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Essential Child offers full page and fractional ads within the magazine and on the back page. We can design an ad for you if needed, we can also help you write copy. For more information you can download our Media Kit from our website: To contact us directly: Email: Call Sarah on: 0410 338 201

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Editor’s Letter. Welcome to the Winter Issue of Essential Child! Our launch issue was received so warmly and with such interest, our team are even more thrilled to bring you the second edition. We loved reading your feedback and it motivated us even further to produce an interesting, stimulating and relevant magazine for the parents and parents-to-be of the mid-North Coast. Please keep your letters coming! This issue is packed with great articles, expert advice, personal accounts and exciting giveaways. For those of you with school aged children, be sure to read Louise Porter’s article on homework, written exclusively for Essential Child. Louise, a psychologist and author, offers a fresh approach to homework that will interest parents, children and teachers alike.

Essential Child Issue 2, Winter 2009 Editor Sarah Rogers Early Childhood Consultant Pauline Pryor Layout & Design Sam Pryor Contributing Writers Rebecca Cork Sarah Langley Louise Porter Advertising enquiries: Sarah Rogers, phone 0410 338 201 Contact: phone 02 6656 2109 fax 02 6656 2131 PO Box 1587, Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450 ABN: 47 491 617 953 Essential Child is published four times a year by Essential Child. No other parties or individuals have any financial interest in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher. Content within this magazine is information only and not necessarily the views of the editor. It does not purport to be a substitute for professional health and parenting advice. Readers are advised to seek a doctor for all medical and health matters. The publisher and authors do not accept any liability whatsoever in respect of an action taken by readers in reliance on the recommendations set out in this magazine. All reasonable efforts have been made to trace copyright holders.

Pauline, our resident Early Childhood consultant, explores school readiness, something you may be thinking about at the moment especially if your child’s birthday falls in the first half of the year. Whether to send your child to school early or wait a year can be a difficult decision and one that can involve some parental guilt, so make sure you also read contributing writer Rebecca Cork’s personal look into mother’s guilt and how to conquer it! Last month, Essential Child was lucky enough to be one of only nine small businesses to be chosen to attend the 2009 St George Bank Business Mentoring program. After a session with our dedicated business coach and a two day workshop in Sydney, we left with a new sense of direction and focus. We plan to be around for the long-term and the workshop gave us the tools to ensure we are. We are proud of being an independent, local publication and the workshop reinforced our conviction that this is one of our greatest strengths. Please support those businesses that support us – without them we could not exist. Enjoy! Sarah

Inside this Issue: 2

Letters to the Editor


Products We Love Out of the mouths of babes


Is my child ready to start school next year? Things to consider


Immunisation A timely reminder


Illness in Childcare The Common Cold


Homework hysteria: All for nothing? by Louise Porter, PhD, Child Psychologist


What’s For Dinner? A delicious winter warmer Helping Children Stay Warm in Winter by Sarah Langley, Naturopath


Book Reviews


Mother’s Guilt: Is it optional? by Rebecca Cork


Spies, Soccer And Ghosts An interview with Deborah Abela essential child


Letters to the Editor Featured Letter THANKS EC! What a brilliant publication! I’ve been reading the Autumn edition of Essential Child while cuddling my newborn to sleep. It’s so nice to recognise parts of myself in each of the articles … and there’s no hint of bias or judgemental-ism in sight! But the best bit is that the stories and contributors are local. Being a stay-at-home carer gets lonely sometimes. Thanks, EC, for keeping me company. Pru Borgert, Sandy Beach

GOODBYE, KEEP SMILING Fantastic to find a local magazine such as this – congratulations! I arrived in Coffs Harbour from New Zealand for a working holiday with my husband and two children (3 yrs and 15 months) in January. As a full time mum, used to a big support network, I was lonely and seeking child-friendly havens. So I set out upon my own ‘research’ into the area. Well, I really just became the friendliest person at the park/plaza/cafe/ shops! It became my challenge each day

to smile at someone and chat to other parents, to find the best places to go and connect a little. I have had a ball, and want to extend my thanks to the ‘strangers’ who have opened their hearts to my children and I. We are now saying goodbye to this stunning place. Goodbye to Coffs Harbour, and best wishes to any other newbies – keep smiling at strangers! Theresa Vossen, Kiwi Mum

I am a mother and grandmother of two. Although I live in Grafton, I often travel to Coffs Harbour for my doctor’s appointments and I recently picked up your magazine while in the waiting room. It is a good magazine and so informative. When I had my child thirtyseven years ago, things were so different. Mums today are better educated on child rearing and it’s thanks to magazines like yours. It opened my eyes to several things, including caring for your babies teeth and the articles on food and snacks were great. Thankyou for an interesting mag professionally done. Congratulations. Kae McLennan, Grafton

Comprehensive Preschool program

Phone 6658 2852 essential child

The writer of this month’s featured letter receives an Organic Cotton Fruit Tote toy from Bay Bee Bliss. Next issue, we’ll be giving away a $50 Gift Voucher to spend in-store at Charlipop Kid’s World, Orlando Street Coffs Harbour.


