Tag Archive for: nurseries

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.

40 British Birds for Children to Look Out For — Free A3 Poster Download Included

There’s no better time for little ones to take an active interest in nature than spring, summer and autumn. Not only is nature good for children, but it also teaches them an incredible variety of things about the natural world, the flora and fauna within it, and even about their own place in the world. Nature is healthy, healing, exciting and a huge adventure, especially for the young. With all this in mind, today we publish an A3 poster showing 40 birds that children in Britain can look out for and learn to identify. It’s an activity that will cost them nothing, open their eyes to nature and help them get to know some of the wonderful creatures within it. If they print out and display the poster, they’ll soon get to know the names of birds that they may see out the window, in the garden, in the park/countryside, or even on their way to nursery or school. The poster can also be viewed on electronic devices like tablets, smartphones and computers, all in beautiful detail (try zooming in for a closer view). We suggest children tick off each type of bird as it’s seen and set themselves a challenge to see how many they can spot over the course of the year.

Download the Free British Birds Poster

Right-click the preview image below — or this link — to save the poster to your device before printing it out for your child. Alternatively, left-click either option to view the poster on screen (N.B. availability of this function may depend on your device and browser settings).

40 British Birds for Children to Look Out For — Free Poster Download

The poster shows 40 different birds that are mostly fairly common in Britain from spring onwards. For instance, birds like robins, dunnocks, bluetits, pigeons and blackbirds will probably be spotted in no time at all, even in built-up areas. However, the poster also includes several species that children and adults alike may want to look out for simply because they are more rarely seen. Examples include colourful bullfinches, shy goldcrests and firecrests (the latter is featured in the main picture) as well as birds of prey like sparrowhawks and red kites. The latter can often be seen in the sky on car trips through countryside or even above motorways. It will take an eagle eye, if you excuse the pun, for children to spot some of those more shy birds, but they’re out there in more wild locations like parks and open countryside if children are patient and keenly observant. Some will require patience, in other words, and that’s also another good skill for children to learn. Children generally love the idea of nighttime birds like owls too (we also think they’re fascinating), so we’ve included 3 types of owls even though they may only be seen rarely, perhaps at dusk or in the headlights of the car at night. Children can certainly listen out for owls, though, particularly if they live in areas with countryside, outbuildings and trees in the vicinity.

We may produce additional posters for children in future if this one proves to be popular. For example, we may create a separate waterfowl poster, perhaps one for butterflies and moths, and maybe even one for British snakes and reptiles. So, watch this space!

Other Ways to Identify British Birds

The RSPB also has online tools to help children and adults identify specific types of bird.Our poster only includes 40 popular birds out of potentially hundreds that can be found in the UK. With that in mind, here are several other ways for children to identify wild birds, perhaps with the help of a supervising adult:

Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

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.Nature is one of our focuses at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston. Children get to enjoy and learn about nature through our Forest School. There, children enjoy time spent in a natural environment where they can explore and learn about the natural world under supervision. We also have our own seed and plant-growing area at the childcare setting, allowing children to grow herbs, plants and vegetables and learn cultivation and nurturing skills.

Nursery & Pre-school Places 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.Are you looking for a good nursery or preschool place in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham? Consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery if so. We accept all recognised Government -funded childcare places and would love to show you and your little one around. Please get in touch to register your baby or child for a place, ask questions or arrange a guided visit. Many thanks — we look forward to meeting you!

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

Primary School Offer Day - a Guide for Parents

In April each year, parents of 3- and 4-year-olds get to find out which primary school has been offered to their child for the academic year they leave nursery/preschool. Starting school is a huge milestone for both child and parent and many parents will be anxious to secure their first choice. Today, we take a closer look at Primary School Offer Day. We’ll look to see how it works, what the likelihood of securing your first school choice is, and what to do if the school offer is disappointing.

When do Children in England Start School?

Although the compulsory school age in England is no later than the school term following their fifth birthday, most children in England begin Primary School at the start of the academic year following their fourth. That means a September start for most, with those children reaching the age of five during their first school year.

What is Primary School Offer Day?

Primary School Offer Day is the day that parents get to find out which primary school has offered their child a place for the next academic year.

When is Primary School Offer Day?

Primary school offer day normally occurs in England around mid-April (circa the 16th) each year. For 2023, it falls on Monday 17th April. The confirmation is announced by the family’s local council, by letter, email, or both. Some councils also allow parents access to an online admissions portal to view offers, sometimes a little earlier, although it varies from council to council.

How Likely Are You to Get Your First Choice of School?

Figures for 2023 are not available at the time of writing, but figures for 2022 suggest that over 92% of children were offered a place at their family’s first choice of school, and over 98% achieved an offer for one of their top 3 choices.

How Are Offers Decided?

Schools or local councils decide on offers for primary school places. Rules vary around the criteria they use for offers and these can be obtained from your local council. However, as a rule of thumb, the following are usually given priority:

  • Children in care, or who have been in care;
  • Children living close to the primary school in question;
  • Those with a sibling already attending the school;
  • Children with a specific religion if the school is a faith school;
  • Children who are eligible for the Early Years Pupil Premium (this is special funding aimed at improving outcomes for disadvantaged children);
  • Children whose parents have worked for 2 years at the chosen school.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some schools are more popular than others, whether that’s because they have better reputations, are in more densely populated areas, or for any other reason. Some primary schools will therefore receive more applications than capacity allows, which will inevitably lead to some disappointed families. In such cases, the types of criteria above will steer the final choices for applicants. For those families that do not get an offer of a place with their first choice, local authorities must make an offer of a place at an alternative school.

Accepting or Declining Offers

Parents, or the child’s carer if applicable, must accept or decline the offer formally, by a specific deadline that will be confirmed with the offer along with details of any next steps.

What if You Don’t Like the Choice You Are Offered?

If you are a parent/carer and are not happy with the school choice being offered to your child, you have two options…

  1. Ask to be put on the waiting list for your preferred primary school choice.
  2. Appeal the decision in the hope that your original first choice becomes available after your case has been presented. An appeal would need to be submitted by contacting the school’s admission authority (find yours here). They would in turn provide an independent appeal panel, whose final decision would be binding on the authority. Learn more about the appeals process for parents here.

In both cases, you are advised to accept your initial offer first, so you have something to fall back on should your attempts to get your child into your preferred school prove unsuccessful. Accepting the original offer will not detrimentally affect an appeal or waiting list application in any way.

