Is your child ready for school?

Australia has one of the youngest school-starting ages in the world. Yet we shouldn’t really think about school-readiness in chronological terms. Little Ava next door who will be 5 in April might be just as ready to run through the school-gates as Johnny who repeated 4 year old kinder and will be turning 7 in Prep. So what’s the difference between Ava and Johnny and how do we know if they are really ready for school?

Well, my experience working with many Prep teachers over the past 15 or so years has taught me that social-emotional skills are really important. A child who can read all their ‘golden’ words and write the alphabet upon school-entry is great, but if they’re unable to maintain composure when they don’t get their way or resort to aggression in response to having to share the monkey bars, then the school day is going to be tricky for all involved.

The National Childcare Accreditation Council highlights the social skills our children need to have before starting school:

  • Positively approach other children and make friends;
  • Participate in play;
  • Participate in play;
  • Express emotions and deal with conflict appropriately;
  • Show interest in others and form friendships;
  • Epress their needs and wants appropriately;
  • Separate from parents or primary carers;
  • Take turns in games and activities;
  • Share toys and equipment;
  • Follow some directions and understand some rules;
  • Participate in groups;
  • Cope with transitions between routines and experiences

How does your littlie go with these skills? If you think your child might need a helping hand to get ready for school next year, give us a call for an individualised, school-readiness behaviour skills program, or to discuss our school-readiness groups.

There’s actually no evidence to support the idea that starting school earlier is better. So for children who are in the grey area, with parents anxiously deliberating whether or not to send them off to Prep or keep them back for another year, there is a general consensus that there is no rush to starting school. Anecdotally, you may have heard of the term ‘Redshirting‘, or the practice of postponing entrance into school to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growtha movement apparently popular with the Upper East Side mums of Manhattan.  Or, if you’re like the rest of us without the vintage Hermès Birkin, that means another year up your sleeve to keep reading, going on excursions together, playing with letters and numbers, singing songs and arranging play dates to work on those ever-evolving social skills!

Happy playing!

Amanda Abel – Paediatric Psychologist MAPS

Photo credit: Phil Roeder

Social Skills Groups Term 3, 2015

Learning appropriate play and social skills are absolutely critical for children’s quality of life, cognitive development and language skills.

Our amazing team members – Cara Small (psychologist) and Fiona Herbu (ABA supervisor) are facilitating evidence-based ABA social skills sessions for primary school children in Term 3. The group will have a maximum of 4 children and will target individualised goals for each child. During the sessions, the group will address social skills theory and will then have extensive opportunities to practise the new skills in a supportive but highly motivating environment.

How are our groups different?

We take an Applied Behaviour Analysis approach which while addressing the essence of authentic social competence and relationship development is also systematic and analytic. Our program is evidence-based meaning there is significant research to support the types of strategies we use. This ensures your child gains new individualised and relevant skills by attending our groups.

When: Fortnightly Saturdays 12.00-1.30 starting July 25th.
Where: Northern Centre for Child Development – 155 Plenty Rd, Preston, 3072.
Cost: $625 for the term.
Dates: 25/7, 8/8, 22/8, 5/9 & 19/9 – Attendance at all sessions is required.
Bookings: Please email admin@centreforchilddevelopment.com or call us on 9079 8043 or 0498 648 515.
Confirmation: Your child’s place is confirmed once we receive full payment for the term.
Eligibility: If needed, your child will be screened to ensure they are allocated to the correct group to meet their developmental needs.

What’s on in Melbourne for the school holidays?

Winter holidays can be a bit of a nightmare in Melbourne with out crazy weather! I’ve been on the look-out for some cool (no pun intended), free ideas to keep littlies entertained out and about in Melbourne. Here’s some of my inspo so far…

  • The Victoria Government Tourism page has a heap of great ideas at varying price-points across Victoria. Some of the highlights include the Grug show at the Arts Centre and the Alice’s Wonderland exhibition at Scienceworks (we went to this last week and my 3 year old loved it)
  • The City of Melbourne has some interesting offerings like being in the Family Feud audience!
  • The Melbourne Kid has some FREE ideas to keep the kids entertained

Happy Holidaying!

Amanda Abel – Paediatric Psychologist MAPS

 

School holidays!

It’s that time of year again…winter holidays. If you have a little creature of habit at home, you might find school holidays are super tricky for them thanks to the break in routine. As a result, you might see ‘meltdowns’ and non-compliance. Here are some ideas (adjust to suit your child’s age) that might help minimise difficult behaviours:

  • Increase structure. Plan a few days in advance and communicate the plans clearly to your child. Use a visual schedule, diary or calendar to show your child what the plans are each day.
  • Be wary of overload – try to consider what might overwhelm you child and steer clear. For some kiddos this means only scheduling one outing per day and keeping some ‘home’ time for sensory play or unwinding. It might mean staying home every second day. For others it might relate to where you go and what you do – is going to the noisy swimming pool on school holidays going to be sensory overload for your child? Or does swimming in the water regardless of the environment calm him or her? Reflect on your child’s needs and work within their capacity.sensory play birdseed yellow
  • Consider control – when the routine changes we can feel out of control and this can lead to feelings of anxiety. Give your kiddo some control within your limitations. Giving lots of ‘choice of two’ options throughout the day really helps with this – i.e. “do you want to wear your gumboots or your runners?” or “do you want to help me make cookies or play in the sand?” or “do you want to eat dinner at the big table or the little table?”.
  • Set up rules and rewards. A great way to increase structure whether you are at home or out and about. Be clear about your behavioural rules/expectations (the usual culprits are ‘nice talking, keeping hands to self, following instructions’ etc.) and the benefits of following them whether they be the logical consequence (i.e. “people will want to play with you if you are polite to them”) or an extrinsic reward (i.e. “each time I see you talking nicely today I’ll add a star to the reward chart. When you have 3 stars you can watch an episode of Peppa Pig”). Always pair tangible rewards with praise as you want to avoid falling into the reward trap.

A final word – remember to consider your child’s emotional needs when they are being a little tricky. Try to work out what they need from you. And remember that tricky behaviours often arise from feeling overwhelmed or anxious in which case your child will need a helping hand to regulate his or her emotions.

Enjoy the holidays!

Amanda Abel – Paediatric Psychologist MAPS

Welcome!

Welcome to our new blog! The team at Northern Centre for Child Development will be bringing you parenting tips and tricks as well as up-to-date research and events that you might find interesting. We hope the info we bring to you will help you maximise the connection and learning for the kiddos in your life.