Why is early childhood education important for everyone?

Early childhood education has far-reaching benefits, not just for children, but for society as a whole. By investing in the early years, we create a foundation that supports the well-being of families, strengthens communities, and drives economic growth.

Here’s why:

Happier workforce

It creates a happier and healthier workforce. Early education supports parents, reducing absenteeism and turnover by improving overall wellbeing and mental health. This leads to a more stable and productive workforce.

It establishes a future-ready workforce. Children who receive early education develop crucial social and emotional skills, preparing them to handle future complexities and challenges.

Economic benefits for everyone

There are huge economic benefits. Early childhood education contributes significantly to the economy. It generates $313M in immediate tax revenue and an additional $495M in future tax revenue. This is because parents of children in early education can work more, and these children grow up to earn higher qualifications and wages.

It actually has the potential to reduce public spending. How? There’s a $1,194M reduction in health, welfare, and crime costs. Early education leads to lower rates of obesity and smoking, more people entering the workforce, and fewer involved in the justice system.

It can increase household Incomes. While costs are incurred in childcare fees,  overall families benefit significantly, with household incomes increasing by $1,463M. Many parents can work more hours or re-enter the workforce thanks to early childhood education.

It enhances lifetime earnings. Early education boosts lifetime earnings by $997M due to higher academic achievement and qualifications.

Healthier society

It leads to healthier lives! Each year, 8,500 children are less likely to face obesity-related health issues, 2,300 are less likely to become smokers, and 763 are less likely to be incarcerated as adults.

It improves productivity. There’s a $319M increase in productivity from a more educated workforce. Additionally, 4,000 fewer children drop out of school each year because early education provides them with the foundational skills they need to succeed, and often leads to a lifetime love of learning.

These benefits underscore the critical importance of early childhood education for everyone. Investing in our youngest learners is an investment in our future.

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At Little Scholars, we are committed to supporting not just the incredible children we have the privilege of educating, but their families. 

Through initiatives like our Family Time program, which includes haircuts, quarterly date nights, take-home meals for the children and parents. We also arrange specialist appointments on-site which include optometrist, podiatrist, speech pathologist visits, dentist, and child health nurse appointments.

It is a simple idea but one that allows our families more time together on the weekends and weeknights without having to run around trying to fit in those never-ending appointments we need to organise for our children.

We believe that by nurturing these relationships and providing high-quality early education, we can help create a brighter future for all.

Book a tour today to see firsthand how Little Scholars can support your family. Visit www.mylittlescholars.com.au to learn more.

Things to do with your children on rainy days on the Gold Coast, Redlands and Brisbane

Families who live in South East Queensland, a truly beautiful part of the world, are fortunate to enjoy pleasant weather most of the time. But, like anywhere, we get our (small) share of rainy or cooler days. And while one or two days of weather-related downtime can be welcome, our corner of the Earth can sometimes see days on end of rain, something we’re not quite used to, which mean our little ones may be bouncing off the walls if we don’t find some weather-appropriate things to do for them.

Since Little Scholars is in the business of small humans, we’ve gathered some activity ideas for parents we know children will love in any weather!

Gold Coast

With its plethora of beaches and hiking trails, most people associate the Gold Coast with sunshine and heat, a near-perfect holiday destination, but what can  families do if it’s cool, cloudy or raining? The answer is, there’s still plenty to do!

We’ve selected some of the most fun, unique indoor activities families with young children can do on the Gold Coast, the Redlands and in the state capitol, Brisbane.

Home of the Arts (HOTA)

This creative hub offers plenty of rainy day entertainment options. Wander through five levels of thought provoking and inspiring displays, exhibits and artworks at the incredible HOTA Gallery. There’s a Children’s Gallery on Level 1 where little ones can do craft activities and interact with creative displays. 

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Gold Coast Car Museum

The Gold Coast Motor Museum in Upper Coomera is a fantastic option for rainy days, featuring over 80 cars and memorabilia. Opened in October 2020 by brothers Carl and Grant Amor, the museum is a tribute to their parents’ love for cars. Located in the scenic Gold Coast hinterland, adjacent to Stanley’s Barn Restaurant & Bar, it’s a perfect destination for family fun and nostalgia.

Only closed Mondays and Tuesdays, children under 13 enter for free, and they’ll love exploring the eclectic range of vehicles spanning the years 1900 to 1988. 

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EMF Pacific Fair & Nerang

Looking to entertain your children and use up some of that endless energy? EMF Junior caters for children ages two to 13, with massive ball bits, slides, tunnels, climbing apparatuses, giant blocks and more. There is a separate zoned toddler area that caters to their specific abilities and needs.

Parents can also book their children in for the creche at Nerang and supervised drop and shop sessions at Pacific Fair, which comes in particularly handy for parents who need a bit of time to themselves!

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Gold Coast City Libraries

A classic rainy day activity! But the 13 locations of Gold Coast City Libraries are not your grandmother’s library! They offer a ton of benefits besides an incredible array of books!

Join your library for fun times as the friendly librarians help build pre-literacy, communication, language and social skills for your babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 

Baby Rhyme Time – Giggle, coo and cuddle with favourite rhymes and songs. Ideal for children from birth to two years.

Toddler Time – Sing, move and groove, learn new words and make new friends. Ideal for toddlers aged two to four years.

Storytime – Listen, laugh and roar with favourite stories old and new. Ideal for children from three to five years.

These are offered seven days a week across all locations. For your closest library’s schedule, or to find nearest availability for these programs when they suit your schedule, click this link.

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Ice Skating

Grab the family and head over to Paradise Resort Gold Coast for an experience rare to the southern hemisphere – ice skating!

Planet Chill is suitable for anyone over three years, and to make it a little easier for beginners to stay on their feet, Planet Chill has fibreglass penguins to help make your ‘icecapades’ more bump-free. 

Your family will be gliding to popular music, a disco ball and under-ice lighting to light up your session.

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Imaginator

IMAGINATOR is a multisensory, walk-through experience that houses a series of immersive art installations that celebrate imagination, technology and play. 

