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Kath Dickson Family Centre

Serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975

serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975

Kath Dickson Family Centre Blog

Dalby youngsters can experience kindy for a morning

Samfya Smith - Monday, June 19, 2017
Snow White KindergartenThe first day of kindy can be a daunting prospect for some children, so our kindergarten in Dalby has come up with a solution. 

Snow White Kindergarten is offering children the opportunity to experience a morning at kindy at their upcoming open day on Tuesday 20 June.

“We are opening up the Centre for any interested parents to bring their children for a two hour session to find out how much fun kindy really is”, said Snow White Kindergarten Director Megann Rummell.

“Children will follow a normal morning routine of 'good morning' and acknowledgement of country on the mat, followed by a range of play experiences including playdough, threading, painting, home corner play and block construction, followed by story time and morning tea.

“It’s a great way for children to feel comfortable before they start, but also for parents to gain an insight into the structure and the benefits of the Kindergarten program.”

While the focus is very much on play, Megann explains there is a lot more to the Kindergarten program than may appear to the casual observer.

“We carefully plan our daily learning experiences around the needs, interests and abilities of each child, and support them in all areas of their development, including fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills as well as social and emotional awareness”, said Megann.

Snow White Kindergarten, now a division of the Kath Dickson Family Centre, has been a feature of the Dalby community for decades.

“Our Educators are all fully qualified, caring, passionate people who have been educating children with over 15 years worth of experience each.

“We understand that each child comes to us with their own experiences and knowledge and it is our role, as educators, to help them to explore their world and understandings further, to explore, investigate and make new discoveries.

“It is a responsibility we take very seriously…but fortunately it’s a role we absolutely love!”

To join ‘kindy for a morning’ at Snow White Kindergarten on Tuesday 20 June 2017, 9am-11am, call Megann Rummell on 07 4662 1078 or email mrummell@kdfc.com.au

Snow White Kindergarten is located at 129 Bunya Street, Dalby and is affiliated with the Creche and Kindergarten Association.

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Dream altogether with Kim Walmsley

Samfya Smith - Thursday, June 15, 2017

Our Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs and author of the Bareibunn Karulbo strategy, Kim Walmsley, shares her story...

The totem of Kim Walmsley"When I was offered the role of Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs for Kath Dickson Family Centre, I was humbled. 

"I knew the opportunity to contribute and participate in something so significant as developing and implementing a strategy such as Bareibunn Karulbo was a great opportunity. 

"I am a mother and grandmother and truly appreciate the value of education. This drives me to plant seeds for future generations in re-discovering a new purpose with soul. 

"As a woman of culture, my strengths and experiences enable me to acknowledge, appreciate and understand 'Closing the Gap’ alongside many other government documents and research that shares with us the negative statistics and behavioural issues that plague our cultures. 

"No matter what the industry, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people work in, we have the undeniable quality of being Aboriginal, and cultural protocol is our born qualification.  

"I know and understand the suffering and burden of my peoples past, present and future and the strong desire and need to contribute to the change in current standards. The oldest continuing culture in the world is learning to adjust to embracing the future as a diverse network of peoples slowly gaining and rebuilding identities. 

"As a descendant of the Mununjali people of Beaudesert and Wiradjuri people of NSW, I am responsible not just for my Directorship of a new outlook for Kath Dickson Family Centre. I am responsible for being appropriate and inclusive of all. To be culturally respectful to our elders, clans, peers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is important to me as a human. 

"I am indeed proud to be able to contribute to the change as each priority element plays a significant part in the development of accessing and providing opportunities that are relevant, realistic and practical for the local people, in utilising the National Quality Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework to create active lifelong learners. 

"Understanding that a majority of urban Indigenous Communities are not of the Traditional owners, it can be an interwoven cloak made of kangaroo and snake skins, emu feathers and echidna quills, turtle shells and eagle feathers. These are totems representing only a few tribes that are unique and diverse within our own culture. We are ‘One Culture, Many Nations’. 

"A new generation is coming through and we have to be ready to teach, listen and learn in order to grow and pass the strong message of valuing education to inspire new generations.

