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As our little learners begin to get school-ready we are undoubtedly helping them to practise all the school-ready skills we can think of!

Our pre-schoolers are practising their letters and alphabet, how to spell their names, how to recognise numbers, and even simple sums…but it is easy to forget that young children need to learn financial literacy, too.

As with all of the other vital school-ready subjects, the basics of finances and money, can and should, be taught from a very young age.

This is not to suggest that you should start sitting your four-year-old at the breakfast table with the Financial Times. There are lots of far more fun, child-friendly ways to begin familiarising your little learner with cost, value and the basics of money.

Set a good example

By setting a good example, and keeping your own basic finances in order, your child should naturally grow up with a positive outlook on money matters, but it is also helpful to bring simple financial lessons into day-to-day experiences. Let your little learner help you count out your change, pay the cashier at the till, add up simple receipts, or read the price labels of things you are buying. All of these simple tasks will help to familiarise your child with money and things associated with buying and spending.

You have to work for things in life

Even young children can learn the value of time and hard work, and also that things have value. By completing simple tasks and chores for a small reward of some kind children can learn a sense of achievement and the value of their own time and hard work. Rewards can be pocket money, time doing a favourite activity, or some extra quality family time. If children are paid in pocket money, keep things fair, clear and simple, and provide a piggy bank or similar savings option.

It is also vital for children to know that everything has a value, and not necessarily just a monetary one. Remind your little learner that other people’s belongings are of great value to them, and that every item they own themselves had to be made by someone; someone worked to make it, and someone worked to buy it.

Needs and wants

Teach the differences between things that your child ‘needs’ or ‘wants’, and that ‘needs’ must always come first. You can have fun with this by picking up items, even as you tidy the house. You might want your sticker book, but you need your shoes, for going out to play! You can also play shop using loose change or play money… do a list of all the things you need, and you can get something you want with whatever is left over.

Money isn’t everything

As parents, we must always instil that ultimate and all important message that the amount of money someone has, does not in any way indicate their value as a person. Money is simply a tool that we use to purchase things, and no matter how much or how little of it a person has, it is those things in life which can’t be paid for that hold the real value.

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Australia is blessed with a wonderfully diverse climate and eco-system,  so it’s no wonder a plethora of insects enjoy residing here just as much as people do!

Much of the time we have plenty of practices in place to deter these pesky little beasts from invading our homes, but insect bites and stings are relatively commonplace while enjoying family time outdoors. We should never discourage our little explorers from playing outside, but it’s essential that parents and caregivers know what to do if a sting or bite causes a nasty reaction.

Health Direct Australia warns that some children, and adults, can experience very severe reactions to particular bites or stings. This is called anaphylaxis, and if any of the associated symptoms occur, immediate medical attention must be sought. In most cases, however, we can treat an insect bite or sting ourselves, in order to alleviate mild pain, swelling, itching or discomfort.

Insect bites will usually leave a small puncture wound in the skin causing swelling, itching, bumps or blisters. Stings will also puncture the skin, but can sometimes leave the singer behind. Stings are usually associated with a more intense burning sensation and swelling/redness around the sting site, but the reaction to a bite or a sting will largely depend on which critter happens to be the culprit.

If a child is NOT having a severe reaction and anaphylaxis has been ruled out, then there are plenty of remedies we can administer to ease what can be a frightening experience for a little one…well, anyone actually!

Bees:

Bees have barbed stings, which may remain in the sting site. This kills the bee, and sometimes the rest of the insect will detach, but the singer should only be removed by scraping it away. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and ask your pharmacist to advise on the most suitable painkillers and/or antihistamines.

Ants:

Ants can inject their venom several times in close proximity and cause pain and swelling at the sting site(s). Your pharmacist can recommend age appropriate painkillers and/or antihistamines.

Centipedes:

The bite is inflicted by the front fangs and can be painful. Painkillers from your pharmacist may help.

Spiders:

In Australia, spider bites can be a cause for concern. Funnel web and red-back spiders are very dangerous and if you expect a bite could be from one of these you must seek medical attention immediately. It would be advisable to do this regardless, especially if there is any persistent pain or swelling.

Wasps:

Ah yes, our favorite little stripy nightmares! Wasps do not die from stinging you, and can sting numerous times in a single attack. Although very painful, they are less prone to cause serious reactions and their stings are not barbed. Remove any remnants of the wasp, if it was squashed, and use topical remedies, antihistamines or painkillers under the recommendation of your chemist. A wasp sting in the mouth or throat is far more serious…never leave fizzy drinks uncovered.

