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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
- Homemade playdough
Messy Play Activities
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:
- Crinkly paper
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
- Homemade playdough exploration
- Finger painting
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Toddlers: Independence from an Early Age
When can toddlers start pitching in around the house? And what are the benefits for their development? Read on for our full list of age-appropriate chores 👇
Chores may seem like just another part of growing up. However, they teach children responsibility and independence from an early age. But what are some age-appropriate chores for children? And when are they old enough to start pitching in?
In this post, we explore a range of engaging age-appropriate chores for toddlers to learn all about routine, independence, and the importance of working together to achieve a common goal.
When is the Best Age to Start Giving Chores?
Experts suggest that children as early as two years old can benefit from chores on a semi-regular basis, so long as they’re supervised. However, there’s no hard and fast rule for when you can start doling out chores to children. It’s important to consider your child’s developmental stage and maturity to determine whether they’re ready to take on the extra responsibility.
Naturally, a two year old will be limited in how much they can help around the house. Nevertheless, something as simple as packing up after play introduces children to community values. You can then build on these as they progress through early childhood, primary school, and well into adolescence.
1. Putting Away Toys
Encourage your toddler to pick up and put away their toys after playtime. This simple act will save you time cleaning up and teach your child to take responsibility of their spaces.
Additionally, you can extend this to public places and the environment. Something as simple as picking up their rubbish at the park teaches children the importance of sustainability and conservation from an early age.
2. Setting the Table
Involve your toddler in the mealtime routine by setting the table together. Teach them to place plates, cups, spoons, and forks on their proper places.
This activity enhances fine motor skills and helps children understand the importance of family meals. In fact, studies suggest that family mealtimes boost children’s motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem. You might be surprised how eager children are to lend a hand when food’s on the way!
3. Sorting Laundry
While folding clothes might be too complex for toddlers, they can certainly help sort the laundry. Ask them to help you separate clean clothes by colour or type. This age-appropriate chore teaches children about categorisation and enhances hand-eye coordination.
You can even make a game of it. Invite them to sort all the red clothes into one pile and the blues in other.
4. Watering Plants
Toddlers love playing with water, so why not focus that enthusiasm into a chore? Give your child a small watering can and show them how to water indoor plants or a small garden outside.
This activity teaches children about the life cycle of plants and caring for all living things. Better yet, you can expand this experience by planting seedlings or starting a herb garden. This small act introduces your child to the wonders of nature and the importance of empathy.
5. Wiping Surfaces
Give your toddler with a damp cloth and show them how to wipe surfaces such as tables, countertops, or windowsills. It won’t be perfect, but their efforts contribute to keeping the house clean and germ-free, while also honing their fine motor skills.
Just be careful not to assign them anything too dirty. Dust can kick up and may trigger nasty allergies or asthma. As with all items on this list, always supervise your child when engaging in these age-appropriate chores.
6. Feeding Pets
If you have pets, involving your toddler in their care is a wonderful way to teach responsibility and proper care. Help your child pour the right amount of food or water into your pet’s bowl.
This chore highlights compassion, empathy, and the importance of caring for all living things. Not to mention it makes for some great additions to the photo album!
7. Picking up Books
Encourage your child to tidy their bookshelf by picking up and organising their books. Likewise, demonstrate how to place books upright and stack them neatly. This chore nurtures children’s love for reading while also bringing a sense of orderliness to play areas.
You can also use this exercise to encourage reading, storytelling, and writing! Children love story time, so you can use this experience to combine responsibility and imagination.
8. Help Prepare Meals
Invite your toddler to help prepare meals by peeling fruits, washing veggies, or rolling out dough. If your child isn’t quite ready for these tasks, something as simple as scooping cereal into the bowl provides a tremendous sense of independence.
Ultimately, age-appropriate chores are a fantastic way for toddlers to embrace independence, responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment. By making chores engaging and fun, it won’t be long before your child is actively participating in more complex household tasks.
Remember, it’s essential to offer guidance, praise their efforts, and make chores a positive experience. So be sure to empower toddlers and as they grow into responsible individuals who’ll be helping you bring in the groceries before you know it!
