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SUMMER 2011 Planning your family getaway Teaching the art of winning & losing Promoting outdoor play Happy goodbyes at preschool Pregnancy food rules challenged



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Inside this issue... Issue 12, Summer 2011 Regular Features Editor’s letter


Letters to the editor


Out of the mouths of babes


We love... Saltwater Freshwater Art 3 Handy Hints Buy or make your own Advent Calendar!


Book Reviews


Essential Child Issue 12, Summer 2011 Editor Sarah Rogers Early Childhood Consultant & Sub Editor Pauline Pryor Jodie Smith Creative Director Sam Pryor Cover Photo Captured with Love Photography Contributing Writers Jeanette John Deborah Abela 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.

Featured Articles Overcoming morning tears. Pauline Pryor shares a strategy to help children say goodbye


Winning & Losing. Teaching children the art of winning and losing graciously 6 Happy Holidays Planning ahead.


Santa: the lie. 9 A World of Wonder. Jeanette John promotes play in natural outdoor spaces


Sun Safety. Chosing a hat.


Pregnancy Rules? A personal intepretation of the research.


Like, Comment, Share! You can now follow Essential Child on Facebook and Twitter. EssentialChild Essential_Child essential child


Editor’s letter. P

lease, somebody tell me where 2011 has gone! I can’t quite believe that the Christmas holidays are here and so is the summer issue of Essential Child. We have a great issue for you this month, jam-packed with fantastic articles on pregnancy, childhood and parenting. With holidays in mind, we looks at some great tips for travelling with children. We’ve all been on disastrous family holidays, but with a bit of forward planning, everyone can have a perfect break filled with family fun and harmony. Santa Claus plays a very big role in the festive season for most children, but have you ever stopped to consider that Santa is, in fact, one big lie! What does this mean to you? And what does it mean for your children to believe in this myth? Turn to page 9 where Pauline discusses ‘Santa, The Lie’. You might like to drop us a line by email or Facebook to let us know how much of a role Santa plays in your family’s Christmas. I would also love to hear your thoughts on the article on page 13, ‘Pregnancy Rules?’. Everybody has their own approach to pregnancy and our guest writer has shared her experiences on second pregnancy and breaking ‘the rules’. Finally, I would just like to thank you, our wonderful reader, for continuing to pick up Essential Child every quarter. We love receiving your great feedback, so please keep it coming. And please keep on supporting our advertisers. It’s because of them that we are able to bring you Essential Child each term. Enjoy the holidays and see you in 2012!

Sarah x PS: Did you see gorgeous Ishana on our front cover? She is the second winner of the Captured with Love Photography competition. Thank you to Laura at Captured With Love and Ishana for helping us look good. Look out for Liam on our next cover.


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Letters to the editor.

Out of the mouths of Featured Letter babes.

ANOTHER PRECIOUS YEAR I read Phillipa Maher’s article (Is my child ready for school?] with interest. I didn’t send my son to school until he was nearly six, and I have never regretted my decision. In that extra year he became so confident and interested in everything, so when he did start school he was happy and enthusiastic about the social side of school as well as the learning. He was really ready to ‘fly’, and he has continued to do well right through his first three years. I remember seeing an ABC television program that followed some children from preschool to the early days of kindergarten, and one scene that has always stayed with me is a view of a playground from a small child’s perspective – a sea of bigger, noisy strangers, all dressed the same. How scary that must be for children who are not socially mature enough to know how to find a friend, find their way around or get help from a teacher. In a recent interview on radio a representative of the Department of Education said that schools can be ready for children whatever stage they are at, but I know that a lot of teachers agree that most children are better off having another year at preschool rather than going to school at four. I am annoyed when I hear people using the term “keeping them back”. I never felt that I was keeping my boy back; I was instead giving him another precious year to be a preschooler. After all, there is no rush.