There are 15 immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences under one roof that have been created by a talented team of architects, audio-visual artists, futurists, renderers and sound designers. The rooms feature multi-sensory installations like AI projections, sensor-triggered LED waves, giant silk parachute canopies, cosmic gardens, an anti-gravity sunset, an electronic hall of mirrors, a digital wishing well and a whole heap more.

Suitable for all ages, and is generally safe for people with sensory sensitivities, epilepsy or neurodiverse persons.

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Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Marvel at hundreds of rare and unusual artifacts and get hands-on with unbelievable interactives at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Surfers Paradise. Play your way through! Shatter your senses in the Vortex Tunnel, where illusions and a colourful light show transport visitors into a mind-bending dimension, or let curiosity be your guide in the Funplex, filled with hands-on interactives.

Families can add on fun by purchasing an experience at the Ripley’s Mirror Maze Surfers Paradise

Redland Bay

Charming Redland Bay has a real country feel despite being a growing bayside residential community. For its residents, the conservation areas and places for sport lead the activities, but that doesn’t mean rainy days mean families need to stay home. 

IndigiScapes

The IndigiScapes Centre is Redland City Council’s environment education centre. Situated on 14.5 hectares of serene natural bushland, IndigiScapes offers native botanical gardens, a native nursery, bush trails, a nature playground. But while a lot of its appeal is focused on the outdoors, it does have an indoor environment that visitors can access in less desirable weather. 

The Discovery Centre is full of information, displays and hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages! With interactive environmental education areas, microscopes, lookout window, and touch screen activities, everyone will love learning more about the natural world. 

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After exploring the Discovery Centre, you may have worked up a hearty appetite, so check out the IndigiCafe and enjoy local cuisine with a bushtucker twist while overlooking beautiful Coolnwynpin Creek tributary on Redlands Coast. You’ll love the food so much, you’ll want to take some of the bush flavours and spices home with you.

Redland Museum

Check out the Redland Museum! Step inside the Museum and discover a treasure trove of historic artefacts and fascinating stories about the people, places and events that helped to shape the Redlands Coast.

The museum even has a toy hall of fame, where children can see unusual toys from the past, play with the interactive model railway, wind the handle and make calls on 100 year old telephones and see a collection of 100 dolls in handmade costumes.

They can also climb aboard and ‘drive’ the Redlander railmotor and even see how children learned at school in the past.

Open seven days a week from 10am to 3.30pm, the museum is great for families. Admission prices are $10 adults, $6 concession, children are FREE.

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Redland Art Gallery

This award-winning gallery offers ‘Family Sundays at the Gallery’ once per month at RAG, Cleveland. These sessions offer families a chance to create together exploring a variety of techniques themed to compliment the gallery’s latest exhibitions. It is a great chance to connect with each other while enjoying some hands on creative fun. The gallery also offers a Parents and Prams session one Wednesday a month as an opportunity to explore the latest exhibitions, socialise and get arty.

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Historic Ormiston House
Historic Ormiston House, which dates back to 1862, is regarded as the birthplace of the Australian Sugar Industry. 
 
The restored house, expansive grounds and beautiful gardens overlook stunning Moreton Bay.
 
Open every Sunday from February to December, children under five enter free and visitors can add a Devonshire Tea option to their visit. Volunteers offer information about the site and the history of one of Brisbane’s prominent families.
 
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North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum

Called a ‘hidden gem’ on Tripadvisor, we’re bringing this charming museum out of hiding to share with our families.  The museum represents the 65,000 years or so of Aboriginal history, the British invasion and colonisation and a complex shared history of less than 200 years.

Colour My Pot

If your little artist wants to try something new, why not visit Colour My Pot, a pottery painting and clay studio that provides a fun and creative environment where people of all ages can come together and make memories and some beautiful art.

Colour My Pot also caters to children for birthday parties and school holiday activities.

Brisbane

Beenleigh Historical Village 
Explore the past at Beenleigh Historical Village, which showcases a variety of buildings, experiences, and demonstrations that bring the region’s history to life. You’ll find a blacksmith, an old post office, a schoolroom from the 1800s, and traditional printing presses. There’s also an art gallery, café, and museum displays to enjoy. You can choose to join a guided tour or stroll through at your own pace to see everything the village has to offer.
Beenleigh Historical Village Church
Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway

If families are looking for something completely different to do, or have a locomotive-obsessed little ones, check out the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway in Ipswich! 

Experience a ride on vintage steam trains from the early 1900s and learn about Queensland’s railway history as you travel along historic tracks. Enjoy beautiful countryside views and grab a bite to eat or drink onboard. Check their website for dates and times.

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Queens Park Environmental Education Centre

Queens Park Environmental Education Centre offers locals, visitors (and especially families) the chance to learn more about Ipswich’s unique natural environment, waterways, and sustainability themes at no cost. Located in the heart of the city’s beloved Queens Park, children can get hands-on with this delightful, interactive, playful learning environment.

The Centre has many environmental education exhibits that showcase Ipswich’s unique natural environment, waterways, and sustainability themes. The interactive displays connect visitors with nature in the home and around the city. Families will love visiting the giant fig ‘growing’ inside the centre and explore the variety of ecosystems and wonderful wildlife that can be found in the Ipswich area.

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Ipswich Children’s Library

Did you know Ipswich has Australia’s only public library dedicated to children?  It features a specially designed catalogue with over 35,000 books just for children, and unique multi-reality interactive experiences.

The Ipswich Children’s Library is designed to be an interactive and engaging space for children. It features various zones with elements that encourage exploration and active participation. Highlights include a series of colourful tubes where children can send fabric pieces flying through the air, large interactive screens, and colouring tables where children can scan and watch their decorated fish swim on a screen. The library also offers cosy reading nooks, a gaming touch screen with STEAM-based puzzles, and a unique Reading Tree with a cushioned tunnel for reading. The space is filled with natural light, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Nicholas Street Precinct and landscaped gardens. 

The library is open seven days a week and hosts regular, child-focussed programs and events and special tech adventures just for little ones!

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Head over to Carindale to exert some of your little ones’ boundless energy where you’ll find this active adventure-play centre specially designed for pre-school children, offering fun, active-play experiences that help develop a positive relationship with physical activity. 