"Throughout the other regions, Bareibunn Karulbo will be utilised as a foundational document that can inspire each community to develop their own dreams. So we can all dream together with the commonality in promoting, strong relationships, high education aspirations and determination."

Kim Walmsley

Descendant of the Mununjali people of Beaudesert and the Wiradjuri People of NSW
Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs, Kath Dickson Family Centre

The waratah (pictured) is a totem of Kim's.

Kath Dickson Family Centre to focus on Closing the Gap

Amy Dampney - Thursday, June 08, 2017

Kim Walmsley (left) from Kath Dickson Family CentreThe Kath Dickson Family Centre will announce a bold change in their strategic direction today, with the launch of the Bareibunn Karulbo Strategy.

Translating to mean ‘Dream Together’, the Strategy articulates an organisational-wide approach for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Close the Gap.

Chairman of the Kath Dickson Family Centre Board, Dr Craig Russell, said the strategic decision fulfils the organisation’s original charter to serve and protect children and families within our community who are disadvantaged or at risk.

“Aboriginal people are well behind in all health and most education indicators, so we felt like we needed to focus on the whole family – look at how they fit into society and helping them with their wellbeing,” Dr Russell explained.

“If you want to improve the health status and employability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people then you have to focus on education. You’ve got to start when the children are 2-3 years of age – we want them to see education as their birthright.”

Dr Russell said a key part of the strategy is to work collaboratively with existing service providers, including Kulila Kindergarten and Carbal Medical Centre.

“The approach we have taken is to compliment their services in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – get in there and supplement their resources,” Dr Russell explained. 

“Nothing is going to be a quick fix – we are going to be need 20-30 years. But I have this feeling in this community that we are at a turning point, and I hope that the work we’re doing at Kath Dickson is going to help turn things around.”

Kath Dickson Family Centre Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jude Mills, said the Strategy aims to improve and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander outcomes across four main areas: early childhood education, communtiy engagement, cultural understanding and training and employment.

“This is our main focus for the next five years. As a not-for-profit organization we do not have deep pockets, but are prepared to commit to this action plan with every cent we have,” Jude said. 

“The Bareibunn Karulbo Strategy is something we can be proud of and we are hopeful that we will gain support from benefactors, as well as the government sector, to ensure this plan is successful.”

Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at Kath Dickson Family Centre, Kim Walmsley (pictured), said she believes the Strategy will build capability in individuals and families by encouraging them to realise their untapped potential.

“It’s about discovering that we can be successful and happy even if the goals are small to begin with or our numeracy and literacy is not up to scratch,” Kim explained.

“It’s empowering people through consistent, constructive and positive relationships that can inevitably gain confidence to expand minds and hearts for future generations.”

A descendant of the Mununjli people of Beaudesert and the Wiradjuri People of New South Wales, Kim believes a key part of the strategy is giving Indigenous people permission to be proud of their culture. 

“We have started running playgroups for Indigenous children that are culturally based – getting back to yarning circles which is what we have been going for thousands of years,” Kim explained.

“We need to rebuild ourselves in a strong way. We need to empower ourselves. I don’t want to be sitting here in 10 or 20 years time and be saying that the gap is still here. We need to be more proactive and together.”

No-cost certificate training for parents, free transport to kindergarten, counselling and a friendship club to create bridges of understanding are also initiatives explored in the Strategy.

“Bareibunn Karulbo is the spark that will ignite a new generation of lifelong learners in walking together in conciliation. We don’t see this as a five year plan, but a forever plan that will get stronger with age,” Kim said. 

For more information, contact Kim Walmsley on 07 4633 8400 or kwalmsley@kdfc.com.au

Recognising the signs of illness in young children

Samfya Smith - Thursday, May 11, 2017
It’s a familiar scene for parents of young children. In the early hours of the morning, you’re pacing the floor with a crying baby or toddler, and in desperation you say, ‘If only you could just talk and tell me what’s wrong’.

The early childhood experts at Kath Dickson Family Centre shares some tips for recognising signs and symptoms of illness in young children.

