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WESTSIDE

mamamag March 2016

WIN A family pass to the cadbury easter egg hunt Hanging with Hi-5 Preparing for VCE Tutoring benefits Playdate perfection Bully busting

free Local fun for the Westside mum


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cool for school I love the end of January and the start of Feb because I get to celebrate my birthday and then hot on its heals is Valentine’s Day. We went out to dinner for my birthday at the Plough. Last time we went their we dragged our children out screaming before we even ordered but this time, a couple of years on, we had a really lovely meal. Valentines Day Steve and I return to Goonawarra Winery where we got married—they put on a lovely meal each year. Very romantic, though I yawned my way through the evening—often the way it goes when you have young children. Our girls have settled into grade one and grade five (!). Everything has gone very very smoothly, except our five year old leaving school with a friend one day at recess. Fortunately they were located in our (close) back yard having the time of their lives and they were in enough trouble to make sure there’s no repeat performance. I’ve been adjusting to working five days a week for the first time in 10 years, having worked part time since I had our oldest child. I’m working at the local neighbourhood house and am loving how connected it is to the community. I’ve had a few people ask me if I’m Bec from MamaMag so I’ve been feeling very famous! And amazingly home life is coping ok with my increased hours, though our meals are a bit less inspired. In this month’s issue we’re focusing on education with articles on tutoring, bullying in schools, drama classes, and negotiating play dates. And there’s more: Kel, who blogs at Melbourne Minors, has checked out the local skateparks, Mamma Knows West have uncovered another great playground, and in Mama of the Month we talk to Tracy O’Hare from Lifestyle for Kids dance and gymnastics school in Williamstown. February saw the 215,000th copy of MamaMag since we began bringing the mama goodness to Melbourne! And I’ve got NEWS. MamaMag is now in the North, so tell your friends who live over that side of town, and look for the North magazine online if you like venturing over that way.

@localmamamag


WIN

Be prepared 6 Preparing primary kids for VCE success Hanging with Hi-5 We meet the new look cast

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The positive benefits of tutoring How it can help your child

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Lovely locals We visit Watton Street Werribee

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The many faces of bullying Some tips to consider

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Later Sk8er Top skate parks in the West

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Mama of the month Tracy from Lifestyle For Kids

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Snapshots of Seddon The photo comp is back

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Keys to a successful playdate Top 10 tips and more

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2016 Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt at Werribee Park on Good Friday!

Visit our Facebook page to enter

How drama saves the world! 28 Belinda’s journey - school and beyond Parklife 32 Duke Street, Sunshine North No choking matter 34 Child Revive explain choking hazards Mama can cook Treats from SoNaughtyButNice

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Dear mamas in the school yard A school mum’s letter

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Turn the page Top books from The Younger Sun

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Finding mindfulness through art Teaching kids to be mindful

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Colour & win WIN tickets to Ice Age Live!

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MamaMag March 2016

1 of 2 family passes to SO EV OU LD EN T T

Contents

www.facebook.com/localmamamag Entries open to Victorian residents only. Competition starts March 1st 12.01am and closes March 21st 2016 at 11.59pm. Each prize is 4 tickets to the hunt on friday March 25 2015 at Werribee Park. All participants in the Hunt must be between the ages of 3-12 years. Visit mamamag.com.au full terms and conditions.

MamaMag is published monthly for the mums of Melbourne’s West by Grizzle Design Pty Ltd. ABN: 26 042 138 550. PO Box 8018 Brighton East VIC 3187 Phone: 1300 771 446 Email: info@mamamag.com.au www.mamamag.com.au

10,000 copies monthly in Melbourne’s West. Editor in Chief: Sarah Cavalier Assistant Editor: Kirsty Chick Westside Editor: Rebecca Gelsi Sales & Marketing Manager: Charlotte Whelpton Westside Advertising: Maree Sortino Distribution: Kelly Devoil Like to contribute an article submission or products for Facebook giveaways? submissions@mamamag.com.au Advertising enquiries: download our media kit from www.mamamag.com.au or email maree@mamamag.com.au The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publishing staff. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without permission of the publishers. Health related articles are designed to be informative and educational. They are not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace one-on-one advice from your health practitioner.


Be prepareD How to prepare your child for a VCE success from primary school. It’s a new school year and once you have sorted out the uniform and perhaps the books list, your thoughts may turn to how to help your child have a successful academic year. Here are some tips and hints that may help you and your child: • Achievement in VCE is dependent on intellect but also on maturity and resilience. Being academically talented is not enough to do well. Students need to be reasonably mature to manage the stress of VCE and to have the discipline, focus and organisational skills required. Therefore, I would consider very seriously, any advice from your school or a professional whom you trust, that your child should repeat Year 11 or take 3 years to complete VCE. Sometimes that extra year taken to mature emotionally and intellectually can be very helpful. For the same reason, if there is talk about your child repeating a year or even having an extra year in Kinder, this could be the key to setting your child up for an easier journey through school. Obviously, each student is unique, but extra time for your child to develop may be the best gift he or she can be given. • If you are concerned about your child’s speech, learning, social skills, movement or emotional state, trust your gut. As the parent or carer, you know your child best. Ask questions of your child’s teacher and consider having your child assessed by a relevant allied health professional. You can start this process by seeing your general practitioner who will guide you about which type of professional you need to see. You GP may also be able to provide you with a care plan so that most or all of your appointments are paid for by Medicare.

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Asking friends who are well networked for names of good speech or occupational therapists, for example, can also be helpful. Above all, trust your gut, keep asking questions until you feel satisfied that your child is receiving the help he or she requires. • Expose your child to the world beyond his or her own life and city. Talk to your child about discoveries, inventions and appropriate news events. The ABC3 news for kids can often start an interesting conversation. Weave in where we live, how government works, how tax works. • Ask them questions. How do you think that works? Where does the rain come from? Why do we recycle? Is this made of plastic or glass? Encourage them to think, wonder and ask. Two books that really support this and which my girls love are Manfish and On a Beam of Light. Point out and explain scientific ideas in action, such as condensation or magnets. If you do not know how these work, look it up with your kids (or look it up before and explain to them). There are lots of science sites just for kids. Peep and The Big Wide World, Science Toy Maker, and Ology are fun and explanatory. • Use a varied and descriptive vocabulary around and with them. Explain what a new word means (even if you have to look it up yourself). • Teach them to observe nature closely. Watch the snails and how they move in the garden. Notice how plants, trees and flowers grow and change. Try and use and find vocabulary to describe the changes. You can also bring out the science questions here.


