The Importance of Early Years Education
If you are in any doubt as to whether to send your child to nursery/pre-school, then this post is especially for you. It will show, in no uncertain terms, that early years education is incredibly important for children, benefiting them throughout childhood and right through into adulthood. Study after study has reached this same conclusion and, in today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at the findings of just two of the key studies.

“What we found, quite convincingly in the study, is that pre-school matters. Pre-school matters for children’s short-, medium- and long-term development.” (Brenda Taggart, UCL Institute of Education & a principal investigator of the EPPSE study)

 The UK’s EPPSE Study

The Effective Pre-School, Primary & Secondary Education (EPPSE) study began in 1997. It followed the progress of a cohort of over 3,000 children, then aged around 3, from first attending pre-school right through their subsequent education at school up to the age of 16. It compares them to other children of the same age who did not attend high quality early years education/pre-school.
The results are crystal clear and have gone on to be referenced worldwide by such organisations as UNICEF and UNESCO. Indeed, they have helped to shape UK early years education ever since, including not only the curriculum itself, but also teacher training and pedagogy (the approach to, and practice of, teaching). What’s more, their impact has been so strong that it led to the UK Government introducing free early years education for all UK children aged 3 to 4 and also childcare funding for 2-year-olds from the poorest 40% of UK households.

Findings

Children who experienced a high quality early years education:

  • Are more likely to go on to higher education;
  • Attain better academic results including improved grades for English and mathematics;
  • Attain a higher number of GCSEs from grades A to C;
  • Tend to be more well-behaved, including improved self-regulation, better behaviour and improved peer relationships;
  • Are less prone to hyperactivity;
  • Are still positively benefiting from their pre-school educations;
  • With the better results and depth of education gained, children who attended pre-school are also statistically more likely to earn more during their working lifetimes.

“Children at 16 were still being influenced by their pre-school experience on many of their outcomes.”

In the video below, Brenda Taggart (UCL Institute of Education and one of the principal investigators of the EPPSE study) gives a brief overview of the study’s findings:

“Pre-school is not only good for children; it’s good for families, and it’s good for our country.”

 Society Also Benefits from Pre-School Education

It’s not only the children themselves who benefit from an early years education. Because of their increased earnings potential, children who attended pre-school will pay more tax to the UK Exchequer, which is good for the country and society in general. The American study below found even more benefits to society …

The American Study

A similar study in America followed a cohort of 1500 children from low-income families, right from pre-school through to the age of 28 so far. That study found similar benefits to the UK’s EPPSE study, along with several additional findings:

  • An early years education translated to lower rates of serious crime and less likelihood of prison incarceration in later life;
  • It also resulted in a lower likelihood of developing depression;
  • Every 1 dollar spent on early years education resulted in between $4 and $11 of economic gain over the life of each individual;
  • It also showed a reduction in the instances of neglect, child abuse and substance abuse;
  • The American study also clearly demonstrates the critical importance and long-term positive impact of ensuring school readiness by the time children are 5.

Early Years Learning & Development at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Birmingham

So, the message is clear — early years education at nursery or pre-school really matters. At Leaps & Bounds Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, we’re well aware of this, of course. Every single thing we do has a purpose and our childcare professionals do everything they can to ensure that the early years education is of the highest possible quality. With a learning and development curriculum designed and tailored to each individual baby, toddler or preschooler, they naturally achieve personal bests in every area. That’s a powerful start for such young children. It means that they will be school-ready by the time they leave us around the age of five. They can hit the ground running and easily build upon the learning and development foundations gained during their time with us. In this way, they are likely to absolutely thrive during their school years and well beyond. The studies prove it!
Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16If you would like to explore the opportunity of your child attending our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, please get in touch. We may suit you if you are looking for the best nurseries and pre-schools near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne or Ladywood. Leaps & Bounds is also a Forest School setting, allowing children to benefit from learning in a natural environment during those sessions. Places are limited, so please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to tell you more or to show you/your child around.

10 Reasons to Read With Your Child
The benefits from parents reading with children are profound and life-changingThere are a many reasons why every parent should regularly read with their children. The benefits to children are profound and some are effectively life-changing, so this is something really important that every parent should do for their child. Let’s take a look at the facts, proven by study after study across the world …

1. A Fun Way to be Quietly Educated

Reading with your child is a really fun and immersive way for a child to be educated yet it happens in a very natural way that doesn’t feel in any way like studying, nor like a formal lesson. It can also be a fun ‘escape’ for the parent!

2. A Massive Boost to Language Skills

Regularly reading with your child has been proven to increase their language skills by an impressive 20%. In a study by the Nuffield Foundation using data stretching back over 40 years, children aged on average 3¼ years old were found to have boosted language skills by the equivalent of 8 months of early years education. That’s a huge leap given their very young age.

3. Reading Helps Learning in Every Other Area

Reading with an adult boosts language skills and improves overall literacyBoosting language skills in this way, during their critically-important pre-school years, will help them in every other discipline and topic. After all, if they have a better understanding of language, they will pick up instructions, information and knowledge much more easily. Reading directly teaches children about the world, giving them greater knowledge of a wider range of topics — and this can only stand them in good stead going forwards.

