Summer 2016, Child Development



to this newsletter in which we hope to bring you again some great information.

This time we look at the early years of child development. How does each child manage to reach all its amazing milestones, and how can we support them in along the way? How does, what happens in the first years of life, influence their academic, social and behavioural skills later in life?

We then give you  an article by Victoria Dunckley on understanding what happens in the brain when playing video games, how that can show in a child’s behaviour. Following on the description in the first article on brain development, this is an example of the brain’s reaction to an overload of sensory impressions.

In a third article Katrina Schwartz describes the work of Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman and his research on intelligence and his question if we can measure imagination and what that means for learning.

This is followed by a link to an interview with Mary Willow on National Radio, where she answered lots of questions on parenting and challenges we meet in the transition times of the day. Mary Willow is a parenting consultant and is soon to bring an online parenting course to her website. Something to look out for!

And of course we have again a yummy recipe brought to us by Debbie ter Borg.

We hope you will enjoy these articles and all the reading material in this newsletter.


Wishing you all a wonderful time over the summer holidays, and looking forward to bringing you more news in the new year. Please get in touch if you have any interesting bits of information, want to let people across the country know about something that is happening in your area, or if you have any questions you would like to find the answer for.



Child Development as Foundation for Learning
Growing Up and Down, In and Out
Standing in Space, Growing in relationship

by Lut Hermans

Across the world, in all different continents and cultures, most children learn to walk within their first year and a half of life, and each child, with the right nurturing environment, will manage that amazing achievement, seemingly effortless. What does that early development look like and how can we support it?

standing up

How do we all take hold of our body? How do we manage to fully inhabit it, and therefore have it at our calling as a well-tuned instrument? How do we develop the faculties, skills, or abilities of doing: manipulating the world through movement and digestion, of feeling and relating to the world, and of thinking, becoming aware of ourselves, the world and the others in it?

In this article, I will be looking at the development of the child in the first 7 years and how that builds the capacities for academic learning and clear thinking, our social and emotional and movement skills. We will look at the neurological development, motor development and how the child grows towards an independent self in its environment.

At the end, I will try and describe the difference between allowing and supporting development, and teaching. Development happens from the inside out and bottom up, while teaching often comes from the outside and from the top down. I will finish with the question of how these two can work together.

As always the theory is one thing, what I describe here are pictures of a typical development. We are all variations on that theme, we all have managed the ‘typical’ in our own way and we all also have areas that didn’t develop to the ideal. More or less, we all manage with some level of coping mechanisms. Like we can all imagine the ’typical’ or ‘archetypal’ beech tree, depending on the soil, wind, rain etc. each tree is a variation on that theme, every tree looks slightly different. So are we, and is every child we meet, a variation on the theme of ‘human being’, and have we managed a variation of that typical development.

Read more:


Victoria L. Dunckley M.D.

“This is your Child’s Brain on Video Games”

The following is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how gaming impacts a child’s nervous system.
On the eve of his big sister Liz’s high school graduation, nine-year-old Aiden sits with his parents and relatives at a celebration dinner, bored by their “adult” conversation and irritated at all the attention showered upon Liz. He can’t wait to get back to his video game! Before dinner, Mom had (annoyingly) called him away to join the family, and then she got mad when he spent a few minutes getting to the next level and saving his game. So many people in the house make him restless; he squirms uncomfortably and drums his fingers on the table, waiting to be excused.

Finally, he is allowed to escape the dinner table, and he settles into a corner of the living room couch to play his Nintendo DS. For the next hour or so, he is completely oblivious to the company in the house. Although he’s already played much longer than his mother likes, she lets him continue, knowing these family situations are a little overwhelming for him. And besides, the game keeps him occupied. What’s the harm? she thinks. It’s just for today.

However, in the meantime, a perfect storm is brewing. As the play continues, Aiden’s brain and psyche become overstimulated and excited — on fire! His nervous system shifts into high gear and settles there while he attempts to master different situations, strategizing, surviving, accumulating weapons, and defending his turf. His heart rate increases from 80 to over 100 beats per minute, and his blood pressure rises from a normal 90/60 to 140/90 — he’s ready to do battle, except that he’s just sitting on the couch, not moving much more than his eyes and thumbs. The DS screen virtually locks his eyes into position and sends signal after signal: “It’s bright daylight out, nowhere near time for bed!” Levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine rise in his brain, sustaining his interest, keeping him focused on the task at hand, and elevating his mood. The intense visual stimulation and activity flood his brain, which adapts to the heightened level of stimulation by shutting off other parts it considers nonessential….