• The obvious one; keep them reading! As long they are interested it does not matter what they read. Ask at libraries and bookshops that may interest your child. Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, e-books, sophisticated picture books are some examples. Google books on topics your child is interested in. Take them to author discussions about books at libraries or reading festivals. The Children’s Book Council runs Book Week in October each year which starts off with a huge fun free book festival. Tell them summaries of some of the books you read as a child. Look up bios of authors of books that they like.

• Have you ever wondered how as parents we go the extra mile to foster a love of reading and instil sportsmanship by repeatedly practicing multiple sports with our child, but expect that maths will be learnt entirely through osmosis? If there is only one thing you can do at home to teach maths, it should be an attitude that maths is fun! If you have time for more, ask them to guess. Guess the time, the distance, the cost, the quantity, the direction etc. Monopoly is handy and chess is even better. Learning to take numbers head on will enable a strong and successful engagement with maths (contributed by Ritika Walia).

• Get them to make their own books or help you tell a story. It can be as simple as you saying one sentence and then each taking a turn to add one more line.

• Teach your child that mistakes are fine and that is ok to make mistakes. Try to model that trying with something that can be hard, and then succeeding can be a really good feeling.

• Give them some responsibility at home, appropriate to their age. This will hopefully develop discipline and a sense of achievement.

• Celebrate their learning, their questions and their ideas!

Marissa Pinkas (together with educator Judith Field) has created Speech Matters, a practical resource for teachers in which all aspects of public speaking are explicitly explained and illustrated. The teaching of oral skills is broken down into logical and clear chapters, making it very easy to teach important aspects of planning, writing and presenting speeches. To order call 0419 09 9839.

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West Footscray Festival of Food, Dance & Colours Saturday 19 March 10am-2pm | 539 Barkly St West Footscray

Celebrate your community Jumping castle • Henna tattoos • Face painting Bollywood photo booth • Craft activities • Market stalls Food stalls • Sausage sizzle • Live music and performance Bilingual story times • Throw the colours

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hanging with The Hi-5 team are in their 18th year of entertaining our little ones. They’ve won ARIAs and Logies, and most importantly the hearts and minds of our children (and parents as well!). They have probably saved you once or twice and provided a living room of happy feet and smiling faces. You’re likely to have had one of their catchy tunes stuck in your head (so many animals right now!). The quintet may have evolved and changed over the years, yet the delivery of high energy and charisma has remained constant – it’s a magic formula that has endured almost two decades. In 2016, the Hi-5 gang welcomes two new members into the fold, Lachlan and Gabriel. Ahead of their performance at The Essential Baby and Toddler show, we chatted to Tanika, Lachlan, Gabriel and Dayen about the group’s new dynamics and what life is like as rock stars to the young.

What can audiences expect from Hi-5 in 2016? Tanika: We are going to be spending a bit more time in Australia reconnecting with our Aussie fans which we are very excited about. We also have two new members, Lachie and Gabe who are really keen to meet you all! Lachlan: Audiences can expect lots of fun and laughter like always from Hi-5 this year, but because there are two new cast members, Gabe and myself, they can certainly expect some new excitement and energy! Gabriel: Audiences can expect a Hi-5 team with a new fresh energy. Obviously with two new members the team has a completely different energy whilst still providing the same quality of entertainment that Hi-5 has prided itself on since its conception. Dayen: We have two brand new members this year, and we are so excited to have them on board! We can’t wait for everyone to meet Lachie and Gabe.

What is the magic that makes Hi-5 so popular? Tanika: Hi-5 makes learning fun. Through song and dance, colour and games; kids are able to reach their fullest potential by being confident and comfortable with who they are. All the

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members of Hi-5 (past and present) are just big kids who want to want to have a good time. Lachlan: There are so many magical things about Hi-5 but I think the most magical is our special way of making learning so much fun through music and dance. Gabriel: I think it’s the honest performances of all the cast members past and present and the wonderful direction of the creative team. There is a huge amount of importance on interacting with the kids as if we were their older brothers and/or sisters, allowing for performances that are kind and generous and never condescending. Dayen: Hi-5’s Magic is a combination of music, dancing and colour. I believe that Hi-5 is loved by children all around the world because the songs and dance moves are catchy and easy to follow plus they don’t even realise they are learning while they are having fun!

You’ll be at The Essential Baby and Toddler show, what do you love most about Melbourne? Tanika: I absolutely adore Melbourne. The culture and the people make Melbourne such a special place. The city is filled with so much art and plenty of hidden spots where the locals go to hang out.


Lachlan: Melbourne is fantastic for shopping which I really love and I am a massive AFL fan! Gabriel: I personally am a Melbournian, born and bred so it’s very exciting to be performing so close to home. Dayen: We are so excited that we will be at the essential baby and toddler show! Aside from all the really cute babies that will be there, our fans in Melbourne are particularly very welcoming.

A huge welcome to Lachie and Gabe to the Hi-5 group! What were your backgrounds before joining Hi-5? Lachlan: I have been incredibly lucky to have joined Hi-5 immediately after finishing high school! In fact, I received the call to say I was in the group the morning after my last HSC exam. I have however been working towards a career in entertainment for a very long time. I began dance training at four years of age and took up acting and singing not long after that. For the last few years, while still at school I have been teaching dance, performing in corporate gigs, performing in pantomimes and cabaret club shows, filming a few TV commercials and doing a bit of modelling.

Gabriel: I didn’t know I wanted to be performer until later in life so once I finished high school I ended up going to the University of Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Arts before changing after a year to the Victorian College of the Arts where I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre in 2014. From here I was very fortunate to be cast as Neil Kellerman in GFO’s Dirty Dancing that ended up touring Australia for a total of 330 shows. Whilst touring I auditioned for Hi-5 and well here I am now.

Is it hard to transition new members into the group? Do the kids take a while to accept the new dynamics? Tanika: It’s actually quite a fun and interesting experience. Every kid reacts differently but the most beautiful thing about Hi-5 is that we are all one big family and I think the kids know that, which makes cast changes easier for the kids to accept. Lachlan: I can only speak from my experience and I have to say that everyone at Hi-5 has welcomed me so lovingly that I feel like they have been in my life forever! Although I’m sure the kids will miss Stevie, they too have been really accepting of me and I’m going to do my best to give them an awesome time.

