Deep dive

Introducing Allergens to Toddlers: A Parent’s Guide to Allergy Alertness

Worried your bub may have a serious allergy? What is an allergy anyway? Read on for our full breakdown of how to identify, treat, and understand allergies 👇

Food allergy rates have surged in recent decades. In Australia, 10% of infants and up to 8% of children suffer from food allergies. Likewise, allergy and anaphylaxis hospital admissions have increased by 350% over the past 20 years.

With over 170 foods known to trigger allergic reactions, it can be daunting for parents to identify and monitor these allergies for their children’s safety and wellbeing.

However, armed with a vigilant mindset and support from medical professionals, you can identify allergies early to ensure your child has a safe, happy, and healthy childhood.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

An allergic reaction is an abnormal response in the body’s immune system. For instance, if someone is allergic to peanuts and consumes peanut butter, which is considered the ‘allergen’, the immune defences mistakenly identify the peanut’s proteins as a harmful invader. Consequently, the immune system releases histamines that trigger inflammation, redness, and itching.

While most allergic reactions are mild, some are anaphylactic which can be life-threatening. Some anaphylactic symptoms include:

  • Swelling (lips, face, eyes, tongue, etc.)
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or persistent cough
  • Dizziness

If you suspect your child is having an anaphylactic reaction, call emergency services immediately.

How Many Allergens Are There?

While there are as many as 170 allergenic food and drinks, nine account for around 90% of allergic reactions:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, walnuts, etc.)
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Sesame
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
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What’s Causing the Rise of Food Allergies in Australia?

While there’s ongoing debate around why allergies are rising in industrialised countries, such as Australia, a prevailing theory points to gut health. This is also referred to as the gut-allergy axis. One study argued that ‘observational findings support the notion that differential microbial exposure and colonisation in early childhood may modify risk for the development of food allergy.’

In other words, babies who are exposed to more diverse gut microbiomes through a varied diet in their early years may be less likely to develop allergies later in life.

How Can You Introduce Allergens to Toddlers?

Growing research suggests introducing common allergenic foods to babies is vital for preventing potential allergies. However, this can only be done when your child is ready for solids, which is around the six month mark.

When introducing allergenic foods, consider the following:

  • Introduce all nine common food allergens by the time your child is one year old – but only one at a time. Also, wait a few days between introducing allergenic foods to observe any delayed reactions.  
  • If your child does have an allergic reaction to a specific allergen, stop giving them that food and immediately contact a medical professional. 
  • If your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction, keep feeding them that food at least twice a week. This is vital for your child’s immune systems to recognise the food isn’t harmful. 
  • Introduce a variety of foods, including different fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. 
  • Keep texture in mind. For examples babies and very young children should not be fed whole nuts which pose a choking hazard, opt for spreads instead.
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Are Babies Born with Allergies?

While some babies develop allergies in the womb, often revealed by allergic reactions to milk-based formulas, most develop them during infancy.

Additionally, while allergies are often hereditary, this isn’t always the case. Many children often develop allergies without any family history, so be mindful when introducing allergens to your baby. 

How are Allergies Treated?

Unfortunately, there are currently no cures for any allergies. While research in this area continues, the most common treatments include vigilance and safeguarding by adjusting lifestyle and eating choices, often for the whole family.

If a family member has an allergy, keep the allergen out of the house entirely. For younger children, regularly discuss their allergy with them, including symptoms, triggers, and treatment – especially if they carry an EpiPen. Consistently educating and reminding your child of their allergies is essential for vigilance as you can’t always be there to monitor their food choices.

Additionally, inform all caregivers and food/drink providers of your child’s allergy:

  • Childcare educators
  • School teachers
  • Babysitters
  • Family members
  • Parents of your child’s friends
  • Restaurant staff
  • Event caterers
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Allergy Tests

If you’re experimenting with an allergenic food that a sibling is severely allergic to, make sure the allergic child is out of the house. Then, clean all utensils, plates, surfaces, and wipe your baby’s mouth and hands. Alternatively, seek out an allergist or immunologist to perform allergy tests:

  • Skin prick tests: A healthcare professional will apply a range of allergens to your child’s forearm and gently prick them with a needle. If your child has an allergic reaction, a red welt will appear (these fade after an hour or two).
  • Oral allergen challenge: Your child will be fed common allergens and observed by a clinical immunologist or allergy specialist in a controlled setting.
  • Patch tests: While not food related, patches are placed on your child’s forearm (similar to skin prick tests) to observe their reaction to contact dermatitis. The materials tested include:
    i) soaps and fragrances
    ii) nickel (jewellery)
    iii) chrome (leathers and certain cement)
    After a few days, a healthcare professional will remove the patches to observe the results. If the patch is welted, your child is allergic to that specific material.
  • Blood test (otherwise known as IgE testing): This is for children who can’t have skin prick tests, or if results are inconclusive. A blood sample will be drawn and sent to a lab for testing to measure the allergy specific IgE (immunoglobulin) in your child’s body.

In conclusion, the rising prevalence of food allergies in Australia calls for heightened awareness among parents. Identifying allergens, understanding causes, and introducing allergenic foods cautiously are crucial.

And while there’s no cure, vigilance – from both you and your child – remains your first line of defence against potentially harmful allergies. By consulting healthcare professionals, educating your child, and keeping caregivers in the loop, you can create a safe environment for your child without compromising their development.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website at Explorers Early Learning today!

One Small Step, One Giant Leap: Is Your Child ‘Ready’ for Primary School?

Reading, writing, and sitting still. That’s all there is to prep, right? Well, not exactly. Read on for our full breakdown of all the essential skills your child needs to thrive in prep and beyond 👇

The transition between early childhood education and primary school is an exciting and sometimes challenging time for parents and children alike. It marks the next step in your child’s educational journey, and their first foray into the formal schooling system.  

But with all the talk of ‘school readiness’ and the Victorian Government’s upcoming ‘Pre-Prep’ program, how can you really know if your child is mentally and emotionally prepared for the big first day?

In this post, we break down the key developmental areas to keep an eye on in the days, weeks, and months before the first day of prep!

What Age Do Children Start Prep in Victoria?

In Victoria, children need to turn 5 years of age by 30 April of the year that they start school. Alternatively, children must be at school in the year that they turn 6 years of age – this is the compulsory school starting age.

