Tag: learning



“Children want the same thing we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.” – Dr Seuss.

This is what children that enter the doors of a Mary MacKillop Childcare North Queensland (MMCNQ) Kindergarten experience every day. After all, our children are our future and inspiring these young minds is the key to future success.

MMCNQ Kindergartens understand this and offer programs that are delivered by qualified Early Childhood teachers that are engaging, stimulating and promote school readiness. These programs are based on a holistic approach to learning, and not only cater for the child’s needs, but also their interests.

The programs promote child-initiated play where the child is encouraged to explore the outside natural environment in dry creek beds, sandpits and mud patches. Inside, children are encouraged to draw, create and construct using a range of resources available to them. This is complemented with instructional tasks led by the teacher. MMCNQ Kindergartens focus on the social and emotional development of a child to ensure they have the confidence and skills to be engaged learners as they continue their learning journey into Prep.

When a child attends a MMCNQ Kindergarten, there is the added benefit of incorporating spirituality where children are taught about the values and teachings of Jesus. Through these lessons, children are taught about friendship, compassion and respect as well as how to live like Jesus did by making good choices. Children are supported to learn ‘Christian Meditation’ and the importance of stillness and silence.

MMCNQ Kindergartens on Catholic school sites have the added benefit of children being able to visit school facilities. A relationship is then built with many at the school which aids in the transition to Prep. MMCNQ Kindergartens promote the Kindergarten year as the foundation year of learning where a love of literacy and numeracy is fostered and developed.

MMCNQ Kindergartens promote diversity and all children aged three to five years are welcome. We offer flexible operating times from 7.00am-6.00pm with low affordable fees and some locations offer Child Care Subsidy. Children can attend MMCNQ Kindergartens at a number of locations in the Townsville Diocese from Proserpine to Charters Towers, Mt Isa to Palm Island with five locations in Townsville.

Call the Kindergarten Office on 1300 KINDERGARTEN or email childcare@mmcnq.catholic.edu.au to enquire about enrolment to inspire your young ones mind for future success.

“A mind when stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” – Anonymous

What Developmental Milestones Should My Child Reach by Age Four?

Townsville Paediatrics

Dear Dr Adele Heyer, What developmental milestones should my child reach by age four?

The main goals for early childhood are to form an attachment with parents, learn self-regulation skills, develop communication and learning skills and learn how to relate to peers.

Overall, a caring and supportive environment will help a child to achieve these goals. But, sometimes there can be obstacles. Generally by four years of age a child should be able to interact well with adults and other children, be able to tell a simple story and understand the concept of friendship.

Parental concerns about delays in this area should always be taken seriously.

Call Townsville Paediatrics on 4427 5817







In life, we are always learning. Whether it’s learning to walk, learning our times tables, learning to accept failure or learning how to do our jobs, our brains are naturally hungry for more knowledge.

While it’s our job as parents to teach our children the many things that they need to know (not an easy feat!), it’s also important to encourage them to learn things for themselves. It’s key that we show them that we love learning things for ourselves too.

Where is the (Learning) Love?

Babies and toddlers have an innate curiosity about the world around them, soaking up new information like sponges. They love to investigate their surroundings and develop their abilities.

However, somewhere along the way, this natural love for learning is often lost. This tends to happen during their school years when learning starts to feel like a job or a chore. There are books to read, tests to complete and skillsets to master, which can leave kids feeling overwhelmed and often dreading the thought of learning.

Well, parents, it’s time to bring back the fun in learning and instil this innocent love of learning that our babies and toddlers knew so well.
Here are a few ways to do this:

1. Model a Love of Learning

We are our children’s foremost teacher. Sure, they go to school, but the majority of learning happens at home, with us. If they see you furthering your learning, they may want to do it too.

On the rare occasion when I actually sit down to read a book, my kids will often grab their own books and join me. I know my kids won’t do this forever – one day they will be teens and I won’t be ‘cool’ to hang out with anymore. But, for now, if I’m keen to try something new and expand my skillset, then the kids are usually on board too. Talk about things you are learning, and show them that you are always wanting to learn new things, whether that be trying a new recipe, researching a destination for your next holiday, or simply helping them with their science project. Show them that you love learning new things, and that you are inquisitive. Inquisitive minds love learning.

2. Be Aware of How Children Learn

Children and teens learn in five main ways: by seeing, hearing, exploring, experimenting and asking questions. Give them opportunities to do all five at home.

3. Teach them to be Active Learners

There are always opportunities to learn more. If your kids have a question and you don’t know the answer, look it up (Captain Google to the rescue). Your kids will soon want to do this themselves. Allowing them to seek out answers rather than just accepting that they don’t know is a great way to encourage your children to love learning.