We hope that you have found this guide useful for when your child approaches the time to leave nursery or preschool and transition to primary school.

Nursery & Preschool Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16If you have a baby, toddler, or child under 5 and are looking for a good nursery/preschool in Edgbaston, or near Birmingham, do get in touch with Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We’d love to give you and your little one a guided tour and that’s by far the best way to see how well your child will fit in. All Government funded childcare schemes are supported. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of sending your child to Leaps & Bounds, please select an option below to get started and our childcare professionals will be delighted to show you around, answer any questions or indeed progress your application for a nursery/preschool place.

By the way, as well as being close to Edgbaston and Birmingham, we’re also located near families living in Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick.

Game-Changing Childcare Funding Announced in the Spring Budget 2023

Far-reaching childcare funding reforms have been announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Spring Budget 2023.Childcare funding has been all over the news in the UK this month, following the far-reaching childcare funding reforms that were announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget for 2023. The announcement is indeed of significant new funding, which is set to allow far more children and families to benefit from free, Government-funded childcare in the near future. Early indications are that it’s going to be a game-changer, with even younger infants gaining free access to an early years education and new parents, particularly mothers, having a much more viable route to returning to the workplace following the birth of a child. But what exactly are the changes and will they benefit your family? Today, we answer all such questions in our guide to the new childcare funding announced in the Spring Budget 2023.

New, Free, Government-Funded Childcare for Families - Coming Soon

The Chancellor has announced 3 key childcare funding improvements that will be phased in during the run-up to September 2025:

  1. Up to 30 hours per week of free childcare will become available for eligible children aged from just 9 months right up to school age.
  2. More generous Universal Credit childcare support will be available for working parents — and it’ll be pre-funded to ease cash flow.
  3. Improvements to Government-funded childcare hours for working parents of school age children will be introduced, via a Wraparound Care ‘Pathfinder’ scheme.

Any one of the three funding reforms above could make a huge difference for eligible families. We’ll explore each in more detail below.

Up to 30 Hours Per Week of Free Childcare for Children Aged from 9 Months

Up to 30 hours per week of free childcare will soon be available for eligible children aged from just 9 months.Until now, only 3- and 4-year-olds in England were guaranteed to receive 15 hours (30 in some cases) of free childcare funding each week, and only some 2-year-olds have been eligible for the ‘15 hours’ scheme, for example if their families were in receipt of some kind of benefit. However, in what some might call a childcare funding revolution, the Chancellor has announced that many children aged from only 9 months will soon be eligible for 30 hours per week of free childcare. Their funded childcare hours could then be available to them from that young age right up until they leave early years childcare to start school around the age of five.

The funding will be rolled out in stages and is for children of working parents. First, 2-year-olds will become eligible for 15 hours of free childcare per week, for 38 weeks per year, from April 2024. Then, children aged from just 9 months of age will become eligible for the funding from September the same year. Together, this will benefit just shy of a million children. Lastly, starting in September 2025, children aged from 9 months to 3 years will be eligible to receive the full 30 hours per week of the free childcare, again over 38 weeks per annum, if eligible. The existing funding for 3- and 4-year-olds will continue in its current form.

Eligibility for the new, funded, hours will use the same criteria as used for the existing 30 hours scheme for 3- and 4-year-olds.

This new initiative will make a huge difference to families.

  • Firstly, of course, children will benefit by being able to begin their early years education far earlier, in many cases, than they might otherwise have been able to do. Prosocial behaviour will be boosted, self-regulation will be improved, peer relationships will benefit and there’s even less likelihood of hyperactivity amongst children who received a good education in their earliest years. A good early years education, particularly if started no later than the age of 2, is proven to be hugely important and beneficial to children. It not only gets them well ahead by the time they start school, but statistics show they are likely to attain significantly higher grades at school and in GCSEs, and are more likely to go on to study in higher education when they’re older. They will be likely to earn more once they’re adults too. Learn more about the benefits of a good early years education here.
  • With the new childcare reforms announced, parents will be able to return to work sooner after their children are born.Parents and households will also benefit hugely from this new funding. Because it will be available far earlier in their child’s life, parents will be able to return to work sooner after children are born — not long after maternity/paternity leave ends in fact. This will make a difference to mothers in particular, as many struggle being able to afford childcare when trying to get back into the workplace after becoming a parent. And, of course, it’ll allow families to boost household income.

“Almost half of non-working mothers said they would prefer to work if they could arrange suitable childcare.” (Chancellor of the Exchequer)

A Generous Increase to Universal Credit Childcare Support for Working Parents — & it’s Pre-Funded!

The Government will pre-fund the childcare support available through Universal Credit and increase the funding by almost 50%.The proposed childcare support obtained by eligible families through Universal Credit is also very generous. Families who are eligible for this particular scheme previously had to pre-fund the childcare costs and then claim them back. This meant that families, many of whom were already struggling, had to first come up with a significant chunk of money — in advance. That cash flow challenge was a real issue for many low-income families who were otherwise eligible. It’s no wonder, therefore, that only 13% of them have been claiming this form of childcare support.

With the new changes, however, the Government will pre-fund the childcare support available through Universal Credit, which should make a huge difference to the viability of the scheme for many.

Even better, though, are the rates of funding that’ll be available from July 2023. Eligible families can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs currently, up to a maximum figure. According to the Spring Budget announcement, that maximum attainable will rise, from July 2023, from £646 per month for one child to £951 per month. For two children it will increase from £1,108 per month to £1,630. That’s almost a 50% increase in both cases and should be welcome news for eligible families. Early indications are also that the amounts may increase each year by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), until 2027-28.

Wraparound Care — Childcare Funding for Working Parents of School-Age Children

For parents of school-age children, a common difficulty arises where the child’s school day is shorter than the parent’s working day. For example, children may turn out from school at, say, 3 O’clock but parents may not leave work until 5:30 pm. In our example, that leaves at least 2½ hours — or more with travel — where childcare provision will be required. Similar mismatches between school and working hours may also arise at the start of the day. Finding and affording childcare during those mismatched hours is a real problem for many.

