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Take a look at the benefits ‘Learning Through Play’ could have for your child!

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is… UNLESS you’re talking about Learning Through Play! In fact, research into quality, play based learning has shown that learning through play encourages:

Communication – play allows children to develop their speech, language and listening. A child’s language and communication skills develop by listening, reading, music, rhyming etc. so the more they play with their friends and listen to adults the more advanced these will become. 

Cognitive development – (imagination, problem solving, math and science) play encourages children to develop their natural curiosity, create all kinds of scenarios and solve any problems that they encounter all by using their imagination.

For example when a child is taking part in water play and tipping water from a measuring jug into a cup, the educator can stretch their thinking by asking questions such as how much water do you think will fit into the cup, will you have any left, what else can you tip the water into…? This stretches thinking and builds on maths, science and problem solving skills. 

 

Relationships (social skills, friendship and resilience) – play supports children as they create the bonds of friendship and build their understanding of social situations. The more children play with one another, the more they learn to communicate in a social setting and the bigger their friendship circle becomes.

Balanced with child-directed and educator supported play, a quality play based Early Learning Program will closely align with Australia’s Early Years Learning Framework. Children should be able to learn through play in a variety of activities designed to spark their curiosity, individual interests and create an open ended learning experience.

In 2018, Australian researchers advised that 15 hours a week in a quality, play-based three year old pre-kindy can greatly support a child’s learning and development. With pre-kindy attendance showing consistently positive short and long term advantages in the lead up to kindergarten and into higher education. To support these findings, the Australian Government has put their money where their research is and committed to providing universal access to Early Childhood Education. Every child now will now be supported to access a pre-kindy program in the year before they enter school for 15 hours a week.

Where to from here?

Deciding if, when and where to send your child to pre-kindy is one of the biggest decisions you will make in their early childhood. You find yourself balancing the options near you. Should I send my child to a high end early learning school with better educators, fancy facilities and higher ratings? Or should I send them to the more affordable local community pre-school with lovely welcoming staff, small group sizes and a nurturing learning environment?

via GIPHY

At Meerilinga, there’s no need to choose between quality and inclusivity – AND it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Meerilinga is home to a wide range of children from diverse families and backgrounds who share a common goal of wanting the best for their child. Supported by over 100 years of experience, working with toddlers and training quality educators, Meerilinga’s skilled early educators enthusiastically teach children about the world around them.

Your child is gently introduced to the life-cycle through community led chicken hatching programs; learning about sustainable practices through environmental awareness activities, recycling programs and harvesting from their bush tucker gardens.

Meerilinga children are celebrated as capable individuals, with their interests, strengths and challenges identified and fully supported to develop their confidence, learning and development. All of which are shared throughout the day, week and year with parents through a specially designed communications app.

The entire family is supported with access to free parenting support services, community events, street & toy libraries, school holiday activities, play groups and seniors groups. At Meerilinga you’re more than just a number, your family. To join your local Meerilinga community, find a centre near you or contact your local Centre Director.

Castelmaine Steiner School is located in Muckleford, VIC and offers education from kindergarten to class 8 and is growing fast.

Commencing as a Kindergarten in 1988 in the home of one of its students, The Castlemaine Steiner School & Kindergarten is now a thriving school of approximately 230 students. In 1995, the school moved to its current location, which at the time was 18 acres of flattened sheep grazing land. Today the site is a stunning sanctuary of indigenous flora and fauna, featuring a bush tucker island, beautiful walking tracks and is home to diverse birdlife. Situated approximately 7 mins drive from Castlemaine, the school has transformed itself with biodynamic practices and permaculture design.

“Steiner education is recognised internationally as a valuable approach to helping young people develop flexible, agile thinking, alongside an ability to collaborate and thrive in a 21st Century world,” said Principal, Brian Dodd.

The school offers programs from Playgroup to Class 8, following which, students can then transfer to the local Steiner Stream at Castlemaine Secondary College for Years 9 & 10. Many families begin learning about Steiner education and philosophy by joining the Playgroup program. It is a much-loved weekly 2-hour session for children aged birth to 4 years. It includes activities such as scone baking, outdoor & indoor play, crafts, and circle time for singing & storytelling.

