Support for Disabled Parents to Be

A Bar Ilan University study determined that children of parents with a disability tend to be more empathetic than children with non-disabled parents. Even with that wonderful quality instilled in their children, it can be difficult for those with disabilities to know if starting a family is the right choice. If you and your partner have been struggling with this decision, keep reading for further information.

If you’re disabled but aren’t sure you can manage parenthood, know that you can, but you may need some help along the way, especially in the beginning when things are so new. Being resistant to help because you’re too independent or stubborn just makes it harder on yourself, and possibly the baby. A wealth of resources is waiting to help you and your little one have the happiest lives possible–resources like baby furniture and products that make it easy to feed, diaper, bathe, transport, and cuddle your child.
Whether you are mobility, hearing, sight, speech, or intellectually impaired, there are products with you in mind. There are so many to choose from that it’s a good idea to read product reviews to narrow your choices and make the buying process quicker, easier, and cheaper.

Let’s start with your home. It may be okay for you, because you know how to take care of your own needs and the needs of your spouse or partner. But what about caring for a helpless newborn solely dependent on you? Do you need a ramp to get to the nursery? Do the doorways need to be wider? Is
the nursery furniture the right height? Do you have enough room to move around? Will the baby be sleeping in your room? Do you have skid resistant floors? Smoke alarms? Baby monitors? You’ll want an estimate first, of course, but there are one-stop businesses and organizations who can transform your home with accessibility and parenting in mind.

Most parents seek out and accept some kind of help, whether it be from their own parents, friends who are already parents, books, and support groups. There are also resources online through the Australian government to assist disabled parents. Help is out there. Ask someone to help you find it if necessary. You can start with your local disabilities services organization. If you’ve been too proud to approach them, or just never needed to, perhaps parenthood is the perfect occasion to introduce yourself. They offer services you may not be aware of but may need sometime in the future, like transportation, legal services, financial help purchasing a portable ramp, or a referral to a contractor who makes homes
disability-accessible for families.
You may want to sign up for parenting classes. These may be offered at a variety of locations, from churches to community colleges to social services agencies. In some cases, a parenting coach or counselor may come to your home to offer individualized instruction or support. This encompasses training in how to safely bathe a child to locating a modified vehicle. This could last a few weeks, or a few years, depending on the desires and needs of your family.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a counselor or social worker in your corner. They have access to community programs, and their job is to refer you if the need arises. Another resource you will find helpful is a support group—a group of parents with disabilities who care for their children on a daily basis, just as you will. You’ll hear ups and downs as well as solid, practical advice. Though the disabilities may vary from parent to parent, the information and support you’ll receive from them is something you can use every day.

You want the best for your child—financially, emotionally, socially, and educationally. This sometimes means letting go of your doubts and fears, and embracing your life and future as a parent. Your child will be enriched by having you as a parent, and you’ll be enriched by having a child.


Photo credit Pixabay

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Toilet Training

Toilet Training – Is my child ready?
‘Is my child ready for toilet training?’ is a question I have been asked countless time throughout my
career in Early Childhood Education and Care. In my opinion, and I stress this is my opinion only,
there are a few signs to watch out for that indicate your child may be telling you that they are ready.

  1. Your child starts to take their own nappy off when they are wet or soiled. This is an indication that they are becoming aware of their own body and notice that this is not a feeling they like. This is a wonderful opportunity for discussions about the toilet.
  2. Your child starts to show an interest in the toilet and its functions. Your child may start to become interested and want to follow you, their siblings or friends to the toilet. This again is showing an increasing self awareness and curiosity.
  3. Waking up from the night with a dry nappy. This is a big hint that your child may be ready!

Where do I start?
I always suggest starting anything new with your child with a simple conversation. Even from a very young age children are absorbing information and understand a lot. Being in an environment rich with language is extremely beneficial. Introducing them to the toilet, underwear/pulls ups and starting to talk about the process makes it less daunting. A tool we use in Early Childhood is pictorial depictions of simple steps, such as displayed below.

pecs toilet training schedule

Pull-ups or Underwear?
Whether to put your child in pull-ups or knickers is more of a personal preference. Pull-ups are designed with less absorbency than regular nappies and help children to feel when they are wet. Cloth underwear however does not absorb much liquid at all so are messier but can be more effective as the child is more aware when they have an accident.

