Inga Yandell

Choosing a school which nurtures the potential of your children, is important to all parents—but perhaps more challenging for those with special needs. Depending on the challenges impeding the learning of a child (be they physical: impaired mobility, vision, hearing, or neurological, as with autism and attention deficits) the search for schools with the capacity to cater for, and even specialise in overcoming educational hurdles, can become extremely stressful.

Emerging techniques and technology can help bridge this gap, and the more ubiquitous these tools become in the educational sphere, the more diverse our choices for learning are. This is the subject of a new book entitled: ‘Is My Child Ready for School?’ by Special Educator, mother and author, Karen Seinor. The narrative is primed for supporting parents in making an informed decision about their child education, with nuance for the expansive options in special needs learning. The pitfalls to avoid and the facilities and approaches which signify a school that is open to the potential of technology in optimising learning for all children (not just those with special needs).

Karen’s research and experience offers a glimpse at the future of learning, and an effective strategy for accessing your options right now. BE Journal asked Senior to paint a picture of what this might look like, and how it could be applied.

Technology has improved learning for students with special needs in many ways but recently technology has enabled the mainstream classroom and curriculum to be more inclusive and accessible. Students with special needs are better supported in a number of ways.

For example in the school that I teach at two children have a vision impairment, both study brail with the use of a braille keyboard and they regularly Skype with their braille teacher. In the past they wouldn’t have access to this in a mainstream classroom or they may have a specialist teacher visit once a week, now they are able to have personalised instruction in their classroom on a regular basis. Children with vision impairments are also better supported in a number of ways. Through the use of iPads, learning material can be accessed so the size may be increased so that are better able to read it, or they can use audio functions to listen to the material rather than read it. This also means they don’t require a teachers aide or specialist teacher to be attached to them all the time which is positive for developing their independence but also in a social sense as they don’t appear so different to the other students and equally as capable.

Children with hearing impairment are also benefiting from the increase technology in classrooms. Teachers simply wear a headset that transmits into there hearing aid so that the student is clearly able hear instructions and information. A simple device and modification enables hearing impaired students to operate in a mainstream classroom with virtually no extra support from teachers aids.

The increasing amount of apps or programs have also optimised potential for students with special needs. There are many apps/programs that assist students to record information and present their ideas in a way that may have not been possible in the past. For example a child that may be limited orally can now use an app to share their ideas, or design tutorials, animated stories, and presentations. The teacher can then mirror this to the Apple TV and this can be shared with the class. Tools such as these are particularly powerful when they are interactive and promote social exchanges with their peers and also when they highlight the capabilities of the students.

In my opinion the greatest change that technology has created is that it has supported teachers to explore new methodologies and philosophies about how children are taught. Teachers are moving away from the old industrial mode of teaching, where one size fits all or teaching to the middle. Educators are now realising that all students should have there learning individualised, the focus is not on what we teach but how we teach. When the interests, passions and abilities of our students
drive the learning only then learning is optimised for all students.

About the book: Is My Child Ready for School? (New Holland Books, 2018) is a guide for parents on all things school. Based on current research on brain development and insights from many years of teaching, it examines many aspects of development related to learning. Whilst based on theory, there are practical and simple suggestions to help parents make the important decision about when to start school and what skills and knowledge are required. It also provides tips on selecting a school, how to make a smooth and successful transition to school and, how to support your child in their first year of learning.

About the Author: Karen Seinor has been a passionate educator for over 17 years. She has worked as both a classroom teacher and an ESL teacher and whilst she has enjoyed her many roles as a teacher, her passion lies in Kindergarten, which she taught for many years. She has a focus on education in Australia as she examines key issues through the lens of both teacher and parent.

Creating an experience inspired by your mom, is a beautiful way to honour her spirit. This could be as simple as recreating a favourite moment you shared (like making a batch of blueberry pancakes) or crafting a box of essentials based on all the things which reflect her spirit…adventurous, stylish, creative!

Here are some ideas from one spirit who lives for adventure…

Australian mom and cancer survivor, Heather Hawkins loves a physical quest. For her, it symbolises the joy of second chances, courage, and survival.

I love Mother’s Day for so many reasons, every year it pops up in my calendar as a wonderful reminder for us to celebrate motherhood, giving us a chance to get together with family, and another opportunity to thank all those Mums who have had such a profound influence on our lives.

And even though the day brings with it a mix of emotions—my mum passed away 10 years ago and the tears still aren’t very far from the surface—my smile doesn’t fade because her memory lives on and I’m incredibly thankful for her love, her inspiration, and her sense of adventure. Everyday I’ll keep doing my very best to ‘share her qualities forward’ with my own children.

If I was to plan the ultimate Mother’s Day it would definitely involve a dash of adventure. In the past I would have said: a sleep-in, croissants and a cup of tea in bed. Today, I love the idea of getting out and sharing experiences with my family!

In 2016 I was fortunate enough to have a Mother’s Day with a difference—I was in Nepal with my adult children, and we were halfway through a five month trek along the Great Himalaya Trail, we were living out of backpacks, sleeping in tiny yellow tents, and trying to escape the heat and humidity of the oncoming monsoon by heading up into the snow covered mountains.