How can you tell whether your child may have come in contract with a virus? Perhaps at the Playgroup a few days ago there was a case of chickenpox? How can you predict that you may all be in for a rough night? There are some common signs that your baby or toddler may be starting to feel unwell.

Usually young children’s behaviour changes when they are feeling unwell. These behavioural changes are the signs that children are not feeling their usual self. These signs could include:
crying more than usual
not wanting to join in play experiences
whining
irritability and whinging
listlessness
demanding more attention than usual
regressing (behaving as a younger child)

While this is not a comprehensive list, as each child is an individual and will present in different ways, the list could be a good starting point when looking at a child.

Remember that we, as adults, have a good command of language to communicate how we feel. But sometimes we even struggle to describe how we feel, particularly when we are unwell. Imagine if, as a child, you only have a limited amount of words and expressions to convey how you feel. In the instance of babies and toddlers, they may not be able to communicate at all. Therefore, if a child tells you they have “a headache in my tummy”, it does not really clarify where the illness may be in the body.

If the child is displaying some of the above signs we need to look for some physical symptoms that indicate illness. These could include:
vomiting
loss of appetite
thick, green discharge from the nose
a rash
itching/scratching
red and irritated eyes, sometimes with a discharge
headaches
pale faeces
dark urine
hot/feverish
clammy

If a child presents with any of these physical symptoms you need to find out firstly if the child has an elevated temperature (fever). Taking a child’s temperature is always a good first step in determining if a child is ill. However it is only one step. The definition of a fever is an oral (mouth) temperature greater than 37.5oC or an axillary (armpit) temperature greater than 37.5oC. Remember to wash your hands before and after taking the reading and comfort the child during the process as you do not want to become sick as well!

Over 10% of young children between the ages of 2 and 5 years can experience a febrile convulsion when their body temperature rises rapidly. Their little bodies cannot handle the sudden change in body temperature and their brain reacts causing a child to convulse. 

It is important to bring that high temperature down by various methods:
give the child a drink
ensure that they are in a cool area with ventilation
sponge them down with a cool cloth or give a tepid (lukewarm) bath
ensure they do not have any tight or constricting clothing

Continue to check your child’s temperature every half hour to see if any of the above methods are working in reducing the temperature. 

If in doubt always contact your doctor- it is better to be safe than sorry!

If you feel you’d like to know more, the Kath Dickson Institute runs regular First Aid courses that are ideal for parents. The next one-day workshop in Toowoomba is on Saturday 17 June 2017. Other workshops may be available in your area subject to demand. Find out more by calling 07 4633 8400.

Family day care is a great career choice for parents

Samfya Smith - Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Family day careMany first time mums and dads of babies find themselves in a dilemma about their return to the workforce. While the need to earn an income may be non-negotiable it is often hard to think about leaving your baby. When this happens the thought of working from home often comes to mind.  

It can be difficult to be a good parent and simultaneously work well at home because most jobs require blocks of uninterrupted time to accomplish tasks, and children's schedules are less than predictable.  

Perhaps the perfect marriage of earning an income while working from home and being available to your own children can come through a career as a home-based educator. All you need is some self-motivation, discipline, job skills and independence supported by a licensed Family Day Care Service. 

Many parents enter the child care profession as a way to remain with their own children while earning an income by providing quality care for others' children as well. and, many child care educators find the career so rewarding and enriching that they opt to remain in the profession even after their children enter school, graduate and beyond.

So what can you expect from a career in child care?

An educator assists in the social, emotional, physical and educational developmental needs of infants and young children. An educator will also be expected to manage children's behaviour and guide their social development appropriately, and provide assistance in preparing materials and equipment for educational and recreational activities. Furthermore, a home-based educator will also entertain and educate children by reading and singing to them, as well as playing games.

We all know nothing in more precious than our children and that working with these cherished beings is a truly rewarding experience.  A qualification in child care is suitable for people who have a special affinity with kids and it appeals to those who really enjoy making a positive and momentous impact upon children’s lives. 

