Archive for Family

Developementally Appropriate Toys

There are always a plethora of exciting gadgets and playthings on sale at any children’s toy store. It’s always tempting to buy the latest, in-fashion products with the newest technology or attention grabbing features. In some instances however, “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”. When buying toys for a baby or young child, it is important to first identify if the toy caters to the learning abilities that they need at that particular stage of their growth and development.

baby skill developement toyThe easiest way to do this is to base it on their age. If the child is a typical learner, then their mental age will be the same as their biological age. Children that are gifted or those with special needs will have a different mental age to their biological age, and toy purchases should be made accordingly. Once you have an idea of the child’s mental abilities it will be easier to pick an appropriate toy for them.

As babies, the developmental areas or skills that every parent should focus on are their gross and fine motor skills. This is especially true for the newborn children who are transitioning towards toddler stage. For babies, gross motor skills include the crawling, rolling, raising of the head, and tilting it from side-to-side. Rolling is the first skill that is learned, followed by crawling, walking and then running.

Children usually learn rolling and crawling by themselves, however, if a child shows signs of difficulty in performing these tasks, colorful mats from tummy time can be useful. They are visually appealing to the child and encourage them to flip over in a comfortable setting. Placing a plastic mirror in front of the child can also help promote their receptive and social skills. Numerous health benefits have also been given that encourage parents to engage their children in tummy time activities.
Fine motor skills can also be improved through the use of tummy time mats that have their own arch/gym. These will encourage the baby to touch the dangling items and reach out and grab the toys. These toys usually light up or shake which engages the child in the learning experience.

Djeco Doll House for Girls

A Doll House from Djeco

Other items that are perfect for fine motor skill development are rattles and soft books. If you want to inspire creative play for your baby, soft toys like some of these from Colette Bream are perfect. For slightly older children more advanced and complex toys such as the range of doll houses and accessories from Djeco are a good option. If you have a boy, some wooden toys might be more appropriate, take a look at the range of wooden toy cars here from Automoblox.

Having the right toys is just one part of the learning process. The most important aspect of any toy would be how it facilitates interaction between parent and child. It is always more fun and meaningful when the parent or caregiver plays with the baby. Match the sounds made by the object by identifying what object or animal usually makes that sound. Use hand-over-hand prompts to help the child manipulate the object properly. All of these seemingly small actions are the parts which really help the child grow and learn. No toy can every replace genuine guidance.

Tips on Picking the Right Tenants for your Rental Property

We’ve all heard horror stories about the tenants from hell. A Current Affair would have been culled from the Nine Network’s lineup years ago were it not for these stories of trash-filled, squalid homes and tenants who refuse to leave.

While these epic battles between landlords and their tenants might be extreme cases, disputes like these but on a smaller scale are a regular occurrence all around the country. Spending a bit of extra time selecting the right tenant for your property from the get-go is the best way to ensure you don’t end up in one of these sticky situations further down the track.

Generally speaking the majority of tenants are well behaved and clean people, however there are a small percentage of people who increase the risk of renting out your investment property. We spoke with Andrew a Brisbane property management expert about how you can ensure you don’t get stuck with a tenant from hell. Here is what he has to say:

Meet the Potential Tenant in Person

meeting with property managerYou can usually get a vibe about a person from meeting them in person. They might seem shifty, or you might just not feel comfortable around them, which is a good enough reason to not let them move onto your property. As a property manager I meet a lot of renters and I can usually tell which ones are clean and well-behaved and which ones are going to be a hassle to deal with.

Ensure you meet any potential tenant in person before signing anything. That way you’ll have a better idea of what they are like and how you expect they will behave.

Check their History

Generally prospective tenants will give you references. Make sure you get in contact with all of them to see what they have to say. People won’t usually add people to their reference list unless they expect a positive review, but you may be able to “read-between-the-lines” or even get some stories out of the referee that may give you a better idea about the personalities of the prospective tenants.

Also make sure you do a background check on them the make sure they do not have any serious criminal history. This could save you from some major hassles in the long run.

Ask for the Maximum Bond Allowed

There are legal restrictions on how much bond is allowed to be, but why ask for any less than the maximum. In Queensland the landlords and property managers are restricted to taking a maximum of 4 times the weekly rent as bond. Why take any less? If your tenants are responsible they will get it all back when they move out again anyway.

Take these steps and you are much more likely to get a responsible, decent tenant in your rental property. If you are not a good judge of character, get someone you trust; a friend or someone from your local property management agency to speak with the applicants on your behalf. A little bit of extra effort when choosing a tenant can save you a lot of money, time and stress in the long run, so don’t be lazy!

If you’d like more tips like these, check out the Rental Guardians blog at http://www.rentalguardians.com.au/blog/ or click these links to follow Andrew on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter.

