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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:

Rough Guide to Dyslexia in Under-Fives

Dyslexia can really hold children back, particularly if not diagnosed earlyDyslexia can really hold children back. Because it affects children’s ability to read and write, it can adversely affect their overall education and impede their life chances once they’re older. That’s despite the fact that many dyslexic children are highly intelligent individuals with no other limiting conditions. As such, it’s a very unfair affliction for children to have to deal with. Thank goodness, though, modern society has recognised the condition and education professionals and parents now have a much clearer picture of both the early signs of dyslexia and the measures available to help children affected by it.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is summed up most simply by the 19th Century description of it. Back then, it was known simply as word blindness although it was not as well understood then as it is today.

“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling” — Definition of dyslexia by the 2009 Rose Committee Report2, as recognised by the Department of Education

How Does Dyslexia Affect Children?

With dyslexia, words and letters are often described as ‘jumbling up’ or ‘moving around’ in such a way that they are unintelligibleTo give those without the condition an idea of its effects, words and letters are often described as ‘jumbling up’ or ‘moving around’ in such a way that they are unintelligible. Clearly they are not physically moving in reality, though — the condition is a neurobiological one.

Clearly, such difficulties will, in turn, adversely affect children’s reading, writing, spelling, comprehension and general ability to learn. That combination represents quite a challenge for pupils, education professionals and parents. It can also severely limit children’s confidence in themselves and make them feel isolated and ‘different’. So, it’s incredibly important to diagnose dyslexia in children as early as possible.

Possible Symptoms of Dyslexia

Dyslexia ‘symptoms’ (for want of a better term) vary from individual to individual, so are not clear cut. However, parents and early years/education professionals should look out for the following:

  • Children struggling to learn the alphabet, and having limited interest in doing so;
  • Children struggling to remember the order of things like days of the week, months of the year, etc;
  • Children having difficulty recognising the sounds of individual letters;
  • Children having difficulty recognising combinations of letters as sounds within words;
  • Children having trouble with phonetics and spelling generally;
  • Children having difficulty reading and writing;
  • Children mispronouncing multi-syllable words and jumbling the order of some of them;
  • Children having difficulties with the concept of rhyming words;
  • Slower than expected speech development;
  • Children giving good verbal answers to questions, but poor written ones;
  • Children struggling to follow the order of even a short list of instructions requested of them, but being able to complete the tasks if individual steps were given to them separately, one at a time;
  • Interestingly, sometimes unexpected difficulty with the fine motor skills required to maintain a consistent rhythm, e.g. on a drum or cymbal;

Assessment

We should add, though, that any instances of the above do not necessarily mean that a child is dyslexic as many young children struggle from time to time with some of the issues shown. For a proper diagnosis, official assessments are available.

Is there a Cure for Dyslexia?

There is no cure for dyslexia, but it's adverse effects can be mitigated and the earlier diagnosis is made, the betterThere is no cure for dyslexia, but it’s adverse effects can be mitigated and the earlier diagnosis is made, the better. Once diagnosed, parents, nursery/pre-school staff and education professionals can put measures in place to help the child cope and indeed overcome many of the barriers that dyslexia presents. It’s also heartening to note that many dyslexic children end up absolutely excelling in other areas:

“The strengths of [dyslexic] individuals can be many and varied: these can include artistic/design skills, verbal/visual creativity, and an original way of visualising/solving problems.” — The British Dyslexia Association (BDA)

Dyslexia & SpLD at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Children with Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (‘SpLD’) are well catered for at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Indeed, we have our own, qualified, Special Education Needs Coordinator (‘SENCo’) at the setting. Leaps & Bounds Nursery has its own, qualified, Special Education Needs Coordinator (‘SENCo’)As a matter of course, our nursery staff will look out for possible signs of dyslexia and other SpLDs. We will discuss any concerns with parents and take appropriate action whenever required. If positively diagnosed, our tailored programme for learning and development will build in measures to help any children affected, in any way we can. These are bespoke programmes that are made-to-measure for each individual, so making allowances for SpLDs is all part and parcel of what we do at the nursery.

