Tag Archive for: keeping active

Tummy Time for Babies — & Why it's Important

The idea of tummy time is to help babies strengthen their neck, core, back, shoulder and arm muscles and to improve coordination and motor skills.‘Tummy Time’ is very important for babies and today we take a look at why that is, and what exactly tummy time entails. The NHS defines tummy time as follows:

“Tummy time is time your baby spends on their tummy when they are awake.” (NHS)

The idea behind the activity is a simple but crucial one: to help babies strengthen their neck, core, back, shoulder and arm muscles as well as improving coordination and motor skills. These are important for newborn babies because they have comparatively heavy heads for their size, not much physical strength and poor coordination and motor skills when they’re first born. Tummy time allows them to improve in all these areas. After regular tummy time, they should become more able physically, they’ll gradually become more mobile and, crucially, will be better able to keep themselves safe. You could even argue that tummy time is a survival thing at its core.

Tummy Time Benefits

Tummy time benefits babies in many ways, including:

Tummy time strengthens neck, core, trunk, back, shoulder and arm muscles, helping babies to be more able physically.
It improves physical coordination as well as hand-eye coordination as they learn to reach for toys etc.
It improves a wide variety of motor skills, both fine and gross, helping babies better function as individuals.
It helps babies to alter their head position and movements at will, so they’re better able to control what/who they can see, what they can gain access to and what/who they interact with.
It helps babies to make sense of stimuli around them, for example to be able to turn their head or position in order to see what made a particular sound nearby.
Tummy time also helps babies avoid skull deformations such as Positional Plagiocephaly (a.k.a. Flat Head Syndrome) that might otherwise occur if they’re permanently on their backs.
Tummy time helps babies avoid Positional Torticollis, a neck issue that also might otherwise occur if the baby is always on its back.

Tummy Time – What to Do

Start off by lying your baby on your chest, facing you.So, we’ve seen the benefits and importance of tummy time, but what exactly does it entail? Well, the wide-awake baby is turned onto its stomach (this is also known as the ‘prone’ position) and is encouraged to raise its head, arms, etc. This must be under constant, unbroken supervision, for the child’s safety. Tummy time should commence right from birth, according to the NHS (). Newborns are initially very weak and therefore may not initially warm to tummy time, so a few things may help to make the introduction more bearable for them:

  • Start off by lying them on your chest, facing you.
  • Placing a rolled-up towel or blanket under their upper chest and arms will help to support and raise their trunks a little.
  • Encouragement will also help. For example, by turning the activity into a game like peek-a-boo, perhaps lying down, facing the baby.
  • You can also try it with the baby lying across your lap rather than on the floor, so you can better help them.
  • Another option is to cradle them with your hand/upper arm supporting them underneath.Another option is to cradle them with your hand/upper arm supporting them underneath.
  • When they’re a little older, lying the baby on a rug or blanket on the floor will be more comfortable for them than a hard floor directly. Not too soft/deep, though, due to the dangers of suffocation when they’re face down.
  • Ensure their head is supported when needed as their necks are very fragile at such a young age.
  • And, of course, ensure that they can always breathe freely at all times.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines () recommend “at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day while awake … more is better … [it] can be increased gradually, starting from a minute or two at a time, as the baby becomes used to it.”

It’s important for parents to encourage the infant and to persevere. Start off for very short periods of time when they’re first born, but repeat it several times throughout the day. Remember, it will be very hard for them initially. As they get stronger and more used to it — and a little older — gradually increase the time spent doing tummy time. Nearby toys may help to encourage babies to make an extra effort during tummy time.Nearby toys may also help to encourage them to make an extra effort by the time they’re around 3 months old. Then, once they’re around 6 months of age, they should be much stronger in the arms and trunk and able to achieve the press-up position naturally. Before you know it, regular tummy time practise will result in them becoming more able to independently move around, grab toys, roll sideways and back, lift themselves up on their arms, lift and turn their head and so on. Coordination, strength, motor skills and hand-eye coordination will all improve. By the age of 7 to 9 months, you may find they can crawl and, around 9 months, they may well also be able to achieve a sitting position unaided. Around this point, your tummy time job is complete and there’s no huge need to continue — although it’ll do no harm if you do.

Safety Rules for Tummy Time

  • Only allow your baby to do tummy time when he/she is wide awake and alert;
  • Only allow your baby to do tummy time when you are wide awake, unlikely to fall asleep and are able to supervise the baby throughout the whole activity.

Those precautions are critically important for the baby’s wellbeing. Babies should never be allowed to sleep face down or even on their sides, otherwise there is a real risk of suffocation and even death. That’s why both baby and adult need to be fully awake, fully alert and the supervising adult watching at all times during the tummy time activity.

Tummy Time at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Tummy time is part and parcel of nurturing children to reach personal bests in every area and to thrive as individuals.We do, of course, follow guidelines and best practise for safe tummy time at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. It’s all a natural, integral part of what we do as part of our weekday childcare services for babies. It’s also part and parcel of nurturing children under our care to reach personal bests in every area and to thrive as individuals.

High Quality Childcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds offers the highest quality childcare at it’s Edgbaston nursery and pre-school near Birmingham. We’re also conveniently located for those looking for the best nursery or pre-school service near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, each of which is just a stone’s throw away. To enquire about a nursery/pre-school place for your child, or to ask any questions, please get in touch. We also invite you to book a tour with your child to see the childcare setting in action for yourself. Please choose an option to get started:

The A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

The NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children.It is so important to avoid feeding a baby or toddler anything that could be detrimental to their health. So, once infants are weaning off milk and eating solids, vigilance and care is needed over every food choice. Allergens aside (we’ll cover those in a separate, future post), the NHS recommends a significant list of foods that adults should avoid giving babies and young children. Such foods are on the ‘avoid’ list usually because they contain one or more of the following three ingredients, although there are also others to look out for, as you’ll see.

  1. Too much salt. This is bad for babies’ kidneys, which have not finished developing. It can also raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the NHS, babies under 1 should have less than 1g of salt per day and this will usually be achieved through milk intake, so none should be added. Children aged between 1 and 3 should only eat a maximum of 2g of salt per day (0.8g of sodium). For 4 to 6-year-olds it can increase to 3g of salt per day (1.2g of sodium).
  2. The NHS's Food Scanner phone app is available free.Added sugar. Infants do not need this. If added, it may increase instances of tooth decay, unhealthy weight issues, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. With children typically consuming more than twice as much sugar as is recommended, it is a real issue. The NHS’s sugar calculator can help when preparing food for infants, or alternatively use their Food Scanner app to find healthier food choices (click the yellow graphic to download).
  3. Saturated fats. These can raise levels of cholesterol and increase the risk of getting heart disease.

Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant

In alphabetical order, foods that the NHS warns parents to avoid feeding babies and infants include:

Food TypeReason To Avoid / Notes
AnchoviesContains salt.
BaconContains salt and saturated fats.
BaglesMay contain added salt.
BiscuitsThese may be high in saturated fats.
Bread productsMay contain added salt.
Breakfast cerealsLikely to contain salt and sugar.
BunsContains sugar.
CakesContains sugar and saturated fats.
Cereal barsContains sugar.
Cheeses (some)Contains salt and saturated fats. Avoid all cheeses before the age of six months. Thereafter, avoid cheeses including non-pasteurised, mould-ripened (like brie), veined cheese (like stilton) and ripened goats’ cheese — unless used in [hot] cooking to kill harmful microbes.
Chips with added saltContains salt.
Chocolate & chocolate products, spreads etc.Contains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
CiabattaContains salt.
CrispsContains salt. They can also contain high levels of saturated fat.
CrumpetsMay contain added salt.
EggsAvoid before the age of 6 months, thereafter avoid if raw/only lightly cooked unless they exhibit the Red Lion or ‘British Lion Quality’ stamp.
Fizzy drinksAvoid if they contain added sugar.
Fruit juicesEven unsweetened juice will contain natural ‘free’ sugars.
Gravy granulesContains salt.
HamContains salt.
HoneyContains sugar and also may contain bacteria that produces toxins in babies’ intestines, potentially causing botulism. Never give honey to children under the age of 1.
Ice creamContains sugar, saturated fats
Jelly cubesChoking hazard.
Juice drinksContain sugar.
Marlin meatContains mercury.
MayonnaiseLikely to contain salt.
NectarsContains sugar.
Nuts – salted and dry-roastedContains salt. Choking hazard too, unless crushed.
OlivesContains salt. Choking hazard.
Pasta saucesLikely to contain salt.
PastriesContains sugar, saturated fats, even salt.
PicklesContains salt.
PizzaLikely to contain salt.
PrawnsContains salt.
Ready mealsContains salt.
Rice drinksAvoid before the age of 5 – contains arsenic.
SalamiContains salt.
Salt fishContains salt.
SandwichesLikely to contain salt.
SaucesLikely to contain salt.
SausagesLikely to contain salt and saturated fats.
Shark meatContains mercury.
ShelfishAvoid if raw/lightly cooked.
Smoked meat and fishContains salt.
SmoothiesContains sugar.
SoupLikely to contain salt.
Soy sauceContains salt.
Stock cubesContains salt.
SweetsContains sugar.
Swordfish meatContains mercury.
Syrups including maple, golden, agave etc.Contains sugar.
TakeawaysContains salt.
Tomato ketchupContains salt.
Vegetable juicesContains sugar.
Yeast extractContains salt.
Yoghurts (flavoured)Contains sugar.

We hope that this ready-reference is useful for parents and guardians of babies and young children. However, it is a guide only and you should do your own research, including in regard to possible allergies. Always check food labels and ensure you’re using information for infants, not adults.

Healthy Eating at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our standard fees include healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and tea as appropriate), healthy snacks and drinks. Meals contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are locally sourced and prepared by award-winning early years caterers. We cater for all dietary needs including vegan and vegetarian options. We also participate in the ‘Startwell’ programme, which encourages healthy food and lifestyles amongst children and families in the Birmingham area.

Looking for outstanding nurseries/pre-schools in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds is a popular nursery and pre-school located in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We offer high quality childcare to local parents/guardians, including those who live or work in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. To learn more about how we can bring out the very best in your baby, toddler or under-five child, we invite you to bring them along for a nursery visit. Ask us any questions and have a look around. See if your child feels at home. You can also simply apply for a place or send us a message. Please choose a button below to get started:

20 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Little Ones

It's important that young children are given ample opportunity to play, learn and explore the many activities that only the outdoors allowsOutdoor play offers an enormous range of benefits to children, particularly during their early years. It’s therefore important that little ones, in particular, are given ample opportunity to play, learn and explore the many activities that only the outdoors allows — under adult supervision, of course. Outside, they’ll learn new skills and knowledge and will benefit both physically and mentally in ways that perhaps the indoors could never fully allow. So, if you are the parent or guardian of a child in their earliest years, take a look at 20 of the key benefits of outdoor play for little ones.

1. Outdoor Play is Great Fun!

Playing outdoors is generally great fun!We should not overlook the complete obvious — playing outdoors is generally great fun! That’s not a trivial thing and indeed it’s important for children’s wellbeing. After all, fun and games are all an essential part of any happy childhood. There is also no better way for little ones to learn than through play, so giving them the opportunity to play outdoors represents a much wider opportunity than anything they can do inside.

2. A Completely Different Set of Activities & Challenges

Outdoor play offers a largely different set of games, activities, challenges and exploration opportunities compared to those available indoors.Outdoor play offers a largely different set of games, activities, challenges and exploration opportunities compared to those available indoors. After all, it literally opens up a bigger world for children to experience. With the myriad of different environments available outdoors, whether man-made or natural, there’s simply more to do. So, the potential for a near infinite range of different activities and games is possible outdoors — each of which can teach children something new.

3. A Greater Sense of Adventure

As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure that is harder to replicate indoors. And adventure is all a healthy part of childhood, when you think about it.

4. An Escape from Electronic Screens

Outdoor play is also a very healthy release from spending time in front of electronic screens like TVs, tablets, games and maybe even mobiles if children have them. Studies and a good dose of common sense show that too much screen time is not good for children and getting them outdoors is a great way to go back to basics and enjoy more natural, active play.

5. New Knowledge

Children get to learn so many new things when taking part in the myriad of possible activities outdoors.Along with this bigger world comes greater knowledge, pure and simple. Children will get to learn so many new things, about both themselves and the world, when taking part in the myriad of possible activities outdoors. Whether it’s new knowledge about nature, the elements, materials, places or something else, there is so much knowledge out there to feed their young minds.

6. Outdoor Play Supports the EYFS Curriculum

The varied nature of outdoor play supports the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in many different ways. This includes support for ‘prime’ and key’ areas including Physical Development, Communication & Language Development, Understanding the World, Personal, Social & Emotional Development and even Mathematics.

7. Outdoor Play Helps Mental Health

Spending time outdoors and fresh air, particularly when surrounded by nature, is known to help the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults.Spending time outdoors and fresh air, particularly when surrounded by nature, is known to help the mental health and wellbeing of both children and adults. Study after study show this to be the case.

8. Feeding the Senses

The outside world is a rich stimulant of all the senses.All the senses are stimulated enormously when children take part in outdoor activities, play and exploration. The outside world is a rich stimulant of all the senses including sight, hearing, smell, touch and, with supervision and care, even taste. Proprioception (balance/movement) and vestibular sensing via body position are also particularly stimulated by outdoor play. Learn more about the importance of sensory perception here.

9. Deeper Friendships

Play-based outdoor activities are so different from those undertaken indoors and they also allow for different dynamics amongst children. Many are group-based or at the very least pair-based activities that are quite immersive. The combination of factors around outdoor play can lead to a wider circle of friends and deeper friendships. That can only be a good thing.