Caring, qualified staff Caring for children 2-5 years


Write To Us

4 Bronzewing Place, Boambee (Off Linden Ave)

Write to us at: or PO Box 1587, Coffs Harbour, 2450.

COMPETITION WINNERS The winner of last issue’s Blik Wall Graphics competition is: Fiona Vallance! Congratulations, this fantastic prize is on its way to your mailbox.

Products We Love

We profile some of our favourite products

Out of the mouths of babes I love asking my three-year-old son “how much do you love me?” He always replies with a big smile “twenty-dollars”. I’m wondering if he actually does know about the value of money as when his father asks him the same question he replies “three dollars”. Well it makes me feel extra special anyway. Melissa, Coffs Harbour

Hipporay As someone who has a life-long addiction to beautiful paper goods, I was excited to discover the locally-produced range of cards and invitations by Hipporay. The creation of Coffs Harbour designer Carlee Yardley, Hipporay stationery features simple animal designs, brought to life by recycled, hand-cut fabrics. Each card is individually hand-made and unique. Carlee will even create a customised set of invitations for your wedding or special event at surprisingly affordable prices. Having only launched her products online in February this year, Carlee sold her first card, just five minutes after listing it, to a woman in Italy. Since then she has sent her cards all over the world with a highlight being asked to custom-design a set of invitations for a surprise 50th birthday party in the USA. Hipporay is available through Etsy at

When granddaughter (4) was counting my collection of bells with me – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 – I suggested “Now let’s count backwards”. She looked at me, then started spinning around as she counted again – 1,2,3,4………… Bob, Woolgoolga At preschool a four-year-old girl, Evie Chapman* asked her teacher to write her Mum’s name on the back of a picture she had drawn. “Write ‘Jodie Chapman*’” she said, then added “My Dad used to be called Mark Chapman*, but now he’s just Mark ‘cos Mummy took his other name!” *names have been changed Trish, Coffs Harbour Send your quotes to

Flobib Dribble is not something normally associated with style, but the Flobib manages to combine the two. Handmade from absorbent chenille cotton on one side, and beautiful vintage, recycled or designer fabric on the other, the Flobib is both functional and fashionable! Though AJ is not normally a very dribbly baby, it has been perfect for snack times, especially while travelling. It’s so easy to just snap on the bandanastyle Flobib, instead of our larger plastic bibs, when she’s just having a rusk or a drink. And with fabric designed by Amy Butler, we always get a comment when she wears it. Available in designs suitable for boys and girls, Flobibs can be found at

We have a pack of two unisex Flobibs to give away. Just write to tell us the types of products you would like us to review in Essential Child. Email: or write to PO Box 1587, Coffs Harbour, 2450, before August 30.

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Is my child ready to start school next year? Things to consider A

t this time of the year parents of preschoolers may have concerns about whether their child is ready for primary school. For many children there is no choice. In NSW children need to start school by their sixth birthday. So if a child turns five before the end of this year, they need to start school at the beginning of next year unless there are special

“If children see themselves as successful learners in kindergarten this has a positive impact on later learning. ” circumstances. However parents whose children have birthdays in the first half of the year may be considering delaying school entry for another year. In Government schools, children are entitled to start school in the year they turn five, providing their birthday falls on, or before, July 31st. Most nonGovernment schools have their cut-off date at 31st March. So there can be an age difference of up to 18 months between children who are eligible to start school in any one year.

Perry and Sue Dockett from Charles Sturt University, co-authors of the book Our Family is Starting School, say that it is social and emotional maturity that is most important. (See the box opposite.) Children are more likely to feel confident when they can make friends, and when they feel confident they are more likely to adjust to the general demands of school. Dockett and Perry emphasise that factors such as the family situation (illness, trauma and finances, for example) and the expectations of individual schools also need to be considered. When children have their first contact with their primary school, they are confronted by unfamiliar sensations, experiences and expectations. These include: • Separation from parents from 9.00am3.00pm every day • Getting used to an unfamiliar environment - larger buildings, different adult faces, new smells and noises, a vast playground with outdoor toilet blocks and a large number of children, most of whom are much bigger than they are and who are all dressed the same. • Learning boundaries for play, recess and lunch times • Being responsible for bags, food, drink bottle, hat, jumper • Eating at a set time; deciding what to eat at recess and lunch time • Putting on and taking off shoes, hat and jumper

The decision about whether to send a child to school at four-and-a-half or to wait another year can cause parents a lot of anxiety. They worry what might happen if they send the child to school too early, and they worry whether they will regret it if they wait a year. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each child’s readiness for school needs to be looked at individually, and in consultation with family members, early childhood educators, schools and health professionals.