Mosquitoes:

Most active at night these little blighters will try to catch us anywhere. Insect repellents, nets, screen doors and appropriate clothing are great deterrents. Calamine lotion, ice, and trying not to scratch will ease the symptoms.

With all of these bites and stings, please remember to seek medical attention if you suspect a more serious reaction in any situation, and remember to inform your childcare centre if your child has a known allergy – insect or otherwise.

And we certainly won’t let the critters stop us enjoying our time outdoors!

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How a child reacts and responds to different situations will depend on their own individual temperament or natural disposition. As your child develops and you learn more about their temperament, you should be able to develop some parenting strategies based on your child’s natural motivations and sensibilities.

For example, some children are naturally more reactive than others. Reactive children will get over-excited easily or will exhibit strong feelings and emotions in response to various triggers.

Some children are naturally more sociable than others and as they grow and begin to meet others, you will learn more about your child’s social preferences.

Some children possess more self-regulation than others. They will find it easier to naturally control their impulses, actions and behaviours in general.

Temperamental differences are a wonderful thing, they help to make each child unique and special, and you may well have been noticing these differences since your child was a tiny baby. Some of the simple things we observe in young babies, such as sleeping better with background noise or liking lots if cuddles, can be great indicators of how their temperament might develop.

Parents and caregivers should try to work in harmony with a child’s natural disposition and use the parenting methods that are best suited to their individual personality. We can focus on enhancing our child’s most positive traits and offering our optimum support and guidance in any areas that our child finds challenging.

Parenting tips for: Over-reactive children

Over-reactive children are easily excited but can get sad, angry and frustrated easily too. Focus on positivity and calming techniques for negative feelings, but also consider introducing some extra physical activities to burn off steam and expel any excess energy.

Under-reactive children

It is just as important to take note when a child is not responding or asserting their own thoughts and feelings. You may need to work on self-confidence by making a point of including them in discussions and activities or asking direct questions. Some children are also less energetic physically and may need extra encouragement.

Sociable children

Socialble children may be content with constant parties and playdates, but it is also important for children to enjoy quality parent-child time, and to accomplish certain activities on their own.

Less sociable children

Some children are never happier than playing alone with their favourite toy and an active imagination. This is a vital developmental experience for all children to master, but if you notice your child struggling to interact with others you may want to gradually introduce them to some group activities, somewhere they feel safe.

Self-regulated children

While a very self-regulated child may be a master of their own reactions and emotions, remaining persistent and patient until they succeed, they can also experience a great deal of self-criticism and self-analysis. It may be worth reminding them that mistakes, and learning through trial and error, are perfectly normal.

Less self-regulated children

Less self-regulated children may need extra support and encouragement when it comes to a challenge, but with a little extra guidance, you can help your child focus by appealing to their favourite interests and sentimentalities.

Remember that a child’s temperament is not set in stone, and may well change completely as they grow and experience life’s highs and lows. And your child’s temperament may be totally different from either or both parents…all the more reason to look forward to getting to know our unique and special little learners.

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This is a sticky subject for some because modern technology can make for a rather intellectually stimulating and convenient babysitter from time to time, and young children can actually learn a lot through the ever-growing selection of educational programs, apps and games on offer.

The best course of action is usually a balance between ensuring you only choose high quality learning apps and media for your child, and putting sensible limits on how much screen time they get in general.

There are certainly benefits from controlled exposure to the new digital world we live in. As with anything, the key is moderation. Government guidelines have always suggested that children under 2 years should avoid screen time altogether – screen time being any activity involving TV’s, tablets, smartphones, laptops and such. But now parents, and some preschools, are beginning to recognise that this can sometimes be difficult and even counterintuitive. For example, is a video call with overseas relatives screen time or quality family time? This is not a question that could have been considered when many of today’s parents were preschoolers, but is now very valid, and requires us to use our sense of the common variety! (We’d go with ‘quality family time’ for that one, by the way)

Some centres specialising in before-school-care are now integrating apps and tablet technology into their teaching methods. Parents increasingly use screens and apps to manage work and family life, and older siblings will use digital tech in the company of their younger siblings. With all of this screen-based activity becoming such an inevitable and integral part of our daily family lives, screen time will need to be monitored more intuitively.

With the explosion of digital devices on the market, we have seen a rise in the production of alphabetical and numerical teaching apps, reading apps and apps that focus on cognitive development, language skills and even music and art. Digital tech should never, and hopefully will never, replace the one-on-one interaction that a child experiences in an early learning centre or playschool, but if we can learn to use it for its potential as quality teaching aids we may be able to benefit from this tech surge.

