Give Your Child a Head Start with Reading | Back to School Series

I'm here updating an old post today - with everyone heading back to school, I hope you find this one useful!



All children begin their school journey with different skills, knowledge and backgrounds. However there are many things you can easily do in every day life to give them a little head start with reading. Hopefully these 7 tips will give you some ideas and also give insight in to what your child will be doing and learning when they start school.


1. Make Reading Fun! Reading should be a joy - not a chore.


First of all, if a child is not motivated or interested in books and reading, it will be that much harder for them to get started. Reading shouldn’t be a chore – it should be a joy! Your child will pick up on your vibes so be a positive role model and show them that reading can be exciting and fun! Let them choose the books they want to read based on their interests.


2. Read to your child. 


I cannot stress this one enough – reading to your child is probably the most effective way to teach them to read (especially their favourite books read over and over). I think that well known South Australian author Mem Fox explains it far better than I could.

“If every parent – and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation” (Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001, p11).

“Experts tell us that children need to hear a thousand stories read aloud before to learn to read for themselves” (Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001, p 14)

Click here to read more from Mem Fox, including her ten read aloud “commandments” as she calls them.


3. Learn the alphabet in a hands on way.



I’ve written many posts on my blog about learning the alphabet (see them all just by clicking here). Pictured above are some of my favourite ‘hands on’ and sensory experiences. Everything begins with the alphabet, and a good foundation here will assist your child greatly when it comes to sounding out words.

4. Bring favourite books to life!


Pinterest and Google can be your greatest resources to find ideas of how to bring your child’s favourite story books to life. ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see?’ are two that come to mind. Create activities and play experiences based on these books to immerse your child in literacy and make real life connections to the books they know so well.

Here's by 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' small world as featured on Childhood 101!


5. Read in your environment.


Print is everywhere – labels, posters, number plates, signs, the list goes on and on. Talk to your child about the words and letters they see in their environment. Sound out the letters STOP when you see a stop sign, get them to help you read labels on the products you are buying at the shops or better yet they can try and read your shopping list!

6. Visit the library often.


Libraries are a beautiful place and a wonderful resource for families. Make it part of your weekly routine to spend some time together reading in the library and borrowing a variety of books to take home and enjoy. This will keep your child interested and always eager to find new books!

7. Model reading.


Heard the saying “Monkey see monkey do”? Well I believe the same goes for reading. Show your child that you enjoy reading books! I’ll admit we all spend a lot of time on our devices these days, but there’s something special about real books. If your child sees you reading, chances are they will be more likely to pick up a book and give it a go themselves.

How appropriate is this Dr Suess quote to remind us of the importance of reading in our daily lives.


Here's a link to my other 'Back to School' articles you might be interested in, whether you're a parent of a teacher. It's that time of year again when stationery is purchased and labelled and classrooms are decorated with care. Best of luck to all the little people starting school tomorrow (if they haven't already!).

Lauren

As featured on Adelaide Mummy Meetings.
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HELP! My Toddler Won't Share!

Isn't this a common problem we all face with our toddlers and little people? Sharing is a big concept for them to grasp, and it can be frustrating for us as parents when they just don't get it and play dates with friends turn into chaos!

This pretty much sums up my daughter...

(image credit + a great article about toddler sharing)

It goes without saying, that Miss M has had some HUGE changes happen this month with the introduction of her new baby brother - so we know we need to be understanding and patient with her. And little people tend to have very BIG emotions and don't quite know how to process them yet. We've just had so many visitors to the house lately and Miss M has not coped as well as we would have hoped.

Having said that, play dates at our house for the past year have been quite stressful, to the point where she will literally not let visiting children touch ANYTHING in the house. It's just a bit ridiculous. I see her get anxious and so upset, escalating into an extraordinary tantrum because someone is playing with something that belongs to her - it doesn't matter what the toy is.

Here's what we've tried...
  • Rewarding/praising her those times when she does do the right thing and plays nicely (usually not at our house)
  • Bribing her with her a prize from her prize box (this hardly ever works because inevitably she won't play nicely and then she's upset when she doesn't get a prize)
  • Putting her special toys away in her bedroom (although apparently EVERYTHING is a special toy).
  • Telling her that her bedroom can be a quiet place just for her if she gets overwhelmed (doesn't work).
  • Using a timer app on my phone to take turns if they both want the same toy (sometimes works at other people's houses)
  • Getting out a 'baby' toy box for children younger than her to play with (this one works with visiting children who are not yet mobile and want to go exploring!)
It's not all bad though - she'll gladly share her trampoline she got for Christmas. Thank goodness for that!

