Blog : Emotional development

Messy fun at childcare

Messy fun at childcare

Art that’s not messy…

…is there such a thing? Combine a toddler with some paint containers and a brush and you most likely get a spectacular mess! But you probably get a very happy toddler, too!

 

Most young children love art and being creative. We love to put their art work on the fridge but the process of creating such art can often be stressful and messy. Young children often do not have the gross motor or fine motor skills, special awareness or experience to handle paint, dye or other messy materials with the care and knowledge an adult would. Yet creative experiences are so important for children and their emotional development and wellbeing. At Parkside Early Learning Centre we do art and crafts every day, whether it be messy or non-messy! Art allows children to explore and experiment, watch cause and effect happen or express their feelings. Therefore, children should never be stopped to be creative and do arts and craft. Here are a few non-messy ideas you can do easily at home and help your child develop to their full potential:

1. Marble Art
Get a cardboard box or plastic container. Place a piece of paper inside, add some paint colours blobs and some marbles (older children only) or golf balls. Then its up to your child to start holding the box and move it up and down and let the ball roll around. Children love to watch what happens when the balls carry the paint around and create a unique picture.

2. Collaging
This is a create activity and super cheap. Start collecting a variety of items like different types of paper, leaves, twigs, bottle tops, bits of wool etc. And then all you need is a piece of paper and a glue stick. You child is free to choose how to place them on the paper and express themselves freely.

3. Leave Rubbing
Find some leaves that look really different from each other in shape and size and make sure they are nice and dry. Get some paper and crayons and place the leaves underneath the paper. Then let you child rub over them with the crayons (sometimes the side of the crayon works better than the tip). Your child will be fascinated by the appearance of the leave imprint.

4. Ziplock Painting
This is a great activity that even babies can do. Get some large ziplock bags and insert some paper. Then add some paint and seal it. You child can now use their hands to smoosh the paint around. It will create a unique pattern and after a while you could even add some glitter. Some families have used these creations afterwards for wrapping paper or homemade cards.

5. Nature Sculpture
Every kid loves playdough but have you ever made playdough yourself and just left it plain without food colouring? At Parkside our Pre-preps have made some sculptures from the natural playdough and added all kinds off materials found during Bushkindy. They added twigs and leaves, gum nuts and rocks, shells and feathers.

6. Light Catchers
For this activity we need some tissue paper, sticky contact and some black paper to make it look really pretty. Cut any shape from the black paper to use as a frame, place contact on one side and then let your child cover the sticky part with tissue paper. These will look great on the window with the sun shining through!

It might be worth your time to create a plastic container with some basic art and craft supplies which you can pull out any time its needed.   If your child is really into art we would love to invite them to join us at Parkside  Early Learning Centre where we offer all kind of messy and non-messy art activities and challenge the children to explore new activities. Your fridge will be plastered with art work in no time!

Educators teach about conflict

Educators teach about conflict

Clashing with toddlers normal—and beneficial

Are you a mum or dad of a toddler? Do you feel like you’re in constant conflict with your toddler? If you answered yes, you’re in good company, say researchers from Lehigh University and University of California–Davis originally published in the journal Child Development:

The scientists recruited children and their mothers through birth announcements in local newspapers and then observed them when the children were between 30 and 36 months of age. They were watched in typical situations that might cause conflict, such as when mothers were instructed to keep their toddlers away from enticing toys or ask their children to put away toys they’d been playing with. Frequent conflict arose during such situations—an average of 20 times per hour! The number ranged from 4 to 55 times per hour throughout the study. Sounds exhausting!

Though exhausting for everyone, these types of conflicts can help children learn important emotional lessons in addition to social norms, experts say.

No one really likes conflict, especially when it is with a little toddler. We love them very much and don’t want to argue with them or withhold things from them.  But sometimes this is necessary for their benefit. These seem to be the very situations that make our toddler throw a tantrum, scream and shout or start getting aggressive towards us. Sometimes these situations last several minutes or even longer!

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However, those frustrating moments are important lessons for your child. Reality is we can not always have what we want and it may not feel pleasant when that happens. Through conflict children learn to respect other people’s needs and opinions. They learn that not every conflict has a win-win ending. In conflict situations children can learn to actively listen to others and learn to express their feelings.We need to teach our children how to deal with these situations.

Our educators at Parkside Early Learning Centre give these tips to avoid conflict or tantrums:

  • Positive attention. We try to catch the child being good and reward them with specific praise and attention for positive behaviour, e.g. “I like the way you just passed that toy over to Lucie!”
  • Give control. At our centre we give children choices with in save limits. Our environments are set up for children to choose what they want to play or do and access things themselves. These opportunities for choices help the child to feel in control at some time rather than feeling that their whole lives are pre-determined by adults.
  • Out of sight and out of reach. This avoids struggle and endless arguing. Simply remove the item of issue, e.g. Ipad or toy. Obviously, this isn’t always possible.
  • Young children have a shorter attention span which can be used to our advantage. Our educators often diffuse a situation by offering something else in place of what they can’t have. They may start a new activity to replace the one they can’t do or change location, leave the room together or go outside.
  • Teach self-help skills. Our educators help children learn to do things for themselves. We praise them to help them feel proud of what they can do. Self -help skills boost your child’s emotional stability and build more confidence.
  • Build language skills. Young children’s biggest issue is often that they can not express themselves properly due to limited language skills. We need to teach them and focus on the basics like expressing feelings or simple words like stop.Teacher Girl 2

At Parkside Early Learning Centre our educators know younger children find sharing, turn taking or giving up a toy challenging. When children react in a negative way they stay calm and respond in a reassuring way. The calm of your voice (fake it till you make it even when you are getting mad!) can diffuse the situation or at least make it a lot shorter and less stressful for all involved!

