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Merino Court Child Care Centre's June Newsletter

June 2020

June 2020

Greetings

Hello everyone, welcome to our June newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we’ll be focusing on tips and suggestions for staying positive during this strange and uncertain time, when many of you are isolated at home with young children.

This month we’re exploring the benefits of mindfulness. Whether you’re an adult or a child, there has been much consideration into the concept of mindfulness. Carving out time each day to train your mind in the practice of being mindful. Read on to see how effortless this can be, and yet the positive impacts on your mental health - and that of your child - can be monumental.

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!

But first up this month…

Topic of the month - Mindfulness: a superpower.

Author: Brooke James

While much of the world remains lost in the strange no-mans-land of isolation, Australia is gently emerging from this bizarre time and venturing back into society. Cafes and restaurants are once again welcoming customers (albeit in limited numbers); children across the country are heading back to school; socialising with friends is no longer taboo. Our country is finding its feet once more. But not without some casualties.

 

The Black Dog Institute recently produced a report about the mental health ramifications of COVID-19. Noting the potential negative psychological impacts of quarantine. This report urged the consideration of symptoms like “depression, post-traumatic stress, confusion, anger, boredom and loneliness”. Many families faced financial hardship or concerns about employment, and the pressure of co-existing under the one roof for weeks, with no significant break from one another, has taken a toll on many people. Homeschooling alone has driven many parents to the very brink of the abyss… add in a job with work deadlines (and increased device time to assist with said work deadlines), and hey presto, an intense situation is what many of us have been living in. 

 

Children are incredibly perceptive beings and pick-up on stress and worry experienced by the loved ones around them. Especially at a time when emotions have been, understandably high. If all you’ve heard from your child over the last two months was “I’m bored” on endless repeat, count yourself amongst the lucky. For some, their child’s tantrums have ramped up, some are notably more teary and emotional and some have demonstrated signs of anxiety, like trouble falling asleep or a recently escalated aversion to the dark. Even a significant bedtime routine in place doesn’t always do the trick, and much-coveted “adult time” in the evenings has sadly become a thing of the past for many of us. Now. When it’s needed most. Sigh.

 

Although anxiety may be experienced by a number of adults these days, we don’t always consider that children can feel anxious too. Educators have long recognised this - since before isolation began. Many early learning centres and schools offer a period of mindfulness during the day. A few minutes of peace, to recalibrate the body, mind and soul. 

 

The concept of mindfulness is to pay full attention to something. It means slowing, really slowing, down. Noticing what you're doing. Being mindful is the opposite of being in a rush. When you're mindful, you take your time, notice the clouds, smell the flowers, breathe…  When you’re mindful, you’re focused, but in a relaxed and easygoing way. It can have a positive flow-on effect on the rest of your life. Things that perhaps felt overwhelming in the past are no longer things that bother you. Your mind’s coping mechanisms are likely to cope better, and just like regular physical fitness keeps the body performing better, mindfulness, when practised regularly does the same for your mind - and therefore your child’s mind too.

 

This beneficial practice doesn’t require a degree in psychology. Mindfulness can easily be implemented at home, and there are different options for achieving this, completely dependent on what you’re more comfortable with. 

 

According to Kidshealth.org, the benefits of mindfulness are like “superpowers” and include:

- paying attention better

- being less distracted

- learning more

- staying calm under stress

- avoiding getting too upset about things

- slowing down instead of rushing

- listening better to others

- being more patient

- getting along better with others

- feeling happier and enjoying things more

 

If you agree that this is something worth pursuing, below are some different ways to implement mindfulness into the lives of both yourself… and the little human you’re raising.

 

Unplug 
A great way to get started for adults or slightly older children.
Taken from Kidshealth.org - nothing required, bar the five simple steps outlined.

1. Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus your attention on, like a word you repeat in your head or your breathing.

