Encouraging your Child to Take Risks

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Think about the last time you were challenged by something or someone. It could be the months of training for a marathon or an interview for a competitive job. You’ve probably thought about giving up or, thought that you couldn’t complete the task. But you did! Think about the feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and the confidence boost you got. This is the feeling we deprive children of when we intervene too soon as they engage in riskier activities like climbing a tree.

Engaging in risky play can encourage your child to take risks and learn skills that will stick with them for life. Risky play refers to the thrilling and challenging forms of play that involve a risk of physical injury.1 It provides the following benefits for your child:

  1. Promotes Physical Health2

Most risky play involves physical activities. This can include climbing trees, playing in the playground, on the beach, or in water. These activities will challenge and strengthen your child’s muscles, bones, lungs, and heart! The more often your child engages in risky play, the more aware they are of the capabilities and limits of their own body.

  1. Promotes Emotional Health2

Children are capable of assessing and reducing their own risks instinctively. They are overcoming their fears a little bit at a time and trying again when they fail, building resilience and perseverance. You can read more building resilience and perseverance on our Piptree Kids blog here.

When your child moves around a lot and moves quickly, it also trains their vestibular system which can help them regulate their emotions and pay attention in school. Engaging in risky play also allows your child to interact with their peers, practising their social interaction skills! It can also encourage creativity and problem-solving.

5 ways you can help your child take risks at home3

  1. Have a conversation with your child

A study done by Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool found that children are more likely to engage in risky play when adults talk to them about planning for and taking risks.

You can do the same at home with your child! Instead of just saying “be careful” or “don’t do that”, explain what happens if they’re not careful. For example, if they’re using a knife to cut a cake, explain that it is a sharp object and can cut them if they’re not careful. Show them how to handle it safely. You can also use positive reinforcements to explain. If they had cut the cake with the knife by themselves, tell them they did a good job and bring their attention to how they held the knife safely!

When your child understands the risk on their own terms, it can help develop their risk competence. Taking a child-led education approach in this situation is extremely important.

  1. Introduce risk gradually

Start with smaller risks then gradually work your way up to more risks. As your child conquers each stage, they learn how to assess risk and work their way through the problem.

  1. Assume all of your children are competent — regardless of gender

The Adamstown study revealed that while adults were not excluding girls from risky play, educators were more likely to challenge and invite participation from boys. As adults, we often hold intrinsic biases that we might not be aware of. It is important that we check ourselves to see if we:

  • Allow boys to be more independent
  • Assume that girls are not as willing to take risks
  • Dressing girls in outfits that might limit their freedom to play
  • Saying and explaining the same topics differently to girls and boys.

Social norms are learnt behaviours and we have to be careful about how we talk to our children as it can affect the way they behave and act — whether or not they are willing to take risks.

  1. Allow your child to have autonomy but still monitor them closely4

Toddlers and pre-schoolers will want and need an adult to support and supervise play. Other children, on the other hand, might feel self-conscious or shy if an adult is too present in their playtime. You can think of their playtime as a child’s world, and you are a guest in it. If they want you to be a part of their play, express enthusiasm, let your child lead the game, and only offer suggestions when asked. If you were not invited to join, sit away from their play area but ensure that you can still see them and will be able to get to them quickly if anything happens.

  1. Discuss risk at times that don’t directly involve it

When walking together to the shops or driving around in a car, you can talk about the risks involved in crossing roads or walking on a sidewalk. Point out fast cars or point out any other safe or unsafe situations you come across. Encourage your child to notice these things as you go about your daily life.

When it is time to increase their risk and learn a new skill, such as crossing roads on their own, they will be prepared and know what to look out for right away. They will be able to keep themselves safe in a non-stressful situation.

It is also good to get your child to reflect on any fall or other mistake they might have made. Asking them how it happened and what they could do to prevent it from happening again next time will help them understand the risks on their own terms and, again, increase their risk competence.