 

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Learning resilience at childcare

Learning resilience at childcare

Instilling Resiliency in your Children Even in the Face of Adversity

 

Children tend to be happy-go-lucky and typically un-phased by the drama the world can provide us adults on a regular basis. However, it doesn’t mean that they never experience stress or trauma. There are some children who are exposed to this on a regular basis in the form of natural disasters, neglect, abuse and even the death of their loved ones. Children often feed from the adults around them, so if a parent is expressing stress while going through a rough time, children might become anxious or hesitant. As parents and caregivers, we obviously try to keep them as safe as possible from unpleasant things, but the reality is we’re just not able to protect them from everything the world sends their way. When they experience something sad or negative, children tend to feel vulnerable, afraid, sad and lonely. So, what do we do to help prevent this or at the very least, minimize these feelings?

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Early childhood is the best time to begin to instil resiliency according to the experts – but how do you go about this? Most importantly, children who come from families who are supportive and caring tend to be more resilient when life throws them a curve. When they are surrounded by adults – both family members and early childhood educators – who are loving, caring and responsive to their needs they are much better equipped to adapt to adversity. This is why it is part of Parkside Early Learning Centre’s philosophy to build solid connections with the families of the children we care for and also work strongly together with the wider community.water-garden

Here are some practical ways to help your child develop resilience in the early years:

  • Allow children more and more independence as they grow older. It builds their confidence.
  • Encourage your child to share, take turns and serve others first. It teaches them patience.
  • Do not give your child everything they request. It helps them understand we can not have everything
  • Involve children when donating old toys or clothing to charity. It teaches them to look after others in times of need.
  • Teach your child that struggles are challenges we can learn from. See the good even in the bad.
  • Introduce your child to as many new experiences as possible as it teaches them to step outside their comfort zone.
  • Teach children to ask for help (but only if they are not being lazy). Use their lack of skill as a teachable moment.
  • Give them chores to do and make sure they get done even if they don’t feel like it. It teaches them responsibility.

 

When protective factors like a supportive family, adequate nutrition, and responsive and caring educators and caregivers are a regular presence in a child’s life, they become more adaptable and resilient beings. This instilled resiliency will allow children to better relationships, healthy coping mechanisms and an outward focus.

 

At a childcare centre like Parkside Early Learning Centre many of the above activities happen as part of our day to day learning. Children are encouraged to help tidy up and clean, they share and take turns. When things go wrong we use those times for learning and moving forward. Childcare is a great environment to lean social skills and resilience – it not just about learning the A,B,C and the 1,2,3…!

 

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Questions about death from children

Questions about death from children

Answering The Difficult Questions

Sometimes difficult questions can take parents by surprise. Unfortunately, the school community of my children is currently going through a difficult time as a mother we all knew just passed away. In our own shock of this sudden death we have to quickly learn how to delicately deal with the challenging questions that may come out of the mouths of our children. The hardest may be the “Why?” questions and the “What if’s…?”

It can be good to plan in advance on how and what to talk to your children about when they ask about death. It is critical not to avoid or try to brush off the questions as that will only cause more confusion and perhaps even fear if children pick up your discomfort on the subject. Having a good heart to heart from time to time ensures children see us as approachable and it avoids them getting their ‘facts’ in the playground. When Parkside Early Learning Centre’s guinea pig died after last Christmas children had various ideas of what happens when you are dead: you are just dead, you sleep for a long time, you turn into an angel etc.

Compassionate

Here are some tips on how to approach this subject:

Stay Child Centred

It is very important to discuss death and dying at the child’s level of understanding. Talking in abstract terms or using common phrases about death to kids will only cause confusion. You certainly can talk about spiritual or religious beliefs about the death and dying with your children but keep them at an age appropriate level.

Be careful not to use terms like “sleeping” or “passed on” or “lost” but rather be compassionate and honest. Children need a clear description that makes sense to them. Even younger children can understand that a body can stop working when a person is in an accident or is elderly. Often this type of honest, clear and simple explanation is enough for a youngster.

Talk About Real World Examples

It is important, especially with younger children, to stay to simple examples and not to try to include too many concepts at one time. It is important for children to understand that death is a normal part of life without stressing the mortality of the child or of you as the parent. It is also important to remember that younger children, especially those under the age of 10, may see death as reversible.

Kids may ask about a pet, family member or loved one’s death repeatedly. Be patient and provide a consistent answer that provides the information the child is seeking. Talking to a counselor or reading a book about death that is at an age appropriate level can help a parent start the conversation and allow children to ask the questions they may be worrying about.

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Death in a family can be so difficult. If there has been a death in the family please talk to the educator of your daycare centre so they can support your child and family in this time. Give your child an extra tight hug tonight – you never know what is around the corner.

For more support check out the Beyond Blue.

 

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