Hello everyone, welcome to our May newsletter! Within our childcare community, we’re very settled and enjoying life amongst our early learners! This month we’re digging into skills learnt outside the classroom environment. While early childhood education is an important piece of the puzzle for inquisitive young minds, development and growth is holistic.
In conjunction with early childhood education comes a wide range of activities available in your local community that can enhance your child’s learning journey.
Let’s explore the best options to make the most of this with your little one.
Topic of the month - Mastering life skills... outside the classroom
With unlimited advantages for society’s youngest members, early years education is held in high regard. Especially by those with children that have reaped - or are currently reaping - the benefits. Ranging immensely from social and emotional growth, to laying academic groundwork and providing support around developmental milestones. Plus fun! Let’s not forget fun!
But without undermining the essential place early childhood education holds in the lives of young children, it should be said that not everything can be taught at school. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day! Luckily, educational opportunities are all around us. There are activities galore to choose from within most local communities (*within reason… not every child will make the ski team, unless they’re lucky enough to live in a snowy area of the world!) So it’s worth some exploration to see which activities are out there, and exactly what their benefits are. Therefore ensuring your child gains invaluable skills that will stay with them for life.
Advantages of extracurricular activities
Children who have the opportunity to participate in a number of extracurricular activities outside of daycare or preschool - like sport, music or drama - are open to a whole range of benefits. This can include -
Building skills In addition to building skills within a specific area, extracurricular activities are great for developing general skills - both academic and general life skills - like debating for public speaking or sport for teamwork. Balancing a number of activities can help improve time management skills. Perseverance teaches a child that if they stick at something and keep practicing, they’ll improve and finding an activity a child excels at can boost self-confidence.
Getting physical Weekly activities offer children the chance to get outside in the fresh air and get some essential exercise. Keeping fit and ensuring things like gross motor skills are developed, is essential for holistic growth. It can also have the added benefit limiting time spent in front of a TV or screen.
New interests While traditional education offers a wide range of learning areas, extracurricular activities allow children to explore an interest in depth. Perhaps even finding a completely new area of interest that they would never have been exposed to otherwise.
Social opportunities Being part of a team offers your child a sense of belonging and the opportunity to interact amongst children with similar interests. There’s the potential to build new friendships or social circles outside of daycare or preschool, and learning to make friends is a life skill that everyone needs. Teamwork Whether it’s a consolidated team, or a group like swim club where everyone competes separately but cheers their mates on, teamwork is a skill that is useful for all stages of life. Learning about encouragement, support, turn-taking, or diplomatically knowing when to step back if the situation requires it, teamwork in an extracurricular activity can be great practice for future situations at school or work.
Where do I start?
We’ve put together a selection of categories, outlining some of the many benefits of each. This way you can work out the skills you wish to prioritise in your family, and from there, choose the perfect extracurricular activity (or activities!) for your child to accomplish this!
Sport Most sports teach children how to work together and be part of a team. Fine motor skills, patience and respect are also valuable lessons learnt through sports.
Dancing Focus on - Perseverance Fitness and being active Confidence Teamwork Following directions
Circus Skills classes Focus on - Taking calculated risks - assessing risk and minimising danger Pushing outside of comfort zones Concentration Teamwork Perseverance Rock climbing Focus on - Leadership Fitness and being active Safety for self and others Teamwork and the ability trust in others
Soccer Focus on - Teamwork Agility Fitness and being active Team spirit and sportsmanship Gross motor
BMX or mountain bike riding Focus on - Perseverance Agility Fitness and being active Team spirit and sportsmanship
Martial arts / self defense Focus on - Courage, bravery and support Social skills Fitness and being active - body and mind Confidence Self-awareness
Swimming Focus on - Safety around water Confidence Perseverance Fitness and being active Team spirit and sportsmanship
Kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding Focus on - Safety around water Agility Fitness and being active Confidence Perseverance Gross motor
Gymnastic / Baby gym Focus on - Fitness and being active Gross motor Following directions
Creativity It’s amazing how many things you can learn from being creative. Creativity can lead to ideas, discoveries and is the essence of real play.
