Tag Archives: child care

A Whole New World

This year, we’ve been spending a lot of time on the 3Rs.  No, not THOSE 3Rs……  A slightly different version – reading, researching, reflecting.  We know that current research points to the importance of relationships – another R!  In fact, according to Nathan Wallis, who is a leading brain research expert – there is literally nothing more important in the early years.

With this information in hand, we began the journey of discussing how we might ensure that children have stable primary relationships that don’t change in the course of their time with us.  By mid-year, we had established how we would work with our two younger rooms, so when children started, they would remain in the same room until they entered the Kindergarten program.  Siblings would be together, and that same core group of educators in the room would be the primary caregivers for the children in that room.  Really, at the end of the day – because we already operate a completely open and multi-age environment, it really just looked like where children put their bags away, and who their primary carers were.  No more transitioning between rooms!

In order to be more informed, we engaged Nathan Wallis to come to the centre to spend a day with us, along with staff from our other two Eskay services, and some amazing colleagues from other services that we network with.  With our entire team being able to hear this information first hand – we then began the plunge into a deeper pool.  Why should children moving into the Kindy program be shifted from their primary caregivers?

With this question in hand – I began to study the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Guidelines (QKLG), with a fine-tooth comb.  Reading them through a lens of not separating the Kindy children into a separate group, keeping them with primary carers that they have known since the beginning of their journey with us, and having the ECTs that oversee our Kindy program, be able to work across the centre with the primary carers and the children who are part of this group.  I found it surprisingly simple to sit a new model over the guidelines, and still meet all the requirements.

And this is where we are now headed.  For the past couple of months, we have now been working on becoming one big family grouped service.  We are making some big changes to our physical environment, that emulate our vision.  And we are more than just a little excited to be forging through this way.

What we know is – that with this information in hand, we can’t sit on our laurels and keep doing what we’ve been doing.  We have to do better for children, and we have to work out how we can do that.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is it too hard?  No.  We can’t take that view when our philosophy is to do the absolute best by children that we can.  So this is what we are now doing.  And I share this journey in the hopes that others will see what can be done when you put your mind to it.  All we really need to do, is know our stuff – and be able to justify how practice meets requirements.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share some of our progress with you – as we move into a whole new world (and yes – I seem to sing that in my head often these days) for children.  Stay tuned!

Written by Karana Director – Trisha Dean

Creating a new space with children

Over the course of the past month, we have been getting ready for our new secret garden. We moved our garden beds in the yard over to the new garden area, but that gave us something else to think about.

What should we do with the old dirt from the garden beds? After some discussion, we decided to make a truck area for the children to play in. We also chose to include the children in this project. We sat down with the children and asked them what they wanted.

They told us they wanted some hills in the track to push the trucks up, so together with a few children we marked the play area and then started moving the dirt. It was pretty fun moving the dirt with the children especially when we dug up worms, grubs, a few spiders and lots of ants.

This lead to plenty of discussions about all the creatures that live in the dirt as the children (and educators) moved the dirt over to the new play area. These discussions and the team work that moving the dirt provided really brought a new dimension to the project with children excitedly showing their parents what they and their friends had added to the area each day.

 

Written by

Brooke Lovell, Educator Karana

 

How to Assess Your Child’s School Readiness

A child may find it difficult to cope with the pressure of attending school for the first time. Children are not in the habit of staying away from their loved ones for a couple of hours. It becomes our responsibility as parents to make this transition as smooth as possible for our child. To help a child get prepared for school mentally and physically, parents need to follow some essential steps. Among several ways to prepare a child for school, the most important one is to assess their school readiness. School readiness can be defined as a child’s various emotional, behavioral, and learning abilities. Child care Capalaba emphasizes a few factors given below to assess your child’s readiness:

1. Socialising, Learning and Language Abilities:

Your child should be able to gel with other children of his age without your command or direction. To make sure that your child is ready for school, he should be able to play with other groups in the school. If he finds hard to mingle with others in the group initially, he should be able to play independently. Your child should not feel threatened by the presence of other children. He should be at ease when he comes in the touch of new children and socialises with them through language. Therefore, he should be able to convey the basic things essential for socialising at school. A child should be able to identify letters and their sounds.

2. Emotional Independence:

Kindergarten Karana strives to make your child emotionally independent. They help the child accept the new environment with ease and cope with it without facing any hurdles. These steps are essential for the school readiness of your child. He should be able to concentrate on a particular task without getting distracted. Your child should not have any issue while following his teachers’ directions. You may start by familiarizing him with the school’s atmosphere and its system which will help him function successfully.

3. Physical Wellbeing and Coordination:

You must ensure that the child must be healthy and strong enough to participate in important school activities. He should not lack the required coordination significant for these activities. The child should be able to race, climb, jump, and play in the school without any supervision. The child should have fine motor skills necessary for turning pages and holding a pencil on his own. If the child is not able to do these basic things independently, you must take steps to make him school ready. Child care centre Springfield leaves no stone unturned to make children comfortable in the school.

4. Independent:

Children receive all the necessary help and guidance from their teachers in the school. But, instead of relying solely on teachers, make your child independent enough to face new things at school on his own. This is the reason why they require essential basic skills to handle their requirements without any supervision.

Conclusion:

Before sending your child to school, always assess his school readiness. The child should be able to do basic things like holding a pencil, unwrapping lunch, eating lunch, managing his belongings, etc. If the child is facing hurdles doing these basic things, it is important to make him school ready first. Never compete with your friends and neighbours and use your own discretion in deciding when to send your child to school. Early childhood education Springfield focuses on enhancing the basic skills of your children.

Understanding and Applying Positive Discipline at Home

Some parents believe that introducing positive discipline at home may require punishing children. However, they are not aware that these steps may backfire instead of yielding any positive results. It is essential to introduce positive discipline at home to cultivate good manners and important learning skills. Parents may browse the Internet, speak to their friends and relatives, and seek help from books and even professionals. Family day care in Australia gives the following tips to introduce positive discipline at home:

1. Encouragement:

Eskay Kids in Capalaba emphasizes the importance of praising children whenever they perform a task irrespective of its outcome. Whether the task is simple or complicated, it is important to recognize the hard work of a child. It will motivate them and help them to build confidence. This step will go a long way in making the child independent as well. They will also become keen to explore their capabilities.

2. Handle Mistakes:

Introducing positive discipline will also involve teaching children to handle their mistakes. Instead of focusing and pointing at children’s mistakes, preschool in Australia encourages them to rectify them. You can also be a role model for your child on this front. If you make an error, you may feel sorry about it and tell him why you were wrong. It will also make him realize that making a mistake is not a big deal but correcting it, is what’s important. The important tip will also make him take responsibility for his mistakes.

3. Work Together to Deal with a Problem:

You may allow your child to participate in solving problems. It will prove useful in dealing with several issues. You may encourage your child to provide a solution to a difficulty instead of offering one. It will boost his problem-solving capacity when he gets a chance to give his ideas. It will also let him know that his ideas matter which will allow him to think creatively. He will also become more forthcoming in sharing his views. If you browse child care centers near me, you will get many leading child care centers in Australia.

Conclusion:

The above four tips will go a long way in introducing positive discipline at home. These steps will not only make your child confident but also creative. When you recognise his efforts as and when required, he will not hesitate from making new efforts. So rather than punishing your child for his specific behaviour related issues, focus on solutions. Early childhood education Karana believes in the power of positive discipline.

Three Creative Ways to Prepare your Child for their First Day in School

Do you have a child who is going to be starting big school soon? If yes, then that is extremely exciting! However, there can sometimes be an element of anxiety and nerves that come along with starting big school – for both parents and children.

Here are a few creative ways in which you can get your child ready for school:

1. Enhancing Their Motor Skills:

Development of motor skills is the ability to use arms, legs, fingers and toes appropriately. Getting your child/children involved in activities such as drawing, cutting, pasting, hand painting, dancing, running etc will be helpful in their motor skill development. For this, you can also enrol your children in day care centre Springfield so that your child develops these skills and becomes ready to get involved in the activities that take place in his/her school.