The Early Childhood program continues into Kindergarten & Prep, where foundations are laid for later learning and healthy development, including life-long physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. They believe an atmosphere of loving warmth and guidance provides the optimal environment for healthy development, and that educators have a vital role in modelling and scaffolding a child’s natural urge to explore and experiment. Young children are given time to play, enjoy childhood and build strong foundations skills before formal academic learning begins.

Acknowledging the Traditional Owners of this country, the school has strong connections to the local Dja Dja Wurrung people. Their culture and story is meaningfully woven throughout the curriculum and Outdoor Education program. The Outdoor Education program is designed to develop the student’s understanding of their place in the natural world, through immersion in it. As children develop their sense of adventure confidence develops, connectedness with the environment and a sense of stewardship toward the natural world.

Music is incorporated through all levels of the school, with formal tuition commencing with a stringed instrument in Class 3. Music tuition is compulsory and continues through to Class 8, with students encouraged by opportunities to play in ensemble groups and learn multiple instruments. The benefits of music are well documented and the school utilises music as further way to develop social learning, fine and gross motor skills, and build on maths concepts.

A new Scholarships program provides a limited number of partly or fully subsidised places for students who meet eligibility criteria, and is open to entry at any year level.  The school is committed to creating a socially inclusive and diverse community and via this new Scholarship program, is pleased to continue promoting and encouraging the benefits of Steiner Education across the region. Principal Brian Dodd says “We want to ensure that that the benefits of this schooling option are more broadly available to children in our regional community. This year we also introduced a 25% fee discount for families with a Health Care Card, and have for many years offered sibling discounts, fee assistance and bursaries to reduce financial barriers to enrolling in the school.”

The school welcomes visitors each week for tours with the Principal and offers free trial sessions within its Playgroup program to anyone interested in witnessing the benefits of Steiner education. Contact the Enrolments Officer, Tracey Robertson on 5479 2000 or Traceyr@cssk.vic.edu.au for further information.

“Those that teach Reading for Sure are rewarded everyday with smiles from students as these students learn that reading and writing well is possible for them.”

Literacy is a fundamental skill that everyone needs in order to access education, work and the community. With modern digital devices being able to read and write is now even more vital, not less as was once thought when computers first arrived.

Literacy is not an intuitive action, unlike walking and talking; it is a human construct that requires the building of new connections in the brain.

There are a variety of reasons why someone does not develop good literacy skills. The most commonly recognised cause of delayed or poor literacy skills is Dyslexia. Other learning difficulties also impact, and these include dysgraphia, dyspraxia, hearing issues, ADHD, Autism, Global Learning delay, short, and long term, memory problems etc.

A lack of good early play and language experiences impact on a child’s ability to cope with literacy, concentrate, sit at a desk and to write.

How a person is taught to read is slowly being recognised as significantly impacting on a person’s literacy development or lack thereof. Like all learning one size does not fit all.

Scientific studies tell us that the best literacy programs will develop a student’s ability to sound out and sound blend a word, ensure the student understands the meaning of all the individual words and derive meaning and information from the sentences formed from these words.

Learning to spell, read and understand words allows us all to communicate with others and to enjoy the wonderful stories and information available in books and other forms of text.

Learning to read and write English does not come easily for everybody as it involves many complex interactions in the brain. When foundation skills are missed it can cause significant difficulties later.

Students struggling with reading become anxious and can turn away from literacy and education as a result.  A student who struggles with literacy often begins to feel that they are dumb because they can’t read. Nothing is further from the truth. Many people with exceptional IQs have struggled with literacy. Unfortunately, without correct instruction to help their brain develop the pathways needed to work with the written word these individuals may not develop their true potential.

With an understanding of how the brain develops and learns to decipher the written word the Reading For Sure program was developed to quickly help the learner build the foundation skills and brain pathways needed for literacy. The Reading for Sure program uses unique teaching tools to continue to develop these skills so that the learner can achieve in all areas of English Literacy.

Our recent study of 180 students, with a broad range of difficulties impacting their literacy acquisition, showed excellent improvement for every hour of tuition. The 180 students included students that were not learning via standard teaching methods, dyslexia, English as a second language etc. and started tuition at ages ranging from 5 to 20 years old. The students were taught by one of four Reading For Sure teachers.