Pottery classes Focus on - Concentration Following directions Imagination and creativity Calm & clarity - mindfulness Fine motor - strengthening muscles in hands & wrists Achievement Confidence
Painting or drawing classes Focus on - Concentration Following directions Imagination and creativity Calm & clarity - mindfulness Fine motor - strengthening muscles in hands & wrists Achievement Confidence
Literature / reading Focus on - Exploration Imagination and creativity Developing language Communication Reading to children is just the beginning of a magical world that awaits them when they discover this skill for themselves.
Music Learning an instrument can teach children about long-term accomplishments that can manifest through dedication, hard work and practice.
Singing lessons Focus on - Using music as a way of managing anxiety Channeling and recognising strong emotion Developing emotional intelligence Confidence Teamwork - the option to join a choir or singing group Learn an instrument Focus on - Using music as a way of managing anxiety Confidence Teamwork - the option to join the school band, local orchestra or similar While a traditional teacher who specialises in an instrument will never be replaced, apps on the market are able to give children a great start and test out whether there’s an interest there. Simply Piano is a great example of this.
Language Communicating globally is even easier to achieve if we could all learn a second language.
Learning a language Focus on - Communication Enhance problem solving skills Improve Verbal abilities Improve Memory Enhanced creative thinking
There are so many apps on the market to get your child started on a second language. Here’s anarticlethat suggests some options.
Nature There is so much we can learn about ourselves and the environment through exploration of the great outdoors
Wild play - forest schools / bush schools Focus on - Being in nature Respect the environment Taking calculated risks - assessing risk and minimising danger Collaboration Fitness and being active Problem solving
National parks hikes and walking trails Focus on - Being in nature Fitness and being active Respect the environment Exploration Endurance
Riding bikes & scooters Focus on - Balance Fitness and being active Gross motor
Science An area that can open children up to the possibility of unexplored paths, new ways of thinking and a future in a tech-obsessed world.
STEM or STEAM clubs / Subscriptions Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics (STEAM includes Art) Focus on - Wonder, excitement, Commitment and dedication Independent working - or great teamwork with an adult or friend Develop an interest in coding and I.T skills with hands-on learning opportunities. Spark an interest in an unexpected career path.
Companies likeKiwi Coare excelling in this area. Monthly boxes delivered to your door for your child to explore.
Drama Develop self confidence, giving a child courage to speak up in group situations and believe in themself.
Drama classes Focus on - Foster confidence Leadership skills Preparation for public speaking - whether this is in school or beyond
Theatre / acting Focus on - Foster confidence Leadership skills Local theatre companies often run programs for children where they have the opportunity to perform in productions. Enquire in your local area.
Educational Clubs Teach children the importance of life and survival skills that aren’t always the focus in schools.
Scouts, girl guides or brownies Focus on - Fitness and being active Explore nature and respect the environment Set goals and be challenged Social skills Independence Consideration for others Problem solving Craft and cooking tasks
Sea Scouts Focus on - Fitness and being active - learn to sail Developing confidence around water Fitness and being active Independence Teamwork Duke of Edinburgh award Focus on - Native wildlife and conservation skills Leadership skills Independence
Animals Children learn compassion when caring for another.
Owning a pet Focus on - Compassion and kindness Dedication and commitment Longevity. Owning a pet is a long term commitment
Horse Riding Focus on - Compassion Commitment Teamwork Active lifestyle
Daily life skills Life skills that guide children towards becoming valuable and productive members of society.
Cooking classes Focus on - Planning Organising Purchasing food Preparing meals and snacks Learning healthy eating habits Following directions Imagination and creativity Teamwork Safety and responsibility
Sewing or knitting Focus on - Developing fine motor skills Patience Following directions Developing confidence Imagination and creativity
Some families are lucky enough to have a grandparent or another family member who are already great bakers or knit the perfect cosy jumper each winter. If this is you, ask them if they’d be interested in teaching your child! It may even be something you’d be interested to learn too, making the activity something special for you and your child to share!
Play Social skills learnt from a young age prepare children for school and beyond.
Mothers group Focus on - Social skills Independence
Organised through your local community centre after the birth of a child. Usually less focus on organised play, but being part of a group is great for a mother’s mental health, so worth enquiring about - or start your own with a few friends!