2. A Morning Routine:

Children need an ample amount of sleep during their young years. And, if they are all of a sudden made to wake up in the morning to get ready for school, then there can be lots of chaos and fuss in the morning. Morning blues can leave children feeling irritated for the whole day. So to make the first day easy for your children, make sure that you make them develop this habit of waking up early in the morning from a young age. You may also adopt this habit in regular practice by enrolling them in day care centre Karana so that they get acquainted with their schedule beforehand. A healthy morning routine includes an early wake up, a healthy and sustainable breakfast, showering and brushing teeth, and getting their clothes and shoes on. Getting your children into healthy morning habits, is essential.

3. Help Them Socialize:

When children are young and growing up at home, there aren’t always a lot of opportunities for socialisation. But we can very well understand how the first day of school is for children; they find themselves out of their comfort zone, surrounded by children with a total stranger teacher and are secluded from their parents. This can cause them to develop anxiety. To handle such conditions wisely, parents must make sure that they let their children socialise with others. The best way out to inculcate socialisation factor in your child is by taking them to child care Capalaba so that they get to have a brief idea of how a school will look like. Here your children will develop the habit of getting along with their fellow class mates. Further, it helps in making the first day of school easier and fun-oriented.

Conclusion:

So, these were a few ways in which you can help your child prepare for their first day in school. Make use of these creative ways to let your child develop a love for going to school every day.

6 Tips to Prepare Your Child for Big School

Starting big school may be a difficult time for your child. It’s overwhelming to start something new for such a young child, especially something that involves changing their everyday routine. It can be an emotional time for the whole family in fact. Therefore, everyone should make strong efforts to make this transition smooth for the little one. The better they are prepared for big school, the more easily they will accept the new change. Everyone has their own way of coping with various emotions and dealing with new circumstances.

Given below are some tips that will help prepare your child for early childhood education Karana:

1. Practice packing and unpacking their school bag:

When you prepare your child for school, the first big step is getting them accustomed to packing and unpacking their school bag. Practicing packing and unpacking their bag can be a great first step in preparation.

2. Show them their new school uniform and shoes:

By showing them their new attire, they can learn more little bits about their new place of education and childcare.

3. Label everything:

Label all the essential items; jumper, hat, lunch box, etc. Sometimes, children leave their things at school which may be difficult to find in case of no labelling.

4. Focus on adequate sleep at night:

It is important that your child is getting lots of sleep and does not remain sleep deprived. Insufficient sleep will leave them sleepy during school hours which can lead to ill-concentration and exhaustion.

Conclusion:

The above 4 tips will go a long way in preparing your child for their new big school. In order to familiarise your child with their new school routine, you can practice some activities at home. When you practice such activities at home in a similar manner, your child will get accustomed to this new pattern. Day care Springfield focuses on making the big transition smooth for the child.

The Benefits of Kindergarten

Kindergarten is extremely popular in Australia. According to The Bureau of Statistics last year a total of 342,479 children aged 4 or 5 years old enrolled in a kindergarten/preschool program in Australia. Despite these statistics however, there are still children who don’t attend a kindergarten such as the excellent, Eskay Kids in Capalaba. Kindergarten attendance is not compulsory therefore it is ultimately the parents’ decision whether or not to send their children to kindergarten. This article will highlight the benefits of Kindergarten for young children.

 

Here’s why Children Love Kindergarten:

  • They get to meet new people – both adults (teachers) and other children
  • They get to play and have fun
  • They get to learn a range of educational things
  • They get to socialise and form special bonds
  • They get to have fun and be a part of a group

 

Here’s the Benefits of sending Children to Kindergarten:

  • Children grow socially and emotionally
  • They are able to further develop their fine motor skills through play, art, dance, music, movement and interacting with other
  • They learn how to be a part of a group and learn important social skills such as self-awareness and respect for others
  • They learn both verbal and nonverbal communication skills
  • Children learn language, literacy and numeracy skills, such as reading stories and counting objects
  • They also learn how to listen and behave in a classroom environment which paves the way for their higher education.

Sending your child to a trusted Kindergarten Centre such as Eskay Kids in Capalaba, Brisbane is an investment your child will thank you for. Get in Touch with one of our staff members to learn more.

5 Healthy Lunch Snacks for Kindergarten

Healthy lunch goes a long way in keeping children healthy and active. It is important to pack a healthy lunch box which should include fruit, vegetables, and a mix of protein, carbohydrate, and dairy products. When children eat healthy food, they are able to concentrate and learn better. Help your child understand the importance of healthy eating by making a list of foods that they might enjoy. Kindergarten Capalaba emphasises the importance of healthy eating and health lifestyle choices.

You may include the following foods for the lunch box:

1. Fruit:

It’s vital to include at least one fruit option in your child’s lunch box every day, dried fruit can sometimes be a good option. You can also opt for canned fruit but ensure you choose those with no added sugar.

2. Vegetables:

Do not forget to include vegetables as they are another healthy option for kids at day care Capalaba. If you make a ham and cheese sandwich, consider adding lettuce and carrot or cucumber and sprouts as an added source of nutrition.

3. Milk and Yoghurt:

In order to avoid boredom, include fruit yogurts in the lunch box. Try to avoid flavoured milk or dairy desserts as they are quite high in sugar.

4. Variety of bread:

Opt for rye or seeded loafs for bread. If your child begins disliking sandwiches, they might like to try pita bread, flatbread, bread rolls, rice cakes, bagels, or any other alternative. Child care centre Capalaba encourages kids to eat healthy by discouraging unhealthy eating options.

5. Homemade biscuits:

If you are a baker, a fun little treat can be homemade healthy nut cookies or banana bread.

Conclusion:

At child care Capalaba we encourage healthy lifestyle choices, which of course includes eating healthily and getting exercise. We hope the above tips can help you to encourage healthy eating in your children.

“Over the fence”

by Mina Kular, Early Childhood Teacher – Karana

 

Since I have started with Karana early education centre this year, I have been on two outings “over the fence” (as it has become affectionately known by the children) and have observed how children love these and how learning occurs naturally. From simply observing fauna and flora around them, learning about nature by experiencing it in different seasons, observing the colours of the grass and trees, to more advanced life skills like how to navigate their way through somewhat unfamiliar area at the beginning and exploring their community. They also learn how different clothing is required for different environments, what is safe under one environment may not be adequate in a different setting. This further encourages flexibility in thinking.

These walks are really enjoyable in autumn and winter as children get to soak in the warm sun just by being out in the open.  Though educators are always present, however, children do take the lead in these experiences choosing where they stay longer, what areas interest them and so on, leading to a sense of ownership in their beings and play.  These outings also allow an opportunity for children to assess the risk themselves and educators to stand back and observe.  On our last outing, children chose to walk on the rocks and go under the bush, which was an uneven terrain compare to the regular terrain they walk at the centre. So, they learn to tap the differences within the geography of their environment.

The other thing, which I felt amongst children, was the sense of freedom as soon as they were “over the fence”. Though it is heavily encouraged within the centre as well by allowing them to move freely and choose the room of their liking for most of the day, however this is experienced totally differently outside. Boundaries are negotiated on the spot with children at the centre stage.

Children and educators also become co-creators of their knowledge and learning outside, as sometimes educators’ see/explore the new things for the first time in the environment, as has been my experience in the past outing.

Stage Fright – How to Help Your Child Through It

Does your child express anxiety before school concerts or soccer games? While butterflies can be normal for children to experience, if you suspect your child is having anxiety before having to perform, this can be concerning. At such a young age you don’t want your children to experience severe stress, so this article will discuss the signs and symptoms of Performance Anxiety and some ways you can help your children to calm down and approach things differently. If you can get your child to take control of their anxiety at a young age, it can put them on a healthy path for their later years when managing stress becomes crucial.

When does it go from Nerves to Performance Anxiety?