Pathfinder Wraparound Care will see free funding covering childcare hours at the start and finish of the day to help working parents of school-aged children.To counter this, another of the Chancellor’s announcements in the Spring Budget 2023 is to extend what’s known as ‘Wraparound Care’ for school-age children. In the new ‘Pathfinder’ approach to Wraparound Care, Government-backed childcare funding will cover childcare hours at the start and finish of the day. Parents will then be able to work for full days and not have to worry about the costs and practical challenge of childcare provision before the start and after the end of the child’s school day.

The Government will be running a pilot scheme for this new initiative over the course of the next 18 months. If successful, Wraparound Pathfinder Childcare funding will cover the time from 8am until the start of the school day and from 3pm until 6pm at the end of day, beginning in September 2024.

These new measures “will help with the cost of living, support education for the youngest children, and remove one of the biggest barriers to parents working.” (Chancellor of the Exchequer)

Funded Childcare at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

We support all free childcare funding options for eligible families at our Edgbaston nursery/pre-school

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

Leaps & Bounds supports all current Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families at our nursery and preschool in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We are a childcare provider offering high quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and under-fives and are also conveniently close for families in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. If you’d like us to show you and your little one around, or if you’d like to register your child for a place, please get in touch using one of the options below.

The information above is given in good faith and, to our knowledge, is correct at time of writing (March 2023). However, please do your own research in case things change after publish date.

Signs of Spring for Little Ones to Discover.

There’s no better time to start spotting the signs of the changing seasons with your children than whilst on the journey to nursery. Spring arrives on the 20th of March* each year in the UK and is a wonderful antidote to the cold winter months and short, dark evenings. It’s a time when you know warmer weather will soon be on its way. Evenings are getting slowly longer too. Best of all, a myriad of little miracles are starting to happen around you, as flowers and shrubs reawaken and plants can be seen shooting up from the ground. Many birds will also return to the UK from their foreign travels around springtime, often having travelled thousands of miles to get back to the UK. So, why not make your child’s journey to and from nursery a bit more exciting — and educational — by encouraging them to spot and identify some of these natural delights. Below are a few plants and creatures for children to keep an eye out for around the end of winter, signalling the welcome start of springtime …

Snowdrops in spring

Snowdrops

Snowdrops flower early in the year and quite literally look like little drops of snow. Like the crocus, which is shown in the main image at the top, snowdrops are one of the very first flowers to bloom in the first part of the year. When you see them first start to shoot and bloom, you and your children can be sure that spring is just around the corner. Soon there will be flowers, buds and shoots everywhere, as spring finally arrives and everything starts to reappear after the cold winter months. Children will be able to spot snowdrops often in small bunches of about 10 or so stems, in gardens, parks and wooded areas. They’re delightful little flowers, perfectly formed to visually appeal to little ones. Teach your child to admire them, but not pick them, as they are poisonous if consumed. In any case, they’ll be there for all to admire when left alone, so that they can grow and flourish. Learn more about snowdrops here.

Springtime daffodils in bloom

Spring Daffodils

There are many different types of daffodil for children to look out for.Daffodils are a classic sign of spring in the UK with their bright, blooming buds breaking through the gloominess of winter. Daffodils begin to grow and flower during the month of February and should be in full bloom throughout March and all the way into May.
On your walk to nursery with your children, perhaps ask them how many different types of daffodils they can see. Many people will be growing them in their gardens and in flower pots on balconies and windowsills. And, of course, many flourish in open countryside along hedgerows and often in shaded woodlands. See if your child can spot yellow, trumpet-like flowers, yellow petals with an orange inner, daffodils with white petals or the tiny daffodils called tête-à-tête. As with snowdrops, be aware that daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so it’s best to teach children not to pick them, which will also allow others to enjoy them as they pass. Where else to see daffodils.

A robin singing in early spring

Birdsong

Winter can be cold, dark and desolate. However, a sure sign that spring is on the way is birdsong. As the mornings get lighter, birdsong starts earlier. This can be made up of robins, blackbirds, wrens and other birds native to the United Kingdom. The beauty of such sounds is often overlooked, so when you first step out of your door on the way to nursery, get your children to stand still for fifteen or twenty seconds to listen to the birds, counting how many they can hear if they are able to. Even better; see if they can gradually work out what type of bird is making each of the sounds. Visiting the RSPB’s interactive birdsong identifier is a fabulous place for children to start learning about this wonder of nature.

A bumblebee on pussy willow

Bees

Bees are incredibly important for pollinating plants across the world. They’re also incredibly cute — especially bumblebees! As spring begins and flowers start to blossom again, the UK sees an increase in the number of bees in gardens and the countryside. This increase continues throughout the summer and autumn. On your walk to nursery throughout spring, you and your little ones may see Tree Bumblebees, which can be easily spotted by their distinct colouring. Whilst a regular garden bumblebee has bright yellow areas, a Tree Bumblebee has a tawny head and upper body, a black lower body, and a white tip/tail.

It’s important to teach little ones that bees are friendly when left in peace (many do not even have stings) and must be protected in order to keep ecosystems functioning and growing. And, of course, they should be protected and nurtured because they’re simply adorable little creatures. Learn more about bees here.

Tadpoles

Frog Spawn & Tadpoles

Frog spawn.If you live near a park with a pond or happen to have one in the back garden, a definite sign of spring arriving is the presence of frog spawn. Initially, this can look like hundreds of little black dots sitting on the surface of the water. If your little one keeps an eye on these over the course of March (under supervision, for safety, of course), they will see these dots gradually turn into tadpoles, which will get bigger and bigger. A fun activity for your children is to get them to look at the frogspawn twice a week, under supervision, and to draw it on a piece of paper. Then, once the tadpoles have turned into frogs, they can look back at their own artwork to see the journey of spawn to fully-fledged frog! Alternatively, if your children aren’t at drawing age, you can take a photo on your phone each week and then compare them together once the tadpoles have grown. It’s a great way for them to learn about nature and life itself.

Pussy willow buds

Budding Trees

A very easy-to-spot sign of spring is buds on trees. Buds are often growing flowers or leaves which will come into bloom across spring and summer. Whilst on your walk to nursery, get your children to look up at any trees that you pass to see if there are any buds on the branches. If there are, a fun challenge could be to check that same tree every week and count how many weeks it takes to bloom. There are some very interesting buds and blooms for children to look out for, for example catkins, which have dangling yellow fronds and pussy willow, which has beautifully soft ‘fur’ on its buds. Indeed, the soft hairs are there to protect and insulate the buds from cold, since they bloom so early in the year. Many people liken the soft pussy willow buds to tiny cats’ paws. Both varieties are sure to delight and fascinate young children!