4. Think Outside the Book

Get creative at home by looking for ways to help further their skills in fun, exciting ways. I make treasure hunts in the backyard for my kids. With every clue, I’ll use maths equations that they need to solve in order to find the next clue. My kids absolutely love doing them and I love that they have to do maths (and work together) to uncover the prize.

5. Discover their Interests

Help your child discover what they love doing, reading, writing and watching, and build on that. If your child is learning about a certain piece of history, take them to the museum. If they’re learning about ecosystems and native animals, take them to the zoo. If your child loves watching kids on YouTube, help them learn how to make their own videos (or at least teach them how to use the video function on the iPad without posting it to YouTube).

Or, enrol them in PakMag’s new online course for kids that teaches children how to master video recording. Email monique@pakmag.com.au to find out more.

6. Learn through Experiences

We learn new things by doing them, so get them out to explore. You don’t have to be constantly teaching them, asking them questions or grilling them about what they are learning. Let them explore, play and come to you with questions. This takes the pressure off and helps instil their sense of wanting to learn.

7. Support their Schooling

Some kids love school. Others do not. But, regardless of how they feel about it, they have to go. School teaches them so much more than just basic numeracy and literacy skills and, although it can be a bit tricky and tedious at times, it’s part of being a kid. Make the schooling experience positive by asking them about it, keeping up to date on what they are doing and, if you can, volunteering when they need parent helpers.

8. Encourage Relaxation Time Too

If your kids are getting burnt out, give them a break. We all need time to just chill out, give our minds a break and absorb everything.

I will give my kids a ‘mental health day’ once or twice a year where they can stay home with me for the day, but only if they promise not to fight and to do something creative together. They always do and they always return to school the next day feeling a little more refreshed and ready to learn.

9. Nurture their Curious Natures

The best way to bring back that innocent love of learning that our babies and toddlers possessed is to let our kids be kids.

Let them explore and experiment, even if it means a big mess to clean up. Encourage them to ask questions, even if you need to pull out the computer to find the answer (hey, at least it’s not an Encyclopedia). Let them do things for themselves, even if it takes FOREVER to get it done.

Support their interests, no matter how quirky they are. Reassure them that it’s important to explore what we don’t know. Most importantly, remind them that you are always right there, ready to offer a helping hand if they get stuck. And don’t forget, monkey see, monkey do; role model a love of learning and your children will likely follow suit.



Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles in the hands. Developing these skills is crucial because these muscles are used for everyday tasks you probably don’t even stop and think of.

Dressing, eating and keeping up with personal hygiene are all easy tasks, thanks to your fine motor skills. They are essential for performing everyday tasks, and a child’s self-esteem can suffer if they lack the ability to do so.

We all know that the best way to learn is through play, and there are plenty of toys out there that can help your child develop their fine motor skills. Let’s look at a few.

LEGO Duplo Gentle Giants Petting Zoo1. LEGO Duplo Gentle Giants Petting Zoo

Little dinosaur lovers will LOVE visiting the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo. Young children will build fine motor skills through building and rebuilding the baby dinosaur enclosure. Buy it here.

First Learning Wooden Puzzle

2. First Learning Wooden Puzzle

Ideal for young children learning to recognise shapes, colours and animals. Through fun shapes and bright colours, your little one will learn to match each puzzle piece to its designated spot. Buy it here.

3. Make It Real Block & Rock Charm Bracelets

3. Make It Real Block & Rock Charm Bracelets

Make beautiful bracelets using this kit’s pretty charms, colourful beads and alphabet beads. Your child will develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they create pretty jewellery to their heart’s content. Buy it here.

4. Barbie Fashionistas

4. Barbie Fashionistas

Each Barbie Fashionistas doll has her own look and style, inspired by the latest trends. Dressing the doll will help your child with their fine motor skills. Buy it here.

5. Toot-toot Drivers Racing Rampway

5. Toot-toot Drivers Racing Rampway

Rearrange the tracks to create a dual raceway, stunt track or super raceway. Race your cars through exciting courses with cars designed for little hands. Buy it here.

6. Tooky Toy 50Pcs

6. Tooky Toy 50Pcs

A classic and playroom staple, you can never go wrong with building blocks. This mixture of brightly coloured blocks can be built into anything you can imagine – a house, a castle, a city? It’s all up to you. Buy it here.