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How does one even become part of one of the most successful groups in Australia? Was it a big casting process? Lachlan: I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that being a part of Hi-5 is real! Since I was a very little boy I have only ever wanted to perform, so auditioning is just a part of my everyday life. So when my agent asked me to submit a video audition for a part in Hi-5, I filmed it and sent it off without thinking too much about it. You can never get your hopes up too high or the disappointment would be crippling. So when I got a call to say that I was on the short list and had to attend an audition I was pretty excited! The audition fell right in the middle of the HSC exams too, but luck was on my side and they were days when I didn’t have exams. The luck seemed to continue as I stayed in the mix as the elimination process went on!

What’s a typical day in the life of a HI-5 cast member? Tanika: We eat a BIG breaky together, spend a lot of time in vans and aeroplanes, we sing and dance almost every day and we laugh so much that it hurts. Lachlan: The best thing about Hi-5 is that no day is ever the same. Most days I start by reading through emails! Some days it will be a singing session or a dance choreography session, script readings or costume fittings. Other days we have radio or newspaper interviews, photoshoots, and the best days of all are when we have a show!

What have been some of the funniest things kids have said to you?

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very intensely “You’re a monkey” like I have absolutely no idea! Dayen: ‘Why are you so sweaty?’

What’s the best part of working with children? Tanika: I love how honest and awesome they are. Their carefree approach to life is a quality that every adult can learn from. Lachlan: The best part of working with children is their positive energy. Kids just want to learn and have fun! Gabriel: Their energy! They are such a joy to be around and make our lives that much better for their love of the show. Dayen: Their honesty. As adults we build walls, filters and we can tend to get lost within what society shapes us to be. But children are so pure and they are on a journey discovering who they are which is so special to watch.

What would you like children to take away with them after watching you perform? Tanika: Be yourself, love one another and never stop having fun. Lachlan: I really want them to leave with their imaginations and creativity inspired, with a greater love for music and dance and to feel energetic and positive about our world. Gabriel: To be themselves. I hope the kids take from the show the fact that there is nothing funnier than just letting go as they dance and sing away.

Tanika: One time a little four year old boy asked me out on a date after a show to get milkshakes, so I went with him. He made his mum walk behind us and sit at another table.

Dayen: I hope that the kids can go home having learnt something new! When children come to a show, they don’t realise they are learning so much because they are having fun. They learn about beat, rhythm, memorising dance moves, expanding their vocabulary, coordination and the list goes on.

Lachlan: I struggle containing my laughter before we sing “So Many Animals” and we put on face masks and ask the kids what animals we are. While hopping around scratching myself there is always a kid that screams

Hi-5 will be performing live daily at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show (1-3 April, Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton). Free tickets are available until 5pm March 31, register online now at www.babyandtoddlershow.com.au


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The positive benefits of tutoring

By Linda Sacco - M. Teaching (Primary). Linda is a tutor at Kip McGrath Education Centre, Altona Meadows and Point Cook. www.kipmcgrath.com.au

Does your child dread maths at school? Are they falling behind in reading? Do you wonder if your child is really achieving their potential at school? Tutoring is beneficial to every child whether they are struggling, considered average or are ahead of their peers.

Tutoring ABCs Children as young as pre-school can enrol into tutoring, but in most cases, children commence tutoring sometime in primary school. Tutoring is available for literary (reading, writing, grammar, spelling) and numeracy, or both could be tackled in one session. If a child is experiencing significant problems with both, most parents opt for two separate tutoring sessions per week to allow the child to concentrate uninterrupted, on either literacy or numeracy in a single session. Tutoring sessions usually run 60-80 minutes, any more and a child becomes too tired or unfocussed, any less and the lesson may have a limited impact on the child, without the time needed to fully grasp and commit new knowledge to memory. Choose the best time for your child to have a tutoring session. If your child is having a tutoring session after school, make that the only after-school activity that weeknight. Avoid scheduling tutoring after piano lessons and sports practise. Children learn more when they are as focussed and alert as possible. Many tutors also run sessions on weekends.

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What makes a tutoring session successful? Tutoring sessions are first and foremost about the individual child. A good tutor will do an assessment to determine a child’s current level in literary and numeracy. This is usually done through a short test given to the child, by looking at recent school reports and listening to parents’ observations of their own child. A lesson plan should be discussed with the parent. This will acknowledge the child’s areas of weakness that need to be concentrated on, as well as highlighting their strengths in other areas of literary and numeracy. Parents may also wish for their child to work on the areas they are performing well in, because this will sharpen their child’s overall ability in school. Tutoring works best when children are individually tutored or in a small group of 3-5 children. In a small group, siblings can usually be tutored together. In a quiet, studious tutoring environment, most children have the ability to concentrate on their work without distracting other children, and this is another skill they pick up in tutoring.

What to look for in a tutor Tutoring is most beneficial when run by a qualified educator (Victorian Institute of Teaching registered teacher or university student-teacher with a Working with Children Check). These educators are police checked and deemed trustworthy to be around children. They are professionals with a network of other educators to collaborate with, a wide variety of resources, expert knowledge and best of all, a passion for education.


Every child benefits from tutoring Struggling at school, even with just one subject, can lead to a drop in a student’s self-esteem. Children need to feel confident and learn to persevere when work gets challenging. The first big milestone for any student starting school is to learn to read. Children who are struggling with their reading in the first few critical years of school are uncomfortable reading out loud and less likely to seek help from a teacher, who will already be juggling the demands of other children in the classroom. Parents will notice they do not even want to try to read their take-home book anymore. Tutoring provides a safe environment where a tutor can build up the confidence of the child by giving them the chance to read at their own pace. By providing children with plenty of praise and the right reading strategies the benefits of tutoring a child struggling with reading are paramount. Children in the middle years of primary school can unfortunately start to develop a phobia of numeracy. This is when the curriculum starts to widen to include a larger amount of topics, and Grade 3 NAPLAN results are looming. Many frustrated parents try to explain numeracy to their children but both child and parent often give up when a child “doesn’t get it.” Numeracy tutoring at this age allows the child not only to focus on trouble areas in maths, but to build connections between mathematical topics, making them more fluent in maths overall. Tutoring also makes a difference to senior primary school students by getting them ready for the demands of high school courses and homework. Parents who want their child considered for selective high school programs have found tutoring the essential ingredient to successful admission. Tutoring fosters essential study skills needed for the student to organise productive study sessions at home, by teaching them to be organised, self-motivated and goal-driven. The benefits of tutoring are for parents as well as children. It is far more difficult to schedule an appointment with a classroom teacher than a tutor. A tutor should be able to give you a quick update on the child’s progress each and every week. A tutor will be a valued supporter in your child’s life as they travel the road to success. 15 15


