Pie Time at Mittagong Preschool

Bush Tucker Pie

The children have been making potions in the outdoor environment and the other day we noticed that Holly made a pie. In the creative room, the children have been discussing some bush tucker, trying damper and kangaroo sausages.  Putting these two things together, we entered the community section of the Southern Highland’s Pie Competition – creating a Bush Tucker Pie, with kangaroo and bush herbs and a yam topping!  Some of the children were a little unsure of the pie, but others thought it was delicious!

Pie Day

We hosted a super-successful Pie Drive. Thanks to everyone who ordered pies in the drive – we had an overwhelming response!  Thanks also to Alicia Jones for organising this wonderful Winter Southern ‘Pie’lands fundraiser.  Further thanks to Southern Rise Bakery for providing the pies.

We thought it would be nice to share some of the pies with the preschoolers, so on Tuesday 19th June, we heated up some beef pies and apple pies for the children to sample. They received the thumbs up!

Our Bush Tucker Pies ready for the Pie Fest Competition - sadly no prize, but they were winners in our eyes!

Our Bush Tucker Pies ready for the Pie Fest Competition - sadly no prize, but they were winners in our eyes!

The Pie Drive pies were delicious .... 

The Pie Drive pies were delicious .... 



The Right Brain Develops First - Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning!

Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

 The left brain’s functionality is one of language, numeracy, literacy, analysis and time. It is the logical, calculating, planning, busy-bee part of us that keeps us anchored in the pragmatic world, and in past and future. The right brain, on the other hand, is responsible for empathy, intuition, imagination and creativity. It is where we wonder, dream, connect and come alive. Through the right brain we dwell in the space of no-time, in being absolutely present. While the left brain is more interested in outcomes or product, the right brain cares much more about process—the journey is what matters, not the destination. 

But there is one more vital piece to understand: The right brain connects us to our boundless sense of being. Being is primary; hence the right brain developing first; hence, human being, not human doing. The left brain is far more interested in doing. Young right-brain dominant children, by contrast, are quite content being. 

Understanding this we can better appreciate why play is so important in child learning and development, and why we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas created for children; with how much we emphasize product—what kids have accomplished at school—versus process—who they are becoming and what they feel in their explorations. That the right brain develops first is pertinent information for those in the field of education, as well as parents, regarding what is developmentally appropriate. Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn. 

The push for academia on children is a symptom of a society that is left brain dominant, or forgetful of the wonderful playground that is the right brain. It’s an indicator that we feel safer within the literalness, control and certainty of the left brain, far more than in the unquantifiable and mysterious nature the right brain connects us to.

You cannot measure the qualitative aspects of imagination, empathy and intuition; but, of course, you can measure the aforementioned practical detail-oriented functions associated with the left brain. Yet the more we push those things that can be measured onto children, the more they will grow up feeling like they don’t measure up!

Let’s remember that life is less about the tools the left brain excels in and what we accomplish in this world. Rather, life is about being present and connecting with those you love, or those you don’t even know as children do so freely:

“Walking to the library this morning, I passed on the sidewalk a little child, maybe two years old and his mother”, wrote a friend of mine. “As I neared, the child looked at me, his eyes so alive and present, and when I said ‘Hi’, he stooped and picked up a soggy leaf from the ground and handed it to me. Oh, the abundance and beauty of this world!”

This is the gift of the right brain. While the left brain sunders life into pieces, the right brain unites. This is why babies sense no distinction between themselves and their environment. All is one!

These wise little teachers remind us, courtesy of their right brain, that life is about enjoying the little things, about enchantment and surprise; it’s about being present with another, offering them your gentle ear, hearing between the lines, not just what is being said, which is what logic grasps. With the help of the right brain we touch the hidden places in our heart and in the hearts of others, those secret dimensions that give meaning to life.

