Ocean Grove Primary School teacher Andy McNeilly has self-published his first book, Connecting with Your Kids.
The proud father of three spent two and a half years developing the book while running workshops to help families reconnect through affordable activities and meaningful conversations.
“I started out blogging a bit and shared some of it on Facebook and it was sort of growing,” says Andy.
“I know that sometimes I get really busy with work and it comes home with me. I realised you’ve just got to stop and go ‘I need to do stuff for the kids.’
The book came from that. It’s filled with a whole lot of simple things to do that sometimes parents forget.”
The book – which is broken down into months – offers simple, inexpensive suggestions for parents struggling to find the time to connect with their children.
Andy says the idea behind Connecting with Your Kids is to involve each family member in the decision-making process.
“All these tips and ideas are nothing expensive. They’re all accessible, simple and easy,” says Andy, who has been teaching at Ocean Grove Primary for 15 years.
“I wanted this to be achievable for anyone. You don’t have to have a lot of money or resources – the idea is that the book will sit on the kitchen table or the bench somewhere so the kids can look through it too.”
The most notable aspect of Andy’s book is its focus on teaching kids “executive skills”, including problem solving, honesty, independence, gratitude, empathy and creativity.
Andy believes children’s resilience and emotional intelligence can be advanced if parents assist their kids from a young age across a host of priority areas.
“A lot of parents do struggle to find the time and I’ve noticed there’s a lot more anxiety and stress in kids,” says Andy.
“In primary school, one in seven kids have a mental health issue; and it’s one in four in high school. All this stress and anxiety is on the rise. I wanted to produce something helpful.”
Whether it’s curling up in front of the TV to watch a movie or spending the afternoon at the beach, Andy says a little effort can go a long way.
Andy’s children, Daisy, 16, Finn, 14, and Monty, 12, each inspired him to create Connecting with Your Kids.
The teacher turned author will be at Bookgrove (1/73 The Terrace, Ocean Grove) from 3pm on Saturday July 13 to host an in-store event.
“I love chatting to people so it’s a good chance to help people and learn of the struggles that parents have with kids,” says Andy.
For more information on Andy and Connecting with Your Kids, visit andymcneilly.com.au.