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Hologram Zoo

Hologram Zoo is a family-friendly entertainment centre that operates like a traditional zoo, but with a twist – all the animals are holographic projections created using laser light technology. Suitable for children aged three and above, there are different country based shows like Africa, North Pole, Asia, and Australia. The zoo even allows guests to travel back in time and visit the dinosaurs. 

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Area 51

Area 51 Brisbane is Australia’s largest indoor playground, occupying an incredible total space of 10,000 square metres of endless fun for all ages. 

For babies to small toddlers there’s Astrotots Wonderland and Cosmo’s Inflatable Wonderland. For children aged three to four, they can explore Mini Rovers, which includes Trampoline Park, Cosmo’s Inflatable Wonderland and Gizmo’s Galaxy. Children ages five and up can explore Universe, which includes High Ropes, Bouldering, Trampoline Park, Gizmo’s Galaxy, Mega Slides, Parkour X or Ninja Park.

Adults are very welcome to supervise for free or play for the price of a ticket.

Area 51 also has four different eateries, including iDumplings, Night Market, Mollis and the Area 51 Cafe.

Space Shuttle Inflatable At Area 51

At Little Scholars, with locations across South East Queensland, we understand that rainy days are opportunities for unique and engaging learning experiences. Our early learning service is dedicated to providing the highest quality early education and care, making every day, rainy or sunny, a chance for exploration, learning and fun.

Our beautiful campuses, best of the best resources and sector-leading curriculum, including play-based programs underpinned by the Early Years Learning Framework, ensure that your child won’t miss a beat in their development, even when it’s pouring outside.

Our team of dedicated educators tailors activities to the individual needs and interests of each child, making every day an adventure in learning. We cherish the deep, nurturing relationships our educators build with each child and celebrate the friendships they form with their peers.

Why not see for yourself how we transform rainy days into super fun learning experiences? Book a tour today and join our Little Scholars family!

So you’ve decided to send your child to early learning – how exciting!

 For first-time parents, preparing for this new chapter involves more than just packing a backpack, it means understanding key essentials like the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). Navigating the CCS can seem daunting, but fear not! We’ve written a comprehensive guide to help demystify the process to help you understand how to maximise this support for your family’s benefit.

Here we explain everything you need to know about and to apply for CCS, making it easier for you to support your child’s educational adventure.

What is the child care subsidy (CCS)?

Did you know you can apply for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) before you enrol your child in early learning? 

Wait, what’s CCS? The Child Care subsidy is assistance to help families with the cost of childcare. Your child’s day in early learning is payable by a daily fee charged by the centre. The government may cover some of this fee, depending on your individual circumstances. This is what is referred to as the ‘subsidy’. 

You may be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy if you meet a number of factors. The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) changed in July 2024 for families earning under $533,280. The percentage of CCS will vary depending on your family’s income, and the income limit to receive the maximum allowed CCS will increase as well. For families whose income is up to $83,280, you could receive up to 90% from the CCS toward your child’s daily fee.

If you have two or more children in care, subsequent children are eligible for a higher subsidy than the first child. For families who earn a total income of up to $141,321, those children will receive 95% from CCS off your daily fee.

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Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Requirements

There are several requirements to qualify for the Child Care Subsidy. You may qualify if:

• You or your partner care for the child a minimum of two nights / fortnight

• You or your partner are responsible for childcare fees

• The child meets immunisation requirements

• You use an approved child care service like Little Scholars!

Once you’re ready for your child to go into early learning, you can apply for CCS!

How CCS works

The CCS works on three factors: 

• Your total combined family income

 • The service type. This can be long day care, or outside-hours care such as vacation care

 • How much ‘work-related’ activity you and your partner undertake each fortnight This includes paid work, volunteering, study and other activities as determined by education.gov.au. Job hunting, studying, starting a new business, volunteering and travel time – among others – are all eligible activities that will allow you to claim subsidised hours of care.

Our website has a handy calculator you can use to get an idea of how much CCS you’ll receive.

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When to apply for CCS

Apply for CCS via your MyGov Account, which is linked to Centrelink.

We recommend you do this as soon as you know when you might be sending your little one into early education and care, so it’s all set up and ready to go for your child’s first day. Don’t necessarily wait until you’ve enrolled with an early learning campus, because the entire process may take between four and six weeks, and if it’s not set up when you begin care, you may be paying full fees until it’s all complete.

Once your spot is booked in, confirm your Complying Written Agreement (CWA). When a CWA enrolment notice is created by the campus manager, there are two steps that need to be completed by the family:

1. You will be notified by email that the CWA is ready for you to agree to. A reminder will be sent via email should you not sign within 48 hours

2. Confirm your child’s government enrolment via MyGov. If you do not agree to the government enrolment, CCS cannot be paid.

Documents you may need

During your Child Care Subsidy claim via MyGov, expect Services Australia to request a variety of documents to verify your eligibility. These may include financial details like bank account information, tax file numbers, and insights into your assets. Academic records, work-related documents like tax returns or pay slips, details about your living situation, relationship specifics, any international residence proofs such as visas, documentation regarding your children, and any relevant medical records are also crucial. Now that you know what to expect, we’d suggest these are prepared in advance to streamline your claim process.

Finally, we know change can be scary, overwhelming or confusing, as much for our parents as our little ones. We’re here for you from the day you book your tour to the day your child finishes their last day of kindergarten. We can absolutely help you navigate the CCS and other documents you need to help your child become a little scholars. Reach out to your campus manager, admin or any of the leadership team for guidance or further questions.

Ready to explore Little Scholars?

We hear a lot about how important the first five years are for children’s brain development, and it’s a time when children’s curiosity is at a lifetime high, so it’s the perfect time to embrace their curious minds by extending these interests and keeping those little minds active and absorbed, and a new study out of Queensland explores this in further detail.

Researchers look at curiosity and longer-term interests

Griffith University researchers  recently concluded a three-year study investigating the progression of curiosity into enduring interests and its role in fostering a continuous learning culture. The study involved 57 children aged four to five from south east Queensland, participating in two-week enrichment programs covering 15 diverse topics. This research sheds light on the developmental journey of young children as they cultivate interest in various subjects.