The right brain is indeed the playground, or at least, it connects us to it. Let children dwell in this most natural state through their unstructured play, and all its derivatives such as doodling, curiosity, wonder and imagination. People who have a healthy right brain can better use their left brain tools in positive ways. That is the purpose of the left-logical brain: to serve the right brain—doing serves being. Being is the soil from which all our plans, details and actions must flower if we are to experience personal fulfilment and truly contribute to the world.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”               ~ Albert Einstein



Copy of Ideas for healthy lunch box...

Try some of these lovely healthy lunch ideas in your child's lunch box.

Rainbow salad - shred iceberg lettuce, julienne carrots and apples, quarter baby tomatoes and slice some fresh cucumber add some raisins. mix it all together and  add a slice of fresh bread. The children will love the vibrant color of this. Another alternative is to ask your child to help make their own lunch if they have some input they are more likely to finish what they have chosen.

check out some of these website for ideas- 


Ideas for healthy lunch box...

Try some of these lovely healthy lunch ideas in your child's lunch box.

Rainbow salad - shred iceberg lettuce, julienne carrots and apples, quarter baby tomatoes and slice some fresh cucumber add some raisins. mix it all together and  add a slice of fresh bread. The children will love the vibrant color of this. Another alternative is to ask your child to help make their own lunch if they have some input they are more likely to finish what they have chosen.

check out some of these website for ideas- 


Boosting Numeracy in the Early Years

The early childhood sector is being called on to take a more active role in promoting early numeracy skills after a British education think tank showed that a numeracy achievement gap equivalent to about 8 years of schooling exists between the highest and lowest performing students in the UK. 

The Fair Education Alliance showed that this gap is especially harmful to children from poorer backgrounds and has put together a report showcasing early childhood services which are taking direct steps to close the numeracy attainment gap. 

According to the Alliance early childhood settings working effectively to close the numeracy attainment gap in England are:

  • Developing strong leadership of maths; leaders with a good knowledge and understanding of maths and maths teaching and learning
  • Raising the profile of maths by bringing it into all activities
  • Adapting the physical environment to focus on numeracy
  • Developing children's concept of 'number'
  • Building practitioner confidence and skills through focused CPD; enhanced through action research/individual projects
  • Providing time for staff to plan together
  • Giving children immediate feedback
  • Teaching maths through a 'real-life' context, developed through theme work and games
  • Engaging children in maths problem solving or enquiry as soon as they arrive in the mornings
  • Talking to and listening to children, which enables them to know the children better - their strengths, areas for development and the things they enjoy
  • Closely monitoring and assessing children

The report, which includes a number of useful case studies from the early childhood sector, also highlights the importance of a nation-wide approach to early numeracy achievement and greater support for carers in assessing and supporting children with early maths. 

The ever-important link to parental engagement was also highlighted, with the evidence showing a clear link between high levels of parental engagement and greater outcomes for children. While early education and care providers already have plenty on their plates, the report encourages providers to have a focused approach to boosting parental engagement. 

This is the same for transition to primary school, the authors claim that a consistent approach to numeracy from the early years through to primary education would support children's understanding and further development. 

Read more and access the report and case studies here.

Taken from Careforkids.com.au Newsletter

Holding Them Back: What age should kids really start school?

APRIL 10, 2017  1:37PM Lisa Mayoh   

A CHILD’S first day of school is one for the photo album, a rite of passage for the whole family — but Sydney youngster Mada Worathampitak will now have two to remember.

At four years and eight months, she started school this term only to be told in her second week that she wasn’t ready, and to come back next year.  Her mother Pookie Ruengdach was told it was her maturity, not her ability, that was causing the concern, so she re-enrolled her in preschool.  “My husband Tommy and I are migrants from overseas and we didn’t have any experience of Australia’s school system,” Ms Ruengdach told news.com.au.

“But after reading all the information, we tested her writing A-Z and counting 1-100 and she could also remember her address and our phone numbers.  “I asked her daycare and the carer said she might just be shy as she could do well academically.”

They decided to send her, but in her second week her teacher said it would be better to have one more year at preschool because she wanted to play instead of pay attention.  “She could do it, but it was her maturity, not her ability,” Ms Ruengdach said.