It can be difficult to differentiate between what most people consider “nerves” and the more severe form of stage fright, performance anxiety. For children especially, they themselves find it tricky to articulate their feelings, as they don’t really know what they mean. As a parent, it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of performance anxiety:

  • Sweating before going on stage
  • Tummy aches
  • Racing Heart
  • Headaches
  • Crying
  • Fear, Frustration and or Anger

 

Steps to Help your Child Fight Stage Fright

It’s extremely unhealthy to ignore your child’s symptoms, if they are experiencing any. Sometimes the most helpful thing for them is support and often a support system can make all the difference in assisting them to calm down.

Talk about it

If your child displays any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important to begin by opening into a calm, honest and empathetic conversation with them about it. Ask your child how they feel about performing (whether it’s soccer, ballet, public speaking etc) and whether they feel any unpleasant feelings when having to perform. Listen to them and be gentle and kind. The most important message to send to your child is that what they are experiencing is normal and that many others feel the exact same way.

 

Encourage them to Face it

While the immediate response may be to stop doing whatever it is that is making them anxious, this is not going to help them at all as there are a multitude of things they might come across in life that give them anxiety – some of which they have to face. It’s crucial from a young age to encourage them to keep at it and assist them in building confidence. However, there are exceptions. If it is an activity that they really don’t enjoy and it’s causing a lot of distress it may be best to stop.

 

Calming Down in the Moment

If your child loves the activity but just has trouble when it comes to the pointy end of things, practice calming your child down, by doing things that lower the heartbeat; speaking softly, going for a walk, meditating, telling them a story (distraction is always good) etc.

For some families, stage fright can be expressed in a normal way but for other families it can cause sleepless nights, crying and agony experienced by the whole family. The latter is not healthy and requires immediate attention, the above-mentioned ways of dealing with it can help to minimise stress levels and assist the whole family towards peace.

 

 

 

 

Loose Parts & Creativity

It was first proposed back in the 1970’s by architect Simon Nicholson, who believed that it is the loose parts in our environment that encourage our creativity. In Childcare, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways.

After attending a ECW conference on the Sunshine Coast with work colleagues, Angus who runs an OSCH on the Northside off Brisbane, talked about loose parts within his service and through this vision I felt very inspired and started to envision my own thoughts of supplying large and small loose parts to enable the children to create.

Many children started the day just walking past the materials which were scattered within the yarning circle when one started to move the crates and stacked them one on top of each other. This caught the eye of another child who started to add smaller loose parts. As the structure was beginning to take shape more and more children kept adding other materials. Some of these materials consisted of metal bucket, wooden planks, tree cut-offs, wood off-cuts, crates and pipes.

When I acknowledged the children’s efforts one yelled out “yes this is our really big castle”, I said  great and look at all the the materials used. Another child clapped their hands to encourage other children to join in and states “we are a Team, come and help”, I was sure to let the children know that it was great for them to work together. I was very pleased in the way that the loose parts were used, also the team work and collaboration between children. The children created many different structures.

In this time of excitement and inspiration I’m hoping to encourage others to offer same within their service as I feel the children will not only amaze you with their creativity but also their imagination. It’s wondrous to see the children’s leadership and their ideas come to fruition when they are given the space and materials they need to see their project through to completion. Materials can be found at the tip, charities, tradesman with off cuts and around the neighbourhood kerb collection. I hope this can inspire all educators do encourage children to continue to fill their world with raw material creations.

 

Maria – Springfield

How to Prepare Your Child for Prep

It’s no surprise that statistics show parents to be one of the main factors in their children’s success at school. Kindergarten to School is a big step. Therefore, it is vital that parents’ attitudes towards school is positive and upbeat as this makes more of a difference than you might think. This article will explain why and how parents can have such a huge impact on their children’s transition to prep and how they can help their children prepare.

As parents are fundamentally their children’s role models, children can be hugely influenced by their parents’ opinions or stories. Therefore, this is how parents have such a huge impact in the kindergarten to prep/school jump. In fact, parents generally influence their children in all aspects of life, this is only one area.

Tips to Help Your Children get Used to the Idea of Prep/Leaving Kindergarten:

  • Read books, and in particular books that associate positive feelings about school.
  • Talk positively about school and about your time at school.
  • Talk with siblings/cousins/family friends about school and what to expect.
  • Remind them that nothing lasts forever (in a soft positive way)
  • Remind them that all of their friends will also be leaving kindergarten – it’s not just them!
  • Encourage play dates with kids they will be at prep with.

 

How to Encourage Positive Associations with School:

Parents can effectively manage their children’s relationship with school in many ways. Keeping the lines of communication open between themselves, their children, teachers and various children at school is the first step in creating a comfortable and stress-free environment. In the unfortunate even that your child

By ensuring you as a parent can easily and happily encourage and influence school as a positive experience this sets the foundation for a stress-free transition. Following this, attempting to assist in the creation of healthy and happy relationships with peers and teachers is then the next step in a healthy school experience.

A little Gem called Eskay Kids

My journey began with them when I looked at the centre for my son. As we walked through the doors we were greeted by a delightful and insightful director. We soon began exploring and learning all that Eskay had to offer. It was so nice to be greeted by such happy team members! As an educator myself I was immediately impressed as to how calm and how the children were so engaged in their play. Weather it was creating something, digging up the mud to find worms or splashing in a leftover rain puddle – every child was happy and content. It can be nerve raking to find caring and nurturing people (outside of family & friends) to look after your precious little one. But the warmth I felt every time I dropped him off along with a strong sense of reassurance that my child was cared for and happy put my mind at ease.

It didn’t take my son long to feel his sense of security so he could explore the new play environment. It was great he would come home filthy (which is an indication of a busy day!) and tell me all about his day, asking when it was another kindy day! His educators were lovely and would talk to me about what he had been doing – he was very into anything to do with art and they would be so proud of his work just as much as we were. Coming from a structed based centre to this free-flowing natural play was inspiring!

Now I am a part of this amazing team! It was a real eye opener to see such organic play. The openness means there is no limits as to what a child can discover! The transitions for meal or sleep times is effortless, educators asking what the child wants to do, listening to them and calming explaining the benefits of eating well and resting our bodies, engaging the child to listen to their body – this is building the foundations to life skills! Instead of hiding from the rain children are encouraged to play in it! Sensory play at its most basic – its inviting and fun!

I love that the children are expressing interest in a range of experiences and that there is so much hands on, machinal learning which the educators are present to in order to guide but allow the children to make the discovery on their own. Everything is accessible for children so their quest for knowledge is met and can be extended on.   

The respect the team has to one another as well as children and their families is beyond outstanding! To be greeted with a smile and hug really brings out a strong sense of care and family. To know you can talk and collaborate with one another about anything gives you a sense of confidence and belonging.

The possibilities are endless for all to learn and play here at this natural and inviting home-like cottage. With wonderful people who are understanding and go beyond their duty of care to ensure each child feels safe and secure knowing they can play freely with no limits, but still knowing they are being cared for as they play, laugh and grow.

 

Kyra Barker – Group Leader

How to Communicate More Effectively with Your Children

As a parent there are of course, good and bad days. Children can be tricky, especially when you have more than just one to attend to. Communicating isn’t always easy, and general emotional intelligence differences can cause communication barriers between yourself and your children – especially if they are at a young age. Sometimes life gets busy and we unknowingly put less emphasis on communicating properly with our children. Shutting children down when you can’t understand them is a common response when we aren’t in the mood or are slightly annoyed at them (if they’ve been naughty or disobedient). However, there are simple ways to ensure your communication is always smooth with your children no matter the situation. So, this article will give you some tips on how to communicate more effectively with your children.