Assess reward vs risk5

It can be difficult to judge the line between allowing freedom of movement and play choices for your child, and negligence. Here are some questions you can think through:

Think about what the risk to your child is in the worst-case scenario — Could they get a minor injury, like a bruise or a scrape? Could they be slightly uncomfortable in the moment? Could they get dirty?

Assess what the reward for your child could be — Would they conquer the long-time fear they’ve held on to? Would they bond with a peer over a shared exciting experience? Would they learn that getting a minor injury isn’t the end of the world?

Your assessment would be wholly dependent on your child’s age and developmental level, physical abilities, and your own comfort. Trust goes both ways; it begins with letting go of your own desire to control your child’s choices and trust that they are capable of making their own choices. Showing that you have confidence in your child early on will not only strengthen your bond but also increase your child’s confidence.

Child-led risky play

Children learn best through child-led play, and our educators at Piptree make sure that they get plenty of supervised risky play! For example, the Pips children aged 0-15 months at Piptree Heritage Park had a lot of fun in the big yard climbing and building sandcastles with their peers. Head over to our Instagram page to check out more fun social interactive playtimes! You can also check out our blogpost on Nature Play in Early Childhood for some risky play ideas in nature.

 

References

  1. Sandseter, E.B.H. Children’s Risky Play in Early Childhood Education and Care. (Link)
  2. Holecko, C. Why Kids Need to Take Risks in Life. (Link)
  3. Newman, L. and Leggett, N. 5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Take Risks — And Why It’s Good for Them. (Link)
  4. Bright Horizons. How Unstructured Play Can Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking in Children. (Link)
  5. Ringo, S. The Importance of Risky Play in Early Childhood. (Link)

Happy Early Childhood Educators Day!

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It’s Early Childhood Educators’ Day today! On this day, we recognise and celebrate the work of Australia’s early learning educators for their amazing contributions to the well-being and healthy development of the children in their care. Today is a chance we get to thank our wonderful educators on a personal and national level!1

For many children, the most significant adults in their daily lives are their family members and educators. They’re the adults that they spend the most amount of time with, the people who make most of the decisions on how they will spend their time, and the people who provide guidance and direction through their actions and words.2  Educator-child relationships are crucial in a child’s mental, physical, and emotional development. This relationship:3

  1. Helps children feel secure outside of their immediate family, which frees them up to explore, play, and learn
  2. Contributes to children’s sense of identity
  3. Offers children an opportunity to learn how to interact with others. They learn how to respect other’s rights, be appropriately assertive, be caring, negotiate and resolve conflicts
  4. Enables effective teaching and learning

Your child’s educators are a huge part of their lives! Take some time today or this week to say thank you to your child’s educators. You can encourage your child to make a card or make a simple home-made gift for their educator. They could pick a bunch of flowers from the garden or bake a cake and/or cookie with Mum and Dad.

Celebrating our educators at Piptree Early Learning

We’re blessed to have incredible educators here at Piptree Early Learning and we want to share how appreciative we are of them!

‘We are All in this Together’ at Piptree Tanah Merah!

At the peak of the pandemic in March, the children and educators at Piptree Tanah Merah created a hand-print painting to show their support for their families, friends, and local businesses to keep going! You can check out the post here.

Rain Sticks at Piptree Heritage Park!

The children in the Poppies room (4-5 years) at Piptree Heritage Park made rain sticks with Miss Rupinder and Miss Brenda! Miss Brenda shared with the children about aboriginal culture and what it means to her and her family celebrations. She talked about how her children loved making rain sticks when they were younger and asked the children if they wanted to make one. The answer was a resounding “YES!” Miss Rupinder then sat with the children and together they created a big rain stick. As the children were busy creating the rain stick Miss Brenda explained that traditional rain sticks are made from dried hollow cacti and pebbles 🙈 We love for our educators to share their culture with the children as they learn about diversity and respect for the First Nations people! Check out the post here.

Hygiene Fun at Piptree Mount Gravatt East!