Yellow catkins

The above signs of spring are just a few that you can spot whilst on your journey to nursery or pre-school. Learning about and appreciating nature are excellent ways of enriching the lives of your children and may spark an interest in wildlife and plants as they grow up. Nature will teach them so much and benefit them in so many ways — educationally, cognitively and spiritually.

Nature & Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

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.Children learn about and enjoy nature at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. As well as having our own seed, herb, plant and vegetable area for the children to enjoy and learn from, we have our own Forest School in Edgbaston near Birmingham. There, children are able to spend time in natural open spaces like woodlands, where they will learn and benefit from nature in so many ways. As well as being educational, spending time in a natural environment is very good for children, as many studies have shown.

Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Are you looking for a good nursery or pre-school place for your baby, toddler or child under five in Edgbaston or near Birmingham? Get in touch with us, if so, and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around, so you can see how well they will fit in. We support all Government-funded places, including their ‘free hours’ schemes for eligible children aged 2 to 4. We’re also located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick, so may be conveniently located if you live or work in any of those places nearby. Please choose a button below to get started:

* Spring starts on 20th March according to the astronomical calendar. There are other definitions of the start of spring, but the astronomical calendar is the most commonly recognised by the general public. In contrast, the meteorological calendar, for example, has the seasons starting on the first of the month in March, June, September and December, rather than 20 or more days in.

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

A healthy snack, given twice a day, will stave off hunger, provide significant nutritional benefits and sustain energy levels.Toddlers and children have much smaller stomachs than adults and will naturally get hungry between meals. A healthy snack, given twice a day, will therefore stave off feelings of hunger at the same time as providing significant nutritional benefits and sustaining energy levels. So, today, we take a look at some easy and healthy snack ideas for toddlers and young children, plus any considerations around them. Our article may help to give parents and caregivers some guidance and inspiration around the subject of snacks that are both enjoyable and beneficial for the little ones.

Safety Considerations

First, though, some safety considerations should be mentioned. When feeding infants, toddlers and young children, it’s especially important to be mindful of their safety around food, for example in relation to allergens, choking hazards (e.g. due to inappropriate size and shape of food pieces) and eating anything that will be bad for their health or wellbeing. Always seek medical advice if you have any concerns.

Age Matters & Portion Sizes

Portion size is important for under-fives in particular.Portion size is important for under-fives in particular. After all, you don’t want to make portion sizes so big that they put children off. Look out for signs like toddlers ignoring their plate, closing mouths when food is offered or, of course, spitting it out. These are all signs that the toddlers are probably full. It’s better to give smaller portions and then offer more if they clear their plate or otherwise indicate that they’re still hungry.

  • For rice, beans and starchy foods like those, one portion is about the size of the child’s cupped hand.
  • For fish or meat (proteins), one portion is about the size of the palm of the child’s hand.
  • For fruit and cereal, one portion is roughly the size of the child’s fist.
  • An appropriate portion size for one type of vegetables is, in theory, about the size the child’s cupped hand. However, it is not necessary to limit vegetable intake so much as the other food types. Indeed, should the child still be hungry after eating their entire meal or snack, giving them more vegetables rather than anything else is a good, healthy approach.

Only giving age-appropriate foods is also important, so do your research, especially for babies and infants. See our links in the sections following below and always carefully read labels.

A Word About Foods to Avoid Giving Infants

Today’s article is really aimed at the toddler age group. However, for younger children especially, there is a whole list of foods – aside from possible allergens – that it’s best to avoid. Most of them are suggested as foods to avoid because they contain too much salt, added sugar or saturated fats for babies and infants to safely ingest. However, there are also a few others that are best avoided for completely different reasons. We wrote a great guide to all of the foods to avoid in our, “A-Z of Foods to Avoid Giving Your Infant”. That guide is available by clicking the bold green link in this paragraph.

And a Word About Allergens

It’s also important to be vigilant to the possibility of your child being allergic to certain foods, particularly any that they have not tried before. The good news, however, is that we published a whole guide called, “Rough Guide to Food Allergens for Infants”, which can be read by clicking the bold green link in this paragraph. It takes you through symptoms to look out for, the most common food allergens and how to most safely introduce new foods to your little one.

Snacks for Toddlers

The NHS recommends that a toddler has two healthy snacks a day.The NHS recommends that a toddler has two healthy snacks a day. This is easy to accomplish with a bit of planning and, as we said before, toddlers’ stomachs aren’t very big, so we are not talking about large amounts of food. The portion size of the snacks can later grow as your toddler does (see section on portion sizes earlier in this article).

Making each snack look appealing is the key to encouraging your toddler to try them. So, the addition of healthy but tasty dips, combining snacks that have rich colours or even making the food into face shapes and suchlike will help toddlers to engage more readily.

Some Simple but Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers:

  • Examples of healthy snacks for toddlers.Muffins or rice cakes with cream cheese used as a spread or dip.
  • Mashed avocado with vegetable sticks or Pita slices. You may sweeten the avocado with a bit of honey¹ if your toddler prefers.
  • Cut fruit, vegetable sticks or Pita slices served with houmous as a dip.
  • Plain (non-flavoured), unsweetened yoghurt with some added fruit pieces, suitably cut.
  • Sliced, hard-boiled egg.
  • Watermelon sticks.
  • A variety of vegetable sticks such as celery, pepper, carrot and/or broccoli.
  • Fruit cocktail with grapes², banana, apple and/or strawberry. If using tinned rather than fresh fruit, ensure the fruit is in its own juice rather than in syrup.
  • Cheese sticks or small cheese cubes can be served with a cracker or Pita breads.
  • Home-made smoothies using, for example, banana, strawberry, raspberry or mango. Use plain, unsweetened yoghurt or milk.
  • Home-made mini sandwiches. These can be cut into small fingers or cubes. You could use fillings such as lean ham, houmous, mashed avocado, cheese (either grated or cream cheese).

1. Never give honey to children under the age of 1 as it contains bacteria that produces toxins in the intestines of babies/infants.
2. Grapes and other foods or pieces of similar shape should be sliced down into quarters so they’re no longer potential choking hazards.