 

Effective Communication Tips:

  • Children often need some help learning to listen, as well as some gentle reminders about letting other people talk. So, in order to teach your child how to listen let your child finish talking and then respond. This sets a good example of listening for your child.
  • Encourage children to talk about their feelings — both positive and negative — and discuss the possible causes for those emotions.
  • When children are talking to themselves, let them be. Self-talk helps them focus on what they are doing.
  • Use language and ideas that your child will understand as it can be hard for your child to keep paying attention if they don’t understand what you’re talking about. Additionally, when explaining things, use examples or stories that you think they will be interested in listening to and learning about. This will make it easier for it to sink in.
  • Make any instructions and requests simple and clear to match your child’s age and ability.
  • Avoid criticism and blame. If you’re angry about something your child has done, try to explain why you want them not to do it again. Appeal to their sense of empathy.
  • Be a good role model. Your child learns how to communicate by watching you carefully. When you talk with your child (and others) in a respectful way, this gives a powerful message about positive communication.
  • Don’t raise your voice unless there’s a genuine reason for it, this then emphasises when you are really angry and when they have done something wrong. It will be a shock to them when you do raise your voice and they won’t like it and won’t want to make you raise your voice again.
  • When your child is telling you something important, get down to their level, even sit down with them and really listen to what they’re saying. This shows you that you care about what they have to say, and that it’s important to really focus on people when they’re speaking to you. This sets an important example for them.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on your children in any sense. Don’t be too hard on them or

 

These tips should help you to understand how children work a little better and potentially some things that you as a parent can improve on to help your children learn how to communicate more effectively.

 

5 Special Healthy Sweeties for the Kids

We all know how difficult the maintenance of healthy eating can be, especially for the whole family. Packaged snacks are so easy to give in to, just grab them from the shops and wait for the kids to devour them. However, most snack food options from your local grocer aren’t particularly healthy, nor are they reasonably priced. Nonetheless, the kids love them. Kids love sweet foods, which by definition, are the worst for your health. That’s why every house hold need easy to make snack sweeties for the kids that are healthier than the usual packaged snack foods from the shops. Keep reading to discover some great, simple sweet healthy options you can make easily at home.

 

Jam Pinwheels:
Pastry and jam rolled together and baked with a little butter on top are to die for! Super easy and simple and extra healthy if you source healthy home-made jam!

 

Banana Pikelets:
Get your favourite Pikelet recipe and add 1 & ½ cups of mashed banana and ensure you only use 1/3 cup of sugar and you’ve got yourself the best breakfast/afternoon snack. Top with yoghurt and fruit and your children will be more than satisfied.

 

Special Rice Cakes:
Grab some rice crackers from the shops, pop some peanut butter on top, some banana, couple sultanas, coconut and berries to make a face, cat face or a flower type creation. For this one the kids can get involved and create their own little foodie master pieces. Not to mention, this is extremely healthy and filling at the same time.

 

Acai Bowls:
Grab some frozen acai from your local grocer, blend with your choice of fruits, coconut water and top with fruit, coconut and seeds. This will surprise your sweet tooth, with the natural fruity sweetness but satisfy your craving.

 

Honey Popcorn:
Simple but really low in calories, pop some honey over your crunchy popcorn and you’ve got a winning afternoon/after-dinner sweetie snack the kids will love.

 

The above recipe ideas are healthy and easy sweet snacks aimed at providing you with an alternative to process packaged foods that aren’t good for your children’s tummy’s.

Tips & Tricks for Getting Your Kids to Sleep at Night

Night time can pose some issues for some families. Many children fear the dark and fear sleeping on their own with their parents in a different room. It’s far more common than you may think for children to sleep in their parents’ bed/room. But after a while if repeated, it can turn into an unhealthy habit.

Why is it an Unhealthy Habit?

By allowing your child/children to sleep in your bed or in your room, you are letting them believe there is something to be afraid of in their room or simply at night time. This process of allowing them into your room can easily turn into a habit and become almost uncontrollable over time.

Why is it Important to Avoid the Formation of Bad Sleeping Habits?

It’s vital to avoid any formation of these habits for some fairly basic reasons. It’s important to teach your children to be independent and confident, not fearful and paranoid. Similarly, it’s equally as important to teach children to that their home and bedroom is a safe space where they never have to feel afraid. During our early years, our brain develops at a drastic pace and habits we form when we’re young can stick with us indefinitely.

How can we Avoid Bad Sleeping Habits?

If you can help your child get to sleep quicker, there is less chance of them asking to sleep in your bedroom.

  • Get the Right Amount of Sleep
    Ensure your child is getting the right amount of sleep for their age. Now while everyone differs, you will become aware of how many hours leaves them refreshed and energised.
  • Create a Good Sleeping Environment
    Ensure your child’s bedroom is a safe place that they feel comfortable in and enjoy playing in. Ask them how they would like to decorate it and make sure at night it’s nice and dark and cool. If fairy lights, or a night light would make things easier for them, oblige.
  • Routine
    Routine can be one of the best ways to avoid bad habits forming. So ensure your children go to sleep at the exact same time every night and that way they will most likely wake up at the same time each morning. A healthy routine might include, a relaxing bath, dinner, brushing teeth, one or two stories and sleeping at the same time each night.
  • Avoid Meals, Sugar and Caffeine Before Bedtime
    This is a fairly obvious one, but it’s easy to forget – especially when dessert comes into play! But ensuring you avoid any of these things at least a few hours before bedtime is crucial. However, caffeine for young children is never a great idea.
  • Ensure They Exercise Regularly
    Now when we say exercise, we don’t mean intense physical endurance, just simply running around outdoors or swimming at the beach or pool. Anything that gets them outside, even a walk is fine.

 

Ensuring your child develops healthy sleeping habits at a young pave the way for healthy habitual development throughout their life. Not to mention, it makes things easier on the rest of the family – interrupted sleeping can cause all sorts of unwanted situations and your own unhealthy sleeping habits.

 

Encouraging Children to Drop the Screens

Living in such a technologically advanced time, it can be hard to encourage our children to drop the screens and use their imagination instead or go outside and embrace nature. But why would our children listen to us? We are terrible role models in this regard. We always have our phones on us – we use them all the time, mostly because we have to. Often times, our jobs involve staring at a computer screen or making calls all day. And while we actually engage in a lot of important, boring, paper-work type tasks on our computers at home, children don’t see it that way. We live in a digital age – there’s no avoiding it. However, it is vital, that from a young age, we try to impress on our children the importance of playing outdoors or being creative and arty or playing sports. While this may not be easy, because well, who can deny that tv is extremely entertaining? It is still crucial that we teach our children to appreciate the simple things in life and to use their brains to their absolute capacity.

Reduce Screen Time: 

This may seem obvious but decreasing the allowed amount of screen time for your children is the first step in encouraging them to explore other activities. If your children have a certain show in particular that they love to watch perhaps allow them to watch that once a day and nothing else. Or Give them a certain amount of screen time per day, say 2 hours where they can go nuts and watch whatever they please. This may not be easy to begin with, but soon enough they will get into the routine and accept that this is just the way it is.

Encourage them to try Extra-Curricular Activities:

Some children may not have much of an idea of what they’re interested in or would like to get involved with at a young age. However, encouraging them to try new things and get involved with sports or dance can really help to increase their confidence levels, meet new friends and find new hobbies that will encourage them to turn off the screens.

Play-Dates:

Play dates can be a really great way to encourage your children to form friendships and relationships and build up the courage to play with other children independently. This can not only be important educationally and socially, but if you organise with the children’s mothers to ensure they don’t engage in screen time, it can be another element that encourages them not to turn to the screen.

Screen time is a touchy subject, and every parent is different in regard to how much or how little they allow their children to have. While everyone has different opinions, too much screen time is not constructive and can impede children’s brain development, especially at younger ages. Attempting to decrease screen time is a great start to ensuring your children are experiencing life to the fullest and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

5 Ways to Teach Kids to be Sun Smart

Two in three Australians are diagnosed with sun cancer by the age of 70 and while we have been improving globally with sun safety, this is still an alarmingly high percentage. We’re all aware of the dangers of the sun, all of us except for children. Like almost everything, children need to be taught how to be sun safe, however it’s easier said than done. This article will discuss 4 effective ways to teach kids to be sun smart.

