Tag Archive for: free childcare

How Quiet Time Nurtures Young Minds

In what can often be a noisy and chaotic environment, the importance of incorporating regular periods of quiet time for children, particularly those under five, cannot be overstated. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding moments of tranquillity is indeed a rare gem. This rings especially true for little ones, who are constantly absorbing the world around them as they energetically play and go about their busy lives. So let’s take a look, today, at some of the many benefits of quiet time for little ones.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” (Ram Dass)

Mindful Development

In the formative years of a child’s life, the brain is like a sponge, absorbing information at an astonishing rate. Regular quiet time provides a respite from the sensory overload, allowing the young mind to process and consolidate what it has learned. In this way, quiet periods will contribute to enhanced cognitive development and levels of concentration.

Emotional Well-being

Just as adults benefit from moments of reflection, children too need time to process their emotions. Quiet time serves as a sanctuary where they can explore and understand their feelings as they face life’s challenges. Such emotional awareness lays the foundation for better self-regulation and enhanced emotional resilience.

Enhanced Creativity

Unstructured quiet time also encourages imaginative play and creativity. Whether it’s drawing, storytelling, or simply daydreaming, such activities foster the development of a child’s creative instincts. Creativity is a powerful thing and the ability to think laterally, outside the box, is a valuable skill that will serve them well in their future endeavours.

Quality Sleep

Establishing a routine that includes quiet time aids in promoting healthy sleep patterns too. A well-rested child is more alert, focused, and better equipped to face the day’s challenges. The calming effect of quiet time, particularly close to bedtime, prepares them well for a peaceful night’s sleep as well as contributing to their overall well-being.

Bonding Opportunities

Quiet time need not be a solitary activity. Indeed, it presents an excellent opportunity for bonding between parents and children. Engaging in calming activities together, such as reading or quiet conversations, helps to strengthen the parent-child connection, potentially profoundly.

Social Skills Development

Because quiet time offers a unique opportunity for children to engage in solitary play, it can also foster independence. In contrast, when they engage in quiet ‘group’ activities, such as board games or collaborative art projects, it can also help children to improve social skills. Here, they will learn the importance of cooperation, sharing, and taking turns – essential skills for navigating the social landscape as they grow.

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” (Etty Hillesum)

Stress Reduction

Children, like adults, experience stress, albeit in different forms. Whether it’s the challenges of learning new skills or navigating social interactions, these pressures can build up. Regular quiet time acts as a stress-reducing mechanism, providing a calming space where children can unwind, recharge, and develop resilience in the face of life’s inevitable ups and downs.

Outdoor Quiet Time

While the indoors offer a controlled environment, taking quiet time outdoors introduces children to the calming effects of nature. Whether it’s a quiet walk with parents in the park or sitting in a garden, the sights and sounds of the natural world contribute to a real sense of peace and connection with the environment.

“The best thinking has been done in solitude.” (Thomas A. Edison)

Embracing Serenity for Lifelong Benefits

The importance of integrating regular periods of quiet time into a child’s routine cannot be overstressed. Quiet time is a wonderful facilitator for their holistic development, nurturing their cognitive, social and emotional development and laying foundations for a well-rounded and resilient individual. It not only represents a healthy pause button in children’s busy lives but also provides these valuable skills and habits that will serve them well into adulthood. So let’s embrace serenity and create a regular space in which our children can explore, imagine, and connect.

High-Quality Childcare Services in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery provides high-quality weekday childcare — and a full ‘early years’ education — for babies and children under five. Our nursery and preschool is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham and is graded by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’, so little ones are in good hands. Indeed, we nurture every aspect of children’s learning and development, bringing out the best in them in every area, so they are well-rounded and able individuals who are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us. We also support all Government-funded childcare schemes, which helps with affordability for eligible families. To explore the opportunity to send your child to Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch using one of the following options:

As well as providing high-quality childcare in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, we may also be suitable for families nearby in Ladywood, Harborne, Bearwood and Smethwick.

The Magic of Learning Through Play in the Early Years

Learning through play is nature’s most powerful tool in any child’s learning and development. When children play, it’s not simply about having fun; the process of playing is a crucial conduit through which children learn new skills, about the world around them, and themselves.

Play: the Most Natural Way to Learn & Develop

Learning through play is nature's most powerful tool in any child's learning and development.The positive difference between discovering things through play and being told such things is truly profound. Learning through play and discovery comes totally naturally — and effortlessly to children. Contrast that with learning from a textbook or lecture and you can straight away see why the play method is going to be most effective, as well as being more fun. Indeed, perhaps it is the most effective approach because play is a fun — and a more natural — way to learn.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the role of play in early childhood and learn more about the benefits when children learn through play.

What are Some of the Benefits of Learning Through Play?

Through play, children make sense of their surroundings, learn about activities, objects and natural things and get to understand the significance of their stimulated senses. Active play also directly contributes to positive changes in their bodies, including the honing of balance and coordination as well as in the building of strength and fitness. And, through play, they get to better understand other children and adults, both individually and as a whole. Through all of this, they also get to clarify their place in the world and, of course, facilitate the learning of countless new skills.

Enhanced Cognitive Skills

Cognitive function is one area profoundly affected when children play. Play takes so many forms that, through its many facets, children are constantly learning. Play represents a real workout for the brain as children learn to problem-solve, build, create, interact, understand things around them, and much more. Through such activities, their brain synapses multiply continuously, allowing them to fine-tune a multitude of cognitive skills that are built on constantly.

Enhanced Social & Communication Skills

Group play gives children the perfect opportunity to learn from each other, improve social skills, enhance language skills, and build relationshipsPlay can also naturally be a multi-person enterprise. As such, group play gives children the perfect opportunity to learn from each other, improve social skills, enhance language skills, and build relationships. Such skills will allow them to better communicate, cooperate, share, take turns, negotiate, resolve conflicts and fit in. The making of friends is one natural result of this. That’s important.

Improved Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is another key skill that’s enhanced through childhood play. Play can involve many facets that allow children to see things from another perspective. Role-play is a classic example. Through such endeavours, children will develop key traits like empathy, perception and the understanding of peers. They’ll also be better equipped to manage their own emotions and handle those of others.

Feeding Creativity

Play is also a perfect tool through which to be creative. Indeed, creativity is a natural part of play, coming instinctively to children as they create games, make-believe situations, role-play, problem-solve and invent. Such creativity is also a core part of the fun of playing, making games more exciting and memorable in the process.

Making Sense of the Senses

In infancy, sensory play is one of the very foundations of every child's early learning and development.Babies also learn through play and one of the key ways they do so is through the senses. In infancy, sensory play is one of the very foundations of every child’s early learning and development. It helps them make sense of everything around them, enables them to fine-tune motor skills, and strengthens muscles as they play and explore objects or materials nearby.

Insights Into Maths & Science

Playing in the early years is also going to involve concepts like counting, addition, subtraction and basic science from time to time. Whether building towers with wooden blocks, experimenting at bath time, or creating a new den, mathematics and science are at the heart of so many childhood games and pastimes. Again, play is a natural way for children to learn and discover.