2. Let's say you decided to focus on your breathing. Breathe normally while you simply pay attention to your breath. If you want, you can close your eyes. As you breathe in and out, just notice each breath. Pay attention in an easy way — on purpose, but not forced.

3. Notice when your mind wanders away from paying attention to your breath. Maybe you start thinking about what's for lunch, or whether you remembered to bring your sports gear, or that funny joke someone told earlier. That's your mind wandering and getting distracted. It's natural, minds do that all the time!

4. Whenever you notice your attention has wandered, gently remind yourself to pay attention to breathing again. That's how you train your attention.

5. Keep breathing, keep relaxing, keep paying easy attention to your breathing. Can you feel the place where the air tickles your nostrils? Do you notice how the breath gently moves your body? Can you pay attention to your belly or your chest moving as you breathe? Keep bringing your attention back to the breathing every time your mind wanders. Try to do this for 5 minutes.

Affirmations
Affirmations foster belief in a positive mental attitude. Intended to provide emotional support and encouragement, they’re a lovely way to instil self-confidence and esteem in young minds. Affirmations can be questions (“what made you feel special today?”), activities (like breathing), or statements related to feelings and emotions (“your smile brightens my day” ...awwww).


- Create your own - Make a set out of cardboard as a weekend project. Have your child help decorate them anyway they like.

- Print them off the web - free access to many affirmations online

- Purchase them - Some companies create beautiful, illustrated versions which appeal to children. See here.

 

Take it online

There are many apps offering mindfulness. The best one really is personal preference… Do you like the voice they’ve used? You may feel more comfortable with a female voice, and some use male voices. Do you find the music relaxing? Is there a good choice of nature sounds? (not just rain, but extended options like beach bonfire with background waves) Guided meditations (similar to the 5-step mindfulness process outlined above, but you’re guided through each step by a gentle voice). Is there a variety of breathing exercises?

Most of the mindfulness companies offer a free trial or free version of their app, so take the time to discover what works best for you. Most offer areas dedicated to children - whether it be music, guided meditation or breathing.
Below are a few to get you started:

- Smiling Mind - has a program used in schools. They understand mindfulness for children well. Access Smiling Mind here.

- Headspace - currently offering a year of premium membership free to the unemployed (brilliant!). Access Headspace here

- Calm - includes some excellent narrated stories for children, told in a gentle way. Access Calm here.

 

Music 

A superpower in itself. Music is used and loved across the world, every day, for a multitude of reasons... to celebrate, to remember, to hype-up and motivate, to dance, to distract, to mourn… but in this case, it’s to relax the mind. So lower the tempo and the volume, find that calmer option. Spotify has numerous playlists dedicated to this. The Ministry of Sound Chillout Sessions are a great option to unwind. But whether it’s Moby, lullabies, or classical piano concertos, choose something you enjoy - or your child enjoys - and take some time out of your day to listen. Focus on being in the moment.

 

Meditation

There are multiple references across different cultures and religions - from Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to Hindu astrology and tantric texts - that refer to the “age-old” practice of meditation. It’s really not known exactly how old meditation is. In some cultures, it translates roughly to “training the mind” and arguably there’s no better way to think of it. People strive their entire lives to perfect the art of meditation. They travel the world, train in skills like yoga, take vowels of silence, stopping at virtually nothing to reach their ultimate goal: enlightenment. Whether this is your life goal, or you’re just interested in experimenting to see if meditation is beneficial to you or your little one, there are a number of ways to begin:

 

- A beginner’s how-to guide - by Gaiam.com

- Mindfulness apps - Headspace and Calm - mentioned earlier in this article, incorporate meditation.

- YouTube - has endless options that can get you started with meditation. Start here.

- Classes - search locally to access classes in a variety of meditative areas

- Yoga - The Downward Dog app has a great name or options especially for children, include:Gaia or Cosmic Kids.

 

Below image of meditating child from Gaiam.com.