My three year old was explaining a picture she’d drawn to her mother and me. She said “And the animals are in the bugdib”. We asked her to repeat that word, which she did “bugdib”. Looking frustrated at our confused faces, she said, wide-eyed and patronising, “Can you say, ‘bugdib’?” Simon, Frenchs Forest

I was trying to teach Ruby, 2, to say Happy Birthday... me: “Happy” Ruby: “Happy” me: “Birthday” Ruby: “CAKE??” Belle, Bathurst

I could smell something bad in the house yesterday and said to my daughters, “I can smelll poo. Did the puppy do a poo?” My threeyear-old looked at me solemnly and said “Mum, I did a poo in my nappy. But don’t worry, it’s people poo, not puppy poo.” Bel, Lismore

A ridiculously intelligent kid at my son’s preschool, when asked what blood does, replied “the platelets stop you bleeding” to which my darling 4 year old responded, “what, pikelets??” Jody, Sydney

Janet Schuller, Boambee

won a copy of “Everyday e u’v yo , et an J s ion lat tu ra ng Co Helen Evans learning about storytelling” by fo r our favourite letter ay aw ve gi to py co r he ot an ve We ha, nt se es @ rs tte le at us l ai Em ! next issue WHAT’S THE RUSH?


I just wanted to thank you for Phillipa Maher’s article on starting school (Spring 2011). My daughter won’t be turning five until June 2013, but it was already playing on my mind whether to send her to school that year or the next. Phillipa’s article gave me a lot to think about and I’m now definitely leaning towards starting my daughter at school when she’s five and a half. After all, what’s the rush?

My sympathy to Karen Harris (Spring 2011). It must be so worrying having a child with a food allergy. I’m shocked that there are parents who continue to send banned food items to school in their child’s lunch box. Surely this is one of those situations where we need to think ‘my child’s need for a peanut butter sandwich is not as big a deal as a child dying’!

Virginia, Nana Glen

Kristie, Woolgoolga

. . . e v o l We L

ooking for a Christmas gift for the person who has everything? Consider this gorgeous, glossy locally-produced book, Saltwater Freshwater Art, a beautiful publication featuring 39 Aboriginal visual artists from the Mid North Coast of NSW.

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The images are large enough to use with children to get them talking and patternmaking, so it’s a great resource for preschools and schools. The price of $39 is amazingly low for such a quality book. Available online at

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Overcoming morning tears.

Pauline Pryor shares a strategy to help children say goodbye


ecently my 3 ½-year old granddaughter Milly told me via Skype that she cried when Mummy left her at preschool that morning.

Mummy is going somewhere that they would like to go. Maybe they are not sure they like this new routine of regular days at the centre, especially if they are accustomed to flexible days with Mum. Or they may need help to find a special playmate or a particular adult to relate to, in which case the adults at the centre can help.

She has been going to preschool for a few weeks now, and I know that usually she is fine. I also know that the staff at the preschool are well-qualified, experienced,

We don’t need to make light of children’s emotions, or even to distract them. knowledgeable and wise. (As an early childhood educator I did, naturally, help my daughter and son-in-law – who don’t live locally – to choose a place for their girl!) The staff supported a gradual settling-in period for our little one, helping her to develop relationships with them and the children, and to become familiar with the building and routines while her Mum stayed for

decreasing amounts of time. Sometimes though it happens that a child who at first is able to confidently say goodbye to a parent, will start to have some tears at separation time. There can be several reasons for this. Children may, for instance, sense a parent’s anxiety or guilt or even illness, or may worry that the parent will miss them. Maybe they have heard that

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My daughter did all the right things. She made it clear what the morning routine would be –“ I’ll give you ten pushes on the swing, read you a story, and then I’m going” – and followed this plan. Despite Milly’s tears, she left promptly, informing the staff at the centre of her actions, and trusting them to help Milly to recover. She did recover, of course, and by all accounts had a lovely day. When I put on my early childhood teacher’s hat and asked Milly what had helped her feel better, she said “I called out ‘Mummy!’ when Mummy came to get me”. She seemed to be only able to think about her sadness in the morning, and her Mum’s arrival in the afternoon, rather than the happy times she had

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children n e h w p l e oh Fo r ideas t star t prim ary school, e” to are about school wit h a sm il ing s ee “Star t ring 2009 edit ion at in our Sp ess ent ia during the day. Children who become upset again when the parent returns to pick them up may do so because they remember their feelings on separation. So I persisted, using the principles promoted by Louise Porter* and others in helping children learn that while it’s OK for them to have strong emotions, these don’t last forever, and that they can learn ways to help themselves to feel better. So I asked, “What did you do after Mummy left?” and I waited. Sometimes it takes a long time for young children to process what you have said, gather their thoughts and reply. Ten seconds can seem an age to wait, but it can be worth it! Alas, not this time. All Milly could say was “I cried”. This was probably the wrong question. So I asked a different one, “What did you play with?” Another wait, lots of thinking but no reply at all. Next question: “What did the teachers do to help you?” Success! Milly was able to tell me (after a wait) about a teacher who gave her a choice of where to play, and what she had chosen. Sometimes children just need to be given a sense of control, and offering a choice is a good