This research looked into how young children start to take an interest in different subjects and how this interest affects their learning. The study aimed to find out the best ways to spark interest in children, how interest fits into their learning, and what effects it has.

To tackle this, the study, led by Ellie Christoffina van Aswegen, introduced special programs filled with topics aimed at getting children excited about learning. These programs included a variety of subjects not typically taught to young children but are essential for a well-rounded education. This approach is based on the idea that children should be exposed to a wide range of knowledge to help them understand new information better and build on what they already know.

The chosen subjects ranged from plants and animals to famous artworks and space exploration, divided into three sets. The first set included topics like reptiles and continents; the second set covered the human body and insects; and the third set introduced children to religions and dinosaurs, among others. These topics were selected to broaden the children’s knowledge and provide a solid foundation for further learning.

The enrichment programs were delivered with a mixed approach of direct instruction, explicit instruction, play-based learning, group reading, and take-home activity booklets.

The underlying principle of the study was that a broad knowledge base is crucial for children’s learning because it helps them connect new information with what they already know, making it easier for them to understand and learn new things.

 

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These children from our Ormeau Village campus are exploring shapes even while they're on bush kinder!


Defining curiosity and interest

The study reviews the nuanced distinction between curiosity and interest in children, drawing on insights from Renninger and Hidi. It suggests that curiosity is the spark ignited by a specific question, a momentary engagement, as Dewey describes, that captures a child’s attention briefly. In contrast, interest is portrayed as a deeper, more sustained engagement with a subject, driven by a desire to gather extensive information and maintain engagement over time.

The research looks into the dynamics of how curiosity evolves into interest. Initially, a child’s curiosity prompts a flurry of questions about a topic. This questioning phase deepens their interest as they uncover new knowledge, fueling a continuous cycle of inquiry and discovery. Interest is described as encompassing three interconnected facets: actions, thoughts, and emotions. Together, these elements foster a rich learning environment in early childhood, where knowledge acquisition is intertwined with emotional engagement.

Researchers highlight the critical role of emotional connections and perceived competence in sustaining interest. When children develop a strong emotional attachment to a topic, their eagerness to explore and learn intensifies. Similarly, feeling adept in a certain area enhances their interest, propelling them to pursue further learning.

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Educators provide experiences, both organised and child-led to explore concepts of which children have shown an interest

Observations on children's learning

One example mentioned in the study was  building on children’s interests of flowers. Educators led a two-minute activity during which the children pretended to be flowers. Two children showed some disengagement towards the end of the activity. Comments made by the researcher and thoughts on possible reasons for disengagement were included in notes. Each component of the session was similarly identified and analysed providing a snapshot of engagement during the session.

Before and after participating in a two-week program focused on flowers, children’s knowledge about flowers and their parts, such as stems, leaves, and roots, was evaluated. Initially, although all children were familiar with the concept of a flower, many lacked knowledge of its basic parts. However, by the end of the program, there was a significant increase in the number of children who could accurately illustrate these parts on a flower diagram. For instance, the ability to draw a stem improved from three to 17 children.

Similarly, the program enhanced children’s recognition of different types of flowers. Prior to the program, only a few children could name any flowers. Following the program, a substantial improvement was noted in their ability to identify common flowers like roses and dandelions. For example, the number of children identifying a rose increased from two to 16.

Observations of the children’s play and interactions during the program indicated a deep engagement with the topic of flowers. Activities ranged from drawing and painting flowers to hands-on exploration and pretend gardening activities. This engagement suggested a high level of cognitive involvement with the flower program.

The researchers observed data on the behavioural and emotive component of interest through video,  notes, and feedback provided by both the early childhood teacher and the classroom educators.

Feedback from parents provided through a post-program questionnaire offered additional insights into the children’s growing interest in flowers. Parents reported behaviors indicating an increased awareness and curiosity about flowers in their environment, such as noticing or wanting to pick flowers. This parental feedback supported the observations made during the program, confirming a heightened interest and engagement with the subject of flowers among the children.

How social interactions support learning

The researchers concluded that social interaction was key to developing interest. Social interaction, between teacher and child, their peers and at home, formed the basis of developing interest in the various topics of the enrichment program. 

Each component of the program was delivered through images, interesting facts, stories, music, and drama. Researchers found engagement increased as the teacher showed more enthusiasm and modelled curiosity. The study noted that it became clear that the teacher didn’t know all the answers to children’s questions as their interest took them in a variety of directions, and the teacher became a learning partner motivated to research the topic further. The children also motivated each other to learn more, creating art, playing games, bouncing ideas off each other, solving problems and exploring nature together. Familial involvement was identified as another factor impacting curiosity and interest development in a positive way, such as parents working with children to collect or observe flowers or plants in nature to support their learning and working on take-home activity books together. The children brought in their completed take-home activity booklets, to share with the class as well as any ‘treasures’ they had found such as a feather, a flower, a leaf, etc. which stimulated conversation.

Exploring children's emotional connection to topics

The study also examined how children emotionally connected with different subjects, aiming to spark feelings of wonder and awe. This approach occasionally led to feelings of empathy and compassion, or simply brought about joy and delight. Certain subjects allowed children to marvel at the wonders of nature, feel empathy towards animals, or experience the simple pleasure of discovering delightful things.

The study did not shy away from challenging emotions, such as the sadness children felt watching a whale get untangled from fishing nets. Children were provided a supportive environment to discuss their feelings, helping them expand their emotional vocabulary. This is important because understanding different emotions can assist children in managing their feelings better, as they learn various strategies for emotional regulation. Additionally, engaging in music, art, drama (role-play), and free play allowed children to further process their emotions, aiding their emotional growth.

The research also revealed a strong connection between emotional and cognitive engagement. Children became more inquisitive and sought additional information on topics that touched them emotionally.

At Little Scholars, our educational program, The Collective, is based on the premise that children are most successful at learning when curriculum experiences account for children’s interests, strengths, and individual needs. The Collective encompass all aspects of Little Scholars, including a collaborative approach with our children, families, educators, and community.

Our weekly programs, which can be seen in our studios, are responsive to the evolving interests and needs of the children and allow for flexibility and extended periods of play and research to test theories.