4. Better Literacy Overall

Reading with an adult helps children to grasp phonetics, letter patterns and syllables, greatly improving word recognition and reading methodology. With an adult present and reading a shared book together, the child can ask questions and the adult can point out important details about word structure, grammar, sentence structure and punctuation. The parent will soon learn where the child needs additional help and focus too. In this way, the child will learn to read more thoroughly and progress more quickly in multiple areas of learning. Their overall communication, reading, writing and literacy will improve far more quickly because of the adult facilitation.

5. Increased Creativity Through Stimulated Imaginations

Creativity is also boosted when children are encouraged to read. After all, if they read more, they will be exposed to a wider range of storytelling and this, in itself, will give them a window into creativity, hugely stimulating their imaginations.

6. More Empathy & Better Social Skills

Regularly reading boosts empathy and social skillsChildren can develop a greater feeling of empathy if they have explored more books with parents or carers. As they discover different characters and scenarios, they’ll learn to feel for some of those characters and perhaps the predicaments that some get themselves into. Improving feelings of empathy can only be a good thing, leading to better social skills, closer bonds with others and a good grasp in regard to what’s right and what’s wrong.

7. It Levels the Socio-Economic Playing Field

Reading with children in their early years is also a great social leveller. By that, we mean that the performance boost they receive through reading with adults evens things up between children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those from higher ones. Reading evens up the playing field and by a significant amount.

8. Greater Preparedness for School

In turn, all the above benefits are sure to set children in good stead when they start school at the age of around five. With the greater language skills and knowledge gleaned through reading at a higher level, they will hit the ground running more easily when they begin school.

9. A Long-Term Boost to Education, Careers & Life Choices

In turn again, this boost when they start school will have an impact on their success during school and likely past school into higher education. Where they have been streamed at school, the educational boost they will have had earlier in their lives will positively impact their level of education at every subsequent stage. Ultimately, that could well lead to better outcomes, careers and quality of life when they reach adulthood. That’s an enormous benefit, simply because parents were actively involved in their reading.

10. Closer Bonds Between Parent & Child

Reading with a baby or toddler is a great way to form a closer bondReading regularly together will also lead to a closer bond between parent and child. This has been proven in studies. It’s good quality time, spent together in a common venture. The subject matter of the reading can also be a great discussion point between the two individuals going forwards.

Read with children, not just to them — the biggest benefits come when parent and child are both proactively involved.

Reading at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston (Birmingham)

We take all of this on board at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston. Indeed, reading with children is all part of the EYFS curriculum at the nursery. We work on reading with the children ourselves, involving them in interactive ways including inviting input, asking questions and encouraging feedback from them throughout. Of course, we also encourage parents of babies and children under our care to actively involve themselves in their child’s education, including in their reading when at home. As we have seen, there are so many benefits for the child if they do this. Outcomes are so positively affected that parental input at home is crucial for their children’s life-long outcomes.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Please get in touch if you are interested in a possible place for your baby, toddler or under-five child at one of Birmingham’s best nurseries and pre-schools. The nursery is close to Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Birmingham. You can email/message or book a visit to the nursery here, or call 0121 246 4922 to speak to us (please leave a message if you reach voicemail and we’ll call you back). We look forward to hearing from you.

Introducing Counting for Toddlers
Counting is more fun when it's part of a gameIn this article, we’ll look at how toddlers can learn to master the art of counting and why it’s important for them to do so early in their lives. To put the importance of counting in perspective …

“Children with good numeracy skills are more likely to earn more, stay in education longer and have more chance of actually being in work when they grow up.” (BBC)

This makes total sense, of course, but how can parents and carers of young children help?

Teaching toddlers to learn how to count to ten by the age of two, or thereabouts, is a good start. Learning to count early in life will lay a good foundation for the further comprehension and advancement of maths when they’re a little older.

Learning to Count Naturally — or By Rote

Numbers are all around us

The good news is that, generally speaking, children seem to have a built-in capacity for counting and a natural mathematical ability. This should be no surprise because, after all, numbers are all around them. For example, counting and numbers are in songs, nursery rhymes, toys, games, patterns found in nature, dates, events, on TV and really just about everywhere when you think about it. Most activities involve numbers. For example, preparing food requires the underlying use of numbers and/or counting. This can be verbalised to help a child grasp the concept. Even doing a puzzle can involve some counting. Shopping clearly involves numbers, counting and simple maths. The start of any game can also be ‘counted in’ with a “1 … 2 … 3 … GO!” or even commenced after a count-down from 10 to zero, and so on. Because of the fun, natural ways that counting can be introduced, children will naturally pick up the concept when they’re little and actually enjoy the learning journey.

Many children will also learn and master their counting skills by ‘rote’ or, in other words, by the child repeating the count from 1 to 10 (or more) many times until it “sticks” in their memory. Parents can help with this by joining in initially and later prompting children only if they get the order wrong or miss a number out when counting on their own.