  1. Explain Slip Slop Slap
    Get your children well acquainted with the Slip Slop Slap campaign, but more importantly, explain the reasoning behind the campaign. Before you make it into a fun little routine, make sure they understand the seriousness of sun safety. Explain why the sun is dangerous, they might not completely understand, but if you reiterate the seriousness it might surprise you how much they actually take in.
  2. Practice Slip Slop Slap
    The Slip Slop Slap campaign was specifically designed to appeal to children, so get your children well acquainted with the song and the reasons behind it. Once you have done that, turn it into a little fun routine you lead each time they’re going into the sun. Turn it into something they enjoy, that way they will remember it as being a fun, memorable routine that they enjoy.
  3. Use the highest SPF+ sunscreen
    You can get up to SPF100+ sunscreen now, which is incredible and really shows how we’re improving with sun safety globally. However, if you can’t afford or prefer lower SPF, SPF50+ or even 40+ is still effective. In saying this, studies have shown that children should use 30+ or higher to ensure they are protected against UV rays. Especially seeing as though they can accidentally rub it off or jump in the pool that little bit too early.
  4. Don’t forget a hat!
    Even though wearing a hat is included in Slip Slop Slap, they often fall off when kids run around or go swimming. UV rays can cause serious sun damage to your scalp. It can be easy to forget to remind your children to pop their hats back on (often times they might not want to listen). An easier way of ensuring their hats stay on their heads is to purchase hats with drawstrings so that they’re secure and they won’t fall of as easily.

 

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, more than 750,000 people are treated for one or more melanoma skin cancers each year. Additionally, it has been proven that most sun damage occurs before the age of 18, which is why it is so crucial to ensure your children are aware of the dangers the sun can cause. These simple steps will assist you in teaching your children to be more sun safe!

 

 

How you can spend more quality time with your kids

Busy working parents do feel slight guilt about not spending X amount of time with their kids. But working and parenting is a juggle, it’s the way life is. You can though, on days off and weekends, or for a few spare hours, spend some more time with the little ones and make some memories.

 

Exercising

It’s commonplace to see parents walking or running along with the pram in the mornings or sometime during the day. Mums and dads also work out at home with one eye on the toddler while they’re doing squats. And when kids see their parents exercising, they want to do it as well. It’s never too early to have a healthy lifestyle! Babble has some simple exercises the kids can do with you.

More: Parents 10 Ways to Exercise as a Family

 

Story time

Kids have a hard time winding down after an exciting day and will protest “I’m not tired!”. There’s a simple formula to get them snoozing, bath time and bedtime stories.

The latter has several benefits that are too good to pass up. You get some quiet quality time with the little one, and reading with them boosts their literacy skills. Get your shelves stocked with some classics like Enid Blyton and Mem Fox. If you’re stuck on other books, here’s a list from Goodreads.

 

Family trips

Short trips are when memories are made. Remember when your own parents took you to the beach or the museum?

Plan short weekend or afternoon getaways you can take as a family; to the beach, the bay. or even to market. Kids thrive when they are in places that engage all five senses. Bookmark Brisbane Kids in your favourites bar when you’re in need of ideas.

 

Bath time

Bath time is an adventure, especially when toys are involved. For something a little out-of-the-box, buy a cheap bottle of shaving cream and smear it on the tiles next to the bathtub. The kids can make little illustrations out of it!

 

Get more advice below:

Tips you need to know for raising confident kids

Healthy chocolate recipes for the family

Child care for your kids, self-care for you

While we read and do fun activities with your children at our child care centres, it’s important that you remember to take care of yourself. Whether you work full time or have the kids at home a few days a week, self-care should never fall to the side. Here are a few things that won’t take long to do, but the endorphins will linger.

 

  • Early morning workout

Yoga, boxing, weight training, or whatever else floats your boat. It’s possible to set the alarm and hit the 5 am session and blitz that routine and make it home in time for breakfast. Plus, it’s scientifically proven that early morning workouts leave you on an endorphin high for the rest of the day. You’ll feel amazing and be more productive through the day.

 

  • Learn a new skill

Websites like Skillshare let you take short classes from the comfort of your laptop, from computer code to floristry. All around you, there’s an opportunity to learn something new. Cooking schools, art workshops, and fitness groups are all over the place. Check out Facebook, Meet Up, or try the good old Google search.

 

  • Go out…by yourself

This might sound absurd. You’re a parent with children relying on you. But we’re not talking about leaving the kids at home with Dad, the babysitter, or the neighbour. Although that’s also an option if you need some ‘me time’.

When you’re at work, take walks around the block during the day. Change the scenery and get some sun. Leave your phone on your desk and go to lunch at that cafe on the corner. People can wait for 30 minutes while you eat.

 

  • Sit in the sunshine

This boosts your Vitamin D intake as well as your mood. Getting those rays will warm you up inside and out!

 

  • Chat with other parents from daycare

Arrange a time to meet at your house or theirs. Bring a plate of something, put the kettle on and have a laugh. Some parents say they miss having other adults or genuine friends to talk to because their schedules revolve around work and kids.

 

  • Bake for the heck of it

Baking is fun! The cupcakes at the end of a baking spree aren’t too bad either. If you’re trying to be ‘good’, make zucchini bread, chocolate oat biscuits, or a lemon pound cake made with greek yogurt.

The Anatomy of a Great Child Care Centre

Parents who are scoping a child care centre have checklists of their own. But we did some of the hard work and put together some crucial points.

 

ACECQA Rating

The Australian Children’s Education & Quality Care Authority is the governing body in child care standards. Reviews of centres are completed regularly and those who register as a child care must fill in a Quality Improvement Plan. Part of the assessor’s job is to examine whether the centre is living up to their goals or, preferably, exceeding them. The below quality areas are checked on every visit.

  • Educational program and practice
  • Health and safety
  • The environment
  • Staffing arrangements
  • Relationships with the children
  • Collaboration with community and family
  • Leadership

 

The atmosphere

Ideally, you feel right at home when you walk through the door. It’s a great sign if your son or daughter rushes off to say hello to their friends, though realistically this will take a few weeks.

A great child care centre has a variety of activities to help keep the kids engaged. There’s loose parts play, a sandpit, building blocks, books, and more for a full day of fun. One of the EYLF outcomes is children should become confident, involved learners. Seeing your little one chatting away with friends and carers is a great sign.

 

Staff

People have the qualifications and a few pieces of paper, but that’s half of the whole. Good carers are effective communicators not only with the children but also with the parents.

A great child care centre abides by the carer to child ratio (1:4, 1:5, and 1:11 for older kids). The staff aren’t afraid to answer parents questions either, no matter how hard. Nobody can work in childcare without a minimum Certificate III in Children’s Services. Eskay centres, for example, have a mix of carers with tertiary and university-level qualifications.

It’s also commonplace for child care centres to have students come in for a certain period of time to do their practical assessment. The more experienced staff take on the role of ‘supervisor’ during this time.

 

Stimulating environment

Children learn effectively through play. Critical thinking, vocabulary, math, and scientific skills are sharpened in activities adults would see as ‘plain old fun’. Other centres have a curriculum-style way of learning so there’s something for every parent to consider.

A good child care centre doesn’t stay  within the bounds of their building. Excursions to local sights like the farm, a museum, or even Bunnings is both exciting and works the children’s brains. They learn about the world around them thanks to a trip to the local hardware store.

 

Glowing reviews

Parents who love their day care will have no trouble telling their friends about it. In a world where the number of two working parents is increasing, they want to know their child is in safe hands. Word-of-mouth is one of the most trusted review systems out there among parents with young kids.

Check the child care centre’s site as well. Besides the reviews, you’ll also find the ACECQA rating and other qualifications (Blue Card, CPR etc).

 

Need something else to read?

Getting through the first month with Eskay child care Karana

9 activities for active children after day care

Messy play as the little people would do it!

“When life gives you rainy days, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles” – Anonymous

 

What drew me to this quote was the fact that this is something our babies do each day, something that comes from within and something they do not need to learn. As children they know how to take every moment as it comes and seize the day and make it their own.