 

 

References: 

Renninger, K.A., & Hidi, S. (2017). The Power of Interest for Motivation and Engagement (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315771045

Harackiewicz, Judith M., Jessi L. Smith, and Stacy J. Priniski. (2016) Interest matters: The importance of promoting interest in education. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2372732216655542

The importance of building emotional regulation skills young

Babies are not born knowing how to control their emotions, nor are adults necessarily well-versed in how to regulate their emotions, even after decades experiencing them. While modern society is making way and space for people to feel and name emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, embarrassment, stress and more, some of us hadn’t learned how to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and express these emotions in a healthy way.

At Little Scholars, emotional regulation skills are as important as every other lesson children learn during their time with us. We’re hoping to break generations of cycles of mental health stigmas by teaching children to name and work through their emotions, but we also recognise this must happen at home, on the sports field, and anywhere else they may need to have access to a range of tools to cope and work through tough situations and feelings.

As parents and caregivers, we understand that not all of us were raised with the emotional intelligence to guide a young person in developing theirs. There’s also the possibility that children in our care have experienced more traumatic or negative experiences than we’ve had to deal with, so it might be something we don’t know yet how to navigate. More on that later.

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Recognising emotional states within behaviours

When emotional states are high, it’s helpful to recognise the behaviours we see, and the emotional states we may not see.

The behaviours can be aggression, screaming, crying, avoidance, refusal, hiding, running, threatening and loss of self-control, for example.

What we may not be seeing in our children are feelings of: nervousness, exhaustion, guilt, fear, disappointment, overwhelmed, anger, rejected, embarrassed, judged, unloved, depressed, anxious, worried, shame, disrespected, helplessness, offended, sad, and attacked, amongst other feelings.

When a child is displaying any of the above behaviours, what do you think the feeling behind it could be?

How you can help children work through their emotions positively

 

1.      Stay tuned and recognise signs – Keep a close eye on behavioural cues that indicate your child is experiencing strong or challenging emotions. Be aware of these signals when they arise. Of course, the strength of the emotion is normal, it’s how they deal with it that’s important. This is a step in which you’re helping to create a safe haven for the child, one of trust and acceptance. For the adult, this is recognising and understanding that all emotions are natural and normal.

 

2.      Turn challenges into teaching moments – See difficult situations as opportunities to connect with your child and help them learn valuable emotional regulation skills. Helping children to label their emotion encourages the regulatory process to engage and reconnect the thinking brain with their limbic system. In other words, name it to tame it!

 

3.      Listen with empathy and validate their feelings – Before reacting with discipline, keep in mind the phrases ‘Connect before you correct‘ and ‘Stay calm and curious, not quick to anger.’ Ask open-ended questions to help your child identify and express their emotions, like “I noticed you seem to be feeling ___. Could it be that you’re feeling ___?’ or ‘I’m sorry that happened to you, you must be feeling very ___’

 

4.      Establish boundaries – Clearly communicate expectations for behaviour, reinforcing positive actions such as using kind words and explaining consequences for inappropriate behaviour like hitting. Setting these boundaries helps maintain safety of the child and those around her/him. It’s important not to make the child feel shame, and ensure the child maintains self-dignity. ‘It’s ok to feel like that, but it’s not ok to behave like that’ or ‘we don’t deal with our emotions by ___’

 

5.      Problem-solve together – Encourage your child to brainstorm possible solutions or strategies to improve future outcomes. Provide support tailored to their age and comprehension level, using visual aids or suggesting choices when helpful. So to restore and repair, you might explore the situation first: ‘how were you feeling when that happened?’ and ‘have you felt that way before?’ then show your child you’re in this together brainstorming ‘let’s think of what you could have done instead’ or ‘can you think of two more ways you can deal with your feelings?’ the work together to come up with solutions ‘let’s decide what you will do next time you feel like this’ or ‘do you think that ____ would be more helpful next time?’

 

 

How trauma can influence behaviour in children

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Zoe Lowe is a teacher and mentor who guides educators and parents through early education, behavioural support and trauma-informed practices. She recently spoke to Little Scholars educators at our annual Learning & Development Day.

Her talk helped our educators understand trauma-informed practice, how to recognise the different types of trauma people can experience, and how to work with children who might have experiences of trauma. In Australia, upwards of 5 million adults are affected by childhood trauma.

The types of trauma include:

·        Simple trauma, which stems from often a single incident that was life threatening or have the potential to cause serious injury.

·        Complex trauma involves interpersonal threat, violence and violation, in contrast to simple trauma, complex trauma involves multiple incidents and is therefore longer in duration.

·        Developmental trauma is used to describe the impact of early, repeated trauma and loss which happens within a child’s important relationships, generally early in life.

Children who have experienced any of these traumas can be affected in many ways in their development, she says, because their mental capacity to learn may be eclipsed by having to cope with these negative circumstances.

“This is correlated with developmental trauma,” Zoe says. “Surviving the situation. So [a child’s] survival system becomes overdeveloped. Everything else is underdeveloped.”

“What also happens with trauma, the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s responsible for your memory [learning and emotion] and the ability to differentiate between the past and the present. So, with persistent exposure to trauma, it can shrink in size, so it won’t pull on what it can to differentiate between the past and present, which is why our past experiences can have such a profound impact on us, even if we’re no longer in danger,” Zoe continues.

So why does this matter?

Because trauma can present itself in many ways in children. Perhaps they’re tired all the time, they startle easily, children who perceive educators or other trusted adults as angry and perceiving them as authoritarians with whom they can’t connect or feel safe, struggling to understand concepts easily, not coping well with transitions, friendship issues, over or under-eating, and, aggression.

However, she says, trauma can explain the behaviour, but it does not excuse the behaviour.

And these symptoms that can present in children may not necessarily be trauma, so Zoe warns not to be quick to diagnose children.

Whether the child has experienced an adverse life event or not, if there’s a behaviour exhibited that we don’t want to see, Zoe says this is where we question what’s behind the behaviour, and find out what a child might need to cease the behaviour.