lovely locals we explore watton street werribee

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1. Truck Stop Deluxe A burger shop with a funky truck stop vibe. Spiked milkshakes, cocktails, and the usual alcoholic bevs. If you take the kids they’ll love the trucks inside the restaurant and the (home made) whizz fizz ice creams. 98 Watton Street. www.facebook.com/truckstopdeluxe/ 2. Absolutely Gluten Free Head here for all your gluten free groceries and a café! ALL food at the café is gluten free and there are also dairy free, fructose friendly and vegan options. There’s a kid’s menu too. On the supermarket size you’ll find organic fruit and vege, and a huge range of gluten free and dairy free products. They also offer delivery. 85 Watton Street. www.absolutelyglutenfree.com.au 3. Bikram Yoga Werribee You’ve probably heard of hot yoga – yoga poses done in a room that’s heated to 40 degrees. Bikram Yoga also have sculpt pilates classes which combine pilates with a high intensity interval workout. There are early morning, evening and weekend classes so there might be something to suit you. 99 Watton Street. http://likebikramyoga.com.au

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4. Salts of the Earth Salt therapy aims to relieve the symptoms of respiratory and skin conditions. At Salts of the Earth you can join your children in the specially set up children’s room or relax by yourself in the adult room. Many parents swear by salt therapy for clearing up their children’s eczema. 56-58 Watton Street. www.saltsoftheearth.com.au 5. The Park Yes, there’s a gastropub in Watton Street. Great food and a mind boggling choice of beers. Their smoke pit BBQ is a strong fave, available Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There’s a short but well thought out kid’s menu, though The Park would be great for a date night too. 12 Watton Street. www.theparkhotel.net.au 6. Black Seed Café Lauded as the best coffee in Werribee – Sensory Lab for the foodies. Take your children for the ultimate treat – yes, freakshakes! Or you might like to try a legendary Kwak Scroll. 133 Watton Street www.facebook.com/blackseedcafe2 16

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The many faces of bullying There has been bullying in schools from day dot. Despite decade’s worth of research and the attention placed on it in schools today, bullying still continues to be a real issue. Primary school kids are more educated than ever on what bullying is, but sometimes kids (and their parents and teachers) can still find themselves stuck in knowing how to deal with it. As a result, children’s wellbeing can be significantly compromised.

If your child reports they witnessed bullying happen….

Below are some tips to consider if you find your child caught up in the tangled web of bullying.

• Encourage your child to report any incidences to the teachers at school.

If your child reports they are being bullied….

Bullying is a complex issue and unfortunately there is no quick fix. Working together with the school, and understanding your child’s needs will help lead to a resolution. If you are finding your child is going through a challenging time in regards to bullying, contact one of our psychologists who can give you and your child strategies to work through these challenging times.

• Be supportive. Give your child the time to express themselves and listen to their story. • Build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher and be in regular contact with him or her. Be mindful that your child may not have told their teacher about bullying incidents. • Promote positive problem solving behaviours to keep them safe. • Promote self-soothing/relaxation strategies to cope with the stress. • Encourage your child to widen their friendship network.

If your child has been involved in bullying incidences…. • Question and explore what is triggering this behaviour. Is this behaviour out of character? Has your child recently gone through a stressful time? Have there been changes at home? Has your child developed ageappropriate social skills? • Help develop your child’s empathy skills. Some ways of developing these might be through reflecting on past experiences or analysing character’s behaviours and feelings in books and movies.

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• Be supportive and listen to their story. Be mindful that your child may be negatively affected by witnessing the bullying. For example, they may have felt a sense of helplessness towards the victim, or possibly felt sadness by seeing someone get hurt. • Encourage positive helping behaviours.

By Emma Trifiletti, Psychologist, Sensational Kids Moonee Ponds. www.sensationalkids.com.au


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later Sk8er We asked Melbourne Minor mum, Kelly Devoil, and her adorable kids to give us the low down on skate parks in the West. And it’s fair to say she (and her awesome skater girl Mini) didn’t disappoint. Follow more of Kelly’s adventures at melbourneminor.com

Cherry Lake, Altona (For beginners) A small skate park perfect for absolute beginners giving their wheels a try for the first time. This park is mainly flat with some gentle rises. You certainly won’t find anyone doing intimidating stunts here.

Holland Park, Kensington There are some serious half pipes at this park along with smaller set ups and a dirt path bmx track. We saw some impressive board work happening here when we went to visit.

Yarraville Skate park, Anderson Street Debneys Park, Flemington A compact park that manages to fit a lot in. There are ramps and bars along with plenty of flat space for beginners. This park has had a lot of paint thrown its way from budding street artists so it makes for a colourful skate.

Newport Skate Park, North Road Plenty of space to try out your moves here! Ramps, a bowl, and even a see saw for your wheels of choice! Up top there is seating for your spectators to cheer you on.

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Our favourite of the skate parks! It’s hard to tell where the skate park begins and where the playground ends with paths weaving in and out of the equipment. Huge amount of space and variation in surfaces to play with and ramps enough to please young skaters.


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MAMA of the month This month we met Tracy O’Hare, the mama behind Lifestyle for Kids in Williamstown. Set up 26 years ago after the birth of her second child, today LFK is a thriving community and family based school and a large part of many families, parents and kids lifestyles. A place to learn and grow through movement and fun.

Tell us a bit about yourself? I was born and raised in Queensland and went to Brisbane Girls Grammar. I followed my passion for dance and gymnastics from an early age, my mum and dad supporting me and helping me realise my dreams of becoming a dancer! I studied at the Queensland Ballet School, and then the Queensland Ballet Company, while simultaneously competing in state level rhythmic gymnastics! I also hosted some children’s TV shows and competed at the state aerobics championships. My first son James was born in 1985 and I moved down to Melbourne in 1988. I started Tracy O’Hare’s Dance School in 1990, Nick my second son had just turned one! The business continued to grow and was renamed Lifestyle for Kids (LFK) and I had my third child Olivia in 1993. In working hard I was able to send them to Geelong Grammar School including the Timbertop year, and I am very proud of who they have become, now 30, 26 and 22!

What inspired you to start Lifestyle for Kids? My dream was to open up a dance school where kids would come to certainly improve and learn but most importantly have fun, be creative and enjoy the class they were in, very different to the classical training I had been brought up with! This pure enjoyment for dance and gym has created an amazing sense of community where high morals and respect are a priority and customers can feel like they

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belong to a club that is welcoming, professional and produces great dancers and gymnasts, role models and people! The goals and morals we adopt have in turn, brought in like minded coaches, teachers and admin staff that strive to follow the same ideals which further contribute to the amazing LFK family we are apart of!