Additionally, parents have several options for schooling depending on location, fees, religious preferences, and educational philosophy:

  • Government schools
  • Private schools
  • Language schools
  • Specialist schools
  • Distance education
  • Home schooling

More than Reading and Writing

Once your child is enrolled, it’s important to remember that the essentials for primary school extend far beyond reading, writing, and sitting still. Rather, children grow and develop in a number of key growth areas, such as independence, emotional maturity, and sociability.

Therefore, try a holistic approach to gauging your child’s ‘readiness’ for primary school. Every child is unique with individual skills, passions, and ways of learning. In other words, no two children are exactly alike.  

So, get a feel for your child’s development in the following areas, and be sure to discuss these with your Kinder teacher leading up to the first day.  

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Social Skills and Independence 

Is your child getting along with other children? Do they stand up for themselves or others? Sociability is a vital skill for children entering primary school, and one that experts suggest is improved with quality early childhood education. Social skills form the foundation of conversation, compromise, and relationship bonding.  

Without established social skills, children may struggle to adapt to the primary school environment where children grow physically and psychologically with their peers. Some signs your child is displaying social skills leading into primary school include: 

  • Sharing toys
  • Organising games and making friends on their own
  • Role-playing as adults through games like ‘mummies and daddies’, ‘superman’, or ‘cooking’ in a dramatic play area
  • Asserting themselves (even being a bit bossy!) 
  • Going to the toilet on their own (including using toilet paper properly and flushing the toilet)

Emotional Maturity 

Can your child regulate their emotions with minimal adult intervention? Essentially, emotional maturity highlights a child’s ability to empathise and identify emotions in others, while also expressing their own in healthy ways – this doesn’t mean bottling everything up!   

According to the Australian Early Development Consensus, children’s ‘ability to understand their emotions helps children to empathise with others.’ Therefore, children who display emotional maturity ‘can infer the feelings of others and respond in prosocial ways that demonstrate that they care for other people and value relationships.’ 

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Language Skills 

Language skills are so much more than a child’s ability to speak and enunciate their vowels. Rather, a vital component of language skills is children’s ability to listen and collaborate with others. These interpersonal skills equip children with the tools to:

  • Express and understand complex emotions 
  • Think and learn for themselves
  • Problem solve
  • Develop and maintain long-lasting relationships

Cognitive Skills  

Reading and writing are just two of the many cognitive skills expected in primary school. Cognitive skills strengthen children’s ability to absorb and critically analyse information, so it’s more than just remembering that two plus two equals four. 

Rather, cognitive skills allow children to: 

  • Focus on mentally strenuous tasks
  • Analyse information 
  • Compare and evaluate
  • Problem solve
  • Grasp cause and effect 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all children learn at the same rate or in similar ways. Some children thrive with mathematical concepts, while others learn from artistic or abstract activities. Be sure to speak with your child’s Kinder teacher if you have any concerns.

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Fine and Gross Motor Skills

The ability to touch, feel, and manipulate objects is one of the most important skills for children. It’s an extension of their independence in a tangible, physical way. Therefore, children’s fine and gross motor skills are vital for success in academic and social development.

According to the Early Years Learning Framework, ‘Physical activity and attention to fine and gross motor skills provide children with the foundations for their growing independence and satisfaction in being able to do things for themselves.’

In other words, children need to interact with the world around them, whether that be through drawing, writing, moulding, solving puzzles, or playing with toys.

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Ultimately, as your child embarks on the exciting transition from Kinder to primary school, it’s vital to consider readiness beyond academics. Social skills, emotional maturity, language proficiency, cognitive abilities, and motor skills all contribute to a well-rounded preparation that’ll ease those first day worries. Therefore, nurturing these aspects ensures a smoother transition and sets the stage for a fulfilling educational journey and a lifelong love of learning.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

How to Introduce a New Baby to Your Toddler: A Complete Guide

Do you have another baby on the way? Whether your next bundle of joy is biological or adopted, a newcomer to the family is always a big event! Read on for our comprehensive guide to ensure the smoothest transition possible for your family 👇

Welcoming a new baby to the family is an exciting and emotional time for any parent. However, it’s important to take careful steps with how you break the big news to the ones it’ll effect the most – the children you already have. 

While adults understand the gravity of welcoming a new child, toddlers may struggle to grasp the concept. Rushing the news may lead to children feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and even jealous.  

In this post, we outline how to introduce your toddler to a new baby, as well as providing some handy tips for helping them adjust after the arrival.

How to Introduce the Idea of a Biological Sibling 

A little brother or sister is a wonderful addition to any family that will inevitably change the household dynamic. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of when and how to tell your toddler. Experts suggest waiting until at least the end of the first trimester before telling a child there’s a new baby on the way. Once you’ve shared the big news, start preparing them for the actual arrival around 3-4 months before your due date.  

While the ‘when’ can be straightforward (especially if you’re showing early), the ‘how’ differs from child to child. Just because your eldest took the news well, doesn’t mean your youngest will be as thrilled.  

Likewise, every child is unique, and some struggle to understand abstract concepts. However, there are a few ways to help your toddler prepare: 

  • Read an age-appropriate book together about welcoming a new baby into the family. This is also best done in the weeks and months leading up to sharing the news so they’re well prepared. Some baby-themed books include: 
    i) What’s in Your Tummy Mummy? by Sam Lloyd 
    ii) I’m a Big Sister and I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole 
    iii) Bobo and the New Baby by Rebecca Minhsuan Huang  
    iv) There’s a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae 
  • Use animals and their young as a reference point – this is perfect if you have a puppy! 
  • Reassure them with praise and positive reinforcement. 

For biological children, you can also use your baby bump! Once your child feels the baby kicking, they’ll begin to get their head around the concept. Ultrasound photos are perfect to extend this experience.  

However, don’t be surprised if they find the idea a bit farfetched. Additionally, try not to take it personally if they laugh or shake their head. Often, they need to actually see the baby in person before they’ll believe you!

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How to Introduce the Idea of an Adopted Child

Adoption is a huge life decision that can change many lives for the better. However, introducing an adopted child to your toddler presents new challenges. As you don’t have a baby bump or ultrasound photos, you’ll have to get creative to introduce the new face. This is further complicated by the fact they’ll need to understand that their new brother or sister comes from different parents.  

A few tips to prepare your toddler for the incoming adopted child include: 

  • Reading children’s books on adoption together.  
  • Encouraging your child to ask questions. 
  • Being clear that all siblings will be treated and loved the same. 
  • Being open and honest – avoiding the topic can lead to confusion and anxiety for both you and your child. 