way of doing this. She told me that she felt better after she made her choice, and that she went on to play with other things. I congratulated Milly on being able to do something that helped her feel happy, and suggested that if she feels sad another day when Mummy leaves, she could try this same strategy again, seeing as it worked today. I also acknowledged that sometimes it is hard to say goodbye and reinforced the message that there is always something you can do to feel better. This approach is well worth a try if your child has difficulty separating from you, whether it is in an early childhood setting or at school. We don’t need to make light of children’s emotions, or even to distract them. We can let them know that it’s OK to feel sad, but also empower them to work out what things can help them to feel better. Make sure you acknowledge what worked for them. This doesn’t mean praise. “Good girl” is not appropriate – it’s not about being good or bad. Simply repeat what they have told you they did. This might go something like this: “So the teacher read you a story, and that helped you to feel better? If you feel sad another time you could ask the teacher to read you a story again”.

It takes time to learn a new skill, so don’t expect instant miracles. But if we acknowledge small successes, and remind our children of things that have worked for them in the past, they can learn ways of recovering when emotions are running high. Milly’s Mum reminded her each preschool morning about the things she already knew that helped her to say goodbye, and reminded her of the plan they had agreed on. She even drew stick-figure pictures of the plan (coming into preschool, having a swing, holding the teacher’s hand, waving goodbye, listening to a story). I am happy to report that after just four days things are much better. Milly follows the plan, and says goodbye, if not happily, at least without tears. And at home time, she now likes to finish what she is doing before joining Mum to go home. We all have things that we do to help us feel better when emotions run high. We might talk to a friend, go for a walk, have a cuppa, turn up the music, vacuum or dig in the garden very rigorously (am I sharing too much here?). Children can be helped to work out what works for them. [PJP] * Porter, L, (2010) Children are people too, East Street Publications, Adelaide

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Warm, caring and highly qualified staff A focus on kids fitness and health Accredited with the highest quality profile 3-6 Years Lilly Pilly has long-existing staff that pride themselves on their consistent high-quality rating in the compulsory accreditation process. The hours of operation are 7.30am – 6.30pm, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year. If you wish to personally view our centre for future enrolments, please contact Lisa by phone 6651 1992, or email The Centre is located at 69 Gundagai Street, Coffs Harbour.

69 Gundagai Street, COFFS HARBOUR. Telephone: (02) 6651 1992

Winning & Losing. Teaching children the art of winning and losing graciously By Early Childhood Consultant Pauline Pryor.


t seems a pity that so many activities seem to end up being about winning and losing. While this is fine for those who are able to win at least some of the time, it is disheartening for those who know they will never win. No wonder some children avoid surf club, athletics, gymnastics and the like. Maybe more skill-building and fun things that don’t need a winner would encourage more participation! I have fond memories of a PE teacher who taught me to vault a ‘horse’ and tumble safely. I was never going to ‘do’ gymnastics, but I experienced a wonderful sense of achievement and wellbeing from being able to do these simple physical things. However, teaching the art of winning and losing graciously is vital. We can do this with table and card games as well as in physical pursuits, so that all children can experience success in some form. Our most powerful teaching tool is to provide a positive model of both winning and losing. When we play games with children, even the very young, it’s vital to make sure that we win some of the time, and that we show pleasure in the game as well as in the win. Of course, we need to put aside our competitive side to make sure they win some of the time too, otherwise they will become disheartened and may decide that it’s not worth trying. When we lose we can respond with humour, again talk about what a good game it was and


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congratulate the winner. It’s worth remembering that when children lose at games it gives them important practice in dealing with the bigger disappointments that they are sure to experience as they go through life. The language that we use is an important aspect of positive role modelling. When children succeed we can share their pleasure (Wow, you looked like you enjoyed that!) rather than emphasising how proud we are. Then when they inevitably do not succeed on other occasions, they won’t feel that we are no longer proud of them. Talk about the fun they had or how much enjoyment you had together. Even more powerfully, ask them how they felt about their performance. This allows them to evaluate their own efforts, and develop the knowledge that they do not need to rely on the opinion of others to know if they have done their best. When children have had practice in making choices, they are more likely to make good decisions about how to behave in games, whether it is on the sporting field or playing table games at home. This decision making can start from the early years, choosing between, for instance, a full glass of milk or a half-glass, the red When children have had practice in making choices, they are more likely to make good decisions about how to behave in games shirt or the blue one, and more complicated issues such as whether it can be my sister’s turn in two minutes or five,