Healthy Snacks at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

At Leaps & Bounds Nursery, we subscribe to the Startwell guidelines on healthy eating and give children one healthy snack approximately mid-morning and another approximately mid-afternoon. These are healthy snacks too, for example fruit, vegetables or rice cakes. In this way, snacks are nutritious, stave off hunger, and help children to maintain decent levels of energy throughout their day. Children are always supervised around eating, of course, with any allergies catered for and staff being mindful in respect of any potential choking hazards.

Learn more about the Startwell Scheme here and learn more about our approach to healthy eating and encouraging children to be active here.

Nursery Places at Leaps & Bounds, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Leaps & Bounds is a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We are also near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick, so may suit families in those locations too. All childcare funding options are supported, including free childcare hours for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds for eligible families (follow that last link for more information and options). Register your child for a nursery or pre-school place today, ask for a guided tour of the nursery or ask us any questions that you may have and we’ll be pleased to help.

12 benefits of reading out loud to children, including improved literacy, attention spans and creativity, closer bonds and much more.

The benefits of being read to are profound for little ones.Toddlers, and indeed children of all ages, absolutely love having stories read out loud to them. After all, it’s fun, captivating entertainment for them. However, it is also very valuable and beneficial — particularly to young children. The benefits of being read to are actually profound for little ones when you take time to look at them. So, today, that’s exactly what we do in our new guide, ‘12 Benefits of Reading Out Loud to Little Ones.’

12 Benefits of Reading Out Loud to your Little One

1. Expands Vocabulary

Children learn a lot by listening to and copying their parents, caregivers and adults. By listening to them read out loud, it helps to increase children’s vocabulary through hearing new words in new contexts and scenarios. They may then get to hear words that are not often used in everyday conversations. For example, if the story is about a swimming trip and your child has never been on a beach or pool trip, lots of new words will come to their attention. In this example, words like pool, sea, beach, cold, and sandy may be introduced to their vocabulary.

2. Reinforces Word Recognition & Meaning

Reading out loud to children reinforces the links between the written word, the spoken word and their equivalent in the physical world. So, through repeated hearing, the child may begin to recognise the word from the story additionally in written form and within the real world itself. Pictures within story books can also reinforce words when verbally discussed with the little one. Your child may, for example, recognise their favourite character, toy and/or activity from a book and begin to associate names, nouns and verbs with them in their everyday life.

3. Improves Attention Spans

Reading out loud promotes an increased attention span in children.When we read a story out loud, the plot usually unfolds over many pages. This gradual revealing of the storyline promotes an increased attention span in the children. It’s exciting for your child to hear what happens next to their favourite character, or to wonder how the story is going to end. Being read to is a slower process than, say, watching television and this slow reveal encourages the child to keep focussed and patiently wait for the story to unfold.

4. Stimulates Imagination & Creativity

Being read both fictional stories and non-fiction facts will help widen children’s knowledge of the world, life, and all its possibilities. Their exposure to new characters, events, scenarios and locations will stimulate children to use their imaginations and think more creatively about all the possibilities. They can start to imagine what might happen next, for example, particularly if the adult reading asks the child to analyse and feed back about what’s happening in the story. Going forwards, exposure to verbally read stories may indeed even help make them more creative writers and thinkers.

5. Stimulates Emotions

Your child can experience a whole range of emotions by listening to and discussing the story with you. This is an opportunity for your child to recognise and express various emotions in relation to the story, which could be happy, exciting, frightening or sad — and anything in between. Whatever is happening in the story, though, do try and make the talking point a positive one so your child isn’t left unhappy or scared at the end (particularly near bedtime). If there are any concerns, simply remind them that this is just a story — it’s not real.

6. Promotes Empathy

Being in touch with emotions is an important part of children’s development, though, and one that leads to another important new emotion — that of empathy. If a child relates to the situation or character in the story, they are more able to put themselves in the shoes of the person or character and get a taste of what it would feel like to be them. This is a healthy thing and one that may lead them to treat people, animals and even plants with a greater respect, and nurture their more caring side.

7. A Role-Play Opportunity

When reading to the child, the parent or caregiver has the opportunity to really breathe life into the characters, allowing the child to connect more closely to the character and the story. With some added sound effects and expression the characters can truly come to life and children will love this. Indeed, this may encourage many to join in with some role-play of their own. That’s another wonderfully creative opportunity for them.

8. Deepens Bonds

Reading out loud with a child promotes closer natural bonds.Reading out loud with a child can truly promote closer natural bonds between the parent/caregiver and the child. After all, this is quality time that they can spend together, with full focus, no distractions and 100% of attention shared between adult and child.

9. A Head Start in Writing

Reading to a child also gives the child a likely head start before formally learning to write. Through listening, they have learned the association between the written word and the spoken word. They might therefore be able to start recognising the printed words and learning how to break words down. This also starts them on the path towards learning the alphabet.

10. Teaches Written Structure

Reading stories to children also teaches them about the structure and sequence of reading. For example, many stories can be described as having a beginning, middle and end and later children may be introduced to concepts like introductions, chapters, quotes, scene-setting, plot twists and suchlike. From the most basic perspective, children will also grasp the concept of how books actually work, physically, i.e. reading from the beginning of the first page, then turning from page to page. This will help them when they start looking at books on their own.

11. Reduces Stress

Quality story time allows children to become fully immersed in the story.Quality story time allows children to become fully immersed in the story. This diversion of attention potentially represents a great stress reliever for the child. It’s a chance to sit down and relax while the story is being told and is often a great way to distract children from things that have perhaps made them stressed or anxious during their day. And, of course, exactly the same can be said for the parent or caregiver that’s doing the reading.

12. It’s Great Fun!

Last, but my no means least, reading out loud with a child is great fun for all parties! So, both adult and child will have some quality ‘fun’ time together, able to enjoy the alternative world, adventures and scenarios that are opened up to them via the media of books. Indeed, many parents enjoy a good children’s book just as much, it seems, as the children!