Above all, children are more perceptive than you might think. So, if you’re shopping around for cots, loading up on formula, or looking at new baby clothes, they’ll clue in that you’re hiding something. Have a sit down and encourage a family discussion. They’ll likely have questions, so it’s important to be well prepared. 

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Bringing the Baby Home  

When the baby finally arrives, there are some steps you can take to ensure your toddler doesn’t feel too overwhelmed:

  • Give your toddler a big hug and lots of positive reinforcement before introducing the baby. This is vital for toddlers who often aren’t able to regulate their emotions.  
  • If you’re giving your older child a gift, tell them it’s from the baby. This is a great way to build connections between your children early on.  
  • If you’re having friends or family over for the occasion, encourage them to also bring something for your toddler so they can feel involved in the process. 
  • Hold the baby together. Start by asking if your toddler if they want to hold the baby, and don’t be surprised if they say no. They may even try to pinch or hit the baby. This is completely normal as toddlers may feel excited or overwhelmed. By holding the baby together, you can support your newborn’s head and take control if your toddler becomes uncomfortable or overwhelmed by the experience.   
  • Involve your toddler in caring for the new baby. Most toddlers love to help! Ask them if they would like to fetch nappies, pick out new sets of clothes, or even quietly sing to the baby if they’re upset.  
  • Spend some alone time with your child. If all eyes are on the baby, your toddler may feel left out. Taking some time to play a game or read with your toddler while another family member takes care of the baby can do wonders for your toddler’s self-esteem and mindset.

What to Expect at Home 

After the initial excitement and novelty wears off, toddlers may still feel a bit lonely. Despite your best efforts to prepare them for the arrival, it can still come as a shock as you shower the baby with the time, love, and attention they need. 

Therefore, some toddlers may regress in the first year after a baby arrives by: 

  • Crying or shouting 
  • Becoming (extra) clingy 
  • Acting out towards parents or the baby 
  • Refusing naps or struggling to sleep/settle 
  • Forgetting toilet training 

Rest assured, these are normal coping mechanisms for toddlers. At first, they may even ask for the baby to be taken back or wish they never arrived in the first place. While this can be heartbreaking to hear, it’s a common reaction from toddlers.  

If you find your toddler struggling to accept the situation, there are a few things you can do

  • Acknowledge their feelings. While toddlers aren’t old enough to fully grasp the situation, they are old enough to feel isolation and jealousy. It’s only natural that they feel like their world has completely changed because it has! So, be sure to validate their feelings. Something as simple as ‘I know you’re feeling upset right now, and that’s okay,’ can do wonders for toddlers. 
  • Schedule some alone time with just you and your toddler every day. This can be as simple as solving a puzzle or playing their favourite game. Just make sure that it’s something they love. 
  • Reinforce your unconditional love for all your children. While it may seem like it’s falling on deaf ears, the message will eventually get through to your toddler after enough repetition (and plenty of hugs). 
  • Be positive. This is perhaps the simplest, and in some ways the most challenging, tip on this list. With a crying baby and an emotional toddler, it can feel like the whole world is caving in. However, by staying as positive and smiling around your toddler, you can lead by example. 
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After enough love, time, and patience, your toddler will slowly begin to accept the situation. Before you know it, they’ll start to appreciate and love the baby. After all, they are their little brother or sister! 

However, if you feel it’s seriously impacting your toddler’s development, be sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.  

Overall, welcoming a new child to the family is an exciting and important period for any family. With careful and deliberate steps, you can ensure the experience is the start of a bright new chapter in your family’s story. Always remember to be open, honest, and be patient with your toddler. It’s almost always a shock at first, but with time and proper integration, your children will be forming lifelong bonds before your very eyes. 

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

Free Kinder and Kinder Funding: What’s the Difference? 

What exactly is Free Kinder? And what’s Kinder funding? In this post, we spilt the difference between these often confused early childhood initiatives 👇

Early childhood education is the first step in ensuring academic (and lifelong) success for your child. Therefore, Kindergarten should be at the front of mind if your child is three or four-years-old. 

However, there’s some confusion in Victoria around the different kinds of Government subsidised Kinder programs. Particularly, between ‘Free Kinder’ and ‘Kinder funding’. 

In this post, we’ll outline the differences between the often conflated Free Kinder and Kinder funding, which are actually quite different from one another!

What is Kinder? 

Kindergarten is the two years of early learning before your child begins primary school. This is also known as three and four-year-old Kinder. 

Kinder programs are play-based and run by qualified Kinder teachers who hold a graduate diploma, bachelors degree, or masters degree. While these programs incorporate play-based learning, they emphasise essentials such as literacy, numeracy, social skills and emotional development. In Victoria, these programs are guided by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLF).

Kinder can be integrated into a long day care program at an early learning centre, or run as sessional programs at a church, community centre, or standalone Kinder service (this could include three-to-five hour blocks over a few days a week).

For a full breakdown of the difference between long day care and sessional Kinder, check out our blog post here

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What is Kinder Funding? 

Firstly, Kinder funding is not the same as Free Kinder. Rather, Kinder funding takes the form of subsidies provided directly from the Government to the childcare service you’ve nominated.

Therefore, when you enrol your child into Kinder, you are required to ‘claim funding’ with only one Kinder service. The Government will then allocate funds directly to that service. 

These funds are used to directly benefit and enhance the service’s Kinder program. This can be done in several ways, such as:  

  • Employing staff members to directly deliver the funded Kindergarten program 
  • Kindergarten staff professional development 
  • Resources and equipment used for the funded Kindergarten program 
  • Excursions and incursions related to the funded Kindergarten program 
  • Extra support for educationally disadvantaged children  
  • Parental engagement 
  • Transition in and out of Kindergarten 
  • Specialist programs (e.g. music, science, languages) 
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What is Free Kinder? 

There’s a lot of confusion around what exactly is meant by ‘free’ Kinder.

In simple terms, ‘Free Kinder’ supports families to access a funded Kindergarten program by providing a discount of up to $2,500 per year to offset the out-of-pocket cost of your fees. So, if your child attends less than $2,500 worth of Kinder in a calendar year, it is technically free Kinder. 

Free Kinder at Explorers 

If your child attends a long day care centre, such as Explorers, Kinder is integrated into the long day care program (if your child is three or four-years-old). You will receive the Free Kinder discount in the form of Free Kinder Credits. 

These Credits act as a discount on your childcare fees, alongside any Child Care Subsidy (CCS) entitlements. Ultimately, this will reduce your out-of-pocket Kinder expenses.  