So I put the call out to some parenting blogger friends to see if anyone had any advice or links to help me out!

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I don't have any posts specifically but I do remember when Immy went through a similar phase we used to talk about our guests before they arrived and together we would set out some toys that our guest might like to play with. I would also invite Immy to put away any special toys that she didn't want others to touch. She still had moments but the preparation and sense of control seemed to help a little.
Maybe just a pep talk before people come over that it is kind to share toys with friends who visit, when she visits others she can play with their toys too. Then let her put away "precious toys" that she really doesn't want others to play with. My kids put away Lego that they don't want broken into bits.

Cindy has also written this article Why I don't teach my kids to share where she explains the benefits of using language such as 'take turns' and 'wait' rather than a toy being taken from one child and given to another.



Hey Lauren, just a thought about an idea to try since you said she doesn't like others touching her things. What if you took her to an op shop to buy some toys for guests to play with and keep them in a special basket for when they come over...

Nadia from City Mum - Rural Life wrote this post Sharing and Turn Taking: Why Your Child Must Learn These Skills. She talks about sharing and turn taking as an act of kindness and to encourage our children to be kind and considerate community members, and that it's better to give rather than receive. She also suggests the strategy of putting away the favourite toys, and if a meltdown eventuates from toys that were left out, explaining to the child that they chose to leave those toys out meaning they must be shared. 

Erin from Bambini Travel has twins and shared her Thoughts on Toddler Sharing here. She reiterated the fact that it's important for the children to have ownership over special possessions that are just for them, but on the other hand need to develop turn taking skills when playing with other siblings. 

Deborah from Mommy Crusader wrote this article - Helping Young Children Learning Socialization Skills with lots of great suggestions such as modelling the desired behaviour, organising play dates at a friends house rather than your own and focusing on and supporting your child's needs when they are having social difficulties.

Finally here are two great articles by Janet Lansbury (Toddlers Learning to Share and Share... Wait your Turn... Don't Touch... Playdate rules that limit learning.) I found these articles really useful. Some key points from the first article include; being a 'sportscast' rather than placing blame, the value in self learned lessons, be patient, and it probably looks worse to us as parents that it actually is. And the second article; it might be better to allow the children to work it out themselves and observe how the situation evolves rather than immediately stepping in and separating them, a toddler's possessiveness is a normal phase.

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Then I turned to my trusty March Mums Facebook group for their advice.

  • It's really important for him to know he will get a turn again and they aren't going to take it forever. 
  • 
I read something once about us adults having unreal expectation of our toddlers and their ability to comprehend sharing. It spoke of putting ourselves in our kids shoes and how we would feel if we were told we had to share our car or our house etc. 
  • 
I notice that as soon as I say 'you can have it when whoever has finished', that half the time the possessiveness over the toy ceases and he just moves on. 
  • I mention sharing if I see sharing happening. So if he's playing and voluntarily gives up a toy another child wants, or purposely offers his toy up. I'd say 'that's great sharing' or something along those lines (so he is being made aware of sharing).
  • Infants are super egocentric and it takes time for them to see things from others perspectives so I think it's a mix of caregivers having realistic expectations and persistent good role modelling.
  • Sharing shouldn't translate to 'you have to give up the toy your playing with because someone else wants it', that's not sharing and that's not a helpful lesson for either child.
 I am cautious about the 'children this age can't take turns' idea, I don't think there is a switch that turns on at some age and all of a sudden they know how to share/take turns. I think it is a learned behaviour, perhaps our kids aren't old enough to learn it yet but I think it is still something we should be modelling, encouraging and helping them to do so that when they are able to get it they have seen the desired behaviour.
 Even if our children can't learn this yet I do think we need to help our children with strategies to 'coexist' with other children for the wellbeing of everyone.
 

Thank you March mummies and mummy bloggers for your advice. I'll keep everyone updated how we go... Are threenagers any better at this than terrible two year olds? ;)

Lauren

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT. First time of 2016 for me!
12

My {Second} Interview Catch Up Post

Bloggers are a lovely breed...and I'm now into my third year of blogging. Last year I've had the pleasure of interviewing 12 wonderful bloggers - and back in July I did a follow up of my first 6. You can read it here - along with links to the original interviews.

For the most recent 6 interviews I kept it local and interviewed fellow RADeladian bloggers. Here's a recap of what Kylie, Liv, Sarah, Nichole and Beth have been up to.

July - Kylie from Octavia and Vicky


Thank you to Lauren for inviting me back for an update. Pebble is now a BIG Year 1 student (second year of school) and Rocky is turning three in just over a month. THREE!? Where did THAT time go? 



