Jokes to Tickle Tots: for toddlers, preschoolers & under 5s

Here’s a little something to amuse the little ones in your life — a dozen jokes suitable for young children, including preschoolers and toddlers.  Please feel free to bookmark them in your browser or to share them on social media as these will brighten anyone’s day! Our own personal favourite is the Elephant joke. Take a look (click for a larger view) …

Laughter is important.

Science has proved again and again that laughter is good for you, whether you are a child or an adult. However, a sense of humour is a learned thing apparently; we’re not born with it. So, regular exposure to funny things when we’re very young will help us to develop an appreciation of amusing things and to grow our own unique sense of humour. With that in place, children learn to see the world in alternative ways and this, in turn, helps them to think more creatively.

When we laugh, our brain releases endorphins and these make us feel good, lifting our spirit and mood. In short, it can make us happy. Laughter is even known to help us become less prone to ailments like depression and resilient against physical illness. It also helps us cope in the face of adversity. Laughter can help children to have greater self-esteem and it can improve their social skills with those around them. It can even mask pain. There are so many benefits! (Perhaps we’ll go into more depth about the merits of laughter in a future post).

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16Our Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps and Bounds is a nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham (near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne and Ladywood) with its own Forest School. We offer outstanding childcare for babies and under-fives and, through a learning and development programme tailored for each child, ensure they are school-ready by the time they leave us. If you’d like to explore the possibility of your child attending one of Birmingham’s best nurseries, please get in touch:

10 Fascinating Facts About Edgbaston
Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is fortunate to be based in Edgbaston, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, just to the south-west of the city. In this post, we take a look at some of our favourite facts about the location, touching on history, significant venues, plus a few famous people with close links to the area.

Edgbaston1

The name Edgbaston is derived from the Old English naming convention whereby a place name consisted of, in this case, a person’s name (‘Ecgbald’) followed by the word for farm (‘tun’). So ‘Ecgbald tun’ (Ecgbald’s Farm), to all intents and purposes, became the name of the small village as it was then.

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At the time the village was recorded in the Doomsday Book in the year 1086, it had just 10 homes.

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Cattle grazing in Edgbaston. Image: Lines family sketchbook, public domain.

Edgbaston village remains quite an exclusive and affluent area. Indeed, in terms of property prices, it is one of the most expensive areas in the West Midlands. Much of this is owed to the village’s historical background. Back in the 19th Century, the Gillott and Gough-Calthorpe families, then land owners of much of Edgbaston, refused to allow the area to be industrialised with warehouses or factories and indeed it was often referred to as the area “where the trees begin”. In so doing, the unspoilt area attracted the more wealthy people who typically lived in impressive detached houses, many of which are still in use as private residences today.

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Priceless works of art from the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec, Turner, Whistler, Van Dyck, Picasso, Botticelli & Van Gogh can be seen at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.Priceless works of art from the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec, Turner, Whistler, Van Dyck, Picasso, Botticelli, Van Gogh and many other masters can be seen — in the flesh — at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. It is a small but incredibly impressive art gallery located on the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

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Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Image: Annette Randle /CC BY-SA 2.0Edgbaston also boasts its own 15-acre botanical gardens. Birmingham Botanical Gardens has its main entrance at Westbourne Road and is a superb attraction. It boasts beautiful formal gardens, planted zones of different kinds, impressive glasshouses with tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean and arid plants, a butterfly house, alpine house and pinetum. It also has a sunken rose garden, a rock garden, rhododendron and azalea walks, a waterfowl area, a bird aviary, a museum, two children’s playgrounds, a café, gift shop and much more.

Neville Chamberlain. Image: British Museum, Public domain6

During his lifetime, Neville Chamberlain, a British Prime Minister (1937-1940), was a major donor to the botanical gardens, as was his father Joseph Chamberlain. Neville was born in 1869 at ‘Southborne’, a house in Edgbaston village.

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J. R. R. Tolkien. Image: Tucker FTW, CC BY-SA 4.0The author J. R. R. Tolkien was also an Edgbaston resident for a time. When he was a teenager, he lived at Starling Road. This was close to two towers; the Waterworks Tower and Perrott’s Folly. It is said that these were the inspiration for Tolkien’s novel The Two Towers, from his trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

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England vs India Test match at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham (2011). Image: Jimmy Guano, CC BY-SA 3.0Edgbaston is, of course, famous for international Test Cricket matches and one day ‘internationals’ featuring the England cricket team. These take place at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, which is also home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club and the venue for various county matches.

