3 Ways to Get Your Child Excited About Learning!

We all know how hard it can be to get our minis excited about hitting the books and studying for their tests. Sometimes, kids would much rather be playing with their toys, watching TV or playing video games. We’ve all been there. But it doesn’t have to be like that! We need to be showing our minis that learning is fun and that even adults are constantly learning every day! Here are our 3 effective ways to make learning fun and exciting!

 

1.      Know your mini’s learning style

 There are seven main learning styles: Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social, Solitary. Every child has a different learning style that is best suited to the way that they learn things. Finding the relevant learning style and then creating activities in correspondence with what they react to the best, will ensure that they have an effective and fun study session. It is also beneficial to combine several of these learning styles together to allow your child to develop in all of these areas. Below are the descriptions of each of these learning styles with tips on how to manage these, so that you can get the most out of your study session!

Photo created by freepik

Photo created by freepik

Visual

Visual learners learn best with images, videos or other cues to help them process information.

o   Tip: Get them to write out their thoughts or draw a brainstorm map for them to process what they are thinking.

Aural

o   Aural learners learn best with sounds and music to process information.

o   Tip: Make up songs and rhymes that will help your mini remember all of the information – make sure to include them in the writing process and have some fun with it!

Verbal

o   Verbal learners learn best under verbal instruction and writing.

o   Tip: Get your mini to write out their thoughts and focus on learning a new word every day to increase their vocabulary.

Physical

o   Physical learners learn best by doing hands on activities and keeping active.

o   Tip: Create fun activities that are relevant to the topic that your mini is learning. These can be puzzles, maths games, activity booklets etc.

Logical

o   Logical learners learn best when they understand the reason behind the content they are learning.

o   Tip: Try to explain the reasons behind everything they are doing and give real world examples.

Social

o   Social learners learn best when talking with others about what they are learning.

o   Tip: Talk to your mini about their favourite subjects to help them remember the information and to create a positive attitude about learning.

Solitary

o   Solitary learners learn best when they are by themselves in a quiet space.

o   Tip: Make sure your mini has a clean and quiet space to study in and try to keep anything that might cause a distraction out of the study space.

 

 2.      Set goals and make a weekly diary

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It’s so important to set goals for your mini - these can be daily goals, weekly goals or monthly goals. When goals are clearly written out, it is a big encouragement to your mini when they complete something on the list. It also gives them something to work towards and they won’t be feeling like the work they are doing is irrelevant or unimportant. Make sure to celebrate every time your mini completes a goal, it will give them the motivation to do even more work! Also try to keep a weekly diary that sets out all of the tasks for the entire week broken down day by day. This will turn a big mountain of work into manageable piles and will take the dread out of study and homework sessions when there is only a little work to focus on at a time.

  

3.      Give constant encouragement

It has been proven by many different studies that when a behaviour is reinforced it strengthens and occurs more often and when it’s not reinforced it weakens and the behaviour fades out eventually. Thus, positive reinforcement is crucial in the children’s learning process as it makes them want to engage more so that they can get even more positive reinforcement. So, how do you use positive reinforcement to motivate your mini to learn? It’s easy! Tell them that you are proud of all the hard work that they have put in so far and that they are doing a great job so far. This will uplift their spirit and will encourage them to keep going. 

And remember, if it just isn’t working and your mini is not responding well to the learning process – take a breath and break to reset! Sometimes children are so overloaded by all of the information they are presented with every day and just need bit of fresh air to settle their thoughts before they tackle more learning!

 

Meet Jess Mcilveen of Kids Yoga Therapy: an incredible resource for kids with special needs

‘I am here to revolutionise the way we heal and transform the minds and lives of our children and teens with special needs and who’ve been affected by trauma.’ – Jess Mcilveen, Owner of Kids Yoga Therapy

jesskyt.png

At mini Nanny Agency we understand the varied dynamics that can exist in different families, including the unique challenges (and joys!) that families with special needs children often face.

That means we are always on the look out for incredible resources for our mini families, and Jess, of Kids Yoga Therapy is one of the best out there! As a social worker and an incredible yogi, she’s tuned into the needs of kids who may struggle with anxiety, have special needs or been affected by trauma.

Here’s Jess’ story.

How did you find yourself as a social worker AND a yoga instructor?

As a child I was surrounded by depression, anxiety, suicide and addiction, which left me feeling helpless. This ultimately led me to becoming a social worker, as I wanted to be the guiding force for children who felt lost and alone.

After a few years working in Child Safety and Foster Care I realised that the services we were using weren’t teaching children techniques that could help them when they felt scared, fearful or angry.