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Unlocking Inner Calm: Mindfulness Activities for Children
Looking for ways for your child to stay grounded in the here and now? Look no further than our list of mindfulness activities for children and adults alike 👇
Mindfulness for children is more important than ever in the digital age. With so much for children to do and see, it’s vital to teach them how to slow down and tap into their inner calm. After all, childhood goes so fast – you don’t want them to miss it!
In this post, we’ve curated some fun and engaging activities to help your child develop lifelong mindfulness skills.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is awareness of one’s internal state and surroundings. In other words, it’s being grounded in the here and now. While this may sound obvious, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many forms of entertainment and technology. And children are no exception.
Therefore, it’s important to teach children how to be grounded in the present to reduce stress, anxiety, and boost overall happiness.
In fact, experts at the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) suggest that mindfulness and ‘connectedness to school and home is the #1 most protective factor for youth well-being and resiliency.’
Explore the Five Senses
We use them every day, but how often do you stop to really think about your senses? Something as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breath can do wonders to ground yourself in the present. So, find a cosy spot, get comfy and invite your child to engage with their senses:
- Sight: Look at around you. What colours do you see? What shapes? Where is light coming from?
- Sound: What can you hear? Are there any background noises? Where are the sounds coming from?
For smell and touch, consider a sensory board filled with natural materials like sand or pebbles. For taste, you can lay out foods of differing consistencies to broaden your child’s palette:
- Smell: What does this space smell like? Is it a nice smell?
- Touch: What do they feel like? Are they soft? Hard? Scratchy?
- Taste: Describe the taste. Is it sweet? Sour? What foods also taste like that?
Sensory Nature Walk
Step into the great outdoors and embark on a nature walk together. Take your child to a nearby park, beach, or nature trail and encourage them to connect with all their senses.
Listen to the chirping of birds, feel the grass under their feet, inhale the sweet scent of flowers. This is a wonderful opportunity to get children out of the house and into nature. With each step, guide them to be fully present. What kind of animals do you see? What sounds do they make? What do they eat?
Additionally, it’s an important reminder of the beauty of our natural spaces and the need to preserve them for generations to come.
Yoga is the perfect time to stretch, breathe, and relax. Clear some space and invite your child to join in a sensory yoga session. Pretend to be wild animals, mimicking their movements, and encourage them to focus on their breath.
If your child is more a visual learner, there are plenty of YouTube guides on how to strike the perfect pose – just make sure you do it together!
As they flow through various poses, highlight the importance of being present and tuning into their bodies. Wind down the adventure with a soothing relaxation exercise, allowing them to relax and find inner calm.
Unleash your children’s creative spirits with mindful art! Set up an art station with natural, colourful materials and let their imagination run free. Encourage them to paint or draw with mindful awareness, feeling the brush strokes and textures of the materials.
Remind them to stay present in the moment, letting go of distractions. Remember, the aim is to let their inner artists shine while also experiencing a sense of peace and relaxation through creative expression.
There are over 600 muscles in the human body, but when was the last time you stopped to think about them?
Invite your child to close their eyes and to consciously relax their muscles. Start slow and simple by asking them to gently squeeze their feet, and then their hands. As they progress, move to larger muscle groups like the calves, biceps, and abdomen.
This is also a great opportunity for continued learning. Explore the different kinds of muscles and bones in the body through research and discussion. You can even take a trip to Scienceworks or the Melbourne Museum!
Why is Mindfulness Important?
More and more studies are showing the profound benefits of mindfulness for children and adults alike. It’s easy to get lost in the rush of modern life but taking as little as 10-15 minutes a day to reflect and recharge can do wonders for overall joy. Likewise, teaching these skills to children at an early age is vital for long-term happiness and success.
With these engaging activities, you can introduce your child to the wonders of mindfulness while also having some fun along the way. So why not invite your child to take a breath, look around, and smell the roses?
Reggio Emilia and Montessori: What’s the Difference?
Reggio Emilia or Montessori? What do they mean and which is right for your child? Read on for our breakdown of these two popular early education philosophies 👇
Does this sound familiar: you’re researching childcare services and two phrases keep appearing – Reggio Emilia and Montessori. It’s easy to get lost in the wording as they both talk about child-centred curriculums and non-traditional learning.
But what if we told you these early learning approaches differ in some really important ways?
In this post, we break down the Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches to early childhood education to help you decide which is the perfect fit for your child.