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DFS Classic, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Image: Matt Morelli, CC BY-SA 2.0Edgbaston is also synonymous with tennis.

Firstly, Edgbaston Priory Club is a world class tennis venue and is located in Sir Harry’s Road. Top female players from around the world compete there in tournaments like the DFS Classic, which is part of the WTA Tour (run by the Women’s Tennis Association).

Secondly, Edgbaston is also the home of Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society (est. 1860). It is the world’s oldest lawn tennis club still in use.

Thirdly, the first ever game of lawn tennis took place in Edgbaston, in the garden of a house called ‘Fairlawn’ — a strangely apt name!

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Edgbaston Arts and Crafts house by Herbert Tudor Buckland. IMAGE: Oosoom, CC BY-SA 3.0Birmingham’s only Grade 1 listed domestic building can also be found in Edgbaston. It was designed and built in 1899 by the influential Arts and Crafts architect Herbert Tudor Buckland, who lived there. The property boasts stylish and well-preserved Arts and Crafts style interiors and a formal garden with a Gertrude Jekyll design. It is open to the public and tours are sometimes available. It’s an impressive and imposing house, located at 21 Yately Road, Edgbaston. This is a leafy road which also features other Arts and Crafts houses designed by Buckland.

The architect was also behind the design and build of nearby University House, in Birmingham University, which was built in 1908 (incidentally having been funded mainly by the aforementioned PM Neville Chamberlain). Buckland and his partner E. Haywood are indeed responsible for many designs and ideas that have helped to shape much of modern Birmingham.

An Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School & Forest School Setting in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16This post was brought to you by Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, which is also located in Edgbaston. We’re an ideal nursery/pre-school for those looking for outstanding weekday childcare for babies and children under five near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne or Ladywood. We are also a Forest School setting, so children at our nursery can enjoy and learn from everything that nature and the outdoors has to offer. If you’d like to explore the idea of your child attending the nursery, please call 0121 246 4922 while places are still available. Alternatively contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or arrange for you and your child to see the nursery in action.

Main image: St Augustine’s Church, Edgbaston – The Nave. Photo by ProCivitate, CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

Baby & Toddler Teeth Brushing Guide
We promised to publish a guide to brushing infant teeth in our article about fluoride for under-fives earlier this month. That time has now come, so we explain below what’s generally accepted as the best approach for brushing teeth for babies, toddlers and under-fives in the UK.

When to Start Brushing Children’s Teeth

First, though, it’s important to start brushing children’s teeth — and in the right way — as soon as your baby has any teeth showing. That’s the case even if it’s only one or two teeth initially. Getting the brushing approach right will protect your child from tooth decay and oral health problems, of course, but will also reinforce the importance of a good oral hygiene regime to the child. They learn from adults all the time so, when parents make a habit of cleaning children’s teeth at least twice a day, children are also more likely to continue to do so once they reach an age when they take over teeth brushing completely, by themselves. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to let them see you brushing your teeth too. Their totally independent brushing comes usually around the age of 7, by the way. However, they should be encouraged to actively brush teeth themselves — under close parental supervision and often with hands-on help — well before that. Let’s take it step by step:

Brushing Babies’ Teeth

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed for babies & children up to the age of 3Babies’ teeth usually start to appear around the age of 6 months of age, although it varies. In fact, some babies are even born with one or more teeth that have already erupted, as it’s called, through their gums. Whichever age it is that they first appear, that is the age parents should start to brush their teeth.
So, how do you brush a baby’s teeth? Firstly, you need to ensure that you’re using the right toothpaste, with the right fluoride content, so ensure that you carefully read the label. For babies and children up to the age of 3, use either ‘children’s’ fluoride toothpaste that has at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in it, up to a maximum of 1,500ppm if using a ‘family’ toothpaste (learn more about fluoride for children here).