“We felt regret and relief at the same time — regret with what we decided was wrong and relief with the reason that the teacher had told me — but how do you know if you not try?”


Knowing when your child is ready to start school can be a parent’s biggest decision, especially if they’re born in the middle of the year.  According to NSW Education, children can enrol in kindergarten if they turn five by July 31 that year, and all must be enrolled by their sixth birthday — creating a potential 18-month age gap in the classroom.

Last year, just 1391 four-year-olds started at NSW primary schools, along with more than 53,000 five-year-olds and 15,816 aged six or over.

Leshly Cook, a mum from Sydney’s northern beaches, held back her son, Sean, who will start school next year when he is almost six.  “It was a very hard decision but as I worked administration for a K-12 girls school for over 15 years, I could see a few students who were repeated, or had to change schools to repeat a year. I also had personal friends who sent their children early [and] were told by their kindy and care givers they were ready, only to struggle for the first year of school,” she said.

“He doesn’t mind and I feel great about the decision; another year of play doesn’t hurt any child.  “To other parents, I would say take all the advice you can, but remember that only you as the parent can make the final decision.  “Always follow your own instinct and intuition, as it will be your best guide.”


Willoughby mum Debora Feijo sent daughter Mariana to school when she was four years and 10 months, with the youngster now going from strength to strength in year 2 at Northbridge Public School.  “We did debate holding her back, however the statistics and her personality proved me wrong over the course of those 12 months before she started school,” Ms Feijo said.

 “Mariana’s social skills were very good when she started, so she had no problems making new friends straight away.  “Kids today are facing a much more competitive environment at an increasing fast pace with their little friends, and when you have kids that are almost a year and 10 or 11 months older than you, things take a different turn socially and sports wise.

“I only wish that this gap was never allowed in NSW — the Department of Education should be the one setting the limits between the gap and not making it worse, raising much bigger issues than maturity — like emotional and physical bullying at schools.”


A global trend in education has seen parents lean towards holding their children back, with research showing little academic benefit in starting early, and great sporting benefits in starting late.  

Malcolm Gladwell’s famed book Outliers explores the correlation between the age of starting sport and future success by analysing hockey players’ birthdays. He says that in many of the best leagues in the world, about 40 per cent of players were born in January, February or March, while only 10 per cent were born in October, November or December.

The book explains that the cut-off birth date for youth hockey leagues was January 1, so children born in the first three months of the year were older, bigger and stronger than their peers, leading to obvious advantages in opportunities as they hit their teens.

A New Zealand study also showed that the early introduction of literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may even be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between children who started learning at five and those who started age seven — but the children who started at five developed less positive attitudes to reading than those children who started later.


So how do you know if your four- or five-year-old is physically, socially and emotionally ready for big school?  Visit your local school and attend orientation days before you decide, recommends teacher Elizabeth Vincent.

“It’s always difficult when you’ve got a child who’s got an April, May or June birthday because they’re quite young to start and parents wonder whether to keep them at preschool for another year or keep them at home for another year,” she said.  “Sometimes girls are ready a bit earlier than boys, but I’ve found that if they are a little bit unsettled at preschool sometimes when they start a routine at school, they actually work very well because there’s a set routine.”

Fellow teacher Debra van Aanholt said the three main things she looked at was age, social skills and how they cope with change, as well as if they can dress themselves, go to the toilet unattended and pack their belongings.

“Because all children are different, they didn’t all crawl at the same age, they didn’t all walk at the same age, they didn’t all speak at the same age — and the same thing happens with children at school,” she said.  “You need your children to be able to hold a pencil, to get them to use not just pencils but crayons and paints and clay and playdough and all those things that will help them write well when they do come to school.”


Mada Worathampitak was withdrawn from school after starting at four and eight months. She is now back at preschool for another year.

Mada Worathampitak was withdrawn from school after starting at four and eight months. She is now back at preschool for another year.