These Credits, as with all Free Kinder subsidies, rely on the hours your child spends in the Kinder program. In 2024, the State Government will be boosting the Kinder funding figures:

  • Four-year-old Kinder children must be enrolled for at least two days per week and the funding covers 15 hours, totalling up to a maximum $2,050 for the year.    
  • Three-year-old Kinder children can access 7.5 hours (maximum $1,025) or 15 hours (maximum $2,050) depending on days of attendance and Kinder teacher placement.  
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In conclusion, Free Kinder and Kinder funding are two incredible Government subsidised programs which are designed to enhance the quality and accessibility of Kinder. Over the next decade, the scale of Free Kinder and Kinder funding is planned to vastly expand.

By 2032, the State Government has proposed for regional areas to be better represented, accessibility for all families to be increased, and the hourly caps and Free Kinder discounts to be raised. So be sure to keep an eye out for future Kinder updates, as this period sets the foundation for children’s academic, developmental, and lifelong success!

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today! 

Reclaiming Calm: Strategies to Reduce Overstimulation in Children

Do you have a highly sensitive child? Are you having trouble calming them down? If so, read on for our full breakdown of overstimulation in children and some handy tips to boost your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

We live in a fast-paced world full of sights, sounds, and distractions. From new technology to endless entertainment, it’s no wonder that overstimulation in children is a common concern for parents.

But what is overstimulation and how can it be reduced? In this post, we look at the science behind overstimulation and list some everyday steps to reclaim the calm in you and your child’s lives.

What is Overstimulation in Children?

Overstimulation occurs when a child’s sensory experiences become overwhelming. This may be triggered by music, flashing lights, moving images, or just one too many adults at a party wanting to hold the baby.

Even a trip to the supermarket can be sensory overload for young children. Put yourself in their shoes; it’s full of bright lights, strangers, colourful products on the shelves, music in the background, announcements over the speakers, and all the while keeping mum or dad in sight.

Young children, especially toddlers, are in a tender phase of cognitive development. Therefore, their tolerance to stimulation is much lower than adults, causing their brains to become easily overwhelmed. This may lead to:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Crying
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression (kicking or waving arms)
  • Tantrums

With these signs of overstimulation in mind, here are a few easy steps you can take to ease children back into a calm state.

1. Create a Calm Home Environment

With so much happening outside the world, it’s important to control what you can – your home. Establishing a soothing atmosphere at home can do wonders in calming children after being out at social events, childcare or school, or even a swimming lesson.

Try to reduce distractions at home to allow children to unwind by:

  • Turning off the T.V. and other entertainment devices (smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)
  • Dimming the lights
  • Playing soothing music
  • Creating a calm corner in your living area or child’s room complete with soft toys, cushions, and age-appropriate books
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2. Establish a Consistent Routine

While your child will inevitably attend parties, family events, doctors’ check-ups, and school or daycare where the sensory activities aren’t always in your control, try to establish a consistent routine outside of them.

A clear structure provides children a sense of security. In other words, they’ll understand that before or after these potentially stressful events, there’s a predictable and reliable routine waiting for them. Try and establish a routine by:

  • Designating set times for rest or play
  • Verbally reinforcing routines, e.g. ‘we always read a story before bedtime.’
  • Use a poster or chart to visually reinforce schedule
  • Congratulate your child when they follow their routine, even it’s as simple as setting the dinner table or getting ready for school

3. Encourage Outdoor Exploration

Nature has a remarkably calming effect on children (and adults) of all ages. In fact, studies have shown that nature walks boost focus, relieve stress, and improve heart function.   

Encourage your child to explore the great outdoors, whether it’s the beach, your garden, or just a stroll around the park. Outdoor play reduces stress, fosters a deeper connection with the environment, and highlights the importance of preserving our natural spaces for generations to come.

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4. Limit Extracurricular Activities

While extracurricular activities offer valuable learning experiences, an overloaded schedule can lead to an overstimulated mind. And this isn’t just for toddlers. Too many extracurricular activities may do more harm than good for young children and teenagers alike.

Consider the much needed rest time for children if they’re involved in sports, dancing, after school care, childcare, or any other activities outside of school. Remember that there’s also time spent in the car, unwinding afterwards, and social interactions involved in these activities which can be emotionally and physically draining.

Children need rest and may take some time to recharge their social batteries. This is especially important if you have introverted children!

5. Foster Mindful Play

Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment. For children, mindful play is vital to children’s sense of community, mental well-being, and emotional resilience. Moreover, mindful activities have a tremendous ability to calm overstimulated minds.

Encourage activities such as: 

  • Yoga
  • Sensory art
  • Exploring the five senses
  • Muscle memory exercises
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6. Listen and Communicate

Effective communication is key, particularly with school-age children as they navigate primary school and more complex social situations.

Pay close attention to your child’s emotional needs and anxieties, encouraging them to express themselves openly. Validate their feelings and unpack their concerns together. Something as simple as ‘it’s okay to feel like everything is a bit much sometimes’ as school workloads and social events pile up can make the world of difference. Remember, when children feel like they’re being heard, they’re more likely to work with you through developing healthy coping strategies.

7. Find the Right Balance

While it can be tempting to remove your child from stimulating activities altogether, it’s important to not go too far. Children need to experience the world, even when it’s uncomfortable. From learning life skills such as swimming lessons to navigating social cues at family events, children need to learn to cope with stressful and unpredictable situations.

Additionally, Jerry Bubrick, a clinical psychologist at Child Mind Institute, suggests the balance for school-aged children should be determined by how they affect their social life and everyday commitments:

Can you still do your homework? Can you still get 8+ hours of sleep each night? Can you still be a part of your family? Can you still hang out with your friends? If the answer is ‘no’ to one or more of these, then it’s too much.

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Overall, with these few simple strategies, you can help your child navigate through even the most overwhelming experience. Better yet, they’ll develop some handy coping skills along the way and come out the other side as resilient, strong, and level-headed in the face of our fast-paced, techy world!

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

Returning to Work After Parental Leave: What to Expect

Are you dreading that first day back in the office? If so, read on for our full breakdown of how different kinds of leave, medical resources, and simple tips can help you navigate your return to work!

When you’re cosied up on the couch with your new bundle of joy, returning to work is probably the last thing on your mind. Likewise, the period following childbirth or adoption is a mix of emotions, milestones, and precious memories you’ll carry for life.