Breathing
The simplest thing can sometimes be the best. Three deep breaths to begin, signals to your brain that it’s time to relax. Follow this with any number of breathing exercises, for a couple of minutes in a quiet place, and your blood pressure will thank you. A really simple one for children to understand is counting to ten, inhaling and exhaling as you go. One-inhale, two-exhale, three-inhale, four-exhale…. Once you get to ten, start back at one. Repeat as many times as you feel is needed. This activity is great as it really can be done anywhere, at any time. Use it whenever you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

 

Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles have long been used in early learning to calm young children. Babies love them. Similar to the concept of watching the bubbles glide up-and-down in a lava lamp, but a much simpler version that has the ability to mesmerise even the unruliest child for even a few gloriously quiet minutes… and without even realising it, they’re focused and calmer.

You can easily make one of these for, or with, your own child using that magical ingredient: glitter. All that’s needed are a few basics:

1. Start with a clear jar or bottle with a lid that screws on tightly (Tip/ Voss make their water bottles from both glass and/or plastic. The plastic version, available at many supermarkets, is perfect for this project).
TIP/ you’ll want to add some tape around the lid to seal it, once you’ve finished. This avoids the contents upended on your carpet.

2. Fill the jar two-thirds of the way with water, add clear glue or clear oil (like baby oil) to just below the top, then the glitter of your choice.

3. If you want to be creative, include some extras like sequins, pompoms or colourful beads. The trick is to add enough glue/oil to slow the travel time of the glitter from one end of the jar to the other as it’s tilted back and forth.

4. Secure the lid and enjoy watching your glitter jar swirling.

 

Be warned, it can be addictive! See how creative you can get!

 

You don’t need to be in a zen paradise, overlooking misty mountains and contemplating the universe (although busy families can dream!) to access this mindful state that many consider a superpower. You just need a few moments of serenity, in a place you’re less likely to be interrupted. Pick your favourite option and be determined. Whether this means lying with your child next to you on the bed, listening to rain on a tin roof together, or hiding in the car for a few minutes! Carve this time out of your day and prioritise a little mindfulness. Dinner can wait. Put yourself first and you may just find that your mental state (and that of your child) settles in the easy, relaxed place we all strive for.

 

Childcare development

0-12 month development

Your one year old can reason like a scientist

Author: Amy Ellis Nutt

A recent study has found that children begin to reason logically as early as one year old. This finding is rather profound, as it was previously thought that children begin to think logically between the ages of 3 and 5 years.

Previous studies used language to identify logical thought patterns, preventing scientists from identifying logical thought in babies who could not speak yet. 

However, this new study uses pointing and body language to identify logical thought patterns, analysing how babies reacted to various stimuli, such as animations.

 

Refer to the original article for an in-depth explanation of the study. 

 

1-2 year development

7 Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration In Toddlers

Author: Dean D'Souza

Dehydration has recently become thought of as one of the major causes of fatigue. One can become dehydrated before feeling thirsty, making dehydration a real possibility. 

This is especially true for young children who are not able to manage their own liquid intake. Ultimately, toddlers’ guardians are responsible for making sure they remain hydrated. 

That is why we decided to share 7 signs and symptoms of dehydration in toddlers, helping you ensure your children remain hydrated at all times.

 

Refer to the full article to learn about all 7 signs of dehydration.

2-3 year development

The benefits of art for toddlers

Author: Louisa Fitzgerald

Art classes are another after school developmental activity available to Australian children. But with so many activities available - from surf school to drama class, footy, and chess club - why should you send your child to art class?

Firstly, creating art helps young children to develop both gross and fine motor skills. Essential for a child’s school readiness, these skills help children with hand-eye coordination, enabling their cute little hands and fingers to grasp markers, crayons, and brushes.

Furthermore, art also allows children to experiment with the idea of cause and effect. A child may mix several paint colours together only to create a dull brown mixture. Through this experience, a child has the opportunity to learn not to mix too many colours.