7. Play-Doh Letters and Language

7. Play-Doh Letters and Language

Learn all the letters of the alphabet by moulding them with Play-Doh. Included in the set are 26 letter stampers, two double-sided play mats, six tubs of Play-Doh and sculpting tools to introduce your child to the exciting world of reading. Buy it here.

8. Pip & Squeak’s Cheese Stack Game

8. Pip & Squeak’s Cheese Stack Game

Stack, flip and build with these uniquely-shaped wooden cheese wedges in three fun games. Rippled pieces make them easy to grip, ready for stacking. Comes with two wooden mice, 22 wooden cheese wedges and rules for three games. Buy it here.

9. Tooky Toy 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre

9. Tooky Toy 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre

This 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre will provide endless entertainment for your child, including an abacus for counting, labyrinth and maze and much more. Buy it here.

10. Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks

10. Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks

These chunky, colourful blocks introduce colours and shapes to your little one. Stack and drop the blocks through the slots in the bucket lid, and carry the bucket for more fun again and again. Buy it here.

You may also like:

15 Ideal Toys for Kids Who Love Building

The Arts, The Key To Developing Great Life Skills


It’s said that if you enjoy a task, you’re good at it. Many would argue that learning is no different. So, how can parents inspire their child to love learning and to see how, while challenging, learning is rewarding, interesting and even possibly fun in some instances?

Below are five tips on how this can be achieved.

Read with your child regularly

Curtin University reading expert Dr Margaret Merga says not only do children enjoy being read to, it provides a boost for their learning.

According to Dr Merga, shared reading fosters the development of listening skills, spelling, vocabulary and reading comprehension. This lays the foundation for a strong literacy foundation. Shared reading also activates children’s imagination and develops their ability to follow a narrative.

Dr Merga says that children’s attitudes to books, as they grow older, reflects the enjoyment they derived from their earliest reading experiences. As such, she advises that parents make reading with their children a fun experience so their kids begin to associate reading – a form of learning – with enjoyment.

Don’t shy away from maths

For many parents, maths is intimidating. Like any other subject, maths should be taught by an expert, but leaving numeracy development solely in the classroom could mean some children fail to see the relevance of it in everyday life. Experts warn this can lead to children not liking maths as they begin to perceive it to be an abstract or dull subject.

Kylie Robson, a maths education expert from the University of Canberra, writes that there are many ways parents can get involved. For very young children, parents could count with their kids as to how many apples are in a shopping bag. Parents could also give older children $10 and a very small shopping list of items to buy. This requires children to use their calculation skills to get bang for their buck.

Activities like these not only show children that maths and numbers are all around them, but can be a fun way for parents to inspire their children’s learning. This is also another way for children to associate learning with fun.

Use praise to help your children develop their growth mindset

Parents love to praise their children. However, praise for its own sake isn’t helpful. Stanford University psychologist Professor Carol Dweck found that generalised praise – for example, phrases such as “well done”, “good job”, or “aren’t you clever” – could cause children to develop a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset refers to the belief that a person’s basic abilities, intelligence, skills and talents are fixed traits; nothing can be done to improve them.

Bill Lucas, an education expert from Victoria University, warns these children are often afraid to make mistakes, and unwilling to apply effort or practise, as they have a fixed view of their own intelligence.

Rather, both Professor Dweck and Lucas argue that parents who utilise praise well, cultivate their child’s growth mindset: the understanding that a person’s talents and abilities are the result of effort, good teaching and persistence, and that their talents can be further developed through continued effort, practise and further learning. Dweck argues these children are more likely to keep persisting when they face setbacks.

To develop this attitude, Lucas advises that praise should be focused on the effort children applied to complete a task. Praise should also be genuine and true, not overinflated. Phrases like “I can see how much effort you put into solving this problem” or “well done for trying so hard, you’ll get it next time” are helpful.

This will support children to like learning more as they see that their efforts can lead to positive change. They also see their parents appreciating and acknowledging their hard work.

Let children make mistakes

For some parents, this tip could seem counterintuitive.

But as Mandie Sheen from Edith Cowan University advises, parents should not shield their children from low-risk, natural consequences. For example, if your child doesn’t study and fails an assignment at school, don’t defend your child; let them deal with the consequences.

Sheen advises that parents should talk through the experience with their children to support them to see the mistake as an opportunity to grow and learn, and that the negative emotions associated with failure are natural and temporary. You can also work out with your child what to do differently next time.

This helps children to shift their perspective to see mistakes as opportunities for learning and not to catastrophise the error, as they know they can achieve if they keep trying.

Consider extra support

Sometimes children fall behind in class and they become lost. Other times, classwork can be far too easy, so they become bored and disinterested. As the latest Gonski Review into Australian schooling identified, either scenario is detrimental for children’s learning.

Extra support in the form of private tuition or an after-school learning programme, can fix gaps in learning as they allow children to go back to revise, practise and learn at their own pace. Similarly, these programmes support children to race ahead if they are able.


Children love music. The upbeat tempo, the smooth-sounding instruments, the easy-to-follow lyrics – to a child, there’s nothing better!

Most children will happily sing-along to nursery rhymes featured on Little Baby Bum and The Wiggles, bop along to music they hear in the car or at the shops, mimic music videos from their favourite artists and later down the track, may even want to learn how to play piano/guitar/saxophone/drums.

If your little one is displaying a love of music, this is awesome news for both you and your child! And it’s something that you should continue to encourage.

Sound Effects

You may have heard the old adage, “learning an instrument makes you smarter.” As it turns out, this is actually the truth!
According to researchers at the University of Zurich, learning a musical instrument changes the brain’s structure and functionality (compared with non-musicians, in the parts of the brain that control cognitive performance, motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory.

Thus, musicians are more self-disciplined, more attentive and better at planning, which are all very important skills for academic performance. This also enhances the ability to learn foreign languages as it involves listening for different tonalities.

Simply listening to music stimulates most parts of the brain, but reading and playing music simultaneously exercises every part of the brain. It appears learning to read music is critical, as it aids in recognising patterns, which is then crucial in the development of mathematical and literacy skills

Instrumental Learning

As a music teacher, I am often asked, “When should I start my child on an instrument?”.

The answer will depend entirely on you and your child. But before you decide, ask yourself, do you have the time to sit with your child for 15 to 20 minutes a day, at least five times a week to help them practice for the next two years?
It sounds like a big commitment, right? Which is why it might be best to wait until they are about seven or eight years old and can read both the English language and the music homework book.

But what if your child is showing a love of music at an earlier age? There are plenty of music and movement classes that teach your child the basics of music, music history, simple percussion, wind and string instruments and music reading before this age if your child wants to learn an instrument.

Tips for Choosing an Instrument

• Instruments like piano, keyboard and violin are easiest for your child to be successful with at an earliest age.

• When your child is a little older, instruments like a recorder (which, contrary to popular belief, if played correctly is a delightful introductory wind instrument), cello (which is larger and your child has to sit down to play, so may need assistance setting it up) and guitar.

• When your child has sufficient lung capacity, usually by the age of nine, clarinet, flute and trumpet are ideal wind instruments.

Nurturing their Passion for Playing

Handing your child an instrument is only the first step in nurturing this musical passion. Some children will eagerly practice without prompting for hours and hours. Most however, will need a little encouragement. In fact, every single child no matter how motivated, is going to have periods where he or she doesn’t want to practice. What this means is, as the parent, you will have to nag. But hopefully not too often. Here are a few tips to help pave the pathway to practice success.

• Make music front and centre – Set up the instrument where it is part of the family space, not tucked away in a bedroom where they are by themselves and can’t share their experience with the family.

• Ensure you have a quality instrument – A non-touch sensitive keyboard, for example, may sound ideal, but is setting your child up to have incorrect technique which may cause injury in the long term. If you don’t have the room for a piano, touch-sensitive 76 or 88 key keyboards with full sized keys and a pedal are now available for very reasonable prices.

• Make it part of the daily routine – It’s compulsory to do nightly reading at school, so you need to make music practice part of the daily routine as well, and schedule a time for it.

• Be involved – Even if you can’t read a note, you can still sit with them, listen to them and praise them. Children need to know that they are valued, and that you want them to succeed in this endeavour.

• Limit distractions during practice times – If the rest of the family is playing on the Playstation and you have told your child to practice, of course they are going to not want to.

• Work with your child’s school – Many schools will have music programs as part of the curriculum. If your child is showing an interest in music or in a certain instrument, have a chat to the music teacher. He or she may be able to help you find an instructor or know of musical organisations in the community that might interest your child.

• Find a Teacher – If your child does want to take on a musical instrument, check out www.qmta.org.au for teachers in your area.

Music is For Life

Give your child the opportunity to play an instrument and you won’t regret it. After all, the love of music never grows old. There are always community bands or orchestras they can join once they have finished school or they may simply choose to keep this special skill for family events and occasions.

You never know – they may still be playing when they’re 90. Just ensure you encourage them to practice now so they have this skill for life!

Nicole Tobin is a classroom music teacher, a piano, keyboard and flute teacher, and a Kindermusik Educator. Raised on the Atherton Tablelands, she has been teaching in Cairns since 1995.