Oh, the places you’ll go! There’s fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with a ball Will make you the winning-est winner of all… Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

Dr Seuss, ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’

and in what order to do homework.* Also, when they know that they can make decisions and solve problems children are more likely to view mistakes and obstacles as challenges to have a try at, rather than getting upset about them.** We can help our children to realise that mistakes and failures are an important part of learning Children often expect to be instant experts. While we know that we need to practice in order to succeed, children don’t automatically know this. So it is

. s t n i h y Hand Buy or make your own Advent Calendar! Each day can easily be tailored to your children’s ages and interests. Items might include: put up the Christmas tree, go to the beach, wrap presents or visit friends. Fill spare pockets with chocolate or ginger bread.


valuable to let them know that if they keep practising they will get better at things. This is likely to be news to them! We can tell them about things we needed to work at. This includes things like reading and writing as well as games. It even applies to older children, who may feel that they don’t know how, for instance, to write a good essay. We can help our children to realise that mistakes and failures are an important part of learning, and one way we can do this is to bring the subject into the open and talk about our own memories of being fearful of losing or making mistakes, and of practising and getting better. In our schools, students are rewarded for effort rather than for academic achievement alone. Other strengths are recognised and rewarded, such as good citizenship and commitment to causes. This is not to say that healthy competition doesn’t have a place in our schools. Belonging to a team is a valuable experience, whether the ‘team’ is basketball, debating or the choir. Learning to share successes and failures is part of the experience, and the support provided by the group after a loss is just as important as the shared joy from a win. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we don’t always win, and that is OK. [PJP] * J Pfeffer, reported on ABC radio, 3rd Aug 2011 ** Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S, Risk, Resilience and Futurists: Changing the lives of our children.

Want a real tree for Christmas? Visit Eastbank Road at Coramba or the Coffs Harbour Growers’ and Harbourside Markets. For more info Ph 6654 4282 or 0427 660 282

• Recycle old Christmas cards into Christmas bunting. Use a hole punch to make the holes at the top of the card and simply thread with ribbon. • Parents on a budget can buy gifts on ebay or buy a joint present such as a game or a puzzle for the whole family to enjoy. • Plan to cook extra on Christmas Day. With plenty of left overs, Boxing Day is sure to be a relaxing, stress free day. • Finding the right balance of gifts for children can be a challenge? Try to include something to eat, something to play with straight away like a doll or truck and something that will sustain interest long after

Christmas is over like a puzzle or construction set. • Frame your children’s drawing as a gift for someone special . • Make a trip to your local library and borrow Christmas books or plan to buy a Christmas book each year to add to your own collection. • Be safe over the holidays and only buy new Christmas lights from a reputable seller. Look for an approval number or the regulatory compliance mark logo which indicates compliance with Australian safety standards. Jodie Smith

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Happy Holidays Planning ahead.


hen we think of family holidays at Christmas we dream of relaxing, spending time with the family, eating too much without feeling guilty and having afternoon naps. Some pre-planning can help to avoid pitfalls and make this dream a reality.

A little planning for your family holiday can help to create a lifetime of happy memories. A good place to start is a checklist of things to consider for your family.

language, food and customs can be so unfamiliar?

Accommodation Whether you are planning a camping holiday or organising other accommodation, consider whether you need separate sleeping spaces for your children. Imagine putting all of your mattresses in the lounge room at home for a month and sleeping together. For some families this may be fun, but for others it may be a challenge. So the first big decision is how many rooms / tents / annexes do you need?

Meals Check whether your accommodation has a restaurant that caters for your children’s likes, dislikes, allergies and meal times. It’s always convenient if you have the choice of eating at your motel or resort, especially if you have had a big day at the beach or sight-seeing, but this will be a challenge if your children aren’t well provided for. Look online for

other nearby restaurants, and check out their menus for suitability and price. An apartment with self-catering is a great option, and good for the budget, but make sure you plan for the cook to have a break!