What does an average week look like for you at LFK? Busy… We currently teach 1300 students per week in both dance and gymnastics classes, from 2 to 22 years old, as well as facilitate tailor made birthday parties and themed holiday programs. We are a seven day a week ten hours a day business, with sixty-five talented and committed staff! For me, I work 9-7 Monday to Thursday, Friday is my day off to do everything and anything outside of my LFK life and I work 9-12 Saturday and Sunday with my beautiful family supporting me throughout the years. It has definitely kept me a busy Mama! The range of our classes consist of Kinder Gym, Kinder Dance, boys and girls Gymnastics, National level Gymnastics, Acro, Dance Acro, Jazz, Tap, Classical Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Dance workshops, Cheerleading and Elite Performance classes, so we always have lots going on here at LFK!

What else is going on at LFK? Excitingly, we have very recently applied and been selected to send 32 of our dancers, and 41 family members, to Disneyland,


Los Angeles California in September 2016!! This means that our very excited dancers have the opportunity to dance in Disneyland, at Universal Studios, partake in a showcase production at Disneyland, participate in workshops at Millennium Dance, The Edge Studios, visit the infamous Abbey Lee Dance Studio and ultimately partake in the experience of a lifetime! We have also introduced an Australian Levels Program, which is a nationals gymnastics team into our curriculum. We currently have 25 gymnasts both boys and girls that meet the skill based criteria and will compete very soon in their first ever Victorian Championships. LFK does fundraising movie nights every now and then, our most recent one being for the Nepal earthquake, holiday programs every school holidays and we do birthday parties every weekend! If you’d like to keep up-to-date with it all you can follow us on Instagram or Facebook, where we post news, achievements and any cool photos or videos. We are doing the first of many Disney movies nights at the end of this month! All are welcome!

What has been your proudest moment so far as a business owner? I very fortunate to have won the 2013 Hobson’s Bay Inspirational Woman of the Year award recognising the success of a local business and particularly the number of young staff we welcome and train in their first ever job in Williamstown! I am also very proud that this year is my 26th year in business! I have worked really hard to keep the business new and fresh and I am fortunate to have my amazing team of talented staff to help make LFK as fun and awesome as it is! Thank you for having me this month!! I would like to welcome all to come in for a free trial and be a part of the LFK family!

Finally, where can we find you? Pop in and visit us at 193 Champion Road Williamstown. 9397 7766. www.lifestyleforkids.com.au

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snapshots of seddon Snapshots of Seddon is back – re-launching at Sedfest 2016! It’s not often these days that we can see a tangible sign of community involvement. Sure we get a ‘feel’ of it at times and can once in a while exchange a friendly glance at a stranger whilst enjoying a nice day at the park but these things are abstract. Come down to the Seddon village in March and April and you’ll see what I mean. There, adorning the village traders’ windows, you will find a grid of hundreds of photographs submitted by locals and people in the surrounding areas to the “Snapshots of Seddon” community photography competition. The competition was started back in 2006 by local artist Larissa MacFarlane with an aim of increasing disability access and community participation and encouraging the development of artistic skills. Whilst also promoting Seddon as a destination it became enormously popular amongst the community. What followed was a ground swell of involvement and each year the competition grew, taking over Seddon shop windows with a unique pop-up photography show as it did. Awards were presented at the Seddon Festival and entries remained up for weeks so bragging rights could be fully exploited.

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The competition has been on a three-year hiatus but the Seddon Community Group is bringing it back for 2016. It will be launched at the Seddon Festival on the 5th of March. The Seddon Festival itself is a testament to community involvement. It is also spearheaded by the Seddon Community Group and is a much-loved event in the calendar of the inner west. This year you will be able to peek inside the funeral home on Victoria Street to see the pop-up gallery of past entries and winners of the Snapshots of Seddon competition. Hollibones Funeral Directors have generously opened their doors to the community for the day and their private chapel will provide the setting for the gallery. Festivals are one thing but a photography competition like ‘Snapshots of Seddon’ is another thing entirely. Thinking about all the effort it takes to go out and take a good photo, an interesting, different photo, then to submit it and have volunteers collect all the entries and put together a large pop-up street gallery it all just makes my heart swell. You too will be able to walk the village streets of Seddon after entries have closed and see for yourself how much involvement there really is in the inner west and why it is such a great place to live. Before then, get involved, come to the festival and Snapshot launch, take a photo and enjoy the show!


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THE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL PLAYDATE… Any parent who has tackled a holiday or after-school playdate for their child will know just how tiring and challenging playdates can be! Playdates bring multiple emotions, ideas, and opinions into play. This can lead to conflict between strong personalities, cause our sensitive child to retreat, or send our ‘busy’ kids into their most ‘busy’ state! Despite these challenges, playdates are known to be a highly valuable opportunity for social skills development (Greenspan & Wieder, Engaging Autism) and, with a few helpful tips in place, can become successful and rewarding experiences for us and our children.

Initiating the playdate Consider who would make the best playdate partner for your child. You may find your child has connected well with a child at school, kinder, or another activity and would like to play with them more. Or, you may find that

you have connected well with a parent from school, kinder or another activity, and you feel comfortable initiating a playdate with them. Try asking the child’s parent face to face how they would feel about arranging a playdate some time. Exchange numbers so you can arrange the playdate when you have your calendars in


front of you. Or try sending a note in your child’s school bag for them to pass on to the other child. The note might say something like, “We’d like to have Johnny over for a playdate! How would Tuesday afternoon work for you?” Be sure to include your contact details. Nine out of ten times, other parents will also see the value of a playdate for their child, and will jump at the invitation!

Setting up for the playdate As you already know, children can be unpredictable! – It is impossible to entirely predict how an interaction between two kiddos might go. However, there are some things we can do to set our playdate up for success. 1. Keep the playdates short to start with – aim for 45-60mins. 2. Host the playdates at your place – at least initially. This can help your child feel most confident and comfortable as they learn about playdates. 3. Consider your child’s interests – can they be turned into a shared activity? Or not? Your child’s interest in building or construction may be more helpful in achieving shared play than their favourite computer game, for example. 4. Consider the other child’s interests – ask the child’s parents what these are; can their interests be incorporated into shared play somehow? 5. Avoid or modify the use of electronic toys or activities – electronic or screen-based activities (eg TV, iPad, computer games, noise making toys) can be too overloading or consuming from a sensory perspective. They may derail engagement and shared play, particularly for young children. For older children (mid primary school and older), interactive software that involves movement (eg PlayStation Eye Toy, Dance Mat, Wii Sports) is much more conducive to shared play than sit-down screen activities.

