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Merino Court Child Care Centre's September Newsletter

September 2020

Greetings

Hello everyone, welcome to our September newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community.
This month we’re examining the role technology has played in early childhood education and care settings over the course of the pandemic.

Send us an email to let us know what you think of this newsletter. We would love to hear any suggestions, which articles you enjoyed, and what you would like to see more of.

Topic of the month - Virtual... the new reality in early childhood education?

Amidst the turbulent landscape of 2020, there has been much shifting and adjusting in many areas of life. More people than ever have settled into working from home. General cold and flu symptoms have reportedly lessened over the winter, thanks to social distancing and regimented hand-sanitising. But one thing no-one could have imagined was how humans would come to rely so heavily on technology in these strange times. 

Education has changed dramatically over the last century. It’s all in the attitude. The world began to shift from a place where children are seen, not heard, to a more contemporary and collaborative style of educating. Where children’s input is valued and encouraged. Early childhood educators have come to understand that learning doesn’t need to be one way. It can instead, be reciprocal, an enriching experience for everyone involved, as children often remind us there is much we can learn from them.

Then came the introduction of the internet, along with widespread access to wifi, which has been a game-changer over the last couple of decades. 

Already in effect amongst teenagers and adults for some time now, online content and delivery has become standard practice. Highschool kids drag their laptops along to school each day and are being offered certain subjects online. You can get a university degree, or operate a business from your living room with little more than a wifi connection. But it took a worldwide pandemic to force the early childhood sector to re-think their approach to teaching and learning too. Sure, there’s been technology use in early learning services previously… light research undertaken by children to support a segment of learning; apps used to document a child’s learning journey in care; but overall, not a great deal more than that. Until now.

For many months, online technologies have greatly supported a curriculum where young children have accessed learning from home. Zoom classes, video lessons, online tasks set for completion with educators encouraging from a distance. A significant shift - arguably fundamental to families during a pandemic. 

Whether you thrive or scrabble with technology (or home learning), it seems that it’s here to stay in some way, shape or form. This year, many social aspects of the classroom environment have been disrupted (and in some places, continue to be), with children learning alone or alongside family members in their homes. The availability of technology has allowed many children to remain connected to educators and peers. Maintaining human contact, a routine, a social presence, a feeling of normality, and even a continuity of learning throughout a time of much uncertainty. 

At the time of writing this article, childcare services in Melbourne are currently closed (*for everyone except the children of essential workers, that obtain a permit) for a six week lock-down period and similar stories are being heard from across the world. No doubt, managing any job whilst caring for young children at home is an incredibly tricky juggle, but let’s appreciate the fact that the services offering online support to families home with children, are able to do so thanks to advances in technology. Going back even twenty years, this simply wouldn't have been an option. Families would have been entirely on their own, with no support. 

As in all things, there’s more than one way to view a topic. While the increased use of technology has proven to be an unexpected light throughout a dark time, simply put, technology requires management. Management implemented and overseen by both educators and families. Access to technology requires supervision and time limits, combined with a well-balanced mixture of activities and experiences. For some children a heavy reliance on technology can be too much to cope with, the mental stimulation overwhelming. It’s the unfortunate burden that accompanies technology use. With awareness, however, you can get the balance right, meaning that efforts made can instead be viewed as beneficial and worth persevering. This is the balance we should all be aiming for. According to the Raising Children Network "Screen time and screen use can be part of a healthy lifestyle" as long as "children enjoy lots of healthy, fun activities, both with and without screens, including physical activity, reading, creative play and social time with family and friends".

As this pandemic continues globally, virtual education has gradually become “normal” for families and educators alike, with educators becoming more innovative in their teachings. This process will no doubt be finessed over time, but the question is, going forward, to what extent will remote learning be part of educational curriculums in the future? Yet to be seen, we watch with enthusiasm.

To help perfect the balance between technology and technology-free activities, below is a list of both, to highlight how the two areas can successfully complement one another. A combination of indoors and outdoors, creativity, social experiences and physical activity blended with calmer, downtime. Pick your favourites to share with your family.

Online options for children

National Geographic Kids
Satisfy curious minds with fun, online resources and quirky facts. 

Little Pim
The best time to learn a language is under the age of six! Little Pim offers twelve languages to select from, along with parent/teacher guides. Ni Hao. Konnichi wa. Hola!

#Metkids
While the Metropolitan Museum of Art is all the way in New York, the web allows us to access incredible things the world over, and this museum has a reputation like no other museum! The #metkids site has been designed by kids, for kids. So check it out to see what you can find and learn!

Reading Eggs
Used in Australian schools. Learn to read in a fun, enjoyable way with virtual rewards (eggs) along the journey. Ages 2-13.

Khan Academy
Partnering with the likes of NASA, the Museum of Modern Art, and MIT, Khan Academy is a free global classroom with lessons in every subject!

