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Bridge To School

5 tips for starting school with healthy teeth

By | Bridge To School
  1. Water is the best drink for pre-schoolers. Limit fruit juice and sugary drinks!
  2. Help your child brush their teeth along the gum line twice daily. Make the experience fun with music.
  3. Encourage children to stop sucking their thumb, dummy, fingers – it can lead to a lot of issues later on.
  4. Dental decay is the most common childhood disease but is easily preventable.
  5. Visit the dentist from the age of two – familiarisation and oral health education is key!

Dr Corbin Barry BDS (JCU) – Principal Dentist, Annandale Dental

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Navigating child care and pre-school options

By | Bridge To School

Parents often wonder how to compare pre-school options – and there are myriad considerations, such as school readiness, education, socialisation, convenience and general care.

In Australia, we now have such a broad range of child care offerings that it can be overwhelming to know which is best for your child. It’s one thing to be blown away by state-of-the-art design and chef-prepared meals, but parents are often left wondering: How will this help my child at school?

All education and care services in Australia are assessed and rated by their respective state regulatory authority to ensure national quality standards are adhered to. These ratings help provide families with a better understanding of the level of service that is provided to their children. It is a requirement for all child care centres to display their rating at all times.

The assessment is based on how the child care centre delivers the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS). All centres are provided with a NQS Rating for each quality area, as well as an overall rating. Centres receive the following ratings:

  • Significant Improvement Required
  • Working Towards the National Standard
  • Meeting National Standards
  • Exceeding National Standards

Other terms such as, ‘five star’, ‘six star’, etc., are used by some centres in marketing to indicate quality, but there is no official star rating system for child care.

The seven areas assessed as part of the NQS are:

  • Educational program and practice
  • Children’s health and safety
  • Physical environment
  • Staffing arrangements
  • Relationships with children
  • Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  • Leadership and service management

The seven quality areas are the best measure of the type of child care or education provider you’re choosing – and it allows a consistent comparison. As a parent, you should ask how a centre performs in the above areas. However, every child is different – and finding the centre or pre-school where your child is most comfortable, is paramount. Being happy and confident at pre-school will give your child the most positive start to their learning journey.

Contributed by: Little Learning School
Little Learning School is a family run business operating since 2004, with more than 30 locations across Sydney and Melbourne.

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Are children lacking the physical strength to learn?

By | Bridge To School

In this digital age, many of the incidental circumstances for physical exploration and growth have dissolved. Although the impacts of this on ever-increasing obesity and preventable disease rates is clear, focus is not often directed to the impact that technology has on the physical development of children.

Let us consider a seven-year-old child that fidgets and has difficulty sitting upright in his chair, preferring to instead slump over the table or prop himself up with his hands. His attention regularly strays and he is unable to carry out a sequence of tasks successfully. The child avoids fine motor tasks and displays poor legibility, with many letter and number reversals. What could be wrong?

These are common occurrences for children in a school setting that could have a detrimental impact on their learning experience… and these may be attributed to insufficient physical development.

As soon as children begin to roll and hold their head independently, they are developing postural muscles. These core muscles help babies to reach functional milestones such as sitting independently and walking. However, these muscles must continue to strengthen and develop endurance to allow postures to be sustained for long periods, such us when sitting in a classroom. These muscles provide the solid base for all movement and are vital in not only physical activity, but also in learning.

If a child lacks sufficient strength and endurance in these postural muscles, they often move or change position constantly in order to utilise other muscle groups that are not yet fatigued. While this alone can impact attention and execution of cognitive tasks, the use of the upper limb for added support can also alter completion of fine motor tasks, greatly impacting overall learning.

Upper limb strength and control is vital in all fine motor skills and requires not only the hand but also the forearm and shoulder muscles. These muscle groups go through significant growth during the crawling period. Weight bearing on the hands, arms and shoulders dramatically increases the strength of the upper limb. The longer a child spends in this position, the greater the endurance of these muscles will be; development can then later be extended through such activities as throwing, catching and manipulation. Once at school, a lack of strength and control in the upper limb muscles can result in poor pencil grip and swapping from left to right, the writing arm positioned away from the body and reduced coordination of movement – all negatively impacting handwriting legibility, accuracy and speed.

Finally, it is important to consider integration and midline crossing. The midline is the imaginary vertical line which separates a person’s left and right halves. Through early development and exploration, babies and children start to integrate both sides of their brain and body. This is essential for coordination in many common activities such as walking, swimming, skipping and star jumps.

It is important to recognise the relevance integration and midline crossing have on learning:

  • They are essential in literacy skills as children learn to read and write from left to right and form letters and numbers, often whilst crossing their own midline; and
  • They are a precursor to determining a dominant side of the body (i.e. being left or right handed), which should be determined before starting school so fine motor skills can be developed.

If not given the opportunity to develop strength, control and endurance in these important muscle groups independently through play and physical activity, areas of asymmetry and poor habits develop; this can translate to difficulties not only on the sporting field but also in the classroom. Providing young children with an environment that encourages movement, play and sport can have benefits throughout life. The value of movement can never be underestimated.

Carla Shannon, BHSc MPhty is Director and Founder of Physio Play
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @physioplay

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