Development of Risk-Assessment Skills

When children play, they will naturally learn to assess risk, learn from mistakes, and grow more resilient in the process. A study by the University of Cambridge backs up the importance of facilitating such learning.

“…meeting challenges and learning how to manage risk is one of the main elements of play [that] should be supported and encouraged.” (University of Cambridge, 2012)

Improved Well-Being

Play is enormous fun for children and therefore it will naturally contribute to their happiness and well-being.One should not overlook one of the most simple yet fundamental benefits of learning through play; play is enormous fun for children and therefore it will naturally contribute to their happiness and well-being. Indeed levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that’s released when humans are under stress, are shown to reduce simply through the act of playing.

Nurturing a Love of Learning

Play really is a magical tool because, quite simply, it makes learning fun. Because of that, children will naturally enjoy learning. That’s going to stand them in great stead as they progress from nursery and preschool to school, further education potentially and into adulthood. As such, this love for learning will benefit them personally and professionally once they’re older.

Learning Through Play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Early years practitioners at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery fully understand the transformative benefits of learning through play. That’s why we nurture such an approach whenever possible. Play at the nursery will be a mixture of structured and unstructured (‘free’) play, allowing focus to be put on both specific areas of learning, where appropriate, and natural discovery. Learning goals will be baked into the learning and development programme that’s tailored to suit each individual child. Equipment, toys, resources and the design of the various spaces around the nursery/preschool are also designed to safely optimise each child’s learning through various kinds of play. Our practitioners will also carefully observe children’s progress and help them get the most from their experiences and activities throughout the day. Such continuous assessment and tailored support will bring out the very best in every child in a holistic way. This 360-degree facilitation will allow children to simply thrive, in readiness for school at the age of 5.

If you would like to explore the possibility of your child attending a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch using an option below. We support free ‘childcare hours’ through the various Government-funded childcare schemes to make childcare more affordable for eligible children.

We are a high-quality nursery/preschool in Edgbaston, close to Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

 

Rough Guide to Free Childcare Through Universal Credit

Today we explain who is eligible, what funding is available and how to claim free childcare through Universal Credit.Universal Credit provides essential financial support to individuals and families in the UK, particularly those who are on low incomes, are jobless or are unable to work. One crucial aspect of this support is childcare funding. In today’s detailed guide, we will delve into the details of free childcare through Universal Credit, explain who is eligible, what funding is available to those who are, how to claim, and more.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a Government welfare benefit that was introduced to streamline the support available to eligible individuals and families. Its primary goal is to provide financial assistance to those who need it, taking into account various aspects of an individual or family’s financial situation.

Without getting too bogged down in unnecessary detail here, Universal Credit is thus named because it is replacing several existing benefits, including Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (‘JSA’), Child Tax Credit, and others. Today, however, we’ll focus purely on the childcare funding element.

Who is Eligible for Childcare Funding Through Universal Credit?

Childcare funding through Universal Credit is primarily intended for parents on low incomes.Childcare funding through Universal Credit is primarily intended for parents on low incomes who require childcare services to either maintain current employment, increase working hours, or transition into paid work within a month. Eligibility caveats for you — and your partner if you have one — include the following:

  • Except for a few exceptions, you usually both have to be in paid work, or have an offer of paid work for a position starting within a month.
  • Earnings and income must fall within specific thresholds to qualify.
  • The childcare provider you use must be officially registered/approved by OFSTED or equivalent.
  • You must be living in the UK.
  • You must be 18 or over, although there are exceptions for some aged 16 or 17.
  • You should be below State Pension age.
  • You must jointly have no more than £16k in savings or investments.
  • The child(ren) for whom you are applying must be below the age of 17 (eligibility ends at the end of the August following their 16th birthday).

How Much Childcare Funding Can You Get Through Universal Credit?

The amount of childcare funding available through Universal Credit varies according to your individual circumstances. Generally speaking, though, Universal Credit can cover up to 85% of your childcare costs as follows:

The maximum available for one child is £950.92 per month;
The maximum available for 2 or more is £1,630.15 per month.

(Correct at date of publishing, late September 2023).

What Can the Childcare Funding be Used For?

Universal Credit childcare funding can be used for various childcare services, so long as they're properly registered.Universal Credit childcare funding can be used for various childcare services, so long as they’re properly registered (e.g. with OFSTED or their equivalent in Wales and Scotland). Permitted types of childcare provision include:

  • Nurseries: Licensed nurseries that provide care and early education for young children.
  • Childminders: Individuals registered to provide childcare services in their homes.
  • After-School Clubs: Organised programmes that offer care and activities for school-age children after school hours.
  • Holiday Clubs: Similar to after-school clubs but available during school holidays.
  • Preschools: Educational settings for children aged up to 5.
  • Approved Childcare Providers: Some approved providers outside traditional settings may also be eligible for funding.

As well as funding standard nursery/preschool-type childcare sessions that allow you to work, the funding can also be used for other types of childcare provision that will help you transition back into work. It can potentially fund settling-in sessions before work to help your child transition into a new childcare setting, childcare provision for your child while you commute to your job, childcare required because of changing work patterns as part of a zero-hours contract, and childcare provision during the month following the loss of a job.

Caveats:

You cannot claim Universal Credit for Childcare at the same time as:

Tax credits
Tax-Free Childcare

How to Claim Your Childcare Costs Via Universal Credit

Except in special circumstances, you need to pay childcare costs up front and then claim back the eligible part of it through the scheme.Except in special circumstances, you will need to pay for your childcare up front and then claim back the eligible part of it through the scheme. To successfully make your claim, you’ll typically need to:

  • Keep records of your childcare provider’s registration number and contact details.
  • Document your childcare costs with receipts or invoices.
  • Provide evidence of your work or job offers.
  • Claim within 2 months (latest) of incurring the childcare costs otherwise you may miss out.
  • Regularly update the Universal Credit system with any changes in your childcare situation.
  • To get started, apply for your online Universal Credits account here.

More information is available through the official Government website or via the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Nursery Places at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we support all Government-funded childcare schemes so, even if you don’t qualify for free childcare support through Universal Credit, you may qualify for one or more of the alternative childcare funding schemes. These are there to help families with affordability, which nowadays is more important than ever. Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery offers a first-class childcare and early education service for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five, offering them the very best start in life in a warm, nurturing environment. If you would like to explore the possibility of your child having a place at Leaps & Bounds, please do get in touch using one of the following options:

Rated as a Good Provider of childcare and early education by OFSTED, Leaps and Bounds is a nursery/preschool located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. We also operate our own Forest School, enabling children to benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

Information in this guide is given in good faith and is believed to be correct at the time of writing (late September 2023). Please check the Government website for the most up-to-date information.

Support for Children Under 5 with SEND: a Guide for Parents

Today's article is a guide explaining the support available to children with possible Special Educational Needs & Disabilities.Today’s article is a guide explaining the support available to children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities. This is often referred to simply as ‘SEND’ or alternatively ‘SEN and disabilities’. Here, we will explore the importance of identifying SEND in children, the benefits of early intervention, and the various avenues available to help children affected. The information in this post should be useful to parents whose children may be impacted by special needs or disabilities and is one small part of our nursery’s serious commitment to supporting such children.