On average, most children will learn how to count to 10 by the age of two. They may not fully understand the significance of the numbers, though, until they are between two and four years old.

Parental Influence

Parents can make a huge positive impact on children's learning

Parents can have a massive and profound positive effect on children’s learning and development generally — so much so that the benefits of their proactive input can have life-long positive impacts on children’s lives. Our last post went into some detail about that and it’s true, too, when it comes to helping children learn to count.

Once counting is successfully engrained in children’s memories, the comprehension of the significance of numbers usually comes quite naturally, particularly with that help from adults. Counting skills will gradually lead to maths skills like simple addition, subtraction, division and so on.

Adults need to be proactive in engaging children around these subjects, jumping on any opportunity to bring such topics into everyday activities, particularly when they can be made into a game or fun activity.

Give Praise & Be Positive

Learning to count for children

Giving praise can have an enormous positive effect on the child’s success and understanding around numeracy. Knowing when they’re getting it right or wrong — and why — will build up their early numeracy skills and make them more confident around numbers. In contrast, letting on if you don’t like maths yourself, as a parent, will not usually encourage them. Indeed, it may even give them an excuse to give up before they’ve really tried properly.

Once children master numeracy skills in their pre-school years, they will also be more likely to hit the ground running when they start school. So the message to parents, carers and childcare settings is to make it fun, be proactive and look for as many learning opportunities around numbers as possible. In our later post, we suggest some fun counting and maths-based games to help children improve their numeracy skills when at home (click the bold link for details).

Counting, Maths & Numeracy at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Counting, Maths & Numeracy at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Maths and numeracy are key topics at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our curriculum is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and, as such, includes special attention towards mathematics. Children at the nursery are encouraged to count and to understand numbers, simple addition, subtraction and the relationship between different numbers. Which is smaller? Which is larger? What happens if you add two numbers together? What happens if you take 2 away? Who came fourth in the race? … And so on. They are also taught to write numbers, of course.

Countdown to Numeracy

Our childcare professionals also encourage children to recognise numbers and maths within their surroundings and in the world around them. Numbers might be hidden in everyday objects or they might be useful when, for example, ensuring that friends at the nursery are given the same number of toys, peas in a meal or counters in a game. The children will gradually start to notice these things naturally, because they’ve been encouraged to do so. More complex numeracy skills will start to follow naturally. The EYFS curriculum at the childcare setting also ensures that children recognise the numbers and maths involved in the size, weight and volume of things around them. Measurements of distance, time and money are covered along with concepts like halving, sharing equally (or not), doubling and so on. A wide array of interactive equipment and activities are also used at the nursery to help children improve upon their numeracy skills. By the time they leave at age 5, they are thoroughly prepared to begin their formal education at school.

Numbers can be part of games & activities

A nursery place for your baby or child in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking for nursery places in Birmingham or Edgbaston or near to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick? Leaps & Bounds is an outstanding nursery and pre-school offering daytime childcare and early years education in Edgbaston near Birmingham. We currently have a small amount of spaces available for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five, so do get in touch before the spaces are filled. We’ll be happy to tell you more. Call 0121 246 4922 for more details or contact us / book a visit here.

Safeguarding for Nurseries - A Guide for Parents
Protection from harm, accidents and abuseBack in September, we touched upon the safeguarding and welfare of children in our Rough Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’). In today’s post, we’ll go into more detail about how we approach the safeguarding, safety and general welfare of children at Leaps & Bounds nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. For example, in relation to the recruitment of suitable, trustworthy staff for the nursery, having the right security measures in place, knowing what to do in the event of illness, accident or emergency and suitability of equipment and the setting as a whole. This information should be of comfort to parents looking for suitable – and safe – nursery places in the Birmingham area.

Safeguarding children is, in essence, all about keeping children safe, secure, healthy and out of harm’s way. Every child deserves to feel secure and safe and indeed will learn most effectively when this is the case.

Safeguarding Measures

Early years settings like ours adhere to some excellent, pre-defined rules around the safeguarding and welfare of children. These must fall in line with several statutory Government directives along with the procedures set out by both the Local Safeguarding Children Board (‘LSCB’) and the EYFS. They EYFS states:

“Providers must be alert to any issues for concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. Providers must have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children.”

So the rules we follow are more far-reaching than simply keeping children safe at the nursery itself. The safeguarding measures we follow cover ways to watch out for abuse or maltreatment happening elsewhere, as well as setting guidelines for safeguarding at the nursery itself. When Ofsted makes visits to nurseries including ours, they will also be looking to ensure we follow all the safeguarding procedures effectively.

Child safety

Childcare Professionals

Any staff member who will have contact with children is checked for suitability, including enhanced criminal record and barred list checks (previously known as a ‘CRB’ check but now replaced by the Disclosure and Barring Service or ‘DBS’). Additional criminal record checks are made for any staff member who has lived or worked outside the UK. Childcare professionals are also vetted in a number of other ways including identity checks, checks to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol or other substance, and much more.