Hygiene is extremely important and the Sprouts (1.5 – 2.5years) at Piptree Mount Gravatt East were taught self-help skills and how to maintain proper hygiene! Our wonderful educators taught the children how to thoroughly wash their hands from front to back, in between fingers, and washing their thumbs and nails. They also learnt about mouth hygiene and the importance of brushing twice a day. To further emphasise the importance of oral hygiene, the children and their educators then did an activity using pom-pom balls in a sandwich bag to act as a dirty mouth and the children used a toothbrush to clean the teeth. This helped our Sprouts visualise what goes on inside their mouths! Have a look on our Facebook page to see the full post!

 

Music Time at Piptree Sunnybank Hills!

Making music is good for a child’s mental and physical development and wellbeing! The children in the Pips room (0-2 years) at Piptree Sunnybank Hills had a ton of fun with our make-shift drum-set and shakers! All of our Pips were developing their creative skills as they created music spontaneously. The babies love making loud noises and this drumming activity gave them the perfect opportunity to do so!

 

 

White Christmas in July at Piptree Eight Mile Plains!

The Sprouts 1 class (15 months to 2 years) at Piptree Eight Mile Plains celebrated a White Christmas in July by making a snowman with shaving cream and Santa hats with red-coloured rice! They particularly enjoyed decorating the room with beautiful Christmas decorations. The children and their educators set up a cosy corner for their families to take photos with, making sure everyone at Piptree got involved with the Winter Christmas spirit!

 

 

Thank you to all of our Amazing Educators!

We are grateful to have a dedicated team of educators who have gone above and beyond to ensure that our children at Piptree Early Learning get the best learning experience in the early stages of their lives! Join us in saying thank you and celebrate our wonderful educators when you see them!

 

References

  1. Early Childhood Educators’ Day. Early Learning Services. (Link)
  2. Sheridan, S.M. Establishing Healthy Parent-Teacher Relationships for Early Learning Success. (Link)
  3. Early Childhood Australia. Relationships with Children. (Link)

The Benefits of Teaching your Child a Second Language

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In our increasingly globalised world, being bilingual can be extremely helpful in communicating with people of different cultures. Here at Piptree Early Learning, we believe that teaching your child a second language is also good for their mind. Contrary to popular belief, learning a second language does not cause language confusion, language delay, or cognitive deficits. Studies done at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab showed that children who learn a second language can maintain attention despite outside stimuli better than children who only know one language.1

According to Barbara Lust, a developmental psychologist and linguistic expert, this ability is “responsible for selective and conscious cognitive processes to achieve goals in the face of distraction and plays a key role in academic readiness and success in school settings.” These abilities can also contribute to a child’s future academic success.

Young children are especially well-equipped with the capability to accomplish the complex task of language learning. Here are some benefits that your child will gain from learning a second language:

Improve cognitive development

Learning another language helps develop essential areas of your child’s brain.

Memory and concentration skills

Learning another language can strengthen your child’s memory for sequences and their ability to concentrate and build connections. The parts of the brain used for memory, reasoning, and planning are much larger for bilinguals compared to monolinguals.2 Studies have also shown that being bilingual can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Develop multi-tasking capabilities

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that children who grow up speaking two languages are better at switching between tasks than monolingual children. This shows their ability to multi-task. Bilinguals have 2 sets of language rules in their minds and their brain is trained to switch back and forth depending on the situation.3

Bilingual speakers develop mental flexibility

When switching between languages all the time, it strengthens your child’s mental muscles and enhances their executive function, i.e. it improves their working memory, allows for flexible thinking, and develops their self-control. Bilinguals are able to control the parallel activity of both languages and select the intended language subconsciously.

Introducing sign language in your child’s early age can also be extremely beneficial to their cognitive and physical development. It encourages communication for children who are not yet speaking and can increase memory retention and motion processing. It can also increase mental flexibility. The intricate linguistic elements to sign language can also help develop your child’s gross motor function. You can read more about introducing Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to your young child here.

Improve academic performance

With enhanced executive function, your child will be able to concentrate and do better at school!

