3 talking tips for raising empathetic children

Have you ever shared an experience with someone where instead of feeling heard, you were on the receiving end of sympathy, comparison or worse, a lack of interest? 

Empathy has the power to make or break personal and professional relationships.  It is a cognitive skill that develops over time.  We are all born with the potential to develop empathy but it is a taught skill, arguably the most important skill a parent can teach their child. 

Continue reading “3 talking tips for raising empathetic children”

Shopping small this Christmas

We are excited to be featured again this year in Topknot Girls Christmas Gift Guide! If you haven’t seen it already, it’s a must-do before you start your shopping!

We have browsed through ALL the products in the guide and found our favourite products for kids! Here are our top picks:

1. Tinta Crayons

100% natural beeswax crayons sound pretty great to me! Melbourne mums Maria and Maria (!) have been pouring these cute crayons for 5 years and support other local suppliers through their business. The crayons designs are perfect for little hands to develop fine motor skills and fuel artistic creativity! I personally love the Australia Bush & Beach set – perfect to go with our Happy Holidays book box! You can find Tinta Crayons on page 60 of the Christmas Gift Guide.

Robots – Tinta Crayons

2. Jilly Jumbles

Handbag Sanity Saver. SOLD! Sydney mum Jules has got the right idea. A LEGO base plate + LEGO bricks + a fun wallet to keep it all together? I can think of endless uses for this – at the doctor’s, at the cafe, sitting on the bench at school pick up. Plus, fine motor, language and play skills all being nurtured at the same time! You can find Jilly Jumbles on page 61 of the Christmas Gift Guide.

3. Tailoring for Miss Polly

I will admit that as a mum of boys, I did not know what Miniland dolls were. To think that there is a whole store from our home state, Queensland, dedicated to handmade outfits for these dolls – wow! The stunning prints and the matchy-matchy outfits make for great conversation starters too. You can find Tailoring for Miss Polly on page 62 in the Christmas Gift Guide (same page as us!).

We hope we’ve inspired you to #shopsmall this Christmas. Don’t forget you can find us in the Gift Guide too! Browse all our memberships, book boxes and Christmas specials then head to the guide to find the discount code!


A word on speech. “She’ll grow out of it…won’t she?”

I often wonder what it is that triggers parents to make the decision to bring their child to a speech pathologist. So many parents are under the impression with talking, that it is better to ‘wait and see’ if they catch up or let them develop ‘at their own pace’. I wonder if this ‘wait and see’ approach would apply if the child was not walking at 2 years of age or was not toilet trained by 4?
As speech pathologists we know that the best thing to do if you are concerned about your child’s speech or language skills is to ‘address it today and not to delay’. In fact, the timing of visiting a speech pathologist is actually crucial.

Research shows that from birth to 5 years, children learn language through back-and-forth interactions with their parents. The less a child speaks or the less intelligible they are, the less these interactions occur. Check out the full article written by the Hanen Organisation about ‘Why it is important to start early’.

However, I am as guilty as the next parent at putting my head in the sand and hoping things will just work out. So for argument’s sake, I have put together the top 3 reasons ‘for’ and ‘against’ taking your child to see a speech language pathologist.

Continue reading “A word on speech. “She’ll grow out of it…won’t she?””

3 New Reads in October 2019

All the book publishers have been releasing their Christmas catalogues so it has been my mission to sort through the red and green and find the non-Christmas themed books for those who cringe at all-things Christmas. So here are my top 3 picks for this month – decided by what we like to look for in a book – 1) rich vocabulary; 2) strong story structure; 3) engaging and fun to read aloud and 4) provides opportunities for conversation.

1. The Caveman Next Door by Tom Tinn-Disbury

New Frontier Publishing

A beautiful debut book by UK author and illustrator Tom Tinn-Disbury, this book explores the challenges of being different and how friendship is a vital part of overcoming these challenges. Ogg the caveman really struggles to find into the modern world but luckily he has his neighbour Penny to help him fit in. This story naturally facilitates conversation about the modern era and how things are different in Ogg’s time compared to now. It demonstrates good story structure by showing a number of ‘attempts’ by Penny where she tries to fix the ‘problem’ of Ogg not fitting in. A story told without too much text (to allow room for conversation) but still full of rich vocabulary (e.g. refused, surrounded, furious, miserable, opportunity).

TOP READING TIP: Model comparing and contrasting language by using words ‘but’ or ‘however’ e.g. We know books are for reading, however Ogg thinks books are for eating!

2. Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein

Walker Books

A very cool tale about an ice cube who isn’t afraid of adventure, no matter what form it may take. Yes, you see Ice Boy transform from ice, to water, to vapour and back into ice (as hail!) A great way to introduce scientific concepts to little ones while telling it in a fun rhyming story. The powerful onomatopoeia (e.g., clatter, bloop, puff, boom) along with stunning illustrations help to convey the meaning of the story. You can also discuss print concepts such as the speech bubbles.