Every childcare setting, including Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, has a designated trained professional who takes lead responsibility for the safeguarding of children. The lead person also liaises with statutory local agencies and the LSCB. Ofsted will also check to ensure that the nursery is implementing the appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures when it visits periodically. So, there are multiple levels of safeguarding checks, by several independent professionals.

All childcare staff at the nursery are suitably trained to understand the safeguarding policies in place and know what to do if there are any concerns. Staff are also expected to keep and maintain records.

The nursery also, of course, ensures that staff members are suitably trained, qualified, experienced and supervised, with the requisite skills and knowledge needed for the job being undertaken. Our childcare professionals are also given ample opportunities for additional training and professional development, so that the quality of care continually improves, to the benefit of the children.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery also keeps exceptionally high staff to child ratios.

  • For children under two, there is at least one staff member for every three children.
  • For children aged two, there is at least one staff member for every four children.
  • For children aged three and over, there is at least one staff member for every eight to thirteen children (a range is indicated because the ratio differs depending upon the particular tasks being undertaken by the children).

The Key Person

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, every child is also allocated their own ‘Key Person’; a member of staff who is responsible for tailoring the learning and development programme to the needs of each individual child. The Key Person also engages with parents or carers so that the learning and development programme is supported when the child is at home. There is also a safeguarding element to the children having their own Key Person as that staff member will keep a continuous eye on the child’s progress and wellbeing throughout their time with the nursery. In this way, the child should attain the very best outcome and achieve their own individual learning and development goals.

Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

Leaps & Bounds has arrangements in place to support children with special educational needs (‘SEN’) and disabilities. With that in mind, the nursery also has a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), who is also the Behavioural Co-ordinator (‘BECo’) for the setting.

Protection from infection in a pandemicMedicines & Infections

It goes without saying that staff at the nursery take precautions to stop the spread of any infections and that appropriate actions are taken if children become ill. This is more relevant than ever with the pandemic affecting the country so deeply this year (take a look at our anti-COVID precautions to get an idea of how we deal with the threat of a pandemic).

Staff also have strict protocols in place in relation to the administering of any medicines prescribed by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or dentist. They will only be given, of course, with written permission of the parent or carer of the child involved. Staff involved are also suitably trained where any medical administration requires medical or technical knowledge. Written records are kept whenever medicines are given and the parent/carer(s) informed.
Medical care policies

Injuries & Accidents

At least one staff member is always available, whether at the nursery premises or accompanying children on outings, who has a current Paediatric First Aid (‘PFA’) certificate. PFA training, relevant to the care of young children and babies as appropriate, is renewed every three years. The nursery also has its own official Medical Co-ordinator and a suitably equipped First Aid box is available and accessible at all times. Any accidents, injuries or treatments are recorded and parents/carers informed. The nursery would also follow strict Ofsted rules and protocols in the unlikely event of a serious accident or injury.

Healthy Food & Drink

Safeguarding is also about children’s health. With that in mind, the nursery serves only healthy, nutritious, balanced, meals, snacks and drinks. Food preferences, special dietary requirements and allergies are all catered for. Fresh drinking water is also available at any time. Food is prepared under strict, hygienic conditions, by people suitably trained in food hygiene. Equipment for the preparation of baby food/milk is sterilised, as appropriate.

A Safe Environment

The nursery itself does, of course, fall under the general Health & Safety rules. As such, it is always fit for purpose and subject to all the health, safety, hygiene and fire safety precautions that one would expect and, indeed, are a legal requirement of such premises. The nursery maintains the appropriate insurance policies too.

With regard to being fit for purpose, the premises and equipment are supplied in accordance with suitability for the age groups using them, i.e. babies and young children. This applies in both indoor and outdoor areas where children play. Risk assessments are undertaken in order to identify areas that may require measures to be put in place or where items need, for instance, to be maintained. This applies to outings too.

We have a proactive approach to safety, rather than a reactive one.

Emergency evacuation procedures are also in place in the event of a fire or other emergency. Emergency exits are also clearly identified and kept free of obstacles. In the case of fire, the nursery has appropriate detection and control mechanisms in place and these are regularly maintained to ensure that they are in working order at all times.
A caring environment at Leaps & Bounds Day NurserySleeping babies and children are monitored and regularly checked. Babies have their own, separate baby room for this purpose.

In regard to children leaving the premises, further strict protocols are also in place at the nursery. These include not allowing children to go outside or leave the premises unsupervised and, when it’s time for children to go home, rules that only allow them to be picked up by individuals that have been agreed with parents. This is achieved through a password system if parents or carers have arranged for someone else to pick children up. The staff at the nursery will check both the ID of that person and accuracy of the password before the child in question is released from the nursery.

The nursery also takes serious steps to prevent unauthorised people from entering the premises, with protocols in place to identify anyone that does visit. The nursery has CCTV in place indoors and outdoors as well as at the main entrance. During the pandemic lock-down we are are also not allowing parents, carers or visitors inside the building, so as to keep everyone safe from the possible spread of COVID-19.