 

For a while now, I have been observing my babies and how they react to and engage in messy play. Two things stand out from their play:

 

They make do with what they can find- as educators, we constantly have conversations about invitations to play, using toys in an innovative manner and the emphasis on creating play spaces that children find exciting and interesting. A close observation of the invitation to play, courtesy mother nature which can be a mud pit filled with water, a big pile of slushy mud, wet sand, a little pool in the bark has shown that children don’t really need a lot to keep them happy. Children are just happy as long as they can play.

 

They seem to enter a world of their own and enjoy the space for what it is- children’s play can often be complicated by adults and how we view the intricacies of play. With children, there is a sense of wild abandon in their play, one that comes with truly enjoying what they are doing even if it means doing it repeatedly, there was a sense of peace and calm about their play, which was very fascinating for me to watch. It almost felt like they were enveloped in a bubble and what happened outside of that bubble did not seem to affect them too much.

Here is an account of what happened on the really rainy day and a very wet, water logged mud pit:

The mud pit was filled with water and overflowing on the sides, creating a little pool of water and soft mud all around its edges. The older children were shouting, jumping in glee and were very vocal about their excitement with the mud pit. The little people on the other hand, stood at a distance, watching and taking it all in, their eyes curious, wide and somewhat awe struck. Once the excitement had died down a notch, slowly the little people made their way to the mud pit, tentatively placing one foot in and then the other, letting the water run up their legs, and slowly soak up their pants. The sensations led to two reactions: a little shiver followed by a smile as the cold water hit the skin or a little shriek and laughter that meant something exciting was to follow.

As time went by, the number of children in the mud pit kept varying with the little people wanting a little break from the wetness but what did not change was their approach to play. Each time, they would wander in casually, carefully step in, look around to check what toys they wished to use, sometimes use no toys and resort to using their hands and fingers to explore and try and catch water, plonk themselves in the mud pit and do their own thing.

There was something very calming and therapeutic about this sight, something that stopped me from joining in, I did not say a word, did not ask any questions, did not provide any directions to aid play, all I did was sit, watch and take it all in. It felt like time had come to a stand still and everything around me had dimmed down, I couldn’t hear the noise anymore or feel the mounting pressure of routines or feel bad about sitting and watching and doing pretty much nothing. I felt a twinge of envy and the urge to want to be able to do that and feel that zen like moment in my adult life.

Sometimes moments like these can be your best teacher, that moment taught me to learn from my little people and learn by merely watching them. The essence of being a child came to the fore and hit me in the face with a force that was quite amazing. As an educator, I feel like my biggest moments of satisfaction involve watching the children play as they show you what they truly are and what they are made of. We always talk about how learning is a two way street, that day I truly learnt, learnt to play, learnt to watch, learnt to be a part of my children’s day without influencing their choices and play, learnt to keep my eyes and mind wide open, learnt to let go, let them be and let them do what brings them inner joy. That day I learnt to set the child in me free, because we can never truly teach and never truly learn till we have the mind and heart of a child!

Aparna Krishnan

Lead Educator, Springfield

Loose Parts Play

As a passionate early childhood teacher, walking into Reverse Garbage at Woolloongabba was exhilarating, as I know the endless amount of play opportunities the loose part items were going to provide our kindergarten children. Within our indoor and outdoor environments at Eskay Kids Capalaba we have a substantial amount of loose part items, both big and small, that allow our children to design, create and explore with.

Loose parts are open-ended materials with no specific purpose, and can be used in many different ways. They are natural or synthetic items, that children can easily carry, move, tinker with and redesign. They provide children with infinite opportunities to creatively express themselves and enhance their play opportunities.   

 

loose parts

 

Within our Kindergarten environment, these are some of the loose part items our children have access to each day:

  • Cardboard tubes
  • Small recycled pieces of plastic
  • Wood cut-offs
  • Different coloured small and large tiles
  • PVC pipes
  • Milk crates
  • Rocks
  • Seed pods
  • Tiny stones
  • Natural items such as leaves, sticks, pine cones etc.
  • Wire racks
  • Bamboo
  • Mixture of small plastic lids
  • Carpet squares
  • Material cut offs
  • Tyres
  • Stumps

And the list goes on…..

 

By providing children with loose part items, I believe it provides them with endless opportunities to be creative, engage and collaborate with other children, develop their problem solving skills, as well as early literacy and mathematical understandings. I believe children have richer play experiences when they have access to a wide variety of materials that have open-ended possibilities. Play is such a vital aspect of early education, and providing children with loose part items enhances their play opportunities.

 

Loose Parts in Action!

 

 

As you can see, our Kindergarten children thoroughly enjoy creating with loose parts, and each day they are able to utilise these resources in different ways. Whilst observing the process of Ethan, Hamish and Parker’s play, it was evident there was a great deal of learning and enjoyment occurring. They spent an extended period of time carefully and purposely placing each item in the position they wanted it, whilst discussing and negotiating with each other about their project design. They were able to work cooperatively and collaboratively to create what they had envisaged, whilst using their imaginations and creativity.

During this process, where they were so deeply engaged and excited about their project, they didn’t need support or guidance from their educators, they just needed uninterrupted time and space. Once they were ready, they excitedly announced to their educators and peers that they had created a baby elephant house! They had even created an elephant costume with some material cut offs and sticky tape!

You tell me where you could buy resources that would allow your children to make a baby elephant house and costume?

 

Loose Parts + Long Uninterrupted Periods of Play = Learning

 

Written by Courtney Sandilands

Early Childhood Teacher

Eskay Kids Capalaba

Life after childcare; the first day of school

After the childcare days are over, school begins. The lead-up to the first day of school is a mixed bag for both parents and kids alike. The actual day won’t be that bad if you’re prepared. We’ve helped dozens of parents and kids get ready for the big event and decided to spread our knowledge with these handy tips.

 

 

  • Get the uniform ready

In childcare, the kids don’t have to worry about uniforms. But prep is a different story. You can make it an exciting event, saying ‘let’s go and get your big school clothes!’.

If your child has trouble with shoelaces, it’s fine to get slip-ons or buckled shoes. You don’t want them to trip. Teach them laces a few times and have them wear the ‘big kid shoes’ when they’re ready.

 

  • Go school shopping

And make it a fun day out! Let your child choose a new backpack, pencil-case, and lunchbox. They’re something the kids will look after because they’re proud of them, especially if it has their favourite TV character or movie hero on it.

You must stock up on other essentials like pencils, books, glue, and other materials found on the school supply list. There’s lots to buy, and that leads us to our next point.

 

 

  • Label everything

This way your son/daughter’s stuff doesn’t get ‘misplaced, and can easily be returned if left behind’. Get them involved, too. Something as simple as placing a label on a book is exciting to a child getting ready for ‘big school’. You might’ve even done this during their childcare days.

 

  • Teach them new skills

Teachers are there to help, but they can’t help every child all the time. Even during their time in childcare, teach your son or daughter how to do simple things. Little actions like how to wipe their face, wash their hands, or even taking off a jumper makes them anxious if they don’t know how to do it.

 

  • Get a routine going

Little ones need lots of rest. They’ll trot out the old line ‘but I’m not tired!’, then crash ten minutes later, guaranteed. Have a set dinner and bedtime and help your son or daughter with brushing their teeth. If you read in bed to get them to sleep, keep it up for as long as you can. It’ll improve their literacy immensely.

 

  • Go to orientation day

Going to orientation will ease the nervous jitters, plus it’s an opportunity to make friends. It’s something both you and your children can benefit from. You’ll meet the teachers and have a private word if you need to voice any concerns. Plus, your child can see their future classmates and make fast friends. Some parents may have difficulty with drop-off duties, and this can be your chance to make friends of your own.

 

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Loose Parts

Sitting with some children and really observing what they are doing, listening to their conversations with themselves and other children is like opening a portal to another place. How they see the world, their understandings of the way things work is intriguing.  