Why Identification Matters

Identifying Special Educational Needs & Disabilities in children is the first crucial first step in being able to help them. Only through identification can timely support and tailored interventions be put in place to help mitigate issues that may otherwise hold children back. It will empower parents, caregivers, early years practitioners and any supporting professionals to understand a child’s unique needs and thereby facilitate the provision of the right kinds of assistance.

The Benefits of Early Identification

The right support will enhance a child's learning experiences, improve their quality of life, and also foster a sense of inclusivity.Early identification of SEND is of crucial importance and offers numerous benefits for children affected. Put simply, it allows support measures to be put in place at the earliest opportunity, thereby minimising any delay in the child’s learning and development progress. Timely interventions can lead to enhancements like better communication skills, increased independence, and vastly improved overall development. Such help will enhance a child’s learning experiences, improve their quality of life, and also foster a sense of inclusivity. Inclusion is incredibly important to children’s mental health and well-being — and avoids them feeling isolated and ‘different’.

How Identification Works

Identifying SEND in children involves close collaboration between parents, caregivers, childcare nursery staff, the setting’s SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator), healthcare professionals and, where needed, any specialists. This collaborative effort between parties emphasises the “Assess, Plan, Do, and Review” approach, which is a circular and evolving strategy to identify any areas of concern and ultimately to support the child. For children under five, the EYFS framework for early years settings also incorporates a similar, complementary approach. For children specifically aged two, the official ‘Progress Check at 2‘ will also be a key tool within the assessment and planning stages.

The Tailored Support Plan

A collaborative effort between various parties uses an "Assess, Plan, Do, and Review" approach, culminating in a tailored support plan for the child.The resulting tailored support plan is designed to meet the unique needs of each individual child. Through the ‘review’ element embedded in the approach, such plans evolve over time as their effectiveness is continuously assessed. As adjustments are deemed to be required, they are fine-tuned en route as and whenever necessary. Specialists like speech and language therapists or other professional expertise may also be brought in to provide additional support if appropriate.

Recourse to an EHC Assessment

Should, for whatever reason, the support plan be deemed ineffective, parents, health visitors, healthcare professionals or even family members are also at liberty to request an Education, Health & Care Assessment (‘EHC’). If the application for such an assessment proves successful, it will be organised by the child’s local authority. More information about EHC assessments is available here.

Special Funding from the Local Authority

Special funding and the support of specialist professionals may be available for children with special educational needs and disabilities.Additionally, the child’s local authority may provide special funding through their own ‘Area SENCo’ (Area Special Educational Needs Coordinator). If sanctioned, this funding can be used for tailored support like additional staff, extra learning resources, specialist equipment, or bespoke activities tailored to the child’s specific needs. The Area SENCo also assists with transitioning children from early years settings to school.

The Local Offer

Local authorities publish what’s known as a ‘Local Offer’ on their online information portal. This explains what support is available for young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This resource is designed to help families understand the services and assistance potentially available, for their child, in their local area. By way of example, the local authority for Edgbaston is Birmingham City Council, whose Local Offer portal can be found here.

Childcare Funding for Children with SEND

Eligible children under five with SEND may be able to access additional funding to cover some of the costs associated with childcare.Eligible children under five with SEND may be able to access additional funding to cover some of the costs associated with childcare. This is a significant topic in its own right and, as such, may indeed merit its own separate blog post. We may look at that in due course, so watch this space. However, to give you a flavour, a few examples of childcare funding available specifically to eligible children with SEND include:

  • an upgrade, potentially to £4,000 of childcare support, through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme for those with disabilities;
  • additional childcare hours for children aged 2 if they are receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
  • additional childcare hours for children aged 2 if they are the subject of an Education, Health & Care (‘EHC’) plan.

Our Commitment

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we are committed to supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. Identification of issues, early intervention and collaboration between ourselves, parents, caregivers, and specialists like healthcare professionals, is essential for the well-being and development of children with SEND. Such support can make a hugely positive impact on their lives. With that in mind, we take all measures necessary to facilitate this, in a warm and nurturing environment that promotes inclusive learning for all.

Contact Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please don’t hesitate to contact us about nursery places for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five, or to discuss how we can assist your child. With Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, your child will be in good hands. Ofsted rates us as a Good Provider of childcare and early years education and we also support the various Government-funded childcare schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

To enquire about a nursery/preschool place for your child, arrange a free guided tour, or ask any questions, please contact us through one of the options below.

Leaps and Bounds is a good nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. For those requiring high-quality childcare for under-fives near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne or Smethwick, we are also conveniently close, so do consider us for your childcare needs if you live or work in any of those nearby locations.

Predicting Your Baby's Eye Colour: Fact vs. Fiction

While a large proportion of babies in Northern Europe are born initially with blue or grey eyes, this is not the case worldwide.As new parents, there’s an endless array of incredible moments you’ll experience as your baby grows. One of the most mesmerising changes to witness is the transformation of their eye colour. Those initial weeks of gazing into your baby’s eyes might reveal shades like brown, blue or grey, but have you ever wondered why those initial hues often defy expectations and evolve into a completely different colour? In this article, we’re going to delve into the enchanting world of baby eye colour changes to unravel the science and magic behind this captivating phenomenon.

Eye Colour

Phenomena known as the 'Tyndall effect' and 'Rayleigh scattering' also have some effect on eye colour.For the purpose of this article, eye colour refers to the appearance of the iris, the coloured ring immediately surrounding the eye’s pupil. The iris is like a diaphragm that controls how much light can enter the eye at any given moment.

While pigmentation of the iris governs most of our perception of eye colour, phenomena known as the ‘Tyndall effect’ and ‘Rayleigh scattering’ also have some effect on eye colour. Without getting too technical, that’s all about how light is scattered. To keep things simple, think of it as akin to why the sky is blue.

Let’s Bust the Blue Eye Myth

While it may be true that a good proportion of babies in Northern Europe are born initially with blue or grey eyes, this is not the case worldwide. Indeed, estimates suggest that brown eyes are by far the most common eye colour in infancy when looked at globally. Blue is, however, the next most common.

So, How Does Baby Eye Colour Work?

Estimates suggest that brown eyes are by far the most common eye colour in infancy when looked at globally.Generally, nature is often guided by the principle of adaptation in order to optimise survival. The evolution of eye colour is no exception. In regions with high levels of sunlight, such as near the equator, darker eye colours are more prevalent. This is due to the increased need for protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays —with dark irises like brown ones having more protection than lighter irises, like blue, grey, or green. As humans migrated across different environments back in ancient times, changes in eye colour are likely to have provided advantages in terms of UV protection as part of adaptation to new habitats. The pigmentation and UV protection are accomplished through something called melanin.