Parents also love the online ‘app’ that they can use to get regular updates about their child’s activity each day at the nursery. They can see photos of what their child has been doing, what they have eaten and when they’ve had a sleep. We should add that the app does not access the CCTV system, for security reasons.

Childcare providers like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery are also expected to keep and maintain records. This includes obtaining and/or confidential sharing of information with parents or carers and, if appropriate and when required to do so, with other professionals who work with the child including social services, the police and Ofsted if applicable. Records are kept secure, of course, and information is only shared with those who have a legal right to see it. The two-way flow of information, when appropriate, is designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and the smooth, efficient and appropriate running of the nursery itself.
Our Safeguarding policy is available to read or download here.

We hope this information reassures parents and carers who may be looking for a high quality nursery in the Birmingham area.

Children are safe & happy at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, BirminghamA Place for your Baby or Toddler at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, B16, close to Birmingham city centre. It’s conveniently located if you are looking for childcare nurseries near you around Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick. For more information about a possible place for your child, call 0121 246 4922 or contact us or book a visit here. We’d be happy to show you around, so that you can see the nursery for yourself (appropriately socially distanced etc., of course). Get in touch!

The 7 Key Learning & Development Programmes of the EYFS
Early years education at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, BirminghamIn last month’s Rough Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), we touched upon the 7 EYFS learning and development programmes and their goals, promising to come back to them in much greater detail. We’ll now take a closer look, so that parents can learn more about the programme that their under-fives are experiencing at nurseries like ours, as part of their preparation to become ‘school-ready’ by the time they are five.

The 7 Key Learning & Development Programmes of the EYFS

The 7 key learning and development programmes, covered by the EYFS, include three primary areas of focus plus 4 additional areas. In many ways, the seven represent the learning and development curriculum at early years settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston. They form an educational structure that also includes a set of goals for each child to attain. Together, they allow children to learn and develop through play, exploration, active learning, creativity and critical thinking.

The 3 primary areas of learning and development

Childcare professionals in England focus most strongly on the three prime areas of learning and development, particularly for the youngest children. These are essential skills that every child needs in order to learn and develop optimally. They form essential building blocks needed as foundations for the other four areas of focus (we’ll come to those later in this article). The three prime areas also allow childcare practitioners to recognise if a child has special educational needs, challenges or disabilities. If so, these can be discussed with the parent or carer and appropriate support options can then be sought if needed.

Learning and development at the nurseryThe three primary areas of learning and development are:

  • Communication & language;
  • Physical development;
  • Personal, social & emotional development.

We’ll take a look at each in turn …

Communication & language

The communication module is all about the children developing their listening, attention, comprehension and speaking skills. Childcare practitioners will look out for them actually listening attentively in a variety of situations. For example, these would include story-telling and spoken engagement from both adults and other children around them. Staff will watch to ensure that they comprehend what’s being communicated, understand verbal instructions, ask relevant questions and generally respond to what’s been communicated in appropriate ways. They will be encouraged to speak and communicate their understanding of what’s being said in appropriate spoken form including, for example, the correct use of past, present and future tenses. All in all, the aim is for them to become confident in their communication skills and be able to express themselves, whatever the situation.

Physical development

The physical development part of the EYFS programme is all about the children developing physical skills, like movement control and coordination, including both small and large types of movement. It’s important for these skills to develop in a wide range of situations. These might include things like successfully holding and using a writing instrument, negotiating larger spaces and handling a variety of tools and equipment in safe and appropriate ways. Personal, social & emotional developmentThis is taken a step further by instilling in the children the importance of physical exercise and a healthy diet. The children’s personal needs also come into this module and, as part of this, they are encouraged to dress themselves and use toilet facilities independently and to be mindful of their own, personal hygiene.

Personal, social & emotional development

EYFS’s personal, social and emotional development module aims to help children to become more self-aware, self-confident in themselves, aware of their own feelings and sensitive to those of others. It also helps them to foster good relationships with those around them and to behave appropriately while, at the same time, understanding what is not acceptable in terms of behaviour. The programme helps children to become more confident in their own abilities and be a cooperative individual within their group. They should recognise their own needs, and be able to politely verbalise them, while remaining sensitive to the needs of others. With a sense of mutual respect, they should develop a positive sense of themselves, enhance their social skills and deepen their emotional intelligence. Positive relationships should thereby grow naturally.

The 4 additional areas of learning and development

The three prime areas above form a strong learning and development foundation for the remaining four areas of focus.

Reading with a young childThe four additional areas of learning and development are:

  • Literacy;
  • Mathematics;
  • Understanding the world;
  • Expressive arts & design.

We’ll take a look at each in turn …

Literacy

The literacy component of the EYFS curriculum is about reading and writing.

In regard to reading, children will become familiar with letters and phonics and should be able to link these to spoken words. As they progress, they should soon be able to read and comprehend reasonably simple sentences and even some of the more common irregular words. They should be able to demonstrate an understanding of what they’ve read in a wide variety of reading materials.

Writing is a natural progression of this as they use the skills and understanding of reading and apply it to their own written words and sentences.

Mathematics

Mathematics is a key module within the EYFS framework

The mathematics element of the EYFS curriculum covers everything you’d expect in terms of early years mathematics, but it also relates the topic to the physical world around children. So, as well as learning to count, recognise when numbers are greater or smaller than others, do simple addition and subtraction and suchlike, children are encouraged to recognise how mathematics relates to their environment and to everyday objects. For example, they are will start to see regular patterns and become aware of simple mathematics relating to size, distance, weight, volume, time and money. They will be able to solve simple problems and understand concepts like doubling, halving, sharing and so on.

Understanding the world

Technology is one part of this topic. Here, children will be able to discover technology that will suit specific purposes that they want to undertake around the home, at nursery or later in school.

Children will get to understand the physical world around them, becoming more aware of nature, plants and the animal world. They will learn about the similarities and differences between living things, materials, objects, places and whole environments. Another aim is to enable them to discuss all these things and to understand why some things happen as they do.

People and communities is another key focus area within this module. In a similar way to the section above, children will observe and explore the similarities and differences between people, families, cultures, communities and traditions. They should become sensitive to the fact that different people have different preferences, beliefs and values. They should also soon be able to articulate their understanding of these and be able to compare them verbally.

Expressive arts & design

Early years creativity

The exploration and use of different media and materials is a key component of this EYFS curriculum module. So, children will get involved in singing, dancing and making music in a variety of different ways. They’ll use different techniques to explore design, colour, form, function and texture using a range of different materials and tools.

Children are also encouraged to be imaginative as part of this module. They should be able to implement what they’ve learned about media, materials and creative techniques to create original and imaginative works of their own. These pieces may be created through art, design, technology, music, dance, role-play or creative writing.

Continuous assessment, the ‘Progress Check’ & the ‘EYFSP’

Throughout all seven areas of the EYFS learning and development programme, the childcare professionals at nurseries, pre-schools and other early years settings will continuously monitor how the children are progressing. The learning and development plan will regularly be tailored, as appropriate, to the emerging needs and preferred learning styles of each individual child. Parents/carers will be kept informed throughout and a personal learning journal will be maintained, as part of this, for each child. This is available to view at any time. There is also a formal, written ‘Progress Check’ once children reach the age of two and this can be used to ascertain whether the child in question has any special needs and, if so, what support may be required. Similarly, an Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (“EYFSP”) is produced in the final term in which the child reaches the age of 5. This is used by the school that the child attends following nursery, in order to appraise the child’s readiness for Year 1.

Childcare services at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery fully embraces all areas of the excellent EYFS framework, for early years learning and development. Babies and children thrive in this environment and each child achieves personal bests through doing so. If you are looking for high quality childcare and early education for your baby or child under five, please consider Leaps & Bounds. We are a nursery in Edgbaston, near Birmingham (B16), so are also convenient for parents looking for nurseries or pre-schools near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call 0121 246 4922 or request a visit or more information here. We’d love to meet you, show you around and to tell you more about this excellent nursery, its learning and development programme, and how it could benefit your child.

A Rough Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The EYFS is a complete framework for early years education and careIn our ‘Why Choose Us’ section, we give a brief outline of our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum and roughly what it includes. However, the EYFS is not just a  curriculum. It is actually a fully-fledged ‘framework’ — an entire approach to early years education and care. It is used at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and other registered childcare settings throughout England. In this article, we explain how it’s used, what it consists of and what its key aims are.

Why use the Early Years Foundation Stage framework?

All UK Registered Childcare settings are mandated by the UK’s Department of Education (‘DoE’) to implement what’s known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) framework. This is a legal requirement for early years settings under the Childcare Act 2006. The framework includes a comprehensive set of rules, a series of excellent guidelines and additional legally-binding guidance for early years settings in England. These have been shaped by best practice approaches to education and care, which have been tried and tested over the course of many years.

What are the key aims of the EYFS?

The key educational aim of the EYFS framework is for children’s learning and development to progress in the most successful way — and a way that best suits each individual child. After all, every child is unique. This aim is critically important in order to nurture and help maximise their skills and abilities while also recognising that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates. Achieving this will help give each child the best possible start in life, whatever their abilities or disabilities. This will, in turn, give them the best chance to fulfil their own personal potential later in life. Study after study has shown that children’s early years of learning and development have a huge impact on lifelong outcomes, so achieving personal bests is incredibly important.

“The Early Years Foundation Stage … ensure(s) children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.” ( DoE, March 2017)

The EYFS aims to forge a partnership between early years settings and parentsThe EYFS framework aims to ensure:

  • the safeguarding, happiness and welfare of children in early years settings;
  • high quality and consistent early years education and care;
  • equal opportunities for every child;
  • that children build a wide range of skills and knowledge as a foundation for the future;
  • that children are ready and fully prepared for school by the time they leave early years care;
  • the nurturing of a partnership between early years childcare settings and parents/carers in order to achieve the aims.

What does the EYFS framework include?

The EYFS framework has several key components:

  1. Learning and development programmes that are implemented by the early years setting. These form the basis of the curriculum.
  2. A set of learning goals for the children to work towards. Their primary aim is to ensure each child’s readiness for school.
  3. Continual assessment of each child’s progress and tailoring of their learning and development programmes as appropriate.
  4. Safeguarding and welfare requirements. These prescribe the steps needed to keep children safe and well at early years settings like nurseries and pre-schools.

We’ll go into a little more detail about each one.

What are the EYFS programmes?

Communication, language and literacy are key programmes within the EYFSThe EYFS learning and development programmes cover a total of 7 areas. In real terms, these programmes form the basis of the core curriculum in place at early years settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. They are implemented, in a structured way, through playing, exploring, active learning, creating and critical thinking. Of the seven, there are three prime areas or learning and development. These are:

  • Communication and language
    (listening, understanding, speaking etc.)
  • Physical development
    (movement, co-ordination, health, self-care, exercise, diet, hygiene etc.)
  • Personal, social and emotional development
    (self-confidence, self-awareness, speaking in groups, behaviour, management of feelings, making relationships, etc.)

In tandem with those are the four remaining areas of focus for the children, being:

  • Literacy
    (reading, writing, vocabulary, comprehension etc.)
  • Mathematics
    (counting, numeracy, problem-solving, simple arithmetic, comprehension, of shapes/space/volumes etc).
  • Understanding the world
    (Awareness of different people, communities, cultures, nature and the world around them etc.)
  • Expressive arts and design
    (being creative and using imagination including in art, music, dance, technology etc.)

Learn more about the 7 key learning and development programmes in our separate post, here.

What are the EYFS goals?

For each of the seven areas of learning and development is a set of goals for the children. These are present to ensure each child’s successful progress towards the ultimate aim of being ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave early years education and begin school. Programmes are adapted, as appropriate, to accommodate the individual needs, abilities and progress of each child as they work towards each goal. The EYFS learning and development goals are very detailed and are covered in a separate post here.

What about EYFS assessments?

The EYFS has a set of goals for each childThe EYFS includes continuous assessment of each child and their progress towards each goal. It is this assessment that allows key workers and other childcare professionals to tailor programmes to suit individual rates of progress. Parents are also engaged and kept informed so that the child’s learning and development programme is supported and continued, where possible, whilst at home. Part of the assessments process is an important ‘Progress Check‘ report when children reach the age of two.

A final ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Profile‘ (EYFSP) will eventually be completed in the year in which the child reaches the age of five. The EYFSP is used to inform school teachers about each child’s progress once they start Year 1 following Reception. An EYFSP must be provided for every child, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. These inform the school teachers about each child and are useful as a way to gauge the possible need for additional support, for example.

What are the EYFS safeguarding & welfare measures?

The EYFS also includes an important framework for the safeguarding and welfare of children. Clearly, early years education and care settings need to keep children safe and well, so the EYFS contains several provisions to ensure that this is the case. These measures include:

  • The EYFS includes detailed guidance on child welfare, health & safetySafeguards to ensure the suitability of those in contact with children;
  • Minimum training and qualifications for staff;
  • Provision of a ‘key person’ who is assigned to each child;
  • Minimum staff-to-children ratios;
  • Various measures and safeguards to promote good health, including in relation to use of medicines;
  • A healthy eating/drinking approach;
  • Adequate provisions in place in the event of accident or injury;
  • Adequate steps to ensure that premises are safe, that Healthy & Safety protocols are suitable and that risk assessments are made as and when appropriate;
  • Minimum indoor space and outdoor activity provisions;
  • Suitable protocols are in place to prevent unauthorised people from entering premises or contacting children;
  • Provision for the support of children with special educational needs or disabilities;
  • And much more.

Our Safeguarding policy is available here to read or download.

You can see from the above that the EYFS is incredibly far-reaching. It is an excellent framework and one that really works to maximise the personal potential of each and every child. Along with that, it ensures the best possible attention to the happiness, health, safety and wellbeing of the children.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

If you would like your baby or child to benefit from everything the EYFS has to offer, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would love to hear from you. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, B16, so are very convenient for those parents and carers looking for outstanding weekday childcare services near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We even have our own Forest School! Call 0121 246 4922 for to discuss a nursery place with our team or click any of the bold links in this paragraph for further information.

The many merits of messy play

Face painting funMost kids, especially the young, absolutely love messy play. Whether face-painting, hand printing, playing creatively with food or making masterpieces with clay, preschoolers are usually in their element when they’re making a mess with media of one form or another. Look at a photo of any such activity involving a child and you’re likely to see the pure joy and sense of wonder right there on their faces. They’re likely to be grinning from ear to ear and perhaps even raising their messy hands proudly towards the camera!

Not only is messy play extraordinarily good fun for very young children, but it also has a surprisingly number of long-term benefits for them. We’ll explore some of those in this article. Hopefully, it may help some of the more sceptical parents to understand why it is such an essential element of early years education, despite the occasional splatter of paint going astray.

The benefits of messy play

Messy play is great fun for under-fivesIt’s fun!

The fun aspect of messy play should firstly be considered as important in itself. After all, if children cannot have fun with messy play when they’re youngsters, when can they? Messy play is a great opportunity to get really ‘hands-on’ and totally creative. Learning through this type of play, when having real fun, is the most natural of ways to learn. Messy play is a perfect way for children to discover and to express themselves.

Developing the senses

Messy play is a feast for the senses and it gives children the opportunity to really explore these. They can explore textures, touch, smell, liquids, solids, hardness, softness, colour and even taste when appropriate. Children up to the age of two are particularly responsive to messy and sensory play. It will teach them about the world around them, and about their own senses, in so many different ways.

Stimulating the imagination, boosting creativity & quietly educating

Messy play stimulates children's imaginationsAs they get older, they can build on these new sensory ‘building blocks’ and develop them further, in ever-more creative ways. They will have picked up new skills and knowledge around things like combining colour pigments, mark-making, use of textures, the properties of materials and building/affixing know-how through messy play. Allowing them to explore what’s possible with objects, colour, texture, size, shape and form will stimulate their imagination and make them naturally more creative.

What’s interesting is that children may start off simply enjoying being messy but they’ll very soon progress to making some sort of creative plan in their minds, perhaps building a fantasy world, game or situation of some kind with their peers.

Independent working & team-working skills

Messy play allows children to let their imagination be totally free, whether working and playing independently or with a group of friends. Indeed, teamwork and independent working will be very important skills to possess as they grow through the years into adulthood and ultimately begin their careers.

Messy play also helps children with communication, independent working and team-workingEnhancing communication skills

Taking this a step further, you can see how messy play can help to begin the process of improving communication skills, both with educators and other children. Messy play can be a sociable activity, promoting conversations, social interactions and even negotiation, all in a very natural way. Children like to share their discoveries and will get great pleasure from showing their playmates their creative achievements and discoveries. That’s a great way to bond.

Messy play also promotes questions and answers for parents, children and nursery staff to explore together. This, in turn, can improve skills like articulation, vocabulary, problem-solving and the analysis of cause and effect.

Improving motor skills & building muscle strength

Messy play also helps children, particularly the very young, to develop their fine motor skills. Activities like squeezing, scooping, swiping and sieving all require muscle control in fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders. It also develops their movement skills by combining the use of different groups of muscles used for things like balancing, picking up, applying media, fashioning things like clay and so on. Such activity can also build muscle and muscle control in children’s fingers and hands. This can prepare them for holding pencils, for example, once they start learning to write.

Similarly, gross motor skills can be improved via messy play. These skills involve large movements along with greater balance and strength. This can all be developed in the larger muscles, for example in arms, legs and feet through messy play activities like jumping in puddles, playing in sand outdoors, constructing larger-scale creations and suchlike.
Messy play helps children develop motor skills, body strength & coordination

Body control and balance skills are also needed – and gradually improved – when children undertake messy play activities like pouring paint, using a paint brush at an easel or carefully building some kind of creation.

Enhancing hand-eye coordination

It naturally follows that many of these activities will improve children’s hand-eye coordination as they get ever-better at activities like cutting out materials, being precise with glue or paint and on the levels of concentration that’s needed for some messy play activities.

Honing Spatial Awareness

Improving spatial awareness is very important for under-fives as it’s a skill that can keep them safer and literally out of harm’s way when they get it right. Messy play can help with this as the children learn about the space around them and begin to recall where items and other people are within that area. Good spatial awareness will also, of course, keep other children out of their way and begin to foster a feeling of respect for others and their personal spaces.

Messy play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Messy play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, BirminghamAt Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we really embrace the learning opportunities available to children through messy play. Of course, that’s all done with a curriculum-led structure, under close supervision. It’s also scheduled for appropriate times and with the appropriate protections in place (for example using protective aprons or changes of clothing arranged previously with parents).

Well-equipped areas in the nursery allow children of all ages access to messy play, whether on a small or larger scale. Children can play with sand, water, coloured paints, paper and card, natural resources and areas set up for small and large scale marking, construction and other types of messy play.

Messy play is, of course, also closely related to expressive art and design, which is a core part of our EYFS curriculum. Here, children explore a wide variety of materials and creative media and learn to express their ideas, improve artistic abilities and enhance their communication and motor skills. In turn, all of this helps to improve self-confidence, self-esteem, the importance of which cannot be over-emphasised.

There is no wrong or right way for messy play and we appreciate that not all children enjoy getting their hands dirty or perhaps wet. However, at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery they can explore messy play at their own pace and do whatever makes them feel comfortable.

Looking for childcare nurseries in the Birmingham area?

If you are looking for a nursery place in or around Birmingham for your baby or child under five, we currently have places available at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, although they’re being filled up fast. We’re based in Edgbaston, so are conveniently located for those looking for childcare in the Birmingham area including Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call us on 0121 246 4922, email us here or arrange a visit to the nursery here. We’ll be delighted to speak with you.