Thursday, 30 August 2012

Talkin’ All That TV

Sometimes I forget to talk to Mr.T. I usually forget in the morning, when he has woken up at 5:30am and I haven’t had my coffee yet. I feed him in silence, change his nappy in silence and walk sleepwalk into the living area, put him down and make a coffee. After a few sips I might be ready to say a few words to him. I try to make up for this lack of conversation around lunchtime when I’m awake wired.

Mr. T is saying “mum” constantly. He says it happily, angrily and mid-cry. Everyone keeps telling me how strange it is that he is saying “mum” as “dad” usually comes first. Like babies ever fit the ‘norm’ spectrum anyway. Now that his language is developing it’s got me thinking about ways I can encourage his speech development.

All too often I’ve seen the effects of children placed in front of the TV constantly at home. A 5 year old can enter my classroom on their first day of Prep and have a conversation with me and I can usually guess, unless they have some kind of developmental delay for other reasons, that this little boy/girl probably doesn’t engage in much conversation at home. A writing task usually confirms this as all the child can come up with is “I play my Wii” or “I watch Dora”.

I know it might seem a little rough and as a parent too, I’ve popped Mr.T down in front of some irritating children’s cartoon while I’ve gone and gotten a few things done. So I’m certainly not judging! But I think if parents are aware, if you keep it in the back of your mind to have a conversation with your child here or there during the day and try and squeeze in a story or two, there is no doubt your child will benefit.

Some people genuinely think that hearing all that speech on TV is going to help a baby or child talk. There’s even DVDs marketed just for that. But I really think that nothing can compensate for 1:1 interaction. What about eye contact, copying your gestures or the intonation of your voice? Then there’s the imitation of facial expression and knowing that speaking is a way of communicating to another live human being. Ok, rant over.

So, I’m sitting here, writing this and not talking to Mr.T but I’ll be sure to make up for it during the day by telling him about  what I’m doing, imitating him, reading him stories, singing and playing peek-a-boo. I’m confident it will make a difference.

What do you do to encourage your little ones to be talkers? Do you have toddlers who can help out?

This post is linked to Flog Yo' Blog Friday at With Some Grace

Monday, 27 August 2012

Is sleeping through a developmental milestone?

Mr. T has been hitting those milestones at full speed over the last month. He has managed to learn to roll both ways, sit himself up, crawl, stand up while holding onto something and has popped another tooth. All this has happened within this month. He still remains to me possibly the worst sleeper out. I know everyone who has a bad sleeper thinks they’re the worst, but he is! I swear. At nearly 10 months he’s still waking very, very frequently during the night and not settling without some sort of intervention from me.

We’ve tried everything for this little man’s sleep and at different points in time I’ve listened to someone’s ‘advice’ and given it a go. We’ve read the books, searched the Google and walked the halls. From co-sleeping to letting him cry and going to sleep school, nothing has worked. So as time goes on and all these other brain wires are cross-linking and clicking in his mind, I’m starting to wonder...maybe he will just sleep when he is ready to sleep, like babies crawl when they are ready to crawl and walk when they are ready to walk – Sure you can encourage it and that will help to a degree but they are going to hit that milestone when they are good and ready.
An article from, which I used often when trying to figure out what was going on with bubs’ breastfeeding habits and lack of sleep says this:

“Your baby will begin to comfort herself and to sleep for longer stretches at her own developmental pace. If your baby wants to nurse at night, it is because she DOES need this, whether it’s because she is hungry or because she wants to be close to mom. Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone (like walking or toilet training) that your baby will reach when she is ready to. Trying to force baby to reach this before her time may result in other problems later on.”

Now that I’m starting to head towards this conclusion, I tend to turn off when someone says “have you tried...?” because the answer is almost always “yes” and all this trying to get him to sleep has caused nothing but more tears and more frustration and certainly not more sleep! Sure, the sleep deprivation is pretty crazy, and I’m pretty sure many people think we’re being too ‘soft’ but they’re not there when he cries. This little guy gets so worked up when we try and let him have a cry before a nap that I just don’t bother trying anymore. I tried it a couple of times and all it resulted in was him getting so distraught and following that, having a ridiculously BAD sleep because he was so worked up earlier.