Since my first interview I've had some pretty big changes in family and work. For a number of complicated work reasons I increased my work time from three days a week to four days a week. I have thrived on the work, I just love teaching and sinking my teeth into an extra day has been fabulous! At the same time we decided to move Pebble to my school, instead of her local school (they are only seven minutes drive apart!). It's kind of a long and complicated story... involving me teaching Pebble for the last term of her first year of school. Yep, I taught my own child! That was a bumpy road at first but in the end it was a real blessing and a very special time that I'll never forget. I'll go on to work four days again this year, teaching Reception, lucky me (yes, I really mean that!).
Pebble is READING and writing and doing gymnastics and swimming. She is still an awesome bundle of creative ideas, and loves to do things her own way. She's our rules girl, she loves routine and boundaries, but she also loves looking at things differently and plays and creates in her own individual way. 

Rocky has changed child care centres this year, from one that we very much adored to one that is more local, and also wonderful. We're so lucky to have awesome choice in our area. Being closer to home will make his transition to school a little smoother, when the time comes (we hope!). Rocky has really grown up to be boisterous, energetic and a little comedian. He loves to make us laugh. He's also throwing some ripper tantrums these days... but that's another story. At the end of the day he is super cuddly and loving and has big love for his family.

While Paul has gone back to work the three of us have been enjoying school holidays together, with only one more week left to soak up. We have spent LOTS of time with our huge family and awesome friends. As always we made a trip to the city, this time for a ride on the Popeye and a visit to the South Australian Museum. The Museum has changed quite a lot since I last went, or perhaps I just had more time to look around this time, now the kids are a bit older. The kids especially love all the drawers to pull open and examine specimens of one kind or another. One last thing we'll be squeezing in before the end of next week is a trip to the Adelaide Zoo. Always a winner!

With all this going on I'm afraid that blogging on Octavia and Vicky has really taken a back seat. I have been so reluctant to formally call an end to my blogging days in that space, but it has fizzled out to almost nothing now. It remains a wonderful part of my life that I feel so lucky to have enjoyed. Perhaps I will come back to it with fresh eyes, it may include more teaching posts than parenting posts. Or perhaps I'll never write again. I really should stop sitting on the fence and decide! For now I have this beautiful family and awesome job to keep me going. 

Thanks again, Lauren, I wish you all the very best on your blogging ventures!

August - Liv from Eenie Meenie Miney Mum


Liv recently wrote a fantastic insight into life with twins. A great read...

You've probably seen her memes popping up all over social media because they're so awesome. Here's four of her most popular...


And here's what Liv has to say...

Considering 2015 was the year eeniemeeniemineymum.com was born, it was a pretty big year! So many instances of nearly accidentally killing my children and/or publicly humiliating myself to share, so little time. No really, so. little. time. And so. many. instances. 

Although I have to say, as the festive season (along with every family birthday in basically my entire family because we all apparently only procreate in one single month of the year) drew nearer, and I discovered that I have an uncanny knack of making plans and then not wanting to actually do them when the time comes... my momentum stalled a bit. The faster my littlest baby learned to crawl (or, as is now the case, walk), the less able I was to smash out a blog because she was, you know, smashing all our stuff. Destroying the twins duplo masterpieces. Systematically pulling every book we own off their shelves. Etc etc. 

That said.. There is a shining beacon looming down upon us. My twins turned four at the very end of 2015. And you know what that means. 

KINDY. 

Two and a half beautiful days a week in which someone else is instructing the direction of their little minds and suggesting they not use their vegemite sandwich to wipe up the water they just spilled all over the bench top. 

Oh, kindy. How I plan to love thee with all the fervour of my highly caffeinated heart. Oh kindy, how I plan to wistfully smile at just the mere thought of you as I while away my hours sitting watching my single non-kindy age child in the playground, or eating double coated tim tams without having to hide in the cupboard to do so. 

So watch this space! 2016 could just be the best year for eenie meenie miney mum yet. Or maybe not. In any case, I'm planning on buying a Dyson stick vac. And if that's not exciting enough news, I don't know what is.


September - Sarah from Working Mums Collective


Well 2015 certainly flew by. It feels like only a few weeks ago that we were getting ready for our little man to start school and now he is getting excited about being in year 1 this year.

Last year was a big adjustment for us getting into the routine of all the school activities. Thanks to a facebook group started by one of the parents in the class we got through and were kept up to date with all the activities, excursions and other important school dates.

It was an bigger adjustment for me to get into the routine of working three days and being home two. After working full time for so long, it was hard to get into that routine.