What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Reggio Emilia classrooms, often connected by a central piazza for collaboration and discussion, are filled with natural materials, light, and open spaces. Children are seen as active participants in their own learning journey. They co-construct knowledge and spark curiosity alongside their peers and Educators.
The Reggio Emilia approach identifies three teachers in children’s learning:
- The teacher – responsible for constructing and guiding learning experiences. Educators provoke discussion, ask open-ended questions, and explore emerging interests with the children. In other words, they’re co-learners.
- The parent – the home environment is key to building on meaningful learning experiences. Therefore, parents are encouraged to take an active role in emerging interests, projects, and hands-on learning.
- The environment – learning spaces are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, stimulating, and interactive. Artwork, natural materials, and plenty of colour are commonplace in Reggio Emilia classrooms to inspire creativity and imagination.
What is the Montessori Approach?
Developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, this approach values children’s need to explore, discover, and learn at their own pace.
The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared environment where children can choose their own activities from a range of self-correcting materials such as puzzles and loose parts. These materials encourage children to problem-solve instinctively and without the need for strict instructions.
Additionally, the Montessori approach features hands-on learning through workshops. These aim to build independence, self-discipline, and practical life skills. Through interactive learning experiences, the Montessori approach encourages self-directed learning, rather than in large groups.
How do Reggio Emilia and Montessori Differ?
While both Montessori and Reggio Emilia value child-centred learning, they’re also different in their approach to curriculum.
Reggio Emilia embraces an emergent curriculum which evolves based on the interests and inquiries of the children. Educators encourage these interests with intentional provocations.
For example, if a child takes an interest in space, and Educator may provide them with different materials to create a star chart. This intentional experience introduces the child to different sensations – the feel of the materials and the sounds they make – while also acting as the foundation for continued learning.
How big is space? What is the Milky Way? How many planets are there in the solar system?
Montessori on the other hand follows a pre-determined curriculum, with specific materials and activities designed to support children’s development across different areas and outcomes.
Moreover, the Montessori curriculum favours observation by teachers, whereas Reggio Educators favour documentation of observations to share with parents and signpost learning milestones.
The Reggio Emilia approach emphasises community and group-based learning, while Montessori values independent and small group learning.
For a full breakdown of the differences, see the table below!
|Learning style||Child-centric, non-traditional.||Child-centric, non-traditional|
|Role of the Educator/Teacher||Observer and facilitator of knowledge.||Collaborator and co-learner. Educators guide learning experiences and ask open-ended questions.|
|Method||Learning through play and self-correcting materials alone or in small groups. Strict development stages.||Children work in small groups in project-based learning. Community and parental involvement encouraged.|
|Curriculum||Pre-determined and can be adapted to primary and secondary education.||Fluid curriculum which is adapted to emerging interests and unique learning styles.|
|Focus||Independence.||Independence and collaboration.|
|Evidence collection||Observation.||Observe and document.|
|Goal||To form independent and curious learners.||To nurture children to become lifelong learners and citizens of the world.|
Which Approach is Right for Your Child?
Overall, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to early childhood education. Each child is unique, with their own set of interests, learning styles, and needs. The Montessori approach and the Reggio Emilia approach each offer distinct educational experiences.
While some children may thrive in the Montessori system, others blossom in the collaborative environment of Reggio Emilia. The best way to decide is to visit centres, talk with educators, research widely, and consider all approaches. In other words, trust your intuition to decide which approach resonates with your child’s unique personality and stage of development.
9 Fun Rainy Day Activities in Melbourne
Looking for some fun rainy day activities with the children? Read on for our must-visit attractions around Melbourne this winter 👇
Rainy days in Melbourne don’t have to be dreary! Instead of letting the cold weather get you down, embrace the opportunity to get the children out of the house and exploring Melbourne’s vibrant indoor attractions. Not only do these activities get children active, but they also get them engaging with the community and learning all kinds of physical and social skills.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting Melbourne for the weekend, here are our top 9 rainy activities for those wintery days.
1. Melbourne Museum
Take a trip through history and culture at the renowned Melbourne Museum. Explore fascinating exhibits, including natural history, art, science, and Aboriginal culture. Through interactive displays and engaging programs, the Museum offers an educational and entertaining experience for all ages.
Better yet, the Museum introduces children to the vast and fascinating history of our planet. Importantly, that history is pretty cool – filled with amazing creatures and natural events.