6. Use simple, sensory-motor games to foster shared enjoyment – games or activities that get their bodies moving in purposeful ways. If indoors, use cushions and blankets to build a lounge room cubby house; make a pillow or soft toy ‘road’ to travel along between rooms; build a block ‘city’; or try a treasure hunt. If outdoors, blow giant bubbles; play trampoline games; play simple ball games like catch or tunnel ball; make chalk art on the pavement; play hopscotch; or try an outdoor obstacle course. The Learn Play Imagine and Hands On As We Grow websites have some great ideas. 7. Pack away most of the small toys as well as ‘special’ toys that your child may not want to share – this helps keep the environment less visually-distracting, and reduces the likelihood of fights. 8. Keep up regular playdates with the same peer over a period of time if possible. This allows the children to develop shared history, which can foster confidence and playdate success. 9. Make friends with other parents who have a positive, accepting attitude to kids with developmental differences, and who share your values. Discuss with the parents your need to facilitate the play in order for your child to play successfully, and discuss with the parents whether you need them to be present at the playdate too. 10. Develop relationships between your families – suggest outings together, to the zoo, beach, aquarium, swimming pool, or nearby park or playground, or go on a train/bus/ bike ride together. In the meantime, you can continue to build your child’s playdate skills with the help of your occupational therapist, speech therapist or psychologist, or by involving your child in a social skills group program. By Alyssa Mann, Speech Pathologist, Sensational Kids Moonee Ponds. www.sensationalkids.com.au

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how drama saves the world! My mother will tell you that I always liked school. If I didn’t want to go, she knew I was either sick, bullied, or had a math test. Mum’s a teacher (especially skilled in drama and comprehension) and it’s thanks to her that I enjoyed school despite my tonsils, meanies a nd maths. Mum knew me and that I worried. She knew that despite my clever accountant dad and his best efforts to explain long division, I struggled with math. She knew that words muddled themselves up and that reading (without pictures) was difficult. She also knew that drama was an important part of children’s learning and development. So, I went to drama class. Learning to count to 100 was nerve-racking. The teacher who taught it was probably the scariest person on planet earth. Tears were shed. Then a stroke of genius hit, and Mum brought out the counting mat. This calico square had numbers 1 to 100 on it, set out with 1-10 across the top and so on. A pattern emerged! I saw the numbers down each column line up and repeat on each row with a new leader. I sat on the mat with Mum’s stories and songs and learned to count to 100. This mat was magic. And so was my Mum. As I grew older, the gap between me and the rest of the class lessened. My teachers labelled me a ‘good reader’. Even maths improved! Although it’s never been my favourite, I was never the bottom of the class. The largest contributor to this improvement was drama. My parents were heavily involved in theatre and I lived for it. As I thrived acting out a scene pretending to be a camel, so did my reading, general knowledge, communication, mathematics, problem solving and social skills.

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There are countless studies on the benefits of drama for learning. This one* explores how time spent and enjoyed in arts, increases ability to learn other things. Science! Drama was a saviour in high-school. Bullies get meaner, subjects get harder. But drama gave me the confidence to try anything. Because I excelled in that subject, it felt possible to try everything. Everybody can succeed in drama— at their own level—there is never any failure. In drama, ‘weird’, quiet Belinda was no longer silenced. There was no need to hide. We could let go of high-school and just be people. And drama’s non-competitive nature meant we were all equal. For an hour, I got to let go of my worries and be someone else. I even got the chance to act the bully, discovering how that feels and what might make someone behave that way. To play a character, you must identify with them. Drama teaches you to feel what others feel. I grew more empathetic. Imagine if the people who send asylum seekers into abuse on Nauru and Manus were in drama class right now, putting themselves in another’s place. Weekly drama classes should be compulsory for politicians. I still believe drama equipped me to survive high school. When the time came to pick another course of study, I couldn’t think of anything else I needed to do. Because of drama I felt I was capable of anything. I wanted to save the world. Maybe a teacher? Or an early child carer? Or a shop owner? Or a computer tech? *http://www.dana.org/Cerebrum/2009/How_Arts_ Training_Improves_Attention_and_Cognition/


Thankfully, I left saving the world until later, and stuck with performing arts. I moved to Melbourne and met a kindred spirit in Jennifer Piper. We started wit incorporated, and spend our days (and nights) making theatre in Footscray. Several of Mum’s drama students are still in theatre, 40 years later. But drama has benefits beyond a career in the arts. While I was travelling towards theatre, my classmates were following other paths. Mum remembers someone who struggled to form sentences when she first arrived, who later worked in public relations in Auckland and then advertising in Spain. Other students are now film techs, marine biologists and primary teachers. We don’t learn communication and confidence from any subject the way we do from drama. And we need to communicate, no matter our occupation.

My love for children’s drama survived adulthood and I continue to introduce children from diverse backgrounds to the joy of drama. It might not sound much like saving the world, but when I look through the eyes of my students (and think about how it looked to my own 5-year-old self), creating drama’s safe, collaborative, artistic, explorative, inspiring environment for kids almost feels like saving the world. Because drama saved me. Because of drama I am an actor, salesperson, playwright, teacher, director, production manager and entrepreneur. Did I ever expect to balance budgets and write business proposals? No! But I can. Thanks to drama. And Mum. By Belinda Campell. Belinda has a Bachelor of Performing Arts from NASDA (NZ). She’s the Artistic Director of wit incorporated theatre company and runs the children’s drama program, Wit Kids. www.witinc.com.au/wit-kids

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Parklife

Brought to you by:

duke street, sunshine north If you are looking for a playground with an amazing view, Mamma says this has to be to be one of the best in the West. It’s perched on a hill of sorts above the Maribyrnong River, overlooking bush land, a golden temple and the city. The playground is near a main road and seemingly on the flight path to the airport (which we LOVE!) however we find it to be rather tranquil and not super busy. There is some ‘low’ play equipment for ‘little tackers’ as well as more challenging pieces of equipment

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like a cool climbing frame, swings, slides and monkey bars. The BBQ shelter is great plus there is a completely fenced off dog walking park adjacent, a basketball court and some outdoor exercise equipment too. Mamma’s special mention: Brimbank City Council have some great playgrounds. Check out Alice’s Playspace in St Albans too! The nitty gritty: BBQ, shelter, little shade, some free car parking, no public toilets.