However, if you’ve made the decision to return to work, the first day will come around before you know it! While you might think you’ll settle back into the rhythm right away, parents often struggle to ease back into the work-life balance.

To make sure you’re ready for that first day back on the job, we’ve broken down parental leave, your entitlements, and some handy tips to keep in mind!

What is Parental Leave?

Unpaid Parental Leave

In Australia, all employees are eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer.

This entitlement applies to an employee that gives birth, an employee whose de-facto partner gives birth, or an employee who adopts a child aged under 16.

Eligible employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, with the option to request an extension for a further 12 months.

For information on other types of leave (such as pre-adoption leave), click here.

Australian Government Paid Parental Leave

As of July 1 2023, the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme provides the following additional support to eligible employees:

  • A combined 20 weeks government-funded paid leave that is paid at the national minimum wage and shared between you and your de-facto partner.  In summary, government funded paid parental leave:
    i) can only be claimed at a workplace where you or your partner have worked for at least 12 months.
    ii) must be shared, i.e., one partner can’t use more than 90% (18) of the 20 weeks (unless a single parent).
    iii) must be used within 12 months of birth by the primary caregiver, while the secondary caregiver can use the leave within 24 months.
    iv) doesn’t have to be taken all at once. For example, you could take one day off a week over several months.
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Employer Funded Paid Parental Leave

Some employers offer additional paid parental leave to new parents. The amount of leave and pay entitlements are at the discretion of each employer and will be detailed in enterprise agreements or contracts of employment.

Moreover, employer funded parental leave doesn’t affect an employer’s eligibility for the government funded paid parental leave scheme.

Your Rights When Returning to Work

An employee returning from unpaid parental leave is entitled to:

  • Return to their old role or one of equal pay and responsibilities upon their return.
  • Request flexible working arrangements such as working reduced hours or adjusting start and finish times.
  • Support if they’re breastfeeding. For example, your workplace must make reasonable efforts for those expressing breastmilk at work. These include providing a clean and private area (not a toilet), access to a fridge to store the milk, an area to store your manual or electric pump (if you use one), a hand washing station, and regular breaks.

For more information, click here.

Return to Work Tips

To help you mentally prepare for the coming transition, we’ve listed some everyday steps you can take to reduce the dread of that fast-approaching first day back!

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1. Keep an Open Mind

If you were working full-time before going on parental leave, don’t assume you’ll slide right back into your old routine like nothing happened. If you feel you need an extra year to care for your child, you can request this with your employer. Likewise, if you have family support or childcare organised and you want to jump back into your career earlier, that’s also okay!

Every child is unique, and their development and dependency differ greatly. Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns with a healthcare professional, and work with them to develop your return-to-work pathway. This may involve returning on a part-time or casual basis or taking on less responsibilities.

2. Organise Childcare in Advance

If you’re enrolling your child into childcare, don’t leave it until the last minute. Most early learning providers have waitlists, as well as orientation and induction processes. Also, you’ll want to give yourself as much time as possible to acclimatise your child into care and find the best fit.

If you’re looking for Reggio Emilia inspired early childhood education to give your child the best start, why not take a tour of one of our Explorers Centres? Explorers offers premium quality early childhood education and care from six weeks to school age!

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3. Stay in the Loop!

It’s tempting to shelve any thought of work during parental leave. After all, it’s time off right? However, it’s important to keep tabs on your workplace and stay in touch with colleagues and old work friends, particularly as you near your return date. This doesn’t have to be formal – something as simple as a catchup over coffee goes a long way!

This will help you avoid the culture shock of returning to work and seeing all the new faces or a new direction of the business. Moreover, it will give you valuable information and insights to inform your decision of when, and in what capacity, you’ll return to work.

Additionally, you can request to work up to 10 days while on parental leave through keeping in touch days. These could be for a conference, training days, or just to keep involved in the business. They don’t have to be taken all at once and can be for part of a day. The payment for these days is your normal wage and you accumulate your usual leave entitlements too!

4. Consider Working from Home

A common contributor to the returning to work nerves are feelings of guilt and anxiety when leaving your child on their own for the first time.

While this is a completely normal and natural reaction, it can be eased by working from home if this an option with your employer. Flexible work arrangements remove commute time, allow you to tend to appointments and checkups, so long as you have in-home care of a family support network.

5. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Don’t forget to prioritise self-care during the transition back to work. The demands of parenthood and work can be overwhelming, so it’s essential to carve out time for yourself.

Whether it’s taking short breaks, practicing mindfulness, leaning on family and friends, or engaging in physical activities, self-care will help you maintain your well-being and perform better both at home and in the workplace.

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6. Sit Down with Your Boss

Open and honest communication with your employer is vital before, during, and after parental leave. Discuss your expectations, responsibilities, and any potential adjustments to your workload.

Many employers are willing to accommodate new parents, offering flexible hours or remote work options. Importantly, it’s a chance to be express any points of worry or anxiety so they can be ironed out before your return to work. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your boss, try your human resources department or union representative.

Be sure to understand your rights and entitlements under the Paid Parental Leave Act (2010) or any other applicable laws.

7. Reach Out if You’re Struggling

Building a strong support network is essential for working parents. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, medical professionals, and other parents who can offer advice, assistance, or simply a listening ear when you need it. Consider joining local parenting groups or online communities to connect with others facing similar challenges.

Returning to work after parental leave is a significant life transition, and it’s entirely natural to feel a mixture of excitement and worry. By following these tips, you can ease the process, maintain your well-being, and ensure a smooth transition both at home and in the workplace.

Just remember that you’re not alone. With the right support and mindset, you can focus on what matters most – building memories with your newest addition to the family!

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

How to Manage Sibling Rivalry: A Parent’s Guide to Peace

Whether it’s the last slice of pizza or who gets the window seat, sibling rivalry can get out of control fast. So be sure to check out our handy tips to get a hold of sibling rivalries before they turn into lifelong competition 👇

One minute they’re playing and laughing together, the next they’re in a screaming match. Sibling rivalry is an inevitable part of raising multiple children. While it’s most prominent between children less than two years apart, it can happen in any sibling dynamic.

While common, sibling rivalry can be challenging for any parent. Therefore, understanding its roots and how to manage it can lead to a happier and more peaceful household.

In this post, we’ll explore the dynamics of sibling rivalry, its underlying causes, and practical strategies for parents and caregivers to foster healthy relationships among siblings.

Is Sibling Rivalry Normal?

Sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up. Brothers and sisters are children’s first peers. However, unlike in social situations or school, siblings often infringe on children’s most sacred spaces. In other words, the home.

This forces children out of their comfort zone. They’re forced to share, cooperate, and co-exist with another in areas that were once entirely their own. This often takes the form of sharing toys, food, attention, and space!

Children, especially toddlers, are territorial and experience what experts call the ‘mine stage.’ Therefore, having to suddenly share the back seat, play spaces, or even their room is a huge dynamic shift for children. And keep in mind that a new baby or stepsibling is effectively a total stranger to a child.

However, it’s an invaluable lesson that forces children to accept an inescapable fact of life – change. You can’t always control your situation or circumstances, and sibling rivalry forces children to accept this reality and develop coping mechanisms.  

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What Causes Sibling Rivalry?

While it can be easy to look at sibling rivalry from an adult perspective, try and put yourself in your child’s shoes. For their whole life, your child has been the centre of the universe. They’ve had food all to themselves, toys, and more attention than they could ever need.

Then one day, that all changes. They’re now forced to share and have their source of attention halved overnight. This is a huge and understandably jarring shift for children of any age. In some ways, it can feel like their entire routine has been split down the middle.

And as children get older, these feelings may intensify and grow more complex as children develop differing interests. Understanding that each child has unique needs can help address this, as well as taking a deep dive into the core causes of sibling rivalry:

  • Competition for Resources – siblings may consider limited resources like toys, space, or parental time as their own, leading to rivalries when these resources are challenged or divided.
  • Identity and Individuality – as children develop their identities, they may compete to establish themselves within the family or for parental approval.
  • Developmental Differences – siblings of different ages have distinct needs, leading to competition as they grow and mature where one child may excel in areas while another struggles.

Effective Strategies for Managing Sibling Rivalry

With the causes of sibling rivalry in mind, where do you go from here? While you can’t wave a magic wand to stop sibling rivalry from occurring, there are many ways you can manage it.

1. Encourage Individuality

This is perhaps the most important step to preventing childhood sibling rivalries from growing into lifelong competition. If you’re child loves sports, wonderful! Get out and kick the ball together or sign them up for a local team. If they’re artsy and love to draw, terrific! Get creative with them and encourage this passion.

Importantly, don’t compare or label them purely on these passions. Empower them to thrive in their own special way by celebrating their achievements.

2. Avoid Labels

Have you ever found yourself calling one of your children ‘the sporty one’ or ‘the smart one’? While this may seem harmless, labels inevitably draw comparisons and may lead to inadequacy in children. If one child is struggling academically, seeing their sibling praised as ‘the brainy one’ may hinder their motivation and limit their potential.

Therefore, try to be mindful of the labels you’re using. It’s a natural habit in modern society to feel the need to label and categorise the world around us. It gives a sense of security and comfort to know exactly how things and people fit in. However, people (especially children) are full of complexity and need to have their sense of individuality nurtured from an early age.

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3. Stay in Control

No matter what you try, you’ll inevitably have to play referee between bickering siblings. However, children feed off your tone and body language. Therefore, joining the fight won’t exactly help to restore peace to the household.

Instead, try and remain as calm and neutral as possible – don’t play favourites! Over time, you’ll start to pick up cues for when a fight is starting to escalate into aggression and when you need to step in.

4. Set Clear Boundaries

Although sibling rivalries are often trivial and harmless, they can quickly cross the line into physicality. Be sure to be clear and assertive if siblings become aggressive, abusive, or violent with one another.

Set clear boundaries that respect and fairness are non-negotiables in the household and that physical violence is never the solution to an argument. Writing up house rules or having children sign a family contract can help to reinforce these values.

5. Be There to Listen

Emotional regulation is a vital lifelong skill for children. Likewise, fights between siblings often arise from perceived injustice. Therefore, sitting down with your child one-on-one after the conflict is a healthy outlet for children to express and articulate their feelings.

Children are far more likely to hear you out when they feel like they’re being heard and understood, rather than being told what to do. This will also aid in their emotional maturity and strengthen your bond with your child.

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6. Quality Time with Each Child

Listening to your child isn’t always enough. Be sure to spend plenty of time one-on-one with your child engaging in their favourite activities, passions, or emerging interests.

While co-operation and spending time as a family is a must, it’s just as important to spend quality alone time with children. Talk with them, listen to their thoughts, and stimulate their budding curiosities.  

7. Trust your Children

Despite all your best efforts, sometimes you have to let children work it out themselves. Of course, intervene if arguments become physically or verbally abusive. However, disagreements and discourse are a natural part of life and something your child will have to learn to navigate.

What may seem like a ‘fight’ may just be children using their problem-solving skills to resolve a conflict. This is an incredibly healthy sign for children as they learn to navigate social interactions and compromise. So be sure to congratulate children when they work issues out on their own – this is a huge developmental step!

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Overall, sibling rivalry is a natural part of growing up, but with the right guidance and approach, it can be a valuable learning experience for children and parents. By understanding the causes, benefits, and effective strategies for managing sibling rivalry, parents and caregivers can create a nurturing environment where siblings build stronger bonds, empathy, and lifelong bonds.

Remember, fostering healthy sibling relationships takes time and patience. As children grow and change, so will the dynamics of their interactions. The key is to provide a supportive foundation that allows them to navigate rivalry while building a lasting connection, even if you will have to endure the arguments over toy dinosaurs and imaginary injustices.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Children?

Worried about your child’s screen time? Should they be on screens at all? Read on for our deep dive into the science of screen time, along with some handy tips to get your child experiencing the world 👇

Like it or not, computers, tablets, and smartphones are a normal part of growing up in 2023. While technology provides a world of possibilities for additional learning, too much screen time is regularly topping lists as the number one health concern among parents.

But how much screen time is too much? Should children use screens at all? In this post, we dive into the science behind screen time and provide our top tips to help your family in this increasingly techy world.

What Do the Experts Say About Screen Time?

According to AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies), screens should be introduced carefully to children:

  •  0-2 years: no screen time – in the early years, screens provide too much stimulation for children’s rapidly developing brains. Therefore, health experts recommend avoiding screens entirely and to instead engage in sensory play, talking out loud, and reading.
  • 2-5 years: one hour per day – at this age, children learn by imitating adults and exploring their environments. In other words, they need to experience the world around them. As screens limit children’s sensory experiences, they may develop ‘tunnel vision’.
  • 5-17 years: no more than two hours per day – this will change as children enter high school and incorporate devices into their studies. However, during the primary school years, experts recommend two hours as the maximum for daily recreational screen time.