• Being responsible for their own hygiene – nose blowing, hand washing

While age is the first marker of when a child should start school, readiness for school is not always tied to age. Although there are many checklists for school readiness that emphasise skills such as tying shoelaces or children being able to write their name, Bob

• Learning classroom behaviours – hand up to speak, sit still and listen


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• Completing a task and tidying up • Lining up in a straight line • Getting used to a much smaller teacher to student ratio – in the classroom and even more so in the playground (maybe 2: 230!) • Following a set routine of activities in the classroom • Listening to and responding to bells • Learning new rules

If you are unsure about whether your child is ready for such demands Dockett and Perry suggest visiting the school to ask how the school will meet the

Is my child ready for school? Your child is probably ready for school if he/she can: • Separate easily from you • Cope with changes and new situations without fear • Talk with some confidence to adults other than family members • Express feelings and ask for help when needed • Initiate contact with other children • Work well with a group • Have a conversation with other children • Handle conflict in a play situation • Use the toilet and wash hands independently • Look after his/her own things • Follow simple instructions • understand some simple rules • listen to a story or play a game for about 15 minutes • handle the coordination and motor skills needed to dress/undress, open a lunchbox and unwrap lunch, use pencils and scissors • show interest in books needs of your child. If possible, look at several schools. Some schools have a play-based curriculum in the early years to help ease the transition to school. If you are thinking that your child is ready to start school at four-and-a-half, ask about the school’s attitude to that. Ask about class sizes and class grouping – are four-and-a-half year olds grouped with five-and-a-half year olds? If so, how is this managed? Ask about the availability of extra support for any health, physical, language, social, behavioural or developmental needs of children. Be honest in telling teachers at the school what you know about your child. If your child is attending a before-school setting, take along your child’s portfolio or other records. Take advice from the educators in your childcare centre or preschool. Ask them how they will meet your child’s needs for another year if you decide not to send him/her to school. Remember that comparing children is not useful. While some younger children may thrive on challenge and function

children, that determine the quality of the program offered, whether it is a preschool or childcare centre. The National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) says: Childcare services do not need to turn into school environments to prepare children for school…. Services can prepare children for school by encouraging the development of strong relationships with others. This is essential to children developing self-confidence and resilience to enable them to cope and thrive in the school environment. Being socially competent maximises children’s opportunities to engage with learning and to take on the challenges that school presents.

Some questions that parents ask:

No. Children learn much more through play with their peers than by listening to an adult or completing adult-designed activities. It is a myth that ‘education’ only happens in preschools or specific adult-directed programs, and that childcare centres are just for babysitting. Research shows that children learn best in play-based programs, run by university qualified teachers, that reflect children’s interests and emerging skills, In a good play-based setting educators join children in play to extend interests and encourage thinking, wondering and learning. Such a program prepares children for later learning by providing foundation skills in language, writing and maths, as well as developing physical skills and personal and social skills.

Does my child need to go to a preschool or to a childcare centre that has a special ‘school readiness’ program’?.

It is the qualifications, experience, philosophy and commitment of the adults in a centre, along with the relationships they develop with the

well in a particular school, other children of the same age will not have the social and emotional maturity to succeed in the early days of school. If children see themselves as successful learners in kindergarten this has a positive impact on later learning. And, of course, the reverse is true. If children struggle in their first year of school they may lose confidence in their abilities and regard themselves as failures. A useful question for parents to consider is: How is my child going to approach this great adventure called school? Are they going to retreat from it or will they stride out to meet it?

Home Based childcare! • A safe, secure and stimulating home environment with small groups of up to five children. • Flexible hours matched to individual family needs. • Your child benefits by having the same carer, every day. • Mixed ages create a unique learning environment

Ph: 6652 7819 Email: Accredited by NCAC, licensed by Departments of Community Services, with qualified staff supporting carers and children.

A program that closely observes and responds to children’s needs and interests will provide opportunities for encouraging the skills and attributes needed for starting school. Services should focus on assisting children to become confident learners rather than on developing specific literacy and numeracy skills. Using children’s current skills and interests as the basis for promoting their development will prepare children better than requiring them to complete structured academic tasks. If you are currently looking for a suitable prior-to-school setting for your child, do some ‘shopping around’. The NCAC web site has some useful tips to help you in this process (This is listed at the end of this article). If your child already has close relationships with the people in one service keep in mind that it can be very unsettling for the child to move to a different setting. It is even more continued over page...

Early Learning Adventures Kindergarten Readiness Program This program assists children in the last year before school in areas of phonemic awareness, reading skills, language development, writing ability and listening skills. 1 Hour per Week

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continued from page 5... unsettling for a child to attend more than one centre. Will my child be bored if they have another year at childcare or preschool? In a good quality centre the program is different every year, depending on the particular children attending. Children access materials at their own level. While a four-year-old for instance may construct a basic structure with blocks, an older child may not only build a complicated construction but may also measure the height, use a spirit level to check if things are straight, dictate a story about it, and draw a plan or picture of his or her work! If your child does not seem ready for school they will benefit from an extra year if the program is genuinely based on children’s needs and interests. Again, ask the staff at the centre about what will be offered if your child returns for another year. Do I need to take my child for Before School Screening?