Just a smear of the toothpaste is needed, up to the age of 3. You can use an infant’s toothbrush, a ‘finger brush’ or even simply a small piece of clean gauze wrapped around your finger. The easiest method is to sit your baby or toddler on your knee, facing away from you with their head resting on your chest, with their head tilted backwards a little. Taller toddlers can stand, but the same approach works. Facing a mirror is an excellent way to do it, since you can then both see how you are brushing your child’s teeth — and the child will learn from this. Use small circular movements to smear the toothpaste on all areas of their teeth and also on their gums. They should spit out any foam that’s been generated but they do not need to rinse. Indeed, not rinsing means that the fluoride will continue to protect their teeth for longer.

Once they’re used to this happening at least twice a day, you can start to encourage them to use their own hands, which you can help to guide. They will soon pick up the idea, but you’ll need to continue to closely supervise.

Brushing Teeth from 3 to 6 years of age

The same approach works fine for children once they reach the age of 3 upwards, except now they should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Clearly this will generate more foam, so it’s important for them to spit out the excess foam but, again, they do not need to rinse as not doing so will continue to protect their teeth from plaque and possible decay.

Brushing Teeth from the Age of 7

By the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth unaidedBy the time they reach the age of 7, children should have picked up exactly how to brush their own teeth — unaided — and should be doing so at least twice a day. They should use children’s or family toothpaste containing between 1,350 and 1,500ppm of fluoride when doing so and, again, a pea-sized amount.

Tips for Terrific Toddler Teeth!

  • One of the daily times for teeth brushing should be at the end of the day, before they go to bed. In this way, children’s teeth and gums will be protected overnight — quite a few hours of protection when you think about it.
  • Dental treatment for children is free under the NHS, so make the most of this; for example, if your child needs a check-up for possible treatment. Going to the dentist regularly for check-ups also sets a good example that they can follow. Going from an early age is more likely to put them at ease at such visits.
  • Give teeth individual attention when brushing. Ensure front, sides/edges and back are all thoroughly brushed along with the adjoining gums. If this approach is used, every tooth will get a great clean. There’s even an app for teeth cleaning, which makes it thorough, educational and fun (available on IOS and on Android).
  • A typical teeth brushing session should last no less than 2 full minutes. That way, each tooth and all gums should get ample attention.
  • Teeth brushing should always be supervised for young children. Don’t let them play, walk around or run with their brush in their mouth — it would be very dangerous for their safety.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and anything with added sugar contentAvoid added sugar in drinks and unnecessary added sugar in food as this leads to plaque build-up and eventually to decay. Moreover, the longer sugar is in the mouth, the worse it is likely to be. So, check labels, avoid added sugar, sweets, and sugary biscuits etc. except, perhaps, as occasional treats. Even with fruit juice there will be lots of natural sugar, so this can be diluted with water to reduce its concentration. 1 part fruit juice to ten parts water is a good guide. Generally speaking milk and water are, of course, the best drinks for young children. Even though natural milk contains sugars, it’s far less likely to cause tooth decay.
  • Brush teeth immediately after meals or any sweet drinks if at all possible, especially if anything sugary has been included or if fruit juice was drunk. This will stop the build-up of plaque in its tracks at an early stage and, in the case of fruit juice, also wash away the natural fruit acids (which can otherwise also harm teeth).

The Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Achieving a good approach to teeth brushing and oral hygiene, right from an early age, is great for children. It sets up a good habit for them to continue independently and protects their teeth and gums from decay as well as from unsightly discolouration — or worse. Regular teeth brushing also gives children fresher breath along with great-looking teeth — and that’s also great for their self-confidence. What’s more, studies show that there is a link between good oral health and general health.  People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, so looking after teeth and gums is incredibly important.

People who have poor oral hygiene are statistically at greater risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

About Our Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16We, at Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, hope you find this guide useful. We offer the highest quality childcare for babies and children aged up to five in our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our nursery and pre-school is near Bearwood, Smethwick, Harborne and Ladywood, making it convenient for anyone living or working in those areas. We even have our own Forest School, which gives children wonderful learning experiences in nature. Do get in contact as soon as possible if you are looking for weekday childcare for your little one in the Birmingham area, as spaces are limited. We’d love to tell you more, so please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or to show you and your little one around the lovely setting.