“As educators, we are going to make a paradigm shift. We’re moving away from ‘what is wrong with you?’ to ‘what happened to you? What is this behaviour that I am seeing right now communicating to me? What need is needing to be met by me?’ says Zoe.

This shift also helps adults calm down and regulate their own reactions to the behaviour in question.

“We expect children to self-regulate, they can’t. They need co-regulation, we need to be with them, supporting them, holding space for them, and teaching them how to regulate.”

While children may not be born knowing how to regulate their emotions, at Little Scholars, we believe they deserve a safe space to learn and grow. We understand that emotional regulation skills are crucial for all aspects of life, and we’re committed to working alongside parents and caregivers to build a supportive community where every child feels empowered to express themselves healthily.

Our educators are extensively trained in recognising emotional cues and guiding children through challenging situations. We encourage you to stay tuned for further resources, and remember, you’re not alone, we’re here to support your child, your family and our greater community in creating a generation equipped with the emotional intelligence to navigate life’s ups and downs with confidence and compassion.

Parental separation anxiety : what it is and how to deal with it

Elizabeth Stone, an award-winning essayist and journalist, once captured the essence of parenthood with a poignant quote, ‘Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’ This statement resonates deeply with many parents, astutely capturing the feelings of boundless love and the inevitable vulnerability that comes with bringing a child into the world.

This overwhelming surge of emotion is particularly intense during those initial moments and first days of separation from your child, often experienced when that child is entrusted to the care of someone else for the first time. It’s a milestone filled with mixed emotions for parents – pride in their growing independence, yet a deep longing to keep them close forever.

While the focus in the first few weeks at early learning facilities is generally on the children and how they’re settling in, an often-forgotten topic is the separation anxiety parents also can feel when they drop their little ones in care for the first time.

In childcare, we offer families tips on how to help children settle in, from suggestions such as: ‘don’t sneak away’, ‘keep goodbyes short’, and ‘maintain calm and confidence’, but what if the child is just fine, but the parents are struggling from the separation?

It’s understandable. If you’re coming off maternity or paternity leave, or perhaps you’ve been the primary parent at home for the last few years, change can be profoundly hard.

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What we’re talking about is parental separation anxiety, and it’s more common than you think.

“I experienced separation anxiety with both my children when I dropped them into care for the first time, but I was much more surprised with my feelings the second time around,” says Christina, a communications professional who has two children. “I had to go back to work much earlier the second time around, and I felt a lot of grief for not getting to continue to bond with my son the way I had been, knowing he was my last baby. I also experienced some fears around him attaching to his educators more than me.”

2016 study by Pacey UK (the professional association for childcare and early years) reported that out of 1,000 mothers, 70% of mums said they worried about the extent they would miss their children, 90% reported feeling anxious about returning to work after having a child, while nearly half of mums admitted being very anxious.

The signs of struggle in parents

How can parental separation anxiety manifest itself? Some of the more obvious signs are tears. Anxious feelings. Moodiness. While others you may not notice until they start affecting your life and mental health.

Here are some common indicators of more serious separation anxiety to be aware of:

  • Persistent worrying and imagining the worst-case scenarios
  • Elevated levels of anxiety or depression
  • Intense distress and experiencing panic attacks
  • Experiencing feelings of anger
  • Physical symptoms when apart from your child, such as headaches, nausea, or stomachaches
  • A constant desire to be aware of your child’s whereabouts at all time.

Reconciling anxious feelings

Ask yourself, what is your biggest fear or worry in separating from your child? The initial step in overcoming these feelings is to acknowledge and understand them. If you’re experiencing heightened anxiety about being apart from your child, it’s important to explore the origins of these feelings. Perhaps they stem from experiences in your life in  childhood, or birth trauma, the loss of pregnancy or another child, perinatal or postnatal anxiety/depression and existing anxiety issues, or it may simply be triggered by the act of becoming a parent.

“How does a parent reconcile these feelings of separating from their child? I think what’s important about that one is that often it’s around guilt,” says Sarah Bergman, a clinical psychotherapist at Counselling on the Coast who has more than three decades of experience in emotionally-focused therapy.

“Guilt is really an emotion that comes up when we have like an idealised sense of a situation or who we are. So we feel guilty when we don’t feel we’ve reached what we want to be reaching or we haven’t done what we want to do. I would say to explore those feelings of guilt, what they are, what you feel like you’re not doing for your child or getting right for your child.”

Sarah says those guilty feelings in parents often link back to situations in their own childhood where they felt like their own parents let them down. But the concern is also passing down those guilty or anxious feelings to your child.

“Their own wounds start to muddy the waters of the child’s experience. So the child’s just going to school, but then they feel their parents anxiety and then they also think that something’s wrong then too, which can make them anxious. So if the parents have a good look at themselves around, ‘what was it that my parents got wrong for me? or what was it that wounded me? and how does that now play across on my child?’ So the parents will often work hard to do the things that they don’t want that their children to experience themselves.”

While Sarah says often the guilty feelings stem from what they missed in their own childhood, the opposite could be true.

“Maybe [parents feel they’re] not meeting the ideals of what your parent did for you or what things that you really loved about your parent and now you feel like you’re not getting that right.”

Wherever the feelings stem from, Sarah says, parents may be trying to heal themselves through their relationship with their child. But, she says, a child doesn’t have those wounds. They don’t experience their parents in that same way that perhaps you did. So she surmises parents could be overcompensating for their own childhood pain.

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“Those kind of parents are very anxious at feeling like they have to attend to everything with their children because they don’t ever want their children to feel the way that they did,” Sarah summarises.

Consider jotting down your feelings or discussing them with a sympathetic friend or even a colleague who could relate with what you’re currently experiencing. Regardless of how trivial or illogical they might seem, allowing yourself to express and discuss these fears can aid in releasing them.

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Elizabeth Stone

Sarah also suggests parents educate themselves on secure attachment, a theory first proposed by the British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst John Bowlby. For children, secure attachment to someone like a mum or dad allows them the secure base necessary to explore, learn and relate, and the well-being, motivation, and opportunity to do so. It’s important for safety, stress regulation, adaptability, and resilience and ultimately can help produce a happy, healthy well-adjusted child.