Illness in Childcare The Common Cold By Childcare and Children’s Health


he common cold is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and sinuses. Most colds seem to occur during the winter season. Young children can have 8-10 colds each year. There is no need to keep your child at home with a common cold, unless your child is feeling miserable and needs constant comfort. If your child feels well enough, they can continue their normal daily activities, including playing outside. However, while your child has a cold, ensure they have plenty of rest and sleep.

Docket, S., & Perry, B. (2006), Our Family is Starting School: A Handbook For Parents and Carers. Pademelon Press. National Childcare Accreditation Council: Kathy Walker and Associates – fact sheet on school preparation: Early Childhood Australia – school readiness resources:

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• If possible, keep babies under three months old away from people with colds.

Is it just a cold? • A cold is not the flu; typical symptoms of a cold may include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing and a mild sore throat.

• Colds can sometimes cause fever but the fever usually isn’t very high (under 38.5°C). • Colds usually last about a week but can last for as long as two weeks.

Or could it be something more serious? • Some respiratory viruses that cause colds in older children and adults may cause more serious illness when they infect infants and toddlers. • A harsh barking cough, hoarseness, wheezing, or any difficulty breathing may indicate a more serious illness.

Preventing colds: What parents can do. • Hand washing is the most important way to reduce the spread of colds. Wash your hands after: – coughing, sneezing or wiping your nose – being in direct contact with someone who has a respiratory infection – wiping your child’s nose; wash your child’s hands too. • Teach your child to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and to immediately throw the tissue away into a closed bin. • Make sure your child has received all of the recommended immunisations. While they won’t prevent colds, they may help prevent some of the


• Try to prevent your child sharing toys with children who have a cold, particularly if your child likes to place things in his/her mouth.

• Some children may not want to eat, have a headache or be more tired than usual.

Some behaviours in pre-school children can indicate problems with hearing, vision, language development or coordination which can lead to poor performance at school. If these are picked up early they can be addressed before your child starts school. The Commonwealth has introduced the Medicare-funded “Healthy Kids Check” that is done when children have their 4 years immunisations with a GP. However, if you or your early childhood professional have any concerns about your child’s learning, language, physical development or interactions it is recommended that you also access Before School Screening, a free service provided by the North Coast Area Health Service. For an appointment contact the Child and Family Health Nurse at Primary Health 6656 7200. [PJP] For further information:

complications, such as bacterial infections of the ears or lungs.

• The influenza (flu) virus causes high fever, cough and body aches, strikes more quickly than a cold, and causes infected persons to feel very ill. While children with colds usually have energy to play and keep up their daily routines, children with the flu are likely to want to stay in bed. If you are at all concerned about your child’s health, seek medical advice. This Parent Fact Sheet is available in different community languages and can be downloaded from the Early Childhood Connections website Sourced from: CCH_Vol12_no2_June_2009_Fact__ Sheet.pdf

A timely reminder

Reducing Infectious Disease


Immunisation is the most effective way to safely protect your child from serious infectious disease.

Immunisation orth Coast Area Health Service has reported a significant increase this year in the number of cases of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) in our region. Other regions in NSW have similar stories, with an average five-fold increase across the state. The death of a tiny baby in the Northern Rivers region brings home the importance of protecting our families and the community through immunisation. Below is an excerpt from an open letter from Toni and David McCaffery, the parents of Dana, the baby who died.

For further information contact: Your doctor, medical centre or the Child and Family Health immunisation clinics: Coffs Harbour & Bayldon: 6652 3503 Woolgoolga: 6654 1111 Bellingen & Urunga: 6655 1266 Dorrigo: 6657 2066 Macksville: 6568 2677 New South Wales Multicultural Health Communication Service: [PJP]