Parents: The Secret to a Child's Success!
Parents, YOU are the secret to your child’s success!Parents, YOU are the secret to your child’s success!

Specifically, you are an incredibly important part of your child’s education and, if you are actively involved in it, your child will benefit significantly. Study after study shows that children benefit enormously in their learning and development if parents are actively engaged in their education. The greatest benefit is when parents involve themselves right from the early years. What’s more, the benefits can have a life-long positive impact on outcomes for those children. Here’s the conclusion of just one study:

“Students with […] parents operating in supportive roles are 52% more likely to enjoy school and get straight A’s than students whose parents are disengaged with what’s going on at school. This is especially the case during the earliest years of schooling, […] when students with active parents are almost twice as likely to succeed.” (Pinantoan, 2013)

Those are incredible statistics, particularly in the case of early years education. In view of this, we’ll take a look at how and why parents should involve themselves in their children’s educations and how this involvement will benefit the children.

What we mean by parental involvement in educationFirst, Though, What Does Parental Involvement Involve?

By ‘parental involvement’ in children’s educations, we mean that parents actively involve themselves in what’s going on at nursery, pre-school, school or further education. This includes ensuring they understand how the child is progressing, helping children understand the curriculum topics and activities, assisting with problem areas, helping with homework when needed and connecting with teachers and education staff to ensure the collaborative support is ‘fully rounded’.

Ideally, parents should:

  • Engage with teaching staff at open days/evenings;
  • Regularly engage with key nursery school staff outside of open days, so parents understand what the current focus is — they can then better support their children’s learning;
  • Agree the child’s strengths and weaknesses with staff so as to help improve those weaknesses in a joined-up, strategic way;
  • Encourage children through praise and help whenever needed — children will be happier and achieve more with a parent’s moral support;
  • Let children know that expectations are high, but realistically achievable (without being unpleasantly strict);
  • Allocate a part of the house as a quiet space, that’s free of distractions, where their child can focus and study in peace and quiet. Ensure they have everything they need there to accomplish their work;
  • Read to children and listen to them reading;Child with parents, reading a book
  • Check their grammar and spelling and ensure they learn from any mistakes — for example, writing the correct spelling of a problem word ten times. If parents are not great at spelling and grammar themselves, then applications like Microsoft Word can spell- and grammar-check for them (although do not allow children to rely on this — they need to learn from mistakes highlighted rather than relying on auto-correct);
  • Refer to the appropriate curriculum-based text books with children, to proactively help them find answers to questions and solve problems together;
  • Test children on their knowledge of a topic, particularly when exams and tests are imminent. This can be very beneficial in identifying areas where the child needs more study;
  • Proactively choose (and visit) the best educational settings for their particular child — not simply allow momentum and inactivity to select for them. (Read our excellent write-up on how Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery Ticks All the Boxes if your child is under five and is looking for an outstanding nursery or pre-school in Edgbaston or the Birmingham area);
  • Regularly check and contribute to the Personal Development Folder that your child’s nursery or pre-school will be maintaining for your child. Read notes therein from the nursery staff and identify potential problem areas where you can help.

The Benefits of Parents Being Actively Involved in their Children’s Education

We’ve already hinted at a few of the ways that children will benefit from parents being actively involved in their education. We’ll now look in more detail.

“Parents who invest time and place value on their children’s education will have children who are more successful in school. (Meador)

The benefits of parental involvement in the education of childrenParental involvement in children’s education benefits the child in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • Statistically proven behaviour improvements and lower truancy rates;
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence;
  • Reduced stress and anxiety levels, with a more positive ‘can do’ attitude;
  • Improved skills and knowledge that’ll stand them in good stead going forwards;
  • A happier outlook, higher morale and a better quality of life;
  • Improved core subjects like English & maths that will help improve all other subjects;
  • Improved communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, organisation and focus;
  • Closer bonds with parents;
  • Hands-on help understanding problem areas;
  • Children will be better prepared for tests and exams;
  • They are statistically proven to achieve better grades;
  • With better grades, they are likely to have a better choice of schools and further education establishments, including universities when they’re older;
  • Ultimately, with better educations and qualifications, their careers, life choices and earning potential as adults are likely to be superior.

With better educations and qualifications, children’s career and life choices will also be improved.

