Posts tagged parenting

EDUCATION: 31 authors every child should read

When I was young, going to the local library was a special treat for me. My dad would take my siblings and I every Saturday and we would spend at least two hours just browsing the rows and rows of shelves and reading as many books as we could get our hands on. We each had our own library card, which back in those days was a thin piece of cardboard on which the librarian would handwrite the books we were borrowing and then put a date stamp on it. My library visits definitely played a big role in turning me into a book lover. Reading for me is a way to escape, a way to relax and unwind and forget the worries of the world.

Once I had my own children, I started taking them to the library as soon as they were old enough. They too have developed a love of reading, starting from the simplest of books when they were toddlers to now reading novels. Although iBook’s and books on kindle are becoming the norm, there is nothing better than sitting down with a good paper book just before bedtime or on a rainy afternoon. The library is also a great alternative to screen time for my kids. The screen provides instant gratification whereas a book builds up the story and allows the mind to take over, trying to work out the storyline and creating the images in the head. More often than not, books are better than the movie versions!

For a child, libraries provide a safe space for their minds to learn and grow. Children are exposed to choice. They can borrow as many different books as they want until they discover a genre that they love. Reading from an early age helps a child’s brain grow and strengthen and by visiting their local library they are learning to accept reading as a part of life.

These days, libraries offer so much for both children and adults:

  • Free use of computers, wifi and fast internet access
  • Calender of programs and events
  • Story time for kids
  • Book clubs
  • Book readings from authors
  • Activities, games and puzzles
  • eBooks, audiobooks and videos

Whether it’s a rainy day, school holidays or just a casual visit here and there for a school project or research the library is a place where you can let your mind get lost in a book and let your imagination run wild.

There is never a lack of books a child can read, from newer authors to the classics, there is something for every child. The City of Gold Coast libraries recommend some authors every child should read:

  1. Enid Blyton
  2. Lewis Carroll
  3. Joy Cowley
  4. Roald Dahl
  5. Terry Deary
  6. Maurice Gee
  7. Morris Gleitzman
  8. Andy Griffiths
  9. David Hill
  10. Des Hunt
  11. Brian Jacques
  12. Paul Jennings
  13. Jeff Kinney
  14. Jack Lasenby
  15. C.S Lewis
  16. Margaret Mahy
  17. John Marsden
  18. Michael Morpurgo
  19. Gary Paulsen
  20. Tamora Pierce
  21. Terry Pratchett
  22. Philip Pullman
  23. Celia Rees
  24. Rick Riordan
  25. J.K Rowling
  26. Louis Sachar
  27. Robert Louis Stevenson
  28. Robert Swindells
  29. J.R.R Tolkien
  30. Jacqueline Wilson
  31. E.B White

The Gold Coast has some great libraries you can visit:

Broadbeach: 61 Sunshine Boulevard, Mermaid Waters

Burleigh Heads: Park Avenue, Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Waters: Corner Christine Avenue and Galeen Drive

Coolangatta: Level 1, The Strand, Corner Marine Parade and Dutton Street Coolangatta

Elenora: The Pines Shopping Centre, Guineas Creek Road, Elenora

Helensvale: Corner Lindfield Road and Sir John Overall Drive, Helensvale

Nerang: Corner White and Price Streets, Nerang

Palm Beach: Eleventh Avenue, Palm Beach

Robina: 196 Robina Town Centre Drive, Robina

Runaway Bay: Lae Drive, Runaway Bay

Southport: Corner Garden and Lawson Streets, Southport

Upper Coomera: Corner Reserve and Abraham Roads, Upper Coomera

Originally posted 01 October 2018 on Kids on the Coast magazine

HOME: Protect your family and home during snake season

The weather is warming up and the experts are warning people to look out for snakes around their home and property.

Snake season is in full swing!

A few years ago I was at home with my three young children, putting the laundry away in my bedroom with my baby on my bed, happily playing. I looked up briefly and saw a snake slithering near my doorway. It wasn’t a big snake, but it was a snake nonetheless! My instant reaction was to scream and jump onto my bed, scaring my baby as well as my two toddlers out in the lounge room. My husband was working interstate at the time and in a state of panic I called him. First he asked me to take a picture so he could see what type of snake it was and then he reminded me we know a wildlife ranger from Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It turned out to be a baby green tree snake, so it wasn’t dangerous but it was still terrifying!

I called my wildlife ranger friend who came over with her three children and then she called the resident snake catcher and he came around and gently caught him, showing him off to the children while giving them a lesson about snakes. The good news was the snake was not venomous but the bad news was the snake was a newborn baby so the mother and the rest of the babies, possibly about six to eight, weren’t too far away.

We were told to keep the doors closed for the next few days giving the snakes a chance to move on. As scary as it was, my children were able to learn about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to snakes from a professional snake catcher.

Mick Tate from the Australian Reptile Park explains there are two main reasons snakes come out around this time of year. Once the temperatures rise above 18 degrees, snakes start digest their food so they make their way out to search for more food. Spring time is also mating season so you will see male snakes wondering around in search for a female mate.

With very little rain during winter the snakes are also looking for water and as a result are attracted to people’s homes and properties.

Use the following tips to protect your family and homes from snakes:

  • Destroy the environment around your home that may be comfortable for snakes
  • Keep grass maintained
  • Clear piles of wood
  • Remove items inside and outside the home that pile up
  • Seal crevices around the home
  • Install screens over vents

What to do if you come across a snake:

  • Do not approach the snake
  • Do not make rapid movements
  • Stay calm
  • Do not try to catch or kill
  • Contact the snake catcher

Follow the tips below for snake bites:

  • Keep bite victim calm and immobile
  • Apply pressure to the bite
  • Use immobilisation bandage on entire limb
  • Seek urgent medical attention


PARENTING: Boredom is important!

“I’m bored” is something parents hear on a regular basis, and parents usually respond by letting their child have screen time or organising some sort of structured activity for their child to do.

Up until children are in their early teens, they really don’t understand the concept of time, therefore they don’t know how to manage it. Parents are so worried about their kids becoming upset, angry or feeling left out, they try and schedule something every day.

A lot of kids struggle with initiating free play themselves, and it could be because parents have always driven it. Times have changed and letting your kids gallivant around the neighbourhood is simply not an option anymore.

My first two children were born 12 months apart and I made it a priority to organise every day and create routines to make life easier and less overwhelming. Every hour of the day was accounted for and what I hadn’t realised until years later was that I had created a mindset in my son, that he always had something to do whether it was at home or outside the home. Fast forward six years and my husband and started teaching him to enjoy alone time with nothing to do but use his imagination. It was challenging at times but we persisted because we knew he is naturally curious and loves learning about the world around him.

It feels like this generation was born with FOMO (fear of missing out) so we started with free play for the whole family. We gave my son some ideas for free play. He enjoys skating, drawing, lego, building things and reading, so when he does tell us he’s bored, we suggest a few things he can do. Out of boredom, comes imagination. These days my son is happy to play by himself when his sisters are busy or want to play on their own.

Another way to show your kids they too have control over what they do is to allow your kids to drive extra-curricular choices while they’re young. This gives them the freedom to try new things and find ‘their thing’, however, we must remember to create boundaries around how much stuff they do, because as we know kids will happily fill up every afternoon plus weekends if they could! If they find a sport or activity they want to try, explain to them they will have to commit to the entire season, and show up to all the practices and games. Along with their extra-curricular activities, you can explain that they need free play and unstructured time to balance everything out. Explain that in this time they need to entertain themselves and not rely on anyone else. With that balance, they learn about down time and resting their bodies and minds.

Parents shouldn’t feel like they have to fill the boredom with something productive or educational. By giving your child time to think and create and use their imagination, you are allowing them to learn skills which aren’t teachable by you. They learn qualities such as:

  • self-belief
  • perseverance
  • curiosity
  • self confidence
  • playfulness
  • focus and concentration
  • resilience
  • they learn their strengths
  • using their imagination without coaching

Being bored also helps kids recognise and work out their emotions on their own. They can work out if what they’re doing is making them happy, sad, angry or anxious. This is an important part of life development. Through unstructured play, kids can start to work out solutions for problems on their own.

Originally posted 09 September 2018 on Kids on the Coast magazine

LOCAL LIFE: Nine-year-old student receives 2018 Sportsmanship Award

NOTICEBOARD: Nine-year-old local student receives 2018 Sportsmanship Award

 29 August 2018

Nine-year-old Callum Paget has received the 2018 Sportsmanship award for the Southport Yacht Club Dinghy Division.

After trying many different sports, nine year old Callum Paget joined the Funsail mornings at the Southport Yacht Club’s main club house, Main Beach in December 2017.

Right from the beginning, Callum knew he had found his ‘thing’. It came as no surprise to his parents Yvette and Logan that he loved it so much, sailing is in his genes!

He went on to complete Tackers 1, 2 and 3 at the Southport Yacht Club Hollywell arm. Tackers is a structured Learn­To­Sail programme overseen by multiple Olympic champion, Mathew Belcher. Each week Callum gained knowledge and confidence. He learned how to maneuver his single Opti (his little dinghy with a sail all by himself) out on the Broadwater. Lessons were given on tacking, jibing, wind speeds, currents, tides, markers and more. All under his incredible and passionate coach, Danah Clements.

The lessons don’t end on the beach. Callum is expected to take full responsibility of his Opti. He loads it onto a trailer, rigs it, checks it and wheels it down to the water. He then loads it back onto the trailer, wheels it back to the boat shed, washes it down and packs all the equipment away. Such a sense of ownership for such a young kid.

Callum completed the 3 races on his first regatta after capsizing numerous times. Cool as a cucumber, he rolled his Opti back over and continued the race, all unassisted and all while his peers were retiring from the race. Another regatta was a marathon, two and a half hours out on the water, last in, however stayed the course despite being the youngest and most inexperienced sailor of the fleet.

Skills learned in sport are transferrable to general life, winning, losing, dedication, persistence, determination, grit and so much more.

Callum will compete in the 2019 winter ‘Polar Bear Series’. We look forward to hearing about Callum growing in his chosen sport.

PARENTING: Controlling the Fortnite fever

Anyone else out there feeling the pressures of Fortnite?

One of the biggest parenting challenges at the moment is being caused by the popular video game Fortnite. On any given day at primary schools everywhere, parents are complaining to each other and teachers alike about Fortnite and how they are struggling to get their kids off the game. They are worrying about the time their kids are spending on the game and the uncharacteristic behaviours their children are starting to present.

Fortnite is a free multiplayer shooter game, where you kill people and the aim is to collect weapons and resources and be the last one standing. The game is available on all devices, iPhone, iPad, PC as well as video game consoles. Kids can play it anywhere, while chatting with friends or random people they meet on line.

The brain of a child in primary school is still developing and by playing video games such as Fortnite, which has a similar rush of alcohol or drugs, kids are developing addictions which parents are finding hard to control.

There is the argument that parents are in control and should be able to say no or take away the game when they feel they need to, however, what happens when the parents start to lose that control and become overwhelmed by the situation? It has been reported that kids are playing Fortnite for hours a day, sometimes well into the night. Some kids wait for their parents to fall asleep and then sneak off to play throughout the night, which is causing them to fall asleep in class and their grades to drop due to the exhaustion.

WHO classifies gaming as an official mental disorder.

Gaming disorder is defined as a pattern of gaming behaviour (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the individual must:

  1. The behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning
  2. The behaviour would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

Tips for parents

  • Know what type of game you are allowing your child to play. If you don’t understand the ins and outs of the game, then you won’t know what your child is truly being exposed to.
  • Create boundaries and time limits around video games and stick to them. Some parents allow their children to play after homework and chores have been done while others only let their child play on the weekends. Try and limit to one hour at a time with a non-screentime break.
  • Keep devices within viewing distance. Never allow your child to have any gaming devices in their bedroom. For those kids who wait for their parents to go to sleep to play, turn the devices off and put them away, out of reach of your child. If your child doesn’t have access, they won’t be able to play.
  • Explain to your child that video games are not real life. Consistently remind them. Help them to understand what they see and experience in the gaming world doesn’t happen in real life.
  • Watch for changes in behaviour, if your child becomes emotional or starts demonstrating aggressive behaviour, take the game away. If you are concerned with your childs mental health, please visit your GP.

Originally posted 22 August 2018 on Kids on the Coast magazine