Enhance English literacy skills

Learning another language is more than just memorising a list of words. It forces your child to be conscious of the rules of English. Children generally acquire their first language intuitively without any formal training, on the other hand, they might learn a second language in a formal classroom setting. As a result, your child will learn to compare and contrast the two systems — different language elements such as vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, etc. Your child will have an insight into how English works, which accelerates their reading and writing skills. Learning a new language also makes them a better listener as they are used to having to interpret meanings and nuances.4

Great academic results

With higher cognitive skills, studies have shown that multilingual students do better on standardised exams in maths, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Language learning boosts your child’s ability to problem-solve, a skill that is essential across the board.4

Develop understanding and respect for other cultures

Language is part of culture. Learning another language will spark your child’s curiosity for other cultures!2 Opening up to another culture will allow your child to be more flexible, respectful, and appreciative of other people’s opinions and lifestyle. They will have the advantage of seeing the world through different perspectives and will enhance their ability to communicate in a connected. Your child will grow up to be a compassionate, empathetic, and respectful person.4 You can read more about teaching your child the importance of diversity and inclusiveness here.

 

How to teach your child another language at home5

Using child-centred education will help your child learn and acquire the new language quicker!

If you’re a parent in a bilingual or multilingual household:

  1. Teach through repetition

Young children learn through repetition and active engagement with the other language. You can do an activity in English, then do the same activity in the other language. It’s best to use a child-centred approach here! When your child is engaged in an activity they enjoy, make use of this opportunity to turn it into an educational moment. For example, if you’re doing arts and craft, you can go through the process in English, then do it again in the target language. It helps to speak the second language consistently at home, so they are exposed to the language and its system. Talk about your daily routines and activities in the second language as you do them!

  1. Use big gestures and physical demonstrations

Pairing nonverbal communication with verbal vocabulary cues can help your child comprehend language. Children can associate your physical expression with vocabulary. It makes it easier for them to understand and remember those terms!

  1. Create a positive learning environment

Second-language learners do better when they are supported and encouraged to engage in social interactions. Asking open-ended questions in the second language will prompt them to use and practice speaking the language. It is important to note that your child might mix up words and word orders when they are just starting, but children learn and adapt quickly so they’ll figure it out in no time! Just keep encouraging them to use the second language and they’ll master it eventually!

 

If you’re a parent in a monolingual home:

  1. Have your child spend time with a native speaker

Studies have shown that immersive language learning is the most effective way to master a second language. Children are able to pay attention to social cues from a live person that can help them comprehend and better understand what is being said. If you have a bilingual family, friend, neighbour, or caretaker, let them spend some time with your child speaking only in their native language. You can set up playdates or excursions with them where they only speak in your child’s target language, creating an immersive experience.

  1. Find media in the target language

Using audio or media formats can be less-effective compared to in-person interactions but any amount of exposure to the target language is always helpful. Let them watch age-appropriate shows in the target language, find music that both you and your child will love in the target language, and when they’re old enough to read fill your home with written words in the target language.

  1. Use child-friendly language-learning sites

There are websites and apps created for young children to learn a second language. They provide popular children stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or Three Little Pigs in a different language. Here is a list of some of the best apps that can help your child in their language learning journey through their preschool and schooling years.

  1. Learn the language together

If you are interested in learning a second language, you can make this a team effort! It’ll also be a good bonding experience as you learn something new with your child. You can learn a second language through an online language learning platform and teach your child what you learn! It’ll be good practice for you as you get to practice what you have learnt while teaching your child! Duolingo and Rosetta Stone can be a good place to start. Here is a list of resources you can use to start learning Auslan!

Growing up to be a well-rounded individual

Learning a second language from a young age can not only help to put your child in a better position for their future, but also helps them to understand and see the world in different perspectives. Child-centred education helps not only with language learning but also helps in developing a better understanding of why it is important to appreciate other cultures. With higher cognitive skills, they learn to become a respectful and empathetic individual and are more likely to be successful in school! Being exposed to different languages and cultures can have a significant positive impact on your child’s life.