Nursery Places Available in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16Please get in touch if you are looking for nursery places in Edgbaston or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and under-fives and are also one of the few Forest Schools in the Birmingham area. These are great if you would like your child to enjoy and learn from everything nature and the outdoors has to offer.

Interested? Please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here. We can’t wait to tell you more and to show you and your little one around!

2: The Rose Report (2009): Report on Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties. DCFS Publications (Ref DCSF-00659-2009)

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.

Fluoride for Under-5s: Facts & Myths
Fluoride helps protect against tooth decayIn this article, we look at fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years in the fight against tooth decay. This includes useful facts and guidelines for parents, the recommended fluoride content in toothpaste for babies and under-fives, as well as dispelling a common myth around unproven fluoride health concerns.

Fluoride

As well as being found in commercial toothpastes, fluoride is naturally found in several foods, including fish and tea, as well as in the drinking water supply. It’s a natural mineral that hugely benefits the population by significantly reducing tooth decay. This is achieved through a reduction in the effects of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth, as well as by strengthening tooth enamel.

It’s interesting to note that children whose teeth are regularly exposed to fluoride when their young teeth are developing tend to have a reduced amount of grooving in the surface of their teeth. This allows harmful plaque to be removed much more easily, again helping to fight tooth decay.

“Research over 60 years shows that 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million of fluoride in the water supply reduces tooth decay by between 40 and 60%”

For that reason, where the natural water supply falls below this fluoride strength, additional fluoride is often added by the water companies, in order to make up the shortfall. The amount varies from place to place, though, and can be checked by contacting your local water supplier.

Fluoride in Toothpaste – How Much is Right for Your Child?

How much fluoride is right for babies and under-fives?The correct fluoride content in toothpaste usually* depends upon the age of your child.

For babies and toddlers aged under 3, use a children’s or family toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, but no more than 1,500ppm. Just a smear is enough for children of this young age and the little one does not need to rinse their mouth afterwards. Indeed, leaving a tiny bit of toothpaste residue in the mouth will protect their teeth for longer. Their teeth should be brushed at least twice every day from the moment the first tooth appears.

Children aged between 3 and 6 should also use toothpaste containing between 1,000ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride, but this time they should use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush. As with babies, the children do not need to rinse (so that the effects of the fluoride last longer) but they can, of course, spit out after brushing. Again, they should brush twice a day as a minimum.

* If a child has a higher risk of tooth decay for any reason, a dentist may recommend a higher strength toothpaste.

Brushing Should Be Supervised

Children’s teeth brushing should be closely supervised by a parent or responsible adult until they are at least 7 years old. This is to ensure that teeth are being brushed properly and thoroughly, as well as for safety reasons. Children must never associate toothbrushes with playing, and certainly must never run around with them in their mouths.

Fluoride Varnish

The NHS suggests that children aged 3 or more would benefit from a coating of fluoride varnish two or more times per year. This is something that’s available from dentists and involves a coating of varnish being applied to the teeth. The varnish contains high levels of fluoride and helps the teeth to resist decay and it also strengthens enamel. Even baby teeth can be protected by fluoride varnish. The varnish is particularly useful to anyone who is particularly at risk of developing, or is naturally prone to, tooth decay, or who suffers from a condition called dry mouth.

Does Fluoride Do Any Harm?

Learn the facts about fluorideFluoride has been of enormous benefit to millions of people around the world, significantly reducing tooth decay in rich and poor communities alike, even when present only in the water supply. According to both the Oral Health Foundation and the NHS, fluoride is absolutely safe for both children and adults. While there are some that say it can be linked to a variety of health conditions, there has been no compelling evidence to scientifically back up the claims.

One exception to that rule is the possibility of developing dental fluorosis, which is a condition caused by exposure to too much fluoride when young teeth are developing (typically below the age of 7). In mild cases, it may cause flecking or white lines on the surface of the teeth. In more severe cases, pitting and discolouration may occur. However, in the UK, the condition only rarely occurs in a way that adversely affects the appearance of teeth, not least because fluoride levels in water supplies are carefully monitored by an official body set up to do so — the Drinking Water Inspectorate (‘DWI’).