Pigmentation: The Melanin Effect

The gradual transformation of baby eyes is closely tied to the production of melanin, a protein that’s secreted by a particular type of cell, called a melanocyte. The visible result is a pigment that’s responsible for colouring various aspects of our bodies, including skin, hair and, as it turns out, eye colour. As babies grow and their exposure to light increases, the production of melanin begins to intensify. This pigment infusion leads to subtle changes to the hue, gradually steering the eyes toward other colour shades. For example, eyes that start off in the newborn child as grey or blue may indeed eventually become something quite different, for example, green, hazel, or brown, as more melanin pigmentation is formed. It’s quite magical to see in such a small infant.

The Role of Genetics

Genetics also play a significant role in a child's eventual eye colour.While the colour journey is strongly affected by the melanin effect, genetics also play a significant role in laying the groundwork. While predicting eye colour solely on the eye colour of parents offers a fair estimation, eye colour inheritance is really a much more complex thing. At a cellular level, it involves one specific chromosome that affects iris colour and multiple genes, which control aspects like the initial amount of melanin in a newborn’s eyes and how the melanocyte cells behave in respect to further melanin production. With genes being passed to the child from both parents as well as the parents’ ancestors, the child’s final eye colour is not easy to 100% predict based purely on parental eye colour. Indeed, eye colour can sometimes ‘skip’ generations and surprise us all!

Blue eyes are the result of a unique genetic makeup. It’s thought that a mutation in a gene called OCA2 in a single common ancestor 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, is responsible for this striking trait in all humans with blue eyes today.

How Long Does it Take?

The most remarkable shifts in eye colour tend to take place between the ages of six to nine months. By this time, the iris possesses sufficient pigment to offer a clearer glimpse of what the final eye colour is likely to be. Irises of infants can change colour up to about the age of three years old before it is fairly permanent. However, they can continue to change subtly throughout adolescence and early adulthood due to ongoing melanin production.

Heterochromia

Heterochromia is a condition where a person has two different coloured eyes or two different colours in one eye.Heterochromia is a rare condition, affecting less than 1% of people, where an individual has two different coloured eyes or two different colours in one eye. It can be genetic or caused by injury, disease, or medications.

We’ve learnt that the evolution of eye colour in infants is a captivating story of genetics, adaptation, and heritage. As parents, we have a front-row seat to this intriguing transformation, gaining fascinating insights into elements of human evolution, survival and the broader narrative of life’s journey on the planet.

Your High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.This article was brought to you by Leaps & Bounds, a nursery and preschool offering high-quality weekday childcare and early years education in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. If you have a baby or child under five and live or work in the area, why not consider us for your childcare needs? Ofsted rates us as a Good Provider, so you know your child is in good hands, and we also support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families.  We may also be a convenient choice for those near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. To register your child for a place, discuss the possibility, arrange a tour or simply to ask any questions, please get in touch using one of the following options:

 

Dyspraxia in Early Childhood: Signs Support, & Solutions

As parents and caregivers, we all want the best for our children’s development and well-being. While every child is unique and may have their own set of challenges, it’s important to be aware of conditions that might affect their growth and learning. One such condition is dyspraxia, a developmental* disorder that can impact a child’s motor skills, coordination, and overall daily functioning. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive overview of dyspraxia, explain how to recognise its signs, and suggest what can be done to support children who have been diagnosed with the condition.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that affects a child’s ability to plan and coordinate movements. Children with dyspraxia may seem clumsy and may struggle with certain tasks that involve physical coordination (we’ll give some examples later in this article). It’s important to note that dyspraxia is not related to muscle weakness, intelligence or cognitive impairment. In contrast, it’s a disorder caused through the brain’s inability to send accurate signals to the body’s muscles.

Points to Note

  • The prevalence of dyspraxia is generally estimated to be around 5-6% of the UK population. However, estimates vary because symptoms manifest differently in different individuals and so may not always be recognised or diagnosed. This can therefore impact the accuracy of prevalence estimates.
  • A definitive diagnosis is not possible before the age of 4 to 5.
  • More boys than girls are affected by dyspraxia.
  • Children affected by dyspraxia may sometimes also be affected by other conditions like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and speech issues.
  • Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition that currently has no known cure. However, there are various interventions, therapies, and strategies that can help individuals with dyspraxia manage their challenges and improve their quality of life.

Recognising the Signs

While signs of dyspraxia may start to emerge during the early years of a child’s life, official diagnosis is a complex process and may not be fully possible before the age of 4 to 5. Diagnosis also typically becomes more accurate as a child gets older, as developmental milestones become more apparent.

For parents and caregivers, recognising the signs of possible dyspraxia in young children is crucial for timely intervention and support. Bear in mind, though, that children develop at different rates, so some variations in motor skills are normal. That said, some possible signs follow below.

• Signs in Infancy

In infancy and when children are toddlers, it might be challenging to differentiate between typical developmental variations and early signs of dyspraxia. Some children may exhibit mild motor delays, such as late rolling over, crawling, or walking, without necessarily having dyspraxia — so it’s tricky! If you have concerns, it’s a good idea to monitor your child’s progress and discuss any observations with your paediatrician or health visitor. They can provide guidance and monitor your child’s development over time.

• Signs in Preschool Years

During the preschool years (around ages 3 to 5), certain signs of dyspraxia may become more noticeable. Children with dyspraxia might struggle with activities that require fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil, using scissors, zipping jackets, or buttoning clothes. They may also have challenges with gross motor skills like jumping, hopping, and running. Some may regularly bump into things, have frequent falls and have poor balance. At this stage, if you observe persistent difficulties that seem beyond typical developmental variations, consider consulting an occupational therapist or a developmental specialist for a comprehensive assessment.

• Signs in School-Age Children

As children enter school and face more structured activities that involve motor coordination, the challenges associated with dyspraxia may become even more apparent. Difficulties with handwriting, tying shoelaces, participating in sports, ball games, and other motor-based tasks may lead to increased concerns. If these challenges continue and impact your child’s daily functioning, seeking a professional evaluation becomes even more important. Occupational therapists, paediatric neurologists, and developmental paediatricians are skilled in assessing and diagnosing conditions like dyspraxia.

• Other Potential Signs of Dyspraxia

There are also a few additional possible signs to look out for, although not all children affected by dyspraxia will exhibit them:

  • Possible delayed speech and language development;
  • A possible lack of spatial awareness including difficulty understanding personal space and boundaries;
  • Possible difficulty following directions (left/right/etc.);
  • Occasionally, a heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli, like touch, texture, or noise.

As we said before, however, having any of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean the child has dyspraxia, but it is a possibility.

Supporting Children with Dyspraxia

Early intervention and tailored support can make a significant difference in the lives of children with dyspraxia. The following are some strategies that parents and caregivers can implement to help children with dyspraxia thrive.

Professional Assessment — If you suspect your child might have dyspraxia, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a paediatrician or occupational therapist. A thorough evaluation can provide a clear diagnosis and guide appropriate interventions.

Motor Skill Development — Occupational therapy can be highly beneficial for improving motor skills and coordination. Occupational therapists use specialised activities and exercises to target specific areas of difficulty.

Physical Activities — Engage your child in activities that promote movement and coordination. Choose activities that can help improve motor skills in an enjoyable and engaging way.