Making the decision to become a home-based educator (Family Day Care Business Owner) can really benefit your own child/ren while you earn an income.  One of the most important areas of children’s development is learning how to build relationships and get along with others. Because child care is provided for groups of children, it is an ideal setting for helping your child to develop positive social skills and friendships with others. So there’s no need to carry that ‘mother’s guilt’.

At Kath Dickson Family Day Care we offer a community based quality child care service providing professional and supervised care for children in the private homes of registered Home Based Educators. 

Benefits of becoming a Kath Dickson Family Day Care Educator include:

Working with children
Earning an income from home
Flexible working hours
Being part of a team of local early childhood professionals
Receive support and supervision from qualified Family Day Care Coordinators
Access to regular training and resources
Stay at home with your own children
Access to government subsidies for families and possible tax benefits

For more information on how to start an exciting new career, which can compliment your love for being at home with your own child, give Kath Dickson Family Day Care a call on 1300 336 345, email info@kdfc.com.au or visit www.kdfc.com.au.

Explaining Anzac Day to young children

Samfya Smith - Monday, April 24, 2017

Anzac Day poppiesAnzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It can be a confronting and emotional time for adults, let alone children. Our early childhood experts at Kath Dickson Family Centre offer some advice on how to help young children understand the meaning and importance of the day.

Laying of wreaths, the Last Post, a crowd that goes silent, marches, poems, medals…Anzac Day is full of symbolism, both heartbreaking and inspiring. 

The ceremony and traditions are such an integral part of our culture that it is sometimes easy to forget that not everyone has a shared level of understanding. 

The following are some things you can do to help your children understand the importance of Anzac Day to our culture and sense of community, in a way that is age appropriate.

Plan ahead. Brush up on your own historical knowledge so that you feel more informed and prepared when the questions appear. Have a think about your child and what level of information you want to share with them at this stage.

Keep it honest but simple. It may be enough at this stage just to say, ‘Anzac Day is when we take some time to remember all the brave Australian men and women who fought in wars to keep us safe’.

Share a book. A book about Anzac Day that is specifically aimed at children may make it easier for both of you to start a conversation. Read the story and have a chat afterwards. Ask what they think it all means and don’t forget to ask if they have any questions. With the recent Centenary commemorations, there are plenty of books about the First World War for children. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your local library for some suggestions.

Watch or attend a ceremony. If you feel that your children are ready, by all means take them to a parade or dawn service. You may want to observe them and check in with them to make sure they are coping OK. Be open to the inevitable questions and conversations afterwards. Alternatively you could watch a ceremony on TV.

Hold your own commemoration. If you feel that it may be too overwhelming for your children to attend a public service, you could hold your own ceremony, including a minute’s silence. This roleplay would help to prepare your children for attending in the future, including what behaviour is expected of them.

Start your own traditions. Introduce the concepts of Anzac Day through shared activities, such as cooking and craft. These can become a cherished annual tradition for your family. Make Anzac biscuits together and talk about how they were made by wives and mothers, and sent to soldiers who were away at war. Or you could make poppies together. Explain that we wear red flowers called poppies to show others that we are remembering the people who went to war. 

If your children don’t understand everything this year, that’s fine – it’s a big concept to get your head around. But keep up the traditions and conversations and each year they will understand more.

Find out more about the services offered by Kath Dickson Family Centre at www.kdfc.com.au or by calling 07 4633 8400.


Traditional Anzac biscuit recipe


1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and coconut
125g butter
1 Tbs golden syrup
2 Tbs boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda

Preheat oven to 180oC.
Combine dry ingredients.
Melt together butter and golden syrup.
Combine water and bicarb soda, and add to butter mixture.
Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
Drop teaspoons of mixture onto a greased biscuit tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Avoiding the homework battle

Amy Dampney - Thursday, April 20, 2017
The school day is over, the children are home and you brace yourself for the daily arguments over homework. 

It’s a familiar complaint from families, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some practical strategies for minimising the tensions and reclaiming family harmony as we enter Term 2.

Parents often feel it’s their job to get their kids to do well in school. Naturally, you might get anxious about this responsibility as a parent. You might also get nervous about your children succeeding in life, and homework often becomes the focus of that concern. 

We all know that getting your children to do their homework can be challenging. But think of it as a process for setting up good work habits for the future, encouraging children to take responsibility for their learning and becoming independent thinkers. By taking an interest in what your child is learning at school, it shows the children that parents and teachers work together to maximise learning opportunities. 

Here are some good strategies to set your child up for success: 

Have a homework friendly area. This is a space that is clear of clutter, is well lit, away from the TV and interrupting siblings and is well resourced with pencils, paper, a sharpener and an eraser. 

Try to do it the same time each day. If your child has no homework from school on a particular day, homework time can be spent going through spelling words, working on some maths problems or reading a book. Establishing a homework routine is important. 

Motivate rather than monitor. Show an interest and ask your children about their homework. Motivate them with praise. As tempting as it can be, don’t give the answers. Offer help and support only when they need it. Check the work when they are finished.

Focus on what they do well. Try to ensure that you’re not just focussing on the areas that they have difficulties with. It is about the effort they are putting in, not just the outcome. And remember not to step in and do the work yourself.

Only help while it is enjoyable for you both. If you can feel yourself getting anxious or frustrated, it is time to walk away. Make an excuse that you need to do something and make a dignified retreat before you get locked into a battle. 

Set a good example. If your evening routine allows it, use homework time to sit alongside your children to read a book or answer emails. 

Teach your children to self correct. You don’t need to send them to school with their homework all correct. It is alright for them to get answers wrong. At least then teachers will know what their skill level actually is and help them to improve.

Focus on the basics. Reading, spelling and maths are the most important things to practice at home. Even reading aloud to children three times a week makes a massive difference to their reading ability. Practicing spelling is as easy as ‘Look, Cover, Write and Check’ a few nights per week. 

Ultimately you don’t want homework to ever be a conflict and undermine your relationship with your child. If you have questions or queries about homework you should see your child’s class teacher and talk about strategies specific to your child. 

Find out more about the services offered by Kath Dickson Family Centre at www.kdfc.com.au or by calling 07 4633 8400.

Family car trip: are you game?

Amy Dampney - Monday, April 10, 2017
Family car tripAre you looking forward to the holidays, but dreading that famous four-word phrase “Are we there yet?”…. Travelling with children is enough to raise the blood pressure of even the calmest parents.

There are loads of ‘Apps’ you can download onto your phone or iPad that can keep the littlies entertained, but if you don’t want them attached to screens the whole time here are a few popular, fun travel games. Remember you can be creative and ‘bend’ the rules to suit the age and interests of the children. 

1. I Spy. I’m sure you all remember this one from your youth. Adapt for younger children by using colours instead of letters. For example, “I spy something green”. 

2. Bingo. This fun game combines bingo with a scavenger hunt. Give each child a flat surface, such as a clipboard or hardcover book, to put on his or her lap. Each player gets bingo card and a zip-lock bag with 16 buttons. When a player spies an item on his card, he covers the picture with a button. Just like in regular bingo, the first player to cover all the squares in a straight line wins. You can download picture bingo cards from many websites. 

3. License Plate Game. Make phrases with the car registration numbers e.g. WWW 265 could be Weird Wooly Wombats.

4. Noughts and Crosses. Another childhood favourite that can keep the children going for ages and only pencil and paper required. 

5. I’m Going on a Picnic. This alphabet-based memory game is great for kids 5 and up. You don’t need a game board or any materials. The game can be played with as few as two players, but it’s more fun when the whole family joins in. The first player says “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing...” followed by something that begins with A, such as apples. The second player repeats what the first person said, but adds something that begins with B. So she might say “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples and bananas.” And so on with C, D, and the rest of the alphabet. If someone forgets an item, she is out. To be fair, feel free to be lenient and give hints to younger players. The last player to be able to recite all the items on the list wins.

6. 20 Questions. This easy-peasy game is great for younger kids, thanks to its straightforward rules. Player One thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess. Play continues until a player guesses correctly.

7. A good old sing along.  Nothing beats the joyful sound of children embracing an opportunity to exercise their vocal cords. 

8. The Windmill Game. Ask the children to spot and count the windmills you pass. The child who counts the most windmills by the time you reach your destination wins! Obviously you can adapt this game for a country or city drive. 

We wish everyone a safe and happy Easter. 

Please travel safe on our roads and enjoy your holiday! 

5 Easter craft activities for kids

Amy Dampney - Monday, April 03, 2017

Easter egg craftWith Easter falling later this year, there is plenty of time during school holidays to entertain the kids with some fabulous Easter craft.

Invest in some glitter or recycle what you have with these cheap craft activities that will provide hours of entertainment. 

Not just the kids, even Mums and Dads can indulge in these fun activities and hone their creative skills. From simple Easter egg paints to more personalised fun artefacts, there are quite a lot of Easter crafts to choose from.

Egg painting

Paint, dye, glitter or spray paint some boiled eggs for a striking Easter display. Painting eggs is a great craft for children of all ages and will help them discover their creative side. It’s also cracking good fun ...!

Bunny masks 

Making Easter bunny masks or ears is another great activity. Making masks is a fun activity that involves a little bit of cutting, colouring and gluing. Even if your child is not interested in wearing the masks, you can always use them as a part of your Easter decorations. 

Easter egg decorations

Children in our Occasional Care Centre loved creating the fabulous Easter eggs pictured in this post. Just cut out an egg in the shape of an egg and encourage your child to decorate the egg with different materials and textures. You could also head outdoors and decorate your egg using leaves, flowers or greenery. 

Food bunnies

Not strictly craft….. You can create bunnies with pieces of fruit for a healthy snack. Children can also get artistic decorating Easter biscuits or cupcakes or help you make this adorable Easter Cake. Hop to it! 

Easter wreath

Are you board bored of the same old flower baskets and bouquets? How about trying to make an Easter wreath.?  Easter wreaths can make a great gift for visiting friends and relatives, grandparents and loved ones.

We will be organising a lot of Easter craft activities for children at our Occasional Care Centre over the coming days. Our service is unique to Toowoomba being the only Centre in the Region region that offers child care by the hour, so please remember us if you need some help these holidays.

We currently have vacancies so if you are looking for child care with flexible contact Kath Dickson Family Centre today by phone on 1300 336 345, email us or visit www.kdfc.com.au/occasional-care-centre for more information. 

Books needed to create Lifelong Learners

Amy Dampney - Thursday, March 23, 2017

Linda reading a book to XavierKate Mason would like all children to have 1,000 books read to them by the time they are five – to create a generation of lifelong learners who are inquisitive, articulate and ready for school.

To do this she needs your help!

As Director of the Kath Dickson Education Care Centre, the passionate early childhood educator is calling for donations of books to create a family library. 

“We want to create an opportunity for families to read to their children and emphasise to families how important it is to read to your children during the first five years of life,” Kate explained.

“By involving the community, we are also hoping to enhance social inclusion and active citizenship and promote lifelong learning.”

Kate said reading equips children with vital skills needed for school and life success.

“Reading to children helps to develop oral language and listening skills and it increases their attention span,” Kate said.

“Reading also stimulates their imagination and helps children to understand and enjoy the world around them, by broadening their knowledge.”

The innovative educator has created an inviting, homely space for the family library.

“We wanted to create an environment where parents can sit down and bond with their children – a cosy space with a lounge, where families can read and interact,” Kate explained.

It is hoped families will be able to borrow a variety of books from the library.

“We are looking for books right across the board – nature books, children’s books and some novels that parents might want to pick up,” Kate said.

“A wide variety of books that all ages can enjoy.”

DONATION LOCATON: Kath Dickson Education Care Centre, 44 Gladstone Street (Corner or Bridge and Gladstone Streets)
 WHEN: 7am – 6pm Monday to Friday

Media Contact: Kate Mason, 07 4632 5284, Director Kath Dickson Education and Care Centre (Crn Bridge and Gladstone Streets)