The data showed that not only did every child improve their literacy, but that on average for every hour spent with one of our teachers, the students improved 1.6 months in their reading age. The data for the spelling was not complete for all the 180 students but, using the data available, the average gain in spelling was 0.4 of a month improvement for each hour of tuition.

Within just a few lessons parents and students see the difference. The student’s confidence blossoms, and they begin to enjoy the reading and learning process once more. This reading gain also quickly equates to better outcomes in their education environment. Literacy is the core skill needed for all subjects and students enjoy school so much more when they are not struggling with their literacy.

“Finding the Reading for sure method was a relief. To discover a method that works and makes sense to my dyslexic daughter, has not only greatly improved her reading, it has given her confidence and a sense achievement” says Mrs. Clements.

With the correct program and teaching methods no person young or old needs to struggle with literacy.

Those that teach Reading for Sure are rewarded everyday with smiles from students as these students learn that reading and writing well is possible for them.

Visit the Reading for Sure website and see our new blog series about how parents can help their young children develop the pre literacy skills they need to be able to learn all the literacy skills when they go to school. This free blog series will give parents hints and ideas about the activities that help the brain and body develop ready for literacy and learning and what to look out for if things may not be developing as they should.

Reading For Sure is an Australian program with its office in Perth. www.readingforsure.com.au

Mornings are hard! With the help of our readers, we have put together a list of tips and tricks to help your mornings run smoother.

There was a time, before kids, when you could wake up at a leisurely pace, pee in peace, drink your coffee hot, shower as long as you liked and still make it to work on time. Now, you’re lucky if you remember to brush your teeth!

We hear you. If you’re looking for more peace and less fuss in the mornings, check out these tried-and-true tips and tricks from some of our readers.

The Night Before

• Lay out clothes (yours and theirs) the night before.

• Prepare and pack lunches and put them in the fridge to be packed into school bags the next morning.

• Make some grab-n-go breakfasts if you’ve got the time and/or inclination. Muffins and granola bars tend to work really well.

• Get enough sleep. Kids generally need between 10-12 hours at night, while you need 7-8 on average.

Take Care of Yourself First

We cannot recommend this highly enough. Waking up 10-15 minutes earlier than the kids should give you enough time to do the following:

• Drink a big glass of water.

• Get showered and do your hair / make-up.

• Have some coffee (One mum suggests pairing this with some Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers. We don’t disagree.)

• If you’re feeling extra brave, try waking up an hour earlier to meditate and start the day off right.

Waking Them Up

Try these at your own peril.

• Start the day with a hug. This lets them know they are loved and puts them in a good mood.

• Sing loudly as you’re walking through the house on your way to their room. By the time you arrive, they’ll be wide-awake. Grumpy, sure. But awake!

• For older children, put their alarm at the other side of their room so that they have to get out of bed to turn it off.

• Let older children be responsible for getting themselves up on time. If they’re not ready, then they’ll learn from that.

• If your kid is really upset about going to school, it might be worth talking to their teacher and checking that nothing is going on that you should be concerned about.

Morning Procedure

• Get dressed AFTER having breakfast to avoid having to get changed if there are any accidents or spillages.

• Use a checklist so that they know what they need to do. Little kids who can’t yet read can use picture reminders (toothbrush, clothes, cereal bowl, etc.)

• Parents should be sharing morning duties between them; one getting the kids fed while the other gets them organised/dressed.

• Give yourself more time than you need. If you allocate the time in advance for any accidents, tantrums or spills, you won’t go into panic-mode when they happen.

• Limit time on showers and have an agreement on who will use the bathroom first, while the others have their breakfast.

• No TV in the morning. It’s too much of a distraction, and they won’t want to leave before the end of their show.

Getting Them Out The Door

•  Leave on time, even if they’re not 100% ready. They’ll soon learn to hustle.

• Do a quick tidy-up before you leave. It’ll make coming home in the evening much more restful if you’re walking into a reasonably clean house.

• If they are late because they refused to get out of bed or dawdled in the morning, let them take responsibility and tell the teacher themselves.

The most important thing is to relax. Kids will usually take their cue from you. If you’re stressed out and panicked, chances are they will be too. So, take a deep breath. Things don’t always go the way we plan, and that’s okay.

Mumma, you’re doing fine.

Here’s a story of a… Brady Bunch of Lies.

Mike and Carol Brady, just like the real parents of the 1960’s, essentially raised their children on a series of misconceptions:

White bread was good for you, parents never argue, Alice the maid was happy, talking like a baby is cute (think Cindy), and the tragic belief that our intelligence was fixed at birth.

Society believed that some people were born intelligent.

Some were not and pretty much just like Jan and the braces episode, you just had to learn to accept your lot.

‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’, was born smarter than ‘not happy Jan’, and along with those psychedelic pantsuits, Jan just had to wear it.

So too, Greg, Peter, Bobby and Cindy, and the real-life baby boomers went through life, dealing with the cards they were dealt, ignorant that all of them could (and still can) influence their level of intelligence.

Of course, the cards we are dealt still impact our IQ, as ‘the heritability of IQ is actually quite high’, but in recent years, we have discovered our intelligence is malleable, not fixed.

In fact, GET SMART or more to the point GET YOURSELF SMART is the name of the real game. Now, we know that WE control our intelligence.

Smart kids are smart, mostly, because they work hard.

Carol Dweck, a leader in this field has proven: Hard work makes connections in your brain that make you smarter.

Learning makes you smarter.

Carol Dweck and other leading psychologists have discovered that adopting this growth mindset, where we firmly believe we can control our intelligence is revolutionising learning both in and outside of the classroom.

It is now an accepted scientific fact that “you can always change how intelligent you are”.

Students who know this and accept it, get higher grades.

So, our IQ’s, previously thought to be fixed are malleable. Ponder this for a minute. We can all lift our IQ.

How does this change all of our lives?

It empowers everyone to adopt a growth mindset and to throw away any ideas that began with “I’m not smart enough”.

It puts an end to comments such as “she’s not got a maths brain, because she takes after me”.

Of course, it is still true that some people are born with a higher IQ, but this does not mean that forever and a day, that person is smarter than average.

It is an exciting time to be raising and educating children.

When you say to your children “just keep trying, you will get there”, unlike the groovy Mike and Carol swishing around in their flares, you are calling it straight.

  • Effort is Everything.
  • Perfect doesn’t live here.
  • Fast is not an option.
  • Learning means taking risks.
  • Learning changes my brain.
  • I’m in charge of my own intelligence.

(Carol Dweck)

What happened to Alice the happy housemaid?

She got smart and got out!

One school’s decision to ban kids from handing out birthday invitations in the playground has enraged parents across the country.

Mosman Public School in Sydney has banned children from handing out birthday invitations in the playground due to concerns that kids who are not invited will feel left out.

Parents will now have to “covertly” collect the email addresses of their children’s friends’ parents in order to send out e-invites, according to the Daily Telegraph. Children will also have to refrain from talking about their birthday plans at school.

The ban is allegedly the result of one child recently becoming distressed after not receiving an invitation to a classmate’s birthday celebration.

The ban is allegedly the result of one child recently becoming distressed after not receiving an invitation to a classmate’s birthday celebration.

The Department of Education told Yahoo News that the decision came “at the request of parents, and in consultation with the school community.”

Parents across the nation have flocked to social media to weigh in on the new rule, with 87% of those polled saying that the school had gone too far.

Those in support of the move say that not receiving a birthday invite can be emotionally scarring for children, especially if they are the only ones not invited. They particularly focused on special needs children who are often on the receiving end of this type of rejection.

Others called the new rule “ridiculous”, with one woman saying the school was “creating a generation of sooks.” They claim that shielding children from rejection will only hinder their social development and keep them from building up a tolerance for disappointment. “We have to build resilient kids,” said one mum.

What do you think? Has the school gone too far, or have they made the right decision?

Children all around the world left the classroom to take to the streets in the School Strike for Climate, despite receiving criticism from teachers, parents and even our top politicians. So, why did our kids risk punishment to take action for the environment?