Speech and Language Therapy — For children with dyspraxia who also have speech and language difficulties, speech therapy can help improve such skills.

Sensory Integration Therapy — Some children with dyspraxia also experience sensory sensitivities. Sensory integration therapy aims to help individuals process sensory information more effectively, which can have a positive impact on their overall functioning.

Structured Routines — Establishing structured daily routines can provide a sense of predictability and help children with dyspraxia manage their tasks more effectively.

Supportive Learning Environments — Collaboration with teachers and childcare providers will create a supportive learning environment that accommodates the child’s needs. This might include modified activities, extra time for tasks, assistive technology, modified tools, and providing visual cues.

Communication and Patience — Open communication with the child and patience are key. Encourage your child to express their feelings and frustrations, and provide reassurance and understanding in return.

Self-Advocacy and Coping Strategies — As individuals with dyspraxia grow older, they can develop their own self-awareness and advocacy skills. Learning coping strategies, time management techniques, and self-advocacy can help them navigate challenges and achieve their goals.

Summing Up

Dyspraxia is a complex condition that can present challenges, but with early recognition and appropriate support, children with dyspraxia can lead fulfilling and successful lives. By seeking professional guidance, implementing targeted interventions, and creating a supportive environment, parents and caregivers can play a vital role in helping children navigate the world with confidence and resilience.

Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne & Smethwick, B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we will offer all possible support for children who are potentially affected by dyspraxia. This includes watching out for the signs and putting in place tailored support programmes wherever appropriate. With the right support and resources in place, dyspraxic children can overcome challenges and achieve their full potential.

Leaps & Bounds is officially a Good Provider of childcare and early years education — and that’s according to Ofsted, who are totally independent. We are perfect if you are looking for a good nursery or preschool in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham, also being convenient to those looking for high-quality childcare for under-fives near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families too. So, if you would like to give your baby, toddler or under-five child a wonderful start in life, consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery for their childcare and early years education. We’ll bring out the very best in them to ensure they’re school-ready and primed to thrive by the time they leave us to start school. Book a tour, register your child for a nursery place or get in touch with any queries below — we’ll be delighted to help.

* This article relates to the developmental version of dyspraxia, not the type caused through physical trauma or brain injury. Medical professionals may also refer to developmental dyspraxia as Developmental Coordination Disorder (‘DCD’) or Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function (‘SDDMF’). In this, for simplicity and brevity, we refer to the condition simply as dyspraxia.

The Big Butterfly Count - a Nature-Based Activity for Kids

The Big Butterfly Count is an exciting and worthwhile nature-themed activity to engage children this July and August.The Big Butterfly Count is an annual event that takes place each summer across the UK. Anyone can join in and it’s not just for adults — it’s perfect for children too. What’s more, it can take as little as 15 minutes. It’s an exciting and very worthwhile nature-themed activity that’s guaranteed to engage little ones. As well as getting closer to nature and to these enchanting little creatures, children can become little ‘citizen scientists’. That’s because the Big Butterfly Count gives them the opportunity to actively contribute to butterfly and nature conservation while taking part in this fun outdoor activity. In today’s article, we’ll explain how even the youngest nature enthusiasts can get involved in this inspiring event.

“Take part in the world’s largest butterfly survey — and become a citizen scientist!”

About the Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count takes place this year from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August 2023, the period when the most adult butterflies can be seen. It goes beyond a simple butterfly sighting activity, though, by providing an opportunity for people of all ages, including children, to contribute to scientific research. It’s a fantastic but simple opportunity through which young minds can explore the wonders of the natural world and also make a meaningful impact. By participating, children will be helping to monitor and protect butterflies while fostering a deeper connection with nature. And, as we know, spending time in nature is incredibly beneficial to children. Engaging with nature enhances cognitive, physical, and emotional skills, allowing children to grow and learn in a holistic way. With all that in mind, let’s delve into the enchanting world of butterflies and learn how children can actively participate.

How Children Can Get Involved

“Spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot counting the butterflies you see from the list of target species, then log them in the app.”

Engaging children in the Big Butterfly Count is easier than you might think. Here’s how your little one can actively participate:

Download the App

Download the free "Big Butterfly Count" smartphone app.The phone app includes a useful butterfly identification guide along with information about each species.The organisers of the Big Butterfly Count have developed a free, user-friendly smartphone app that makes participation accessible and fun. It includes information, a butterfly identification guide, interactive features for recording sightings, and helpful resources for learning more about butterflies. The free smartphone app is available on Android and Apple IOS. Here are the download links (below):

Download the Big Butterfly Count app on Adroid.   Download the Big Butterfly Count app on Apple IOS.

Reference Material

Visit the official Big Butterfly Count website to learn more about the Big Butterfly Count and to download reference sheets. These can be printed out for children to take on butterfly-spotting sessions. They might also be useful if you/your children do not have access to a smartphone.

Visit the official Big Butterfly Count website to learn more about the Big Butterfly Count and to download the latest reference sheets for your area.
(Click for a larger view).

Butterfly Spotting

Take your child on nature walks or visits to parks, public gardens, or even your own garden or patio. A sunny spot with lots of flowers or blossom around is best. Encourage children to observe butterflies in their natural habitats (under adult supervision) and help them identify the species they encounter. However, teach them not to touch as butterflies are incredibly delicate. Depending on their age and abilities, show the children how to use the app and/or reference materials as tools for identification.

A sunny spot is best but teach children not to touch — butterflies are incredibly delicate!

Record Sightings

With the help of the app, you or your child can record their butterfly sightings and contribute to the National Butterfly Database. This data is vital for scientists and conservationists to monitor butterfly populations and understand changes in their distribution. That’s incredibly important as the UK and the wider globe have seen significant reductions in butterfly populations over recent decades.

“You can do as many Big Butterfly Counts as you like, and even if you don’t see any, that still counts too!”

Share Experiences

Encourage your child to share their butterfly encounters and counting experiences with their friends, family, and nursery peers. This sharing of knowledge and enthusiasm creates a ripple effect. Feel free to share links to this article too!

Emphasise Conservation

Discuss the importance of protecting butterflies and their habitats. Teach your child about the threats butterflies face, such as habitat loss and climate change. Encourage them to think of ways they can help, such as planting butterfly-friendly flowers or creating a mini butterfly garden.

“Once you have submitted your first Big Butterfly Count, you are officially a citizen scientist! Your sightings will help vital conservation work.”

The Magic of Butterflies

Butterflies are beautiful and incredible creatures that spark joy and wonder in people of all ages. They undergo a remarkable transformation from tiny eggs to caterpillars, then pupae, and finally emerge as magnificent butterflies. Introduce your child to the magical world of butterflies with these fascinating facts:

  • The Painted Lady butterfly migrates thousands of miles from Africa to the UK every summer.The UK is home to around 60 species of butterflies of which around 22 can be found in gardens. Each species has unique characteristics, colours, and wing patterns.
  • Butterflies play a crucial role as pollinators, transferring pollen from flower to flower as they feed on nectar. They contribute to the reproduction of plants, ensuring a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
  • Some butterfly species in the UK undertake incredible migrations, travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles. The Painted Lady butterfly, for example, migrates from Africa to the UK every summer, embarking on an extraordinary journey.