This year I’ll be at home, closer to the comforts of modern life and cafes, but keeping up a family tradition of running in the Mother’s Day Classic fun run to help raise funds for breast cancer research. We’ll follow this up with a hearty brunch and phone calls to family members who are away.

Mother’s Day also reminds me of how precious life is. Surviving Ovarian Cancer 11 years ago made me acutely aware of this, and I’m keener than ever to be the best mum I can be, to be fitter, more positive and encouraging, and taking time to invest in nurturing our adventurous spirits.

There are several things I’ve learned these past few years to help achieve this…

Keep a diary. Get in touch with what’s going on inside, because putting emotions into words is powerful and cathartic, and writing down dreams and goals is your first step forward into making them a reality.

Get yourself fit. It will flow over into every other part of your life. You’ll find you’ll have a whole lot more energy, motivation, and increased emotional and physical resilience to take on the every day.

Remember to lead by example. Your children are watching and learning from you. Be the best role model you can be.

Follow other people’s journeys and expeditions.* Be inspired, and see what is possible. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone and take on something new.

Plan an active adventure with your family. Big or small, maybe it will last an hour or perhaps weeks: trek, run, cycle, swim, climb. It’s about teaching our children to spend a whole lot more time in the real world as opposed to the virtual world, to get them out in nature, to experience what it’s like to reach their physical limits, to get tired, be amazed, and be happy.

Get busy making these memories… and then planning for the next one!

Give your mum a special hug, tell your family that you love them, and on the day, head out and have a really awesome adventure together.

* Heather’s autobiography ‘Adventurous Spirit’ is available from Murdoch Books, with 10% of all sales in May donated to Ovarian Cancer Australia-a great Mother’s Day initiative. Follow Heather’s Adventures @ adventurousspirit.com.au

Create a box with a few things to lift mom’s spirit, such as…

A box of ingredients with a handmade recipe card. Pancakes, muffins, maybe even the family curry… add a note or photo that captures the special memory and experience of cooking with mom.

Pamper hamper of beauty essentials. Busy moms will appreciate being able to recreate the spa experience at home… the Braun Silk-épil 9 SkinSpa is like the swiss army of spa tools, from self-massage to hair removal with a bevy of benefits including: no risk of burns from hot wax or lasers, no chemicals or harsh ingredients, no disposables (shaver heads, wax strips and pots) which cost mom and the environment. It is a pluck above the rest with MicroGrip tweezer technology that removes hair as small as a grain of sand. Speaking of sand, the Sonic Exfoliation Technology exfoliates skin with 3,000 micro-vibrations per minute, leading to 6 x** more effective exfoliation than a manual scrub. One tool, five spa treatments which work wet or dry to leave mom feeling thoroughly pampered, invigorated and renewed.

Fitness is my fix, energise me kit. There is something empowering about movement which all moms deserve to experience. Exercise creates energy and fortifies the spirit, it is a gift that communicates self-care and celebrates freedom. SKINS support movement of every kind, from downward dogs to dirt runs, bouldering to ballet. Engineered to give a natural advantage in sports, no drugs just smart design—SKINS have evolved their compression wear to express a vibrant DNAmic collection which captures the spirit of sport and an active lifestyle. K-Proprium Tights are their latest game-changer, combining the world’s best Dynamic Gradient Compression with strategically placed Proprioceptive Power Bands (PPB’s) to fight fatigue, reduce the risk of injury and improve performance by enhancing proprioception. Allowing adventurous moms like Heather to ‘Go the Distance’ no matter the marathon.

Self-confessed Herb Nerd, Reece Carter explores gut and brain health in his new book ‘The Happy Gut’. This recipe-rich reference is filled with tonics and elixirs from the garden along with the latest research into the gut-brain axis. Based on traditional naturopathic remedies, made using ingredients sourced from nature that anyone can make at home. Today’s lifestyle and nutrition choices can stress our digestive system, this book offers a holistic approach to restoring the essential foundation of good health… a happy gut!

About the Author: Herb Nerd Reece Carter holds a Bachelor degree in Health Science (Naturopathy) and has a lifelong passion for all things green. From the planter box to the pantry, Reece reveals how to turn leaves and petals into remedies through his web series ‘The Garden Apothecary’. His written work features in Bare Essentials Journal, The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and GQ and numerous online blogs. He has appeared on The Morning Show and at a number of food and wine events. Reece has his own clinic and herbal product, Dose Vitality Tonic, and also works as a model with Chadwicks. Reece lives in Sydney.

Follow the Herb Nerd @ reececarter.com.au

The Happy Gut by Reece Carter (Harlequin Books, April 2018) ISBN: 978-1489254689

We use the calendar to remind us of important things, celebrating as an event what we could (dare I say, should) celebrate daily!

This post is timed to align with Earth Day however, the ideas can be embraced beyond 24 hours of gratitude once a year—expanding this small window of time to integrate a daily habit of celebrating earth.