If you’re planning on visiting the Museum, be sure to check out the Museum’s Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery. This exhibition is for babies all the way up to age 5, and features hands-on exploration, play-based learning, immersive environments, and unique exhibits the little ones are sure to love!
2. Live Theatre
Worried your child is spending too much time on screens? Take them to the live theatre instead! There are loads of age-appropriate performances for children around Melbourne, from magic shows to Disney on Ice.
Not only are live theatre shows a wonderful day out of the cold, but they also teach children valuable social skills. Unlike television shows or movies that can often overstimulate children, live theatre requires children to exercise concentration and patience, while also boosting their attention spans.
Dive into an underwater wonderland at SEA LIFE Melbourne! A trip to the Aquarium introduces your little one to a whole new world filled with breath-talking natural creatures and environments. From majestic sharks to adorable penguins, your child is sure to enjoy this aquatic day out.
Explore interactive exhibits, walk through tunnels surrounded by captivating sea creatures, and learn about the importance of ocean conservation. And who knows – you might just inspire a future marine biologist.
For Lego enthusiasts over three years of age, the Legoland Discovery Centre is a must-visit this winter. Legoland is an open-ended experience filled with creativity and imagination through an abundance of Lego-themed activities and attractions.
Together, you and your child can build and race Lego cars, explore miniature Lego cities, and construct anything their not-so-little imaginations can conjure – the possibilities are endless. Additionally, Lego boosts children’s fine motor skills and problem-solving abilities, helping them become better learners.
5. Cook Together
Rainy days provide the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and indulge in some culinary creativity. Gather the children, choose a recipe, dust off the whisk and embark on a cooking adventure as a family.
Cooking is also a great learning experience for children. They engage with all kinds of smells, textures, and chemical reactions from the boiling of the pot to the oil floating in water. You can also use this as an opportunity to explore measurements and reading instructions. Additionally, cooking helps children identify different fruits and vegetables, food storage, and general kitchen safety.
Importantly, it teaches children that food can be tasty and good for you.
6. The Library
Escape the rain by delving into the exciting world of books at one of Melbourne’s many public libraries. Whether you’re raising a little bookworm or just trying to get them away from the screens for an afternoon, libraries offer a peaceful and stimulating environment for children of all ages. Introduce them to captivating board books, discover new authors, or participate in children’s book club discussions and events.
The library is also a great way to meet local families to organise play groups so your little one can make new friends!
7. Get Crafty
A day inside is the perfect opportunity to challenge your child to get crafty. With just a few materials, you can finger paint, stamp craft, or make some clay masterpieces. Arts and crafts are always a hit with children, as it encourages them to explore their creativity and see a project through from start to finish. In other words, it teaches them the nature of cause and effect.
The best part is there’s no right or wrong way – just get your child’s imagination active!
Unleash your creativity and immerse your child (and yourself) in the mind-bending optical illusions at ArtVo Melbourne. This interactive art gallery provides a unique experience where you become part of the artwork.
Strike a pose, take amazing photos, and let your imagination run wild as your child explores the captivating 3D paintings. This is the perfect way to introduce children to the mind-bending nature of perspective, geometry, and how things aren’t always as they seem.
9. Museum of Play and Art (MOPA)
Experience a world of creativity and play at the Museum of Play and Art (MOPA). This interactive experience offers hands-on exhibits and activities designed to ignite the imagination of children and adults alike. From sensory play areas to art workshops, it’s a rainy day haven for budding creatives.
And don’t take our word for it. Visit Victoria called MOPA ‘Australia’s most acclaimed Children’s Museum.’ This is a day out you don’t want to miss – they also make a great coffee!
Overall, rainy days in Melbourne don’t have to be dull. With these 9 fun indoor activities, you can make the most of these precious moments with your child, while also staying dry. From live theatre and museums to playing with Lego, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So why not embrace everything that Melbourne has to offer and create some unforgettable memories?
Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Explained
Have you heard of the BIG changes coming to the CCS this July? Read on for a breakdown of all the CCS changes and how they’ll affect your budget.
Enrolling your little one into childcare can be stressful for parents, so government subsidies are often the last thing on your mind. However, the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is a Federal Government subsidy you should know about. The CCS cuts out a large part of your childcare fees which will result in significant savings for families in the cost of childcare.