10. New Skills

Outdoor play and activities introduce children to completely new skills like teamwork, cooperation, leadership and more.The wider range of immersive activities available outdoors also introduces children to completely new skills. Just a few examples include teamwork, role-play, strategy and leadership.

11. Improved Communication Skills

Communication skills are also nurtured during outdoor play. Children playing outdoors, together, will need to learn to communicate clearly with each other as they go about joint activities and games. They’ll soon learn what communication strategies work, and which don’t.

12. Improved Strength, Fitness & Physical Development

Children playing outdoors are far more likely to be active and physical, expending energy, moving, running, jumping, climbing and more. All of that physical activity will help build strength, stamina and improve general fitness levels. In turn, this active play can lead to a more healthy BMI and help to reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity.

13. Improved Motor Skills, Balance & Coordination

Motor skills (both gross and fine), balance and coordination are also naturally going to improve with outdoor play.Motor skills (both gross and fine), balance and coordination skills are also naturally going to improve with all this more physical, outdoor activity. That’s incredibly important in their early years as they learn to control their bodies and movement so they’re able to stay safe from harm as they become more physically able.

14. Better Spacial Awareness

Spacial awareness is another sense that benefits through regular outdoor activity. With the greater freedom that the outdoors affords, young children will soon hone this essential skill that will help to keep both themselves and their peers out of harm’s way.

15. Expanded Risk Assessment Abilities

Risk assessment is something that children will have to do more outdoors than inside. The good news, though, is that it’ll be quite natural and largely instinctive for them to assess risk, perhaps without even being conscious that they are doing so. This is yet another skill that’ll help to keep children more safe.

16. Creative Inspiration

Whether it's building, inventing, making or simply observing, the outdoor world really stimulates children's minds to create.With all the opportunities that the outdoor environment offers children, it’s no wonder that it greatly stimulates their creativity. Whether it’s building, inventing, making or simply observing, the outdoor world really stimulates children’s minds to create.

17. Improved Self-Esteem

With new skills and abilities, children and their peers may begin to each other in a new, improved light. New abilities and deeper friendships will, in turn, boost children’s self-esteem, in a healthy, natural way.

18. Improved Self-Confidence

Better self-esteem will also make children more confident in themselves, as people, as well as in their abilities. This is a good thing and a way to help them thrive in the world and within their peer group and community.

19. Enhanced Preparedness for School

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.All these benefits help children to develop mentally, physically and socially and, in so doing, they will be better prepared when the time comes for them to move from pre-school to school.

20. Enhanced Preparedness for Life

By setting children up with the mental and physical tools that will help them to thrive, they will also be more prepared and equipped for life in general as they progress from infant to child and ultimately into adulthood.

Outdoor Play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school has wonderful outdoor facilities where the children can play, explore and learn in a safe environment. It’s a stimulating and immensely enjoyable area where children can let their imaginations free to gain all the benefits that the outdoors has to offer. We also have our own Forest School in Edgbaston/Birmingham to take this a step further, out into nature. Children simply love it and learn so much!

Outstanding Childcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds is a childcare nursery & pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

If you’d like to explore our wonderful nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham or are looking for exceptionally good childcare near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in contact with us. We can show you and your child around, answer any queries you might have and give you any information you need. Please choose a button below:

Safety First

While outdoor play is fun and offers so many benefits for children, by its very nature it can be potentially more hazardous. Suitable adult supervision and safety measures should therefore always be in place for the safety and wellbeing of children playing outdoors.

15 Benefits of Teaching Kids to Grow Food

Children, particularly the very young, absolutely love growing and tending to plants and seedlings.Children, particularly the very young, absolutely love growing and tending to plants and seedlings. It’s an absolutely fascinating activity for them and gives them a real sense of both wonder and achievement. Growing fruit, vegetables and herbs is even better, though! They get all the fun and benefits of the growing activity and they then get to eat the results! Growing food is fun and it also has many benefits for children — today we’ll take a look at some of them.

“In every gardener is a child who loves to play in the dirt. In every child is a gardener ready to grow.” (LeAura Alderson)

Children don’t need a garden or allotment to grow food. A patio, courtyard, balcony or windowsill will do, so long as plants have water, soil and light.

1. Growing Food is Educational

Growing food teaches children about life, the biology of plants and about where food comes.Growing herbs, vegetables and fruit is educational for children on many different levels, as we’ll see. It teaches children about life and the biology of plants. It also teaches children about where food comes from and what skills and care are needed in the process. They’ll learn so much while growing edible herbs, fruit and vegetables — and also learn about themselves in the process. Growing plants, herbs and produce also supports several areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.

2. Children Learn New Skills Growing Food

“Growing food was the first activity that gave us enough prosperity to stay in one place, form complex social groups, tell our stories, and build our cities”

The quotation above, from Barbara Kingsolver, pretty much sums up the enormous positive impact that learning to grow food has had on the human race. And there’s no reason why the skills necessary to successfully grow food shouldn’t start in the very young. From preparing the soil, germinating and sprouting seeds, tending to seedlings and caring for plants as they grow, these are all great skills for children to learn along the way.

3. Growing Food Helps Children Appreciate Nature

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.” (Robert Brault)

Growing food allows children to witness, first hand, the miracle of life as living things flourish and bloom.Growing food allows children to witness, first hand, the miracle of life and to see how tending and caring for a living thing allows it to flourish and bloom. It’ll give children a real sense of wonder about nature and life itself.

4. Growing Food Teaches ‘Green’ Values

“It’s more than just high quality food for the family table; it’s growing the food in a way that does not harm the environment.” (Robert Patterson)

Growing food is also more likely to give children a long-term sense of the importance of nature, the natural world and about caring for the environment. Studies have shown that children who are introduced to activities involving nature at a young age are more likely to lead ‘greener’ lifestyles — even into adulthood.

5. Home-Grown Food is Healthy

Teaching children to learn how to grow plants, fruit, herbs and vegetables is also likely to lead to long-term healthier lifestyles. As the website FoodRevolution.org puts it:

“Growing your own food may be one of the most powerful steps you can take for the health of yourself, your family, and your planet.”

6. Children Learn to Appreciate Trial & Error

Learning from mistakes is an important skill to learn. Indeed, many of the world’s most successful business owners say they would never be where they are today had they not made mistakes — and learnt from them — along the way. It’s therefore important that children come to realise that small failures are all part of longer-term success, so long as they learn from the mistakes.

Growing food can save the household money!7. Growing Food Can Save Money

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” (Ron Finley)

A lovely by-product of children growing herbs, vegetables or fruit is that it can save the household money. That’s totally feasible, particularly when children’s food-growing skills have been well and truly honed.

8. Children Can Eat What They Have Grown

“Children who grow what they eat will often eat what they grow.”

