Riverland Professionals Series – Jade Malinovski

I am asked on a daily basis for referrals to other professionals in the area. Here is the next in a series of blog posts dedicated to professionals around the Riverland, whose skills and qualifications complement services received at Santosha.

Jade Malinovski is the amazing soul behind Balanced Kids Yoga. She beautifully combines her kindergarten teaching experience with yoga, allowing children to learn mindfulness, self-love, gratitude and much more. She provides a space for peace and quiet, openness and acceptance, which are much needed for children in this crazy and busy world.

What is your profession? What areas do you have qualifications and training in? 

I am a yoga teacher! I am currently teaching yoga classes to children of all ages (3- teenagers) through weekly classes in Renmark and Loxton. I also visit schools and kindergartens all around the Riverland to teach yoga within their settings.

I have a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and was a kindergarten teacher before having my own children. I am certified to teach yoga through various childrens and family teacher trainings, have completed my level one yoga teacher training and most recently, restorative yoga teacher training.

What does your job involve on a daily basis?

Every day is completely different for me depending on what schools and classrooms I am teaching at on that particular day. My ‘job’ is generally to provide children with a safe, nurturing, playful space. A space to explore yoga, themselves and their own inner world. I love to inspire and motivate these kids and do that through the wonderful world of yoga.

How did you become interested in yoga?

I have always loved teaching and found that by combining my two passions; teaching children and my love for yoga – everything else just evolved.

What is your biggest life achievement?

Finding love. My husband, my girls, my family, my ‘work’. I love what I do, I feel this is truly my path.

What is one thing you can help clients with (that the general population may not realise)?

Yoga is so much more than just ‘poses’ or relaxation. It is a holistic wellness approach. Through yoga I have been able to teach and explore so many facets of life with children. It enables us to look within, and help kids with things like self discovery, confidence, self love and acceptance. We explore mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques. It really is a life journey! Of course it has physical benefits as well, but yoga is a beautiful tool in which kids can wholeheartedly be themselves and learn tools for a healthy and happy life.

Where are you located?

I teach weekly classes at Rachel McLeods Dance Studio, Renmark and the CWA Hall, Loxton. I also travel to schools all over the Riverland.

What do you enjoying doing in your spare time?

I love to seek stillness. Find the calm and the quiet. I feel life is very busy, very loud and at times very overwhelming. I like to slow down and read, have a bath, cook, sit on the grass with my children and just be at home as a family.

0

Importance of Movement in Kids

In 1999 a teacher named Phil Lawler in Naperville, Illinois read an article that stated the health of US children was declining due to inactivity. Looking inside the school gym he saw a lot of kids that were in fact inactive. He decided to shift the focus of the ph

ysical Education class to cardiovascular fitness. Once a week students had to run a mile. Assessments were based on effort and reaching personal bests rather than skill. Non-athletes were allowed to train on bikes. He also brought in heart rate monitors to ensure the students were pushing themselves. “Your goal is to run your fastest mile…your average heart rate should be above 185.”

While this improved their performance within the school (lessons were re-shuffled to ensure those that required the most concentration were at the beginning of the day), since 1999 it has also made a huge impact on their results internationally. Academically this school performs way above any others in the area. In 1999 the 8th graders scored 1st in the world in science and 6th in the world in Maths. US schools as a whole ranked 18th in science and 19th in maths, with some areas scoring last in the world.

 

How does exercise improve learning and brain function?

Exercise encourages our brain to work at its optimum level, it causes nerve cells to multiply, connections between nerves are strengthened and they are also protected from damage. We get more oxygen and blood flow to the brain and a release of endorphins which are happy hormones that reduce stress and improve our mood.

In children, exercise has been shown to reduce restlessness and hyperactivity, decrease symptoms of ADHD, improve moods and immunity, and it also improves sleep which further enhances all the other benefits listed. It has also been shown to increase energy levels. Imagine if your child began the day with more energy, a better mood and was more settled. Imagine how much better their ability to learning would be.

Movement particularly from birth to 3.5 years is essential for laying down appropriate pathways for learning and development. It is how the brain learns to relate to the world around it. Movement develops optimal posture, eye movement and control through balance and co-ordination, better reading and better fine motor control which is crucial for handwriting.