TOP READING TIP: Point out print! Highlight print concepts by pointing to them and explaining what they mean. e.g. This word says BLOOP! See how it is falling down like that. Bloop is the word for the sound of water falling into a glass.

3. Millie Muffin by Alisha Henderson

Bauer Books

Alisha Henderson, the baker behind @sweetbakes_ debuts her first book in the Storybook Sweets Series – ‘positively sweet stories with recipes’. Millie Muffin thinks she is plain and wishes she was cupcake girl, pink and pretty with frosting on top. She helps her friends (adorable characters such as Matty Marshmallow and Papa Pie) on Buttercream Bend to see what is special about them and through this, realises that her best quality is the kind of friend she is. This story provides ample opportunities to discuss, explain and try out new vocabulary for both younger and primary school-aged children with words such as pondered, simplicity, reflection, selection, generous and worthwhile.

TOP READING TIP: When explaining new vocabulary to your child, it is easier for them to understand when you put it in a sentence rather than saying ‘it means…’ e.g., When you are generous, you give something or help someone, more than they think you would.

Are you excited about these books? Let us know if we have inspired to go check them out yourself!

If you want the ease of having new books delivered to your door every month, accompanied by helpful tips for parents and a fun activity for your child, our 6 month membership is perfect for you! Check it out here littlebirdiebooks.com.au/for-families

Thanks for hearing our call,

Your Little Birdies

What if my child doesn’t know his ABCs?

At this time of year, we know that parents may be wondering, “Is my child ready for school?” coupled with potential doubts about their child’s abilities – “She only knows a few letters of the alphabet.”. If that is you, read on!

Firstly, we need to put it out there reading is not a natural process. It is a taught skill and in contrast to learning to talk, which is a wonderful development that happens (for the most part) naturally.

Nearly four decades of scientific research on how children learn to read supports an emphasis on phoneme awareness and phonics in a literature-rich environment. These findings challenge the belief that children learn to read naturally. (Lyon, G.R., 1998).

What is a literature-rich environment?

Having books read to them and having access to looking at books themselves is a good starting point however a literacy-rich environment demonstrates how literacy is useful in everyday life by allowing children to interact with print/texts independently and with parents/educators. This helps children understand WHY they need print, WHAT they use it for and HOW it is useful in everyday life. In other words, it needs to fun, engaging and meaningful to them.

What are some examples of print in everyday life?

  • Your child’s name!
  • Common shop names (e.g. McDonalds, Woolworths)
  • Street signs (e.g. SLOW)
  • Symbols (e.g. arrow, cross)

What do I do after I find this print?

Point it out and be excited when you discover it!
“Oh, look at this letter S on the SLOW sign. It’s just like the S at the start of your name, Sam.”

Talk about symbols and what they mean.
“A symbol is something you can read but it doesn’t have any words. See this arrow – I know that the way it is pointing is the way I need to go.”

Use the terminology
“Ah yes, that is the letter ‘M’ and underneath it is the word ‘McDonald’s”

If you’d like to read more about print awareness, check out more posts here on our blog or our Instagram.

Our play activities incorporate print is lots of ways – see all the themes and membership options available here, or see the activities in action here, here and here!

There will be more posts coming about phonemic awareness – another very important foundational skill that supports learning to read.

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Lyon, G. Reid. (1998). Educational Leadership, v55 n6 p14-18.

Language skills may have the greatest impact

Preparing young children for school is the goal for many parents and preschool programs. Research has told us that the more skills children bring into their schooling – in basic maths, reading and social skills – the more likely they will succeed in those same areas in school.

Superskill for school success

But is there a superskill to school readiness? We sure think so – LANGUAGE. A study published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly say that a child’s vocabulary and grammar not only predict future success with written and spoken language, but it also impacts performance in other subject areas.

Dr Amy Pace and her colleagues looked at data for more than 1200 children in the US and looked at several measures of academic and social skills at specific ages and grade levels, including upon school entry and in grades 1, 3 and 5.

The findings reveal that of the skills and milestones evaluated — social/emotional, attention, health, reading, maths and language — only language skills, when a child entered school, predicted his or her performance both within that subject area and most others (maths, reading and social skills) from first through fifth grade.

Why does language affect so many areas?

Language is a foundational skill in social interaction. If you have strong language skills, you will be able to communicate with peers and teachers.

Language skills help with executive functioning – the ability to understand follow instructions from the teacher.

Language skills help with maths and science – terminologyand abstract concepts rely on the knowledge of language.

When kids learn to read at school, strong language skills means they can understand WHAT they read.

How can I support my child’s language skills?

Talk, read and play! Ongoing interactions and conversations with your child about things that interest them will encourage them to explore, ask questions, make comments and retell stories.

Our NEW 6 month membership has just launched – the perfect addition to your home with a high quality picture book, reading guide and play activity arriving to your door each month. Designed by speech pathologists and tested by mums, this will get your kids talking, reading, playing and succeeding!

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Pace, et al. (2018). Measuring success: Within and cross-domain predictors of academic and social trajectories in elementary school, Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Volume 46, 1st Quarter 2019, Pages 112-125.