Tips for Creating the Perfect Reading Environment

  • Have a collection of lots of books with different types of storyline, to keep things varied and children’s interest optimised.
  • Include some books that have interactive facets to interest children, like pop-ups, flaps to turn, texture patches to reveal and even sounds.
  • Use a comfortable reading area with your child. This could be a designated reading corner, maybe with cushions, or simply on a comfy settee.
  • If it’s a cold day, Include some books that have interactive facets to interest children, like pop-ups and flaps to reveal extra detail.perhaps snuggle together under a blanket.
  • If your child needs a drink or snack, perhaps get that sorted before you start reading.
  • Choose a book together; they might pick their favourite or ask healthy questions around which one to read next.
  • Immerse yourself in the story, get into the characters, and recreate their speech and emotions. Pull faces to demonstrate emotions or use hand actions in appropriate places. This is a great way to make the story more enjoyable and lifelike — for both you and your child. Encourage your child to join in!
  • In appropriate places, see if your child can guess the next word, or what might happen next.
  • After story time, discuss what happened with your child and, if not yet complete, where the story is potentially heading.
  • Always ensure that any words they are not familiar with are explained and encourage questions and interactions from them.

All in all, reading stories out loud to children is a wonderful, happy, creative and relaxing way to spend time and enjoy the many benefits, together. Children that are read to in early life are also likely to want to hear more stories and may well go on to become avid readers themselves once they’re older. And, let it be said, reading is a very worthwhile and educational pastime and one that teaches and nurtures so much in each growing child. Recommended!

Reading at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston (Birmingham)

Reading to children is a regular activity at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston and helps to support the EYFS curriculum at the nursery. Feedback and interaction from children are both encouraged, so they get really involved and learn from the process. We also, of course, recommend that parents actively involve themselves in children’s education when at home, including reading with them regularly. Parental input is proven to pay many dividends to children’s progress, school-readiness and indeed life outcomes.

Childcare Places Available at Leaps & Bounds Nursery/Pre-school, Edgbaston

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Are you interested in a possible place for your baby or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham? We are located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick and support all childcare funding options available to eligible families. If you’d like to register your child for a place, get answers to questions that you may have, or request a guided tour of the nursery with your child, please get in touch using a button below:

Top Tips for Potty Training Toddlers - a Guide for Parents

Potty training requires patience, persistence and a good strategy.Potty training can, for some, be a very long process that may often feel like it will will never end. Don’t forget, though; this is a totally new skill for children, so is bound to take some time. Sometimes, a lack of any fast progress can build to frustration. However, rest assured; progress will come with patience, persistence and a good potty training strategy — and that’s exactly where today’s guide comes in. Here are are our Top Tips for Potty Training Tots.

When is the Best Time to Start Potty Training Your Child?

Knowing exactly when to start potty training can be tricky. Some parents leave potty training until the summer months when the child generally has less clothing on. This can not only save on washing, but also make drying washing easier because the weather is warmer. However, while that may suit the parent, is it the best timing for the little one?

The truth is that each child is ready for the training at a different time, so comparing your little one to other children of their age may only help in terms of a general picture. Each child is individual when it comes to timing, so starting to potty train is also very much an individual thing.

That said, when trying to work out the best time to start potty training your toddler, a few signs may help to identify their own, unique ‘best’ start time. Below, we outline a few indicators that the time may be right.

Signs to Look Out For, in Readiness for Potty Training

A child training its doll on the potty!There are certain things to look out for that might suggest that it’s time to start potty training your little one. For example, try to spot signs that your child is aware of what is in their nappy. Do they show signs of not liking a wet or soiled nappy? Do they show awareness when going to the loo in their nappy? Maybe this involves them going somewhere quiet, perhaps slightly hiding behind furniture, or even making eye contact with you to ‘tell’ you they’re doing something.

Your child may become aware of the words used around going to the toilet — and indeed it’s healthy and useful for them to get to know them. For example, they might be aware that Mummy or Daddy goes in the bathroom for a ‘wee-wee’.

Children are always very keen to copy their friends, so look out for signs that they’re considering having a try, having seen their friends using a potty or trainer toilet seat. Or perhaps they have shown an interest in a potty in the shops. Showing them some when out shopping may allow you to gauge the level of any interest from your child.

Prepare Some Toileting Aids

There is a large variety of toileting aids on the marketThere is a large variety of toileting aids on the market, from potties, to toilet seats, trainer seats that clip on to adult toilet seats, pretend toddler toilets, and a whole range of portable potties for when the family is on the go. You may also consider a step to help your child reach the toilet if using a toilet instead of a potty. This can also be helpful for handwashing.

Some parents also choose for their child to use potty training pants or ‘pulls-ups’ as they are also known. These can be a good stepping stone between a nappy and proper pants/knickers for the child, particularly while the child is still training and may have occasional accidents.

Starting Potty Training

There are some common sense things that parents can do when introducing potty training to infants:

  • Try and remain consistence with your actions, so you don’t confuse your child.
  • Try not to disrupt your child’s other routines when starting potty training.
  • Let family members, carers and friends know your plan of action, so everyone in on the same page and your child gets continuity.
  • When travelling or visiting other houses or locations, make sure you have your child’s potty with you.
  • Talk to your child with words they understand in relation to toileting, introducing the potty etc.
  • Find ways to make the potty a friendly object, not a daunting one.
  • Maybe place the potty in the bathroom and encourage its use when you, yourself, are using the bathroom. You can make this fun.
  • Encourage the washing of hands afterwards.
  • Have some books or small toys next to the potty in case they choose to sit for a longer period than you anticipated. Obviously take care in relation to your child’s hygiene if doing so.
  • When changing your child’s nappy, see if they will just sit on the potty to get used to it.
  • Eating a meal stimulates the bowel, so after a large meal let your child sit on the potty for a while.
  • If your child has a dolly or teddy bear, maybe sit them on the potty and make a game from it. Again, though, watch hygiene if doing so.
  • If your child is a boy, it may be easier to start them off sitting instead of standing.
  • Remember it’s important not to make a fuss if an accident happens. Making a fuss will not help your child warm to the idea of using the potty again, so keep things relaxed and know that accidents do happen. In fact, be prepared for them.

Nighttime

It’s usually best to master daytime potty training before starting on nighttime training. Nighttime training can take a while longer. Some children even sleep so soundly that they simply do not wake in order to go to the toilet at night. For those that do have nighttime accidents, it’s best to be prepared with a waterproof sheet on the bed.

A good sign that your child is ready for nighttime potty training is when they have a dry nappy at night. Try sitting your child on the potty or toilet before they go to bed and then again when they wake up. During the night, make sure the potty is near in case they wake up asking for it.

