Why is Early Intervention for Learning Difficulties so Critical?

Imagine this:

Jack is a little boy who has just started school. He is happy, motivated and eager to learn.

Soon afterwards, Jack’s mother notices that he is struggling to master skills that seem relatively easy for other children. And no matter how hard he tries, he finds it difficult to complete tasks on time.

His self-esteem has taken a hit, too. He is not as confident or as happy as he used to be. He is constantly frustrated and Jack’s mum realises his motivation for school and for learning is quickly fading.

She wonders… What can she possibly do to help?

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The Importance of Play and Experiential Learning in Early Childhood

I came across an interesting article in The Age this week (Little learners in the rug-rat race) about how parents these days are “facing increasing pressure to begin their child’s education while still in nappies”.

The accelerated early-learning approach and intense focus on a child’s academic achievement made me think of all the young people I see who are developing anxiety about school and academic performance. In particular, there are a growing number of children who require counselling in order to get through the dreaded NAPLAN ordeal!

An accelerated early-learning approach can be problematic when taken to an extreme. This, of course, depends on the format of the teaching and the intensity and how effectively the teaching is balanced with playtime and other activities.

Sure, some degree of structured learning from a young age can be beneficial. But it’s important to understand that young children need unstructured play and experiential learning to grow and develop to their full potential.

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Is Your Child’s Anxiety Making You Anxious?

We all experience some degree of anxiety from time to time.

Anxiety is a general, unpleasant emotional and physical state of heightened arousal. It may be caused by thoughts about a past or current event or a potential future threat.

When faced with a genuine imminent danger or threat, being anxious is a completely normal reaction. The so-called “fight-or-flight” response primes the body for action and enables a quick and powerful response.

In fact, at low-to-moderate levels, anxiety can be useful and adaptive. Occasional levels of mild anxiety can even help to improve performance.

However, when a child is suffering from sustained levels of anxiety that interfere with their daily activities or healthy development, this is a more serious problem that must be addressed to avoid more serious long term harm.

So what is an excessive level of anxiety?

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How to Set Realistic Grade Expectations For Your Teenager

Nearly every parent wants their teenager to achieve their best at school.

Perhaps you have a particular “dream career” in mind or maybe you would be happy simply knowing that your child is reaching their full learning potential.

Well, believe it or not, most teenagers do actually want to do well at school for themselves, as well as to make their parents and friends proud.

However, “doing well” at school can mean many different things to different people. Some parents will be happy if their child passes, while others will be satisfied with Bs and Cs. And then there are those parents that will settle for nothing less than straight As!

But what many people don’t realise is that the best way to motivate an adolescent is to set expectations that are in line with what they are actually capable of.

And it’s vital to communicate your expectations clearly and to listen to your child’s opinions regarding grades and future career prospects.

So how can you go about this?

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Sleep Difficulties in School-Aged Children

Did you know that an estimated 20-30% of school-age children experience a significant sleep disturbance at some point?

(The incidence is even higher for children with certain disorders, including AD/HD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism.)

Why is Sleep so Important for Children?

Put simply, sleep is required to function properly! Poor sleep directly affects physical and mental health.

In children, poor sleep has been linked to daytime behavioural problems and poor school performance (reduced attention span, difficulty with problem solving and completing tasks).

Lack of sleep is also related to daytime sleepiness, which results in irritability (as all parents know only too well!).

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Choosing a Secondary School Without Losing Your Cool – 7 Practical Tips For Parents

As your child nears the end of primary school you start to hear the same questions over and over:

Which secondary school will you send them to?

Public or private? Co-ed or single sex? Religious or secular?

And on it goes…

When faced with such an inquisition at every turn, it’s easy to become racked with fear about the implications of choosing the WRONG school.

What if your kid falls in with a bad crowd? What if they aren’t challenged? What if they are not supported? What if they are not properly prepared for adult life and a future career? What if you can’t afford it??


BUT the good news is that with some basic research and timely planning you can avoid a lot of stress.

Following this simple seven step process will help you to feel more confident in your decision and put your mind at ease.

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Dyslexia Help – 9 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Learning Skills

Dyslexia is a commonly used term for a difficulty with learning to read or with interpreting words, letters, numbers and other symbols.

Such problems may be manifested as poor reading fluency or comprehension, difficulties with maths and ‘delayed processing’ (the inability to rapidly name letters, symbols or numbers). Some people with dyslexia even report that letters appear to “move around the page” when they try to read.

(More recently, the disorder has been relabelled as a “specific learning disorder in the domain of reading” in the upcoming 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statstical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5.)

The term dyslexia is commonly used, but often poorly understood.

In fact, it has taken me nearly ten years as an educator and a psychologist to be able to effectively diagnose the disorder, explain to parents what it means for their child and provide targeted recommendations to help improve their child’s learning skills.

Here are my top nine tips to help your child with dyslexia improve their learning skills:

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How to Get a Referral And Claim Medicare Rebates For Counselling

Since November 1st, 2006, the “Better Access to Mental Health Care” initiative has allowed many Australians to access Medicare rebates for counselling services. Such services must be provided by registered psychologists (who must use certain approved evidence-based approaches), following referral by a GP, paediatrician or psychiatrist.

Medicare rebates are currently available for up to ten individual counselling sessions per calendar year (and up to 10 group sessions, although these are generally more appropriate for adults).

(You can find more about the scheme in this handout for patients.)

So how do you go about getting a referral to a psychologist for yourself and/or your child, so that you can claim Medicare rebates for counselling?

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The Curse of Academic Entitlement (And How to Avoid it!)

I came across this article the other day about a concept known as “academic entitlement” and it really struck a chord.

So what does “academic entitlement” mean?

Academic entitlement refers to the tendency of some children to expect good marks and positive feedback for their school work, regardless of the quality of their work or the amount of effort they put in.

Common Responses to Grades

I recall that when I went to school and university (back in the day) there were several common responses that students made when receiving their graded work back (some of these might also sound familiar to you!).

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