About this time I started to have anxiety and panic attacks, which was utterly terrifying for me. I didn’t want to take medication so I committed to daily meditation and yoga. I was absolutely astounded when after a week and a half the scary sensations disappeared!

While travelling in Italy I came to the realisation that I no longer wanted to be a social worker. One day a friend said to me, ‘Why don’t you do yoga and meditation with the children you want to work with?’ My head began spinning. Could I really do that?

After some intense research, I booked my flights and enrolled in a Children’s Yoga Course. Kids Yoga Therapy was born two months later.

What impact has yoga had in your life?

When I started experiencing panic and anxiety attacks, I was terrified. I couldn’t eat, sleep or function and I was too scared to be alone with my thoughts.

Yoga and meditation absolutely changed my life. Once I started regularly practicing, the scary sensations disappeared. And now, when they show up again, I have tools that I trust and that I know work.

After my experience, I went through all the research available on the impacts of yoga and medication for special needs and trauma and it’s conclusive – it helps!


How do yoga and social work complement each other?

As a social worker I want to empower people to find solutions that work for them so they can live their best life possible, regardless of what they have experienced. Yoga complements this because it’s about finding the solutions within yourself.


How can yoga help kids who suffer from anxiety or trauma, or who have other special needs?

Yoga helps kids by reconnecting them with their bodies and bringing them back to the present moment. Yoga also works with breath, which is crucial in strengthening the relaxation response in the nervous system. This response is weakened when children have experienced trauma or anxiety.

Anxiety is future focussed, so bringing children back to the present moment with their body and breath helps reduce the anxious state of body and mind.


What kinds of programs does Kids Yoga Therapy offer?

Our main program is an eight-week whole family support package. This includes one-on-one sessions with the child, and access to the Parent Support Collective, which is coached by myself.


What impact has Kids Yoga Therapy had on your families?

The techniques I teach help kids face their fears. For example, a child who was attacked by a dog can now walk into a house with dogs without going into a fear meltdown.

We have also been able to help children who struggled to communicate their feelings find new methods to do so. And foster children who have participated in our programs now have learning tools to help them when they feel overwhelmed by the unpredictability in their world.


What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher and working with kids?

Seeing children’s proud happy faces when they tell me how brave they have been in situations that previously would have left them overwhelmed with fear, and being able to support families during times of turmoil – these are the things that make me feel fulfilled as a yoga teacher and a social worker. Plus, working with children brings out my inner child, which I love!

If you’d like to know more about how Jess can help you or your family, she’d love to hear from you. Reach out here. And we always love to hear from our mini families at mini too! Drop us a line or give us a ring for a chat anytime!

Interview with Jo Menken

 
Jo Menken - Breast Wishes

Mini Nanny Agency is a proud supporter of Breast Wishes JOurney. Jo Menken is a super-mum who started this support community to inform others of the BRCA (BReast CAncer) susceptibility gene mutation, preventative measures, and procedures to raise funds for cancer research and create a supportive community.

How did your Breast Wishes JOurney begin?

I was diagnosed with the BRCA gene mutation which I inherited from my mum who had breast cancer in 2009. We didn’t find out about it until her sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. That’s when doctors became suspicious of the link between the two cancers and the BRCA gene mutation.

After Mum was tested and found to be BRCA2+ this prompted me and a few of my siblings to get tested for the same mutation.

Where does one go to get tested for BRCA? And at what age?

You can get tested with Genetic Health Queensland. I’m not sure at what age other people should get tested at.

I wouldn’t want my daughter to get tested until she’s gone through her teen years. I think the teenage years are already enough to deal with, and it should be her choice when she comes of age.

How did your friends and family react to the news of BRCA positive?

We have a family group chat, so we were already talking about getting tested before I found out. I think they were more worried about it than I was because they know I’m a sensitive person.

I just had a feeling that I had it. I knew that if I did have the BRCA gene, I would get a body cast made before having the mastectomy and put together some kind of fundraising event.

I got tested in 2014 and had the surgery in 2016. It took a long time because I went through the public health system—which I found was quite good. They also want to make sure that you’ll be able to cope with the body changes, so there were psychological tests and counselling involved.

What was it like for you to go through with the mastectomy?

I was consulting with a breast surgeon. They just wanted to get rid of the high risk of developing breast cancer and didn’t care for what I looked like after. They didn’t say that, but that’s how I felt.

Luckily, the public system also offered me to see a plastic surgeon, so I was able to see the two specialists and they worked together. I don’t think too many people know that this is available with our public health system. It does take a lot longer, but it’s there for you.