Playgroup Focus on - Social skills Curiosity Fine motor and gross motor skills honed through play Independence Learn constructively through play
Let’s get cracking! So, now you’re equipped with a list of ideas and benefits, where are you going to start? We suggest you write down your top five favourite activity ideas. They might not even be on this list. Maybe you played hockey or touch football as a child? Perhaps you came from an artistic family and screen-printing was a favourite past time. Either way, hopefully the idea has been firmly planted that there are incredible benefits to every activity. So do a little research - ask friends, search the internet, enquire at your local community centre - and see what might be on the cards for your little one. You might even have a future competitive flamenco dancer on your hands. Ole!
0-12 month development
Understanding the temperament of your newborn
Parents are ecstatic to have their very own bundle of joy in their arms. However, understanding your baby’s needs by just guessing is a difficult task. In particular, new moms and dads tend to struggle to understand their baby’s temperament and behaviour.
Just like adults, newborns have their own attitudes and temperaments. Initially, it can be difficult to understand your baby. However, as time passes, you will begin to understand your baby’s temperament and everything will start making sense.
Protecting Your Posture: What Parents Need to Know
Author: Vicky Yip
New parents are often unaware of parenting’s physical demands, especially how raising children can affect your posture. The constant strain of lifting, carrying, and even playing can cause repetitive stress injuries.
While babies are light and easy to hold, you are often forced to bend over a crib to pick up your child, leaving your back vulnerable to injury. Furthermore, once a child grows, parents often forget how heavy their little one has become.
Luckily, you can protect yourself by starting strengthening exercises, wearing a posture corrector, adjusting your office setup and/or visiting a chiropractor.
Snacks are generally thought of as unhealthy treats that must be enjoyed in moderation. However, if you choose the right snacks, these treats can actually be an excellent way to enhance a healthy eating plan.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, healthy snacking can help to curb mindless snacking. Instead of reaching for a bag of greasy, sodium-packed chips in between meals, you might choose to have a handful of nuts instead.
Examples of healthy snacks include nut butter, seed butter, yoghurt, protein bars, some pre-packaged fish, cereal, and kale chips.
With many new parents turning into germ and dirt fighting monsters, it can come as a shock that being too clean can be unhealthy. While parents clean to keep their children safe, excessive cleaning can have the opposite effect.
Recently, we have discovered the important role gut microbes have on our health. The understanding is that the more diverse our microbiome, the healthier we are likely to be. And seeing as one teaspoon of dirt contains more microbes than there are people on the planet, dirt may not be that bad after all.
On the other hand, research has shown that children exposed to bleach have an increased risk of infection, while children raised on farms are less likely to have allergies and asthma.
Read on here for an in-depth look at our kids’ health.
4-5 year development
Things to consider before permanently switching to homeschooling
Author: Nicholas Gamble
In 2020, Homeschooling registrations for children in Victoria grew by almost four times the rate of the previous year.
Some families who had children learning from home during lockdown discovered they enjoyed spending more time together and some children found they learnt better at home. Parents may have recognised academic or social challenges for their child at school and decided to continue with homeschooling.
However, even before COVID-19, homeschooling was on the rise. Parents are starting to consider homeschooling because they believe their child/children seem to do better at home. However, some children are not suited to homeschooling and parents need to weigh up what they think will be best.
This fun and budget-friendly craft will live on long after you make it. It is a cool origami-like project that changes as you move it around. Simply flip the card and fold it and the emoji will change. All you need is cardboard, scissors, colours and a glue stick.
Create a monster with nothing but popsicle sticks, glue as well as green, black and white paint. We recommend using recycled popsicle sticks rather than store-bought craft sticks. Doing so turns this craft into an educational activity.
Make simple DIY musical instruments a try that only require a few simple craft supplies. You can make a range of instruments at home including a kazoo, paper plate drum or rainstick. While one can create fun humming music with a Popsicle stick kazoo, a paper plate drum will help your child develop a sense of rhythm.
Pinwheels are incredibly easy to make and will entertain your little ones for hours. And with a printable pinwheel template, you can complete this craft in a matter of minutes. Although your children may struggle to make a pinwheel, they will thoroughly enjoy watching it blow in the wind.