As well as enjoying the whole food-growing activity and learning from it, children and their families can enjoy eating the result!That quote is so true. As well as enjoying the whole food-growing activity and learning from it, of course the result is something that children – and perhaps the whole family – can eat! It’s a win-win from every perspective.

9. Eating Home-Grown Food Can Make Children Try Different Things

“If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes. But when none of this is presented to them, if they’re not shown how food affects the mind and the body, they blindly eat whatever you put in front of them.

Ron Finley’s quotation above explains it very well. If a child grows something edible, it’s almost a given that they will eat the produce — or at the very least try it. Encouraging them to grow their own edible produce is a great way to make them more interested in eating healthier things like fruit and vegetables etc. It may even have the knock-on effect of making them more likely to try cooking and food preparation — yet more new skills!

10. Growing Food at Home Helps to Make Bonds

Growing herbs, vegetables, fruit and any plant will give children a real sense of wonder about nature and life itself.Children will inevitably ask questions and ask for guidance and help when they first start their food-growing activities. Parents or guardians will probably enjoy the task too and it’s one of those activities that’s bound to be a great joint effort. As such, this partnership can be a great way to bond.

11. Growing Food Gets Children Away from Electronic Screens

Such a natural activity is also a wonderful antidote to backlit screens, TVs, mobile devices and electronic games. It’s like going back to basics in some ways, but in others it will teach children so much more by getting ‘hands on’ with real-life, useful activities.

12. Children Learn to Become More Responsible

After all, caring for another living entity requires their attention, a responsibility and even empathy to ensure the wellbeing of the little plants and seedlings. These are great lessons and good skills to encourage.

13. Children Learn the Importance of Patience

Growing plants from seed or cuttings requires effort and patience and that's a great virtue to teach young children.In this day and age, everything seems to be more rushed than ever and there could even be a tendency towards instant gratification with little effort (from TV programmes, videos and electronic games, for example). Growing plants from seed or cuttings requires effort and patience and that’s a great virtue to teach young children. They need to understand that ‘good things come to those who wait’.

14. Home-Grown Food Tastes Better!

Food really does taste better, more often than not, when it’s home-grown. Tastier food, particularly the natural, healthy kind, is never a bad thing!

15. Growing Food is a Fun, Entertaining Activity for Kids

That’s important in itself. Children love growing food and plants! It brings them all these benefits and more but is also a very entertaining activity. It’s also a much more worthwhile one than many others. Teaching children to grow food is a win-win for everyone — children, families and the planet.

“By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world — we change ourselves.” (Jules Dervaes)

A Wonderful Nursery & Pre-School in Birmingham, Near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

Children grow plants and herbs at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery.Children are encouraged to take part in growing plants, including herbs, at Leaps & Bounds. We are also an outstanding Forest School, so children get ample exposure to nature and all the benefits of the natural world. If you are looking for a good childcare nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, or high quality pre-schools or nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in touch — we’d be happy to show you and your child around the setting and to answer any questions that you might have. You can also simply apply for a childcare place below …

Next Time …

In our next post, we develop this topic further by taking a look at some exciting food growing activities that children can undertake at home. Also don’t miss our subsequent article about growing microgreens — a fun, nutritious activity for under-fives.

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

Edgbaston1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neville Chamberlain. Image: British Museum, Public domain6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Childhood Obesity Matters
There are many dangers posed by obesity in childhoodHere we look at the dangers of obesity in very young children, why it’s crucial to avoid it and how parents and carers can help. Some statistics will help focus the mind on why this is so important.

Childhood Obesity – the Shocking Statistics

Virtually one in every three children aged 2 to 15 is overweight or obese.

More and more children are becoming obese at younger and younger ages. Statistics show that, once obese, children are far more likely to remain so longer term.

Obesity DOUBLES the risk of dying early.

What’s more, people are more likely to suffer from depression and heart disease if they are obese.

The risk of obese adults developing Type 2 diabetes is SEVEN times greater.

That’s another shocking statistic. Here’s another:

Under-fives from low-income families are TWICE as likely to become obese. Eleven year olds are THREE times more likely to do so.

That’s why children living in deprived, low-income areas tend to experience an unfairly high level of weight issues, along with the health problems that are associated with them.

It’s clear that childhood obesity needs to be avoided if at all possible. So, what can be done?

Avoiding Childhood Obesity – How to Help Little Ones

Generally speaking, the avoidance of childhood obesity comes down to a good balance between two key things; regular exercise and a healthy diet. Parents can help children in both areas.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy bodyRegular exercise is a great tool in the fight against obesity in children, as well as in adults of course. Excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat can be burned off through exercise. Exercise, when done regularly, is more likely to speed up the metabolism, making the burning of calories more efficient (i.e. easier).

Exercise also has a number of additional, important benefits including improving general fitness, building stronger bones and muscles, reducing the risk of heart disease, depression and Type 2 diabetes as well as improving sleep quality. Perhaps surprisingly, research suggests that regular exercise and sport is also likely to improve academic performance. And, of course, active sports and group exercise opportunities are great for social interaction and bonding with peers — that’s beneficial for children of all ages.

So, the message for parents and carers of young children is to encourage them to get active. Too much sitting looking at electronic screens like tablets, phones, computers and TVs is detrimental to their health. Regular, energetic, physical games and activities are good and, of course, sport is a great way to exercise while having fun. Getting children outdoors is also a way to encourage more active play.

A Healthy Diet

Junk food and sugary food/drink should be avoidedIn tandem with regular exercise, children’s diets need to be balanced and healthy. So, they need to eat healthy foods and in the right amounts. Junk food should be avoided. Indeed, the Government’s “Plan for Action” to help fight childhood obesity aims to reduce children’s exposure to the advertising of junk food. The scheme has also included measures to cut sugar levels in food and soft drinks and even to stop unhealthy foods from being displayed near supermarket checkouts. The scheme was launched in recent years to combat the childhood obesity issues that seem to have become so prevalent in the UK in recent years. Another key aim is to reduce the strain on the NHS caused by obesity, which is significant:

The NHS spends more on the treatment of obesity and diabetes than it spends on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.

A healthy diet is crucial to avoid obesity in childhoodSo, parents and carers of children can help by carefully choosing what their children eat and drink. Junk food is to be avoided. Sugary drinks too. High-sugar foods like biscuits, cakes, ice cream, confectionery and sugary cereals should only be given as occasional treats, if at all. Portion sizes should also be right for the size and age of the child in question. In regard to food groups, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day are much more suitable, along with some protein, dairy and some starch. The balance of the food types children eat needs to be right for them. We’ll write a separate, more detailed post about healthy eating for little ones in due course. It’ll include guidance on portion sizes, food groups and more, so watch this space.

How Leaps & Bounds Nursery Helps to Combat Childhood Obesity

Leaps & Bounds Nursery understands all of this and indeed you can read all about our healthy eating and exercise mission in our Healthy Eating & Getting Active post from last year. In a nutshell, it explains how we ensure that children accomplish just the right amount of physical activity every day, avoid sedentary activities, eat healthy food and drink and even any snacks are carefully chosen, healthy choices. Our incredible equipment, facilities and Forest School also, of course, encourage active play, much of it in the outdoors to keep children’s minds and bodies at their most healthy.