The most important advice I can offer…
In conclusion my biggest piece of advice is there is no rush! If your child is becoming stressed or anxious about toilet training then stop and start the process again in a few months time. Toilet Training is not a race and all children will eventually grasp the concept. Children develop strengths in many different areas and if they don’t get toilet training on the first attempt, do not stress about it!
Just relax, let it happen and if you are becoming concerned you can always speak to your GP or Child, Health Nurse.

Some other useful websites you could visit are:
Toilet Training
Successful Toilet Training


Photo credit:

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Recipe: Maple Syrup and Ginger Salmon

Well, it’s that time of the year again. We are packing our bags, finding a sitter for the dog and with a toddler in tow, embarking on the 30-hour journey home to enjoy a glorious month with the family in Montreal, Quebec.

As many of your may know, French Canadians (Quebecois) are very serious about their maple syrup and it forms a staple part of our diet.

Convinced that pure maple syrup can only be found in Quebec, friends who visit never fail to bring along a liter. When my mother visits, she brings at least a gallon for good measure. My father, a fluent speaker of our two official languages, believes he embodies the very definition of a patriotic Canadian; he has our flag tattooed on his arm and will argue with any French Canadian who doubt his loyalties that it is, in fact, maple syrup that runs through his veins.

Canada has four seasons. Quebec has five. Just between spring and summer is “Sugar Season” (Le temps des Sucres), when our local farmers begin the annual ritual of collecting sap from the maple trees and boiling it for hours until it thickens into syrup. Families converge at the farms and enjoy a fun filled day of sleigh rides, tapping trees, eating maple toffee poured on snow and consuming a meal based entirely on maple syrup recipes.

So in the spirit of our upcoming trip, I thought I would share with you all this delicious and healthy recipe for the whole family to enjoy, “Maple Syrup and Ginger Salmon”. Sounds weird? My husband (born and bred in England) thought the same until he tried it … this is now his favourite recipe!

I hope you all enjoy it too.

Maple Syrup and Ginger Salmon

½ cup of pure maple syrup

1/3 cup of water

2 teaspoons of fresh, grated ginger root

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Lemon slices

4 Salmon fillets

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. Mix the maple syrup, water, ginger and garlic in a pan over medium heat. Bring to boil and reduce to medium heat, keeping a slow boil for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has a syrupy consistency.
  3. Line an oven-safe tray with foil and place the salmon fillets in the tray. Pour half of the mixture over the fillets, and place the lemon slices on the fillets. Bake for about 12 minutes (or until cooked to your liking).
  4. To serve, drizzle the remaining maple glaze over the salmon fillets. Great with brown rice and steamed veggies.
  5. Enjoy!

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FELC – Open Play Day April 2017

Greetings FELC Families,

As I am sure you all aware, on Sunday April 30th our centre hosted the Family Fun Market and Open Play Day. Local families came out in great numbers and lots of fun was had by all on the bouncy castle, in Farmer Damien’s animal enclosure, with Fairy Sandy, the nature craft lady and shopping around the market stalls.

The lovely ladies in the office worked tirelessly to bring together this memorable day. A special shout out to Kate who had many a sleepless night organising all these wonderful activities for us.

Our amazing and devoted educators came in on their day off to show families around the newly renovated centre and share their expertise on nurturing child development and learning in the early years.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, our talented cook Selam baked delicious banana and apple muffins to greet families as they arrived (our 2 year old daughter helped herself to three …. Yum!).

And as it turns out, it wasn’t just the kids having all the fun. Local MP’s and council representatives came out and joined us too ! Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, Fremantle Deputy Mayor Ingrid Waltham, Beaconsfield Ward Councilor Hannah Fitzhardinge and Labor Minister Simone McGurk all came out to show their support for our community early learning centre.

Overall, what an awesome day ! We are reminded again how lucky we are have to such a wonderful team of people and families on board at FELC.

PS. We managed to capture a few moments on camera, make sure you check out these photos !

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Sensory Redesign

Dear FELC families and friends,

You have may have noticed we have gotten just a little more sparkly and new these past few weeks. We have undertaken a sensory redesign of our rooms. Kate, our star of a second in command, and I have worked tired(less)ly for the past couple of months organising and implementing the redesign with the help and support of staff, management and the committee. I am one of the parents of the parent committee, you may have noticed me staring confusedly at some IKEA instructions in the spare office. I am an Occupational Therapist, so I know my Kmart from my Ikea and we bought a little of both.