How do we cultivate language learning at Piptree?

As we know, Australia is a ‘melting pot’ of different cultures and ethnicities. This is part of what makes us special! Our Piptree centres are all located in areas that embrace diversity and multiculturalism, and as such we encourage our children to be curious about the different languages that they may hear their friends or educators using. For example, at Piptree Eight Mile Plains we love having such a diverse mix of families and educators! Our team of educators enjoy sharing aspects of their cultures’ with the children. Head over to our Facebook page to see one of our amazing educators reading the story of The 3 Little Pigs in her native Cantonese!

 

 

 

References

  1. Lang, S. Learning a Second Language is Good Childhood Mind Medicine, study finds. (Link)
  2. Victoria State Government. How languages can boost your child’s brain power. (Link)
  3. National Institutes of Health. Bilinguals Switch Tasks Faster than Monolinguals, NIH funded study shows. (Link)
  4. Eton Institute. Top 10 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language. (Link)
  5. Korngold, Y. How to Incorporate a Foreign Language into Your Preschooler’s Life. (Link)

 

Encouraging Resilience and Perseverance in your Child

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Resilience and perseverance are essential traits for children to develop. They are life skills that children take into adulthood and can affect how they grow up.

Building resilience and perseverance in your child is important for their mental health as well as their physical health. It helps them to overcome obstacles more easily and reduces the chances of developing anxiety or other stress-related diseases.

Here are some tips you can use to help your child build resilience and perseverance:

  1. Building supportive relationships

The reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship can help lead your child through adversity. Your child will learn to develop vital coping skills and your presence can also help to reduce any changes that are activated by stress. This can prevent any damaging physiological effects on their developing brain, body, and immune system.3 Children learn better when they are loved, accepted, and understood.

  1. Encourage and support self-regulation

Self-regulation refers to how we regulate our behaviours and emotions. It is extremely beneficial in the long run for your child to learn how to manage their behaviours from a young age. It is important to talk to your child about their behaviours to help develop their understanding — what is the impact of their behaviour on others, what are the benefits? It will also help them to regulate any stress-induced anger or frustration they might feel in challenging situations.4

  1. Encourage regular mindfulness practice

Mindfulness creates structural and functional changes to the brain that can help regulate stress. It has a great positive impact on children’s, and adults’, cognitive development. There are numerous life skills that your child can develop when practising mindfulness and these skills can help build perseverance and resilience. You can read more about mindfulness and find exercises here.

  1. Read to them, or let them read good books

Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. They can infer and learn from the stories they read. Here are a few books that share stories about problem-solving, self-regulation, and perseverance1:

  1. Engage in risky play

Risky play is thrilling and a perfect challenge for children to test their limits and build perseverance. It can also help your child develop risk management as they figure out boundaries and develop perseverance.1 Take your child to the playground, bring them hiking, let them play in nature. It is important that you don’t let your fear get in the way. Let your child take risks and learn from them. Experts suggest practicing the 17-second rule — i.e., instead of telling your child not to run too fast or climb too high, take a moment (or 17-seconds). Step back and observe how your child is responding to the situation so you can have a better sense of what they are capable of.5

  1. Set an example

Like many other life skills, modelling resilience and perseverance is beneficial for your child. They are more than likely to learn from watching you persevere through a problem you are facing. If it’s an appropriate discussion, share with them what you’re going through and what you’re doing to get through the problem. Studies have shown that showing persistence and perseverance yourself can affect how much your child perseveres through their tasks.1

Child-led learning is effective in developing resilience and perseverance

Resilience and perseverance are skills that can’t only be taught verbally. Your child will have to go through challenges and sometimes tough situations in order to develop these skills. By being in challenging situations, they will not only develop perseverance and resilience but also learn to problem-solve and manage risk.

If you enjoyed this week’s blog, and would like to find out more about encouraging resilience and perseverance in your child, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full post!