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

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16If you are looking for the very best start for your baby or child under five, look no further than Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. We also have our own Birmingham Forest School so children have ample access to the Great Outdoors and everything that the natural world can offer a young child. Our weekday childcare services are on offer from Monday to Friday for babies, toddlers and children under five. Call 0121 246 4922 or book a visit or call-back here for further details.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardens - for Kids
Robin enjoying a makeshift watering holeWe previously wrote about the amazing benefits of nature for children and we’ll now continue the nature theme with a guide to making gardens wildlife-friendly for kids. From bumble bees, blue tits and butterflies to hedgehogs, lizards and mini-beasts, there are a myriad of fascinating little creatures that will come to visit if the conditions are right. And kids can help!

You Don’t Even Need a Garden

It’s important to note that you don’t really even need a garden. Many of the suggestions below work for those without gardens too, so long as there is access to an area outdoors that’s unlikely to be disturbed by other humans. Even just a windowsill, window box, balcony or area of common ground will potentially do. You never know who will visit when you put food out for the birdsAllotments are also perfect, so long as there are no pest-controlling chemicals or measures being used there as these might harm unintended visiting creatures. Any of these areas can be used to attract wildlife so that children and parents can enjoy the sight, sounds and fascinating behaviour of a variety of delightful little creatures visiting through much of the year.

The Benefits of a Wildlife-Friendly Area

Simply put, getting regular visits from little creatures will bring joy and wonder into children’s lives. As well as learning about the different creatures living nearby, children will get to learn about nature itself and the world around them. With encouragement perhaps from adults, they’ll also learn to respect the visiting wildlife, recognising that each is an individual being, with its own character, feelings, preferences and needs. Insect houses can go just about anywhere, even without a gardenExposure to such little beings may even help children to understand the importance of ecological matters and greener lifestyles. That in itself is becoming ever-more important as the Earth warms more with each passing year.

Children will benefit from nature in so many other ways too. They’ll get exercise, build up muscles and improve coordination skills when they work the soil etc. They’ll reduce stress being out in the fresh air too. Making the outdoors wildlife-friendly will also get them away from screens like the TV, tablets, phones or computer games and that’s virtually always a good thing.

Of course, it’ll also benefit the little visitors themselves, in the form of much-needed food and, indeed, that is the real key to attracting the most wildlife.

How to Attract Wildlife

Bees, dragonflies and many other flying insects simply love BuddleiaAfter a long, often cold lock-down, Spring is pretty much here at time of writing. What better time, then, to start attracting wildlife to gardens and nearby spaces, however small some of them might be. Birds are returning from foreign lands, other animals are coming out of hibernation and more bees and butterflies will soon be travelling from flower to flower in search of nectar.

Food and sustenance is the real key to attracting most wildlife …

Bees, Dragonflies & Damselflies

Bees love poppies & wild flowers. Don't forget that they need water to drink, particularly on hot daysBees will love it if children leave out a little dish of water among any flowers that they regularly visit. It’s important to put something like pebbles and stones in the water so the bees have somewhere safe to land, where they can then sip at the water slightly beneath them. Without the landing stones, the water will be a real danger to them, so that’s an important detail. If they’re lucky, children may even find that dragonflies and damselflies also visit the watering holes that they’ve left out.

Butterflies & Moths

Butterflies will enjoy ripe fruit drizzled with sugar solutionSimilarly, butterflies and moths and maybe bees too, will be delighted if children do something similar to the above except, this time, mix water 50:50 with sugar and the resulting sweet-tasting solution can be drizzled over pieces of ripe fruit or spread over a clean piece of sponge. Either of these can then be placed into a small dish which can be left in amongst flowers outside. If you don’t have access to a garden, a windowsill or balcony will be just as good so long as there are flowers in bloom there.

One of the most popular shrubs for butterflies is ‘Buddleia’, which is available with white, deep purple, pink, blue and even yellow flowers. Butterflies absolutely love Buddleia and most Buddleia bushes will attract some amazing-looking butterfly varieties. Buddleia is extremely popular with butterfliesThese can be fantastic photo opportunities for kids as well as a chance to learn the names of the different species and perhaps build up their own wildlife photo album. Buddleias are relatively inexpensive shrubs and are available at most nurseries. They can be planted and will thrive virtually anywhere, although sunny spots will attract the most butterflies. Parents should usually hard prune them (well, most varieties) in early Spring, in mild weather.

For those with smaller spaces for plants, poppy seeds or mixed wildflower seeds are easy and fun for children to grow too, and will also attract butterflies, bees and many other insects to their pollen once they flowerBirds will love it if children/parents put up bird boxes around the garden or on outside walls of buildings. Wildflower and poppy areas can also look absolutely beautiful too.

Birds

Birds will love it if children/parents put up bird boxes around the garden or on outside walls of buildings and so on. Watching birds pair up, move into bird boxes and raise families of babies is one of life’s joys and can be quite magical for children to witness. It’s even wonderful when the babies finally leave the nest and children can watch them learning to fly and subsequently being taught how and where to feed out in the natural world.
You can even get window feeders if you don't have a garden or want a close-up look

Care needs to be taken, though, as to exactly where to put the bird boxes. They should be out of reach of predators like cats and foxes and also never be in a south-facing position. The reason for that is that, if they face South, they will become too hot in the Summer and babies will not survive under such heat.

Nursery centres usually have a great variety of bird boxes, some for specific species such as blue tits or robins, and they come in a variety of different forms, many of which are inexpensive. Alternatively, they can be made out of scraps of wood — under close supervision of an adult, of course, or purchased online.

Birds will also love bird baths. Here, they’ll be able to bathe (which is enormous fun to watch) as well as to drink. Bird baths need to be shallow and ideally have somewhere safe for the birds to stand, e.g. rocks or stonesThe water should be shallow and children should be encouraged to change the water regularly, for the health of the visiting birds. It’s also a great idea to put a rock of upturned pot or pot base in the water so the birds have somewhere to land safely and to sit if they don’t want to be in deeper water.

Bird feeding stations are also a huge hit with visiting birds. They can be purchased or fabricated from scraps of wood and suchlike (again under supervision of an adult). Birds will prefer it if bird tables or stations are placed under the canopy of an overhanging tree branch as they’ll feel safer from possible attack from above, from birds of prey. There are also some bird feeding stations that will stick to the outside of your window using little suckers; those are a great way for kids to see birds really close up. Fat balls and seed cakes are popular with a whole host of different birds (these are long-tailed tits)Whichever style is used, parents or carers can encourage children to refresh the bird food regularly and to keep the feeding station clean, to protect the health of the birds.