The main thing we wanted to do was promote engaged play experiences for the kids. Playing is their job at this age. It’s how they learn, grow and develop. Evidence tells us that if you put twenty two-year-olds in one big room they will run in circles screaming like a scene out of Braveheart. So what we looked to do was create some spaces to slow our little angels down and give them areas to play and meet their sensory needs. Supporting kids sensory systems allows them to have better attention and emotional regulation. Our sensory systems can overwhelm, excite and balance us. We looked to increase sensory input in some areas such as Vestibular (movement and balance), Proprioception (body awareness), Tactile (touch) and Auditory (hearing). We also looked at toning down the visual input the kids are experiencing in the rooms as this can be overwhelming and distracting for those who are sensitive to it. Below is some ways we looked to make these changes.

Using rugs and furniture we have created spaces in each room to separate areas and activities and to increase calm, meaningful play. Each room has a chill out space for the kids to go to rest, roll around on some pillows and get some proprioceptive input to calm them. This is a great space to sit with kids who are having a hard time at drop off and want a cuddle. Two of the rooms where kids have the most energy and the least capacity to manage that energy (ahem, toddlers and pre-kindy) have sensorimotor areas. These areas are designed to be active, to burn off some of that (relentless) energy our 1-3 years olds have. We have also created a new learning space in pre-kindy for mat sessions.

Walls and Colours
We repainted the walls white to reduce visual input and make it easier for the kids to focus on what is in the room and on the walls. Also. nothing like a fresh coat of paint to find out that someone superglued those shelves to the floor, ah, but we can laugh about it now though. We chose cool (blues, greens, charcoal, and grey) secondary colours for the furniture in the rooms.

Comfy Chairs
We have placed a rocking chair and foot rest in the babies’ room for mums who stop by to breastfeed or for families to have drop off/pick up cuddles. There’s also a new large armchair in pre-kindy for parents to sit and read to their kids and for educators to use during lesson mat times. We have added some seating options for the kids in each room with child armchairs and poufs.

Sensory Boxes
Babies and toddlers rooms will continue to have changing sensory boxes in their shelving unit for the kids to explore and experience. These are often guided by themes that are of interest to the kids at the time such as a favourite book or song.

Aladdin Mats
In Kindy the kids have 20 new small mats which they can use to create and define their own play space. This gives them a sense of pride and purpose when playing and develops their respect for each other’s play space and time.

We have a huge new collection of toys. Kate has researched and chosen toys which promote our children’s development and inspire their creativity. Many such as the wooden rain makers offer beautiful sensory experiences as well.
Play is often talked about as if it were relief from serious learning. But, for children, play is serious learning. Play really is really the work of childhood’ – Fred Rogers. Play is an essential part of the early years of a child’s life and it’s our job as a quality early childhood centre to provide children with the best resources to do this very important job of theirs.

Through play children develop socio-emotional, physical and cognitive skills.
With the purchasing of the Centre’s new toys we have gone with a more Montessori approach. We have tried to incorporate more wood and move away from too much plastic. Also tying in with the Montessori approach, we now have less toys on display. Children can be easily overwhelmed by a cluttered environment. A lot of the toys are open-ended and allow children to use them in a way that promotes their own interpretation and engages their imagination, curiosity and problem solving skills.
We have also made sure to mix things up and added in lots of (the ridiculously priced, yet amazing) Schleich animals, new sandpit toys, occupational people and an update our home corner materials.



Sensorimotor Toys

Tunnels   Climbing through tunnels is a great way for kids to improve their body awareness and core strength.
Hopper toys    They’re red and vaguely shaped like animals. Kids can bounce on them to increase their balance and gross motor strength. Also it’s cheaper than buying them a pony.

It’s the Bilbo Baggins of toys!

Note: the Bilibo is in no way associated with hobbits.

Actually, a Bilibo is a great toy for creative play as they can play with it as their imagination sees fit. They can put two together as a capsule, line them up and use them as stepping stones, sit in them and rock or spin around in them, tie ropes through the holes so they can pull each other along, pop them on their back and play ninja turtles or use them to scoot down a hill like a toboggan.

Foam Log   The foam log in the babies room is a great way for the younger babies to practice tummy time and building their strength. It is also great for the older babies to practice rolling and sitting on to improve their balance and strength.
Ribbon Rings Great for spinning around, dancing and big arm movements. Helps our pre-kindy kids develop coordination, sequencing, strength and flexibility.

These are just a few of the new elements in each room. I hope you and your families enjoy the new room designs and if you have any questions please come and see Kate or myself to discuss them.