These payments scale depending on your combined family income and currently cover up to 85% of your childcare fees – increasing to 90% in July 2023!
In this post, we give an overview of the CCS, how it’s calculated and how it’ll change in 10 July 2023.
How Does the Current CCS Payment Work?
Currently, the Federal Government assists families with childcare payments in the form of the CCS. This payment is made directly to childcare providers, like Explorers, who then pass it on to families as a fee reduction. These payments scales depending on your combined family income:
|Your Family Income||Child Care Subsidy %|
|$0 – $72,466||85%|
|More than $72,466 to below $177,466||Between 85% and 50% – the percentage goes down by 1% for every $3,000 of income your family earns|
|$177,466 to below $256,756||50%|
|$256,756 to below $346,756||Between 50% and 20% – the percentage goes down by 1% for every $3,000 of income your family earns|
|$346,756 to below $356,756||20%|
|$356,756 or more||0%|
However, a change to the current CCS payment will take effect on 10 July 2023 which will have significant changes to your CCS payments.
Changes to the CCS
The Federal Government is altering the CCS to make childcare more accessible for families. From 10 July 2023, the way CCS is calculated based on your family income will change.
However, be sure to remember that the discount will also be affected by factors such as session hours, session fees, CCS hourly cap, and hours/percentage entitlements.
The new CCS system is as follows:
|Your Family Income||Child Care Subsidy %|
|$80,000 or less||90%|
|Between $80,000 – $530,000||Between 90% and 0% – decreasing 1% for every $5,000 your family earns|
Additionally, if you have more than one child aged 5 or under in care, you can still get a higher rate for second and younger children. In other words, your first child will be calculated at the ‘standard rate’ for your family income bracket, but any additional children may be calculated at the ‘higher rate’ if:
- You get or will be eligible for CCS.
- Your family’s combined income is under $362,408.
- You have more than one CCS eligible child aged 5, or younger.
- Your higher rate child or children are using childcare.
Your activity level refers to the numbers of hours of subsidised childcare your family can access per week. Activity level can include any of the following:
- Paid work (including being self-employed).
- Paid or unpaid leave, including paid or unpaid parental or maternity leave.
- Unpaid work experience or unpaid internship.
- Actively setting up a business.
Activity level can also include:
- An approved course of education or study.
- Training to improve work skills or employment prospects.
- Actively looking for work.
- Volunteering and other activities on a case-by-case basis.
Importantly, some activities are only recognised for a certain amount of time:
- Periods of unpaid leave for up to six months – this doesn’t apply to unpaid parental leave.
- Setting up a business for six months out of every twelve months.
There are four activity levels:
|Activity level each fortnight||Hours of subsidised care each fortnight|
|Less than 8 hours||0 hours if you earn above $72,466|
24 hours if you earn $72,466 or below
|More than 8 to 16 hours||36 hours|
|More than 16 to 48 hours||72 hours|
|More than 48 hours||100 hours|
You can access up to 36 hours of subsidised childcare per fortnight if your only activity is either:
- actively looking for work
To access this amount, you must spend a minimum of 8 hours each fortnight doing the activity.
CCS Hourly Cap
The maximum hourly rate the Government will subsidise is based on the type of childcare service. In 2023, the maximum hourly rate for Centre-based long day care, such as Explorers, is $12.74.
Importantly, there is currently no annual cap for childcare.
Explorers and the CCS
To qualify for the CSS, you must have a MyGov account and complete a CCS assessment. Additionally, your MyGov account must be linked to Centrelink to qualify for, and receive, the CCS.
You can register for a MyGov account here.
As mentioned previously, the CCS is paid directly to the Centre and is based on your child’s attendance records. The gap between the Centre’s daily charge and the CCS will be payable by the family via direct debit.
If you already receive CCS, these changes will automatically come into effect as of 10 July 2023. You don’t need to do anything, just make sure your family income estimates are accurate and to regularly update them if your circumstances change.
For more information on the changes to the CCS, please visit the Department of Education website for an in-depth factsheet. Otherwise, you can always contact our Family Support Team at 1300 000 335 or visit our Family Support Portal.
Healthy (and Tasty) Easter Treats for Children
Easter is a time for family, fun, and treats! However, it’s also a time where we can get carried away with sugar-filled, highly processed chocolates. Read on for our comprehensive list of 7 creative treats for your child’s basket this Easter!