So this is what we are doing at the moment to encourage that magic moment of sleeping through – feeding until sleepy - but not asleep, popping him in his cot and patting him until he is asleep, attempting to put him down without the dummy, having daddy put him down at bedtime so he knows the booby isn’t going to be at his call all night and having lots of cuddles, laughs, songs and not a lot of sleep.

And as sleep deprived as I am, I will just remain this way until he hits that stone, boulder, rock, whatever it is, push past it and launch himself into a deep and blissful sleep all night long.

You can see the rest of the article about sleeping through the night here -

When did your little ones sleep through? Did you encourage them to do it in their own time or were you a little more forceful and did it work for you?

Linking for IBOT at SAHM

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Best Crawling Toy: Fisher Price - Go Baby Go! Crawl-Along

Fisher-Price, how I love thee! I get so excited when I walk down an aisle full of Fisher-Price toys. I love how Fisher-Price toys are so dynamic, changing as the child grows and develops and how you can clearly see how a certain toy/product is going to engage a child’s learning and encourage mobility.

I bought the Go Baby Go! Crawl-Along as a Christmas present for Mr.T. Back then he was only around 2 months old. He didn’t really know what to do with it, but he liked looking at the flashing colours and listening to the music that the drums played.

A few months later Mr T started sitting up, and he began to push on the drum pads and squeal with delight as the music played. The drums are a perfect size to fit in-between a baby’s legs so they can easily play with the drums without having to lean too far forward.

And now? The best part is the drums can be turned into a ‘bongo’ position so they can roll along the floor. So Mr T plays with these drums ALL day and I am not exaggerating! It is perfect as it doesn’t roll too far away like a ball does, so he doesn’t become disheartened but it rolls away at just the right distance and within seconds he is off! And once he reaches the drums, he grabs them, sits himself up and plays with them in the upright position.

No other toy that he owns has encouraged him to crawl in this fashion. Even I, waiting for him at the end of the hall, calling out enthusiastically “Come on, come to me! Quick! Come on over!” has been as effective as the enticing call of flashing lights and music. And speaking of the music – It’s not over-powering or annoying like many toys are. It’s pleasurable to the adult ear and like many Fisher-Price toys, it has 2 settings for volume which is always a plus.

Another awesome toy by Fisher-Price! Love it J

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Go Baby, Go – All About The Crawl

So, it’s official – Mr. T is on the move. He is commando crawling halfway across the living area, rolling both ways and sitting himself up. Oh and then there’s the fun stuff like attempting to open drawers and having a fascination towards everything forbidden like electrical plugs, sockets and cords.

It’s been so interesting watching him develop this milestone. Mr. T is one, big baby. At the starting weight of 4.18kg (9 pound 4) the only way was it’s taken him a little bit longer to get going and I think it’s because he’s had to work just that little bit harder to lift his big, strong body! He’s sitting on 11kg now and is 9 and a half months old. I was starting to worry he would be a really late bloomer but as it turns out, he was just a tiny bit slow on the uptake.

General knowledge from doctors and paediatricians tells us that all babies learn to crawl in different ways and that crawling is not necessarily defined by being up on one’s hands and knees. We have floorboards in most of our house and I found Mr. T commando crawling in these areas, but when I put him on carpet that’s when he tends to lift himself up to the ‘typical’ crawling position – which makes sense...the floorboards are slippery!

An article from regarding the importance of crawling states that “Crawling is a unique experience...It's a real step up for coordination because it's the first opportunity to practice bilateral coordination - using the arms and legs in reciprocal movements,"

I personally never crawled. I was one of those bum scooters that went around mopping the floor with my nappy-cushioned backside as I went from one area of the house to another.  Needless to say – I’m really uncoordinated! I am one of those people that detest aerobic classes because I’m always the person going the wrong way and I’ve never driven a manual car in my life, coincidence? Who knows...

The article goes on to state that, “skipping this milestone can also affect a child's ability to hold silverware or a pencil down the road, since the weight-bearing experience of crawling helps develop arches and stretch out ligaments in the wrist and hand that are needed for fine motor skills.

I’d like to think that me, as a non-crawler, still has the same amount of etiquette as everyone else holding silverware at the dinner table, and sure, I don’t hold my pencil the way most do – I hold it in some weird, thumb over the top fashion, but I can still write and I’m a super-fast typer.

So, I’m glad that my little (big) man is on the move and I’m nervous too, but I wonder just how much missing this milestone would of affected his future quality of life. I can say that as a non-crawling being, I’m pretty happy with my achievements.

You can read the rest of the article regarding crawling at

What are your own experiences of crawling? Do you think it is a crucial stage of development or not?

Monday, 20 August 2012

First Freebie - Number Jigsaw Printable (1-10)

Well, so glad we got to 50 likes and beyond yesterday! I am excited to hear what people think about my first freebie and I hope there will be many more to come!

The concept is this - I create games that are easy to print, make and use at home. They are bright, engaging and come with a whole host of ideas so you can use them at lots of different age levels. I am hoping in the future to include theme kits, crafts, recipes and more if all goes well!

My first game I give to you is the Number Jigsaw. What I love about this game is that you can adapt it any way you like. It is great for learning 1-10 but how about going backwards? Or skip counting by 2s? Or maybe you could hide these around the house and play a match-up. There is plenty more you can do as well! All the ideas are included with the Number Jigsaw Pack.

The game is in Powerpoint (ppt) format and ready to be printed, laminated and cut! If you are a bit time-poor, you could just print it on card stock...or print it on paper and re-print it when it falls apart! The choice is yours! If you would love to have it laminated like this and posted to you, send me a message and we can work something out.

There is no catch to this. All you have to do is leave your email address as a comment and I will do my best to email the game to you within 24 hours. If you prefer not to leave your email, just email it to me in private or message it to me through Facebook.

I do ask that if you like what you see or think you might like my freebies in the future that you share this or like me on Facebook :-)

If you have any questions about Number Jigsaw or the way it can be used for your child, feel free to email me.

For the record - all images in the game are free for commercial use.

Posted on IBOT at

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A ‘Bowlful’ of Learning!

Image Courtesy of

We constantly hear that cooking with little ones is a lot of fun, great to do, keeps them busy and encourages them to eat... and eat well! And of course, cooking with little ones accomplishes all these things, but it does so much more than that! I would go so far to say, that cooking is one of the most invaluable learning experiences that a child could engage in. Here is how I think cooking fits into the spectrum of a child’s learning. It is;

Artistic: Got a child with an artistic flair? Then they will love to decorate and prettify everything they make. They will be the ones that do an awesome job ‘plating up’.

Mathematical: Whether cooking by natural instinct or cooking with a recipe, it requires measuring, estimation, fractions and more.  Asking children questions like “If we need to cut it into quarters, how many parts will we end up with?” or “How much more of that do we need?” while cooking helps to get their mathematical mind into gear.

Literal: Cooking doesn’t have to be just about reading a recipe. Children’s literacy can be developed just through the art of conversation. Identifying new ingredients and ways to handle them (Are you chopping, slicing, grating or dicing?) all helps!

Scientific: Exploring the change that occurs when ingredients are subjected to cooling, heating or reacting with other ingredients is so fascinating for children. Discussing nutritional aspects helps children know what is in what they are eating too.

Movement: Stirring, cracking of eggs, peeling of fruits and vegetables are all a great way to develop the fine motor skills of these developing little beings.

Now that I’ve written that down, I’m even more convinced that cooking with children is a little underrated as a learning experience! I’m currently cooking with some Grade 3/4s and I love watching them work on all these areas above. Of course, some children will favour certain types of learning more than others. Perhaps they lean on the artistic or mathematical side over the others, or maybe their literacy skills need work but they’re really great at ‘movement’. That only means, that through cooking, they will be exposed to and nurture aspects of their learning that may not be their strengths. Like adults, you just have to get in there and give it a go, and more than once to make any progress.

I can’t cook with Mr. T just yet, but he is a darn good eater so he is halfway there ;-)

Do you think your child fits into the above? Do you have a recipe you cook with your kids and would love to know some specific ‘teaching’ points for it? Let me know and I may be able to write it up for you J

Happy Cooking!
School of Mum

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Read to Little Ones Using Books, not Apps!

Here’s the thing. I don’t believe that my child, or any child will learn to read on an ipad or using some fancy app. Sure, when reading is established and they are fluent readers then of course, it’s the way of the future, a great tool that is useful and convenient. But for now, please, don’t take away picture story books!

Being a teacher of junior students, my baby was read to in the womb at least 3 times a day and constantly heard my voice. When he was born he liked to hang around and breastfeed for one hour sessions and day time TV just didn’t cut it so I would read to him Peter Rabbit. They were given to me as a gift and I loved that they were small enough to fit into the palm of my hand but had plenty of text in them.

As the months went by my son developed ‘favourite’ books. Whenever I started to read The Big, Hungry Caterpillar he would laugh at every page and squeal in delight. His current favourite is Hairy Mclairy from Donaldson’s Dairy.

Holding a book in your hands, turning the pages, pointing at pictures and text and feeling their surfaces, whether the book be soft, hard, large or small. All these things simply cannot compete with reading from a handheld screen.
Thomas engaging in text at 9 and a half months

Of course, reading picture story books aloud comes naturally to me as it is part of my job so if you think you want to read more to your child and you’re not sure where to start here is my quick guide;

* Embrace your inner child! Get down on the floor with your baby, use silly voices, laugh outrageously, and make faces. Your baby will probably look at you as if they have seen the purple people eater if you've never done this before but they are sure to gain amusement over time.

* Read something you enjoy too. Maybe it was that book you enjoyed as a child yourself or maybe you love to read the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It doesn’t really matter what you are reading as long as you are using lots of expression in your voice and face when you do it.

* Edible books are the best! Be sure to have some cloth books at hand for your baby to play with. It may not seem like it but over time they do make the connection that this is a book, with pages to turn, pictures to see and words to read. The earlier they make that association the better reader they will become!

* Establish a good time to read to your baby. Try not to read to your baby when they are overtired or busy doing something else. Find a time that works for you. We don’t do bedtime stories because my baby gets too excited and won’t go to sleep afterwards! But if you find reading relaxes your baby then be sure to make it part of your bedtime routine.

So, how do you read to your kids? Did you try reading in the way I described and how did it go? Please share with me here!

Posted to FYBF

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The $3 Toy Investment and other simple (and cheap!) pleasures for your baby.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love all the amazing toys and games that technology has given us over time. It is fantastic that if you want to help your baby crawl, talk, walk, read and more there are toys you can purchase that are designed to be completely ideal. But I was recently inspired to take a step back and look at the beautiful awe and wonder that a baby can get from a simple, bright rubber ball.

I was at Northpark Private Hospital for 4 days trying to help my precious little man learn to sleep when one day a midwife joined us for a play on the floor. She pulled out a medium sized rubber ball. My son had some soft ones at home but the rubber of these balls allowed him to grip it so easily that he could hit, roll, lift and throw it! My son usually hates tummy time with a passion, screaming until your ears are about to drop off and headbutting himself into the floor. While playing with this ball he lasted on his belly for a good 20 minutes which is no easy feat for this stubborn boy!

Needless to say when we were on our way home I came across those balls that are all different sizes in the big steel cages at K-Mart and for $3.00 we had one of the best toys my baby has come across to date.

Sometimes with all the whizz bang toys around these days we forget about the simpler things in life! Feathers, fabrics of different textures, pots and pans, cardboard boxes are all going to delight and stimulate a baby’s learning.