The latest child care related news, views and reviews July 3, 2013
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With all the recent political goings-on lately we look at one of the child care policies that's bound to create a heated debate – Tony Abbott's proposed 26 week paid maternity leave scheme. What do you think of the proposal? We also look at Irlen Syndrome, a little known cause behind some childrens delayed reading development. Our giveaway this month is from planet-eco, a great Aussie company making gardening kits to encourage our little ones to get their hands grubby and grow some veg.

26 weeks paid parental leave
What will Kevin do?

parental leaveWith all the political shenanigans over the last week, there may well be more twists and turnarounds in the offing when it comes to child care and related policies concerning working parents.

One particular policy that's going to require much deliberation all round is Paid Parental Leave.

The current scheme, introduced by Labor, pays the minimum wage (currently $622.20 per week) for up to 18 weeks and is taxpayer funded.

Tony Abbott's proposed scheme will pay a parent's regular wage plus super (up to $2,876 per week) for up to 26 weeks and is funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on companies with taxable incomes above $5m. Which, of course, most working mums and dads will agree is brilliant.

This leaves Labor in the awkward position of opposing a scheme that would introduce a more generous entitlement for working women.

So what about the rest of the world? All European and other OECD countries (except the US) have paid parental leave. Most schemes meet between 80 and 100 per cent of the parent's wage, the majority for 20 weeks or more. They do this through a social insurance system, funded by a levy on the wage bill.

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Don't jump to conclusions
Top tips for parents of struggling readers

reading difficultiesReading is one of those developmental areas that parents worry about most, particularly in the run up to big school and in those first few years of junior school. As with everything else children develop in reading at their own pace and while many youngsters just click with reading, others seem to struggle.

This can be due to all manner of reasons from minor vision problems that if caught early can be rectified with or without glasses, to other more long term issues such as dyslexia and ADHD.

Whatever the cause, reading disorders can be serious in terms of how a child gets on at school in general and can unfortunately lead to bullying by other kids and also misunderstanding of a child by teachers who might think they are just being lazy. This can have a profound effect on a child through to adulthood and often for the rest of his or her life.

International expert Helen Irlen, identified a visual perception syndrome, which has been named Irlen Syndrome (also known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Visual Stress Syndrome) while she was working with adult learners at California State University, Long Beach in the 1980s.

The theory is that some signals from the eye do not get to the brain intact and/or on time. So although the eye might be functioning correctly, the brain receives what is like a double exposed picture where the location of items is confused.

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Great gardening kits for the kids

planet-ecoPlanet-eco is an Australian company based in Tasmania that creates great little growing kits for kids to get involved and interested in gardening.

The planet-eco household includes three growing boys who love being outside and getting dirty – rain, hail or shine and what better place to do that than the garden. They get a huge sense of satisfaction and pride from picking and eating something they have planted themselves.

It's becoming harder and harder to find fresh fruit and veg straight from the garden that hasn't been sprayed, processed or modified, so planet-eco's aim is to allow kids to grow veggies like granny and granddad did.

Not only do the kits enable kids to learn about gardening they also teach teamwork, responsibility and respect for the environment.

Planet-eco's Patch Kits encourage children and their families, as well as child care services and schools, to grow their own edible gardens and hopefully nurture a lifelong passion along the way.

Each kit contains:

  • 5 packets of seeds
  • 5 bamboo plant tags
  • 10 organic biodegradable dotpots
  • A planet-eco grow guide full of information on how to use the kit and how to start planting.

Find out more about planet-eco kits for fundraising for schools and early childhood education and care providers at

GIVEAWAY: planet-eco is giving away 4 x Vegie Patch Kits, 3 x Herb Patch Kits and 3 x Flower Patch Kits worth $24.95 each*.

For your chance to go into the draw tell us in under 25 words why you'd love your kids to grow their own veg.

* terms & conditions

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