child doing puzzle

Learning with puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to create a fun learning opportunity for children.

Simple jigsaw puzzles help children develop finger strength, perseverance and problem-solving skills.

Ask your child to turn, flip, slide and wriggle pieces into position. Picking up, moving and twisting the pieces of a puzzle helps children to develop finger strength and hand-eye coordination. As your child picks up and positions pieces, they also develop small-muscle control in their fingers.

Playing with these puzzles encourages children to look at pictures more carefully, going over them from top to bottom and from left to right. Through doing this, children may begin to notice visual similarities and differences.

Puzzles develop memory skills, as well as an ability to plan, test ideas and solve problems. While completing a puzzle, children need to remember shapes, colours, positions and strategies to finish them.

The experience of completing a puzzle can also help your child to learn to accept challenges, overcome problems and deal with frustrations as well as giving them a sense of achievement. 

(earlychildhood.qld.gov.au. October 2020)

WELLBEING FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM 

The Autism Hub along with regional autism coaches have created the following resources to support families with students with autism to begin learning@home. They understand that each student with autism is unique and they encourage you to select resources and activities that you know will harness the strengths of your child to support their learning.

Below are activity ideas to help you support your child’s wellbeing and engagement. These activities are linked to the Australian Curriculum Personal and Social Capability learning continuum.

For questions or concerns regarding your child’s educational program, please continue to work with and seek support from your child’s classroom teacher and school team.

(education.qld.gov.au. May 2020)

THE BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR PLAY FOR BABIES

Outdoor experiences are an integral part of children’s healthy growth, learning, wellbeing and development. The benefits of outdoor learning environments and engagement in nature play for young children are varied and many. Encouraging babies to spend time in the outdoor environment (including touching sand, grass, dirt or leaves), has potential health benefits and can help stimulate their immune systems. Opportunities to move freely, grasp objects, kick legs, crawl and observe others running and playing supports physical development. Research indicates that spending time in fresh air also encourages better healthy sleep patterns for babies as they begin to understand the difference between night and day.

Providing babies with diverse experiences and early opportunities to engage in natural outdoor play can additionally support their sense of belonging to the world. It also creates an important foundation that embeds a continued and lasting interest in exploring, questioning and appreciating nature and fostering curiosity. Making sense of new sights, smells, textures and sounds stimulates brain development and provides a foundation for learning by encouraging discovery and exploration. When you engage in outdoor learning experiences with and alongside children, there are further opportunities for social exchange, relationship building and language development.

(https://www.acecqa.gov.au 2019)

BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF RAISING MULTILINGUAL AND BILINGUAL CHILDREN:

Suitable for 0-18 years

Raising multilingual or bilingual children is good not only for your children, but also for your family and your community.

Children: benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism
For children, speaking more than one language is often linked to:

  • better academic results – this is because multilingual or bilingual children can often concentrate better, are better at solving problems, understand language structures better, and are better at multitasking
  • more diverse and interesting career opportunities later in life.

Also, if your children grow up speaking more than one language, they might have a better sense of self-worth, identity and belonging. This comes from:

  • feeling good about their heritage
  • feeling confident about communicating and connecting with extended family members and people speaking other languages
  • being able to enjoy music, movies, literature and so on in more than one language.

Families: benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism
For your family, multilingualism and developing your language in your children:

  • improves communication among your family members
  • enhances emotional bonds
  • makes it easier for you and your children to be part of your culture
  • boosts your family’s sense of cultural identity and belonging.

Communities: benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism
For your wider community, when children speak more than one language, it means that:

  • everyone in the community gets a better appreciation of different languages and cultures
  • children can more easily travel and work in different countries and cultures when they grow up
  • children understand and appreciate different cultures.

Possible challenges of raising multilingual and bilingual children

Raising multilingual or bilingual children does have its challenges, including handling pressure to speak only English. It can also sometimes mean a lot of work, and it’s a long-term commitment.

For example, when you’re raising multilingual or bilingual children, you need to:

  • stick with your heritage language, even when there’s pressure to choose English
  • keep yourself and your children motivated to use your heritage languages
  • help your children understand the benefits of multilingualism and bilingualism
  • make sure your children get lots of chances to hear and use their second and other languages
  • talk to your children’s teachers and get their support for your efforts
  • get support for yourself – for example, by talking to friends and family who are raising multilingual or bilingual children and finding resources in your community, like bilingual playgroups.

If you sometimes feel like these challenges are too hard, it might help to think about the benefits of multilingualism – especially the way it can help you and your children develop stronger family bonds. Sharing support, advice and experiences with other parents can also be a big help.

(https://raisingchildren.net.au, 2019)

STACKING AND BUILDING GAMES: why they’re good for children

Stacking and building games are great for children’s creative learning and problem-solving. Children learn how to balance things to keep a tower upright, practise hand-eye coordination. They introduce children to early numeracy skills like size, height, comparison, order and so on.

What you need for stacking and building games

Your child can build and stack with blocks. Everyday items around the house are good for stacking and building too. These include:

  • plastic containers and cups
  • cardboard boxes
  • small toys
  • dominoes or dice
  • pillows or cushions.

How to play stacking and building games

  • Clear a space large enough for the things your child wants to stack. It might be on the floor for big blocks or boxes, or at the table for smaller stacks.
  • Encourage your child to see how high they can build. Talk about what’s happening. For example, ‘Can you fit another one on?’ or ‘That was a tricky one to balance. Well done’.
  • Describe position and size. For example, ‘You’ve put the big block on top of the small block’.
  • When the tower eventually falls, encourage your child to try again. For example, ‘Crash! That was fun. Can we make it taller this time?’

(https://raisingchildren.net.au, 2020)