A Note About Sugar

This article is geared towards increasing parent knowledge around fluoride use and its importance during children’s early years. Before we sign off, though, it would be remiss of us not to mention that one of the best ways to avoid tooth decay is, of course, to avoid added sugar in both food and drinks. When sugar coats teeth, plaque is likely to build up and then your children are more at risk of tooth decay. It’s even worse when the sugar coating and subsequent plaque are left for longer periods. Hence, it’s important to both avoid unnecessary sugar in the first place and to brush children’s teeth regularly to remove it. We cover this and related brushing guidelines in our separate teeth brushing guide for babies, toddlers and young children, here.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16This article was brought to you by Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery, a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. We’re one of just a few nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick, so would suit parents living or working in any of those locations. We’re also one of the rare Birmingham nurseries with a Forest School, which will allow your child to benefit from everything that nature and the outdoors has to offer. We offer daytime childcare and early years education to babies and children aged up to five, Monday to Friday, for 51 weeks of the year. Healthy food, drinks and snacks are all a part of this.

For more information about about a possible nursery place for your child here at Leaps & Bounds, please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here and we’ll be very happy to help.

How to Help your Infant Sleep
A young girl struggles to stay awakeWe all know how lack-lustre we feel when we don’t get enough high quality sleep. Following a bad night’s sleep, work can be a struggle and concentration levels can suffer as we fight to stay focused or, at times, even awake — especially come mid-afternoon!

If adults feel like that, imagine how babies, toddlers and preschoolers feel after a bad night’s sleep. Adults understand why they’re feeling fatigued and what they need to do about it. However, young children simply don’t understand why everything is such a struggle. They may throw tantrums and even become a danger to themselves when they’re too tired. With too little sleep, they often become tearful, lacking in energy, intolerant and — dare we say it — very grumpy to be around!

“I don’t know whether to take a nap … or cry about being tired.”

Toddlers and under-fives at nursery or pre-school will not learn so effectively if they have not had enough sleep. Concentration levels, memory and general cognitive function are all adversely affected when sleep has been lacking. There are even some serious health risks associated with the lack of regular sleep. These include mental health issues, possible blood pressure problems and diabetes. If poor sleep goes unchecked, the release of growth and repair hormones could also become deficient — and that is absolutely critical in the early years when children are growing and developing.

So, what can be done to improve both the quality and length of your infant’s sleep, and how much is enough?

How Much Sleep is Enough for Babies & Under-5s?

Newborn babies are asleep more than they are awakeBabies and toddlers require significantly more sleep than adults. The recommendations for sleep below are from the NHS:

  • Newborn babies will generally be asleep more than they are awake and this is normal. They can be sleeping anywhere between 16 and 18 hours per day in total, although usually wake during the night at some point(s) to be fed. During the day, sleep patterns for newborns can be erratic and made up of lots of shorter sleeps rather than one huge multi-hour one. By the time they reach approximately 3 months of age, they may begin to sleep right through the night.
  • Babies aged between 4 months and a year should be getting 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24-hour day. This includes naps, so don’t expect them to sleep this long in one go, of course.
  • At the age of 1 to 2, toddlers should be getting between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per 24 hours, again including any daytime naps.
  • Between the ages of 3 and 5, this reduces a little to between 10 to 13 hours of sleep per 24 hours, including daytime naps, dropping to 9 to 12 hours from 6 to 12 years of age.

How Can Parents Help?

‘Sleep Hygiene’ is all about setting a suitable routine for the baby or child, and sticking to it, so that it becomes a pattern that everyone follows. With such a routine, children will naturally adjust and more easily go to sleep at the appropriate, planned times. And, once asleep, they should remain so under a good sleep hygiene regime. There are several things that can help to achieve this:

