22 Ways to Toddler-Proof Your Home

Young children naturally want to explore, but it can be dangerous!Any new parent will appreciate how important it is to ensure that the home is safe for the new arrival. It’s a little easier to keep them safe when they’re babies, but things quickly change once they start crawling and walking. Toddlers can be be into everything! They can also move surprisingly fast at times, so it’s important to ensure that they cannot access things like sharp objects, hard or rough surfaces, hot ovens and radiators, corrosive products, poisonous plants and substances, or places they could knock things over. They also need to be kept well away from places where there is a drop, from which they could fall, and places where they are in danger of something else falling onto them.

So, what steps can parents take to keep the home a safe place for their toddlers? Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the more obvious measures that can be put into place.

(The following should be a good place to start, but is not an exhaustive list, so please always do your own full risk assessment).

Smoke Detectors

Install smoke detectors on every floor and ideally in every room or space in the home.Install smoke detectors, if not already present, on every floor and ideally in every room or space in the home (halls, stairwells etc.). Ensure that batteries are tested regularly and replaced whenever necessary. Smoke detectors save countless lives every year when maintained correctly, so are incredibly important.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Detectors for this invisible and scent-free gas are essential, especially in homes with any kind of heater or where there is an attached garage or even attached property or flat. The gas can travel into your home even if you don’t have a device that potentially emits it. Follow safety instructions and guidelines about positioning the detectors. Batteries should also be regularly checked and replaced whenever required. Carbon monoxide detectors are not generally as cheap as smoke detectors, but should last years (N.B. follow instructions in regard to replacement at the prescribed intervals).  These devices are real life-savers.

Electrical Outlets

Electricity outlets on walls, skirting boards, units and extension leads should always have covers/plates in place.Electricity outlets on walls, skirting boards, units and extension leads should always have covers/plates in place to protect access from tiny fingers (and anything in them). This is particularly important at the lower levels that will be accessible to the child and any higher ones they might be able to reach by climbing. Even with modern circuit-breakers fitted in electrical consumer units, nasty shocks are still possible before the circuit is broken should anything be pushed into one of the electrical points. Electrical covers/plates are cheap to buy and very quick and easy to install.

Electrical Wires & Connection Cables

Most electrical devices around the home have cables or wires of some kind. Some carry significant electrical currents, which are obviously a potential danger to young children, but even those that don’t could represent a potential strangulation or tripping risk. They could also be yanked by the youngster, resulting in something heavy falling onto them. So, always ensure they’re located securely out of reach of little ones.

Stair & Safety Gates

Installing stair gates is a no-brainer for families with young children. Ideally find a type they can't climb on.Installing stair gates is a no-brainer for families with young children. When installed and secured correctly, they will stop children falling downstairs, and stop them getting upstairs if a parent wants to confine them to the downstairs area, away from hazards elsewhere.

You can also get safety gates that will cordon off other hazardous areas like kitchens, as well as fireguard gates. Such levels of protection are highly recommended but always ensure products meet UK safety standards before buying.

Safety Locks & Latches on Doors

It's important to have safety locks on windows, doors and cupboards.Rooms, cupboards and storage areas can contain any number of dangerous hazards for young children. However, they can be easily secured by child-proof locks, latches or even lockable door knob covers. Such devices need to be easily opened by adults, however, for the sake of convenience and also in case of emergency. Children are naturally inquisitive, so it’s best for a supervising adult to decide where they can go, and ensure they’re locked out of everywhere else rather than letting them explore freely.

Door Stops

Doors can be a hazard to children, who can all-too-easily get fingers trapped in the hinged side, the opening side when a door is closed, or even underneath. Parents can purchase inexpensive door stops, wedges and holders to stop such occurrences and indeed a variety of such solutions are available on the market. These even include some simple ‘finger guards’ for doors, to stop little fingers being trapped.

Window Security

Windows represent a real hazard for children.Windows represent a real hazard for children. Not only do they contain glass that could cut them if broken, but they are also something a child could potentially climb through and fall from if not secured. That could be fatal. There are a number of measures that can be put into place for window safety, including window guards, safety netting and, of course, childproof locks or safety latches. It’s also important to ensure that there is nothing close to windows that would allow a child to climb up to it. Even if the window is closed, it’s feasible that they could break the glass and get injured.

Floor to ceiling glass is also a potential hazard, particularly when it’s perfectly clear. Young children may run around and not realise there isn’t a gap to run through, and slam into it. An example is patio doors, or tall glazed panes in conservatories. Safety stickers or strips on the glass, placed at a suitable height, are therefore essential so that children don’t slam into, and potentially through, such panes. Better still, such areas should be blocked off from access completely, using guards or similar, or particularly stringent adult supervision should always be in place in such areas.

Window Blind Cords

Pull cords on blinds and curtains are very dangerous if not secured, out of reach.Sadly, children have been known to perish after accidentally strangling themselves with pull-cords. If the pull-cord has a small toggle or knob on the end, these are also potential choking hazards. Cords can often be seen dangling down at the side of window blinds and curtains. Such things need to be secured, well away from the reach of children. Indeed, many window blinds these days are supplied with safety fitments that should always be used in houses that are homes to children.

Keep Phones Cordless

In a similar way, phones with cords are also a potential choking hazard. Wireless phones get around this issue more safely and also allow supervising adults/parents to move about freely while on a call. In this way they can watch what the child is up to at all times and not be confined to wherever the phone terminal is.

Bumper Covers on Corners

Furniture is a new hazard for toddlers who are newly mobile.Furniture around the home is fine for adults, but little ones, who are only just becoming mobile, will be unaware of how painful a fall against them can be. For example, the edge or corner of a coffee table (ouch!). A quick look on the Internet, though, will show up several results for corner and edge ‘bumpers’ of varying thicknesses, qualities and prices. There should be a solution for most budgets and these will soften the impact should a toddler fall against them.

Ovens, Hobs, Hotplates & Grills

The kitchen is a particularly dangerous area for children. It’s imperative that they are not allowed anywhere near sources of heat, particularly ovens, hobs, grills and hotplates. The door of an oven, often positioned at toddler level in modern kitchens, can remain hot enough to burn little fingers and hands, long after the oven has been switched off. It will not ‘look’ hot to a toddler, so parents need to be vigilant and, better still, keep toddlers well away.

Tablecloths & Table Runners

Avoid the use of tablecloths and table 'runners' when children are young. One tug and there could be a nasty accident.It’s also best to avoid the use of tablecloths and table ‘runners’ when children are young. Otherwise, they may grab an edge, fall backwards and any number of potentially heavy, sharp, hot or otherwise harmful things could then fall onto them.

Radiators, Heaters & Fires

Radiators, heaters and, of course, fires are sources of significant heat. So, it’s important to have fire guards in place, protective covers in front of radiators, or secure barriers in place to keep children away from direct contact with the heat sources like electrical or oil heaters. Many also have nasty, hard corners and some portable heaters can tip over easily, which could be potentially disastrous for little ones who don’t understand the dangers and could end up potentially bruised and burnt.

Sharp Objects

There are many sharp objects around the home and it’s important to keep children from accessing them. Knives, screwdrivers, scissors and even sharp pens and pencils are just a few examples. They can be potential hazards for toddlers, so it’s imperative that they’re kept well out of reach and also not placed on top of anything that could be toppled by a climbing child.

Small Objects Are Choking Hazards

Small objects are a potential choking hazard.Parents should also scour the house to ensure that small objects are kept out of reach of mobile toddlers, otherwise they represent a potential choking hazard.

Machines & Gadgets

Food blenders, vacuum cleaners, DIY power tools and even beauty products can be a danger to little children. So, it’s important to keep all these things out reach of the child. Once they’re mobile, they’re into everything and, if you’re not vigilant, they’ll be grabbing for things like hot hair straighteners without understanding the danger.

Household Products

Household products including cleaning products can be a real hazard.Household products including cleaning products can be a real hazard. So, bleach, abrasive, corrosive and poisonous products need to be locked well away. The same goes for things like dishwasher tablets, laundry pods, medicines and tablets. Many products around the house are highly poisonous and could even kill. Such hazards are best locked away rather than simply moved out of reach, because children soon learn to climb.

Gardens

Front and rear gardens are full of potential hazards for children. The hazard list is almost endless, in fact. From sharp objects, germs, thorns and garden tools to ponds, poisonous plants, weedkiller and tripping/falling hazards, it’s all there. Moreover, there are probably several escape routes where children could exit or others could enter. So, gardens need extra-special supervision whenever children are present, particularly the young. It would also be wise to ensure that boundaries and gates/doors are secure and any hazards made unavailable through the use of barriers, locked storage/sheds and suchlike.

Swimming pools and hot tubs

Hot tubs, swimming pools and ponds are a potential drowning hazard for little ones.Hot tubs and swimming pools are obviously also a potential drowning hazard for little ones, so adults need to take serious precautions to keep them away except under close supervision. Access should be possible only via the supervising adult and use of pool and tub covers carefully considered.

Baths & Bathrooms

Any source of water is a potential hazard for children. Baths and basins could hold enough water to drown little ones, scald them if water is too hot or be an electrical hazard if water is allowed to be transported or splashed anywhere near anything electrical. Adult supervision is therefore essential in such places and ideally they should be out of bounds and impossible for little ones to access at all other times.

Hot Water Safety

Even plants in the garden could be a danger if they turn out to be poisonous.Parents can take this a whole step further by ensuring that hot water in tanks and devices is never allowed to get to a dangerous level of heat in the first place. Careful selection of shower models, for example, may show up variants that are particularly child-safe, with a bypass that only adults would be able to use in order to increase the temperature. A local plumber should also be able to fit some precautionary devices, systems or settings to showers, shower heads, hot water taps and water tanks to give additional protection from possible scalding. This level of safety is, though, in a much more advanced and expensive league than the other precautions above.

A Final Word

No safety device or precaution is 100% childproof. Even if they were, it’s all too easy for a parent or sibling to forget to reinstate them, for example by closing a safety gate after passing through. The important thing, therefore, is for adults to always be close by and to supervise all activity. It only takes a second or two for a young adventurer to slip past a cordon and into danger territory. That’s all too easy if a parent gets distracted by a knock on the door or a phone call. Vigilance is needed at all times.

Our Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

We hope this list of precautions is a good starting place for parents, guardians and carers. Of course, at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we always follow best practice in regard to the safety and wellbeing of babies, toddlers and preschoolers under our care. Strict protocols are in place around safeguarding, risk assessments are taken regularly, and children are always well supervised. Our high quality childcare service is perfect for parents who live or work in Edgbaston or near Birmingham, Ladywood, Smethwick, Bearwood or Harborne. We’re also one of the few Forest Schools in the Birmingham area. To learn more about our wonderful nursery and pre-school, or to apply for a nursery place, simply contact us:

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.

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.

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!