The collection of loose parts nearby provided an amazing endless exploration of possibilities and invited creativity. The children used the materials and equipment in manner I had not thought of myself. There are boundless possibilities of how the children engage with the materials and learn, exploring their own thoughts and ideas. The children were driven to discover the answers to their own questions, not mine, they were not interested in what shape the bucket was, but more driven to discover how they can stack 4 colanders without them falling and then run sand through the lot, upon reflection a much better question.

Dale and Beloglovsky (2015) note that children’s play with loose parts provides opportunities for divergent and creative problem-solving skills. The use of loose parts in the play environment provides a plethora of opportunities for children to develop problems solving skills, explore imagination and creativity, engineering, and sound.

Providing opportunities for children to use materials in any manner they choose can be a little challenging at times for example, watching a small child drag a branch that is twice as big as them across the yard, but it is also exciting to watch their thinking, it’s a rare to chance to actually see what’s going on in their little brains, a very special gift.  

Needless to say I am a loose parts fan and when I am providing provocations they certainly include an array of loose parts that can be combined, redesigned, taken apart and rearranged in multiple ways.

 

Angela Gibson

Springfield

Nature Pedagogy Course by Sara Christie

This is my first blog.  I was very nervous writing this up as I’m not much of a writer, and I know how many people could potentially read this. However, I just had to share my wonderful experience in nature at our wonderful Mayfield that we are so very lucky to have.

 

The amazing owners of Eskay Kids paid for me to do Claire Warden’s Nature Pedagogy course, with Carly Garner.

 

So far I have only done the first 3 days, there are another 3 to come, and I am so excited for the next round.  Before I had started, I was so nervous.  Yes I love getting dirty and playing in mud and exploring, however I’m rather scared (to say the least) of spiders, snakes and fire etc., so I usually tend to avoid nature in its truest and beautiful form.

 

But in nature time, I almost forgot about my fears and it hardly felt like learning at all.  After all, I got to play in the wild and I took the time to notice the wonderful things in the bushland that in my busy everyday life, I would never see, or I’d be afraid to explore. 

 

I foraged so many wonderful plants and flowers of all different shapes and colours, I learnt about what different plants meant regarding the condition of the land. I looked at rocks and feathers for all their beauty, the different patterns in each feather and shapes, tones and lines in the rocks… I really felt like a child.   I was excited to reach the river, and I just had to touch the water.  It was so cold, but I felt like a child, without a care in the world.

 

After our nature walk we came back and made light cubbies out of natural resources we had foraged from our walk. Flowers, sticks, feathers, grass for weaving etc., it was so much fun.  It held a candle, which lit our path on our night walk.  The light cubby looked even more amazing at night!  We followed the walk with a huge bonfire.  It was very relaxing sitting by the fire on a cold dark night, just watching the embers drift off into the sky and then disappear, they looked like silent fireworks.

 

The next day we got to explore fire ourselves, but first we discussed the benefits and risks of children exploring fire… and of course the benefits outweighed the risks. Then for the fun part! We used vaseline and cotton balls, along with flint and steel, dry leaves, sticks and bark etc., in a colander to have a go at making a fire.  This was my first ever fire as I usually stay away.  I was so proud of myself – I actually did it! I made a spark with my flint without getting scared and then bam, my fire had begun.  I looked after it by slowly feeding it different dry leaves and sticks until it was big enough to stay alight on its own.  It was such an accomplishment for me! Then we tried using the flints without the vaseline and using hay and other natural fire starters.  I again got mine to start using some shredded rope, and slowly feeding it oxygen by blowing it, however admittedly my fear did get the better of me and I wasn’t able to do it in my cupped hands, I still had loads of fun! We then made charcoal pencils, which were surprisingly easy.  We made and ate damper, melted chocolate for our strawberries and marshmallows!!

 

Throughout the time of the course we also learnt to whittle sticks, making pencil shaped sticks, which could potentially be a weapon in the bush if needed, however we made homemade ink using flowers, water and a mortar and pestle. We also made crochet needles, from a stick with a whittling knife. 

 

We explored with the very delicate felt, making felt art and balls from scratch.  We also had a go at using the same process with wool from sheep and horse hair.  The horsehair didn’t go as well, it was too fine.

 

It was sad to say goodbye to Carly, but knowing we will be back in November is truly amazing, and of course, we have the access to Mayfield … I’ll definitely be begging to come out with the children next time!

 

The very next day after the nature pedagogy course, I was so in love with nature, and so inspired, that I took my own children out to some local bush land along with my husband.  It was quite funny as I was so excited to explore and so were the children.  I had to keep reminding my husband to stand back and trust them to explore without boundaries. We crossed a fallen tree that made a bridge over a creek.  Facing another fear of mine – heights, but this time with the kids watching I couldn’t show my fear as I might pass my fear on.  They did so well crossing the tree, I was so proud of all of us.

 

I totally understand nature time now, though as we were there a couple hours, it only felt like such a short time. The kids and myself are so very excited to get back out there and see what else we can explore, and I can’t wait to show them all the things I learnt, as well as bringing it into Eskay Kids Springfield for my children there to explore, as I know they will love it.  I also want to extend it into our walks in the beyond.

 

Nature is such a wonderful thing that we are so lucky to be surrounded by.  We just need to remember to slow down and enjoy what is right in front of us.

 

Written by Sara Christie

Lilly Pilly Room – Eskay Kids Springfield

The secret behind our child care centre in Capalaba

The Eskay Kids child care centre in Capalaba follows the Early Years Learning Framework and the Government Approved QLD Kindergarten Learning Guidelines. We take a unique approach in how we run our centres, but we follow the same rules and regulations as everyone else. So what does this mean for you and your child?

 

Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines

Our child care centre in Capalaba, as well as those in Karana Downs and Springfield, follow the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines or QKLG (same as every child care centre in the state).  At the core is exploring decision-making practices, processes, and elements.

 

These elements are key for teachers working in early childhood education. Teachers carefully plan each day and provide enriching environments, so children can play, develop, and learn. Children have large periods of uninterrupted time to play, explore, learn, discover, question, enquire and engage in social learning experiences with children and adults alike.  Teachers regularly observe the interests, strengths and learning over time and provide a transition statement for families to share with the school which includes information about the child’s interests, their communication skills, active learning, identity, wellbeing, connectedness and other information that may be pertinent.   

 

Our Kindergarten teacher spends a lot of time reflecting on the children within the Kindy program.  The QKLG states that reflection is key for developing strategies, looking back on elements that worked well or were overlooked, and identifying what worked best.     

capalaba QKLG

(Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines, 2017)

 

At Eskay Kids  child care centre in Capalaba, our educators have intimate knowledge about what children respond to best. They enjoy their time in the outdoors enormously, they enjoy time spent with their friends engaging in play that is interesting to them, and they also enjoy quieter times in quieter spaces either by themselves or with a small group of friends.  

 

Though we know what works best, the educators at Eskay Kids are always engaging in further learning and professional development to improve and refine their knowledge and understanding of contemporary early childhood development, and are always pushing themselves past “what has always been done”.  A teacher never stops learning; they network, attend seminars on early education, and meet with parents to discuss concerns.  

Choosing the Right Early Childhood Service for your Child

Often when parents are looking for information about child care they are interested in fees, opening hours, food, vacancies, waiting lists and qualifications.

 

There are many checklists that parents can find to help them as they explore the options available to them, however sometimes there is so much information, it can be quite overwhelming.  I recently came across a checklist that had over 90 items to check either a yes, no or n/a answer.  

 

There are definitely some things families need to ask, but what are the most important things?  Is it about fees?  Is it about food?  Is it about cleanliness?  Is it about ratings?  Is it about quality?

 

For us, we believe strongly that it’s about having a shared vision of childhood, and what you value for your child’s childhood.  There are many services to choose from, and many different ideas, philosophies and “marketing gimiks” around.  Some advertise “structured programs”, others say they have “specialised school readiness programs” and others say they are “Reggio or Montessori inspired”.  Here at Eskay Kids, our mission is to ensure children have the best possible childhood experience, in a very natural environment, where their choices and voices are respected – we value childhood, and authentic childhood experiences.      