Libby Boulakdam & Kate Seery

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The Life Of A FELC Committee Member

6am: head shot (drank), Sit down (drank), stand up (drank)

No, not really…Sadly my life as a committee member resembles less a Kendrick Lamar song and more a kind of coffee fueled hunger games to find all the my son’s socks, Where socks?! Where do you go!

About Me
I’ve been a committee member for nearly a year. I went back to study Occupational Therapy full time last year and had to find somewhere to care for my son who was 7 months. While very cute he was fundamentally opposed to being forced to sit quietly in a lecture theatre and the library for 7 hours a day. Thus began our journey to finding the perfect childcare. I was very conscious of finding the right place for him to spend so much of his time. I wanted to find somewhere with a homey feel of a home daycare with the reliability, facilities and convenience of a bigger childcare centre. Oh and we needed to be able to actually afford the fees (small, tiny inconsequential detail).

Why I chose Fremantle Early Learning Centre
For me Fremantle Early Learning Centre had that perfect balance of being community and not for profit so all the funds go to the children and their care while still having highly qualified staff and achieving best practice (say by getting ‘Exceeding’ in the standards assessment). As a student of OT I was also looking for somewhere that had a good understanding of child development and promoting play. The daycare is run by the management team in conjunction with the parent committee who meet at least once a month to discuss the running of centre (marketing, staffing, events and new developments). A lot of our families including my own are bilingual. Multiculturalism is a strong facet of Fremantle Early Learning Centre (FELC), One which all of our staff support. Its an aspect that drew me to the centre initially. I love that I can bring in french books and cd’s and the staff will happily read them and incorporate french phrases we use at home in their care of our son.

How I Became a Committee Member
So yeah I was pretty pleased with finding FELC. Coincidentally so was my son, every morning he would launch himself into the waiting arms of Olga or Megan for a cuddle with a level of excitement usually reserved for playing with our dog or eating peanut butter. After a few months at the daycare, Natalie the manager asked if I wanted to join the parent committee. Naturally as someone very adept at overcommitting her time, I said yes. Indeed, while my life (and all of our lives) since having a child feels stuffed full of life. I nevertheless  do still want to be on the committee.

What do Committee Members Do?
As a committee member I have an opportunity to take ownership and contribute to my daycare community. I have contributed to grant applications for resources for FELC, my husband assisted with the construction of the animal enclosure for our Animal Friends project. In committee meetings I have the opportunity to advocate for things I value like using environmentally sustainable practices, sensory play and nature play.

As committee members we volunteer our time to help organise and run Christmas pageants, Easter picnics, Busy bees and the centre open day. We discuss in our meetings how to connect more to the fremantle community. We fundraise and decide we do to make the centre better for the kids and community. We write grant applications and talk to our contacts in the media to promote the centre. I’m saying that as in the royal “our”, I personally have no contacts in the media. One of our members designed our beautiful new logo design. We use all of our talents and our friends talents and now they don’t take our calls anymore, So do you have talents? or friends? as we need some more. Remember when the centre had lambs and your children got to feed and play with baby lambs everyday? Those lambs were brought there by a committee member. The committee also works with local groups and taskforces and have advocated for better security in the area. We are organising some events with the local community in conjunction with the council on the oval behind the centre. We’re basically angels in human form (what’s that you say? Angels don’t eat dessert for dinner, well this angel just did my friend).

That Seems Like A Lot Of Work
I will say this, there are all types of committee members who make all sorts of contributions of their time and skills. I consider myself the hi-lo milk version of a committee member, I’m help-lo. There are far worthier members than myself. Members who have busted their heavy cream guts for Fremantle Early Learning Centre devising huge marketing plans, budgets and websites. I know naught of business, that may be why I was allocated the task of writing this blog post.

So join us. You get to know the staff and how the centre runs and you will love it all the more when you do. You get to hear about all the things your child has to look forward to when they move up through the rooms. You can suggest a fantastic idea or new way of doing things. A staff member is always on hand to take care of people’s children during the meetings. Plus we get snacks at the meetings and there’s always bubbly water.

Or if you can’t or don’t wish to join the committee then hopefully you now have a bit of an understanding what the committee does (socks, community, beyonce, christmas, milk etc). I hope you feel comfortable coming and speaking to any of us about any thoughts or concerns you have about the centre. Then we can raise it with management or at a meeting.

Elizabeth Boulakdam

Lamar, Kendrick. Head shot (drank), Sit down (drank), stand up (drank) “Swimming Pools (Drank)”. Good kid, m.A.A.d city. CD.  Top Dawg, Aftermath and Interscope. 2012.

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