 

Read on to learn exactly how art aids development.

3-4 year development

A Quick, Teacher-Created Guide To Temporarily Homeschooling Your Kids

Author: Rita Templeton

With the recent widespread, global school closures, homeschooling has never been more popular. Parents, grandparents and older siblings are forced makeshift teachers unexpectedly, without training or time to prepare.

So how do you create a positive learning environment at home? The first step is creating a structured routine. The second step is to stick to this routine. Although children generally resist a new routine, once they become familiar with the routine it will provide comfort.

Fortunately, thanks to the internet, we are blessed with a plethora of free online learning resource. From fun games to math problems and educational films, you are spoilt for choice.

 

Continue reading to learn how to create a positive learning environment at home.

4-5 year development

Another new normal: the journey back to school may be a bit bumpy

Author: Maggie Dent

With schools slowly starting to reopen around Australia, parents are beginning to plan the celebrations. Finally, after weeks without help, parents can hand the responsibility of teaching their children to trained professionals.

However, the return to school may not be as easy for children, who may have become rather comfortable at home, enjoying the predictable routine. The first school drop off after isolation may cause anxiety. Furthermore, this anxiety may be exacerbated by the school’s new social distancing and hygiene practises. 

Fortunately, there are tactics you can adopt to help your children deal with the return to school. While small gestures such as notes in your child’s lunchbox may help them deal with separation anxiety, simply talking to your child about the return to school will also have a positive effect.

 

Refer to the original study to fully understand the complexities of returning to school.

Development of boys

Rising to the challenge of raising boys, one football match at a time

Author: Jacinta Tynan

While some parents are equally comfortable raising girls and boys, others feel more natural raising one gender. This article follows a young mom’s experience raising two boys. 

Jacinta believed she was destined for daughters and looked forward to sharing her love for floral prints, ribbons and all things pretty with her little girls. However, she was gifted two beautiful boys who had no interested in her old doll sets.

However, looking back at her time making early morning Milo before sports games, Jacinta wouldn’t trade her boys for the world. 

 

The complete article explains how Jacinta, a mother who always wanted daughters, raised two beautiful boys.

Development of girls

Anxiety in girls is skyrocketing—are our expectations to blame?

Author: Marilyn Fleer

Psychologist Lisa Damour has examined the skyrocketing rates of anxiety in girls. She looked into why girls are reporting significantly higher rates of anxiety, as well as how we can help them deal with this issue.

According to the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, almost half of girls in Ontario expressed that they experience moderate to severe ‘psychological distress’ by the time they reach high school.

And according to Lisa, we may be asking too much of our girls in terms of conforming, being helpful and never being angry.

Refer to the original article for a greater understanding of young female anxiety.

Craft Corner: Special Sports Fun 

Tie-dye paper towels

Tye-dye has been a popular craft for decades but usually requires you to sacrifice a perfectly good t-shirt. However, you are now able to play with tye-dye colours using paper towels. An added benefit of this craft is that it requires nothing but paper towels, food colouring, pipettes, water and jars.

 

Read on for further instructions

Don’t Toss Those Veggies Just Yet! Make Colourful Stamps

If you have any veggies that have passed their sell-by date, this may be the perfect craft. Create stamps using old food. You can stamp paper or each other if that seems like more fun. Just make sure you use non-toxic paint!

 

Detailed instructions provided here

How to Make Your Own Paper Mache Bowls

Although this craft requires a fair amount of effort, you are creating a useful item that can be used for years to come. Use your bowls to store jewellery, stationary or various other small trinkets.

Follow the steps to create your very own paper mache bowls.

Paper frog crafts

This paper frog craft is simple and cute. While this one doesn’t jump, it will add some colour to your fridge or desk at work. The downloadable template makes creating this 3D frog a fairly simple task, while googly eyes will really make it pop.

 

Refer to the original article for the printout and exact directions. 

 

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