Activities What will the children do during the day? Are you happy to be with them all day, or would you prefer somewhere with supervised activities for children so you can have some time to relax by the pool without being ‘on duty’. If activity clubs are available, be sure to check out the age, qualifications and experience of the supervisors, check that there are safety and protection policies in place, and that the staff know these. A questions such as, “How do you make sure the children are safe?” is a good place to start. A little planning for your family holiday can help to create a lifetime of happy memories. Jodie Smith

Transport How many hours do you want to spend travelling? How well do your children travel? What are the costs involved? There are so many great destinations in our region that we don’t need to go far to have a wonderful holiday.

Destination What does your family prefer? Do you want to experience nature, another culture, history or city life? Do you want to visit beaches, theme parks, shops, national parks, zoos, museums, art galleries or theatres? Do you want to go somewhere familiar and loved, or try something new? If you are considering an overseas adventure give some thought to the age of your children, and how they might handle a possible culture shock in a place where the people,


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. e i l e h t : a t n a S her it’s t e h w d re e id r cons Have you eve t he “Santa m yt h” wit h on right to car ry n one hand, Santa m akes ?O your children nd m agical. On t he ot her a Christm as fun el uncom fo r table about, in y fe hand, you m a ing to your children. effect, ly Parents need to use their own judgment in deciding whether or not to include Santa in the festive season, but here are some things to consider: • Fantasy is important for young children, in developing creativity, in thinking about the world around them, and solving problems with their imagination. There is evidence, for instance, that preschool children who have imaginary friends are more creative, have greater social understanding and cope better with stress. In the early years, children delight in ‘magical’ thinking, and including Santa in their Christmas can be a wonderful part of their lives that leaves many happy memories. But if you choose not to introduce or encourage the belief in fictitious characters, then look for other ways to encourage children’s imaginations, such as by playing dress-up or reading fiction. • If you feel uncomfortable telling your child an outright lie, but want your child to enjoy the Santa fantasy, you can answer their questions with things like, “Well, I didn’t ever see Santa but there were always presents under the tree when I was little”, or “That’s what people say – what do you think?” • You may be cautious about promoting the consumerism side of Christmas which is meant to be about the Christian message of giving and loving. There’s nothing wrong with getting gifts, but Santa Claus can make it the focus on the entire season. Children whose parents are on a tight budget may feel that they have been overlooked. And children who believe that all of the gifts they receive on Christmas morning are from a magical man with unending resources are less likely to appreciate what they have

been given, and the sacrifices their parents make in providing them. It may help to separate gifts into one (or a few ‘stocking fillers’) from Santa and others clearly marked that they come from you. Encourage children to give gifts too. Simple things that they have made themselves are always well received, and avoid the ‘buy, buy, buy’ mentality. As a family, you could contact a charity organisation to find ways of giving to families in need, providing another way for children to experience the joy of giving. It is also useful to discuss, even with preschoolers, the ways that advertising is designed to tell them what they should want. • The idea of a ‘naughty or nice’ list is an unjust, unpleasant and unnecessary part of the Santa story. It implies that the whole child can be judged as naughty or nice based upon a few acts. It is based upon the idea that children should be ‘good‘ only for the sake of gifts and allows parents to try to control children via a powerful stranger who is watching them all of the time. The Santa fantasy can be enjoyed without resorting to these fear tactics. • Usually around the age of 8 or 9 children start getting suspicious of the existence of such fantasy characters. This is because their developing brains enable them to think things through in a more logical manner. They may start asking questions such as “How does Santa fly around the world in one night?” If the doubts appear strong then the child might be ready for the truth. Otherwise, let him enjoy his

childhood as long as he can. Ideally, the child will find out for him or herself, like a little scientist, so you might ask, “Is there something you saw or heard that makes you think Santa isn’t real?” and “What do you think?” Rather than feeling betrayed by earlier ‘lies’, children are more likely to feel pleased with their cleverness at working things out. It may a good idea to discourage them from sharing their new realisations with friends and siblings who may not be ready to hear the news. • With Santa appearing in shopping centres and at parties and community events it’s hard to avoid him. Following your child’s lead as they start to show interest in Santa Claus is likely to do no more harm than imaginative play surrounding Dora or Ben 10. Simply respond to questions with answers appropriate to your children’s age. Children seem to easily accept that the Santas they see around town are just helpers. You can choose whether you tell them that the ‘real’ Santa lives at the North Pole, or tell them about the real Saint Nicholas, who was the inspiration for the jolly, red-suited gift-giver that we now know. • Ultimately, there is magic in the way a parent loves a child, and wants to create a world of beauty and light for her. How you do this is up to you. But no matter what you do, there is no need to be a Scrooge or turn your child into a Grinch who steals other children’s joy. [PJP]

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A World of Wonder.