 

When you visit , you will find some centres are completely artificial, while others are completely natural.  You will have a good idea in your mind of what sort of childhood and childhood experiences you want for your child.  Some prefer a very plastic, clean, sterile and sanitised environment with lots of bright primary colours, so those families should seek out a centre that meets that particular need.  Other families want a very natural environment for their child with trees, mud, timber, boulders, sand etc, so families who want their child to have a childhood in a natural setting should seek out a service that has a strong affinity with the natural world and a nature pedagogy approach.

 

Some families want their child to have formalised, structured early academic programs where there is a strong focus on the ABC’s and 123’s, so they should see out a service that delivers early academic instruction.  Some families want their children to develop their independence, problem solving, decision making, confidence and agency skills, so families should search for a service that designs it’s programs with the ability for children to be able to make many of the decisions about their day including whether they play inside or outside, which environment they would like to choose to play in, deciding when they eat, and if/when/where they might rest.  In our experience, children learn to make good decisions by being allowed to make decisions, and children learn to become good problem solvers by being allowed to solve some of their own problems.   

 

Choosing an early childhood service for your child, is more than ticking boxes, it’s about finding a really close alignment with your beliefs and visions for your child’s childhood.  At Eskay Kids, our vision for children is one of beautiful and authentic childhoods, of nature, of natural environments, and of children having a strong voice and agency over their day.  It’s not a complete “free for all”.  There are still rules, boundaries and routines, however our routines are based around the natural interests, rhythms, and flow of each child, and instead of having one room routine for a whole group of children, we have individualised routines for each individual child.

 

There is lots of research available to help families decide what is truly important to them.  We’ve posted some articles below that support our visions and values for children.

 

Written by Sharon Kneen

 

Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/give-childhood-back-to-children-if-we-want-our-offspring-to-have-happy-productive-and-moral-lives-we-must-allow-more-time-for-play-not-less-are-you-listening-gove-9054433.html

The Vital Role of Play in Childhood

http://www.iaswece.org/waldorf_education/articles/education_toward_freedom.aspx

Should we just let them play?

http://theconversation.com/should-we-just-let-them-play-24670

Let the children play:  Nature’s Answer to Early Learning

http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/ECLKC/lessons/Originalversion_LessonsinLearning.pdf

Why Play Equals Learning

http://www.learnnow.org/topics/play/why-play-equals-learning

Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature

https://naturalearning.org/sites/default/files/Benefits%20of%20Connecting%20Children%20with%20Nature_InfoSheet.pdf

The Outdoor Classroom Project

http://outdoorclassroomproject.org/about/the-outdoor-classroom/

The Crisis in Early Education A Research-Based Case for More Play and Less Pressure

http://www.shankerinstitute.org/images/Dec-11-crisis_in_early_ed.pdf

Schools now turning to nature-based playgrounds

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/schools-now-turning-to-naturebased-playgrounds/story-fnhocxo3-1226828146116?nk=a7a1004fd96d694f383efd8cc944d5a2

Play Based Vs. Academic Preschools: What the Research Says

http://www.mhpcns.com/resources/play_vs_academic.pdf

Stop Stealing Childhood in the Name of Education

http://www.maggiedent.com/sites/default/files/articles/StopStealingChildhoodintheNameofEducation_BY_MAGGIE_DENT_1.pdf

STREAM – FOR BABIES AND BEYOND …..

STREAM

Makes you think of a river right? You can think of it as one too, because it’s the learning journey your child will move through during their time with us. Every milestone and new discovery they make will flow into the next adventure. It continuously carries forward, creating new connections and allows children to further their development and knowledge. The STREAM doesn’t discriminate; it happens from the Lilly Pillies room through to the Willy Wag Tails room.

 

So, let’s break down the word STREAM;

 

S stands for Science

T stands for Technology

R stands for Reading and Research

E stands for Engineering

A stands for Arts

M stands for Mathematics

 

Over the last couple of months the Lilly Pillies children have explored science through water, mostly looking at the way water can change. When you add food dye or powder paint to water, it changes colour! It can be bright or dark. If you add cornflour, it makes slime. Adding dish washing liquid and stirring it makes bubbles! If you sit in the water tub and then hop out, it takes a while (with the help of the sun) for you to get dry. Science makes us think!

 

Technology will make you think instantly of computers, TVs and iPads. But what we actually mean is technology your children interact with and use as a medium in their learning. For example, the children have a deep interest for reading lately. This makes books a technology, because they are something getting used to connect with their world/learning/interest.  A few other areas of technology we explore are using utensils to feed ourselves, using glue to stick pictures and using the hose to water our plants.

 

Reading and researching for the babies is all about exploring their world and environment, this involves sights, sounds, texture, exploring how things work, risk taking, taste etc. They will learn to read behaviours, needs, feelings and cues as they get older and develop an understanding of what it all means. Children’s language will then progress forwards as they find stronger ways of communicating their needs and idea’s.

 

Your children use engineering daily and in all aspects of their play.  Engineering is wanting to know how and why things work. Engineering is learning to problem solve using a wide array of technologies! That word again! Your children are very engaged by this aspect when they are block building, constructing roads to drive their cars on, and possibly building bridges or ramps as their learning grows. Perhaps we could roll a ball down that ramp instead, or push our cars down it?

 

Next is Mathematics.  To incorporate mathematics into children’s learning we engage them with lots of “thinking questions”. We make comments on everything they are doing. As we are stacking blocks we can count each one or perhaps name the shape we see and colour. As the children have explored water , they used mathematics to fill, pour,  and empty and make things heavier or lighter. Another way we’ve done this is by fitting smaller objects into bigger ones and asking the children; which box or object can we fit in next?

 

It’s a lot to take in, but it will be an important tool to your child’s learning. It’s something we encourage you to keep as a reference to look back on when looking through day stories or your child’s portfolio.

Written by Ebony Anthony

Toddler Room

Eskay Kids Capalaba

Bringing child care strategies home

Child care centres are a place of laughter, learning, and play. Children learn from their surrounds and their carers at the centre through play-based programs. You can bring these elements into your own home to help your child’s development.  

 

Read

Children are curious and stories are great ‘brain food’ for their imaginations. Early learning experts encourage reading at home to improve literacy and communication.

Reading to children isn’t a complicated exercise. It’s ideal to regularly set aside a time when you can read together. Some parents like to read with their children before bed and the traditional ‘bedtime story’ is still going strong. Picture books are better for younger children so they can associate the words on the page with the illustrations. Older children can better handle books with longer blocks of text.  

 

Play

“Play has many valuable purposes.  It is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral capacities.  It is a means of creating and preserving friendships.  It also provides a state of mind that is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving and all sorts of creative endeavours.”

– Peter Gray.  

 

Child care centres implement play-centred learning programs under the guidance of the Early Years Learning Framework, and parents can just as easily implement a play centred ‘program’ of their own at home.

Inviting your child’s friends to your home for a playdate is one way to facilitate this. Hosting a playdate doesn’t mean children are avoiding doing something productive or ‘wasting time’. Rather, they have the opportunity to work in a team, recognise the importance working together, and understand that other opinions matter besides their own. Early Childhood Australia has a short list defining the different types of ‘play’.

 

Get outdoors

Following from the last point, play-based learning isn’t always done indoors. If you live in a home with a backyard area, spend time with your child outside or encourage them to play in the yard. Child care centres have outdoor areas where children are active, and an abundance of loose-part resources are available to them.


Loose parts allow children to move, manipulate, control, change, carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart and put back together in endless ways.  They invite conversations, interactions and they encourage collaboration and cooperation. They promote social competence because they support creativity and innovation. Loose parts can be available in both indoor and outdoor environments and offer excellent opportunities for open-ended learning and higher levels of critical thinking and creativity.