We write this letter broken hearted and feel like we failed our daughter. Before 9 March 2009, we were happy and complete following the birth of our third child Dana. Today, we are shattered at the preventable death of our beautiful girl. Our sweet Dana is the innocent victim of dangerously low levels of awareness and even lower vaccination rates. What started as a blocked nose escalated into our worst nightmare. From 11 days old, Dana became more unsettled at night and started to cough from three weeks of age. After she tested positive for Pertussis (Whooping Cough), we went straight to the hospital. First, our tiny daughter coughed uncontrollably until she turned blue and required oxygen to regain her breath. On the third day she developed Pneumonia. On the fifth day, the Pertussis took an unexpected and deadly turn. In what seemed an instant, Dana had an aggressive reaction to the toxin, which attacked her immune system and heart. The Pertussis blocked every drug or treatment that the team of specialists could throw at it. We were powerless to save her. After nearly 10 hours of desperate blood transfusions, Dana’s beautiful heart stopped beating and she let out her last sweet breath. There is no treatment to cure Whooping Cough. Antibiotics only stop you infecting others. The only thing that could have saved Dana was preventing her catching Pertussis. She contracted this terrible disease in the first weeks of her life before she could be vaccinated. No one else in our family has tested positive for Pertussis or had a cough. We have tortured ourselves with questions: Was it in the hospital? Was it from our son’s school or daughter’s childcare centre? Was it at the GPs? Was it at a birthday party? Or was it a loving relative or friend who doesn’t know they have the bacteria? It doesn’t matter… we are all innocent victims in this. Everyone in our community must work together to increase vaccination rates to protect our most vulnerable. Vaccination was introduced because there is no medicine to stop these bacteria that killed and maimed thousands of children. Third-world diseases are on the rise again. In NSW it is Whooping Cough. In Queensland it is Measles. We cry ourselves to sleep with memories of our daughter coughing until she couldn’t breathe, attached to a ventilator, going into cardiac arrest and holding her bruised and swollen body after her heart stopped. And when our other children ask why Dana died, we falter, because it was completely preventable.

For the full text of this letter go to:

Before immunisation, infectious diseases such as diphtheria, measles, polio and whooping cough caused much ill-health, disability, and death. Due to the success of immunisation programs, many of these conditions are rarely seen today. This has led to a sense of complacency in some sections of the community. Apart from the clear benefits of immunisation for each individual child, it is also important from a community view that all children are immunised. As well as being at great risk of contracting these infections, non-immunised children (and adults) also help spread infection in the community. Despite it being the single most effective public health measure for children, some parents still hold reservations about immunising their children, and there are still misconceptions about different aspects of immunisation. Research on immunisations over many years has shown that serious side-effects are extremely rare. We know that the benefits of immunisation by far outweigh the risks. Immunisation and Childcare Taking steps to reduce the spread of infection is especially important in childcare settings where many children congregate and potentially become more exposed to viruses and bacteria that can cause disease. Childcare centres must keep the immunisation records of children attending the centre. It is important for parents to update their own records and those at the childcare centre each time their child has an immunisation. Childcare centres must have a policy on the exclusion of children who are not immunised for when there is a case of the disease at the centre. This is necessary to protect the unimmunised child and to prevent further spread of the disease. Sourced from: Early Childhood Connections - Childcare and Children’s Health Vol.8, No.3

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Homework hysteria: All for nothing? by Louise Porter, PhD, Child Psychologist A

lmost all parents of schoolaged children have experienced a meltdown when their child realises there is a test or an assignment due the next day but they have not done the necessary work. Sometimes, it’s not clear who is more hysterical: the child or the parent! Most parents will also identify with nightly nagging at children to get homework done. This generates tension and disputes between parents and children when stressed children cannot, or don’t want to, do the work. And then there are the times when parents ‘help’ by doing the work themselves, because they realise that the job is too difficult for their child. What’s it all for? It certainly is not to teach children self-discipline and good study habits, because it’s the parents and teachers who impose the homework, so the discipline is external, not internal. It also isn’t that homework improves children’s school performance. Research is clear that giving children compulsory homework in primary school causes them to dislike school and to work less well during the school day in the knowledge that they have more to do that evening. They have less social, recreational and extra-curricular activity

time, and less time for sleep (which is vital for adolescents). And, when children have learning difficulties, homework forces them to confront at home what they endure all day at school: failure. As a result, children who are given more than 30 minutes of homework a night show declines in their academic skills, compared with children who are given none. Teachers are busy people. On top of a job that grows more complex as time goes on, they have to write, mark and police homework assignments. Teachers and parents are expected to punish children who do not complete homework, creating resentment in children and generating conflict with the adults in their lives. All this for tasks which are unnecessary for that vast majority of children who are progressing well. If, instead, teachers could design specific remedial activities for the handful of struggling students, both they and their students would be less burdened. There are three occasions when children benefit from doing homework. First, in the early years of school, having parents read to them is the most beneficial activity for a child’s academic development. Second, in the middle primary to high school years, simply

Parent resources for guiding children’s behaviour by Dr

Louise Porter, child psychologist

Children are people too 4th edition In this book, you will gain skills in acknowledging children’s achievements, without rewarding them and teaching children to consider others. When they lose control of their own behaviour, parents can help them to calm down, without punishing them for becoming upset. Children’s self-esteem and social needs are also discussed. $30 DVD: Guiding children’s behaviour In four chapters, this DVD describes the differences between controlling discipline and a guidance approach, shows how to acknowledge rather than reward children, and how to teach self-control rather than punish children’s thoughtless behaviour. A Q&A section answers parents’ common questions $40

To order go to or phone 0417 080 449

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reading for recreation is the best ‘homework’ that children can do. Third, in years 11 and 12, those young people motivated to pass their year 12 exams will choose to do the necessary work. What makes these forms of homework different from compulsory homework is choice. When we lack choice, activities become drudgery, and when they are joyless, they teach us little – other than to dislike them. I agree with Bill Glasser, in The Quality School: Managing Students without Coercion, that children would be better emerging from schooling ignorant, than hating to learn. It’s the children’s willingness to learn that is most harmed by compulsory homework. Children don’t like it, many parents don’t like it, and teachers don’t like it. For good reason. // Cartoon by Peter MacMullin


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What’s For Dinner?