What Should Children Watch?

Although excessive screen time can be harmful, it can be beneficial in moderation. Just ensure that you’re always supervising your child during screen time and engaging in high-quality, educational content. This could be through interactive shows, animated stories, or apps.

Some of our top picks are:

  • Sesame Street
  • Bluey
  • Ask the StoryBots
  • Octonauts
  • Alphablocks
  • Numberblocks
  • Vooks
  • ABC Mose Early Learning Academy
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How Can You Limit Screen Time for Children?

We recommend taking steps as early as possible to limit screen time. This will reduce the number of tantrums as children gradually develop screen-free habits. It doesn’t always have to be a strict rule, but everyday steps play a significant role in changing your child’s screen time habits.

1. Turn off the TV in the Background

Have you ever come home and turned on the television without even realising? Nobody’s watching it, so what’s the problem? Well, this background noise can be an unnecessary distraction for children which may lead to poor focus and shortened attention spans.

Additionally, televisions encourage passive viewing. In the early years, children need to be active. Whether it’s through physical activity or exploration, active play stimulates cognitive development, along with a range of other health benefits.

Try using soothing music or an age-appropriate podcast instead. Or, better yet, play nothing at all! Learning to sit with silence is an important skill for children to learn as they progress through life, particularly school, where there won’t always be a television or speaker to entertain them.

2. Set Rules for Screen Time

Children thrive on structure and routine. Therefore, establishing a screen time schedule reduces tantrums as children have a clear and defined timeframe for when screen time is allowed.

If you have older children, get them involved in the process. Hold a family meeting to decide which times work best for screen time. Once the whole family agrees, have them all sign a family contract. This will reduce future disagreements, while also introducing children to the importance of promises and sticking to your word.

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3. Introduce Screen-Free Days

You’ve heard of meat-free Fridays, but what about screen-free Fridays? Frequent screen time can overstimulate children, literally rewiring their brains and potentially leading to increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

Therefore, try allocating days of the week, or entire weekends, to screen-free activities. You can then use these screen-free days to engage in family bonding.

4. Engage in Screen-Free Activities

Screen-free activities range from a trip to the museum to reading a book with your child. Anything to get them experiencing the world is a positive step in their development:

  • Take a trip to the library or museum
  • Engage in sensory play
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Read a book together
  • Solve puzzles
  • Play board/card games
  • Engage in arts and crafts
  • Get out into the garden
  • Cook or bake a meal together

5. Set a Good Example

Children love playing grown-up. Whether it’s dressing up or making pretend dinner, children love acting like Mum and Dad.

Therefore, if your child sees you watching television, scrolling through your phone, or spending hours on your laptop in your spare time, they’re going to do the same. So, if you want your child to reduce their screen time, the tough fact is you’re going to have to as well!

Additionally, be mindful when using screens. Do you really need to scroll through your phone or are you just doing it out of habit? Likewise, you can also use this as an opportunity to educate your child about the purpose of screens and devices. If you work from home, have a discussion with your child about how you use your laptop for work or study.

Try to prioritise face-to-face interactions with your child. You might be surprised how much your child learns from something as simple as watching your facial expressions.

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Overall, screens are an inevitable part of living in the modern world. Whether it’s at work, out in public, lounging at home, or at school, your child will be exposed to technology. However, you don’t have to be constrained to overstimulation and the tantrums that follow.

By engaging in face-to-face activities, setting clear boundaries, and leading by example, you can limit your child’s screen time with just a few simple steps. Even better, you can take control of your child’s development, so they’ll get the best possible start for primary school, secondary school, and beyond.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

The Benefits of Messy and Sensory Play: Why Children Need to Make a Mess

What is messy and sensory play, and is it worth the clean-up? Read on for our full breakdown of messy play, along with some suggestions to get your child’s brain buzzing 👇

Messy and sensory play is incredibly beneficial for children as young as six months old. From finger painting to exploring sensory materials, messy play offers a world of opportunities for learning and physical development, even if the clean-up can be a hassle!

In this post, we break down the physical and cognitive benefits of messy play and explore why your child should embrace the mess.  

Sensory Development

Messy play engages (almost) all the senses. When children squish their fingers into mud or clay, they feel the sensation, hear the sounds, and smell the material. Therefore, sensory activities provide valuable cognitive input, helping children refine their tactile perception and develop a greater understanding of different textures.

And there’s so many sustainable options to choose from:

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Messy Play Activities

6-12 months

Although they’re mostly babbling at the 6-12 month mark, babies love messy play and sensory exploration! Just be sure to supervise and only use gentle materials:

  • Cotton
  • Fabric
  • Crinkly paper
  • Fleece
  • Satin
  • Water

12-24 months

By age two, children are as curious as ever. Their brains develop rapidly as they near the end of the first 1000 days of life. Therefore, they want to touch, smell, and experience the world around them. This is perfect for messy play:

  • Sensory bins
  • Sand/clay
  • Homemade playdough exploration
  • Finger painting
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2-3 Years

Children between ages 2 and 3 are typically walking, talking, and full of attitude! This is where you can really start to inspire their artistic side by adding more elements to their messy play experience.

  • Water-based paints
  • Sensory ice play
  • Clay time

3-5 Years

By the time your child is in Kinder, you’ll probably be looking for ways to give them the best start for primary school. Therefore, this is the perfect time broaden their messy play experience to prep them for their next big steps:

  • Nature exploration
  • Sensory storytelling
  • Painting and drawing

Cognitive Skills

Messy play goes beyond engaging the senses. Rather, it aims to nurture children’s emerging cognitive skills.

When children engage in messy play, they’re presented with open-ended materials and situations which encourage problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making. For instance, when building sandcastles or clay sculptures, children think creatively and strategically to achieve their desired outcomes.

In addition, messy play provides opportunities for experimentation and exploration. Children mix colours, observe cause-and-effect relationships, and question what happens next when different materials are combined. This hands-on approach fosters curiosity and a love for discovery, promoting a growth mindset in children.

Fine Motor Skills

Messy play activities often involve actions such as squeezing, pouring, and scooping. These activities promote the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in children. Whether they’re using a paintbrush, pouring water, or moulding clay, children flex their dexterity and refine their ability to control and coordinate their movements.

