed, the child can’t develop any further skills and a new toy is needed.

Creative Toys 2

Some people mention the ‘good old days’ when they played with sticks and stones. They became swords, cookies or counters in games. And they cost NOTHING! All can be called toys but there seem to be toys that require more imagination and that brings us back to the quote from the beginning that some toys do a lot and require little input from the child and others do little but engage the child’s imagination a lot more. Children need to develop a bright imagination in order to become good thinker outside the box and problem solvers. Imagination helps develop the children’s cognitive skills and they became more adaptable. All these are skills our children need in order to get school ready and later in adult working life.

Creative Toys 3

So, maybe, as parents we need to be more adventurous and send them outside more, allow them to climb trees, play with sticks, stones, sand and water (and hide some of the old toys). At Parkside Early Learning centre, we are very fortunate being located next to a lovely park – we have gone over there for picnics, to collect natural materials which we later used for art, craft or play, and to watch birds and insects. As parents, we are called to be role models for our children. So, let’s get down on the floor, grab an old pot, some water and leaves and make some delicious soup. Help you child develop creativity and, on the way, you might make some of the best memories of play with your child and re-develop your own creativity!

childcare, early learning centre, kindergarten, kindy, day care, gympie, child care, parenting