References

  1. Arnerich, M. How to Build Resilience and Perseverance in Young Children. (Link)
  2. Bobbermen, J. Why building resilience in children is important. (Link)
  3. Young, K. Building Resilience in Children — 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies. (Link)
  4. Cowley, S. How to Build Better Behaviours in the Early Years. (Link)
  5. Toole, B. Risky Play for Children: Why We Should Let Kids Go Outside and then Get Out of The Way. (Link)

The Benefits of Virtual Reality in Early Childhood Education

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Physical play is an important and effective way for young children to learn. Similarly, when used correctly, technology is just as important to a young child’s development. There are huge investments into technology that can provide essential and important skill-building virtual reality and augmented reality games for children. Studies have shown that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the ability to alter behaviour, thoughts, patterns, and attitudes.1

The benefits of virtual reality in early childhood education include:2

Fun learning

Children generally have shorter attention span. Many young children today are exposed to technology and digital screens at an early age. You’ll probably find that it is easier to catch their attention when there are moving pictures/objects. VR allows for immediate engagement which means fewer distractions. You can change the visual settings of the game to cater to each student’s visual engagement. The scenery is usually vivid and attractive, and that will engage your child and pique their attention.

Enhance motivation

As your child is engaged in the game, it will motivate them to want to play. Many VR games require full participation. If your child doesn’t move, the avatar doesn’t move — nothing happens in the game. Children learn best when they figure out concepts at their level, and they can do so through the VR/AR games. The use of VR technology can enhance traditional teaching methodologies as children are able to apply what they have learnt in the “real world”.3

Increase academic performance and understanding

A study done on the effectiveness of augmented reality apps in teaching the alphabets to kindergarten children revealed that students who were taught with AR had significantly better results than students who were taught using traditional teaching methods — a mean score of 27.57 in the experimental group and 15.43 in the control group.4

Develop positive attitudes and behaviour and Enhance social skills

In classrooms, the nature of AR and/or VR encourages children to work together, building their cooperation skills while improving their communication skills. The use of technology gives your child a sense of control over their learning, whether it is at home or at school. Self-directed learning can increase their level of concentration and information retention. It can also motivate your child to want to learn more and engages all children regardless of learning abilities.6

Using AR/VR to enhance teaching and learning

Technology will never replace traditional teaching methods and teachers as the main mode of educational and developmental learning. Physical play and human-led teaching are still critically important in helping young children develop, learn life-skills, and academic learning. However, technology can be used alongside these traditional methodologies in order to enhance young children’s learning capabilities.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of VR and AR, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full article!

 

References

  1. Ariel, Y. VR is a Powerful Tech Enhancing Early Childhood Development Must. (Link)
  2. Masmuzidin, M.Z., Aziz, N.A.A.. “The Current Trends of Augmented Reality in Early Childhood Education.” The International Journal of Multimedia and Its Applications, vol. 10, no. 6, 2018, pp. 47-58. (Link)
  3. Wenke, J. The Benefits of Using Augmented Reality in Early Childhood Education. (Link)
  4. Safar, A.H., Al-Jafar, A. A., Al-Youdefi, Z.H.. “The Effectiveness of Using Augmented Reality Apps in Teaching the English Alphabet to Kindergarten Children: A Case Study in the State of Kuwait.” EURASIA Journal of Mathematics Science and Technology Education, vol. 13, no. 2, 2016, pp. 417-440. (Link)
  5. AR VR Tech. Top 5 Benefits of Virtual Reality in Education. (Link)
  6. Youdale, K. Augmented Reality in Kindergarten? (Link)

How to talk to your child about serious issues

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In today’s world children can more often than not, be exposed to current local and global tragedies and dangers, no matter how much parents try to shield them. It can be hard for them to process these serious issues and their imagination can run wild.

Discussing these issues with your child may not be easy but by discussing them in age-appropriate language, it will help your child feel more secure and safe. This is particularly important as we go through the current coronavirus global pandemic. Younger children might not understand why they can’t go to school or childcare, or why they can’t see grandma and grandpa.