This year will be another adjustment period for us as I will return to work full time and my husband will be doing more flexible work and will be responsible for the school drop offs and looking after our daughter a couple of days a week. From a work point of view I am looking forward to being back five days a week as I struggled to adjust to only being there three days and was doing a lot of work at home. But I will miss being there for two of the drop offs and pick-ups and will miss my time with Ashlee but it will be good for them to have more time with Dad. 

Who knows what the routine will be like the year after… only time will tell.

Things were a bit quieter with working mums collective this year but I have blog plans for 2016. In January I will launch the working mums collective magazine. This gives me an opportunity to combine my passion for design with my passion for supporting working mums and have some great contributors and articles to share for the launch issue. This will then be a quarterly online magazine for working mums. (Get your copy here!)



It was a busy year for me with design; marketing and social media clients and I have love connecting and supporting women in business to elevate their businesses to the next level. Many of who have achieved amazing things this year and it has been a pleasure to play some part in it. I will continue to do some graphic design work for bloggers and women in business in the evenings as I love being creative and bringing their dreams and visions to life.


October - Nichole from You Clever Monkey


Big news for Nichole over at You Clever Monkey is that she now has an online store where you can purchase her printables - such as visual timetable, desk mats, 2D shape challenge cards and much more. She also compiled a list of her top 10 posts from 2015 - here. There's some great stuff! And I always see You Clever Monkey pop up on Facebook sharing fantastic teaching resources (teacher friends you should definitely follow her). She was busy redecorated her children's bedrooms these school holidays and they look beautiful. Even the story books are arranged in rainbow order! I love it! Like all other Aussie teacher's, Nichole is busy preparing for the start of a new school year.


November - Beth from Almost Posh


We really enjoyed Christmas this year, as it was the first time Miss L had any kind of concept of what was going on (and the Father Christmas carrot was dangled a LOT for best behaviour during the lead-up! We kept gifts to a small handful but she certainly didn’t go without and has enjoyed playing with / using everything she received, including bathers and beach towels. Father Christmas also took her bottles away to give to the babies who don’t have any and now she’s got a non-spill cup of water to take to bed (which I’m super happy about). Our pre-childcare routine has improved out of sight lately; I think letting her choose her own outfit has been a big part of it. Next step: toilet training! Wish me luck!

Beth recently wrote about our fun RADelaide bloggers meet up here.

In December I interviewed Hayley from Adelady!


If you missed it you can read it here.
You can also catch up on what Hayley's been up to in her recent feature in Working Mums Collective magazine.

And I only just recently interviewed Angela from Finlee and Me.


Check it out here :)

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I'm looking for some feedback now - if you're a regular reader of Teacher Types, have you enjoyed reading these interviews? Have you found a great new blogger to follow because of one of my interviews? Is it something I should continue this year? Or maybe keep the general idea but with a different approach? Bloggers from elsewhere in the world? Bloggers from other genres with a specific focus eg healthy family recipes, maternal well being, fitness, fashion? OK too many questions - but would love to know your thoughts.

Lauren xx
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Brilliant Baby Play Ideas {Guest Post}

I've had some fantastic guest bloggers this month, and last up for January is fellow Aussie Parenting Blogger Lu from Looking for Mama Me. I've really appreciated the help to keep my blog going in these first few months. Plus it's given me a great kick start to 2016 and reached a wider audience which has been fantastic!

I mentioned to Lu that I started my blog when Miss M was already 9 months old, and now that I have my little man I have all these new things to write about, including baby play ideas. So Lu's post today is the perfect fit. 

Thanks so much Lu!
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For those of you who don't know me, I'm Lu from Looking for Mama Me. I am a mummy to an amazing little toddler who challenges me every day with her curiosity and energy! I live in a little town in regional NSW after moving with my family across the country not long ago and am still navigating my new town and my learning all about my little family and myself. I blog about motherhood, activities for babies and toddlers, food and craft. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!


Its been a while since I've had a newborn, but when the beautiful Lauren from Teacher Types asked me to guest blog for her while she enjoyed her own little newborn, I started to reflect on all the games I used to play with my little girl and how I scoured my mind for ideas to keep her entertained.

Like most babies, my girl will only self-entertain for so long and seemed to need constant attention and entertainment. I'd put her on her play mat for a kick around and two seconds later she'd grizzle because she was bored or she'd flip onto her tummy and try to eat her play mat. By the time she hit around 4 to 5 months I found she was really engaged and wanted more stimulation.

Here are some of my favourite ways to entertain your baby!