I was happy to have taken my time with the process. In the back of my mind, I thought I could always pull out of going ahead with the surgery if I wanted to. When it came to being a week out from surgery, I lost it a little bit because the realisation hit me that it was really happening.

Are you familiar with the stages of grieving? After accepting that I was going ahead with the surgery I grieved for the loss of my breasts. I was ready and calm going into the surgery, but I did a lot to prepare myself for that day—meditation, massages, journalling—just to mentally prepare.

After the surgery, I thought “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”—don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as bad as I had made it up to be in my mind. It’s the unknown that’s scary. I was sharing this journey from the start because it was helpful for me in getting support, but more so that others could find information for what to expect and hopefully take away some of that fear for them.

Body Cast - Breast Wishes Journey

Who are some of the organisations and people who helped you start this project?

I googled “body cast Brisbane” and I connected with Paula from Serenity Body Casting who couldn’t do what I had in mind, but she connected me to a man who used to do these body casts, but no longer did them.

I thought it wasn’t going to happen, but Paula contacted me and was able to get him to help, we did the body cast the day before my surgery. Tove Langridge from TW Fine Art put his artwork on the cast and we auctioned it off at the first Breast Wishes Ball for over $1000!

What can people expect at this year’s Breast Wishes Ball on October 6th?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Ball is a celebration of life. There will be live entertainment, live and silent auctions and raffles. There are lots of positive vibes and people coming together in support of a great cause. There are no VIP tickets because everyone’s a very important person.

How do you juggle Full-Time work, Breast Wishes Journey, and being a Full-Time mother?

I don’t know. I’m so passionate about what I do, and I do it because I love it. I love the feeling that I get from helping others. I work a lot of hours writing proposals, marketing etc outside of my full-time day job, but it doesn’t feel like extra work.

My daughter, Cam sees that what I’m doing is important to me. Now that she’s a bit older, she helps me with fundraising and it’s amazing to see her empathy towards the cause and towards me.

What do you think parents can do to teach children about breast cancer?

I have a video called “Touch Yourself” that teaches people how to self-check and familiarise with their bodies. Look for any changes like bumps and lumps and get checked out.

I think parents should become familiar with the techniques so they can teach their children to get to know their body when they think appropriate.

What’s your message to other women going through what you’ve gone through?

You are strong enough to do anything. I never thought I’d be strong enough to do any of this, but you somehow find the strength.

I always thought I was a big wuss. I was scared to even go under anaesthetic. But this proved that I’m stronger than I thought and I believe that’s the case for all of us.

Big projects on the go?

Product manufactured at the moment proceeds from sales will go to Brisbane Breast Bank.

I’ve partnered with the Newstead Brewing Co. again. We’re doing a BRCA Brew Pale Ale in the next month or so and we’ll have a launch event for it. The whole idea is to get more men involved as they can get breast cancer too. Newstead Brewing Co. has been so supportive!


Mini Nanny Agency is donating $50 from every permanent nanny placement towards the Breast Wishes JOurney ball which will go towards funding the Brisbane Breast Bank for clinical research.

Jo has also partnered with Nicole from Pro Cosmetic Tattoo who specialises in 3D nipple and areola tattoos. After a mastectomy, people have the option of nipple reconstructive surgery or leaving it bare.

Alternatively, women will opt for areola tattoos. Nicole offering one complementary tattooing session a month (with some minor requirements). If you or you know anyone interested in this generous service, reach out to Jo.




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Catching up with Flying Sprout: Educational Activities for Kids on the Move

 
Brisbane Flying Sprout Educational activities for kids on the move

mini Majer has always been an advocate for local Brisbane businesses and we were beyond excited to get the chance to catch up with Brisbane-born business, Flying Sprout

Bianca Chopra is a teacher by trade, a busy Brisbane mum of 3-year-old, Jai and the creative mind behind Flying Sprout-- travel-friendly educational kits for kids on the move! 

Flying Sprout was inspired by a Chopra family trip to Europe when Jai was 18 months old. Bianca wanted educational screen-free entertainment for the 20-hour flight. Today, her products have been gaining international exposure with shipments to Singapore, Spain, the US, and Indonesia!

 

What is the day in the life of Bianca like lately? 

It’s always different, but Jai and I always start the day with some exercise. We go for a walk every morning. He’ll play with his lego and we’ll do different activities like music lessons or go to a playgroup to make new friends for the both of us. Everywhere we go together, we both enjoy so that makes the day fun for us. 

If I’m lucky, Jai will nap in the afternoon and I can work on Flying Sprout or tutor.

 

 

What do you find most rewarding in running your own business from home? 