Easter is a time for family, fun, and of course, treats! A little chocolate won’t hurt, but it’s easy to get carried away and load up the little one’s baskets with sugar-filled, highly processed eggs and chocolate bunnies.
If you’re looking for a healthier option this year, there are plenty of creative options for making an Easter basket that’s still filled with fun and tasty treats. Here are seven healthy Easter treats for your child’s basket!
1. Rabbit-Shaped Sandwiches
Sandwiches are a great way to get creative while also providing a healthy meal for the little ones. Simply use a bunny-shaped cookie cutter over multigrain sandwiches filled with delicious fillings like ham, turkey, cheese and plenty of veggies.
You can also incorporate the Easter theme into the fillings like egg salad, cucumbers and shredded carrot! Feel free to make them as creative as possible, as children are more likely to engage with healthy eating when it’s colourful and fun.
2. Carrots and Hummus
Carrots are a fitting snack for Easter, as they’re the Easter Bunny’s favourite treat. Experiment with veggies to make little bunnies, creative platters or baby carrot flowerpots. Additionally, hummus comes in a range of flavours and variations for even the fussiest of eaters.
Best of all, hummus is full of nutrients, fibre and protein which are essential for growing bodies. If you’re going for storebought, just avoid anything too spicy for the little ones! There’s loads of recipes online to make your own, which can be a wonderful bonding experience.
3. Fresh Fruit
Fill your child’s Easter basket with a variety of colourful fruits, such as sliced apples, bananas, oranges, berries or grapes. Fresh fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are vital to children’s physical and psychological development.
Additionally, fruits – especially grapes and berries – are naturally sweet, making them a great alternative to lollies and chocolate. Just add a small container of grapes or berries to your child’s basket, or even freeze them for a fun and refreshing treat.
Popcorn is an underrated healthy snack. It can be salty or sweet and it’s full of fibre and important antioxidants. Pop or your own or opt for store bought, just be sure to read the labels carefully. Many store-bought popcorns are filled with sugar, butter and salt.
You can then portion out the popcorn and get decorative with colourful packaging, ribbons and cards!
5. Homemade Easter Treats
Children love helping out in the kitchen – they just don’t like to clean up the mess! Get the little ones involved in the kitchen to make a whole range of healthy easter treats such as carrot cake bites, hot cross buns, muffins, biscuits, banana bread, energy balls or fruit leather.
This is a great way to get creative in the kitchen while also providing children with a healthier alternative to store-bought treats that are often filled with loads of sugar and nasty preservatives.
6. Chocolate Covered Fruit
Remember, creating a healthy Easter basket is all about balance and moderation. Therefore, coating healthier foods like strawberries, bananas, kiwi fruit or watermelon is a great way to get the best of both worlds. It’s still chocolate, but not in the dense blocks or eggs you’ll find in a typical Easter basket.
This is also a great opportunity to get creative with platters, colours and designs. And remember – you don’t need to cover the entire fruit. A half-covered strawberry or the tip of a mandarin slice is a tasteful, and aesthetic, way to manage your child’s chocolate intake.
7. Sugar-free Chocolate
If pure chocolate is a must, consider a sugar-free (or low sugar) option. These are made with natural sweeteners such as stevia, without comprising the taste. The lack of sugar will result in less hyperactivity, sugar crashes, and trips to the dentist in the long term.
In recent years, sugar-free alternatives to everyday treats have exploded in popularity. Most supermarkets now stock ample sugar-free and low sugar alternatives in their health food aisles.
Just remember to always get your little one to brush after eating even these sugar-free treats. For tips on how to get your little one brushing, check out our blog post here.
Overall, Easter baskets don’t have to be a pit of sugar-filled, processed chocolate and sweets. In fact, they’re an opportunity to teach children about healthy eating and to broaden their palette. Through a mixture of homemade and storebought Easter basket treats, you can ensure your child indulges their sweet tooth.
7 Ways to Manage Separation Anxiety in Childcare
Is your little one struggling with separation anxiety? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Read on for our list of 7 strategies to help manage the transition into childcare.
Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development and can be just as stressful for parents as it is for children. It’s not uncommon for the little ones to experience separation anxiety during the transition to starting childcare.