The Cherry Bridge Station centres offer a consistent plan of play filled education that encourages everything good about non-screen time! They offer age-appropriate educational programs, separate education rooms for each age group, healthy and nutritious meals, and qualified, dedicated educators.

Maybe with options like this on offer, we can all worry a bit less and enjoy a little quality screen time with our little learners!

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As parents, we are our child’s first teachers. Our reactions help young children learn what is good and what is bad, what makes us happy and what makes us sad. Babies and young children base much of their early emotional development on how their primary caregivers deal with everyday events, even registering many of our most subtle or seemly insignificant responses. That’s why it’s super-important for us to make those early impressions count.

It goes without saying that spending plenty of quality time with your little one will allow you to bond as parent and child, and to foster a caring and loving environment.

All families are unique and there is no one-size-fits-all method for maintaining a perfectly balanced relationship with your child, but there are certainly lots of ways to make positive use of your precious time together.

Enjoy all the wonder-filled little moments you can together

This doesn’t mean you have to orchestrate lots of ‘precious’ moments modelled on cheesy stock photographs. Simply showing a genuine interest in whatever your child may be doing or talking about will initiate more natural communication and trust between you and your child. Quality time can happen anywhere, even while you’re folding the laundry or taking a bath.

Tips & tricks for building positive bonds
  • Do not judge your child’s methods when learning and playing, no matter how silly or far-fetched they may seem, children learn a lot through nonsense scenarios.
  • Try to take an interest in your child’s choices. Let them explain why they would like to colour the sky brown, rather than telling them it should be blue.
  • Try to listen, even if some stories are completely make-believe they may still give you valuable insight into your child’s mood, emotions or concerns.
  • Sometimes let your child take the initiative. Allow them to suggest a game or activity and allow them to use trial and error, within reason.
  • Allow your child to have their own opinions, and allow them to feel that they can freely discuss their thoughts and feelings with you.
  • Enjoy positive emotions together as often as possible. Laugh, smile, tell silly jokes, cuddle, dance, sing and be silly.
  • Support your child in their interests as they grow older. You may not like rugby, but your child may decide they are a big fan.
  • Set family rules so that everyone’s views are respected and boundaries are clear and consistent, as this will prevent tantrums and negative feelings, ultimately.

When your child knows that you share not just love, but also a mutual respect for one another, they will naturally grow to trust you as a friend and confidant, which will go a long way to creating a healthy and long-lasting relationship throughout their childhood and into their older years.

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Mornings can be tough for busy families, so rushed parents and caregivers can be forgiven for sometimes needing to step in and dress struggling little ones.

However, it’s important for preschoolers to learn for themselves and to be given the opportunity to practise and master these fundamental self-help skills.

As your child learns to get dressed by themselves, you will gradually have a little less to do in the mornings. They will also be developing vital motor and cognitive skills, along with a feeling of accomplishment and independence.

What age should children start to learn about getting dressed?

We can help our little ones gain awareness of clothing and getting dressed from a very young age. When dressing baby we can name the items (and the body parts they go on) as we put them on and take them off. As soon as baby is old enough to start removing clothing items on their own, as they often like to do, we can also take this opportunity to strengthen this sort of familiarisation.

When your little one is old enough to start learning to dress with your supervision you can make things a bit easier by using items that are loose fitting, elastic-waisted and secured with Velcro or large buttons.
Help your child based on their age and skill level; to begin with they will need your help standing steady while getting their clothes on in the right order, and the right way around, with their limbs in all the right places.

As youngsters naturally become steadier on their feet, you can gradually help a little less. And as your little learner becomes more confident you will be able to lay out the clothes in order and talk them through the rest.

Usually, from age three and over, preschoolers start to show more interest and willing with self-help skills such as getting dressed. They may want to start doing it on their own, and as tempting as it is when they struggle, we must try to offer positive praise and guidance, rather than taking over the task.

Getting dressed all by yourself may seem like a mundane chore to grown-ups. So much so, that it is easy to forget the excitement and sense of achievement that our little learners can feel when mastering some of the day-to-day self-help skills for themselves.

We must remember that getting your trousers on the right way around, or your t-shirt outside out, is a pretty major achievement when you are a little intellectual sponge, continually filling with brand new knowledge.

Useful Tips & Tricks

• Choose loose-fitting/convenient clothes for everyday use
• Put out clothes in advance if you have to be somewhere at a certain time
• Allow plenty of time in your schedule for getting dressed without a panic
• Put aside some fun practice time when you’re not in a rush
• Teach the concepts of whether when choosing suitable clothes for the day
• Show your child where clean and dirty clothes go, as you go along
• Let your child sit on a low stool to master leg holes, socks and shoes
• Mark clothes on the inner neckline and explain that labels go at the back
• Have clothes draws and laundry baskets that your little one can safely reach

At first, many young children are more motivated when it comes to throwing clothes off than putting them on, but everything is a learning opportunity!

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The STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, may seem complex for preschoolers, but when integrated into age-appropriate play-based activities STEM education can be great fun for our little ones.

At Cherry Bridge Station we include many STEM learning outcomes as part of the fun, activity-based curriculum, which is developed to meet all the requirements of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).

But there are also plenty of exciting STEM activities you can do together at home!

Below are just some of our favourite STEM activities involving nature and getting outdoors…

Rock Sculptures & Shapes

By finding rocks and pebbles of various different shapes and sizes you can actually start exploring some simple engineering concepts.

Stacking stones to make figures or ‘sculptures’ will teach your little one about weight, balance and the properties of different shapes and materials. This is also great for the development of fine motor skills.

Depending on what you have to hand you can use other natural materials too, such as sticks or shells. Find out which shapes will stand on their own, which will roll when placed on a slope and which sink fastest in water.

Nature Log & Identification

Just a walk through the garden or a visit to the park can give us ample opportunity to do a bit of nature spotting. Look for different birds, animals, insects and plants…then each interesting one that you spot can be photographed for identification later.

This method incorporates both science and technology while counting the finds for each animal type or species covers the mathematics aspect. Depending on the age of your child you could even try a dedicated ID app for nature in your area.

Planting Seeds & Trees

There is definitely a science to growing things, and when you think about the instructions on the back of a packet of tomato seeds it’s clear to see there are mathematical and engineering elements too.

Growing things helps children to learn about patience, cause and effect, and responsibility. When your child’s plant flowers or produces fruit, or their tree grows against a marker, they will also learn how rewarding working with nature can be.

Finding Fractals in Nature

Fractals are self-replicating patterns seen in varying scales, throughout the natural world and in engineered forms created from mathematical formulas.

You can also find natural fractal forms in broccoli, cauliflower, snails. snowflakes, spider webs, tree branches and many different leaves and flowers. Se how many fractals your little one can spot on a trip to the seaside or a walk in the park.

Even if you simply look around and talk about the scenery, try to get outdoors and spend quality time observing nature with your little learner.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein
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It’s perfectly normal for young children to be scared of certain things as they adjust to a world full of new experiences, thoughts and feelings. Separation anxiety is very common as children learn to settle and sleep through the night on their own and this can be compounded by a fear of the dark.

Not only are young children very creative and imaginative, but they can also struggle to separate what’s real from what’s not. When little ones are in darkness and can’t see their surroundings they can quickly imagine all manner of ghouls and monsters lurking in cupboards or lying in wait under the bed.

Most children are exposed to a certain amount of frightening images, no matter how hard we try to shield them from such things. We pass newsstands, movie posters, Halloween props and any other number of things from which a mere glimpse can form terrifying fuel for a child’s imagination.

As normal as these fears and feelings are, it can become worrisome when they impact on a child’s sleep quality and their ability to function and learn during the day. Of course, it is important to rule out any genuine traumatic experiences that may be causing a child’s anxieties and fears, but if it’s a standard ‘scared of the dark’ or ‘monsters in the closet’ situation, there is plenty we can do as parents to offer our help and support.

Some Tips & Tricks to Deal with Night Time Collywobbles

  • Always take your child’s fears seriously. Do not play into their fears, but do not dismiss them as ‘being silly’ either. Respect and recognise their feelings. “I can understand that you might think the dark cupboard is a scary place, but I can show you it is just boring clothes and shoes… see!”
  • Turn on a lamp or use a torch to show your little one just how mundane that dark corner is, or that there’s nothing under the bed, save for perhaps a little dust!
  • Explain to your little one just how amazing their imagination can be. This will help them to understand why they are able to make-up such frightening shapes and forms from shadows and darkness.
  • Play some games to demonstrate this by imagining shapes in the clouds, making animals out of doodles or creating shadows with a lamp. Teach your child how easy it is to imagine wonderful things instead of scary things.
  • Read stories and play make-believe with friendly monsters, have your child play the friendly monster, they can hide in the closet or under the bed. This will associate positive play with these areas, instead of negative thoughts and fears.
  • Never forget to reach into the best parenting resource that you have – your own memories. What worked (or didn’t work) for you when you were scared of something?

Most of all just remember to communicate openly with your little one, ask them about their fears and encourage them to talk to you about whatever is on their mind when going to bed at night. If you need to use a nightlight in your child’s room for a while, especially while they building confidence and resilience, it’s really not the end of the world, just try to use a timer or switch it off once they are sleeping safe and sound.