Mention MamaMag to receive a FREE trial class Offer ends March 25

The Fun & Friendly Experience Offering classes in: Classical Ballet Jazz/Lyrical Tap Hip Hop Acrobatics Contemporary Singing Musical Theatre Boys only Hip Hop 387-393 Old Geelong Rd, Hoppers Crossing Ph: 9369 4007 www.dancemaxstudios.com.au Live Local - Shop Local - and don’t forget to mention MamaMag!

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no choking matter Even for the most experienced paediatric nurse the sight of seeing your own child choke creates a state of automatic panic. Child Revive instructor Leanne recently had to manage this potentially life threatening emergency at home with her fourth child, Alexander. Being a paediatric nurse for over 12 years Leanne has had to deal with many stressful situations involving sick children at work but seeing her own child suddenly choke had her in an unusual state of anxiety. However, like she teaches her hundreds of parents who attend her paediatric first aid courses each year, she had to do more than just stand there and panic. In 2014 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released a statistics that showed in one year infants aged less than 12 months had more admissions to hospital for foreign bodies in their airway (commonly called choking) than for children aged 1-4 collectively. In this age group almost 6% of all injury related hospital admissions were due to choking. Of course, these statistics don’t include the many other occasions where choking has been successfully resolved at home and didn’t require review at hospital, like it was for Child Revive instructor Leanne and her 10 month old child, Alexander. Leanne reports that “he was just sitting there playing happily on the floor next to me whilst I was getting dinner ready and I looked over at him and thought how strange as he was not making any sound but his face was bright red with tears streaming down. His eyes were bulging and he had a look of absolute panic on his face”. For most parents it is not an immediate realisation because unlike adults young children cannot motion that they are choking. Leanne said “it did take me a few moments to process what I was seeing and the reason why but as soon as I realised I knew what to do”. She reports immediately picking him up and placing him face down over her leg and giving him a firm 34

back slap. Fortunately, this initial back slap was successful and out came a piece of craft material that had fallen off her eldest child’s school project. When a child initially chokes it can present in two ways; as either a partial obstruction or complete obstruction of the airway. The best way to identify between the two is to observe if the child is coughing effectively because in order to cough there must be movement of air in and out of the lungs. Therefore, if the child is coughing the obstruction will only be partially blocking the airway. A partial airway obstruction is common amongst all children and usually self-resolves with their cough. All parents might need to do to assist is reposition the child upright or lean them forward. A child’s own cough is more effective at removing an obstruction than any manoeuvre performed on them by the parent. However, if the child is not coughing effectively then the parent must take action to remove the obstruction which is best done by forcing the movement of air out of the lungs with either the back slap technique or chest thrust technique. It is recommended to complete five of each technique continuously until the child begins to cry indicating they are breathing and have a clear airway or the ambulance arrives. Leanne urges parents to call Triple 000 for an ambulance if the initial five back slaps are not effective. In her parent first aid courses Leanne has had parents suggest a range of inappropriate techniques they thought they could use if they found their child choking like her son Alexander was. These include the Heimleich manoeuvre which can cause significant injury to internal organs, using an object like a pen to sweep it out which can easily cut the roof of the mouth and cause a lot of bleeding and the most common suggestion of using a finger to grab it out. Leanne reports that “my automatic reaction was to put my finger in his mouth and grab whatever was in there however I know how dangerous this can be in a child who is alert”. Children who are choking and are still


responding are not calmly sitting there and having the sensation of a finger enter their airway can easily result in the obstruction being pushed further and unable to be easily cleared by parents or paramedics. Such a situation could result in the child becoming unresponsive and needing resuscitation. There are many ways that parents can minimise the risk of choking in their child including supervising them and having them seated when eating, minimising exposure to high risk foods by cutting smaller pieces and/ or cooking food so it is soft and providing them with toys that are recommended for their age. The ideal would be to remove all risk of choking for children however, knowing that this is impossible Leanne urges all parents to “learn and practice the techniques that are recommended by the Australian Resuscitation Council for managing a child who is choking�. She assures parents that if their own child chokes they will still feel panicked like she certainly was but having that knowledge will empower them and give them the confidence to immediately take action and effectively help their child in this emergency situation.

Almost 6% of all injury related hospital admissions for infants aged less than 12 months were due to choking. Leanne and her colleagues from Child Revive First Aid will be conducting a free daily presentation on the choking child at The Baby and Toddler Show in Melbourne from 1-3 April. There they will also be conducting 90 minute Parent First Aid courses which will include training in CPR, choking, fever and seizure management for parents of infants and young children. Bookings are essential for the Parent First Aid courses and cost $39 per person. Go to http://www.babyandtoddlershow. com.au/melbourne/melbourne-showfeatures/child-revive-first-aid-courses/ for more information and bookings.

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mama can Cook! Chicken and tomato rice paper rolls Ingredients:

Method:

1 packet rice paper sheets

Soak a piece of rice paper in water to soften slightly.

Cooked shredded chicken

Then simply lay out the sheet of rice paper, placing chicken in the centre topped with a drizzle of mayonnaise. Followed by a layer of cheese, lettuce and tomato.

Cheese Shredded lettuce Tomato slices Mayonnaise

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Roll it up firmly and repeat with the next piece. Keep refrigerated and airtight. A perfect alternative to a sandwich!


Chia pudding pots Ingredients:

Method:

400ml can organic coconut cream

Combine all ingredients into a blender and mix until the chia mixture thickens.

400ml water 2/3 cup chia seeds 1 1/2 tbsp date paste Fruits of your choice

Pour into a large container and refrigerate for an hour to set. To assemble, spoon the chia pudding into individual pots or lunch box containers, then top it of with some of their favourite fruits and mint.