To read the whole article click the link below:


 Rethinking Intelligence: How Does Imagination Measure Up?


Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s personal education story may sound familiar to many families struggling against a system that doesn’t tend to value qualities in students that make them different from a predetermined “average” learner. When he was young, Kaufman had central auditory processing disorder, which made it hard for him to process verbal information in real time. He was asked to repeat third grade because he was considered a “slow” learner. That started him down a path of special education classes until high school.

“I felt on the one hand that I was capable of more intellectual challenges,” Kaufman told an audience at the Creativity Forum hosted by the Bay Area Discovery Museum, “but on the other hand I thought, ‘Who am I to question authority?’ ” So he didn’t, and since school wasn’t challenging him, Kaufman spent a lot of time in his own internal world, daydreaming.

To read the whole article, click here:


Getting organised in the morning, coming home from school or any other activity, bedtime, are all moments in the day that can be difficult and can bring stress in the family. ‘Plumparenting’ is a consultancy business by Mary Willow, and here below is a link to an interview on the Parenting Segment of Nine to Noon with Lynn Freeman RadioNZ Thursday December 1st, 2016, 11.20am, where Mary answers questions from the public on how to manage these times of the day well.

To find out more about Mary’s work, you can visit her website on:


Kitchen Corner

Debbie ter Borg has again provided us with a lovely spring recipe:P1030224

Spring-In-Your-Step Soup

1 onion, chopped
c. 25g butter
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Sprig of lovage, chopped (if available)
2 cups vegetable stock (homemade or use ½ a Rapunzel stock cube)
2 good tablespoons yoghurt (optional)
Spring veggies e.g. Few stalks asparagus, chopped; a carrot in thin ¼ moon slices; a small fennel bulb, sliced; handful of snow peas, chopped (or shelled peas or broad bean); a stalk of celery with its leaves, chopped; few spring leaves (spinach/broad bean tips/sorrel…….)

• Sauté onion in butter c. 5 minutes in soup pot
• Add potato and garlic and sauté briefly
• Add stock and lovage, bring to a simmer

• While potato etc. is cooking sauté/steam the spring veggies in another pot

• When potato is tender puree with stock etc., using stick blender in soup pot (or by some other means and return to pot)
• Add yoghurt if using
• Add cooked spring veggies
• Reheat, season with salt (check first in case stock is salty) and pepper (and perhaps a squeeze of lemon if not using yoghurt)
• Garnish with chopped fennel or dill fronds




Debbie ter Borg has studied nutrition, and has from a very young age, been interested in “nourishment” in the very widest sense of the word. She enjoys the magical “in depth” and “from scratch” kitchen and garden experiences, which she shares generously with others.

She has founded and worked for 5 years in ‘The Kitchen Club’ at Te Ra School, Raumati South, where she also taught the children in class 5. She has worked with young mothers and other people in many workshops on nutrition, and is a founding member of the Koha Café at Great Start, Taita, Lower Hutt, where she teaches cooking. If you want to get in touch with her with your questions on nutrition, you can email her on:
















What’s on

Unfortunately there were not enough enrollments for the Clay Field Therapy Training in January. 

If you are still interested in the training, please get in touch with Lut Hermans to register your interest and if enough people can get toP1020374gether another attempt at bringing the training to NZ may happen.

Lut Hermans: or 027 748 1093



ASK Trust (a charitable trust for and by ASD adults) has a large library of ASD books (over 500 titles), which can be borrowed by post (or in person by special arrangement, as they’re based on Kapiti Coast). The catalogue can be viewed on their website , and items borrowed by emailing your request to The current cost to borrow is $5 per book, or $30 annually for unlimited number of books (max. two at a time) – plus postage if applicable.









If you want to get in touch with any of the Aurora Therapists, please visit our website: You will find all contact details, descriptions of the different therapies and biographies of the therapists there. You can also contact us there via the ‘contact us’ page.



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