A delicious winter warmer.

Butter Soup.

Helping Children Stay Warm in Winter

by Sarah Langley, Naturopath A

s a naturopath, I often see how the basic tenets of living, such as good food, clean water, exercise, rest and sleep, sunshine, play and warmth, are essential for healthy children and at this time of year, it’s warmth that needs special attention. Why is warmth important?

An excellent (and easy) vegetable soup can be made by simply sautéing some of the vegetables in butter at the start. Children love this one – my children named it ‘Butter Soup’! Serves 4 2 large leeks 2 large carrots 1 stick of celery 500g potatoes 60g butter salt and pepper ½ tsp sugar 4 cups water or chicken stock 3 tablespoons cream finely chopped parsley

Method Wash leeks well and discard the dark green leaves before finely slicing the remainder. Slice the carrots and celery, dice the potatoes. Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté leeks and carrots until the butter is absorbed. Add celery, potatoes, water or stock, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Blend until smooth, adding more stock or water if soup seems too thick. Stir in cream and parsley just before serving, or for a more dramatic effect, drizzle cream in each bowl and sprinkle with the parsley. Enjoy with crusty bread. [PJP]

We’d love to hear your favourite healthy recipies!

Send them to us at

From a physical point of view, warmth supports the normal functioning of the body systems. When a child is cold, his

“Food plays an important role in a child’s warmth.” or her body uses extra energy to produce warmth. This energy could be put to other uses such as appetite, digestion or play. Children may not be able to recognise when they are cold, so adults need to monitor this for them. You have probably seen children who swim until their lips are blue and they are shivering but say they are OK; or kids who run around sweating like crazy in a jumper and not sense that they are too hot. The ability to sense one’s own warmth can only really begin to be relied upon around early adolescence, and this is dependent on whether this ability was cultivated well as a child. A child who has grown up with healthy care for their body temperature will have a greater sense of their own warmth as a teenager and be therefore more likely to take care of themselves properly (dress appropriately, eat healthy diet etc). Food plays an important role in a child’s warmth. Incorporating warm foods into the diet allows the digestive system to be supported, whereas cold foods eaten in colder times add somewhat more burden to the system. The digestive system not only has to break down and assimilate the foods, it has to warm them up as well! During winter, a healthy child should be given a blend of warm and harder foods, depending on the time of day, the environment and what they are doing. An unwell child, or a child who is tired or has had a busy day, will love warm, soft nourishing foods.

Some ideas for warming winter foods • Toasted sandwiches (or jaffles) with fillings like cheese (mozzarella is great!), tomato, basil and english spinach. • Left-over meals warmed through, like roast vegetables or rice (perhaps with a little tomato sauce). • Oat or rice porridge with a little honey and warm milk. Even warm milk on cereals is nice now. • Thick soups like pea, lentil or pumpkin, served with a little sour cream, natural yoghurt or quark (curd cheese). • Stews such as chunky root vegetable stew, made from carrot, potato, swede and broccoli, served with a piece of warm toast. • For sweetness, try room-temperature fruits in season, such as mandarins, oranges and pears; or stewed fruits such as apples and pears. Serve with some milk or custard, or on their own. • Desserts such as warm rice puddings, sago, semolina and apple pie. • For salads, try adding some warmed pieces of pumpkin, potato, beetroot, cheese, chick peas or toasted seeds (sunflower, sesame or pumpkin) to greens. Add some cold-pressed oil like macadamia, olive or walnut and you have a delicious winter salad. • Warm milk (cow, rice, oat, almond) with a little coffee-substitute like ‘Ecco’ or ’Nature’s cuppa’ made from roasted chicory, or a small spoon of honey and cinnamon. Before bed, this can also aid sleep. • Warm herbal teas such as lemon balm and chamomile warm through the digestion and can help after a cold day outside. Some foods which are less useful for children this time of year include cold melon (water melon, rock melon and honeydew melons), cold cucumber and ice blocks, ice creams and cold drinks. These are traditionally eaten cold and are not warmed up or used in cooking. Many children will complain of a tummy ache after these foods. Sarah Langley, Naturopath. (02) 6651 9774. Suite 4/364a Harbour Drive Coffs Harbour

essential child


Book Reviews by Children’s Author, Deborah Abela Author of Max Remy Superspy, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) with world famous Johnny Warren and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen.