The benefits of parents being proactively involved in children’s educations cannot be overstated — they are potentially huge. When handled well, it can help children learn more, get better grades, be less stressed, end up in better education/further education institutions (including university choices when they’re older) and, ultimately, improve their career choices and earning potential. That is priceless!

How we help at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, BirminghamAt Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Birmingham

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, we really encourage parents to be involved in their children’s educations. With a myriad of proven, long-term benefits, it makes total sense for nursery staff and parents/carers to collaborate. With improved outcomes across the board, this collaboration and proactive involvement of parents is all in the best interests of every child. It makes such a difference.

Our learning and development programmes are tailored to the strengths, weaknesses, skills and interests of each individual child under the guidance of a ‘Key Person’ who is allocated to each individual. Parents are encouraged to keep abreast of these programmes through regular dialogue with nursery staff, so that the good work can be further supported while children are at home. A continuous progress journal is also maintained for every child and parents can access these at any time. We even encourage them to make additions in respect of children’s progress outside of the nursery so that a more rounded picture is painted.

Nursery places in Birmingham Available

If you are looking for good nurseries in Birmingham, we’d love to hear from you. We have just a few places available in our nursery in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. Its location may also suit those looking for pre-schools, nurseries or childcare services near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick around the B16 postcode zone. If you’d like to explore the idea of your child attending this outstanding childcare setting, please contact us (or book a visit) here, or call 0121 246 4922 for further information. We’d love to meet you and your child and to show you around!

A Birmingham Nursery that Ticks All the Boxes
If you’re looking for a nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting for your little one, you need to ensure that it ticks all the right boxes. It needs to be high quality in all respects, well thought-of by existing and past parents, conveniently located for dropping off and picking up — and a whole lot more. If you’re looking in the Edgbaston or Birmingham area, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is hard to beat. Compare any other contenders with us and you’ll soon see that we shape up extremely well as a nursery. Take a look via our nursery check list:

Convenience

Convenience

Fees & Funding

Fees & funding

Facilities & Equipment

Facilities & equipment

Visiting the Nursery

Visiting the nursery

Social Proof

Social proof

Ofsted Report

Ofsted report

Safety & Security

Safety & security

The Setting & Staff

The setting & staff

Conclusion

Conclusion

(Information correct at time of writing).

We hope you like what you see about Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. If so, we’re convenient for those looking for a childcare nursery in and around Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick and, of course, Birmingham itself. Contact us or book a visit here, or call 0121 246 4922 to ask any questions. We’ll be very happy to help.

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.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mum & Baby

“Breast milk is nature’s perfect baby food. It contains immunity-boosting antibodies and healthy enzymes that scientists have yet to replicate” (Parents.com)

When it comes to breastfeeding, there are multiple benefits for both mother and baby. Indeed, the list of benefits is incredibly long, as we’ll see below. For one reason or another, though, not every mother ends up breastfeeding and that’s absolutely fair enough. After all, we’re all different and it’s also a very personal issue in any case. Some mums have physiological problems with the whole thing, other mums simply don’t like the idea of it and there are many additional reasons why breastfeeding simply isn’t an option for many. That’s all a given, so this article is here as a guide just to help keep parents as informed as possible.
Breastfeeding has been shown to benefit both mother and baby, in an incredible variety of ways …

Breastfeeding benefits for babies

Mother feeding babyFor babies that are breastfeed, there are many potential health benefits including a lower susceptibility to some diseases and to infections.

  • Breastfeeding allows antibodies to be passed on to the infant. This is especially important as a way to counter the threat of viruses.
  • Breast milk also contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats and hormones, all of which help with healthy development.
  • The long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids found in breast milk help young brains to develop.
  • Some studies suggest that infants who have been breastfed for at least 6 months are statistically less likely to develop childhood leukaemia.
  • When breastfed during the first 3 months, infants are also less likely to develop childhood asthma or allergic rhinitis.
  • Indeed, continuing to breastfeed when infants start eating solids may even protect them from developing some food allergies.
  • Infants who are breastfed are also less likely to develop wheezing and severe eczema.
  • Breast milk reduces the risk of the child developing ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea.
  • It can also protect infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (‘SADS’).
  • Breastfeeding also helps premature babies by reducing the risk of them developing Necrotising Enterocolitis or ‘NEC’, a potentially serious bowel disorder.
  • Many of breast milk’s benefits last right into adulthood.