Jeanette John promotes play in natural outdoor spaces

Jeanette John is the Director and Early Childhood teacher at Dawn Song Children’s Centre in Bellingen. She has more than 20 years experience in early childhood and has worked both in Australia and the UK. She has completed a four year degree with honours in Early Childhood teaching and is enrolling to complete a Master of Educational Leadership in 2012. Jeanette teaches Certificate Three and Diploma students in children’s services at TAFE, CHEC campus.


utdoor play is not just about physical play and ‘letting off steam’.

Children need to build relationships with the natural world to learn how it works and how we can look after it. Early childhood educators understand that outside play spaces are not just for the development of gross motor skills such as climbing, running, kicking or throwing, but see them as an important part of the child’s whole learning environment. On the mid-north coast we are very fortunate to live in a climate where we can take advantage of the weather all year round and, dressed appropriately, children can be outside for large parts of their day. Natural shade in our playgrounds from established trees and shrubs encourage birds and insect life as well as a safe place for children to


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play and discover. In the summer these trees and shrubs provide a wonderful lesson on the life cycle of the Cicada as children excitedly search the bark for yet another Cicada shell. It’s been shown that if children could design their outdoor play spaces, they would be rich, developmentally appropriate learning environments where children would want to stay all day (White & Stoecklin 1998). Quality Early Childhood centres work to provide the things that children love to have in their outdoor play spaces such as: • vegetation, including trees, bushes, flowers and native plants which encourage insects and other living things, and provide natural colour, diversity and change • natural materials such as pebbles, stones and wood • sand, which is a wonderful material for open-ended play • water (preferably from rain water tanks) • landscape features to sit in, on, under, lean against, and provide shelter and

shade • different levels and nooks and crannies • places that offer privacy and views • structures, equipment and materials that can be changed, actually or in their imaginations, including lots of loose parts to create and build with. Artificial playgrounds do not encourage learning about the environment or provide opportunities for children to create their own learning spaces. Children can quickly master the skills asked of large fixed equipment and these are soon seen as obsolete by children. Open-ended spaces, materials and equipment that can be shaped, formed and reformed according to a child’s imagination allow children to design their own activities or merely to create a quiet place to sit and watch an army of ants march across the path in front of them. As community awareness of environmental issues increases so does the value of providing environmental and sustainability programs for children. Children need to build relationships with the natural world in order to learn

about how our world works and how we, as humans, can look after it. Teaching sustainability cannot happen if you do not provide the stimuli for this to happen. Children cannot learn how water is a finite material that we must use wisely without having it to use wisely. Allowing children to use rain water to water vegie and herb gardens – and generally using water in a monitored way for learning experiences and play – shows the children that “when it has gone that is all for today”. This provides a perfect opportunity for children to understand the concept of finite resources. It’s often not enough to simply have wonderful outdoor play spaces accessible to children. As parents, carers and educators we need to allow children the time to explore them. We live in a society where it has become fashionable to fill a child’s hours, days and weeks with innumerable activities, mostly of an adults choosing. A child who has to fit in homework, soccer practice and piano lessons on top of childcare or school has very little time left to play imaginatively – or to just contemplate the world around them. Quality child care centres provide emergent-style curricula which allow for flexibility throughout the course of the day. We understand that if a child needs more time to finish the wonderful sand construction they are creating in the sand pit this is not a problem; morning tea will just have to wait. As adults we need to revisit those most precious times from our own childhood, and recall the wonders offered by the natural environment. Some of our most treasured memories are of floating twigs down a raging torrent of rainwater in the gutter or following a butterfly flit from jasmine flower to jasmine flower in the spring, making perfume from rose petals, and of course, the best outdoor activity you can imagine as a child – making mud pies! Adults have the responsibility of proving children with both their outdoor play environments and the time to discover them. It’s imperative for us to strive to enable our children to grow up having the memories of these wonderful and valuable spaces! Jeanette John References Elliott and Davis, 2004, p. 5 & Climbing Little Green Steps – How to Manual 2006 Elliot & Davies 2004 Everychild 10 4 pg4-5

Sun Safety.