 

Giving Children The Best Start In Life

The world has changed a lot since we were children. Back in our day we didn’t have video game consoles, iPads, mobile phone apps, or even just mobile phones for that matter! Our toys were all real, usually educational, and often handmade. We certainly didn’t spend 24 hours a day sitting and staring at a screen on a TV or computer, either. You probably remember getting a lot of fresh air and sunshine playing in the great outdoors as a child. Unfortunately the youth of today are not so lucky and seem to have their face in their computer or phone all day, or at the very least with their earphones in listening to some manufactured bands’ latest hit.

Toddler with Educational ToysIt’s nonsensical to get caught up in the nostalgia of the past, but many parents of young children are concerned that the way their kids are being brought up and educated is not the healthiest. Conditioned by a barrage of clever and borderline unethical marketing and advertising, our youth are unaware that they are being manipulated on a daily basis to desire things they do not have. We are all affected by constant advertising but the youth who are not aware of the manipulative effects of repetitive exposure, are the most at risk.

Because of this, many parents are trying to get their kids away from all the high-tech toys and gadgets they have become accustomed to. Instead of letting their toddlers play with their iPads or cell phones, clever parents who want to help their children develop their mental abilities from a younger age are shunning technology for old-school educational toys. While some of the toys may seem a little archaic, the motivations behind them are far from it. Building a solid grounding in problem solving and logic is best developed through training and experience in real-world situations. Real educational games and toys have been shown to be far more beneficial to the mental growth and development in children, when compared to computer games.

One online Australian toy store is leading the way in helping toddlers and children develop their cognitive abilities. Renowned for their selection of toys and games with an emphasis on the growth of specific areas of mental maturity and quality, Tumble & Roll Educational Toys have brightened the lives of thousands of lucky children and parents across this great nation of ours. The founder of the company, Simone, has spend months searching the globe for the most educational and fun to use kids toys, while ensuring that quality standard were always met. Inspired by her desire to maintain an advanced learning platform for her own son, she has chosen only to sell toys that compliment her very high standards.

In a recent interview with the team here at Ideas For Good, she spoke of her love for educational games and toys and their benefits for children: “Children, especially young toddlers and babies are constantly learning through their interactions with the world. By playing computer games they are learning from an artificial environment, not getting an education from real life experiences. It doesn’t take a genius to see how this may negatively affect their cognitive growth and development. I love toys that promote intellectuality, I can watch my own child developing problem solving abilities as he plays. I can see him getting smarter, and this excited me.”

While we have discussed only one Australian online educational toy store in the above paragraphs, there are numerous other toy shops online and in a city near you. Doing a search online will yield a plethora of results in your local area, so take a look next time you are considering buying your child a new Xbox console or PS3 game. It may be hard to get your child to make the switch initially, but once you get them back into the great outdoors with the combination of some fresh air and a few new real toys for them to play with, (there’s no need to mention to them that they’re educational!) you may just have trouble getting them to come back inside for dinner.

Using Cakes to Analyse Family Structure in Melbourne

Families have long been seen as the glue that harnesses people’s welfare in today’s society. The family unit has changed quite dramatically over recent years, shifting away from the traditionally viewed perfect family of a married couple and their children to something that is much harder to define. For many members of the community, this change is strongly positive, signalling better care, safety, and support of those in need. But not everyone agrees that these changes are a step forward with some people taking the position that a break away from traditional family structure is actually societal regression. One thing that both groups agree on however is that the easiest way to bring your family together, be it traditional or otherwise is over food, especially cake!

Although couple families with no children were the most common type of family in Melbourne in 2006, cake sales were still up on the previous census. This may be because couple families with dependent children were just as common, meaning more birthday cakes, christening cakes and twice as many wedding cakes! The demand for cakes Melbourne wide was so large that cake shops were hiring new staff to deal with the spike in cake orders. The cake shop spike was not limited to wedding cakes, dramatic increases in birthday cake orders were also noticed. Analysts have suggest that the cake increase can once again be the result of the changing family structure.

Divorce has become much more commonplace in today’s society meaning single parent families with dependents has also been on the rise. It is possible to suggest that children in a single parent family will still be in contact with both their mother and father in some way, leading to the assumption that on their birthday they will receive two birthday cakes, one from each parent. Of course not every single parent in Melbourne is going to buy their child a cake, but the data presented highlighting the change in family structure does suggest that it may be a key influencer in the recent success of cakes shops in Melbourne.

Another interesting statistic which offers a counter argument to the rise in cake sales being attributed to the changing family structure is the number of people living alone. In 2006 there were 1.9 million people living alone in Australia, with that number set to rise to 3.6 million by 2031. This trend suggests that cake sales may in fact reach a peak and start to steadily decline as we move into the sad lonely future. What do you think? Are we going to be lucky enough to share our birthday cake in the parks of Melbourne for many years to come or are we going to be sitting in a dark room singing happy birthday to ourselves?