SoNaughtyButNice is an online platform jam packed full of delicious dessert recipes built on the foundation of education about the benefits of each ingredient. Read more about its founders Tom and Sarah at www.sonaughtybutnice.com

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Dear mamas in the school yard

I want to write you this letter in the hope that it may help you to underst and. I am writing it on behalf of the mother of the child who has a behaviour issue. The one whose child may be in your child’s classroom. The one whose child may at times be disruptive and need lots of attention from the teacher. The one that no doubt the whole year level will alre ady know about! Did you know that this mother has probably crie d an ocean of tears for her child? She has probably been through more tha n you or I could ever imagine. Maybe her chi ld has a formal diagnosis like autism or ADHD, but that really shouldn’t matter anyway. Maybe she is still grieving for the fact that her child will face so many more challenges in their life tha n yours. She is still a mother, like you and I, wh o just always wants the very best for her child. Did you know that she hears your whispers and feels your disapproving looks? She knows all too well that you do not wa nt your child to interact with hers in any way bec ause of their behaviour. Did you know that she holds her child tightly as they sob because they have yet again not been invited to a party that you are hosting? Later that night when they are fast asleep, she also cries with sadness for her chi ld and a pain in her hea rt that she cannot make go away. Did you now that most day s she holds her phone close and is filled with anx iety as she expects the school to call and say tha t there has been yet another incident at school with her child? She can’t relax and enjoy the time to herself. You probably couldn’t kno w that by now she has very few friends in her life anymore. Having a child with such high nee ds has meant many appointments, social skil ls groups and therapies. It has also meant she is left exhausted and wiped out each and eve ry day, and barely has enough energy for her husband, let alone even

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attempting to reach out to one of her few friends left who understand.

And if you took the tim e to actually get to kno w her she might share wit h you that even memb ers of her own family make her feel like it is her fau lt. That she is a bad parent and responsible for her child’s behaviour. Most events or outings that she attempts end in disaster . People have stopped inviting them now. It will probably break you r heart to hear that she has had to seek the rapy and medication to cope with the stresses of her daily life. And in her darkest hours she has con templated leaving this world behind. I want to also let you kno w that your child cannot catch a behavio ural issue from being associated with this fam ily. They do not have a contagious disease. What you and your chi ld can learn by being friends with them is a ver y valuable lesson in life. You can teach your chi ld how to have empathy and compassion for oth er individuals who have challenges. You can tea ch your child to lead the way in showing kindne ss and acceptance to the children who need it mo st. You can do this by leading by example.

That lovely mother nee ds more than anyone else in your life—a friend. Someone to listen to her and shows suppor t, without judgment. Even just a simple smile or hello could lift her spirits immensely. We tea ch our students that ‘excluding’ is a form of bul lying, yet other parents seem to do this to each other all of the time. Yes there may be times when you are together that issues may arise, but you can handle that. You are after all, a mothe r—and together women are a force to be reckon ed with!

Love Chrissie xx


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turn the page Bear and Hare: Mine! – Emily Gravett Board book $19.99 Bear and Hare are back! Teach children to share with this warm and funny board book by award winning author Emily Gravett. Bear and Hare are going for a walk, but every time they come across something nice Hare wants it all to himself. Can Bear teach Hare to play nice and share? Emily Gravett’s simple story and energetic illustrations will capture a child’s imagination and warm their parents’ heart while maintaining the gentle moral.

Outfoxed – Claudia Boldt Hardback Picture book $21.99 Harold the fox is on a mission! His dad has sent him to catch a chicken to prove himself as a good fox. But when Harold finds a chicken, he’s a little unsure; he doesn’t want to eat this chook, he wants to be a detective. While Harold ponders this thought, the chicken takes off so his dad sends him to hunt it down.  It’s a perfect time for Harold to put his detective skills to work. The closer Harold gets to finding the chicken, the more he realises he doesn’t want to hurt it, but he also doesn’t want to disappoint his dad. Maybe somehow he can have it both ways. Fox’s adventure and Boldt’s quirky and vibrant illustrations will thoroughly entertain children while teaching them to remain true to themselves.   Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made - Stephan Pastis Paperback chapter book $12.99 ‘Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made’ is about Timmy, a failed detective who fails to see the most obvious things. His office is his Mum’s cupboard and his business partner is a polar bear named Total. His worst enemy is a rival detective named Corrina Corrina. I liked the pictures, drawing style and humour. The funniest part in the book was the chapter named ‘Read All About It’. There was nothing I didn’t like about Timmy Failure – it would be a perfect present for somebody hoping to be a writer. Reviewed by Willieford, age 10

This month’s reviews are brought to you by our friends at The Younger Sun Bookshop. The Younger Sun has been part of the Yarraville community since 2007. This tiny and carefully curated children’s shop grew and grew until it was bursting at the seams with great books, great staff and great kids. So it’s moved – just 60 steps away to 26 Murray Street Yarraville. www.sunbookshop.com

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Easter Weekend 2016

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Finding Mindfulness Through Art This month Arts Therapist Kanada shares with us a little about practicing mindfulness with children and ways in which you can incorporate mindfulness through art making!

In recent years there has been a bit of buzz around mindfulness for adults which has seen us buying colouring books, downloading apps and taking online courses, all in a bid to find a place of calm, focus and to be more present through our ever demanding schedules. Young children are naturally mindful; they take in everything around them and are extremely sensory. Unfortunately as they grow, like us, they lose this ability. Regularly practicing being mindful with your child, it helps them understand its importance so that they’re likely to continue being mindful as they grow older.

What is mindfulness?

Outcomes of being mindful

For young children, mindfulness can be a big word but it’s really about being aware of everything around them at that particular moment - being present.

Through mindfulness we arm children with coping skills by helping them find new ways to deal with stress and anxiety. Mindfulness increases concentration, empathy and understanding of others and it decreases stress and anxiety while improving impulse control, and the ability to better respond to difficult emotions.

Being aware of your surroundings is a great place to start when it comes to mindfulness. What can you hear? What can you smell and see? What does the chair you’re sitting on feel like? What emotions are you experiencing? Mindfulness allows us to quiet the mind and body, bring awareness to the present moment, and become aware of our emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations and surrounding environment – all without judgment.

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Our lives are so busy and as a result our children lead busy lives, and so it’s important that we stop and reflect on what’s happening for us as individuals in any given moment. With mindfulness being proven to help children deal with their emotions as they grow and navigate new life experiences, it’s clear that this is an important tool to arm children with!


How to incorporate mindfulness with art Mindfulness can be incorporated into your child’s art making process by participating in activities that encourage them to reflect on how they’re feeling or what certain colours, shapes and textures look and feel like. By linking art with mindfulness we can increase the connection between expression and how creating art can help children with their emotions, health and general well-being. As an art therapist and mindfulness advocate, I recently collaborated with Beck, founder of Little Creatures Collective in Seddon, and Sheri from The Family Psychology Centre

in Williamstown, to develop the Mindfulness Through Art program, which I teach at Little Creatures Collective. Now in its second term, this program creatively inspires both students and parents, providing them with mindfulness art activities to do both during class and at home. It’s a great way to calm and focus children in a fun and safe environment, while teaching and encouraging gratitude and acceptance! To find out more about the Mindfulness Through Art program, check out the Little Creatures Collective website – www.littlecreaturescollective.com.au

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