Kids with fewer toys become more creative, new study finds

A new study in the US has found youngsters are far more creative when they have fewer toys at their disposal to play with.

Researchers at the University of Toledo, also found children played with each toy twice as long when they had fewer of them.

The children also thought up more uses for each toy and lengthened and expanded their games.

And the researchers advice to parents? 

Pack away the toys and just rotate a small number of them regularly to encourage children to become more creative and improve their attention spans.

Researchers at the University of Toledo say too many toys create too many distractions for youngsters. Source: Breakfast


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'People judge so quickly' - Uni student faces 'insensitivity' over course fees refund after mental health relapse

A university student in Auckland who was initially refused a refund on her course fee after a relapse of her mental health condition says her experience shows how people judge too quickly without knowing the facts about mental illness.

Christine Heyns, a student at Massey University in Auckland, was diagnosed with bordeline personality disorder in 2013.

Aiming to become a psychologist, Ms Heyns completed 19 out of 24 papers until her relapse earlier this year where she became suicidal and started self-harming again. 

"And that's when I decided I just can't. The thought of having to sit down and concentrate on something that I'm paying for and that I need to do well in, it's just not worth it when you're not in the right state," she said. 

She applied for either a refund or to re-sit one of the papers, with a letter from her GP, and also said if the university needed more evidence, to get back to her. 

The university declined her application with a letter that stated: "The fee appeal process exists for students who have experienced unforeseen critical personal circumstances that make it impossible for a student to continue with her or his studies. You have known your circumstances since 2013 but chose to continue with your studies."

Ms Heyns phoned the person who sent her the response, and says they were just as insensitive on the phone.

"People assume and judge so quickly without really knowing the facts about mental illness," she said.

Late yesterday afternoon, after Seven Sharp contacted them, there was a change of heart from the university.

They have now decided to refund Ms Heyns and said they unreservedly apologise.

Ms Heyns agreed the university needs to be tough when it comes to refunds, but she said there's a huge gap in people's understanding of what mental illness really is. 

"You don't feel like you can really do anything, let alone get out of bed in the morning."

Christine Heyns wanted to pull out of her course but it didn't turn out the way she envisaged. Source: Seven Sharp

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Who is eligible for free tertiary study revealed by Prime Minister

After much speculation, the eligibility criteria of the government's fees-free policy has been announced, with 50,000 students expected to take up the scheme. 

She wants the fees-free plan to create "the kind of skills New Zealanders need". Source: 1 NEWS

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today at Porirua's Aotea College. 

Around 80,000 students across the country will be affected. Source: 1 NEWS

"You will be the first, but you wont be the last," she told students who would get their first year free. 

She said the majority of those who would get their first year free would be people who have not studied before, at any age, and people who would go onto vocational training.

"That's the kind of skills New Zealanders need," she told the students. 

Ms Ardern likened the implementation of tertiary fees-free to the historical changes to secondary school in New Zealand. 

"There was a time where we didn't have secondary school available for everybody. It was back then a Labour government said 'hang on, our students need more than that', so we made a change."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins released a statement today which said: "If you're a New Zealander who finished school in 2017, or if you will finish school during 2018, you qualify for a year of free provider based tertiary education or industry training in 2018."

"If you're not a recent school leaver, and you've done less than half a full time year of education or training, you also qualify."

Eligibility criteria

Industry training students will get up to two years free for eligible programmes. Kiwi students studying from overseas will be eligible.

However students enrolled at a tertiary education not recognised in New Zealand are not eligible, it is unclear if this will impact Kiwi students on exchange programmes overseas.

The government will fund up to $12,000 for study in a year, it will also cover compulsory student service fees.

The Tertiary Education Commission will pay fees to the tertiary institute, students will not need to apply to Student Link to access the fees-free policy, but would for living costs or allowances.

Australian students will need to have lived in Australia for three years to be eligible.

Students must also enroll in a programme funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, be recognised by New Zealand Qualifications Authority, be at Level 3 or above and for industry training be at least 120 credits.

The Tertiary Education Commission will implement the policy. 

"I appreciate that enrolled and prospective learners have had to wait some time before seeing the final details of the fees-free policy and I thank them for their patience; however, I'm sure learners will be happy with the result," Mr Hipkins said.

He said 80,000 people will be eligible for the scheme next year. 

"We expect the policy to halt, and over time reverse the current trend of fewer people going into post-school training and education. We have budgeted for a three per cent increase in equivalent full-time students in 2018, equating to about 2000 extra students.

"The Government has budgeted for up to $380 million in the current financial year across the fees-free policy and the $50 increases to student loans and allowances," Mr Hipkins said. 

She told press today she is interested in the predicted uptake of the scheme by students. 

"Predominately out expectation is people accessing apprenticeships, industry training, polytechnics, private training institutions and wānanga, and that's where you’ll see the majority of the likely uptake."

It was expected this would make up 50,000 of the eligible students, with the reminder going to university. 

The students of Aotea College in Porirua erupted into applause as the PM told them of the plan. Source: 1 NEWS