As children develop and grow, they become more aware of their surroundings and develop a strong attachment to their primary caregiver (i.e. you). This attachment provides them with a sense of safety and security, making them feel protected and loved. Therefore, when a child is separated from their caregiver, they may feel uncertain, scared or anxious.
Rest assured, this usually doesn’t last long as children adapt to their settings quicker than you might think. However, having a structured plan in place to manage this transition can do wonders in saving you and your little one the unnecessary stress.
In this post, we list seven ways to help your child cope with separation anxiety.
1. Explain What Will Happen
It’s important that your child understands where they are, why you’re leaving and that you’ll come back. Tell them that they’ll play their favourite game with their friends, have a tasty lunch and get to play outside.
Additionally, let them know what time you’ll come to pick them up. You don’t have to give them the exact minute, but something as simple as ‘I’ll be back to pick you up after afternoon tea’ can mean the world to a child. Likewise, a settled routine can make the transition into care, primary school or just visiting friends much easier for children who thrive on structure and predictability.
2. Create a Goodbye Routine
Developing a special goodbye routine with your little one every time you drop off can do wonders in easing separation anxiety. This could include a special handshake, a hug, a kiss or anything that’s meaningful to you and your child. Establishing a consistent routine can help your child feel more secure and less anxious when you leave.
3. Speak with the Centre Team
Our Educators are knowledgeable, understanding and, most of all, caring! They understand that while many children ease into care seamlessly, others require a gentler transition process. Together with your child’s Room Leader, you can develop a plan to help your child adjust.
This could include providing extra attention and reassurance during the transition period, phone calls to your child’s room to check in with the Educators, and plenty of positive encouragement and praise throughout the day from both parents and Educators alike.
4. Establish Familiarity
Some families may choose to start with bookings of just two or three days a week to ease their child into care. However, more days early on builds consistency and fast tracks a child’s familiarity with their new environment.
When commencing at Explorers, all children attend an Orientation Session to familiarise themselves with the Educators, environment and other children. If you feel your child needs more time, you can book an extra Orientation Session to help your child further adjust to their new learning spaces.
Additionally, research has shown that familiarity is perhaps the most important factor for reducing stress during periods of separation, as ‘at around 10 months, most babies get upset if a stranger comes up to them in an unfamiliar room. Only 50% get upset if they have time to get used to the room. This means that in new situations, babies cope better when they come across new things gradually.’
Before commencing care, you can also practise time apart at home by leaving your child with a family member for increasing amounts of time, ‘I’m just going into the garden for a bit. Pop will look after you while I’m gone.’
5. Provide Comfort Items
A comfort item, such as a stuffed animal or favourite blanket, can help your child feel more secure about entering an unfamiliar environment. It’s like taking a little bit of home with them. Therefore, comfort items provide children a sense of reassurance and companionship, which can help them calm down, sleep and even join in on activities.
Be sure to provide plenty of positive attention and encouragement for your little one’s comfort item, whether it be a teddy, a blanket or even a piece of clothing.
6. Stay Calm and Be Patient
It’s important to be patient when dealing with even the most anxious child, even if their crying and tantrums are making you anxious. Reacting with frustration or being negative about their experience will only make the situation more challenging. Moreover, be relaxed and cheerful so your child knows they’re somewhere safe, as children have a remarkable ability to identify – and imitate – the actions of adults.
7. Keep Goodbyes Short and Sweet
Kiss and go. Lingering with your child will only prolong the experience and can make it worse for the both of you. If you feel your child is really struggling to adapt their new play space, try and spend a little time with them doing something they enjoy in the room or outside at pick up to help them feel more comfortable and confident.
When to Seek Help for Separation Anxiety
Although separation anxiety usually goes away on its own, it’s important to be aware that it can develop into Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD). This disorder develops when it:
- interferes with your child’s life and your family life.
- is more severe than the anxiety of other children the same age.
- has gone on for at least 4 weeks.
If you’re concerned about your child’s separation anxiety, it’s important to speak with your child’s healthcare provider or your Centre Leadership Team for guidance and support.
In conclusion, separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development. While it can be challenging, there are several things that you can do to help manage separation anxiety and make the transition smoother. By establishing a consistent routine, gradually increasing separation time and providing reassurance, you can ease your child’s anxiety and build their confidence for childcare, primary school and the world beyond.