Being a part of Jai’s life and getting in the best quality time. I get to watch him explore and learn something new every day, and of course, the cuddles! 

I’ve always wanted to be a mum and it’s awesome! 

 

 

What are your and Jai’s favourite activities? 

Jungle walks. We started going to the hills and the rain forests around Mount Tamborine. It’s great exercise and Jai will walk 2 and a half km. We love it and it really engages him. 

We’re also so lucky to live right next to the theme parks around Brisbane. We have annual passes and they’re great value and a good reward for Jai.

 

 

Do you have a favourite teaching moment?

I just love seeing the capabilities of children. If you give them the chance and the right support, they can do almost anything. I think we assume that children can’t do something because it might be too difficult so we don’t give them the opportunity to try. 

I used to teach grade 5 and 6 and we do this assignment where the kids would design their own breakfast cereals and do the marketing for it themselves. I did this same activity with primary students and I was so inspired by how well they did with it! It’s moments like those that make me love what I do. 

Brisbane Flying Sprout Kids Activities

What do you think is essential in maintaining a balanced work-life relationship?

I’m really lucky because I get to work around my schedule with Jai. I do what I have time for and have learned a lot about running a business. I do everything myself from building and maintaining the website, the social media, and creating new on-the-go activities. I still have lots to learn but it’s very exciting. 

 

 

Do you have a soundtrack to your life at the moment?

I like having music on around the house, and I should really do it more often. It changes the atmosphere of anything you’re doing. Jai and I lately have been listening to the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing and we both have a dance. 

 

 

Where would you like to see Flying Sprout in the next couple years?

I would like to have regular orders and have people love it. I would love to go to a cafe and see someone whip it out of their Flying Sprout kit for their little one. The community around Flying Sprout has been great and very supportive. 

 

 

Do you have any advice for new business owners? 

Don’t expect success overnight, but enjoy the process. 

 

 

What about advice for new mums? 

Trust your gut. If you feel like you should do something your way, do it. Trust what you feel because you know your child the best. 

Be sure to follow Bianca and Flying Sprout on Instagram @flyingsprout

 

Meet Nanny Gemma

 
Nanny Gemma A.k.a Jimjams

It's with great pleasure that the mini team introduce nanny Gemma a.k.a  Jimjams. She’s a full-time Mary Poppins to a beautiful family with 4 children plus a cat and a big dog. 

Gemma loves campervan camping and is a major foodie. She loves to dine out for inspiration to take back into her kitchen where she enjoys creating delicious and nutritious meals from scratch.

How did you get started with mini Nanny Agency? 

It was fate meeting Michelle at a yoga and wellness centre in New Farm. Nannying sort of just made sense for me. Michelle and I connected straight away and had an amazing discussion about our passions. 

I had 10 years of experience running salons and a photography studio which came out of a love of being around people and helping them feel beautiful in their own skin. 

I have always enjoyed working with kids and making them laugh, entertaining them, and having fun. Meeting Michelle and nannying felt like it was all meant to be for me.

What is the day in the life of Nanny Jimjams?

I get up with the sun and am with the family for 6 am. School drop-offs and household duties are part of my morning routine. I make all meals from scratch, keep the house immaculate, and act as a personal assistant to the parents. 

Breakfast has to be nourishing and slow-carb releasing as the kids have such big days! The breakfast winner at the moment is the “avocado smush.” It’s avo and feta on whole grain toast. 

Avo Toast Nanny Diaries

I braid the girls’ hair, tidy the kitchen and check to see that the kids' bed made. At 7:10 it’s a swift exit to the schools and pre-school sports activities! It’s a busy morning, but things start to slow down without the kids around so I do the cleaning, washing, errands and walk the dog. 

What has been your favourite moment as a nanny? 

I can’t get enough one on one time with each child. I love getting hugs and reading books together. The best moments are filled with affection and literally laughing till our bellies ache! 

What has been your greatest challenge as a nanny?

For me, the most challenging thing about being a nanny is creating boundaries and knowing when to step back and when to jump in with both feet.

There’s a lot of learning to do about yourself in the nannying career just as there is to learn about kids and families which makes this role so much more rewarding.

What’s the best thing a parent has done to make you feel appreciated? 

I got a phone call the other night from the kids screaming “love ya! Thank you for everything you do for us!” That was pretty cute! A quiet thank you is always much appreciated

What’s the soundtrack to your life at the moment?

The kids and I love blasting the car stereo to Bruno Mars! 

When you’re not on nanny duties, what inspires nanny Gemma?