Breastfeeding benefits for mums

Breast milk benefits both growging babies and their mumsMums also benefit hugely from breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of obesity in mothers.
  • It also lowers their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Mothers who breastfeed are also statistically less likely to develop ovarian cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
  • Breastfeeding also helps the uterus to return to its normal size.
  • The periods of mothers who breastfeed return later than those of mums who don’t. This difference can be useful for family planning purposes.
  • Breastfeeding is a perfect way for new mums and babies to form a close bond, naturally.

Practical benefits of breastfeeding

  • As the most natural food for newborns, babies tend to simply enjoy the taste of breast milk, almost without exception.
  • Breastfeeding requires no preparation and so feeding can take place virtually anywhere, any time.
  • Breast milk is free, so saves families money at what can be an expensive time.
  • Unlike formula milk, the taste and make-up of breast milk naturally changes as time goes by. For this reason, breast milk naturally encourages babies to enjoy a variety of tastes, which in turn helps when it comes to weaning them onto solids.
  • Breast milk is perfectly tailored to your baby and adapts to suit them as they grow. That’s incredible when you think about it.
  • Breastfeeding is a natural way for your baby to feed no more and no less than he or she really needs to. That’s perhaps the most natural way to regulate food intake.
  • As a totally natural and sustainable food source, breastfeeding is also incredibly ‘green’. Indeed, World Breastfeeding Week (‘WBW’) earlier this August saw that 2020’s theme was “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”. WBW 2020 focussed on the impact of feeding on the environment and climate change, showing breastfeeding to be incredibly healthy for both people and planet.

More information about the benefits of, and myths around, breastfeeding is available at the NHS site.

Baby feeding at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, parents have the choice of supplying either formula milk or breast milk. If supplying breast milk, we suggest bottles should be supplied in a suitable cool bag with their child’s name clearly identified. If supplying formula milk, they need not make the milk up; supplying the formula powder is fine and nursery staff will then freshly make up bottles of milk at the appropriate feeding times. Leaps & Bounds is also a breastfeeding-friendly zone — we are always happy to accommodate nursing mums and can arrange a private space for them to breastfeed their child whenever needed.

Nursery places near Birmingham, Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Are you looking for childcare for your baby or under-five child in and around Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick? Leaps & Bounds is an outstanding nursery and pre-school offering high quality childcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham. At time of writing, we have places available, so do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about the nursery and its suitability for your child. Call 0121 246 4922 or contact us/arrange a visit here. We’ll be delighted to tell you more and to show you around very soon.

Tablets for Tots: Pros, Cons & Potential Health Risks

A preschooler using a tabletThe debate over children’s use of handheld electronic screens, i.e. mobiles and tablets, is an important one. How much screen time is too much for children? Is it even safe for young, developing brains? In this article we go through the pros and cons of allowing children to use handheld screens and discover some major causes for concern.

The pros of letting children use mobiles and tablets

On the one hand, handing a mobile or tablet to a demanding child is a very convenient way to keep them entertained. This is especially true for parents who find themselves stretched in multiple directions with ever-decreasing free time. Handheld electronic devices will keep children — even the very young — extremely engaged. Parents can then largely get on with other tasks.

“‘Today’s preschoolers are confidently navigating digital platforms with purpose and determination. By the age of three, almost all watch programmes on-demand and have access to a connected device … more than half have their own tablet or computer.” (Childwise).

As well as being entertained, some children are also being educated by the device, depending upon the content, of course. That does make sense — children will get to grips with technology, discover new interests and learn if they’re exposed to the right content. ‘How to’ videos are of particular interest to older children while programmes about nature and science teach something to children of all ages.

The cons — including potential health risks

Toddlers as young as 3 are able to control many aspects of handheld devicesOn the other hand, there are real concerns over the possible negative impacts of too much screen time on children. How can parents be sure that their child will not stumble across unsuitable content? (Read on for a possible solution). Are mobiles and tablets even safe for young, developing brains? Indeed, this is a concern of many scientists and medical professionals around the world. Some go so far as saying that any close proximity to the RF wireless radiation associated with mobiles, tablets and Wi-Fi devices is potentially damaging — on a cellular level, even for foetuses in the womb.  We’ll go into more detail about that later in the article.