Sun-safe hats can be:


hildren’s faces are exposed to UV radiation every day of their lives so it’s not surprising to learn the ears, temples, lips and nose are among the most common places for skin cancer to develop later in life. Unfortunately Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with two in every three people who grow up here developing some form before the age of 70. The good news however, is that skin cancer is almost totally preventable which is why Cancer Council NSW developed the SunSmart Program.

Broad-brimmed with a brim size of at least 6cm (adults 7.5cm)

Hats on! Did you know that a sun-safe hat can protect those vulnerable areas as well as reduce the amount of UV radiation reaching children’s eyes by as much as 50%? There are many styles of hats available to buy, but how can you be sure a hat will provide the best sun protection? Cancer Council’s SunSmart Program recommends that children and adults wear a sun-safe hat that protects the face whenever they are outside. Baseball caps are not recommended as they simply don’t provide enough protection especially for the nose, ears and back of the neck.

Bucket style with a deep crown and brim size of at least 5cm (adults 6cm)

Legionnaire, where the peak and the back flap meet at the side.

Choosing a hat A simple way to choose a sun-safe hat is to look for one made of closely woven fabric - if you can see through it, UV radiation will get through! Check out the UV Protection Factor (UPF). This is a scale which rates how much UV

protection a fabric provides. For example, a fabric with a UPF of 10 will allow 1/10 (10%) of the UV radiation to pass through it. A fabric with a UPF of 50 will allow 1/50 (2%) of UV radiation to pass through so it will offer excellent protection.

Last Child In the Woods - Richard Louv (2006) Children’s Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to Nature Randy White & Vicki Stoecklin

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SunSmart is a program of Cancer Council.


(University of Queensland Press) Primary readers – great to read aloud to children, as well as a good choice for independent readers.

Salva Dat was only eleven years old when his village was attacked and his teacher yelled to run into the bush, away from their villages. Salva knew the north and south of Sudan were at war. He’d understood that the Muslim government wanted all of Sudan to practice Islam, but the south had many religions and they wanted to separate from the north and follow their own beliefs. The war

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles written by Fabio Geda based on the true story of Enaiatollah Akbari (David Fickling Books) Independent Readers

Fabio Geda met Enaiatollah at the launch of his first book. Enaiatollah told Fabio he had a story to tell. They began talking and they haven’t stopped since. As a young boy, Enaiatollah’s mother one night asked him to promise her three things: not to take drugs, not to use weapons and not to steal. The next

Deborah Abela, Children’s Author and National Year of Reading Ambassador 2012 om


morning she was gone. He was on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, far from home, his family and only ten years old. Life in Afghanistan was becoming too dangerous and leaving was the only way his mother thought he would have a chance of a better life. The book follows this courageous boy’s five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy, where he has now made his home. It tells of illness, of the death of friends, of kindness from strangers, of people smugglers and the desperate determination to make a new life. Fabio and Enaiatollah worked tirelessly to piece together the journey’s route, draw together the facts and tell a story that is at once powerful and moving in tracing the story of a young boy forced to leave his home and everything he knew in search of safety and a place to call home.

eading and the 2012 is the National Year of R g to plan what e star tin ambassadors and organis ers ar s to love readig all kid we’re going to do to encourage , of course) through 2012 (and beyond w is o inf re mo r fo e sit eb w he T

OPEN TUES – & by a






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eviews. Book RBy Deborah Abela

written by Linda Sue Park based on the true story of Salva Dat

had finally made it to Salva’s village and that was when he began to run. Separated from his family he fled alone but soon finds an uncle who encourages him not to think about the distance they need to travel to safety but the need to ‘only get through the rest of this day. This day and no other.’ Salva walks hundreds of miles, facing wild animals, little food and water and disease. Despite his age, Salva repeats this mantra as he leads 1500 lost boys to the safety of refugee camps in Kenya. Eighteen months later they arrived, 1200 in number. It was at one of these camps that Salva was chosen to go to America where years of hardship and left in him one burning ambition: to build wells for the people of Sudan. This story is interwoven as a puzzle through a more recent story of a small girl called Nya whose life will be changed because of Salva’s survival.

A Long Walk to Water

Pregnancy Rules? A personal intepretation of the research.


recent scene at a restaurant:

Me: “I’ll have the raw kingfish sashimi for entree, rare steak for main, and the frangelico coffee cheesecake for dessert, thank you. Oh and a glass of sauvignon blanc.”