Here are some tips you can use to talk to your child about the pandemic, or other serious issues:

1. Provide just enough information about the issue1

Pre-schoolers

Most young children don’t have enough life experience to understand complex and abstract issues. News reporting can use words and phrases that can scare your child. Try as much as possible to limit your child’s exposure to the news to avoid causing too much anxiety and choosing media that is targeted to younger children.

Use age-appropriate language and examples to explain the issue2. For example, if they are asking about how people catch coronavirus, explain that when someone sneezes or coughs, they can spread germs through the air. Explain to them that the germs can also get on their hands and therefore, it is important to wash their hands and avoid touching their face. Here are some exercises you can do with your child to help them understand why they need to practice good personal hygiene:

 School-age children

At this stage, most children can read and write independently and are exposed to more complex news in the media. Wait for them to come to you if something is worrying them. When you encourage open dialogue and discussion in your house, they’re more likely to come to you when there is a difficult issue bothering them.

With teenagers, they’re often exposed to news on social media or television. As we know, there is a lot of false information out there on the Internet! Engage in discussions with them about the news and make sure your child knows you are listening. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers2. You can work together with them to fact-check information and calm their worries at the same time. With a lot of misinformation on COVID-19 circulating on the Internet here are some reliable sources of information:

  1. World Health Organisation Myth busters
  2. Australian Government Department of Health
  3. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

2. Acknowledge their feelings

Pre-schoolers:

Address their emotions when talking about serious subjects. Let your child know that it is normal to feel scared, sad, or confused about the situation. Share your feelings with them as well and reassure them that you will be there for them, and that the family is safe3.

Children are very observant and sensitive to how things affect the members of their primary relationships — parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. It is important that you are calm and reassuring when talking about the issue.

Do look out for reassurance seeking in young children — i.e. your child could be repeatedly asking the same or similar questions; try to determine whether their anxiety seems to be increasing despite the fact that you’ve been answering their questions. Health Direct has a list of resources catered to young children, or you can contact your family doctor or psychologist for more resources or help.

School-age children:

Similar to pre-schoolers, always acknowledge your child’s feelings and emotions. Teenagers might be less likely to open up about what they’re feeling but as a parent it’s still a good idea to check in with them from time to time. With COVID-19, restriction measures by the government will disrupt their daily routine — schools are now online, they’re not allowed to hang out with their friends; social activities like sports and dance classes are cancelled and can have an impact on their mental health. Direct them to online mental health resources if they feel more comfortable talking to a professional:

  1. Australian Government Department of Health – Head to Health
  2. Headspace
  3. Beyond Blue
  4. More resources can be found at Health Direct

3. Take care of yourself3

If your child is bothered by a serious issue that is covered constantly in the news, it is likely that you’re just as, if not more exposed to the story. With the current global pandemic, adults are likely dealing with higher than normal pressure and having to juggle between working from home and taking care of your children.

Take a break from the news and turn off the TV. Do some physical exercise, or just spend time with your family playing games or watching movies. Taking a much-needed break from the constant news cycle can be beneficial to both you and your child to calm down and relieve the stress and anxiety. This can make discussions about difficult topics a lot more productive and effective, rather than being too caught up in negative emotions.

Don’t avoid difficult topics!

Opening up about serious topics will not only reassure and reduce anxiety in your child but will also strengthen the bond between you. It lets them know that you’re willing to listen and help them, and it makes them feel safe and secure. The next time they have problems, they know that they can come to you for help without feeling judged.

References

  1. Sperling, J. How to talk to children about the coronavirus. (Link)
  2. Knorr, C. How to Talk to Kids About Difficult Subjects. (Link)
  3. American Psychological Association. How to talk to children about difficult news. (Link)

 

What can parents do to help children learn from home?

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As more schools move to online classes, you might now find yourself juggling between home-schooling your child while working from home.  This can be daunting especially if you have never done this before. This is new to many parents who are now stuck between work, caring for children, and ensuring that they are still learning effectively.

We have put together a few tips and tricks that you might find helpful to home-school your child:

1. Set up a learning space

A learning space for young children is a place where they can play safely. Unstructured, free play is the best way for young children to learn. If you have a backyard, let your child play and explore the natural environment. Nature play can reap many benefits such as problem-solving, risk assessment, and improved mental and physical health. Let their imagination run wild to fuel their creativity. You can be a part of your child’s unstructured play too, if you choose to, and if they want you to join!

Young children can also benefit from unstructured indoor play with toys. Toys such as building blocks and threading strings can not only fuel your child’s creativity but also improve their fine motor skills.

2. Create and keep to a routine

Children need structure and familiarity. Creating and keeping to a routine can help your child be more productive. Having a routine for young children can have long-term benefits — including increased skills and responsibilitiesbuilding healthy habits, and cultivating a sense of safety and belonging. Keep to the normal daily routine you might already have in place. If your child used to attend child-care, try as much as possible to follow the schedule typically set for your child. It will create a safe, normal, and healthy environment for your child to continue to learn through play.

3. Facilitate and support child-led learning

Child-led play is good because children learn best when they’re interested in an activity. When you follow your child’s lead, you can facilitate their learning by taking advantage of the things that interest them to help them learn something new or build on a skill. You can start by noticing what your child is doing or playing, and ask if you could join in. If they stop playing with their current toy and move on to another, move to the other toy with them.

4. Let your child get bored

If you’re working from home and can’t entertain your child 24/7, you might find that they can get a little bored. Instead of dropping your work to play with them, let your child work through it themselves. When your child can push through the boredom, it fuels their creativity and imaginative capacity and builds their problem-solving skills. They will learn the necessary skills needed to deal with slightly stressful situations while building on their independence and resilience.

Learning should be fun!

By encouraging your child to self-regulate their learning, you are allowing them to take ownership of their studies and gain independence. It is still important for you to ensure that they are progressing in their learning and hold them accountable.

But don’t forget that learning should be fun! You can encourage your child to draw, bake, paint, or go out to the garden. Take this opportunity to spend some time with your child — whether it is talking about school or playtime in the garden!

If you found these ideas helpful, head over to Piptree Kids to check out the full blog post with more tips and tricks to help your older children learn from home 🙂

Loving-Kindness Meditation for Mindfulness

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Mindfulness teaches your child to not look at what they would like, but to focus on what is already there. It is very easy to look at someone else and be envious or jealous of something they have.

Loving-kindness meditation can develop goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards others and themselves. It has tremendous benefits — ranging from healthy well-being to improving emotional intelligence — benefits that can help your child grow into a kind, loving, and well-rounded individual.1 Read more

Fine Motor Skills Development in Children

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The development of fine motor skills in early childhood will affect the physical and mental development of your child. Fine motor development allows them to become increasingly independent. This can build confidence and increase self-esteem and will, in turn, have a positive influence on their social interactions and school success.

Your child will go through 3 stages of development before acquiring fine motor skills:

  1. Whole arm development
  2. Whole hand development
  3. Pincer and pincher grasp

There are many fun activities that you can do with your child at home to help train their fine motor skills.

Check out our blog post here for some ideas!

How can you Help Your Child Settle into a New Environment?

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It can be stressful for both you and your child when they are introduced to a new environment. It could be their first day of school, a new classroom, or a new childcare. It can be emotionally challenging for children to be separated from their parents, even just for a little while. Settling into a new environment for young ones is a huge step and it is normal if they are having trouble with it.

Here are 6 tips you can use to help your child manage separation anxiety and settle into a new space:

  1. Familiarise your child with their educators and classmates
  2. Ask if they want to bring a comfort object with them
  3. Establish a goodbye routine to prepare them for the separation
  4. Empathise with them
  5. Stay connected with your child
  6. Create a routine — a fixed sleep/wake-up time

With these 6 tips, your child will be ready to step into a new social environment and learn how to manage their anxieties and worries!

Read here to find out how you can use these tips to help your child.