Thoughts on Separation

(Excerpt from February Newsletter)

Another year starts at Mittagong Preschool and the familiar faces return, much discussion surrounding how much they have grown during the school holidays and then they quickly race off to reunite with friends from the past year.  Soon, the new faces start to arrive.  Some children bound through the gate, eager to meet their teachers, find their locker and explore the environment, almost ushering their family out the gate so they can start their day.  Others apprehensively step out of the car and walk in, seemingly wanting to go unnoticed, smiling politely as the teacher greets them but mostly just seeing unsure about the whole 'preschool thing'.  In some cases, starting preschool can mean tears, cuddles and reassurance from all obliging parties.  All of the above scenarios are perfectly fine and developmentally appropriate.  What teachers are acutely aware of during this transition process, is separation anxiety and how we can overcome these feelings of doubt whilst in partnership with the child and family.

One thing we know for sure is, that all relationships are built upon trust.  During the first few weeks at preschool, we aim to build this sense of trust and belonging.  By including family photographs within the new setting, we aim to form an immediate link between home and preschool, thereby creating a sense of comfort in a somewhat unknown space.  We also program based upon information provided within the enrolment forms - providing known resources and including interests forges a dialogue and encourages the children to talk about their home life, engendering an initial point of contact with staff.  Teachers intentionally include a belonging wall of the children's photographs within the space, a visual reminder that we now see the child as part of the preschool community.  We also intentionally create a routine from day one, so children know what is happening next, making their day more familiar.    


So, what can we do if children continually connect preschool with a sense of anxiety upon separation?  It is important we create a farewell ritual with the child, as this creates a sense of predictability.  As the parent you may decide to read one short book before saying good bye, others may decide to do a drawing or watch their child go down the slide.  Whatever you choose, ensure this ritual is maintained as this will subconsciously says to the child that mum or dad is going soon.  Sometimes a brief good bye is the best good bye.  An item from home can also provide that needed connection with the familiar - never underestimate the power of a teddy bear!  Talking positively about preschool is also a step in the right direction.  Furthermore, literacy is a powerful tool to convey complex messages.  Reading a story about what children are going through, allows them to identify their feelings and know it is okay to feel this way about separation.  Some fantastic titles to use as a discussion point are:

I'll always come back! By Steve Metzger 

The kissing hand By Audrey Penn 

Maisy goes to preschool By Lucy Cousins (discusses a preschool routine and some experiences)

In my heart: A book about feelings by Jo Witek 

Know that transitions to new environments can cause in-trepidation, but how we deal with these changes, really makes a big difference in the child's overall sense of comfort.  For more information I have listed a few web links.



Michelle Hinton

(Early Childhood Teacher - Koala room Monday/Tuesday) 

Keeping our Children Safe in & around the Home

Home and Community Safety

Kidsafe NSW is dedicated to reducing the number and severity of unintentional child injuries through promoting child safety.

The safety of children may be effected by:

  • Unsafe environmental conditions - for example, access to dangerous items or situations that are inappropriate to the child's understanding and stage of development
  • Unsuitable activities - for example, using a pair of scissors. A small child may not be aware of the dangers involved. The activity does not match with the child’s abilities and stage of development
  • Lack of adult supervision - for example parents / carers may over-estimate their child’s abilities to cope in different situations or environments or underestimate the potential for dangers in various situations and environments to children.

Remember: children are very curious and will take every opportunity to learn and experience their environment. They can be ‘out of sight’ very quickly!


For more information on child safety in and around the home refer to the Kidsafe resources (information, printable sheets, video clips & songs):


Transition to School

K-6 Educational Resources - Board of Studies NSW

How do I build my child’s confidence for school?

Some children adapt very easily to school. It is important that you do not display anxiety but talk about the excitement of attending school, without building this to an excessive level, and present school as the next interesting chapter in your child’s life.

Visit the library and borrow books about children going to school. Download stories your child may like to read and read them on a computer or tablet.

As a parent, reframe your questions about school, preschool and day care from, ‘What did you do today?’ to a more positive question such as ‘Tell me the best thing you did at school today’. This is a useful way of talking with your child after school – not just in kindergarten, but also throughout their schooling.