Even if that were not the case, there remain other concerns over how much time young children should spend staring at mobiles and tablets while disengaging from the ‘real’ world. Not only are children missing out on more natural interactions when on handheld devices, but they’re also likely to be more sedentary, which we all know is not a good lifestyle habit to encourage.

Is it lazy parenting?

Is handing a tablet or mobile device to a child lazy parenting? Some would argue that it is, but in the real world, sometimes a parent simply needs the child to entertain themselves for a while, so the parent can get on with some other task that just has to be done. Handheld screens are a great solution to that.

What’s presented to the child on the electronic screen doesn’t necessarily need to be some banal game or pointless cartoon. Educational content can be just as entertaining to a toddler if it’s carefully selected. Even some games, for example, can teach children things like numeracy, problem-solving and more, whilst also being great fun. It’s therefore a balance that every parent needs to consider. Spending a little time carefully selecting the right digital content for a toddler can be time very well spent.

Are mobiles & tablets potentially harmful to the child?

RF wireless technology is cause for concern amongst some expertsAccording to many scientists and medical professionals, devices emitting ‘RF wireless radiation’ (like mobiles and tablets connected wirelessly to the Internet) have been shown to be potentially harmful. We, the writers of this article, are not scientists or medical professionals, so cannot advise one way or the other. However, some who are more qualified are keen to warn pregnant women, in particular, and parents of young children that great care needs to be taken around devices connected wirelessly. Their research suggests that being in close proximity to the wireless radiation emitting from connected mobile phones and handheld tablets can potentially affect the actual cell structure of the human body. The Baby Safe Project is one such body of scientists and medical professionals that is pushing for further research to clarify the matter. Their findings to date, though, are extremely concerning if correct. If you can spare just over an hour to really look at the science (skip the ad’s), this video is of huge interest (… and concern — Editor’s note: after watching this video I will never sleep next to my mobile again, if connected to Wi-Fi). If you are short on time, this 3 minute video is significantly faster to digest, although misses out the deeper scientific detail.

How to mitigate possible harm

Devices can run many applications without being connected to Wi-Fi or other wireless networks. Switching mobile phones and tablets onto ‘Flight Mode’, for example, will disconnect them from Wi-Fi and render them much more safe, according to the scientists above. Alternatively, connecting them to the Internet using wired connections (e.g. Ethernet cables) will mitigate the risk of RF wireless radiation being generated.

The Baby Safe Project is a non-profit initiative that raises concerns over the impact of wireless radiation on human health. With its goals endorsed by many of the world’s leading experts in the fields of microwave radiation, brain development, obstetrics, paediatrics and public health, it has some useful guidelines for keeping safe from exposure to wireless radiation, around handheld devices, for example. They recommend that pregnant women should take particular care. Take a look at their guidelines here.

We’re not scientists ourselves, but ‘better safe than sorry’ would seem a sensible approach given the experts’ concerns.

Parental controls

Parents can grapple back control of mobiles and tablets remotelyEven if the above is taken out of the equation, there are other considerations when it comes to the amount that under-fives are exposed to the use of mobiles and tablets. Children learn fast and will often take full control of their handheld electronic devices in a very short space of time. The devices often become their most closely guarded possession, in fact. Controlling their activity on mobiles and tablets can be very challenging for a parent, but it’s very important. Children will often keep activity on such devices very ‘close to their chest’, literally- as well as figuratively-speaking, so it’s not easy.

There are some relatively easy and convenient ways to wrestle back some control from your child, though. Accompanied parental supervision is the most obvious solution, although it’s not always possible to watch the child for every second. There are technological solutions too, however. For example, the popular cyber security firm Norton offers ‘Parental Controls’ in a variety of their software packages. As well as adding protection layers on desktop computers, parental controls can also now cover mobiles (both Android and iPhone) as well as tablets.

How does it work?

