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While moving may be inevitable, its toll on the family can be minimised with a few conscious steps. 

According to Peter Martin’s Census 2016, on average, an Australian family will move interstate once every five years. Whether it be looking for a better job, escaping a broken relationship, wanting a bigger pool, or hating the land lord, regional migration is frequent in Australia. This means, Australians are on the go. But to what cost?

Every year, half a million Australians move interstate, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. From 2018 – 2019, this meant 404,000 people moved from one regional state to another. That’s more than four MCG stadiums at capacity.

the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)

Challenges of moving

The reality of moving, particularly from one state to another, is unstable. Although moving could well seem like the most financially and socially viable option, our children don’t often have a say in these decisions. The mental cost of moving from one place to another is taxing on our kids.

Three happy kids laughing.

Depending on how frequently a family moves, children can find it much harder to nurture high quality relationships and foster a sense of belonging. This can be threatening to a child’s sense of identity down the line.

This is perhaps because the ages from 10 to 18 are formative years both for the body (i.e. undergoing puberty), socially (i.e. developing social skills in a school setting), and academically (i.e. figuring out our interests, strengths, and passions at school). Moving, whether it be experiencing the change yourself or having a close friend leave you, can be tremendously character building because of the strain it puts on the need to adapt to a new setting.

A group of teenagers sitting by the water.

Minimising its impacts

Easier said than done. As parents, being aware of the challenges our kids can face is a step in the right direction. The impacts of moving go hand in hand with the reasons for moving. For instance, moving to find a better job for one parent can mean losing a job for the other. Divorce is also another major reason for families deciding a change of scenery is best for everyone. The effects of moving paired with the stressful reasons prompting it, are always sensed by those that have the least say in it.

Flexibility when it comes to adjusting to children’s emotions, changes in interests, and attempts to adapt to new social circles is crucial to minimising a sense of instability.

A father carrying his young toddler.

This could mean:

  • Keeping them informed. Letting children know exactly why you’re moving and how long you’re expecting to stay is important to making them feel involved and part of the team. This also shows sensitivity to the risk of a child feeling unheard.
  • Being more open to technology. Something most parents haven’t experienced growing up is the diverse way technology can be used to maintain long distant relationships. Facetime and Skype are not the only ways of maintaining a long-distance friendship. Increasingly, collaborative activities such as video games are used to keep in touch through a fun, and shared interest. Although too much screen time is something to be avoided, stigma around their use should be minimalised.
  • Getting involved. Encouraging children to participate in community initiatives such as local sporting teams, volunteering organizations, and attending seasonal activities such as summer camps, are great way for both parents and children to get to know their new surroundings. Whether or not they prefer their new home, getting involved is an important step towards mitigating mental strains associated with moving.
  • Making a new home feel like home. The sooner you unpack your boxes and put all your treasures out on display, the more comfortable and established children feel. Makes sense: home is where the family is… and all your stuff!

No matter what the reasons for moving are, choosing to minimise its effects is achievable and crucial to maintaining our children’s happiness, as well as our own.

Two children having a pillow fight.

Creative and Cheap Ideas to Keep the Children Entertained at Home 

 

 

With school back in session, you may have run out of ideas to do with your kids, and due to last year,  maybe on a strict budget.
Well, here is a list of fun, creative, and fantastic ideas that are cheap, can be done in the comfort of your own home, that is sure to entertain the whole family!

Have an indoor picnic:

This is perfect for those scorching hot days when you don’t want to leave air-conditioned comfort or for those days when it is pouring outside. To make this activity a bit more unique, why not come up with a small menu that the kids can help out with.

Make a Fort:
Forts can be made out of just about everything, but if you want to get real creative try using cardboard boxes. The kids could draw on the of the cardboard boxes to replicate a castle or a garden.

Have a movie night:
Put sleeping bags in front of the television and cook microwave popcorn and hot chocolate. You can put on a marathon of movies like those from Disney or Christmas movies that the whole family will love.

Make your own Playdoh:
Making your own playdoh is always a great option as some store-bought play-doh may have toxic ingredients if accidentally eaten.  However, this particular recipe is safe and nontoxic!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour.
½ cup of salt.
2 tablespoon of cream of tartar.
1 ¼ cup of boiling water.
1 ½ tablespoon of canola oil.
Sandwich bags.
Food colouring.

Directions:

Step 1:
In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
Then, add the oil and boiling water to the mix.
Step 2:
With a spoon mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Once mixed thoroughly, and the mixture is warm (not hot), mix by hand.
Roll the playdough a few times on a flat surface using both hands (like pizza or bread though), until thoroughly mixed and soft.
Step 3:
Divide the playdough into 4 equal parts.
Press an indentation in the centre of each piece.
Step 4:
Place a few drops of food colouring in the indentations you made on each dough batch.
One by one, roll each playdough batch until the colour is thoroughly mixed into the playdough.

Scavenger Hunt:
Scavenger Hunts are an excellent and creative idea to entertain the kids at home. You can hide a few toys in the sandpit and send your kids on a hunt to find them. You could even go around the house and put together a list of items that are around the house and send the kids to find them. This is definitely a great indoor and outdoor activity, depending on the weather.

Build Something:
Building with blocks and Legos sparks the children’s imagination as well as their motor skills. You and the kids can come up with something to build, and you can have a competition trying to develop that idea.  A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

Video Game Competition:
Have a competition with your child on their gaming console (Wii, Nintendo etc.). You can split the family into teams (girls vs boys; parents vs kids). This helps the children know what healthy competition is and how to deal with their emotions if they lose.

Play Dress Up:
Kids love to dress up as their favourited character, favourited princess, and even their parents. Maybe pick an outfit out of your closet and dress them up as if you were going to work. It will be fun for them and a cute picture for saving.

Dance Party:
Put on some of your child’s favourited music and dance with them. You can teach them dance moves that you learned from your parents. This can be anywhere from the waltz to the electric slide.

Learn to Juggle:
Try to learn how to juggle together. It will be fun to learn a new skill together and maybe a hobby you two can continue to learn and practice.

Paper Airplane Competition:
Make paper aeroplanes and see who has the one that can fly the furthest. There are many different plane design to follow, and you can test which one is the best option.

Create a Puppet Show:
Creating a puppet show will let the kids come up with the design of the puppets as well as the storyline of the puppet show. This can also include what the set, lighting, and script will be.

Backyard Picnic:
Pack up a healthy lunch or leftover. Grab a blanket and some pillows and set up a spot in the yard. While eating, you can set up an outdoor movie viewing of your favourite family film, or you can bring out books and read a chapter out loud to the whole family.

 

Bord Box Ideas:


Get the kids to decorate an empty tissue box. Write on pieces of paper various activities. This could include everything from playing a board game, reading a book, Skyping or calling a friend or watching a movie, to a chore like cleaning their room or washing the car. This tissue box then becomes the ‘I’m bored box’. If the kids say they don’t have anything to do, get them to choose a piece of paper from the box with a suggestion that they have to complete.



Educational:

Crash Course Kids

Crash Course Kids is a bi-weekly show educational Youtube from the producers of Crash courses all about grade school science, so if you have a science excited kid then this is sure to interest them.

 

Adventure Academy

This is a website is virtual games that incorporate learning into the. The kids can have fun but are mentally stimulated at the same time.

 



Virtual field trips for kids that like to learn:

Virtual field trips are fun and educational, and now you have the option to go places while in the comfort of your own home.

Google Arts and Culture Program:

This is an online program through Google that allows users to view images and videos of artworks and cultural artefacts from different museums from around the world.

Great Barrier Reef:

Now that Google has launched Google Street View, you can take a virtual dive of different Great Barrier Reef Dive Sites.

International Space Station:

This involves a live stream of the International Space Station that shows crews on duty, Earth views available from space and even audio conversations between the crew and mission control.


Arts and Craft:

Sensory activities differ from other types of play as the emphasis on the senses amplifies the activity. Sensory play is any activity that activates one or multiple senses, and all kinds of play have the potential to become a sensory activity.

Edible Fish Small World Sensory Play:

Materials:

Two Blue Jelly packages.

Colourful and edible fish.

Jumbo tweezers or any other fine motor tool.

Container.

Directions:

Follow the directions on the back of the jelly box.

Once the jelly is set, cut the jelly into cubes but leave it relatively untouched so the children can squish it up and create their own ocean all themselves. This is an excellent way to work in more fine motor practice.

Now it is time to add the fish. This is especially fun for a toddler as they love poking and squishing things, so burying the fish in the gelatin is loads of fun for them.

For older kids who are ready for more of a fine motor challenge, you can use tongs or tweezers for kids to go “fishing”. Those little fish are slippery, so it’s quite the task to catch them.

You  can extend the learning in this edible fish small world sensory play a bit more by:

  • incorporating counting as kids add or remove the fish from the sensory bin
  • working on sorting and having kids sort the fish by colour
  • practising patterning with the fish

And when you’re done have a refreshing squish snack!

 

DIY Snow globe:
Select a focal point object to use in your simple DIY snow globe jar.  It is helpful to have several sizes of jars available. Perhaps save a variety of types and sizes of jars before doing this craft. Clear glassworks the best. Use hot-glue to glue the focal point object to the centre of the lid of your jar. You may glue down other small things to the top such as pebbles or beads as long as they are not close to the edge where they would be in the way of being able to screw the lid onto the jar. Fill the jar halfway full of distilled water. Squirt in some clear glue and stir it into the water. This will thicken the water and cause the glitter to fall more slowly when the kids shake the snow globe. The more glue you use, the thicker the water will become. For extra fun, add some glitter. When you are content with the amount of water in your jar, screw the lid tightly onto the jar. The focal point object should fit nicely inside. You can glue the lid on if you’re concerned the kids will try to open it later.

Active:

Leapfrog
Many of us played leapfrog as kids and could play for hours. This is a great idea to play outdoors and will definitely tire the kids out. You can make it even harder to add more people to the line-up.


Hot lava:
Hot lava is a game that everyone should know. The object of the game is to jump or climb on anything that is not the floor when anyone says, “The Floor is Lava”. This one works best indoors but can be quite creative when playing outside. You can even go as far as setting up an obstacle course that everyone has to follow.


Circuits:
This can be set up outside and can have several stations where the kids have to do a particular exercise at each place. When the time runs out, then they would have to switch to the next one until they complete the course. This one will definitely tire them out and may even get them to take an afternoon nap.


Red light, green light:
Well, everyone knows this game. One person is the caller, and they will either yell red light or green light. Red means stop and freeze, and the green light means to go forward. The first person to get to the caller wins. It is a great way to get their heart rate going.


Science Experiments:

Skittles rainbow:

 



Supplies needed:
· Plate
· Warm water
· Skittles (Try different colours and flavours!)

Directions:
Grab your plate and organise the Skittles in a circle around the edge of the container. Kids can try different colour patterns each time they do the experiment.
Gently pour water in the centre of the plate. Warm water works better than cold. Make sure there is enough water to go past the Skittles while filling the container.
Wait and watch the Skittles colours move towards the centre of the plate with beautiful rainbow streaks.
That is it. It is so quick and easy!

Elephant toothpaste:

 


Supplies Needed:

A clean 473 ml plastic soda or water bottle.
A 20-volume hydrogen peroxide.
1 tablespoon of dry yeast.
3 tablespoons of warm water.
Liquid dish soap.
Food colouring.
Small cup.
Funnel.
Safety goggles.
Adult supervision.

Directions:

Use the funnel to carefully pour ½ cup of the hydrogen peroxide liquid into the bottle.
Add about 10 drops of your favourited food colouring into the bottle and mix the bottle around.
In the separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for around 30 seconds.
Use the funnel to pour the yeast-water mixture into the bottle and watch the fun begin.

Disappearing Eggshell:

 


Take a raw egg and put it in a cup.
You should see bubbles collect around the shell (a sign that a chemical reaction is taking place).
Leave for 4 to 5 days.
Go to observe.
You should now be able to see shell residue in the vinegar and the yolk whole in the egg white. If you still see white residue on the egg, you can rub this off lightly with your finger. I tried to lift the whole egg out of the vinegar but broke the membrane, but it is possible to lift it out whole.

Craft:

Bread and peanut butter bird feeder:

What you will need is bread, peanut butter, cookie cutters, birdseed and twine or string. First, we started by placing slices of bread on a cutting board. Next, you will put the cookie cutter on the centre of the bread, then had my daughter push down. You might have to help your child push the cookie cutter all the way through the bread, depending on how old your child is. After we cut out the shapes, I poked a small hole at the top of each cut out using a paper straw. This is where the twine will go through, so you can hang your feeders outside. Next, we let the cut-outs dry on the cutting board overnight. This allows the bread to harden. I flipped the bread over just once so that both sides of the bread would harden evenly. Once the bread has set, use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter on to the bread. After you have spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread cut-outs, roll the bread in birdseed until completely coated. I had to use the paper straw again to remove any peanut butter and birdseed that got inside the holes. Next, cut a piece of twine and tie in a knot.

Mason jar aquariums:

 



Supplies:

You will need a mason jar with a lid, blue food colouring, filtered water (tap is fine but come out a little cloudier). For extra fun, you can also get aquarium figurines, plastic plants, or rocks.

Step 1:

Add rocks, plants to the mason jar

Step 2:

Fill with water and add plastic sea creatures.

Step 3:

Add blue food colouring until you are satisfied with the colour.

Step 4:

Add glittering only if you want.

Step 5:

If you add glitter to make sure to add a few drops of glycerine if you want the water to flow more slowly.

Step 6:

Screw lid shut (at this point you can glue the lid with hot glue if you would like)

Step 7:

Gently swirl to see your sea creatures swim!

Cooking/Baking:

Get in the kitchen! Get the kids to help make brownies, decorate biscuits or for the festive season, make and decorate a gingerbread house. This is an excellent idea with the holidays fast approaching!


Frozen Yogurt Bark:

This recipe is not only quick but healthy and fun to make.

 



Ingredients:

Yoghurt of any kind, but plain will work best.
Sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.

Instructions:

Spread a layer of yoghurt onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
Top with the sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.
Freeze until firm, then crack into pieces.
Eat quickly, the bark melts fast.

4 Ingredients Energy Oatmeal Balls:

Ingredients:

3  cups of quick oats

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 chocolate chips

Directions:

Step 1:

Combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2:

Roll into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Then either eat right away or put back into the fridge for later. 




How do you choose the best school for your child? We look at the options so you can make an informed choice.

 

Choosing a school for your child is a big decision. After all, your child will be spending a large amount of their time there, so you want to ensure you choose an environment where your child will not only be happy but will be supported to reach their full potential.

Government/public education
Choosing public education is a very popular option in Australia and for good reason – the schools offer a high standard of education, and chances are, your local public school might be as close as across the road or just down the street.

If you choose a Government education, chances are you will not get to choose which Government school your child attends, as most Government schools have a set ‘enrolment zone’ so your eligibility will be determined by which zone your address falls into. Check with your local school about their enrolment requirements.

There are also independent public schools, which are Government schools that have increased autonomy to make decisions at a local level.

Independent schools
There is a wide range of schools within the Independent school sector, which includes Christian, non-denominational Christian, Jewish, Steiner, Montessori, Islamic and Community schools.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

The schools are not-for-profit entities and have their own boards or management committees. Many independent schools are religious-affiliated. School fees vary within the Independent school sector.

According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools have a reputation as providers of quality education.

Catholic Education
Ray Collins, acting executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, says Catholic schools are faith-based schools that offer parents the choice to send their children to a school that aligns with their values and beliefs. He adds Catholic schools offer the same curriculum as Government schools, plus a wide selection of electives, sporting and creative arts programs.

“An important difference is that Catholic schools provide their curriculum through a Catholic perspective and also provide the opportunity for students to learn more about the Catholic faith through Religious Education, and to experience their faith through regular prayer, special liturgies and the celebration of the sacraments,” Mr Collins says.

“Catholic schools are known for the quality of their teaching and pastoral care programs, which means students are not only challenged in their learning but are equally supported in their social and emotional development.”

Mr Collins says the majority of Catholic schools belong to a system of schools and charge lower fees to make them as affordable and accessible to families as possible. He says Catholic schools also provide a range of scholarships and fee assistance to support families in financial hardship.

Home education
Myfanwy Dibben, committee member for the Home Education Association, says many parents decide to home school their children before their children reach compulsory school age.

“Some find they need to withdraw their child from school because the child’s educational and developmental needs are not being met in the classroom,” she adds. “Among these, special needs feature largely, both for children that are accelerated in their learning and those who struggle to learn using the methods and resources used by their teachers. Anxiety and depression, often associated with unresolved bullying at school, are increasingly being cited by parents inquiring about home education.”

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Ms Dibben says in addition to the Home Education Association, there are state-based associations, as well as hundreds of online home education support groups to help parents find resources and information to help their children learn at home.

Steiner education
Virginia Moller, CEO of Steiner Education Australia, explains that based on a holistic and integrated approach, a Steiner education aims to nurture and develop the unique qualities and capabilities of each child. “It seeks to lead students towards healthy sea-knowledge, as well as deep understanding of the world they live in, so they can be positive, creative and resilient citizens who can envision a future which they believe they can help create,” she says. “This is achieved through balancing academic, artistic and practical life experiences throughout the Steiner curriculum, which is designed to bring thinking to life through imaginative teaching.”

Ms Moller says some of the advantages of sending a child to a Steiner school include:

>High standards, but less pressure

>Integrated approach with focus on teaching through the arts

>Sense of connectedness to self, to the environment, to the past, present and future.

Montessori education
Victoria Marshall-Cerins, Chief Operating Officer of Montessori Australia Foundation says Montessori is a wider approach to human development.

Their education program, which focusses on independence, has an individualised learning approach, where children (who are in multi-age classrooms) are provided with education materials, which they explore at their own pace.

“The educator’s role is to provide the children with the materials and observe the children’s own insights and capability,” she says. “The materials given to the younger children (three to six years) enable children to learn how to do things for themselves – for example, wiping a table.”

“However, they are also learning how to follow a sequence of steps, how to concentrate on a task and to complete the task. They start with something simple and as their ability grows, more activities are introduced to fit those needs.”

Ms Marshall-Cerins  advises that parents ensure when they are considering a school or centre
they look for one that it is ‘Montessori Registered’ through the Montessori Quality Assurance Programme (MQAP).”

The digital age has its benefits, but it isn’t always straight-forward for the technologically-challenged, as Ari shares. 

So, here’s the thing. We have a robot. A real live one, blinking around the house. Robot – I came up with that name – doesn’t talk, but he does beep a lot and sends me messages from his, erm, screen. He’s a pretty pragmatic kind of chap, but I’m thinking that the beeping might be a way of expressing affection? Is beeping one of those five Love Languages? If it isn’t, it should be.

It’s a bit of an unexpected relationship because I wouldn’t say I’m a robot kinda gal. In fact, me and technology have issues most of the time. Okay, ALL of the time. You know those Sat Nav thingies that never shut up? They don’t work for me. Ever. I end up driving around new estates full of sand and cul-de-sacs while the voice – the goddamn non-stop voice – keeps telling me to, “take the fifth exit at the roundabout on Highway 61”. Where the heck is Highway 61? Does anyone know? Has Perth grown a big ole road that I don’t know about?  And do roundabouts actually have five exits, because I’ve never been able to count that many, even if I do circle them for hours, like a mouse on a treadmill,  slowing down at the off-roads to peer desperately at street signs. Obviously, other drivers hate me. That’s okay. In these situations, I hate myself too. It’s a bad vibe. Bring back the map book, I say.

 

Me and technology have issues most of the time. Okay, ALL of the time. You know those Sat Nav thingies that never shut up? They don’t work for me. Ever.

Look, there’s all sorts of technology that’s way too clever for me. Smart Phones that get clogged with photos I can’t work out how to transfer, iPads that follow me to bed brandishing the internet so I don’t read books, iTunes – how do I get a song off that thing? – passwords for EV-ERY-TH-ING that get routinely forgotten, those darn recorded voice messages that go on and on, asking you to press so many options that finally, exhausted, you press ‘2’ instead of ‘5’  and get cut off. It’s brain haemorrhaging stuff. Truly. It’s a wonder we’re not all dead from the stress of so much convenience.

And it goes on. Relentlessly. All these time-saving, you-beaut, shiny-buttoned advances give me brain strain. This is because I grew up in the ‘80s, that much maligned decade of Pseudo Echo and Spandau Ballet, and the best bad fashion you could ever, ever ask for. Jeez, I miss those fluro tube skirts teamed with a Wham-inspired ‘Choose Life!’ t.shirt. Could it get any better than that? I say, not. It’s been all downhill since then.

All these time-saving, you-beaut, shiny-buttoned advances give me brain strain.

The thing about the ‘80s is that it was Low Tech, in all sorts of ways, and this was AWESOME. In fact, the most technologically advanced thing about the ‘80s was the Mix Tape, and I was pretty darn good at those babies. It involved listening to the Top Ten on the radio every night, cassette player in hand, and pressing Play and Record at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME, whenever your favourite song came on. The trick was trying to cut off the stupid announcer, who always talked over the first few bars of the song. It was impossible, of course. You’d always end up with Madonna’s Holiday overlayed with a booming voice about “a provocative new talent”, while you did your best Madonna moves around the bedroom. And she was provocative, back then. Madonna  – she liked a tube skirt, too – was risky business.

… the most technologically advanced thing about the ‘80s was the Mix Tape, and I was pretty darn good at those babies.

So anyway, we all made Mix Tapes and gave them to one another, complete with ragged sound bites from random radio announcers. I was good at it. I could get down with the Mix Tape. There are people who think I peaked too early, perhaps. My husband, who sees technology as an extension of his arm, might be one of them. He gets a bit tense about the password-forgetting and photo-clogged phone, just between you and me. Never mind. We all have our peccadilloes.

Interestingly, old Robot and I have a mutually respectful relationship, and I know how to make that baby work for his food and board. He’s pretty good at picking up after the Dog –The Hair Dropper From Hell – and the Toddler – The Crumbalina – and he does it without any sighing or eye-rolling, or announcements about ‘helping’. You listening, chaps? My lovely Robot, who I might in fact love very, very much, is a vacuum cleaner. Yep, that’s right. I just place him gently on the floor and press a button and off he goes, tootling around the house sucking up stuff, as happy as a productive duck. In fact, the only time he gets a bit shirty is when he’s full of rubbish and wants to be emptied, so he can KEEP ON DOING THE HOUSEWORK. That’s when the beeping and written messages start, if you get my drift.

 

My lovely Robot, who I might in fact love very, very much, is a vacuum cleaner.

Now, this is the kind of technology I intuitively understand. I lock eyes with Robot’s screen, and we just get each other. You hearing me, all you millionaire-geek-inventor type people? Yes, you, over there, laughing at my Mix Tapes. Forget about inventing another stupid game that involves shooting birds, or whatever, we need you to invent a robot that does the laundry, puts clothes away, scrubs the loo, cleans the windows and IRONS. A spot of cooking wouldn’t go astray, either.

It’ll make you another few million bucks, and women will love you. L-O-V-E  Y-O-U. Actually, they’ll love your robot more, but they’ll still like you a lot – more than when you were doing the bird game, okay.

And, while you’re at it, if you can sort out a Sat Nav that actually works, Perth drivers would be very grateful.

-Ari Chavez