Tips for Successful Potty Training

  • There are some common sense things that parents can do when introducing potty training to infantsMake sure your child is actually ready — don’t rush it.
  • Choose a good, quiet time to start.
  • Maybe let your child pick their own potty from the shop or Internet.
  • You may need more than one potty e.g. one for upstairs, another downstairs and/or in a specific bathroom.
  • Lead by example — so long as it’s not taboo in your household, let your child see you on the loo.
  • Use reward stickers and a chart.
  • Make potty training fun!
  • Always praise, never tell children off for toilet-related accidents.
  • Have toys and books handy.
  • Boys to sit down when starting.
  • Girls to wipe from front to back.
  • Admire your child’s output and praise them for it!

Age-Related Milestones for Bladder & Bowel Control

The following are very general guidelines only, so don’t worry if your child’s progress is different.

  • Children tend to start to control their bowels before their bladder.
  • By the age of 1 year, most infants will have stopped emptying their bowels at night.
  • By 2 years, some children are dry during the day.
  • By 3 years of age, some children are dry during the day, with only the occasional accident.
  • By 4 years of age, most are dry during the day.
  • It’s important to remember that at the age of 5 or 5 plus, one in five children may still wet the bed.

It’s important to never get cross with your child for the odd accident. The child will be aware of the accident and may be upset by it already.

Childcare Places at Leaps & Bounds Nursery & Pre-School in Edgbaston, Birmingham

A nursery place for your child in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery provides weekday childcare for under-fives, which includes some free places for eligible children via Government childcare funding schemes. We are a nursery/pre-school in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham and may also suit those near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Why not request a guided tour of the nursery to see it for yourself — and bring your little one to see how they fit in! We’re also happy to answer any questions or, when you’re ready, to help you register your child for a place. Get started using a button below:

The ‘Progress Check at Two’ Explained

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a requirement for all 2-year-olds attending registered childcare settings in England.The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a requirement for all 2-year-olds attending registered childcare settings in England. This article provides an overview of what it consists of, who is involved in the process, and how the Progress Check at 2 can benefit young children.

The ‘Progress Check at 2’

The Progress Check at 2 is important because it helps to ensure that children are progressing well in key areas of development, at what is a very significant age for them. It is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years or childcare provider, their parents, guardians, or caregivers, and, if applicable, their health visitor. It is a comprehensive assessment of the progress, in all areas of learning and development, of children who have reached the age of two. It is a part of the ongoing assessment process required as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets the curriculum for children attending registered childcare and early years education settings in England. After the assessment is finished, a written summary is given to the child’s parents, guardians, or caregivers.

Why Two?

The age of two is a significant milestone in any child's development.The age of two is a significant milestone in any child’s development, which is why both the Progress Check at 2 and the separate Healthy Child Programme’s 2-Year Review* take place at this age. By this key stage, the progress and attainment of a child’s learning, speech, language, cognitive, physical, social and emotional development will have started to become more apparent. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at such an early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track.

Focus Areas

The Progress Check at 2 is focused on the three “prime” areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum: (1) Communication and Language, (2) Physical Development, and (3) Personal, Social and Emotional Development. However, the early years professionals conducting the progress check may also include information about a child’s progress in the remaining four “specific” areas of the EYFS curriculum if they feel it is appropriate. They are (4) Literacy, (5) Mathematics, (6) Understanding the World, and (7) Expressive Arts and Design.

Key Aims of the Progress Check at 2

The Progress Check at 2 helps determine whether a child is making progress at the expected level for their age and stage of development.The Progress Check at 2 helps primarily to determine whether a child is making progress at the expected level for their age and stage of development. By using the findings of the progress check as a benchmark, it is possible to provide support to optimise the child’s progress going forward. Sharing the results between childcare settings, parents, and any other early years professionals involved allows ongoing support to continue both at home and at the child’s nursery, pre-school, or other childcare setting. Once identified, strengths can be further developed and areas of concern can be addressed through additional help and support if needed. For example, if a specific educational need or disability has been identified, the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and any necessary health professionals or specialists can work together to create a support plan for the child. This can include strategies and activities to help nurture the child’s progress at nursery and/or at home.

The assessment helps children overcome any areas of difficulty by the time they start school.Ensuring School Readiness for Under-Fives

By conducting the progress check and providing support at an early age, children are more likely to overcome any areas of difficulty by the time they start school. This helps them to avoid falling behind at such a crucial stage of their development. Without this support, they may have a difficult start in school, which could negatively impact their education and development going forward. All in all, the Progress Check at 2 is a vital and powerful tool for helping young children succeed.

*A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is Not the Same as the ‘2-Year Review’

The Progress Check at 2 is distinct from the Healthy Child Programme’s 2-Year Review, which is also conducted around the same age. While the Progress Check at 2 focuses on a child’s learning and development progress, the 2-Year Review is focused on the child’s health and wellbeing and is carried out by healthcare professionals such as health visitors. They will assess the child’s overall health, immunisation status, physical and mental development, wellbeing, and support from parents, caregivers, or guardians.

While the two reviews address different aspects of a child’s development, there are areas of overlap, and it can be beneficial for them to be conducted concurrently to provide a comprehensive view of the child at this important age. This can help identify any issues that may need to be addressed via appropriate interventions. For this reason, parents, caregivers, or guardians of 2-year-olds are encouraged to allow information about their child to be shared between the professionals involved in each review.

Ofsted inspections also ensure that each child’s Progress Check at 2 is carried out properly at childcare/early years settings. They also recognise the benefits of aligning the Progress check at 2 with the separate 2-Year Review in order to gain a holistic overview of each child.

Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, Near Birmingham

Are you in need of a nursery place for your child in or around Edgbaston, near Birmingham?

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

We offer a range of childcare options including free, funded places through various Government schemes. Leaps & Bounds Nursery and Pre-school is located in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Please contact us to discuss your childcare needs and the options available for your baby, toddler, or child under five. We’ll be happy to help:

12 Reasons to Learn a Musical Instrument – for under-5s

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only 6, as depicted here, when he started performing music at the imperial court.Have you ever noticed that children are naturally happy when music is playing? They also seem to be instinctively aware that music is fun and interactive. Whether singing along or jigging to the beat, an affinity with music is natural to most little ones. It is simply something to be enjoyed. However, the benefits of music go much deeper than simple enjoyment. So, today we give you the top reasons why every child should take music a step further and learn to play a musical instrument. Doing so will help in their learning and development, teach them new skills and enrich their lives profoundly. The benefits are simply amazing …

1. Learning a musical Instrument Aids Cognitive Development

Learning any new skill will boost cognitive development, in the very young in particular. Learning a musical instrument takes that to a whole new level, though, as it has so many facets. The children are learning a new skill, playing notes while reading music, focusing on details, working out the time signature, notation, phrasing, rhythm, tempo and more, all at the same time! It’s a huge thing to accomplish and a really good way to get brain synapses firing — incredibly good exercise for the developing brain.