Hanging ‘fat balls’ or ‘seed cakes’ are another convenient option. In our own garden, National Trust branded ‘Robin Peanut Cake‘ continues to be an enormous hit with not only Robins but also with Blue Tits, Cole Tits, Long-Tailed Tits, Starlings and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. We buy ours through our local supermarket delivery service and, considering how much the birds adore it, it’s reasonably inexpensive. For those on a tighter budget or who are more creative, fat balls and seed cakes are easy for children and parents to make from scratch. Indeed, we may follow up with a separate guide to making those in the future.

Insects, Reptiles & Mini-Beasts

Compost heaps and piles of rotting logs are great places to attract insects and mini-beastsCompost heaps and piles of rotting logs are great places to attract insects and mini-beasts like woodlice, bugs, centipedes, millipedes and even the more unusual types of slender wasp, which like to burrow holes into rotting logs and, by the way, are absolutely harmless if left in peace.
Wilderness areas with long, uncut grass or sewn wildflowers will be a great haven for shy slow worms and lizards — or frogs and toads if it’s a damp area.

Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs need somewhere warm and dry to hibernate over winterHedgehogs will hibernate in undisturbed piles of autumn leaves, under sheds, compost heaps or undergrowth and even beneath unlit bonfire stacks. You can also make or buy hedgehog houses to nestle in quiet, secluded areas outdoors. You stand the most chance of having hedgehogs visit if your fences and boundaries have occasional gaps underneath, where hedgehogs can enter and exit your garden. Seeing hedgehogs, particularly baby hedgehogs, is an absolute delight for children and adults alike. They really are the cutest of garden visitors. Parents or carers need to ensure that children know not to feed hedgehogs milk or bread — it’s very bad for them.

Don’t be put off if wildlife doesn’t come straight away. Animals are rightly timid, particularly around humans, and sometimes it can take a week or two before they begin to trust any new addition to the neighbourhood.

These wildlife opportunities for your garden, windowsill or balcony are just the tip of the iceberg — there are many other ways to attract wildlife for the benefit of both children and the creatures themselves, but we hope this article gives parents and children some ideas for making a start.

We are Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham

This guide was brought to you by Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As well as offering weekday childcare, we are a Forest School setting, which gives children lots of experiences surrounded by nature. That’s especially important for those children who do not have gardens or nearby outdoor spaces to play in. Learn more about Forest School in our complete guide, here. If you are interested in a place for your child at a nursery, pre-school or Forest School in Edgbaston or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, call 0121 246 4922, contact us, or book a visit here. We’ll be delighted to tell you more and to meet you and your little one(s).

Ofsted Report: Good Childcare Provision from Leaps & Bounds
It’s been a while since our last Ofsted report but we thought we’d highlight the truly excellent feedback received from Ofsted within that most recent report. After all, many parents will be interested to know what the independent UK body thinks of a nursery or childcare setting before committing their child to a place. This post should therefore be useful to parents/carers as a good, impartial view of the nursery, from totally independent professionals.

Good Early Years Provision – it’s official!

Ofsted Report for Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, BirminghamThe most recent (2017) Ofsted report was full of positive comments from the inspectors — and nothing negative whatsoever. The provision was seen as good, in every single aspect of what we do at the setting. This should be very reassuring for parents. In short, the Ofsted inspector stated …

  • The staff team have energy and are enthusiastic about children’s learning. They provide an inspiring range of resources …  to motivate children’s learning.
  • Staff work closely with parents and confidently use the observation and assessment system in place to identify any gaps in children’s learning. This strong partnership working with parents contributes to children making good progress.
  • Staff place a strong focus on promoting children’s personal, social and emotional development. Children are supported well to be confident and independent learners.
  • Staff place a clear emphasis on building children’s communication and language skills [… and …] support children who speak English as an additional language well.
  • Keeping children safe is given good regard.

The Ofsted Inspection

An Ofsted inspection is immersive and thorough — exactly as parents would hope. The inspector carefully observes the quality of teaching, assessing its impact on the children’s learning. She (in the case of the last report) speaks with staff, children and parents and takes consideration of their views. She also undertakes a joint observation of the setting, in action, with the nursery manager, additionally meeting with the deputy and area managers. Appropriate documents are checked, including those which evidence the suitability of staff employed at the nursery.

The inspector’s aim overall is to ensure the nursery’s childcare provision complies with the statutory framework for children’s learning, development and care (the ‘EYFS’). Leaps & Bounds passed with flying colours — on all counts!

Leaps & Bounds passed with flying colours — on all counts!

More detailed analysis from the Ofsted Report follows …

Good, Effective Leadership & Management

The Ofsted inspector said: “Arrangements for safeguarding are effective” and “safeguarding is given top priority. Staff carry out a daily risk assessment to ensure all areas used by children are safe. All staff are suitably trained in child protection issues and know the procedures to follow if they have any concerns about a child. Leaders and staff work effectively with other professionals working with the children to share information and secure their welfare and promote their learning. Staff recruitment and vetting systems help ensure the staff employed are suitable and are clear about their roles and responsibilities.” And, despite the nursery already scoring very well against every benchmark, “There is a clear improvement plan in place to help staff build further on the good quality of provision already achieved.

Our Safeguarding policy is available here to read or download.

Good Teaching, Learning & Assessment Quality

Our nursery staff use an observation and assessment approach to establish precise, challenging steps within each child’s learning plan. This was recognised by Ofsted, who reported:

Consequently, activities have a clear learning intention and children make good progress. Staff use the outdoor area well to engage children in learning. For example, staff encourage children to consider how the water will flow as they use the pipes and guttering and challenge them to solve problems” then later commented: “Staff are good play partners and quickly get involved in children’s imaginary play.

They went on to comment on the good approach to speaking, vocabulary and language at the nursery:

Staff use practical and enjoyable experiences to help introduce new words and ideas and to encourage children to speak … They skilfully let children lead their own play and talk about their ideas” and later commenting: “Bilingual staff often communicate with the younger children in both their home language and English. This helps to reassure and encourage them and helps them make good progress in developing their speaking skills.

Good Personal Development, Behaviour & Welfare Approach

The Ofsted Report also had glowing comments about the nursery’s approach to personal development, behaviour and welfare:

Staff place a clear focus on children talking about their emotions and feelings as they greet each other during group time. Staff teach children how to manage their feelings and how their behaviour impacts on others. For example, children consider how the characters in their favourite books feel and why.”

And, for babies, they said:

Staff caring for babies are attentive to their care and health needs and know their individual personalities well. Staff ensure babies receive close contact and they often sing and communicate with them.

In regard to healthy food and lifestyles, the Ofsted Report commented:

The nursery is kept clean and children benefit from a varied range of nutritious meals and snacks. Children enjoy physical activity and learn about the benefits of leading healthy lives.

Good Outcomes for Children

The Ofsted inspector also reported that all children “make good progress from their starting points” and children with special educational needs and/or disabilities “also make good progress considering their starting points.

More generally, the Ofsted Report found that “Children show a real interest in learning and enjoy making marks and writing during their play. They show a fondness for numbers and counting as they play with the many natural resources, which they sort and make patterns with. Children thoroughly enjoy exploring sound and rhythm as they use the metal and plastic bins and containers as instruments. Children show good levels of enjoyment in their learning and develop the key skills required in preparation for school.

The importance of having a good record for child outcomes and readiness for school cannot be over-emphasised, of course. Both are critically important and a measure of a high quality nursery like Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Birmingham.

Going Forwards to the Next Ofsted Report

Ofsted reports come around approximately every four years, so Leaps & Bounds may be due another inspection soon. We have not been resting on our laurels, though, and our aim is to make Leaps and Bounds even better. Indeed, our aim of continual improvement was recognised by the last inspector who stated that we intend to “build further on the good quality of provision already achieved.” So, watch this space!

A Nursery Place in Birmingham for your Baby or Child

If you would like to explore the idea of a place for your baby or child at an independently proven nursery like Leaps & Bounds, please do get in touch. We’ll be very happy to discuss it further with you. Our nursery is located in Gillott Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham, close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call 0121 246 4922 for more details or contact us/book a visit here.

Top 10 Nature Activities for Children
Following our November article, “Nature & it’s Amazing Benefits for Children”, we thought we’d follow up with some wonderful nature-based activity ideas for children to enjoy. As we saw in the aforementioned article, nature has enormous and incredibly varied benefits for children; even more so in their early years. Without going over previous ground in too much detail again here, nature benefits children’s minds, spirits and bodies and improves mental and physical health. The range of benefits is huge.
Slow worm found in the garden undergrowth on a sunny dayWith this in mind, we have put together our top ten list of activities that parents and carers can organise for their children in the natural environment.

1. A mini-beast hunt!

Whether undertaken in the garden, park or countryside, a mini-beast hunt is always a popular hit with young children. Fun and educational, a hunt for little creatures in a natural environment will always give children a real sense of discovery, adventure and accomplishment. See if they can find a bee, a spider, frog, ladybird, worm, ant, slug, snail, a slow worm. Or they could look for larger animals like birds, foxes and rabbits. Teach them to respect the creatures (even the scary ones) and to handle them with great care if touching them or picking them up. They’ll hopefully learn that each of these is a little being that’s going about its life and has its own needs and wants, just like humans, only a little different.

2. Feeding birds

Feeding birds is a great activity for childrenLeaving out suitable food for birds in the garden, balcony or windowsill can be a wonderful opportunity to see the different varieties of birds that live in the neighbourhood. A fun, creative way to do this is to save your used kitchen roll tubes and spread peanut butter onto them (so long as it’s the type with no added salt or sugar) and then that can be rolled in bird seed, which should stick. The finished rolls can be threaded with string and hung out for birds in suitable places. The best locations are off the ground (to protect from any cats) and ideally under the shade of a larger tree or overhang of some kind (so that they’re safe from birds of prey above). Note, too, that birds often take several days to begin to ‘trust’ any new addition to their neighbourhood, so don’t worry if they don’t come straight down for their new food — it may take a while. Feeding birds in this way can help children to learn the different types of birds as well as being a ‘natural’ activity that’s suitable in all weathers. After all, only the birds actually need to be outside in this case!

3. Gardening & Growing

If you have access to a garden, balcony, allotment or even windowsill, gardening can be immense fun for little ones. Tending to seedlings, planting seeds and even weeding can be an entertaining and worthwhile pastime for them. Children will also love watering them, picking flowers to make a nice bouquet or even harvesting fruit, vegetables and herbs to add to meals later on. Gardening is educational on so many levels and also gives children a useful sense of responsibility.

4. Building activities

Pebble stacks and other building activities are great fun for kidsThe outdoor world gives children wonderful opportunities for building things. For example, children can use sticks and small branches to build dens or camps. Another fun activity is to build wood block, rock or pebble ‘stacks’. These can look almost mystical when several are built. Take a look at the photo of our example. Remember, though, that health and safety is paramount, so young children will need supervision.

5. Creative activities

Gardens, hedgerows and the countryside can also give children excellent opportunities to be creative. For example, they can collect petals from different types of flowers. There are a few different, fun, things they can then do with them:

  • Mix them all together into a kind of natural confetti.
  • Make them into scented water by immersing them into a bowl of water and leaving them to soak.
  • Put them into a thin, plastic beaker, fill with water and then leave to set as ice in the freezer. These look fantastic when popped out after freezing — almost like a ‘frosty’ paperweight with the lovely petals showing through. Leave in the garden to gradually melt – they look wonderful.

Other fun, creative pastimes in nature include making daisy chains, threading leaves with rustic string (this is called ‘leaf threading’) and the resultant leaf chains can then be displayed indoors or hung up outdoors somewhere. Another fun activity involving leaves is face-making. Grab some paper plates, then harvest some leaves, small twigs and petals and then make them into faces on the plates (the plates forming the head).

6. A country walk of discovery

Baby rabbit spotted on a country walkIntroducing children to country walks or walks in the park during their early years will be enough to give many a lifelong interest in nature and the natural world. Walking can be a real adventure as you discover new places, sometimes amazing views and a variety of interesting flora and fauna. Walking in nature can be a real feast for the senses and it’ll help keep children more fit, both physically and mentally. It’ll also educate them gradually as they learn to recognise different types of trees, flowers, birds, animals and insects. Here’s a photo of a baby rabbit that we discovered on one of our walks.

7. Cycling

Similarly, cycling can get children out into the natural world and make it great fun. Whether it’s a toddler using a tricycle or a preschooler using a scooter or two-wheeled bike, this is an opportunity for all ages so long as the terrain is carefully chosen — ideally fairly flat, smooth and not muddy, especially for the young. Parks can be great as they tend to have decent trails and routes to follow, but respect walkers and give them the right of way, particularly on paths.

8. Picnics

In the spring, summer or autumn, there will be ample opportunities to have a picnic outside instead of eating at home. This can be in the garden, local park or countryside. Picnics can be immense fun and are an easy way to get children interested in the outdoor environment. Setting down a picnic on a grassy area also gives you all a ‘base’ around which children can play and explore after eating. A game of hide and seek will be an obvious extension of this. When they’re older and more self-sufficient, this can be developed further by expanding to more adventurous locations like riverbanks (so long as they can swim confidently) and more rugged countryside.

9. Camping

Fun with shelters at Forest SchoolUnder supervision, camping out in the garden or in the countryside can take picnics and country walks to the next level. You can combine them with an overnight stay under canvas. This can be as formal or ‘wild’ as parents see fit. Overnight camping, and all that goes with it, opens up a whole new world to children who will be able to enjoy new adventures under the stars, immersed in the elements, perhaps even learning how food or even toasted marshmallows can be cooked away from home on a natural, foraged log fire. Don’t forget, though; safety first!

10. Join a Forest School

Our top tip is for children to join a Forest School. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we run a Forest School for children aged up to five years of age in the Birmingham area. For people elsewhere, there are many others dotted around the country for children of all ages. Forest School gives children access to the natural environment, giving children the chance to enjoy nature, discover new skills, enjoy all the benefits of ‘The Great Outdoors’ and have enormous fun whilst doing so. It can positively change children’s outlooks on the world and this can benefit them mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. Learn everything you need to know about Forest School in our “Complete Guide to Forest School” here.

For those who don’t have a Forest School nearby, our activity ideas above may be useful for parents and carers. With these, they can help children have fun, learn and benefit from everything nature has to offer in gardens, parks and natural outdoor spaces nearby.

Contact our Birmingham Nursery

Leaps & Bounds would love to hear from you if you have a baby or child under five and are looking for suitable nurseries in the Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick and Birmingham areas. Contact us or book a visit here, or call 0121 246 4922 to speak to our staff. We’ll be happy to discuss a suitable childcare place for your child, to arrange a tour or to answer any questions that you might have.

Nature & it's Amazing Benefits for Children
Young girl enjoys playing with autumn leavesBack in June we published our Complete Guide to Forest School and this explained how children can enjoy, learn and benefit from the natural world as part of their nursery experience. Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery has its own Forest School in Birmingham, so it’s something that all our under-fives enjoy as a matter of course.

In this new post we’ll explore the overall benefits of nature for young children. What does it do for them? How does it affect them? What are its long-term benefits? Let’s take a look …

Nature and playing in the natural world is good for children. Study after study concludes that children who spend time outside are happier, smarter, fitter, more attentive and less anxious than those who spend their time indoors.

Nature Benefits the Mind

Nature is enormously beneficial for children’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

  • Nature stimulates children's imaginations and sense of wonder Nature stimulates children’s imaginations. Watch children in the countryside for just a few moments and you can soon see their creativity kicking in, utilising the natural environment and materials around them in all manner of creative ways. Nature is an exceptional source of inspiration.
  • The natural world makes children think deeply. Children of all ages will look at natural objects, plants and animals and then look closer. They’ll ask questions about them, learning by discovery too, and build a huge knowledge about the natural world and all the things in it. It can often make them really think profound thoughts about where we came from, what it might be like to be a wild animal, why the flowers and trees change with the seasons, and so on.
  • The natural world is a wonderful stress-buster. Outside, in nature, children enter a completely different world and can leave the stresses of the modern world behind, almost instantly.
  • Being out in the natural world can boost children’s self-confidence by giving them more freedom to go in one direction or another, to create a myriad of activities within their surroundings and to simply be themselves.
  • The natural world gives children freedomOutdoors, children can be more free than in any other situation. With this new-found freedom, they can really ‘live’ and see a new side of life that will appeal to their inner instincts and natural sense of adventure.
  • Nature also teaches children about responsibility and self-control. Giving a child the responsibility to care for plants, or to put out seeds for the wildlife, teaches them valuable lessons about caring for other living things — and the responsibility that requires. Empathy will follow naturally.
  • It’s similar with the element of risk. They will quickly learn to risk-assess in the endless bounds and variety of the natural environment. That’s incredibly important.
  • Outdoor play is shown to improve children’s focus, especially for those with ADHD. It’s also shown to increase mental energy and short-term memory skills.

A study by the American Institute for Research found that children learning in outdoor classroom environments achieved a 27% improvement in science scores.

Nature Benefits the Body

Regular access to nature has enormous benefits for the physical health and bodies of people of all ages — especially growing children. These include:

  • Nature benefits the bodyRegular exercise is great for kids. Running around and playing in the natural world gives children space to really run free and to improve their physical fitness. Doing so will also help them to maintain healthy body mass indices and respiratory function.
  • This exercise, and the hugely varied activities that are possible out in the natural world, are sure to improve children’s motor skills, strength and physical resilience.
  • Nature stimulates far more senses than most indoor activities. The outdoors is a rich, sensory environment; children can see, hear, touch, feel and smell. In stark contrast, TV, other screen-based activities and most toys stimulate just a narrow range of children’s senses.
  • A child who appreciates nature is more likely to appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, for example in relation to physical exercise and healthy eating choices.
  • Studies also show that babies sleep better at night if they’ve been out in the fresh air during the daytime.

Another study in 2019 found that adults who had low exposure to outdoor environments as children had far worse mental health than those who had good access.

Nature Benefits the Spirit

  • Nature has many spiritual benefits for children Children who connect deeply with nature are more likely to become environmentally conscious individuals. That’s good for the spirit — and the planet itself.
  • The natural world is full of beauty and wonder. When children learn to appreciate this, the benefits are truly profound.
  • Playing close to nature, away from the boundaries of homes and schools, opens up a whole new world to children. In this bigger world, new friends can be made and new interests can evolve together into the future. It’s also something that can become a shared interest within families themselves.
  • An appreciation for nature and the Great Outdoors can have life-long positive effects that can be carried forwards well into adulthood.
  • Appreciating nature can also give children a sense of priority. For example, to highlight things that really matter in the bigger scheme of things. This bigger perspective can really help when insignificant things are bringing a child down.
  • The natural world creates a feeling of pleasure at a deep level. When life in the modern environment is causing stress and discomfort, a walk out in the fresh air is sure to blow out the cobwebs and raise one’s mood. Mindfulness also goes hand-in-hand with the peace available in the natural world.

Children don’t remember their best ever day in front of the TV, but a day’s adventure with nature is hard to forget.

Conclusions

Nature is a wonderful teacherNature is an amazing teacher. Importantly, it teaches children just as much about themselves as it does about the natural world itself. Children who spend time with nature at an early age awaken previously undiscovered skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, independence, using tools and many more. These are also skills they can take with them into the world as they grow towards adulthood.

Nature is a wonderful equaliser too. It doesn’t judge or rank children. It doesn’t exclude anyone and indeed is a wonderful connector. It also gives children the opportunity of adventure, of discovery, of an escape from today’s technological and often man-made world. Everything in nature is real and, when you take a moment to take a close look, it’s exciting and amazing in equal measure. The Great Outdoors really is great! It’s often a whole new world for those who’ve previously spent most time indoors or in a city. As such, it represents almost endless possibilities. Nature allows play and discovery to be unstructured and, a such, open-ended, offering unrivalled opportunities. What’s more, it can be incredible fun for under-fives and, indeed, children of any age.

Enjoying Nature in our Birmingham Forest School

Forest School gives children opportunities for adventure outdoorsLeaps & Bounds is incredibly proud to offer its Birmingham Forest School to children attending the nursery. It promises to positively change their outlook and profoundly improve their lives — quite possibly forever. Learn more about how children can benefit from nature and the natural world in our Complete Guide to Forest School here.

If you would like to explore the possibility of enrolling your child into Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and its Forest School, call 0121 246 4922 or contact us to arrange a visit here. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick.

(Check out our other post about activities that any child can enjoy outside with nature, where fun and discovery are free).