The Big Butterfly Count offers an exciting and educational opportunity for children to become involved in nature-based activities at the same time as contributing to butterfly conservation. So let’s nurture the love for butterflies and nature in our little ones, empowering them to become “little citizen scientists” and guardians of our beautiful natural world. Together, we can make a difference and inspire a lifelong connection with the wonders of the outdoors. Happy counting!

Nursery & Preschool Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

(& We are Also a Forest School!)

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.If you are searching for the best nursery or preschool place in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham, especially one that offers all the benefits of Forest School sessions in the natural environment, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery may be just what you’re looking for. At Leaps & Bounds, children get a fabulous start in life and we prepare them well before they start school once they reach the age of five. Ofsted has awarded us ‘Good Provider’ status for our childcare and standards of early years education. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes. So, if you’d like to explore the possibility of your child attending Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, get in touch. Please use the appropriate button below to register your child for a place, arrange a guided tour with your child or simply ask a question. We’ll be happy to help.

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

25 Reasons to Choose Leaps & Bounds Nursery for Your Childcare

In today’s article, we give you 25 reasons why Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would make an excellent choice for your child’s early education and childcare needs. What’s more, Ofsted independently back up many of them. With that in mind, we’ve included several comments from the Ofsted Inspector, who most recently inspected the setting and released her official report in April 2023. Her comments make good reading and represent useful independent feedback about the setting. What’s clear is that, if you have a baby, toddler or preschooler and live or work around the Edgbaston/Birmingham area, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery would make an excellent choice for your childcare. Let’s take a look.

1. A ‘Good Provider’ Says Ofsted

Quality of education is good at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and that’s official! Here’s how Ofsted graded us in their latest report (April ’23):

Overall effectivenessGood
The quality of education
Good
Behaviour and attitudesGood
Personal developmentGood
Leadership and managementGood

We’ll take a closer look at some of these below.

2. Children are Happy at Leaps & Bounds

Ofsted also confirmed that children are happy at Leaps & Bounds, commenting in their latest report that…

“Children settle quickly and are happy as they join their friends in play and learning.”

3. Parents are Happy Too

During her most recent inspection of Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, the Ofsted inspector asked for the opinion of parents. Here’s what she found:

Parents report that they are happy with the nursery.”

4. Open Early until Late

Leaps and Bounds Day Nursery is open from early in the day until late in the afternoon. Opening at 7.30am and closing at 6.15pm means that parents/carers are less likely to have trouble getting to and from their places of work in time to drop off or pick up children.

5. Free Childcare Supported

All Government childcare funding schemes are supported at Leaps & Bounds for eligible families. This includes the free ‘15-hours’ and ‘30-hours’ childcare schemes for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds as well as valid childcare vouchers, tax-free childcare, student childcare schemes and many more (subject to eligibility etc.).

6. Forest School

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is pleased to be able to include Forest School sessions for its children as part of our curriculum of educational activities. This allows children to get outdoors in local, natural spaces where they can enjoy and learn from everything that nature has to offer. Nature is incredibly beneficial to children, so this is doubly important. And remember: not all childcare nurseries and early years settings offer Forest School.

7. A Warm, Welcoming & Nurturing Environment

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is a warm, home-from-home environment. Here, every child is welcomed, valued and nurtured as a unique individual. We bring out the very best in each child and, during their time with us, give them all the tools, knowledge and encouragement they need to absolutely thrive. Ofsted recognised this through the following comments from their latest report in April 2023:

“Staff are warm and nurturing. They provide kind words and reassurance to children throughout the day. Regular praise helps children to become confident and motivated to learn.”

8. Free Guided Tours

If you’ve not yet enrolled your child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, why not take up the offer of a free introductory tour? Bring your child along, so you can see how well they’d fit in. We’ll show you both around and answer any questions, without obligation or pressure. Then, if you decide to enrol your child, we’ll do everything we can to help them settle in.

9. Competitive Pricing

At the time of writing, the cost of half-day sessions is just £35 for an afternoon session, £38 for a morning session and £55 for a full day. That decreases, pro-rata, if your child attends full-time Monday to Friday. For a week it costs £230 — the equivalent of just £46 per day, which is very competitive. Prices are correct at the time of writing (June 2023), but please check our Fees page for the latest figures.

10. Discounts Available

Various potential discounts are available for childcare at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. These include the following:

  • A 10% discount is available if your child already has a sibling at the setting.
  • A 10% discount is available for NHS staff (N.B. valid NHS ID will be required).

11. High-Quality Teaching

Our talented early years practitioners offer high-quality teaching.Our talented early-years practitioners offer high-quality teaching. This is backed up by Ofsted who, in their latest Ofsted report, said, “The quality of teaching is good. Staff are skilled and use children’s interests to challenge what they know and can do … Staff pose questions that help children to begin to problem solve.”

12. A Well-Organised Curriculum

Ofsted recognised our well-organised curriculum and made the following comment in their report:

“The curriculum is well organised. It builds on the experiences children hold and what they need to learn next to be successful.”

They added that staff, “target children’s individual learning so that children make the best possible progress from their starting points. Children gain a range of skills that they practise and build on. This prepares them well for their next stage of learning.”

13. Bespoke Learning and Development for Every Child

A bespoke learning and development plan is developed for every child – after all, each one is unique. A custom plan will bring out the best in them, helping them to achieve personal bests in every area. This is achieved through cooperation between staff, room leaders, each child’s ‘Key Person’ at the setting, parents/carers and any external specialists should their expertise be required (see below).

14. Good Support for Special Needs &/or Disabilities

There is good support for children with special educational or developmental needs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Ofsted agrees with this, concluding that…

“Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities receive good support. Staff work with external agencies and parents to provide care and education that is specific to each child’s needs.”

15. A Strong Relationship with Parents

Ofsted’s most recent report backed our strong relationship with parents through comments including, “Staff speak to parents daily and share information about what their children learn and the activities they are involved in.”

They go on to say, “A range of home resources helps parents talk about any changes in their lives, such as the arrival of a new baby, with their children. This strong partnership helps to strengthen children’s emotional well-being and security.” The resources referred to include a smartphone app, which allows our childcare professionals to keep parents up-to-date in real time about what their child has eaten, when they’ve slept at the nursery and what activities they’ve been taking part in during the day. It’s a great way to keep in touch and to ensure all parties involved in the child’s care are on the same page.

16. Great Facilities & Equipment

Leaps & Bounds is purpose-built for childcare and early years learning and development, with a wide variety of equipment, facilities, and resources.The setting at Leaps & Bounds is purpose-built for childcare and early years learning and development. It is extremely well-equipped, both indoors and outdoors, with a wide variety of equipment, facilities and resources to suit babies and children aged up to five. Inside, there are several light and spacious age-specific rooms, along with a separate communal room accessible to all. Outside, there are two well-designed and highly interactive play areas which offer children boundless opportunities for learning through play. Learn more about our facilities here.