2. It Supports the EYFS Curriculum

It's never too early to introduce children to playing music.Learning to play a musical instrument helps with so many aspects of the EYFS, which governs the excellent curriculum for under-fives in England. In fact, it helps towards all seven focus areas contained within the EYFS education and development framework. From helping with reading, mathematics, communication, creativity, understanding the world, personal and social development and much more, music ticks all the EYFS boxes. As such, it’s a powerful tool to help children reach their best potential — in many different areas.

3. Learning Music Enhances Reading Skills

Although printed music can look and be complex to the uninitiated, it can also be very simple when you’re starting out — once someone has explained what the notation actually means. The more simple rules will then be easy to follow, even for the young. Learning to read a new printed music piece will give children’s developing brains a really good workout but, before long, it can be mastered with focus and attention to detail. Importantly, learning to play music and reading a book both develop the left side of the brain. So, it follows that doing one activity will, in turn, help a person with the other. What’s more, that part of the brain is also linked to reasoning and the processing of language.

Did you know that Mozart was only 5 when he composed his first concerto? Having started learning piano at just 3, he was performing at the imperial court by the age of 6.

4. It Boosts Maths Skills

Similarly, printed music contains all the instructions you need for rhythm, the length that notes are held for, the tempo of the music and so on. All of it is based on mathematics, so learning to read and play music can only help children to see and understand maths working — in a really tangible way.

5. It Improves Well-being

Expressing mood through playing music improves well-being and reduces stress.Playing an instrument is a great outlet for emotions. A carefully chosen piece can let a person lose themselves in the beauty of a melody or, at the other end of the scale, vent anger or frustration via through a louder, more energetic piece. This outlet for emotions is really healthy and one that’s hard to beat when you think about it. Expressing your mood in such a positive way can only improve well-being and reduce stress. It can also be virtually meditative when you really get into playing certain types of musical piece.

6. It Allows Self-Expression

Every child is different and allowing them to learn a new skill, like playing a musical instrument, will also allow them to express their own, unique character. Playing an instrument allows them to be creative, to show emotion through their treatment of the music. This is never more true then when they eventually progress to create their own melodies. Music creation is a truly expressive opportunity.

7. It Can Boost Self-Confidence

Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument can help children improve self-confidence and self-esteem.Mastering a piece of music on a musical instrument will give children a great sense of achievement. In so doing, it’ll boost their confidence and self-esteem amongst both their peers and adults. This alone may give them the courage to keep going and get even better — and to try other new skills.

8. It Helps with Socialising

As soon as children have learned to accomplish a melody on an instrument, they can join forces to perform songs together. Through music clubs, groups, band practise, duetting or potentially even full orchestras, children will make new friends, often outside of their usual circle, and learn new socialising skills. Collaboration and cooperation, teamwork, leadership and support roles all have their place and it’s important for children to be flexible enough to learn how to do each of them. Chatting, debating, brain-storming, learning good manners and encouraging each other are also great social skills to master. All are possible when learning music as part of a wider group.

9. It Improves Coordination

Coordination of hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument.Coordination of arms, hands, fingers and also hand-eye-coordination are all needed when playing a musical instrument. Indeed, playing an instrument requires immense cooperation between the brain and body. Practising the playing of music can only help a child to improve their coordination and the synapses that control it.

10. Music Boosts Listening Skills

Playing and listening to music require a certain level of concentration to hear and analyse the results, particularly in the case of playing. This is great practise and will soon teach children that a close listening focus allows discovery of finer details and a broader message that might otherwise have been missed. This has real-life applications, whether listening to the detail of a lesson, conversation, debate or even TV documentary. Deeper meaning and fine detail are all discoverable once children learn to listen more carefully. Indeed, it’s a great skill to take with them through life, including into business when they’re older.

11. It’s a Window to Different Cultures & History

Music takes almost infinite forms. It has been inspired and affected by so many different countries and cultures over countless years. Such influences can be glimpsed when you listen to music. Some influences are clear to hear while others are more subtle. It’s all there to be discovered when children get involved and listen to or, better still, play it. Music from different cultures is a great introduction to those cultures for children who are learning about them for the first time. Music can even take you off to far away places in your mind’s eye, when you listen to it.

12. It Teaches Important Life Lessons

Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect.Learning to play music teaches children important life lessons like practise makes perfect, the benefits of trial and error, the value of collaboration and so on. Each of these can often lead to real, tangible results. Learning that something that looks difficult can be overcome through persistence, patience, focus and effort is incredibly important for children to grasp. It can also be applied to many other areas of their learning.

Bonus Reason — It’s Fun!

Let’s not forget; playing music can be great fun — especially when played with friends, in a band or orchestra. At the minimum it could make for a great hobby and, who knows; it could even lead to a career in music or performance of some kind.

Music at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston

At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we’re well aware of the benefits of music, learning to play an instrument and indeed any kind of sensory experience for under-fives. It all helps with their early learning and development and, in any case, they love it! Whether ‘tinging’ a triangle, shaking maracas, jangling a tambourine or tapping out a rhythm on a make-shift drum, they all have fun when we introduce them to music and rhythm. We’d love it if parents encouraged them to transition to more advanced instruments like recorders, keyboards, ocarinas, guitars etc. If so, it’ll pay huge dividends for them in the future and we’d be happy to encourage them on their musical journey.

Funded Childcare Places in our Edgbaston Nursery & Preschool Near Birmingham

Are you looking for funded childcare places in a nursery or preschool near Edgbaston, Birmingham?

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

Leaps & Bounds is a nursery and preschool located in Edgbaston (B16). We support all the Government childcare funding schemes for eligible families and offer paid-for nursery places too. So, if you’re looking for a childcare place for your child in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please get in touch using one of the options below and we’ll be happy to discuss next steps: