Articles and information

Information to help you and your family.

Developmental charts

This is a basic developmental chart that outlines broad guidelines as to what the average child is achieving at that particular age and stage. These are not supposed to be prescriptive and children may develop faster or slower in all or some of the areas. This is perfectly normal but if you are particularly worried then contact your doctor or paediatrician and share your concerns. I have simply included this in order to give you some guidelines.

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Homework assistance

I remember attending a conference last year, when another psychologist said, “We are meant to love our children unconditionally, but this is hard to do when you have to battle through homework with them!” As much as this is amusing, unfortunately there is an element of truth to this; it is amazing how many parents I speak to who ask for help to get their kids through their homework in the afternoons with as little hassle and fighting as possible. So, I’ve decided to share with you some pearls of wisdom gathered over the years from various sources, in order to help the homework process become as painless as possible for you and your children.

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Choosing age-appropriate toys

Children’s needs are relatively simple; they need to be given food, warmth, shelter, stimulation and unconditional love. The word “stimulation” seems to be a catch phrase recently and many magazines and books put forth the benefits of stimulating your child and then rapidly backtracked when experts pointed out that it is possible to over-stimulate your child. They were right. You can over-stimulate your children but don’t let this be something that puts you off doing things with them. Children need you to play an active role in their lives. That’s one of the key words of this book – play. The idea behind this book is to give you ideas of what you can do with your children in order to ensure that you enhance your children’s developmental progress, stimulate your children appropriately and, above all, enjoy and have fun with your children.

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Emigrating with children

Unfortunately we are living in a time where many people are leaving their countries to settle in other parts of the world. The thing is, certain events in a person’s life are considered to be stressful and, the more stressed a person is, the more susceptible they are to illnesses, amongst other things. Events that are likely to cause difficulties for people have been ranked and given a stress number according to how much of an impact they will have on your life, with 100 (death of a spouse) being the most stressful. Consider the following, which almost always feature when emigrating:

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How can I help my dyslexic child?

Remember, your worst day as a teacher or parent with a child with learning disabilities is still better than the average day a child with learning disabilities will have in school.

 

Any assistance you give to your child at home needs to be done in a creative and fun way. This means you need to mix work with play and keep your sense of humour about you. Use games, puzzles, songs, rhymes or even physical activity in order to help your child develop certain concepts. For example, maths does not have to be taught sitting at a table with paper and pencil, it can be done in the kitchen using scales or measuring spoons, etc.

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Travelling with children

I have always been interested in trying to find as many ways as possible to keep children amused when out and about with them. This started when, as a family with small children, we used to drive from South Africa to Zambia, which takes two full days. However, I quickly realised that these games came in useful when on an aeroplane, in the shopping centre, waiting in a queue, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, watching another child’s extramural activity or even at those family gatherings when it is mostly the older generation there. I am not, and never have been, a big fan of occupying my children with technology (see the chapter on technology and television) and therefore it was necessary to be creative and resourceful to keep the children amused.

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Choosing the right school for your child

No one promised us that parenting would be easy, however, as many of us know, parenting is also filled with joy, loving and warm, chocolaty moments. Nevertheless, even as we want to develop independence in our children and nurture them so they are able to make their own decisions, this is not something we do alone. From the age of approximately 5 years old, we start to share our responsibilities with regard to our children’s development with their school, which includes their teachers and peers. So it makes sense that we need to be very careful about how we choose the right school, as this decision will affect who they become. This article is applicable regardless of the age of your child and the level of school you are looking at, from nursery or pre-school, to primary and high school.

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Exam techniques

The key elements for studying include organisation, time management and goal setting.

The lead up to the exam

  • Make sure your notes are complete and if not, fill in the gaps – either ask the teacher or a classmate
  • Look over anything you have not understood and arrange to get help in that area
  • Begin studying early
  • Find a quiet place to study and make sure you are sitting comfortably
  • Make sure your desk is well lit
  • Keep background noise to a minimum; avoid studying in an area where there will be distractions
  • Have everything you need to do your revision to hand before you start – don’t forget a thesaurus, dictionary and calculator
  • Plan 1-hour time slots you will use for study, work for 25 minutes then take a 10-minute break and do another 25 minutes. Every hour, you should take a longer break.
  • Prioritise and consider your commitments when setting up a study timetable
  • Complete small tasks straight away rather than putting them off
  • Start with the subjects you find hardest to give you enough time to come to grips with the info but make sure you break difficult or ‘boring’ work into sections and put more interesting tasks in between.
  • Set a study goal for each session – such as chapter 1 & 2, etc.
  • Don’t try to complete a whole subject in one sitting. Sort it section by section.
  • Go through past papers to get a feel for the exam layout, etc.
  • Aim to form and answer questions as you work
  • Highlight concerns as you work – yellow for a confusing area – this may become clearer as you continue working and red for something you don’t understand and seek answers or help for this as soon as possible – it’s easier for a teacher to assist you if you have a specific question

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Identifying and assessing the child with barriers to learning

For many years, professionals have debated over an acceptable definition for learning disabilities, one that is narrow enough to be useful but broad enough to cover all the different characteristics of a learning disability. A useful, if broad definition is, an individual of at least average intelligence who appears capable of school success but has unexpected and unexplained difficulties in acquiring academic success. There also tends to be an uneven growth pattern; this refers to uneven development of the different elements of mental ability, therefore while some of the components are maturing in the expected sequence, others are delayed. An individual is not considered to have a learning disability if they have impaired vision, emotional difficulties, hearing loss, impacting environmental factors, a physical disability, low intelligence or brain damage. There are a number of different disorders that affect a child’s ability to acquire, retain, understand, organise and use verbal and non-verbal information, many of which would be classified as a learning disability.

A learning difficulty is caused by an interruption in the learning process that affects the child’s ability to reach their learning potential.

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Developmental charts

This is a basic developmental chart that outlines broad guidelines as to what the average child is achieving at that particular …

Homework assistance

I remember attending a conference last year, when another psychologist said, “We are meant to love our children unconditionally, …

Choosing age-appropriate toys

Children’s needs are relatively simple; they need to be given food, warmth, shelter, stimulation and unconditional love. …