In our example, Norton’s Parental Control applications allow parents to keep an eye on websites that children have visited, including a full history of browsing and searching criteria, and can block individual sites if necessary. Parental control applications can also put a limit on how much time is spent on the Internet. They can limit the number of hours spent on the Internet each day, or limit use to be within specific hours of the day, or days of the week. Such applications can even email the parent updates on the activity taking place on the child’s device, or allow the parent to lock the child’s device at will. We don’t usually link to 3rd party commercial offerings (and don’t endorse them) but this page shows a little more about what’s possible with Parental Controls.

Contact Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Our nursery is based in Edgbaston, close to Central Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call 0121 246 4922 for details of all our childcare services for babies and preschoolers, or email us here. We’ll be happy to help.

COVID-19 safety measures as the nursery eases out of lockdown

Leaps & Bounds Nursery and pre-school is fully open again for childcare services. So, if you have any little ones who require a nursery or pre-school place in or around Edgbaston, Birmingham, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to tell you more and hopefully soon welcome your child to the nursery.

Stringent health & safety measures to safeguard your child

Social distancing protocols in placeIt goes without saying that the health and safety of our babies, children, parents and staff is our absolute top priority. That’s why we have put in place stringent measures to keep everyone safe and well as we welcome families back to the nursery following lock-down. We are also delighted to confirm that we have had zero cases of COVID-19 at any of our nurseries or within staff and families who have been attending. That’s a testament to everyone involved — the children themselves, parents, key workers and staff alike. Thanks to everyone involved for their efforts in making this possible and for adhering to the safety protocols that have been necessary to date.

That said, some parents or guardians may have concerns about their children going back to nursery or pre-school. We completely understand this. We can hopefully put your minds at rest, though, as we have some excellent anti-virus measures in place across all our nurseries. These meet and far exceed Government guidelines and are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. It’s also worth noting that our nursery owners are practising medical professionals, with the most up-to-date information, so know the very best approach to safeguarding everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Our Safeguarding policy is available here to read or download.

Our anti-virus measures:

  • The biggest safeguarding measure at our nurseries is much greater use of our very large outdoor spaces — outside, there are much lower transmission risks. So, we are utilising our outdoor areas very actively at the moment and are moving significant parts of the curriculum out there. We are, of course, ensuring that our outdoor spaces have more sheltered areas where children and staff can play, learn and work undercover, in comfort.
  • The nursery is sticking to small ‘bubble’ groups of 3, 4 or 6 children, depending on age group. This greatly minimises the chance of any virus spreading.
  • We’re also not taking our nursery to full capacity. This ensures that there is enough space for children to maintain good social distancing.
  • Parents now have staggered drop-off and collection times. They are asked to remain outside and to maintain a minimum of 2m social distancing from other parents and children.
  • We’re using alcohol wipes liberally around the nursery to keep hands, surfaces, toys, equipment etc. all exceptionally well sanitised.
  • United Nations COVID-19 posterWe are very active with hand washing around the nursery, encouraging children to do likewise and spend sufficient time and attention to detail when doing so.
  • We take extra special precautions when cooking meals. For example, the chefs wear masks and face visors when cooking, to absolutely minimise any risk.
  • Staff change clothes when they arrive at the nursery and regularly wash them at 60 degrees.
  • When nappies are changed, staff wear a face shield and are ‘double-gloving’.
  • We have the very best FFP3 face masks and use these whenever needed.
  • We check temperatures of staff and children, whenever appropriate.
  • We are also following the Government’s new Track & Trace policy to the full. This would include asking children who develop symptoms to have a test. Should they be found to be positive, they would then have to isolate. Their house ‘bubble’ would have to self-isolate too.

If your child develops possible symptoms

We are, of course, asking families of anyone who has high temperatures or other possible symptoms of COVID-19 to please stay away from the nursery – and to self-isolate.

Government advice is for you to call 111 if you are worried about a baby or child under five. If they definitely seem unwell, are getting worse, or you suspect something is seriously wrong with them, call 999. Trust your instincts and do not delay. Further advice about coronavirus in children can be found at the NHS site here.

Looking for a nursery place for your child? We’d love to hear from you

If you’d like to know more about a possible place for your baby or child at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool, please get in touch. Call 0121 246 4922 or email us here and we’ll be very happy to help. We are a nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston (Birmingham, B16), near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick.