Welcome to the Leaps & Bounds Blog. Here you’ll find our latest nursery news and useful information from the world of early years education, childcare and parenting.
Welcome to the Leaps & Bounds Blog. Here you’ll find our latest nursery news and useful information from the world of early years education, childcare and parenting.
Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones. Having been surrounded mainly by close family in a familiar and comforting home environment, they’re suddenly expected to settle in somewhere completely alien, surrounded by strangers. It would be a tall order for anyone, let alone a toddler or preschooler. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here are some easy steps that parents or carers can take to make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.
Once you’ve identified the most likely nursery or pre-school contender(s) for your child, take them for a visit. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, for example, we’ll be happy to show both adults and their little ones around the setting — more than once if it helps. By doing so, children can meet the childcare professionals that will look after them before they actually start. They can even sit in on some of the activities, perhaps. Such visits, and any additional ‘settling-in’ sessions, allow children to get to know the staff, familiarise themselves with the layout of the setting and locate exactly where toys and equipment of interest can be found. They also allow new children to get to know other little ones who are likely to be in their peer group. Therefore later, once they start nursery/pre-school properly, they will see familiar faces and equipment and will be able to hit the ground running.
Talking about soon starting nursery/pre-school is a great way to get toddlers and preschoolers used to the idea. Even better is discussing all the exciting things that they’ll be able to do once there. For example, making new friends, being creative, playing with new toys, resources and equipment, learning new skills, taking part in extra-curricular activities, learning about nature, outdoor visits and so on. Getting them excited about the opportunities that nurseries and pre-schools represent is key. It also, of course, helps little ones understand what to expect so that they’re mentally prepared when the time comes.
It’s equally important, if not more so, to listen to any questions or misgivings that your child may have about starting a nursery/pre-school. Answer questions, of course, but also …
Following last month’s sensory activities for babies and toddlers article, we now take a look at a selection of sensory activities for preschoolers. Sensory activities are incredibly important in early years learning and development. In short, they help children develop their senses so their brains and bodies can make sense of all the stimuli around them. As well as helping them to understand their physical place within the world and everything in it, good sensory perception keeps them safe and allows them to interact optimally with everything around them. Through the building of new neural pathways in the brain, sensory activities aid communication, learning, sustenance, coordination, balance, motor function, movement and much more. Such skills are indeed critical to their very survival and success. With that in mind, we look at some examples of sensory play activities that are perfect for preschoolers, below. These are suitable at home as well as at pre-school (always under adult supervision, of course) …
Recycled, clear plastic bottles can be made into colour or sound shakers really easily. For colour shakers, they can be filled with water and then food colouring can be added. Adding glitter or coloured beads makes it even more interesting! Children can experiment with mixing different colours, shaking or swirling them around in the bottles to see all the wonderful, visual results.
Similarly, for sound shakers, children can instead fill bottles with dried pasta shapes, uncooked rice grains or breakfast cereals that then make different sounds when shaken around.
Children can experiment, creatively, with colour and and/or sound in this way, stimulating vision, hearing, touch and coordination. They could even compose their own rhythms, adding ‘drums’ and suchlike by using, for example, wooden spoons as drumsticks and empty cartons or boxes as ‘drums’. In addition to the sensory benefits, these types of activity are a great way to teach children about recycling and repurposing something that would otherwise be discarded.
Messy play with paint and pigments is wonderful for children’s senses, particularly those of touch and sight, but also potentially sound too. Allowing children to get really ‘hands-on’ with paint will stimulate their creative juices too. They can really let go of inhibitions if you allow them. They’ll love to get really messy with squelching paint, mixing colours with hands and even feet, mark-making with fingers or through handprints and footprints. They’ll get to grips with the way that colours mix and form new colours and tones. They’ll learn about the different feel of paints that are diluted or have a thicker consistency. They’ll even learn about the different textures that their fingertips can feel as the paint goes from wet and fluid to solid and dry. While adults take these things in their stride, we all had to learn about such things when we were little and messy play activities are a …
In our last post, we examined the importance of sensory perception in under-fives. It was clear how incredibly important such sensory perception is for young children and how their very survival relies on being in touch with their senses. Through these senses, they learn about the world and everything around them. This also trains their bodies and brains to recognise the stimuli and automatically react. It helps them to know what’s good or bad for them, keep themselves safe and be able to live and communicate successfully in the world. With that background in mind, we follow up today with a look at some examples of sensory play activities that can help babies and toddlers during their early learning and development.
SAFETY FIRST: Always supervise your baby or child, so they don’t hurt themselves, touch or ingest anything that could harm them.
Watching colourful bubbles floating in the air is sure to be a big hit with babies and toddlers alike. You can almost see the sense of wonder in their expressions as they watch them float. To them, bubbles are magical as they hang in the air with their wonderful rainbow colours gently moving around on the surfaces. Babies will be even more delighted when a bubble lands on their skin. They’re a feast for sight as well as touch at the moment the bubble lands and delicately bursts.
There is a type of safe sensory foil blanket on the market that you can buy for babies. It’s been a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of different sounds that totally intrigue them. What’s more, it doesn’t have the sharp edges associated with some types of paper. Babies can simply lie and roll around on the foil blanket to enjoy the sounds, or scrunch them with their hands to have more control or to hear louder sounds. It’s a great way for them to hone their hand-eye control, fine motor and listening skills. They’re also great visually, particularly if there are any coloured lights or objects in the room that will reflect on the foil in magical ways. Generally speaking, babies are mesmerised by sensory foil, so give it a try if you haven’t done so.
Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze ‘pods’ (see photo example). Simply waft near your baby’s nose to let them enjoy the wonderful smell of lemon, mint leaves, and so on. Be mindful of possible pollen allergies and toxins, though, so do your safety research on any contents before exposing your baby to them.
Did you know that high contrast images are …
Today, in the first of a series of posts about the senses, we’ll explore the importance of successful sensory exploration for babies and under-fives. As adults, we tend to take the processing of external sensations and stimuli for granted. However, we were not born with an understanding of most of these; we discovered them, learned about their significance and hard-wired our understanding of them into our brains during our earliest years.
It’s all about the senses, but not only sight, sound, smell, touch and taste; we have other senses that help us to understand and make sense of the world and everything it contains. For example, balance and movement senses are known as vestibular senses. The sensing of information via our body position is known as our proprioception sense. Through all of these, we have a kind of holistic view of the world. When you think about it, processing and integration of external stimuli, through our senses, is crucial for our entire wellbeing. After all, we need to be mindful of things that can harm us just as much as knowing what will be useful or good for us.
Our many senses tell our minds and bodies about the environment, about objects, living things, foods, drink, appearance, smells, danger, pleasure, pain and a whole myriad of additional information about our immediate surroundings. The earlier we start to recognise, process and integrate the significance of these external stimuli, the better it will be for our understanding of the world, our general wellbeing and indeed survival.
Sensory experiences are crucial, particularly during early years development. Correctly identifying and understanding the significance of external stimuli, through the senses, allows babies and infants to …
Did you know that there is a free childcare grant available to students who are also parents? This could be a game-changer for you if you are thinking about enrolling in a further education course and have a child. One major consideration will be that you’ll need to arrange childcare for your child while you are learning, so you can give your course your full attention while in attendance. However, childcare costs money, so may be a real concern. Indeed, it could be a deciding factor as to whether the whole studying idea is even viable.
Well, there is good news for undergraduate students who have a child under the age of 15 (17 if they have special educational needs). Under a UK Government scheme, you may be eligible for a grant to cover a big chunk of your childcare costs and, actually, it’s quite generous.
Eligible students can get a grant worth up to 85% of their childcare costs during study. Even better — it does not need to be paid back and is in addition to other student finance. One of the stipulations, in fact, is that you must be eligible for student finance in order to be eligible for a student Childcare Grant.
For a parent with one dependent child, this could amount to as much as £179.62 per week or, for two or more children, up to £307.95 per week*. That’s all so long as this is no more than 85% of your childcare costs. If it is, then the lower (85%) amount applies. Either way, though, you’ll have to pay for the remainder of the childcare costs.
* Figures are correct, at time of writing, for the academic year 2021-2022.
In addition to the rules already confirmed above, several other factors affect eligibility for the student Childcare Grant:
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).
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 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.
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.
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 …
We recently published a series of funny jokes for toddlers and preschoolers. While this may seem like simple light-hearted entertainment to some, laughter is incredibly important for children, especially the very young. Indeed, it is a crucial part of their early years learning and development. We’ll explore the importance of laughter for little ones in today’s post.
Laughter is a crucial part of early years learning and development.
Experts believe that babies are born ready to laugh. However, their sense of humour is something they gradually develop as they grow older. Because of that, exactly what makes them laugh will change over time. This makes total sense because language skills are also developing in the early years, so what a child finds funny will, like the child, develop. This happens naturally as they gradually comprehend more about the world around them and even begin to understand things from another person’s perspective.
There are several obvious, and many less obvious, benefits of laughter to children.
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 below (click for a larger view) …
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 …
Dyslexia 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.
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
To give those without the condition an idea of its effects, words and letters are often described as …
Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is fortunate to be based in Edgbaston, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, just to the south-west of the city. In this post, we take a look at some of our favourite facts about the location, touching on history, significant venues, plus a few famous people with close links to the area.
The name Edgbaston is derived from the Old English naming convention whereby a place name consisted of, in this case, a person’s name (‘Ecgbald’) followed by the word for farm (‘tun’). So ‘Ecgbald tun’ (Ecgbald’s Farm), to all intents and purposes, became the name of the small village as it was then.
At the time the village was recorded in the Doomsday Book in the year 1086, it had just 10 homes.
Edgbaston village remains quite an exclusive and affluent area. Indeed, in terms of property prices, it is one of the most expensive areas in the West Midlands. Much of this is owed to the village’s historical background. Back in the 19th Century, the Gillott and Gough-Calthorpe families, then land owners of much of Edgbaston, refused to allow the area to be industrialised with warehouses or factories and indeed it was often referred to as the area “where the trees begin”. In so doing, the unspoilt area attracted the more wealthy people who typically lived in impressive detached houses, many of which are still in use as private residences today.
Priceless works of art from the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec, Turner, Whistler, Van Dyck, Picasso, Botticelli, Van Gogh and many other masters can be seen — in the flesh — at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. It is a small but incredibly impressive art gallery located on the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Leaps & Bounds Nursery
161 Gillott Road
Birmingham B16 0ET
0121 246 4922
Email us here
Our nursery is open
from 7.30 am to 6.15 pm
Monday to Friday.
(Closed Bank Holidays,
Public holidays & from
Christmas to New Year)
Leaps & Bounds is a high quality nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, B16. It offers outstanding childcare near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick.
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