My partner and I just bought a camper van, so it’s the gypsy life for me! We love Byron Bay and spend our weekends outside soaking in the ocean spray, paddle-boarding, and winding down the day eating the best slow cooked brisket! 

Beautiful Byron Bay light house 

Beautiful Byron Bay light house 

I train at gym 4 days a week and love yoga and catch ups with friends over food, of course! I’m always keeping an eye out for new restaurants to try. 

Best advice for new nannies? 

A nanny has to understand different personalities in a family and finding the best way to meet everyone's needs to offer the best support. 

I know with teenage boys it’s more of a stern approach. You need to treat them like men and give them that bit of autonomy that they crave. I am there to support them into becoming more independent. With the girls, it’s always more of a trade and compromising. Homework first and baking after. 

With the parents, you need to be able to anticipate their needs to the best of your ability. Be the best support possible and go beyond to exceed their expectations. 

What do you wish parents and outsiders looking in would understand about being a nanny and the nanny field in general? 

The stereotype of the nanny life is that we just play with kids all day, but in reality, nannying requires a lot of emotional support to the parents, diplomacy, and patience

There are days that are tough and mentally draining, but there more days that you feel like you made a difference than not. It's a lot of hard work, but it is definitely rewarding.

Since you're such a foodie, what are your favourite Brisbane restaurants and what should I order? 

Depending on what you enjoy, Katrina, my fav restaurant in Brisbane is Survey Co in the city. Survey co is all about the fresh locally sourced produce and excellent service- the owner takes your order! It’s a little expensive, but it’s the best I have been too! 

On a weekend, I love Miami Marketta.  Marketta is like Eat Street markets but better! It’s full of cocktail bars and has a dance floor. Last weekend, I had the best damn chicken burger of my life!! 

You can’t go wrong with Rouge in Newstead for brekkie dates and cute date nights. The pancakes are legendary!! 

 

Meet Casual Kid-Sitter, Justin

 

By: Katrina Lubiano

mini Majer kid sitter Justin

Let me introduce you to our Canadian, casual kid-sitter, Justin, avid mountain climber, forest forager, and botany hobbyist. Justin studies health sciences at Torrens University in the Valley, works as a freelance web developer, and is the brains behind natural health sciences website, The Sunlight Experiment

 

How did you come across mini Nanny Agency? 

My girlfriend [lucky me] found out about mini first, actually. She started a temp-nannying contract with the Majers looking after their 8-year-old son, Henry. 

We would pick Henry up together after school on Fridays and take the City Cat to Southbank and play Pokemon Go. Henry and I got along really well right off the bat. 

It was really sad when the contract ended for all of us since the Majers became like family to us. Katrina ended up getting another nannying gig, but I still meet him weekly for tutoring sessions. 

 

What do you enjoy most about kid-sitting Henry? 

I like picking his brain. He gives me a fresh perspective, and he can talk about ANYTHING. I ask him all kinds of deep questions and he always has an answer. I don’t think he knows it yet, but the kid is a comedic genius.  

 

What are your and Henry’s favourite activities together?

He loves gaming on his iPod. Henry gets really into them. We talk about Pokemon Go and Clash of Clans a lot. When he was really into Pokemon Go, we would go on adventures and catch Pokemon around the neighbourhood or go to South Bank. 

Katrina, Henry, Casey (our friend visiting from Canada), and I went on a day adventure during summer holidays to Mount Tamborine. We had a good time playing 21 questions in the car, checking out the cool shops on the strip, and walked down to the waterfalls there. He fell asleep right when he got home. 

 

What is the day in the life of Justin look like? 

I go to school and stick around to put in some freelance work. The Power Station cafe in the school makes the best cappuccinos. I’ll sometimes drink 3 in a day if I need to get a lot of work done. 

If I'm with Henry that afternoon, I’ll head to his house for the usual routine. Otherwise, I’ll stay at school the whole day to work and study. 

In the evenings, I like to indoor rock climb at Urban Climb in Newstead or I’ll go for a 10 km run along the river.  

 

Can you tell us a bit about how you started The Sunlight Experiment

It’s was a blog and database to help me organise everything I’ve learned from my experimental botany back in Canada. It has since evolved to include a large database of reference for my health science studies now. My focus has always been on plant based medicine and bioprospecting. It’s a lot of hard work, and it keeps growing, so it’s really rewarding to see how many people actually read it!

 

What do your plans in Australia look like?

I have about a year left in uni. I finish August 2018 and I plan on going back to Canada for a little while. I guess before I go, I just want to learn as much as I can.

My parents are coming to visit soon, and some friends in feb. It will be a lot of fun showing them around, and seeing Brisbane again through fresh eyes.