Daisy the Dinosaur
An app that helps children as young as four learn the basic concepts behind coding.

Sum Dog
Maths and spelling for ages 5-11. Interactive content and fun games using clever coding to personalise the experience.

MoMA
Visit MoMA to Introduce a love of modern art at a young age. Pop online to find free children’s activities, questions and discussion points for chatting to kids about art.

BorrowBox
Local libraries in some communities have gone online. Your membership stands, to borrow your fill of ebooks and audio books, but it’s now online. A great option if you’re stuck at home. Enquire at your library if this is an initiative they support.

Geocaching
Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt using a GPS enabled device - like a smart phone - to find a geocache (or hidden treasure) anywhere in the world. Go on an adventure, following the coordinates to find what has been hidden - by someone exactly like you. Look for the Geocaching app on either Google Play or the App Store to get started.

Offline options for children

Kiwi Co
If you’ve not yet discovered the magic of Kiwi Co, you’re in for a treat! A subscription crate that arrives in a whirl of excitement each month, for your child to get stuck into - ideally with a family member joining in. Science/STEM, culture, art…  so whether they’re learning about a destination, creating a succulent garden out of felt, or making an infinity mirror,  there’s a box to fit every child’s interests.

Music classes
Whether it’s basic piano lessons, or dancing to rhythmic beats with colourful scarves and maracas, search for music lessons in your area. You might be surprised at what your local community centre or library is offering.

Activity cards
This one requires nothing but imagination and a big heart! Ideally, you’ll make the cards for a period of time - say 12 months. Start with twelve sheets of paper and twelve envelopes. On each, note a different quality-time activity to enjoy with your child. This could be anything from a library visit, to building a lego fortress. Seal each in their envelope, then label the front with your child’s name and the date they should open them (eg/ one each month for the next year). Keep them somewhere special, and let your child open their activity 

Shadow drawing
All you need for this activity is a sheet of paper, some figurines (dinosaurs are a great example), coloured pencils, pastels or any art medium, and some sunshine! Pick a sunny place and lay the figurines out so their shadows are cast onto the paper and encourage your child to sketch them. Not only a quick and easy art activity, it also introduces the topic of light and dark to your child.

Zoo membership
A zoo membership is an incredible gift to your child. While the link provided is for Adelaide Zoo, the pass allows multi-access to many zoo’s across the country. Even if you aren’t a local to any  zoo listed, they present fantastic holiday opportunities, support the animals & scientific research, and most come with a magazine subscription. Worth checking out!

Sea-tree walks
Wherever you live, there’s bound to be somewhere nearby that would make a wonderful, outdoorsy adventure for your family. Whether it’s discovering new places, admiring scenery, getting fit and healthy, or setting-up a nature scavenger hunt (find a purple flower and a spiky leaf)… you know best how to sell the adventure to your child! If you can’t think of anywhere off the top of your head, ask friends for recommendations, or contact your local council.

National Geographic Kids - subscription
A subscription to Nat Geo provides a magazine, each month, for 12(+) months. Not only teaching your child about the environment, science, history and culture in a fun-filled way, but a Nat Geo subscription also supports the work of National Geographic’s scientists, explorers and educators around the world. 

Fruit faces & bodies
A great activity leading up to morning or afternoon tea! You’ll need a selection of dried fruit, fresh fruit or cut-up veggies and the outline of a face or body (the best option for re-use is a laminated version). Have your child decorate the body parts or facial features, while helping them name each part, then eat their creations! Great for discussions about healthy eating and nutrition.  

Art Gallery of NSW
Tours for Tots program for children aged 3-5 years and their carers (*Check whether running during COVID). If you’re not a local to this art gallery, check out what a gallery or museum closer to you has on offer for children and families. Many, like NVG (National Gallery of Victoria) are very welcoming of children.

Small-world activities
Introducing your child to elements of the world in bite-sized chunks that entertain as well as educate. There’s no right or wrong way, and a small-world play activity can be as detailed as you wish… or simple as you have time for. An example might be “On the farm”. Use a tray or tub. Fill it with rice, corn kernels, or any ingredient that may represent a farm, but provides some sensory enjoyment when trailed through little fingers. Add some farm animal figurines, maybe include some long grass or a piece of blue material to represent a pond, and include a book about a farm to tie it all together. There are endless possibilities!

Childcare development

0-12 month development

Eczema In Infants

Author: Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Baby or infantile eczema most commonly in the first six months of the baby’s life. It shows up as red, itchy and inflamed skin and can be incredibly uncomfortable.

While allergies and a dry climate can cause eczema, it is thought that the condition is most-often inherited genetically. Breastfeeding can help with eczema and nutrition, as long as a mother does not ingest anything her child is allergic to.

Unfortunately, there is no simple cure for eczema. However, improving hygiene, as well as using emollients and corticosteroid topical treatments can help. It is important to visit your doctor if you fear your child has eczema.