Get those motor skills going


From birth until she started crawling (and even beyond) we did lots of movement practice with our girl; bicycle legs (cycling her legs up and down like she's riding a bike), kicking practice, standing practice, sitting practice.

Singing songs


I sing everything! I have a song just for nappy change time.

Old Macdonald is one of her favorites, she tries to sing along and now even wiggles like she's trying to dance. Three blind mice (a sanitised version - I'm not particularly keen on singing about mice tails being cut off with a carving knife) and Hush Little Baby both go down well too. Even as a toddler I still sing all the time, despite annoying my husband, my girl loves it!

Story Time


Books are fantastic for any age and you can never read too many. We spent a lot of time reading, and still do. Stories are great for before bed but I have loads of little board books as well which perfect for little baby hands, and attention spans! Obviously they can't read yet, but I love reading to my little girl and telling her about all the pictures. I started doing this when she was only days old, now at 15 months she loves books and has excellent comprehension.


Talk time


I like to talk to her about everything. Not only is it fantastic for oral and listening development but your voice is calming and nurturing. I read somewhere that babies that are talked to using full range of vocabulary (rather than baby talk) will develop language skills sooner and grow up to have a higher IQ. I like to think this is true, so I talk to my baby like I would to anyone else. Whether its explaining the game of cricket or telling her about different types of cats, I figure it can't hurt.


Get in some exercise


Even at 15 months, we get out and get some exercise every day. It has been crucial for our mental health and keeps us both happy. Every morning since she was a few weeks old, I put her in the baby carrier or pram and headed out for a walk. As a baby, if it didn't put her to sleep, at the very least it kept us both occupied for a while and I got some exercise.

Chillax time


Sometimes we sit out on my parents deck and watch the ducks and pelicans swim by, I point out boats and birds and so on. I'm embarrassed to say sometimes I just put the tv on and have her sit on my lap to watch the colours and movements. If she is particularly cranky, this might calm her down.

Baby Sensory Fun


There are so many simple household items that can create sensory experiences for little babies. Coloured rice in a plastic jar can be visually stimulating and they'll the rattling. Try giving your baby pieces of fabric in different textures - furry, rough, smooth - and let them explore.


Game play


Simple games with basic concepts are great for small babies. My little girl loved playing horsey, sitting on my tummy and bouncing up and down while I make click clacks. Peek-a-boo is always a winner Its also wonderfully cut as she giggles and squeals away!

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Playing with your baby is not only entertaining for your baby but can help them develop. From language to motor skills to social behaviour, to me the most valuable outcome is that bond with your baby. There's nothing else like it!

Lu
xo
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The launch of Working Mums Collective Magazine!

...and I've been featured!

My friend Sarah from Working Mums Collective has embarked on an exciting new chapter this year combining her blogging passion with her graphic design expertise to produce a quarterly online magazine especially designed and written for working mums. 

 

And do you recognise the lovely face on the cover?!? It's another blogger friend of mine Hayley Pearson from Adelady (who I've also had the pleasure of interviewing here). What a stunner she is!

In my article I wrote about my pregnancy journey, my experience of still working at 36 weeks, plus having 2 year old Miss M to chase after... I compared this pregnancy to last, I shared my difficulties, but also took a moment to reflect on the things I'm grateful for.

Would love you to read it! To get a copy - you can sign up here...


Thanks for the opportunity Sarah! xx
2

The Blogger Behind Finlee and Me {Welcome Angela}

I'm proud to be a brand rep for a fantastic Australian online kids/baby product store Finlee and Me. I genuinely believe that the products on offer are unique, high quality, educational, encourage imaginative play, and above all, aren't available in regular shops. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that I regularly share some of the products we were lucky enough to be gifted, and we even do the occasional giveaway!




Welcome Angela – and thanks so much for helping me out with an interview post while I’m busy settling into life with my 2 little cherubs!

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1. So I know you are from Canada, but when did you come to Australia?


I came to Australia in 1997 for my high school graduation trip; was only a short trip. Then I came back in 2002-2003 where I completed my Masters of Social Work. Then married my husband who is Austrlian in 2005 and we moved back in 2006 and have been here since.

2. What’s a highlight of living in Brisbane? Best kid friendly outing recommendation?


We love the community vibe in Brisbane. There are always a variety of kids activities from connecting with nature, going to a museum, having a picnic in the park; we’re truly blessed. In addition, we’re only an hour north or south from some of the finest beaches in Australia.


3. Tell us about Finlee and Chloe. What activities/toys are they loving at the moment?


Finlee and Chloe are currently in love with Bobo our Elf in the Shelf. Bobo has been with us now for the 3rd year running. He arrives on or around December 1st and the kids love him. They ask for him through out the year, tell me all the time how they miss him; he truly is part of our family. Finlee and Chloe are also into arts and crafts. From drawing, to painting to collecting leaves in the backyard to get creative.

4. How did you find Finlee’s first year of school?


Finlee had a great year. Everything is captured in a recent blog post here.

5. What can parents shopping online expect to find at Finlee and Me?


Our focus as Finlee and Me is simple… to create childhood memories through play. We source quality products from around the world that encourage children of all ages to play, connect with nature, nurture their imagination and through play create childhood memories.

6. Best selling product?


Magnatiles are such a fantastic education product - ideal for home or school. Beautiful colours, easy to use, these tiles connect along the edges and can be used to create fun 2D and 3D shapes.



7. What does a typical ‘day in the life of Angela, Finlee & Chloe’ look like?


A lot of people don’t know that I also work full time for the government in mental health. So Finlee is in school Monday-Friday, Chloe is in daycare Monday-Wednesday and then Dale is with Chloe on Thursday and I’m with her on Friday. I believe that quality time is more important then qanitity of time. Therefore, when we get the kids afterschool/daycare we try to ensure we’re off our phones and computers and focus on them. During the weekends, sometimes we’ll stay home and just be a family and regroup, while other times we’re off to birthday parties or different family activities.

8. What does 2016 have in store for Finlee and Me? Any big plans?


We have so many exciting plans for 2016!! We’ll be focusing on collaborating with some wonderful Australian, child-friendly/child focused businesses to bring our fans/followers/readers some exciting opportunities. In addition, we’ll be focusing on increasing our blog so that parents have a wonderful place to turn to when they need support, need a laugh or want to know they’re not alone. We’ll also be looking at sourcing some new product lines that will go great with our creating childhood memories through play.

9. Favourite quote to finish?



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You can find Finlee and Me here on social media
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Keeping a Toddler Busy While You're Busy with a Newborn

Carol from My Bored Toddler is today's guest blogger and she has written the most perfect article for me right now! She shares some brilliant activities ideas to keep toddlers busy while mums and dads are busy with a new baby in the house. It's quite an adjustment for little people, and we have found that Miss M has done quite well. I can't wait to try some of Carol's ideas!

Thanks so much for being here today Carol!
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Having a newborn and a toddler presents a lot of challenges (that’s an understatement really!).  My children are just under 2 years apart so I had an almost 2 year old and a newborn so I’ve been there and done that. Along with the sleeping issues (not all toddlers sleep through the night – trust me!) there’s the issue of how to keep your toddler occupied while you’re busy with your newborn. Whether it’s feeding them, changing them or getting them to sleep, it’s important that your toddler is entertained as well. While all of these activities required supervision (of course) they were mainly independent activities that my toddler could do while I was with my baby.

Some of the activities that worked well for me were:

Reading


If you can master it, reading a story to your toddler while your newborn is feeding is a great way to make them feel special and included. While this isn’t going to work every time, it’s worth giving it a try. Audio books and children’s eBooks are also a great idea.

Sensory Bins


Sensory bins are great for toddlers and keep them entertained for a long time. There’s no need to have anything too fancy – young kids are happy with the simplest of things. Some coloured rice, water, pasta or cloud dough. These work great in a simple sand and water table, but if you don’t have that any large container will work. You can find some great simple sensory bin ideas here.


Dolls 



Toddlers love to copy what Mum and Dad are doing, and dolls are a great way to do this. The range of doll accessories is huge and they will love copying Mum and changing the nappy, wearing the doll in the baby carrier and pushing it in the pram.


Let them help


A great way to let your toddler feel included is to let them help. My daughter loved bringing me the nappies and getting out the wipes. I would also let her choose which outfit to dress the baby in and let her help as much as possible.

Stickers


Stickers are a great activity for toddlers and both of my girls have loved this activity. For the younger toddlers start with large foam stickers as these are easier to play with independently and then move onto smaller stickers. You can pick up stickers from dollar stores, department stores and craft stores and they are very inexpensive. They are also great for fine motor development.


Tablets and iPads


I know that there is a lot of debate about screen time and toddlers, but I have to confess that this was a huge help to me. There is a lot of research coming out that states that it is the quality of the screen time rather than the quantity that is important. That being said, I used to limit this to only the time when I was busy with the baby. It was used as a treat for my toddler and I was very picky about what apps she could use. You can find some of the great educational apps that I recommend here. If you have an iPad the ABC for Kids app is great! I used to carry my iPad with me when I was out shopping as it was a great way to keep my toddler busy while in the parents’ room with my newborn. 



Busy Bags 


Busy bags are simple independent activities that your toddler can do for 10-15 minutes. They are best used as an activity that is given to your toddler when you need them to be quiet and busy (hence the name!) rather than being put with their regular toys. This Toddler Busy Bag Pinterest board has a great collection of ideas.

Juggling a toddler and a newborn is hard. While the above activities are great, if you can get someone to help you out and play and entertain your toddler – do it!  They’ll enjoy the one on one attention and maybe, just maybe, you can take a nap with the baby!

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Carol is the owner of My Bored Toddler, a website full of activities to keep you toddler busy! You can follow her on Pinterest, Facebook. Twitter and Instagram.

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My Turn to be Interviewed!

Last year I attended an awesome Adelaide Instagrammers meet up and met the gorgeous and inspirational life coach Sarah Jensen (here's her website). We hit it off and later in the year she asked me some interview questions for her Heart + Hustle series. 

Here we are at the insta-meet up.

I regularly interview other bloggers, so I thought it would be nice to share my answers to Sarah's questions - I always like getting to know the bloggers I follow :)

So read on if you'd like to get to know me better!

What nourishes you?


When I stop and think about answering this question lots of things come to mind. My family. My career. Good food. A good cup of coffee. Doing 'body balance' at the gym (well I used to and hope to again). Sunshine on a 25 degree day. Shopping. My blog. Rest.

What’s top of your bucket list?


I really look forward to a time when we can travel again when our children are older. There is so much of Australia and the rest of the world I have't seen. I can't wait to make memories as a family and have some wonderful holidays together. Hubby has always wanted to go to New Zealand, but I've already been. And I've never been to Europe but he has. So there'll be some compromises over the years I'm sure.

What song do you sing at the top of your lungs every time you hear it?


Ok all time favourite - "Summer Rain". This song takes me back to my early twenties when I'd stay out late with my girlfriends and dance until my feet hurt! The song I'm loving at the moment is "Shut Up and Dance" - I bought a new car recently and had this song cranking while I drove it home from the car yard!


What’s your top tip for superhero self-confidence?


This is a tricky question... I certainly wasn't a confident person in high school, but found my way during my years of University when I was studying Early Childhood Education, and again when I got my first teaching job (at the school were I still work today). I think it's important to remember that not everyone will like you - and it's impossible to keep everyone happy all the time (I'm a compulsive people pleaser and don't like to rock the boat so this was a hard one for me to realise).

I'm not one for lots of make up, hair extensions, fake eye lashes and fake tans... but I do enjoy the simple pleasures of a pedicure, massage, a new outfit, and nice earrings to feel good about myself.

How do you pull yourself out of your head and into your heart?


Another tricky one Sarah! I tend to be a bit of a worrier and get a bit anxious when things don't go right. I'm always trying to keep other's happy. I guess this is when I'm "in my head". I wrestle with decisions when it comes to what's best for my daughter and our family and worry about things that are way off in the future.
I know that I need to sometimes think of myself and remember that putting yourself first is not selfish - but sometimes necessary. I think it's also important to be present in the moment and appreciate the here and now, instead of worrying those distant future big decisions.

If you could pick one random act of kindness to pay forward and start a global movement, what would it be?


Cooking a meal for someone (in particular a mother with a new bub). I cannot tell you how much this helped when I had my daughter two years ago - it was better than any material gift. In those early weeks you are barely hanging on, but it's so important to eat nourishing food (especially if breastfeeding - the hunger is overwhelming) but it's difficult to cook for yourself. I made an effort to do this for other friends when they had their babies once I experienced how helpful it was. Soup, pasta, muffins, risotto are great options or meals that freeze and reheat well are a good way to go. And if your cooking a batch of soup yourself - it's easy to put some aside. So next time a friend of yours has a new bub - why not bring them a meal made with love instead of (or as well as) a baby gift?

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Later this month I'm so excited to start Sarah's 'Rock Your Goals' online course. What a way to start my year of blogging and get a good plan together. Read more about the course here

Thanks for interviewing me Sarah. Can't wait to rock my goals with your support and inspiration! xx
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3 Ways to Use a Sensory Table {Guest Post}

I've always said that kindness and collaboration makes the blogosphere go round, and I'm so grateful that some fellow bloggers have offered to step in and write some fantastic guest posts for me over January and February while I get settled with a new bub and adjusting to be a mum of two! Today I welcome back Alison from The Way He Plays. She has an awesome new look website and we got to meet in person late last year at an Adelaide Blogger's catch up which was lovely :)
Thanks so much Alison and I'd gladly return the favour later in the year!


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First of all I'd like to say hi to all of Lauren's wonderful new readers! Some may remember that Lauren and I teamed up to write 20 Busy Bags for Busy Little People over a year ago now. I am excited to be back on Teacher Types for another guest post opportunity and am going to be sharing the wonderful world of sensory tables with you all!

At the beginning of the year we made our very own sensory table out of pvc pipes and a plastic storage container. It was quite simple to make and has been one of the best things we have done. It is used almost daily by our 2 year old who loves to play with it along with all our little visitors too. If you would like to make your own you can see our instructions here.


After filling the container so many times I have found that there are 3 main things we use it for; water play, sensory play and small world play. Today I am going to share with you some of the ways we have used it in each of these categories. Most of the time we use the box on the stand, but sometimes we put the box on the floor too depending on what we are playing with.

Water Play



The easiest way to make water play fun and exciting is to add food colouring to it. The water alone is generally enough to keep Master R busy but by adding the colour it becomes that little bit more special. We have also added these things to the water:

  • cups, containers and watering cans to encourage pouring
  • flowers, sticks, pebbles and herbs to make a 'nature soup'
  • chalk so that it gets nice and wet for wet chalk drawings
  • bubble bath or dishwashing liquid to make it bubbly
  • bath toys which become exciting just because they are not in the bathroom
  • paintbrushes to make water paintings
  • water balloons which are fun to float, splash with and throw

Sensory Play



A sensory table is perfect for sensory play, it is named for it after all! Having the sensory materials confined to the box helps to contain the mess and being able to have the box up on the stand can allow kids to stay active and move their bodies whilst exploring what's inside. Some of our favourite sensory play creations in our table have been:

  • rainbow rice and playdough, a fun combination of two great materials
  • sand to create a mini sand pit before we got our big sandpit
  • water beads with cups and spoons
  • shaving cream and toy cars
  • gloop (a mixture of corn flour and water)

Small World Play



Small world play is an exciting new adventure at our house. Master R has just turned 2 and is beginning to enjoy imaginary play. So far we have created two small worlds which have been thoroughly enjoyed.

For our insect small world we used small plastic insects, leaves and sticks from our garden and a small container with water as a pond. Master R's favourite thing to do with the insects was to play hide and seek with them under the leaves.

The farm small world that we created used medium sized plastic farm animals, green painted newspaper cut up for the grass, blue playdough for drinking water, dried beans for food and a barn made using an ice cream container, cardboard rolls and red paper. We played with this small world inside which is why I choose easy to clean up materials. Having the animals 'drink the water' and get playdough on their noses proved hilarious for Master R!

I also love Lauren's 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' small world to follow along with the book. I look forward to creating it one day and love the way she brings the book to life in such a simple way!
If you don't yet have an area or table for these types of play at your house I suggest you make one fast! These ideas take very little time to prepare and they entertain kids for ages. Each of them lasted a good couple of days before they were changed for something new and going back and repeating old ideas works well too.

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As always, I like to share my guests social media accounts so you know where to find them...
You can find Alison here

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Teacher Types 2nd Blogiversary


Happy New Year! 
I don't know how he knew, but our Little Man woke us up at about 11:54 last night, just in time to see in the new year and watch the fireworks on TV :) 

What a clever one!

I love that I stated my blog on the 1st of Jan, makes it easier to remember my Blogiversary. I've written so much in the past 2 years, and more surprisingly is that I've kept with it - even in a quiet month there's still been a post or two.

2015 was the year of collaboration and setting my blog up to make the move from 'hobby' to a more professional website. I own my own domain (meaning I'm a 'dot com' instead of a 'dot blogspot dot com'), I got a Facebook page, I made a media kit, I work with brands, I write for other websites and I have an ABN. I feel like such a grown up!

So what to expect in 2016?
- Writing about my newest parenting chapter, being a mother of two - including baby play ideas and activities to keep Miss M busy, happy and occupied.
- More great articles for Adelady & Childhood 101
- More awesome products to share from Finlee and Me
- Even though I won't be working (teaching) this year, I'll still include a few teaching ideas and resources here and there.
- Who knows what else? Got any suggestions for me?? What about a regular 'ask the teacher' post on Facebook? Would love to know your thoughts.

Over Jan & Feb I've got some wonderful bloggers lined up to write some feature articles for me so that I've still got regular content to share while I'm busy adjusting to my new routine. I have been shown time and time again that bloggers are always willing to go above and beyond to help each other and collaborate. So that's exciting!

Wishing you all the best for 2016.

"The year is yours. What will you do with it?"

Lauren x
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