17. Separate Areas for Different Ages

Designating separate rooms for each age group really helps children to focus on age-specific play and learning activities. With that in mind, we have separate rooms and resources for babies, including a tranquil sleep area, a separate room for infants aged 14 months to 2 years, another for toddlers aged 2 years to 38 months, and a preschoolers room for children aged 38 months plus.

18. Good Support for Language & Literacy

There is a sharp focus on improving children’s speech at the nursery. Ofsted comments: “New words are introduced and a wealth of books are used to tell stories and provide children with information to support an enjoyment of literacy.”

19. Good Support for Children’s Emotional Well-being

Ofsted made a series of flattering comments about support for children’s emotional well-being at the nursery. These included the following: “Staff provide good support for children’s emotional well-being. Children begin to recognise different emotions and show empathy for others” … “Children build lovely friendships with each other” … and, “Children cooperate well in activities. They learn to take turns and to share with others.”

20. Appreciation of Different Cultures

Children are also encouraged to appreciate different cultures and communities. Ofsted recognised this with the following: “Children develop their understanding of the wider communities as they talk about what happens during Ramadan and Eid” … “Staff introduce [words] in a different language so that children begin to understand the importance and value of people who are the same and who are different.”

21. Fresh, High-Quality Meals & Snacks

Healthy food, snacks and drinks are included in the nursery's fees and special diets are catered for.Food, healthy snacks and drinks are included in the nursery’s fees and special diets are catered for, for example, vegetarian or vegan options. The nursery has a 5-star food hygiene rating and food is freshly prepared by an award-winning early-years catering company. Only the most fresh, locally sourced and nutritious ingredients are used.

22. Extra Classes & Activities

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we also offer extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, and physical sessions. An example is Rhythm Time, which is an award-winning music class that helps children develop social skills, confidence, speech, coordination, and creativity. Another is Active Adventurers, where children enhance fundamental movement skills through multi-sport sessions with a focus on motor skills, balance, coordination, and body awareness. More information about our extra-curricular activities is available on our About Us page.

23. Holiday Club During School Holidays

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery also caters for older children during school holidays. The extremely popular ‘Holiday Club’ caters for children aged from 5 to 10 and offers fun and stimulating activities for the children. It costs only £25 per day (8am to 5pm). For a full week (Monday to Friday inclusive) it’s just £120; the equivalent of £24 per day. Prices are correct at the time of writing (June 2023) but check our Fees page for any later updates.

24. Excellent Safeguarding Protocols

As recognised by Ofsted in their latest inspection and report, Leaps & Bounds Nursery has an effective approach to safeguarding. Training and supervision programmes are in place to enable staff to keep children safe while at the nursery and to ensure any concerns are mitigated. The relevant safety checks are all in place too and staff are first-aid trained. CCTV cameras are installed to monitor child safety throughout the nursery, in the reception area and the outdoor areas. Good protocols are in place concerning picking up children, so that only the ‘right’ person can do so. Learn more about our safeguarding commitments, protocols and measures here.

25. Open 51 Weeks of the Year

We’re open all year apart from 1 week between Christmas and New Year and during public holidays.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.

Childcare Places with a Good Provider in Edgbaston, Birmingham

So, for a good, reliable, welcoming and nurturing nursery/preschool in Edgbaston or Birmingham, do consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. To start exploring the possibility of your baby, toddler or preschooler joining our wonderful childcare setting in the near future, please select an option below:

Please note: although we are located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, we may also be conveniently close for families requiring a high-quality nursery or preschool near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

 

Talk To Your Little One (Here's Why)

As children grow, their brains try to make sense of what they see, hear, smell, touch and taste.As they grow and develop, babies and toddlers are like little sponges that soak up stimuli and information around them. As they do, their brains try to make sense of it all to give meaning and relevance to what the child sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes. When a child is in physical contact with something that stimulates their senses, the connection between cause and effect is at its most obvious. However, when it comes to physically unconnected signals like sound and less tangible things like information, making sense of them can be more difficult as there may be less context for the child to work on. It’s logical, therefore, that interactive help from parents and caregivers is going to help little ones process and put meaning to such inbound data. With help from an adult, the streams of sound and information can be given context and relevance that might otherwise not have been attainable. What’s more, a new study at the University of East Anglia has now confirmed the link between talking with infants and physical changes within their developing brains. Put simply, talking with your infant shapes their brain, quite literally. Let’s take a look at the study.

The Study

The study analysed the effect of talking on the brains of 163 infants aged 6 months and 30 months.The study was undertaken by a team led by John Spencer, Professor in Psychology at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The team analysed the effect of talking on the brains of 163 infants who were enrolled in the study. Over 6,200 hours of audio were recorded via specially designed vests worn by the children, who were aged either 6 months or 30 months. After active talking with the children, their brains were scanned for approximately 40 minutes each, while asleep, using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner.

Researchers were looking out for one specific thing; a change to the amount of a chemical called myelin in the parts of the brain associated with the processing of language. The presence of myelin around nerve cells in the brain is known to improve the efficiency of communication between cells. The study was therefore designed to see if the level of myelin increased when children were exposed to language. If so, it would suggest that their ability to process language would be improved simply because the infants were spoken to.

The Findings: How Talking to Your Child Affects its Brain

Talking to your child literally helps shape the make-up of its brain.The findings were very clear; children aged 30 months (2½ years old) who had been regularly spoken to by adults during the test period were found to have increased amounts of myelin in areas of the brain associated with language processing. Interestingly, the increase in levels of myelin was not found in other areas of the brain, suggesting it was increased purely to help the child process language. Quite a finding!

“So talking to your child literally shapes their brain.” (John Spencer, Professor in Psychology, UEA)

Although myelin was not found to increase in 6-month-olds in the study, it is thought that this may be because the brain is rapidly increasing in size during that period. The researchers nonetheless believe that it’s good to talk to your infant even when they’re tiny.

By the age of 3, an infant’s brain will have developed to over four-fifths of its adult size.

Overall, research suggests that infants and toddlers see the greatest benefit when adults talk directly to them, not simply around them. Clearly, the child is getting something from the direct interaction and many verbally-active parents will concur with this. The quantity of being spoken to is apparently important at this young age. Talking to the infant and explaining what you’re talking about will also help them make sense of what you’re saying (e.g. pointing to a ball that you’ve mentioned). Repetition helps. Later on, when children are a little older, quality may be more important, particularly as ‘conversations’ will be taking place between adult and child by that stage.

A baby’s brain forms more than a million new connections every second when you interact with them.

‘Contingent’ conversations are recommended by the study's authors. This is rather akin to the serve-and-return approach to interactions between adult and child.The professor talks about contingent conversations being recommended. This is rather akin to the serve-and-return approach espoused by a separate Harvard study that we reported on via our sister nursery in Streatham back in 2021. In each case, the idea is to take the lead from the infant and pick up on something they’ve already expressed an interest in. In this way, they already have strong attention. If they grab a ball, for example, say, ‘ball’. When they’re a little older and more advanced, you might say, ‘blue ball’ instead. Gradually they will get the idea, even if they don’t appear to understand at first. You can gradually expand the vocabulary as time moves on (e.g. ‘roll the blue ball to Mummy’) and this is an example of improving the quality of the interactions. What you are doing is laying the foundations of the child’s language abilities and, by interacting, you are also making learning fun for the child — classic learning through play. Learn more from the author of the study here.