Madam, should you be having any of those things? After all you are pregnant!

Shocked waiter: “But madam, should you be having any of those things? After all, you are pregnant.”

believe that by making safe food choices, my risk of contracting the disease becomes virtually zero.

Me: “Oh no, it’s totally OK, this is my second baby.”

Now, prepare yourself for a confession: I’m a pregnant woman and I choose to eat most cheeses, soft or otherwise. Shocking, I know. I also eat ham, shellfish and salad! But I believe I do so safely. I’ve researched, asked, considered all of the facts and worked out what I personally consider high risk.

So this is perhaps an exaggerated picture of reality, but two things are true. One, I am pregnant with my second baby and two, I am much more relaxed about the “rules” of pregnancy this time around. When I was pregnant the first time, I avoided soft cheeses like the plague, wouldn’t look sideways at sushi and would barely breathe the fumes of a rare glass of wine. I hated not being able to enjoy my favourite foods or my beloved vino. Instead of enjoying that special time, to be honest, I found pregnancy quite dull and restrictive. I felt like my body was no longer my own and that I had little say in what I did. This time, things are a bit different. Maybe I am wiser, I am certainly older, and in the past three years, I have spoken to many people about ‘The Rules’. My husband, other parents, doctors, obstetricians and even psychologists have all put forward their arguments and advice, and from those conversations and my own experiences I have found I’m now able to trust my instincts a great deal more. The argument, I know, is that any risk of illness or danger to your baby is not worth taking and I of course agree. But I’ve discovered that many of the socalled risks are either miniscule or in fact, non-existent. For example, there are less than 10 cases of listeria reported in pregnant women in Australia each year1. With around 298,000 births each year, this means the risk of contracting listeria is no more than 1 in 30,000. Now, I am not making light of listeria. If contracted, it is a very serious danger for pregnant women and their babies. But I

I’ve decided to absolutely avoid any foods that are unpackaged and on display in a deli counter because I have no way of knowing how long that food has been sitting there. Commercial pre-made salads, pre-cut cold meats and unwrapped cheeses are all on my ‘no’ list. But packaged cheeses, ham cut freshly off the bone and fresh prawns that I cook myself (or at a reputable restaurant), I believe to be safe. If I go to a BBQ where food has been ‘preprepared’ I trust my friends and family to have washed their lettuce and prepared their salads properly. Sushi is another ‘risky’ food that I choose to eat occasionally, protecting myself and my baby by making safe choices. My obstetrician told me that while raw fish carries a higher risk of contamination, as long as it is handled properly, that risk is greatly reduced. She advised me to only eat at sushi restaurants I normally ate at and where the sushi was prepared on the premises. I avoid pre-made sushi rolls and order things from the menu to be made fresh. And wine! I badly missed wine during my first pregnancy. This time, I decided I was going to ease the pressure I put on myself and find out the risks. I spoke with my obstetrician who explained that yes, the ‘party line’ is zero tolerance, but that was because there was not enough research done and nobody really knew what a safe level of alcohol was2. However, she told me she believed (from

her 20 years experience and education) that even 2 glasses of wine a day is likely to be safe. I have chosen to stay well below that level by drinking 1-2 glasses on 1-2 days a week. It’s so lovely to be able to have a glass of wine after a long, busy day and not feel guilty for it. And to feel like I am a part of things at restaurants or events. I went to a wedding recently and had a glass of wine with the main meal and a champagne for the toast. I didn’t feel restricted or that I was missing out on the party at all. I need to stress here that none of the choices I’ve discussed are recommendations for other pregnant women. It is only what I have chosen to do. My body, my baby, my choices. I believe pregnancy should be a time to relax, enjoy and look forward to meeting your baby, not to feel restricted and pressured by ‘The Rules’. What I do recommend is making your own choices. Research the Internet (see below. Try to stick to websites ending in, so you know you have the most reliable information), ask your doctor, talk to other people and above all – trust your instincts. Websites to help you make safe food choices [Name Supplied] References. 1. au/scienceandeducation/factsheets/ factsheets2005/listeriacommonlyaske3115. cfm 2. Research is currently being carried out by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute into the effects of low to moderate consumption of alcohol by pregnant women – default.asp)

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Essential Child Issue 12  

Summer 2011