  • A comforting cuddly toy may help some under-fives sleepAvoiding caffeine in drinks, from lunchtime onwards, will help. Caffeine can be found in tea and coffee as well as in some fizzy drinks. Warm milk is better.
  • Similarly, electronic screens are a brain stimulant that should be avoided several hours before bedtime. That includes TVs, mobile phones, tablets and games consoles.
  • Avoid letting your child exercise or play vigorously close to bedtime. This too can act as a brain stimulant.
  • Meal times should also not be too close to bedtime.
  • Your child’s room should be in a quiet part of the house and not contain anything that will stimulate your child close to bedtime. The ability to have low/dimmed lights will help. TVs, mobiles and other electronic screens should not be accessible in the child’s room. It should be cosy and peaceful, perhaps with a cuddly toy or two rather than any toys that will stimulate the child’s mind. In essence, their room should be associated with sleep … not play.
  • In the run-up to bedtime, parents should encourage their little ones to wind down physically and mentally. A leisurely bath or warm shower followed by a gentle bedtime story with dimmed lights should set the mood.
  • Last but not least, parents must not allow children to dictate the rules around bedtime and sleeping routines. For example, if they creep into your bedroom or bed at night, gently settle them back into their bed, without fuss or unnecessary conversation, and repeat if necessary. They’ll soon get the message even if it takes repeated attempts. If they are scared of the dark, then a well-positioned (dim) night light may help.

“Don’t talk to me right now … I was up all night keeping my parents awake — and I’m exhausted.”

Sleep at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Babies and toddlers benefit from two sleeping sessions each dayThe very young at Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery benefit from two sleeping sessions each day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This is particularly good for babies and very young toddlers. Older preschoolers can choose whether or not to take a nap during these sessions although, of course, staff will always be aware when a child is overly tired and could benefit from some rest in a peaceful, quiet environment. We also encourage parents to let us know if they would like their child to sleep in a particular daily pattern and we’ll always do our best to accommodate their wishes and any personal preferences or needs.

Nursery Places Available in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16We currently have a few limited spaces available at our outstanding nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. It’s near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick too, so may be a good nursery choice for those living or working in those locations. We’re also a Forest School for those who are keen for their children to enjoy and learn from everything that nature and the Great Outdoors has to offer.

Telephone 0121 246 4922 for further details or book a nursery visit here and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one 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.

Fun Counting Activities for Under-5s
Giving children an early start with their numeracy is shown to increase outcomes for them generallyIn our last blog post we discussed how young children can and should be encouraged to master the art of counting early in their lives — ideally in their pre-school years. To recap in brief, giving them an early start with their numeracy is shown to increase outcomes for them generally, including a greater likelihood of staying in education for longer, a better chance of finding a job when they leave education and increased earning potential during their adult careers. The article also reminded readers of the profound importance of parental involvement in their children’s educations.

Here in this new post, we follow up with some fun number, counting and maths-based games and activities that preschoolers can enjoy at home with parents. These will make counting and numeracy fun for under-fives. After all, learning through play really is the best way for them to learn. Indeed, we use precisely that approach ourselves, at the nursery here in Birmingham.

Making numbers look like characters makes them more fun‘Number Order’ Games

Get your child to write numbers (e.g. between 1 and 10 or 1 and 20), each one going on a different sheet of paper. These can be small sheets, perhaps the size of playing cards, or A6 (a quarter of A4). The numbers can be simple or fancy — perhaps you and your child could get creative and make it colourful and illustrative, so it’s more fun. Numbers could even represent animals or characters, with faces, like our example. Once you have separate numbers on separate sheets, jumble them up and ask your child to put them into the right order. You could ask them to order them first from 1 upwards (perhaps start with 1 to 5 initially), then later in reverse order. Work your way up to 20 or more once the child is doing well. Soon counting will be second nature. Check how they do and help point them in the right direction if needed. Consider giving your child a reward for good effort.

Reward your child for good effort.

When they’re more advanced or a little older, you could even introduce simple addition and subtraction or progress to simple multiplication and division.

‘Number Matching’ Games

‘Number Matching’ Game: Dominoes

Helping very young children to learn how to match numbers or quantities will be very helpful as it’ll help them understand the concept in the real world. One of the very best ways to introduce this is to teach them how to play dominoes. With this game, the number or dots needs to match on adjoining dominoes, so it really is a simple, fun and effective way to introduce the concept of matching numbers or quantities to children. It’ll help children count more confidently and be able to recognise the number of dots instantly, after a little time practising. And, if you don’t have any dominoes, they’re easy to make on bits of paper or card and indeed children may enjoy making them. Dice are another option.

‘One More or One Less’ Activities

Activities that encourage children to work out whether something has one more or less than something else are a great way to introduce maths terminology into children’s vocabulary. They also help young children to grasp simple mathematical concepts. For example:

  • Learning mathematical terminogy through playAs a first introduction to the very young, make two equal stacks of small, stackable objects (e.g. dominoes, biscuits, coins, empty matchboxes, counters from a draughts game or building blocks — anything, really, so long as it stacks nicely and has a visible thickness). Ask the child to take away one object from a pile, then ask them to tell you which is taller and which is shorter. Also ask the child to count the stacks to tell you how many items are in each. Maybe add or subtract one more item from a pile and repeat.
  • You can do something similar with non-stackable items, for example, fruit. These can be made into less regimented piles rather than stacks. Ask your child to count the items in each pile so that they can ensure that one pile contains one extra item compared to the other. Ask them which pile is larger or taller and which is smaller or shorter. Piles of objects are also a good opportunity to get the child to grasp the concept of estimating.

    Counting fruit in a game of shops

    Once they’ve estimated, they can then count the objects to see how close they were to the right answer. Estimating will be another mathematical term that they now understand and they’ll also have had counting practice to boot.

  • Still working with two piles of objects, ask which one has more and which has less than the other. This is a simple first step towards the concept of addition and subtraction.
  • A similar activity can also be set on top of some weighing scales. Ask the child which pile is heaviest and which is lightest. Adding the element of a readable number, visible on the scales, also gives them a visual link between numbers and quantities of real-life objects.

Play ‘Shops’

All of the concepts above can now easily be put into practice via a game of ‘shops’. Toddlers and children will love pretending to be either the shopkeeper or the shopper. The shop “products” will, of course, need to be counted at the checkout and some items may need weighing — for example vegetables or fruit. Playing shops will focus a child’s mind on the importance of counting and number accuracy at the same time as introducing simple concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication and even money. Such activities are great ways to teach children about simple maths terminology, in preparation for more complex mathematical challenges when they’re a little older.

Praise Them

Praise children when they put in a good effort, not just when they get it right

However well or badly your child does with the number activities and games, praise their effort when they’re trying. Help them when they get it wrong and try to explain things to them. They’ll pick things up if the mood is light but scolding them when they get it wrong may well put them off numbers and maths completely. As we said in our original article last month, try not to ‘imprint’ any hatred of maths that you might have onto them and don’t ever say anything like ‘I was never any good at maths at your age’ as it may give them an excuse not to fully commit to trying. However well they’ve done in activities and games like the above, always praise them for putting in a good effort. As we said previously, rewarding effort is important and is more likely to encourage them to return to the activities with enthusiasm in the future.

Going Forwards

Start children early on numbers & maths - it'll set the up well for when they're older, at schoolChildren who enjoy maths are usually those who like to learn generally. So, try to encourage young children to bring maths into every day activities. For example, counting their steps on a walk, counting stairs as they go up or down them, counting cars passing and so on. It makes it more fun and they’ll learn to enjoy challenges. Before you know it they’ll be a bit older, coping with numbers will become second nature, and they’ll be nicely prepared for more advanced mathematics at school. You’ll then be able to interact with them in more complex number-based games. Ultimately, these might involve multiplication, where you can test them on their times tables, and eventually division, fractions, algebra and more. It all starts with simple counting, though, so it’s important to make a start early, so they’re not held back.

Count on Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

If you are looking for outstanding nurseries, pre-schools and childcare in Edgbaston, or Birmingham, please consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We too encourage our toddlers and under-fives with their counting and numeracy using a wide variety of activities, toys, games and interactive equipment. It’s a key part of the curriculum at the setting, in fact. So, by the time they leave us around the age of 5, they are ‘school ready’ with a great grounding and, as such, should enjoy a smooth transition. If our Edgbaston nursery/pre-school is of potential interest, please call 0121 246 4922 for more details, contact us, or book a visit here. Spaces are limited but, at time of writing, we have just a few available places for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five.

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.