“It might feel a bit odd to chatter on and on to a six-month-old – clearly, they don’t understand everything you are saying. But gradually, hour by hour and day by day, it all adds up. All that chatter matters.” (John Spencer, Professor in Psychology, UEA)

Leaps & Bounds Nursery: Officially a Good Provider in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We hope that this article and our wide variety of guides, articles and posts about childcare, parenting and early years are of interest to parents and caregivers.

Ofsted rates Leaps & Bounds officially as a Good Provider of childcare and early years education for babies and children under five, so your little one is in good hands in a loving, caring and nurturing environment here. So, if you are looking for a good nursery or preschool close to Edgbaston or Birmingham, take a closer look at Leaps & Bounds. As well as being high quality as a provider, we support all Government-funded childcare schemes, making weekday childcare more affordable for eligible families. Let us show you/your child around and we can answer questions and show you how well your child would fit in at the setting. Choose a button below to get in touch or to go right ahead and apply for a nursery/preschool place.

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and Preschool is located in Edgbaston, near Birmingham. We would also suit those requiring high-quality childcare for under-fives near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

Introduction to the Leuven Scale of Well-being & Involvement

The Leuven Scale is a simple but powerful tool that can be used in early years education and childcare settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. The scale is used, through observation, to assess different aspects of children’s development and behaviour, including those with any challenges. The scale is so named because it uses a five-level scale in assessments. For example, the engagement scale will assess whether a child has little or no interest in an activity (Level 1), is easily distracted from the activity (Level 2), superficially engages with the activity (Level 3), shows some motivation and is concentrating on the activity (Level 4) or is highly motivated and interested in the activity (Level 5). Once assessed, the findings can be used to identify areas where additional support may be needed and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and programmes designed to provide that support. The Leuven scale is used for a continuous loop of assessment, planning, actioning and reviewing.Assessment, planning, actioning and reviewing are approached in a continuous, circular way, as illustrated in the accompanying diagram. In this way, any interventions designed to help a child are fully optimised and positively impactful.

The Leuven Scales most widely used in early years settings monitor well-being and involvement, engagement, relationships and classroom behaviour. However, well-being and involvement is usually the prime area of focus in early years settings, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on today.

Read on to learn more about how the Leuven Scale is used in childcare settings, see some examples, learn about its benefits and more.

Where Did the Leuven Scale Originate?

The Leuven Scale was developed by Ferre Leavers and his team of researchers at the Centre for Developmental Psychology in Leuven University in Belgium.

How is the Leuven Scale of Well-being & Involvement Used in Early Years Settings Like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery?

As the name suggests, the Leuven Scale of Well-being and Involvement consists of two key components. The well-being component includes elements that assess various aspects of a child’s well-being, such as physical health, emotional well-being, and social relationships. The involvement component includes elements that assess various aspects of a child’s involvement, such as participation in activities, self-care, and decision-making.

In early years settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, the observations and assessments for each component are made by early years practitioners including a child’s Key Person although parental observational feedback is also welcomed. The practitioner or Key Person will generally observe across a variety of different situations to help formulate an overall picture. This may include observing during meals, sensory activities, structured and free play, and while children pursue activities of particular interest.

After careful review, the information gleaned from the scales can be used to identify trends and any areas of concern.After careful review, the information gleaned from the scales can be used to identify trends and any areas of concern. Findings will be used to inform the development of individualised education plans, with measurable targets being formulated, for the assessed child. If external professionals are involved in the child’s learning and development, they may also be a part of the process. An example would be when a child is supported by a Speech and Language Therapist. Parents can also be involved in any support plans via specific activities to undertake at home. These may be designed to strengthen, for example, instruction following or to bolster the child’s social skills.

Once implemented, the support measures can be used in early years education and childcare settings for monitoring progress over time. Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and support programmes in the long term is essential to ensure measures are having the desired effect and identify areas where additional support may still be needed going forwards. This is why it’s a circular approach of assessing, planning, doing, reviewing and beginning again at assessing etc. (see diagram above) so that every opportunity to optimally help a child has been undertaken. All in all, the goal is to reduce any socio-developmental gap between the child in question and their peers.

Examples

Below are a few examples of how the Leuven Scales of Well-being and Involvement could be used to guide activities for children identified as requiring extra support.

A Child Has Difficulty with Social Interactions

Using the Leuven Scale, the child’s social skills are assessed and it could be found that the child has difficulty making friends and initiating conversations. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills, such as social skills groups, role-playing activities, and games that require interaction with others.

A Child Has Difficulty with Self-Care

Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child has difficulty with dressing themselves and brushing their teeth. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills, such as teaching them how to dress themselves, how to button and zip clothes, and how to brush their teeth.

A Child Has Difficulty with Decision-Making

Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child has difficulty making choices and expressing preferences. Activities could be planned to help the child develop these skills. Examples might include offering a variety of activities and encouraging the child to choose which activities they would like to participate in, teaching them how to make simple decisions, and helping them to understand the consequences of their choices.

A Child is Not Involved in Many Activities

Using the Leuven Scale, it could be found that the child is not participating in many activities. Activities could therefore be planned to increase the child’s participation. Examples might include offering a variety of activities that align with the child’s interests, encouraging the child to participate in the activities, teaching them how to join in and showing them how to initiate activities themselves.

It’s worth noting that these are just a few examples and the activities should be tailored to the individual child’s needs and abilities based on the results of the Leuven Scale assessment. Other factors such as the child’s interests, preferences and the setting’s resources should also be considered.

Overall Benefits of Using the Leuven Scale of Well-being & Involvement

Using the Leuven Scale of Well-being and Involvement for children under five offers several benefits. These include identifying areas of concern in physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, activities, self-care, and decision-making. Once identified these, in turn, facilitate the making of individualised education plans. The continuous assessment approach allows for progress monitoring, evaluating intervention effectiveness and identifying any additional support needs. The involvement of the child, with support if required, also empowers them to express their views. Sharing Leuven Scale results with parents additionally promotes their involvement and understanding of the child’s needs and progress all to the benefit of the child. All in all, the validated and widely used Leuven Scale ensures evidence-based measurement, which enhances the effectiveness of any resulting interventions and programmes. The scale is key in enhancing the quality and relevance of provision, as well as ultimately improving outcomes for children.

Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Preschool, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We hope that this guide has given you a little more insight into what goes on behind the scenes at childcare settings like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. If you are searching for a good nursery or preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, do consider Leaps & Bounds. All Government-funded childcare schemes are supported by the nursery, including 15 and 30 hours of free childcare per week for eligible children (follow the bold link for more details). We would be happy to show you/your child around, see how well they fit in and answer any questions. Use the buttons below to get in touch, arrange a tour or to get started and apply for a nursery/preschool place.

We are a nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, also convenient for those looking for high-quality childcare near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne or Smethwick.