We recently saw school children around the world united in one common goal: save our planet. In over 112 countries, kids skipped school on Friday March 15 to take to the streets in the School Strike for Climate, demanding governments take action on an issue that will affect the course of their futures.

Many teachers, parents and politicians raised objection, insisting that the children stay in school instead. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament, “We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments… what we want is more learning in schools and less activism.”

Despite drawing criticism, the school strike did make people take notice of the issue in a way that hasn’t before and forced many to beg the question: why are the kids coming together to take action on climate change?

Many teachers, parents and politicians raised objection, insisting that the children stay in school instead.

It was Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who inspired the more than 1.4 million young people to campaign on climate action this month. Her solo protest outside Swedish parliament last August is what prompted the global movement. “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference,” Thunberg says.

Citing a belief in equality and climate justice as their reason to skip school, those who took part in the march called for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse emissions from their respective countries.

“We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference”

Young people, it seems, are the ones taking to the streets due to the lack of action from world leaders. Many, like Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, are under the impression that the adults have left this environmental mess for the children to clean up. With a belief that the press and politicians seem to be ignoring the issue, the youth are taking action into their own hands.

Young people, it seems, are the ones taking to the streets due to the lack of action from world leaders.

Whether you agree with the actions of the climate strike or not, one thing is undeniably clear. The united action around the globe reveals the solidarity of young people that are concerned about the environment. If a united strike such as this created as much conversation and debate as it did, then perhaps the time has come to listen to the kids and start doing something to act when it comes to the future of our planet.

How would YOU feel about sending your three year old to pre-school?

The prospect of seeing your little one grow up and seeing them off for their first day of school can often be bittersweet. That familiar feeling that time really does fly is especially present in these moments, so many parents would be understandably hesitant about their child starting pre-school at the age of three.

But this is exactly the plan that Bill Shorten announced at the beginning of October: a $1.75 billion subsidy for parents to allow 15 hours of pre-school for three year olds. So far, the proposal has proven a contentious topic among parents.

In unveiling this plan that is set to be implemented if Labor win the next election, the opposition leader believes it will transform childcare into “early education”.

Labor also framed the proposed subsidy as an important jump start into school, and are working by the angle that children who receive high quality education in the two years leading up to the start of their formal schooling experience long lasting positive outcomes.

That is, starting our kids in pre-school at the age of three has a supposedly high impact on their educational development for many years after.

Overall, if the plan was put into place, it would mean that it would be free for us to send our three year olds to state government run pre-school, and sending them to pre-school education at private childcare centres would be subsidised.

Shorten made it clear that the main objective of his plan was to get 90% of the three year
olds in Australia in pre-school by 2023.

That can be hard to fathom considering those children haven’t even been conceived yet!

The opposition also highlighted Australian children in comparison to foreign children of the same age, stating that Australia was behind in its pre-school education because several other countries already had high attendance rates in pre-school for three year olds.

So far, the proposal has been met with mixed reactions.

The Project’s Facebook post regarding the topic has received several hundred comments in a couple of weeks. It seems there are only few fence sitters, if any…

Phrases along the lines of “let kids be kids” and “what’s the point of having children?” are frequent, with many expressing the importance of letting children learn and develop at home. There are a number of people who also believe that the money could be better spent in other areas of education of their children, such as tertiary education in the future. One comment in particular even goes so far as to say that “danger of abuse” is evident.

It seems the conversation has also expanded to consider the logistics involved, with one woman pointing out that the proposal should not go ahead simply on the basis that staff in this area are already “underpaid and undervalued”.

On the other hand, others think it’s a good idea and will help take the pressure off working families and ease the cost of living. Many parents are also focusing on the educational format and content itself, and are advocates for the benefits of education at such an early age. Several comments support the Labor government’s way of thinking, with one mum stating that “early childhood education benefits all children”.

A number of people believe that pre-school education for three year olds can be positive in terms of social, mental and cognitive outcomes, and provides an invaluable preparation for the schooling lives of children.

This leaves us to ponder; is this proposal in the best interests of three year olds? Would we be comfortable sending our children to pre-school at an earlier age? Does the education system of other countries matter?

Where do YOU sit on this topic?

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).”