Sarah’s Heavy Heart written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas Picture Book

The Duck in the Gun

Journey of the Sea Turtle

by Joy Cowley illustrated by Robyn Belton

words and Illustrations by Mark Wilson

Picture Book

(Hachette Livre)

(Walker Books)

Picture Book

(New Frontier Publishing) Age 3-5

Age 3+

Age 4-8

Sarah carries her heavy heart everywhere. She barely squeezes it onto the bus, straps it like a giant balloon to her back as she rides her bike and is unbalanced by it on the seesaw. ‘Sarah knew her heart would always be hers to carry. She just wished it wasn’t so heavy.’ One day a small, curly-haired boy floats by with a heart so light, it lifts him above tall buildings, trees and low-lying clouds. ‘It’s worse in windy weather,’ he said. ‘My heart just gets carried away.’

Special 25th anniversary edition

In this book, we follow the story of a loggerhead sea turtle in Australia. We witness the mother crawling onto the beach at night and laying her eggs, to the hatching of the new turtles and the return, over 30 years later, of an adult to lay her own eggs. The sea turtle faces many obstacles from swooping shadow birds, ocean predators, cray-pot lines and developed shorelines that were once egglaying grounds.

After days of marching his men to the town, the General is ready to wage war. When he asks his gunner to fire the first shot, he has bad news for the General: he can’t fire the cannon because there is a duck in the gun. The General is furious: “A duck can’t stop an army.”


With very clever word play and whimsical illustrations, it’s easy for the reader to be carried away too. And when Sarah and her new friend come up with a plan to share their problems, their problems don’t seem so bad.

This is a very funny, anti-war book, with great fluffy illustrations perfectly capturing the characters, particularly the General, who begins the book wanting to go to war with the town, but because of one nesting duck, comes to see the town in a very different light.

It is estimated that only 1 on 1000 baby loggerhead turtles from one nesting beach in Qld will survive life at sea to return as a nesting adult. Mark Wilson is a highly acclaimed environmental writer and artist and this richly illustrated work is so alive you can almost feel the sun on the beaches and the swirling currents of warm oceans nudging the vivid colours of coral reefs.

for your family

A brilliant way to educate your child

Two ways to get

Free Books

• Join us to earn your own income and receive free books • Host your own Book Party and claim your free books

Visit or call us on 1300 368 019


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Mother’s Guilt: Is it optional? by Rebecca Cork I

s it possible to make a decision as a mother and not feel guilty? Are there guilt-free options? On whose behalf do we feel guilty? Does the guilt subside? What is it really that we feel guilty about?

the reasons why Mother X shouldn’t feel guilty. Cries of, ‘you can only do what you can do’, ‘you’re a great mother’, ‘baby Y seems so happy so you can’t be doing that bad a job’, rang out and rained down.

I feel guilty I didn’t brush my daughter’s teeth tonight. I feel guilty when I let her eat cake. I felt guilty when my son stayed at his grandmother’s house overnight. I feel guilty when I immunise my children. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t immunise them.

As I reassured my friends, it dawned on me that I really can only do what I can do. My children are adored. They laugh everyday. They are held and kissed and told they are loved. They are safe and they are treasured and they know it. If I make scrambled eggs once a week for dinner, so what? If my daughter wears the same onesie two days (and one night) in a row, big deal! If Nanny wants to have a sleep over with the baby that is a good thing! After talking to other mothers and bolstering their mothering morale, I worked out how not to feel guilty. I need to be as gentle with myself as I am with my friends. The words of comfort I offer them are heartfelt and genuine so I need to respond to my concerns as if someone else were having them.

What is behind the fear that drives the guilt? What are we so afraid of? Are we afraid of the little things? Like maybe bad breath. Or is it something larger like false teeth? Is the reason we agonise over every decision the fear that we are, in some way, contributing to our child having an unfulfilling life? Or does it have more to do with the fear of being perceived as a bad mother? Or is it the fear of actually being a bad mother? I know I am a good mother so it’s not rational that I should feel this guilt. According to Germaine Greer it is simply because I am a woman. I mustn’t pass that on to my daughter (I would feel so guilty) so I need to uncover what it is that drives it. When I talked about this with other mothers and they shared with me what it was they felt guilty about, I realised

that rarely do we have anything to feel guilty about and that we are our own worst enemy. The spectrum of guilt they described was wide: cleaning instead of playing, watching TV instead of reading, working and placing children in care, being a single mum, not baking cookies – the list seemed endless. What was interesting was that we were all so supportive of one another. If it wasn’t our own issue, we could rationalise all

I still don’t know why so many mothers have so much guilt or what drives it. I just know it’s unnecessary and unproductive. We are mothers and we are wonderful.

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Spies, Soccer And Ghosts An interview with Deborah Abela C

Is it true your haunted family inspired your latest book?

hildren’s author Deborah Abela has slept beside alligators, been harassed by monkeys and was almost traded for a camel in the Sahara desert. All in the name of a good story.

Ghosts would appear in my mother’s family at all sorts of times and places like a relative popping in for a cup of tea. I’ve always been fascinated with the stories Nanna told me and knew I’d write them into a novel one day. The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen is about a young girl who lives on a seaside pier and discovers that she shares it with a few ghosts.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? At the age of 7. The books I read carried me away to such magical places I knew I

“My first story was about a man made of cheese… it wasn’t very good.” wanted to try and create that feeling in other people. My first story was about a man made of cheese…it wasn’t very good. What was the inspiration for the Max Remy Superspy series? Three things really: My love of the TV show Get Smart about a clumsy bumbling secret agent, my first job as a children’s writer for Cheez TV on network TEN and my adventures overseas…the ones with the alligators and monkeys. I put them altogether and came up with an adventure/comedy about an 11yo girl called Max and her best friend Linden, who take on the world’s bad guys as the youngest members of Spyforce. How did you move from Superspies to soccer legends? Australian soccer legend, Johnny Warren, approached my publisher to write a series of kids books about soccer, but admitted he couldn’t write. So I was asked if I’d like to do it. Johnny would tell me loads of stories about being a soccer great and playing for Australia in the world cup. A dream lots of kids have. I took those stories and wrote about a group of young girls and boys who dream of being soccer legends just like Johnny and Jasper Zammit (Soccer legend) was born. Why is it important to develop a love of reading in kids? Reading develops, among other things, creativity, vocabulary, the ability to grasp


essential child

Do you have any tips for adults and kids if they’d like to be writers?

concepts and ideas, it fosters empathy for other people and confidence in themselves. It encourages imagination and helps kids realise that there isn’t only one way of facing a situation but lots of ways. Finally, it’s fun and a brilliant way to create a sense of warmth and closeness when shared.

Read, read, read and just start. Get those ideas and flesh them out, play with them, ask yourself ‘what if?’ Learn how other writers write. For adults, join a writers group or centre, apply to the Children’s Book Council Frustrated Writers Mentoring Program (nsw.cbca. enter competitions, listen to authors speak at events or online. For kids, encourage them to enter competitions (DMag runs a great one). And finally, practice practice, practice. You can write to Deb or find out more about writing, spies, soccer and ghosts at

Ways we can help foster a love of reading? Let your child see you read. Share the reading not only at bedtime but at other parts of the day too. Some kids respond really positively to audio books, also which can be listened to as a family. Talk about your favourite books and why you love reading. Help kids ‘read for interest’ so that they are guided towards books on subjects that excite them. Why do you write for kids? I love the 8-12 age group I write for. Their ideas, their love of story, their sense of humour…it’s just a great age. What’s the process of writing a novel? It all starts with a tiny idea. I think about this idea and make lots of notes. The idea grows and begins to take shape and I roughly plan the plot. Once I know my characters well enough, I start writing. It’s not usually a linear process, in fact it’s quite chaotic, but I love watching it all come together.

Watch the trailer for Deb’s new book, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen at: Aurelie_Preview.html

MAKE YOUR Conversations with Babies I

The mother of a 4 month old baby expressed her delight at baby conversations:

• website & SEO copy • brochures & catalogues • press releases • marketing materials • advertisements

Call Sarah on 0410 338 201

Possums' Den Preschool

“I didn’t realise you could have a ‘conversation’ with such a little baby. Now at change time, we take ‘turns’. I watch for ‘her turn’ – she wriggles and coos. When it’s ‘my turn’, she goes completely still and just listens – it’s amazing.”

Possums’ Den is a small communitybased, not-for-profit early childhood centre specialising in the preschool years (3-6). We have a passion for providing a best-practice program in an attractive caring environment.

Open 8am-6pm Now taking enrolments for 2010 and 2011

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Initially it may seem strange trying to have a conversation with a baby, but the following tips may help:

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• Make sure you are face-to-face with the baby, with eye contact • Take turns to ‘talk’ and allow the baby plenty of time to ‘reply’

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• Follow the baby’s lead for a ‘topic’ of conversation. If for example he or she is indicating interest in a rattle, talk about the rattle • Copy and exaggerate the sounds made by the baby, as well as ‘real’ talk • Use routines such as bathing, nappy change and feeding as opportunities for conversation • Above all else make sure the conversation is fun – for both of you! Childcare & Children’s Health Dec. 2006

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t is now being recognised that babies can engage in ‘conversations’. While they cannot, of course, use words, babies use a range of sounds, gestures, mouth/ tongue movements and facial expressions to communicate. With support from adults, babies quickly learn the way that conversations go : talk’, pause for a response, then ‘reply’. These ‘conversations’ not only give babies pleasure, they help longer-term language development and strengthen the bond between the baby and the parents.


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Is yours a Charlipop’s Kid? Photos by Amanda Keeys Photography, Zozo & Grace Photography, and Krickets.

Essential Child Issue 2  

Winter 2009. Letters to the Editor Products We Love Out of the mouths of babes Is my child ready to start scho...

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