Why is My Toddler Hitting Others?
Is your toddler going through a hitting phase? Read on for the science behind why this is normal – and how to deal with it.
Watching your toddler hitting, pushing or even biting their peers can be embarrassing and stressful for first-time and veteran parents alike. What follows is often guilt, anger and that nagging imposter syndrome – am I a bad parent?
The short answer is no. You’re not a bad parent if you catch your toddler hitting or pushing others. In fact, it’s a common phase in early childhood.
In this post, we look at the science behind why your toddler may be hitting others, and some ways to use this as a learning opportunity to teach boundaries, social skills and emotional regulation.
The development of empathy is a major factor in toddler hitting. In short, empathy is the capacity to understand the feelings of others and to put yourself into their shoes.
However, a common misconception is that empathy is genetic. This is untrue. Rather, empathy is a skill that must be taught, practised and developed over time.
Studies show that toddlers begin developing genuine empathy at around two years old. This can take many forms after a child sees another in distress, including:
- Offering to share their food.
- Giving them a toy or comfort item.
- Hugging or showing affection.
- Reacting in distress themselves.
However, developing empathy sometimes causes toddlers to lash out. For example, if another child has a sore stomach and is showing clear signs of pain (facial expressions, crying, holding their stomach), a toddler may actually hit the child in the stomach. Yet, this isn’t an act of malice or cruelty. Rather, the toddler doesn’t understand how to approach the situation that’s made them feel uncomfortable, resulting in ‘aggression’ towards the problem area.
2. Sensory Exploration
Children love to touch, see and smell the world around them. This is a result of their developing neurochemistry, as they begin to create a more three-dimensional understanding of their environment.
However, they still lack proper social skills and spatial awareness. Therefore, children may ‘squeeze, pinch, push, and kick other children’ to experience their surroundings and participate in social interactions in the only way they know how.
It’s important to understand that children aren’t pushing out of cruelty. Dr. Gwen Dewar put it best, suggesting this sort of behaviour reflects a lack of impulse control, rather than malice.
Likewise, children are essentially powerless. Beyond being physically small, they lack the financial, intellectual and social means to exert any real power over the world around them, and this continues well into childhood and adolescence. Therefore, when toddlers exert power over another and get a real reaction, it’s mind-blowing for them.
Dr Laura Markham outlines how this feeling of power is key to why your child is acting out:
They are learning how to have an impact on the world, which means they are learning how to use power. So, they experiment with physical force, to see what happens. Add to this a child who is physically larger than his peers, and you get a kid who is likely to experiment with using physical force against others.
4. Managing Toddler Hitting
Firstly, try not to punish them. This can be difficult as parents tend to react with anger or shame if their child hits or pushes another, which is understandable. Likewise, we tend to view toddler hitting from our adult point-of-view, where such acts are unthinkable in everyday social situations.
However, this intense reaction is likely to have the opposite effect, according to Dr. Markham:
Punishing him won’t help the situation because it just teaches him that bigger people can use force on smaller people, which is exactly what you’re trying to show him is not ok.
Rather, it’s more effective to have a calm – but firm – talk with your child. Dr. Markham recommends removing your child from the situation immediately and taking the opportunity to explain why hitting others is never okay. Additionally, she suggests that preparing children in advance can be helpful, as overstimulation and unpredictability are common causes for overstepping boundaries.
If you get mad, you tell me, and I will help you, ok? If you forget and push, we will need to stop having fun and leave right away. So, let’s remember to keep our hands on our own bodies and have fun with the other boys, ok?
Lastly, demonstrating empathy for the hurt child is a subtle way of implying disapproval of your child’s actions.
Oh no, poor Charlie is crying. I think that really upset him.
5. Be Patient
Overall, it’s important to understand that this is a phase that toddlers outgrow as their empathy and social awareness develop. Yet, it can still be a particularly challenging time for parents due to complicated emotions and social embarrassment (nobody wants to be that parent with the pushy child).
Rest assured – it will pass. You’re not a bad parent and your child isn’t a monster. They’re just learning how to navigate a world filled with social cues, interactions, conventions and unspoken rules that even adults sometimes forget.
They’ll learn and become better for it. Just remember to stay calm, don’t overthink it and give yourself some credit – you’re doing great!