At Cherry Bridge Station we encourage young children to learn through imaginative play, focusing the majority of our preschool curriculum around hands-on, activity-based learning.

Here children can explore and let their imaginations run wild, all while in a safe environment full of educational resources to call on.

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As babies and young children become more aware of their surroundings, it is only natural that certain unfamiliar places, faces and situations will make them nervous, uncomfortable or downright terrified.

No one enjoys medical check-ups, tests or vaccinations, but for our little ones the sight of people in white coats, in strange rooms, filled with medical paraphernalia, can be the stuff of nightmares.

Unfortunately, to keep our tots in tiptop health we can’t avoid these medical appointments. Instead, we need to offer comfort, reassurance and support until our tiny tykes gradually learn to trust that medical professionals are there to help.

Below are some of our favourite tips & tricks for helping young children to trust doctors and feel less stressed and afraid during medical visits.

  • Ensure that your child is accompanied by a parent or a regular guardian that the child trusts and is familiar with. Parents or caregivers need to show that they are comfortable in the situation, that they trust the medical professionals, and that they are not stressed or worried by the situation. Children really do follow by example.
  • Don’t belittle or trivialise your child’s fears. Rather than telling your child not to be silly, or that the needle is only tiny, try instead to validate their fears in a supportive way. “I know injections aren’t much fun, but it will be over as quick as a blink!” Perhaps distract your child by telling them to wiggle their toes or talk about something fun you can do together afterwards.
  • If your child has gone through a particularly stressful time during a visit, such as several vaccinations or treatment for an injury or illness, it is well worth explaining that future visits will not always be that way.
  • Maintain contact with your child during any examinations, such as holding their hand or sitting them on your lap if possible. This will be reassuring for them, especially if they can see that you trust the doctor/nurse and that you are at ease. Perhaps allow your little one to choose which order they would like their heartbeat/eyes/ears to be checked.
  • Familiarise your child with medical topics and examinations through role-playing games and stories. Perhaps get a toy medical kit and help your child to give checkups to their favourite dolls and teddies. It may also help to let your child bring their favourite toy ‘companion’ along, so they can get ‘checked over’ too.
  • Even if your child was not able to fully control their anxiety during a medical visit, that doesn’t mean you can’t reward them with something fun. A sticker, a lolly or a visit to the park will help your little one to forget the fear that they were feeling and to associate the experience with more positive

Our Cherry Bridge Station centres in NSW follow strict government requirements for childhood immunisation. More information on these requirements is available from NSW Government – Health. You can also check the NSW immunisation schedule and a list of the vaccines here.

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Whether barriers have been invented by commercialisation, regulation, financial benefit or just the modern excesses of bureaucracy and red-tape, our society seems to have been segregating young from old, more and more.

In years gone by families were often larger; more generations tended to live together, care for one another and share more of the financial burdens of raising a family. While we’re now far more focused on specialised individual care for our seniors and little ones, we are losing out on the benefits and resources that these two age groups can provide for each other.

As modern families, we seem to have limited opportunities for our youngest and eldest loved ones to interact and learn from one another, and that is an incredible loss for our children and communities as a whole.

With this in mind, our Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres have been successfully integrating intergenerational play experiences into our play-based curriculum for many years now.

We like to welcome grandparents to play an active role in the care and education of their grandchildren, and frequently hold dedicated events such as Grandparents’ Day and grandparents’ tea parties.

Many of our NSW centres have also hosted special events for the residents of their local aged care homes. Together with our children and educators, the elderly visitors have enjoyed afternoon tea parties, arts & crafts sessions, picnics and story time.

The recreation officers who accompany the aged care residents always report on the positive impact this type of intergenerational play has on the elderly participants, such as:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Maintaining cognitive skills
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving
  • Added sense of well-being and self-importance
  • Maintaining confidence and social interaction skills
  • Discussing experiences and looking forward to future events
  • Proud role-modelling/mentoring

Our educators are equally enthusiastic about the benefits of intergenerational play for our little learners. Reporting positive outcomes such as:

  • Improved language and communication skills
  • Practice with teamwork and problem-solving skills
  • Developing confidence and social ability
  • Better understanding of empathy, diversity and respect
  • Reduced stress levels and greater well-being
  • Gaining listening skills and general knowledge
  • Learning about differences, then and now, first-hand

So, whether spending more quality time with elderly family members or integrating with some of the older members of your community, the time our little learners spend with seniors can be so mutually beneficial that it would be a terrible shame to lose these interactions. Together we can create a society where children and the elderly are well-cared for without being segregated.

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