 

How to get kids moving

  • Walking or riding a bike to school. Even if you live too far away to walk/ride the whole way, park a little distance from school and walk/ride the remainder
  • If there is time to watch TV in the morning, there is time to send the kids outside in the backyard. Bike riding, jumping on the trampoline, running around, kicking the footy, whatever it may be
  • Get to school early and play on the playground before going into class
  • Give them goals
    • “See how long it will take you to run around the backyard” and time them while you’re getting yourself ready. Then do it a second time and see if they can beat their time
    • “Go outside and see if you can get 10 goals” or “See how many goals you can get in a row” (Basketball, soccer, football)
  • Organise friends to walk/ride with before or to school
  • Ask them what activities they like and incorporate these into the daily or weekly routine
  • Get the family up 20 minutes earlier to ensure there is a little more time before school

While exercise in the morning is the best time for learning, any time is better than not at all. Even after school limiting screen time is so important for many reasons besides getting the body moving more.

0

Macronutrients for Kids

MacronutrientsNutrients are foods that we need for energy, growth and bodily functions. ‘Macro’ means large, so ‘macronutrients’ are needed in large amounts in our body. ‘Micro‘ means small. Micronutrients are required in small amounts in our body and they include vitamins and minerals.

Macronutrients include:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrate

There are ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ types of each of these groups.

Many children are missing out on the protein and fat groups, particularly at breakfast time. Throughout the day they are also consuming more of the ‘unhealthy’ types than ‘healthy’ types, particularly when it comes to fat.

Protein…

…is essential for growing children. It is used for muscles, tendons, organs, skin, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). With the running around, focusing and thinking, communicating and learning children do at school, adequate protein is hugely important to optimise their school performance. Increasing protein at breakfast time and in their lunchboxes is critical. The usual breakfast of cereal or toast, followed up by some fruit, then a vegemite sandwich at lunch won’t contain near sufficient protein for your child’s learning capabilities. Adding an egg to breakfast, some seeds (nuts when outside of school) or a container of dip such as hummus will make sure they start the day right. Eggs are a perfect snack and can be eaten whole, or made into patties, muffins or quiches that are bite size and perfect for lunch boxes.

Fat…

…is an essential macronutrient for brain and nervous system development. The types of fats that are in snack are foods are trans-fats or hydrogenated fats. These are the ‘unhealthy’ fats and can be found in biscuits (sweet and savoury!), snack foods, store bought cakes and muffins, chips, margarine, salad dressings,  and in high amounts in take away foods. Trans fats increase our risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, which many mistakenly believe doesn’t matter in kids as “they’re still young”. But with the rates of obesity rising, heart disease in children is also increasing. “Healthy” fats are generally unprocessed. Olive oil, coconut oil, oil from fish and plants such as avocado are all good for you.

Carbohydrates…

…are also best consumed in their most unprocessed form. The best type of carbs? Vegetables! 🙂 The worst type? Sugar 🙁  Processed cereals such as Nutri-grain, Coco-pops and Froot-loops, which are popular with the kids are extremely processed, contain large amount of sugar and minimal protein and fat. While Weet-bix is lower in the sugar count, it is unfortunately also unbalanced in macronutrient status. Mueslis containing nuts and seeds, eggs and wholemeal toast with toppings higher in fat and protein are much better alternatives at breakfast time.

Give it a try!

It does take some experimenting and trial and error due to the fussy nature of some children. But the long term health benefits and good habits beginning early most definitely do pay off. Not just in health but behaviour, academic performance and emotional stability.

0

Child and Maternal Health Month Wrap-up

Empower Nuture Nourish

Due to an influx of pregnant patients (we have had 7 patients give birth in 2 months!!) I was inspired to dedicate a month of information sessions aimed to educate and empower parents to give their children the best start to life. After setting this intention, things fell into place. 3 speakers just about fell in my lap, so planning began for Santosha’s Child and Maternal Health Month in Feburary. Each speaker focussed on a different aspect of children’s and family health. We covered birth, breastfeeding, maternal mental health, childhood development and raising a healthy family through diet and nutrition. The information was really well-received and we had some great feedback.

The month started off with Louise McCartney. She covered many aspects of 20th century health from why our diets are making us sick, to things to avoid and why ‘gut health’ is so important. We were at capacity for Louise’s talk and I am still investigating the possibility of her coming back for a second presentation. Some feedback from the presentation:

“Louise is extremely informative, providing information that is hard to access in mainstream medicine.”
“Very informative.”
“I have heard Louise speak 4 times now and every time I attend one of her sessions I learn something new or remember the importance of something.”

Louise McCartney

 

Our second speaker was Rebecca Kubenk, a lactation consultant and expert on Tongue-ties, speaking about breastfeeding and tongue-tie. This was information that is hard to find! Rebecca is extremely knowledgable on these topics and those who came went away with a sense of empowerment.

“Having had 2 children with ties, I learn something every time i talk to Rebecca. I wish I knew when my kids were babies, what i know now.”

On the same weekend Sarah Menadue from RDGP spoke to the mums about mental health particularly around having a new baby. She shared information about where to turn to in times of need and different services available in the Riverland.

Sarah Menadue

 

Anna Siebert, an Adelaide based doula (see her blog post 8 things you might not know about doulas). Anna spoke about all things birth, particuarly things you may not hear in your traditional birthing class. She covered a history of birthing practices, why we do what we do and how to have your best birth (yes! it can be enjoyable). We received a lot of verbal feedback (nothing in writing) but the general consensus was that Anna’s knowledge was extremely empowering and those who attended felt more prepared for their upcoming birth and labour.

Anna Siebert

The last weekend in February I presented to a small group on “Optimising Learning and Development”. Discussion was focussed on the normal milestones of development from infancy to childhood and why each of those are so important. I also explained what may impact these normal stages and how to prevent this from happening in children. This presentation was aimed at parents, but is extremely important information for any care-giver or teacher. Some feedback received:

“Catherine spoke very well and made us feel comfortable enough to ask questions and comment.”
“I found it very informative.”

0

How to ensure optimal motor development in your children

Baby Crawling

Although each child develops at different rates, there is a correct sequence to this development. This sequence moves through parts of the brain in a very specific order. Unfortunately with all the mod-cons of today, this sequence is often disrupted.

Normal development

Babies are born with reflex movements only. This begins before birth and the ‘kicking’ felt from the baby is part of this development. No movement is purposeful. At around 16 weeks of age, the brain progresses into what is called homolateral activity, which is using one side of the body and either top or bottom at one time. This also includes visual and auditory senses (seeing and hearing) but due to each side working separately, location of sounds and depth perception doesn’t occur.

Between 6 months and one year of age is a very important time period developmentally speaking as this is when the body learns to use both sides of the body together. This movement pattern is called “cross-crawl” or “cross-patterning”. This is an important phase due to its relationship with moving into an upright position and ensuring the two hemispheres of the brain to work together. This development time frame also includes hand-eye coordination.

Between one and five years, this bilateral (both sides) development continues to progress and walking begins. Early in this stage the arms do not move in a cross-pattern with the legs, but rather they are used for balancing. Moving into this phase too early (i.e. when bilateral function is not sufficient) can retard normal development. It is not until 3 years of age that left or right sided dominance becomes prominent. Before this time it is important to develop both sides of the brain equally. Once dominance is established, it should be constant through-out the body. Hand dominance should be the same as eye, foot and ear. This stage will reach full development by around 5 to 8 years of age.

Examples that may cause disruption to this normal process

Bottle-feeding babies on one side
Breastfeeding naturally encourages development on both sides as each breast is used almost evenly. When feeding occurs, one eye, arm and leg are restricted and eye contact is made with the other side. When bottle-feeding, it is common for the parents to use their dominant side, however this means the body restriction on the child is consistent on one side, not allowing the often restricted side to develop fully. Swapping sides each bottle feed ensures each side of the baby’s body receives the same stimulation.

“Walking” babies (holding onto their hands while they “walk”)
As walking is a very complex task neurologically, it is imperative that the nervous system is developed sufficiently to cope with this activity. Proficient development of each hemisphere of the brain must be complete; otherwise it may be delayed or interfered with when encouraging a child to stand or walk too soon. Allowing children to develop at their own pace allows the normal sequence to occur naturally.

Using cutlery
The introduction of solid food for children is shifting earlier and earlier (this is a separate issue) but that also means the encouragement of utensils is also becoming earlier. The use of a fork or a spoon is a unilateral (one-sided) activity and may force a child into dominance before their brain is ready. Eating with their hands not only encourages a child to use both sides of their body (brain) before dominance at 3 years, it also gives them a lot of sensory feedback when they are able to touch, feel and move their food around. Sorry Mum, playing with your food is actually good!

These are just a few examples. Jolly jumpers, walkers, Bumbo seats and other contraptions are a contentious issue. The bottom line is that anything that pushes a child into an area of development that their nervous systems is not yet ready for, may be detrimental on the long term, whether used in moderation or not.

0