What else can I do?

·         Start to get your child into regular sleep and waking hour routines. Children need to be in bed at a reasonable time so that they wake up refreshed. Do not have televisions or technology (eg computers or tablets) in the child’s room. If these items must be in the room, establish a routine, such as not allowing them to be on after dinner. This will help your child begin to relax and prepare for sleep.

·         Establish packing away routines with toys and encourage your child to help with simple tasks around the home.

·         Label your child’s belongings for school. Set a pattern that expensive toys and treasured items are not taken to school. If they get lost or broken, this can create a lot of anxiety for you and your child.

·         Help your child learn to dress themselves in their uniform.

·         Ensure your child can go to the toilet unassisted and teach them how to ask the teacher should they need to use the toilet during class time.

·         Practise walking or travelling to school. Transport for NSW has useful guides for parents. This includes information on student bus travel.

·         Become familiar with the many resources available to help keep your child safe as they journey to school, eg road safety education resources.

·         Have your child help you pack their lunch. Remember schools are nut-free zones, so consider carefully what to provide in your child’s lunch box. Many parents make the mistake of over-packing the amount of food a child will need in a day and children struggle to eat it. If you are unsure, ask your child to bring home any uneaten lunch so you can gauge the amount of food that is acceptable. Think about easy-to-open lunch boxes, re-useable water bottles, sandwiches, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Relax! If you are stressed, your child may sense this and worry.

Some children have special or additional needs. If your child has an identified learning or other need, make sure you let the school know early so that a plan can be put into place to assist your child. Each plan will be different, so it is important to provide the school with all the information they will need to understand your child's needs.

How can I work best with my child’s school?

It is important for parents and teachers to work together and communicate effectively. Teachers are highly trained professionals who want to do the best for your child. It can help if you:

·         let the teacher know if there is something happening at home that may be affecting your child

·         let the teacher know about any health problems your child may have

·         read all the school notices and reply as soon as possible

·         get involved in school activities, eg attend children's reading sessions, join parents associations.

If you need to see the teacher, it is wise to make an appointment. Prior to school, teachers have meetings and preparation to complete. It is not a good idea to expect teachers to meet with you as they are taking the children into class in the morning. This is a crucial part in your child’s day and it is important the teacher follows the established routines every day.

Make an appointment to see the teacher if you are concerned about your child.

Children do best at school when their parents and teachers work together to support them.

What can I expect in the first few weeks of school?

Learning, meeting new people, playing and learning to adjust to a new environment are all very tiring for children. Often your child will want to rest after school. Try not to over-plan your child’s afternoons, particularly in the first term of school. You might need to:

·         plan a light, nutritious snack for after school or give your child an early dinner as they may be more tired than usual

·         encourage your child to talk about the good things that happened and do not pressure them to talk too much if they are not up to it. Some children like to wind down completely in a quiet environment after a busy day at school. Other children may be happy to draw about their day or play something completely unrelated to school

·         make reading part of your daily routine. Reading to your child as they prepare for bed is a wonderful way to relax your child before bed, spend some quality time together and build the important skills of vocabulary, story structure and a love of reading

·         pack a spare pair of underpants in your child’s bag. Talk to your child about how they can let the teacher know when they need to go to the toilet.

What can I do if my child is stressed?

It is important that you do not become overly anxious and stressed about school, as your child will pick up on your feelings. Some children become tearful and struggle to go to school. Remain calm but firm and reassuring. Try not to show stressed emotions, as this is often a signal to your child who will escalate the situation. Contact the school and seek their help. Often the teacher will be able to meet you and assist you during this period. Most children settle quite well once their parent has left the school, but if you need reassurance organise to ring the school. The teacher can leave a message for you at the office and you and your child will have a better day.

Encourage your child to talk about what exactly is worrying them. Ask your child what they think might help them settle.

Be clear in your expectations. Let your child know you are confident that they can manage. Letting the teacher know by letter or email is a good strategy, as the teacher will be there to help you. Your child’s older buddy may be a useful support in these situations as well.