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Language Development

Messy play also plays a vital role in language development. During messy play, children inevitably engage in conversation and storytelling. They describe the sensory experience, use descriptive language to express how the colours make them feel, and share their observations. This rich linguistic environment expands vocabulary, improves communication skills, and nurtures creative expression.

Emotional and Social Development

Embracing messy play allows children to express themselves freely and build independence. When children are given the freedom to explore materials and engage in unstructured play, they develop a sense of ownership and pride in their creations.

Messy play also offers opportunities for collaboration and sharing as children work together on projects and exchange ideas.

Moreover, messy play provides a safe space for children to experience a range of emotions. Whether it’s the joy of squishing paint or the frustration of a sandcastle collapsing, children navigate and express their feelings through these immersive experiences. As they explore and experiment, they develop emotional resilience and adapt to different situations.

Creativity and Imagination

Messy play and creativity go hand-in-hand. When given open-ended materials and the freedom to explore, children create, transform, and invent things most adults couldn’t dream of.

Whether they’re sculpting clay, mixing colours, or creating sand masterpieces, messy play encourages divergent thinking and fosters innovation.

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Why is Messy Play Important?

The focus of messy play is on process rather than the end result. Children learn that there’s no one rule to express yourself, allowing them to embrace their creativity without fear of judgment. This freedom nurtures self-discovery and fuels a lifelong love for art and curiosity.

Ultimately, messy play provides children with invaluable opportunities for growth, development, and self-expression. By embracing the mess, they unlock a world of creativity and sensory exploration. Additionally, the benefits of messy play extend beyond the temporary chaos and strengthen cognitive, emotional, and social skills in children well into primary school.

Just remember to provide a safe and supervised environment for messy play, use child-friendly (and sustainable) materials, and try to involve your child in the clean-up process. After all, the mess is temporary, but the skills they gain last a lifetime.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

The First 1000 Days of Life: Why They’re So Important

What are the first 1000 days of human life? And how can you best prepare your child through those exciting early years? Read on for our full breakdown of this precious early childhood journey 👇

The first 1000 days of life, from conception until their second birthday, sets the foundation for your child’s emotional, physical, and academic development. As you can imagine, getting them right is essential. It’s a time full of developmental milestones, precious memories and yes – lots of nappy changes.

In this article, we outline what to expect during your child’s first 1000 days to help you prepare for this incredible early childhood journey.

Prenatal Care and Development

Prenatal care is everything, and we’re lucky in Australia to have free public healthcare and a range of comprehensive private health insurance options. It goes without saying that it’s vital to receive regular medical check-ups, eat a balanced diet, take prenatal vitamins (particularly calcium, vitamin D and folic acid), and check a list of DO’s and DON’Ts to best support your baby’s growth.

In the first months after conception, your baby’s organs develop rapidly and you’ll feel their first flutters of movement sometime between week 16 and 24!

Additionally, studies have suggested that playing soothing music may aid in cognitive development even in the womb. Just make sure the volume is below 50 decibels, which his roughly the same volume as a washing machine.

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Birth and the Newborn Phase

The moment your baby arrives is a rush of emotion and relief. In the early days, you and your baby will mostly be getting to know each other. Expect round-the-clock feeding, checking, nappy changes, and lots of cuddles!

Moreover, regular postnatal checks with your GP are a must. Better Health Victoria recommends a check-up at around the six to eight week mark. This is also a great time to raise any questions or concerns.

Additionally, the Victorian Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service is a free universal primary health service for all Victorian families with children that offers regular check-ups from birth all the way up to school age. This includes:

  • Maternal and child health service resources
  • Advice for sleep and settling
  • Early Parenting Centres
  • Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health Aboriginal-led MCH services
  • Baby Bundle

While it can be easy to be overwhelmed at this early stage of development, try and enjoy these precious moments of bonding. Importantly, remember to reach out for support and guidance from loved ones or healthcare professionals if needed.

Infant Milestones

As your child passes through the first 1000 days, it’ll feel like they surpass milestones every other week. From their first smile to rolling over, sitting up, and eventually crawling, each accomplishment marks their progression physically and psychologically.

Some milestones to anticipate include:

  • Birth to 3 monthslifting their head when lying on your stomach
  • 4 to 6 monthsrolling over, clapping, babbling
  • 7 to 9 monthssitting without support
  • 10 to 18 monthstaking their first steps
  • 13 to 18 monthsengaging in pretend play, first words
  • 19 to 24 monthssorting shapes and colours, identifying objects, passing things   

Keep in mind that these aren’t strict timeframes. Each child develops at their own pace and may surpass these milestones well before or after these windows. During this time, you can encourage their development through tummy time, talking to them, and introducing age-appropriate toys and activities.

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Nutrition and Weaning

Nutrition plays a vital role in your child’s growth and development during the first 1000 days. Breast milk, or an appropriate infant formula, is essential for the first six months. Thereafter, you can gradually transition to age-appropriate foods while continuing to breastfeed or offer formula for 2 years or beyond.

Solid foods can be introduced from around six months, which opens a whole new world of tastes, textures, and smells.

Just remember to be patient as your baby explores different foods and adapts to a varied diet. If you have any concerns, be sure to consult your GP or paediatrician regarding specific dietary needs, allergens, or intolerances.

Language and Cognitive Development

During the first 1000 days, your baby’s brain is rapidly developing, laying the foundation for future learning and communication. Some activities to help your child from around the one year mark include:

  • Lots of talking and singing
  • Reading books together
  • Messy play
  • Puzzles
  • Art

And it doesn’t always have to be so structured. Something as simple as responding to your child’s babbles and engaging verbally promotes their understanding of the world around them (and makes for a great time!). Try to enjoy these moments of discovery together.

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Social and Emotional Development

As your baby grows physically between the one and two year mark, so do their social and emotional skills. Responding to their cues, providing a secure and loving environment, and fostering social interactions with other children nurtures their emotional well-being.

Likewise, be sure to celebrate their achievements verbally and enthusiastically. This not only provides comfort during times of frustration or distress, but rewards children’s curiosity and insatiable hunger to discover and explore.

For parents that are returning to work during the first 1000 days, be assured that Explorers Early Learning offers opportunities for further social and cognitive development.

Overall, the first 1000 days of a child’s life is a time of immense growth and development. From prenatal care to their second birthday, this period shapes their future health, well-being, and development from the cot all the way to adulthood.

Embrace each milestone, enjoy the precious moments, and seek support when needed. Remember, every child is unique, so follow your instincts and trust your best judgement – no one knows your child better than you!  

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!