Simple habits are the easiest to adopt and often grow into rituals which resonate lasting value.

1. It’s worth the early start. Photographers rise early to catch the first rays of dawn, and patiently wait for the golden hour at the end of a day. They do this to capture nature in all it’s glory: before the atmosphere clammers with noise and distractions, in a crisp state where subtle discoveries can be observed and the world is fresh with promise. Then, as dusk approaches life unwinds to a slower pace, glowing gently like a lullaby before bed.

You don’t need to be a photographer to make a habit of greeting and farewelling the day with reverence.

2. Food tastes better outside. Remember the salty crunch of hot chips by the beach? Biting into a fresh sourdough under the shade of sprawling canopy? Nature has a calming quality that allows one to fully digest their meals. Flavours seem richer, textures more palpable, aromas deliciously amplified. It is a small pleasure one should afford themselves daily—if not for good digestion, for the rapture of savouring the full pleasures of nature’s bounty.

3. Smell a rose and wish upon a star. These sayings are not just for love stories or fairytales, they are simple habits worth forming. Little actions which remind us of earth’s beauty and magic, triggering the senses and imagination like an artists muse.

4. Discovery is a process. Curiosity leads to insights and space is not the only frontier… explore your neighbourhood, streets and gardens, architecture and infrastructure, harbour nature too! Wildlife has become surprisingly inventive, creating micro-habitats in odd places—look closer and you might find a family of fungi growing under a rotted paling, perhaps sparrows have nested in the awnings?

5. What’s your Talisman? Ancient cultures and modern boy wizards are fond of a good luck charm—an object which represents mystery and magic, courage and wisdom, heritage and hope. Touchstones which anchor the mind to a deeper purpose or meaning, though it doesn’t necessarily need to be a stone, perhaps a leaf glistening with the trail of a wayward snail? Each day you can choose one delight of nature to either carry, capture (in photo or drawing), or create something with (pine cone scent holder).

6. Screen to scene, stroll don’t scroll. The ubiquity of screens is a part of our digital culture but, as vital as they have become to work and communication there is a caveat which nature can counter. Eye strain creeps up on us as we swipe or text, scroll or search with intense un-blinking focus at a beacon of bluelight. Why not make a habit of breaking from bluelight to survey the world around you, training the eye on a distant tree, following the flight of a acrobatic bird, or deciphering forms in billowing sky. This exercises the eyes and is good for vision. It also triggers creativity and innovation, boosts productivity and ironically focus!

7. Retreat for your feet. We are encouraged to stand at our desks and to work longer, but did anyone ask our feet what they think about this stagnant imposition on their soles? I doubt it! There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, it’s been shown working longer doesn’t improve productivity nor does standing on a solid surface, in one spot for too long do our feet any good. To remedy a fallen arch or stiff ankle, flex your bare foot instincts: grip your toes into sand or soil, stretch your heel down over a log or stone, test your balance on undulating terrain.

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Scotland’s southernmost distillery, Bladnoch, has launched a special Bicentennial Release as a celebration of its rich history and a toast to its new chapter of renaissance.

Offering the perfect balance between provenance and progression, Bladnoch is enjoying an exciting revival in its 200th year, having been bought by Australia’s own David Prior – a successful yoghurt magnate – who bought the distillery in 2015. Becoming the first Australian to invest in Scotland’s whisky industry. Changing fates and fortunes over the years resulted in the distillery switching hands several times, before it fell silent and ceased production. Inspired by its story and charm, Prior and his team have set about turning this important piece of Scotch whisky history into a modern day distilling operation with production recommencing last year.

Made from just two exceptional casks of whisky distilled in 1988, the release is limited to just 200 bottles. Initially matured in Oloroso Sherry, the special malt was finished for the last 18 months in Moscatel casks. Described by Master Distiller, Ian Macmillan, as “Chestnut gold in colour, our bicentennial release has lovely rich sherry and acacia aromas with notes of dark chocolate, sweet oak and citrus with a long and satisfying finish. This is a fantastic whisky to mark this incredible milestone and I’d say it is best enjoyed shared, and savoured, with friends and family.”

Bottled at cask strength 41.2% ABV, the new malt will be available in select international markets for an RRP of $8,800AUD per bottle. The release is presented in a luxurious gold and glass bottle with a heavy gold stopper, designed by David Prior.

Commenting on the Bladnoch journey so far, David Prior said: “In the last three years, we have significantly invested in Bladnoch to revive whisky production, as we strive to give Scotland’s most southerly distillery back its true title as the ‘Queen of the Lowlands’.

“We may be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the distillery, but Bladnoch’s renaissance chapter is only just beginning.”

Crafted using only the purest ingredients – pristine water from the River Bladnoch and Scottish barley – Bladnoch malts are non-chill filtered and naturally coloured. The range includes Samsara, Adela 15 Year Old and Talia 25 Year Old. Bladnoch’s sister expression, Pure Scot, offers a zesty and versatile blended Scotch whisky.

Experience The Taste of Scotland @ bladnoch.com