If you are securely attached, you will feel less anxious because you will feel comfortable that you can trust, you have a positive view of other people and a positive view of self,” Sarah says. “So you think to yourself, ‘it’s okay. My child is in safe hands. They will let me know. I trust the daycare centre. And I trust myself that I’m doing the right thing by my child and it’s going to be okay and I need to go to work and this is just the way it is.’ Whereas someone who is more anxiously attached sometimes have a bit of a negative view of themself and possibly a bit of negative view of others so they don’t totally trust others, so it’s about trying to move into being more securely attached.”

She also says to have an honest conversation with educators or your campus manager.

“You know, that is actually good secure relating as well, that a parent can actually say, ‘I’m feeling a bit nervous’, or ‘I’m a bit worried about that,’ because they’re asking then, they’re not coping alone.”

Sarah recommends in that conversation, have a chat with educators or your campus manager about what might help to alleviate those anxious feelings, whether it’s a phone call or a text, a few extra pictures – whatever it is, having clear communication can help everyone.

“What helped me was an honest discussion with my son’s lead educator during a playdate. She asked me thoughtful questions about why I was having a hard time, asked how she could help alleviate those feelings for me, and was very mindful to update with lots of pictures, and even checked in on me at pick-up over the next few weeks. It was really helpful, and gave me feelings of trust in leaving my baby with her and her team,” Christina adds.

Those secure attachments we want children to have means we also want them to have bonds with others, such as loving educators.

A child who has had a secure attachment with her parent or another safe adult is more likely to be able to develop lasting successful relationships as an adult. In fact, a New York University study recently found positive, warm relationships between caregivers and children were associated with higher odds of attaining ideal heart health at multiple points across a 20-year span of adulthood, so developing these bonds is good for their health!

Part of early childhood training for educators is understand various child development theories such as attachment theory, so trust that your educators understand what secure attachments – both to parents and others children can trust – mean for children’s development and they work hard to ensure these bonds with your child.

Research has found our adult relationships are shaped by our early patterns of attachment and the ways we learn to deal with closeness and separation.

“Children are very attached to their parents and they love their parents very much. And that is who they want to be with. And if they create an attachment with someone else, that’s lovely. However, ultimately it’s important to keep in mind they will want to be with their parents,” Sarah says.

The pressure of parenting perfection

Sarah also says some of these feelings may be pressure we put on ourselves as parents.

“We don’t actually have to be perfect parents and I think a lot of people are really trying to be perfect parents and wrapping their children in bubble wrap. You just have to be good enough. I think from memory it’s only like around 60 or 70 per cent strike rate of meeting the child’s needs.”

Sarah is referring to the Winnicott theory.

“The good-enough mother is one who makes active adaptation to the infant’s needs, an active adaptation that gradually lessens, according to the infant’s growing ability to account for failure of adaptation and to tolerate the results of frustration.” – D. W. Winnicott, paediatrician and parent-infant therapist.

“We all have to learn that sometimes our needs aren’t going to be met. And that’s actually where we build resilience and we build understanding around that other people have things they need to do as well,” Sarah says. “You don’t have to drop everything to be there for your kids. It’s okay to have ruptures with your children. It’s actually okay because that is a realistic expectation on relationships. We all have ruptures and then we get to learn how to repair those ruptures. But of course, if the child’s fallen over or they’ve hurt themselves or they’re scared at night, you want your strike rate on those things needs to be closer to 100 per cent.

“But otherwise, we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves, we can get it wrong sometimes. We just go back and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I got that wrong.’ And then the child also learns that they’re going to get things wrong sometimes, too. They can come to their parent and say, ‘Hey, Mum, sorry about that.’”

If we can offer some advice, it’s what we also suggest to parents when children are having a hard time with separating. Find an activity you can do together outside of care hours that you can look forward to, so you can cherish your time together. Maybe after pick-up, you take your child for a walk or to the park, maybe it’s grabbing a sneaky ice cream after dinner, maybe it’s a game night or story time when you get home. Find ways to really connect with your child in the time you’re together may make the time you’re apart easier to deal with.

Sarah says mindful activities can help in easing anxious feelings. But, she says, if these feelings are taking over, it might be worth talking to a professional as soon as possible. You can talk to your GP about a referral to see a psychologist, or you can book in to a specialist practice such as Sarah’s Counselling on the Coast to have a chat with a psychotherapist.

Please remember, if Little Scholars can help in any way, we will, from offering a listening ear, to phone calls to whatever would help your family, we will. We’re not just here for children, we’re here for the whole family.

Do you have a child who’s struggling with separation anxiety, especially at when being dropped off at school or early education? Perhaps they’re going through a developmental milestone that makes them need Mum or Dad a bit more than before. This is common starting around six months of age, peaks at 14-18 months, then can happen again when your child hits preschool and school-age. Or maybe your child is new to our service or has recently transitioned studios. The transition from home to early education is a milestone for both children and families.  Separation anxiety can even happen for children who’ve been in Little Scholars for a while. It can be hard moving into a new studio where she or he doesn’t yet know new routines, where things are kept and spending time with different educators with different ways of doing things can be overwhelming for the child. This is all normal.

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If you’re at a loss on how to make things easier on your little one, and yourself, we have some ideas.

Our tips for drop-off

  1. Don’t sneak away 🏃‍♂️ We know you’re trying to prevent tears, but sneaking away creates anxiety and mistrust for your child
  2. Keep goodbyes short 🙋‍♀️ There’s a saying that goes, ‘quick goodbyes make for dry eyes’
  3. Be aware of your own emotions 😭 🙅‍♂️ – When you’re calm and confident, that tells your child that s/he is safe. Young children rely on co-regulation to manage their emotions.

Acknowledge and validate their feelings by saying something like “I know goodbyes can be hard, but I always come back. I will see you later today. I love you.” Give a big hug, a smile and a wink.

Talk it out

Then at home, if your child is old enough, have a chat about why she/he is having a hard time at drop-off, and think about what you can do to alleviate it. Ask him or her what make things easier. Perhaps it’s including a comfort toy, blanket or family photo. Maybe you each have a special bracelet that you can touch when you’re missing each other. Make a plan for something special together when you pick him or her up, like a walk or playing a game together, which will give your child something to look forward to through the day.

Prepare in advance

If you’re preparing your child to go to early education or school, it’s best they understand what their days will look like. So the conversation could look something like ‘we’ll all have breakfast together and get ready for the day. Then we’ll get in the car and first we’ll stop at Little Scholars. I’ll walk you in, give you a big hug, and you’ll go off to have a day of play while I go to work. When I finish work, I’ll jump in the car and come right over to pick you up, then we’ll go _____” These conversations may have to happen several times for it to sink in.

Also, if you’re pondering signing your child up for early education, this is why we offer play dates to children newly enroled but yet to start – this allows them to begin to become familiar with their new educators and studios.

Remember, you can always chat with your educator or campus manager about how to help. We’re always available, and we’ve been through this before, we can offer ideas or reassurances everyone will be OK!

We also know separation anxiety can be a two-way street, especially for new parents, or returning to work after maternity leave. Don’t forget we have our Little Scholars app so you can see pictures of your child, and be reassured that if there were tears from your child, they likely didn’t last long and they’re busy having fun and learning while you’re at work.

Related links:

What an incredible asset online media has become when it comes to raising or educating children. From YouTube to Instagram, there’s a wealth of expert information at your fingertips that previous generations simply didn’t have. Thanks to online media, parents and educators can now access an array of information, tips, and tricks on child development, parenting, and education.

And of course, podcasts are an excellent way to learn while on the go. You can listen to them while commuting, during your daily walk, or even before bed. Here we have compiled a list of our favorite parenting and child development podcasts, divided into categories for parents and educators. Check them out!

For parents

Raising Wildings

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A podcast about parenting, alternative education and stepping into the wilderness with children. Each week, Nicki Farrell and Vicci Oliver interview experts who inspire them to answer questions about parenting and education. They also share stories from families who took the leap, and are taking the road less travelled.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts

Parental as Anything

Maggie Dent, one of Australia’s favourite parenting authors and educators gives you practical tips and answers to your real-world parenting dilemmas.

Spotify  ABC Listen app  Apple Podcasts

Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled

Each episode of Unruffled addresses a reader’s parenting issue through the lens of Janet’s respectful parenting philosophy, consistently offering a perspective shift that ultimately frees parents of the need for scripts, strategies, tricks, and tactics.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts

Emerging Minds

Listen to conversations with experts on a variety of topics related to children’s mental health. Episodes offer practice wisdom from experts in the field and will give you an insight into the work and values of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health.

RCH Kids Health Info

Based on the popular RCH Kids Health Info fact sheets, the Kids Health Info podcast explores common topics and concerns with experts in children’s health. Hosts Margie Danchin, Lexi Frydenberg and Anthea Rhodes are all paediatricians and mums, so they know first-hand what keeps parents up at night. Every episode features guest experts in a range of child and adolescent health specialties, and lots of practical tips and advice.

Spotify    Apple Podcasts 

How other Dads Dad

Hamish Blake chats with other dads he really admires about their approach to ‘dadding’, and in the process hopefully learn a little, steal some of their hard earned wisdom and help dads dad a tiny bit better.

Spotify  Apple Podcasts  Google Podcasts

The Play Based Learning Podcast

All humans learn through play. Join Kristen RB Peterson of Learning Wild as she chats all things early childhood education, preschool, nature and forest school, homeschool and parenting.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Play it forward, a Wearthy podcast

Hosted by international keynote speaker, educator and founder of Wearthy; Lukas Ritson, Play it Forward is an educational podcast about the importance of play. With the increase of technological advancement, it has never been harder to get kids playing outside

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Early Childhood Perspectives

 

Early Childhood perspectives is a fortnightly podcast devoted to exploring the often overlooked concepts and issues of the Australian Early Years Sector.

Apple Podcasts    Soundcloud

Provoking Minds – an Early Childhood Podcast

This podcast covers meaningful topics in early childhood education with some of the sector’s most experienced educators and subject matter experts. With each short episode, its aim is to provoke minds and inspire excellence in early childhood education.

Spotify         Apple Podcasts

OSHC After The Bell

Barbi Clendining from Firefly HR and Saurubh Malviya from We Belong Education have teamed up to bring to you a fun and informative conversation and talk about every aspect of the Out of School Hours profession.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

International podcasts

OK, we fibbed. It’s not JUST Australian podcasts. Here’s a few international podcasts that are quite popular with the kids these days. (and by kids, we don’t mean baby goats, or children really, but we’re just trying to sound cool)

Loose Parts Nature Play

Building creativity one leaf and bolt at a time. Join Dr. Carla Gull, American educator and mother of four boys, as she talks about getting outside and exploring loose parts.

Spotify   Apple Podcasts

Parenting Hell

A funny take on parenting with UK hosts Rob & Josh as they share their tales of parenting woe and chat to celebrity parents about how they’re coping, or not coping.

Spotify

Mom and Dad Are Fighting

Slate’s parenting show – Jamilah Lemieux, Zak Rosen, and Elizabeth Newcamp share triumphs and fails and offer advice on parenting kids from toddler to teens.

Spotify      Apple Podcasts       YouTube

Good Inside with Dr Becky

Join American clinical psychologist and mother of three Dr. Becky Kennedy on her weekly podcast, as she takes on tough parenting questions and delivers actionable guidance—all in short episodes, because we know time is hard to find as a parent. Her breakthrough approach has enabled thousands of people to get more comfortable in discomfort, make repairs after mistakes, and always see the good inside.

Spotify     Apple Podcasts

Not Another Mummy Podcast

This is one of the UK’s top parenting podcasts with previous guests including Philippa Perry, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Emma Bunton and more. Host Alison Perry chats to a different guest each episode about parenting and family issues

The Modern Dads Podcast

Each episode discusses issues today’s fathers face navigating work, parenthood, relationships and play. We share stories of dads who are active and engaged in the decisions, the drudgery, and the pains and the joys of parenthood. Our parenting podcast not only brings modern dads into the conversation, but also – regardless of gender – our spouses and partners, friends and colleagues, and leaders in business, entertainment and media.

Spotify      Apple Podcasts

 
 
 

 

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