 

Refer to the original article to learn how to deal with baby/infantile eczema. 

1-2 year development

When Do Babies Usually Start Walking?

Author: Kate Kelly and Nicole Harris

A child's first year is full of milestones, but the most anticipated and exciting milestone is often walking. This is because the ability to move around swiftly and independently allows your child to interact and explore the world in a whole new way.

Usually, children take their first steps after their first 9 -15 months. However, It is important to understand that children develop at different speeds. You need not worry if a child is not able to walk on his/her own at the age of 1.

Otherwise, if you are looking to help a child learn to walk, avoid holding them back with cumbersome shoes. Babies prefer walking barefoot and struggle in big, heavy footgear.

 

Refer to the original article to learn how you can help your child will start walking.  

2-3 year development

Co-Sleeping Is Not Working For My Family

Author: Erin Washington

Many parents celebrate when their babies finally sleep through the night in their crib. However, this may not be the end. The sleepless nights may return.

Around the age of 2, many toddlers begin making their way to their parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night. And while many parents enjoy sleeping with their children at first, filling your bed with one or two extra bodies can quickly become a problem.

Toddlers tend to move and squirm when they sleep. Ultimately, co-sleeping will result in sleepless nights unless you can sleep through flying elbows, scratching toenails, and backhands to the face.

Read on if you relate with the issue.

3-4 year development

Building Your Child's Social Skills From Home

Author: Jenna Autuori Dedic

2020 has been a crazy year. The reality of the global pandemic means that many children have become isolated, or at least socialised less than they otherwise would have. This presents parents with an opportunity to develop social skills at home. 

While the development of social skills without the help of classmates and peers seems tricky, some activities will keep your kids socially engaged at home. 

These activities include perspective talking, character play, taking turns and even virtual video call playdates. Ultimately, you need to create social situations in your home and use these situations to teach social skills.

 

Continue reading for further information about teaching social skills at home.

4-5 year development

Life Skills You Should Teach Your Kids

Author: Apryl Ducan 

Life skills are the most valuable skills children need to learn. They will be used throughout your children’s’ lives, teaching them how to handle real-world situations in a healthy manner.

One can improve many life skills, including critical decision making, effective health and hygiene, efficient time management, and even meal and money management skills.

It can be of great benefit to starting these lessons early. Most children only begin to grasp life skills around high-school age, making this a possible area for your child to gain an advantage.

Refer to the original article to understand how you can help your children learn life skills.

Development of boys

Boys Who Don't Read 'Girl Books' Miss Out On More Than Just Stories

Author: Kasey Edwards

Belinda Murrell, an international bestselling and award-winning children’s author has noticed that boys generally avoid books with female protagonists. On the other hand, girls read books with both male and female protagonists.

She believes that the gender gatekeepers of books are often librarians, teachers and parents who make assumptions about which books are for girls and which books are for boys. 

Furthermore, young boys are often socialised to avoid items that are ‘for girls’. A book with a female protagonist on the cover, or simply featuring ‘girl colours’ such as pink, purple or pastels will most likely be avoided by boys. 

 

Continue reading to learn more about the effects of your child’s reading habits.

Development of girls

Are Girls Better at Reading Than Boys, or are the Tests Painting a False Picture?

Author: Oddny Judith Solheim

Girls outperform boys in school reading tests. However, by the time the same children become young adults, there is no longer a difference between men’s and women’s reading test scores. 

The reading tests analysed children’s understanding of various texts, measuring how they extract information, draw simple conclusions, compare information, and assess language. And regardless of which of these aspects is being measured, girls perform best.

And in all the aforementioned areas, girls performed boys. However, some believe that this phenomenon can be explained by the way these reading tests are administered.

 

Continue reading to learn about the young learner’s reading abilities.

Craft Corner: Special Sports Fun 

Star Wars Crafts for Kids

The new Star Wars movies have created a new space craze. Entertain your little ones with one of these cute crafts. From Baby Yoda keyrings to paper plate BB-8 Droids and even DIY princess Leia costumes, your Stars Wars craft options are endless.

 

Read on for further instructions

Yarn-Wrapped Initials

Create cute yarn-wrapped initials. This craft is a useful educational tool, reinforcing the alphabet. However, it is also easy to make, and a fun piece of art for kids to display on a shelf or bedroom wall. Your kids can make one initial, or spell their whole name.

 

Detailed instructions provided here

Make a DIY Lego table

This craft will see you doing all the work, but the result will be a dream lego station for your children. Give your children a dedicated space to build and store their lego. Your kids will absolutely love it, while you will benefit less mess. 

 

Follow the steps to create your very own stickers.

Talking Paper Fish Craft

This silly craft is slightly challenging, but the result is well worth the effort. All you need is a few sheets of colourful paper, patience and a steady hand for folding. In the end, you are left with a beautiful origami fish, who’s mouth can move.

 

Refer to the original article for exact directions.

 

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