Tag Archive for: outdoor play

Home Learning Activities to Help Under-5s: Activity Ideas for Parents
There are lots of activities that children can do and benefit from at home.When it comes to the learning and development of children, a good parent-nursery partnership is absolutely vital to maximising their short- and long-term success. In the mid-term, it also ensures they’re ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave our care. We therefore work together with parents¹, in close partnership. By doing so, children will receive a consistent, ‘joined-up’ approach to the tailored curriculum and the shared goals that we create for each of them. Sharing goals for children both at home and in the nursery will ensure the strengthening of strong areas as well as bolstering any weaker areas that children may find challenging.

With this in mind, today we outline a variety of activity ideas that all parents can undertake with children when at home. Such ‘home learning’ activities will support the progress of children’s learning and development while at home, whilst also supporting the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum that children are working to at the nursery/pre-school.

Home Learning Activities — for 2-Year-Olds

‘Creative Table’ Activities

These creative activities can span a variety of art and crafts undertaken using a surface that is easily cleanable, for example a small table.

  • Why not get the paints out. Your child can enjoy using and mixing a variety of colours and, as well as being a creative opportunity, this can be a colour learning exercise too. Perhaps draw shapes for your child to paint and then your child can learn the different shape words as well.
  • Reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with.Play dough will be a popular choice for little ones, especially if shape cutters and a rolling pin are brought into the activity. Play dough is entertaining to use, it’s creative and children will learn about colours, shapes and three-dimensional form as they go along.
  • Another variation of this type of activity might instead use cookie dough that can later be eaten once cooked (under supervision). Animal-shaped cutters and suchlike will also make this activity more fun.
  • Potato stamping is another good table-top creative activity although, for safety, Mum or Dad will need to do the cutting part. Children will enjoy stamping different shapes and colours onto paper or card, perhaps forming repeat patterns or little scenes.

Beneficial outcomes: These activities help children to use their imaginations, they boost creativity skills and may even expand children’s knowledge of language and vocabulary. They will also help children to hone finer motor skills and coordination.

‘Simon Says’ Activity

By the age of two, most toddlers will have heard the song Heads, shoulders, knees and toes and, like that song, the ‘Simon Says’ game will help them to remember the correct identification of parts of the body. For example, tell them Simon says “touch your toes”. Then, ensure they do so or, of course, correct them if they get it wrong. The command could also be some other alternative like “jump up and down” or “clap your hands” or even “sit on your bottom”.

Beneficial outcomes: This type of activity helps not only with memory skills, but also with motor skills, coordination and balance. They may even learn some new words and boost their vocabulary.

‘Stop and Go’ Activity

Challenge children to find specific things when outdoors in nature.This can be played inside or outside where the child has a bit of space, for example a long hallway would be perfect. Let your child pretend they are walking of perhaps even driving. Give the commands “Stop!” and “Go!” and perhaps even “Freeze!”. They’ll probably find this highly amusing, particularly if you give them feedback and encouragement. Another twist on this activity would be for them to do the activity whilst dancing. You could then abruptly stop the music and shout “Stop!” and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity encourages children to use their listening skill and also their balance skills. At the same time, it’s also huge fun for toddlers! And, if they go for the dancing version of the activity, it’ll help with coordination and general fitness too.

Dressing Up Activity

Playing at dressing up can conjure up all sorts of scenarios and characters — from spacemen, fire fighters and nurses to princesses or your child’s favourite characters from television or books. Perhaps your child has just read about a fireman and it’s fresh in their memory. Dressing up and re-enacting a part of the book will boost your child’s memory while also letting them develop a few moments of creative acting.

Perhaps say to your child, “What would you like to be today?”. Help suggest ideas if they struggle at first and work with what materials you have to play with. It does not have to be a full-blown costume, just a hat will often do — your child’s imagination can do the rest. Children will love dressing up and will find this activity huge fun.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity can boost their imaginations as well as their planning and creativity skills.

Finding Hidden Objects

A fun activity for children is finding hidden things either inside the home or out in the garden.This hidden objects activity could involve hiding almost anything for the child to find. You could start off in one room only to make it easier initially. Show your child the object before hiding it. Once they start looking for it, you could use words like near, far, yes, no, warmer, colder and so on. Once they have mastered finding one object, perhaps add more for them to find. Then perhaps reverse roles and try to find objects the child has hidden for you. Ensure they also use the clue words like warm and cold etc. You could even set up some kind of reward to make it more exciting. For example, if they ‘win’ they could get a treat of some kind, like a funky sticker or trip to the swings.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity helps to improve children’s listening and (if roles are reversed) speaking skills, vocabulary, problem-solving skills and also gets them to use their imaginations.

Home Learning Activities — for 3-Year-Olds

Now your child is a bit older, you can move onto more challenging home learning activities.

Paper Plate Painting

Paper plates can be used in a variety of creative ways, e.g. to stick together to make three-dimensional shapes and also for painting. Circular plates give children a brilliant opportunity to paint a sun or face. A face can perhaps be happy or sad and why not add some cut up wool, glued on for hair, and buttons as eyes. Children can be as creative as they like.

Safety Note: Ensure your use non toxic glue and paint and that your 3 year old is supervised at all times due to the small parts they are playing with.

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find.Beneficial outcomes: Arts and crafts are said to use multiple areas of children’s brains and encourage the use of fine motor skills. They also stimulate the imagination and boost creativity.

Nature Treasure Hunts

If your are able to have a walk with your child in the country or maybe even the park, why not suggest a list of ‘treasure’ that your child needs to find. These can be as simple as a mossy stick, a pretty leaf, an interesting pebble, a fragrant flower, a pine cone, acorn, conker, and so on.

Beneficial outcomes: This activity will bring out the adventurer in children. It’s also a lovely way of getting fresh air and getting back to nature. It’s also a simple learning activity of what we can find in nature if we look.

Sandpit Treasure Hunts

You can also use a sandpit for a child's treasure hunt.Similarly, children will love looking for — and finding — ‘treasure’ hidden in a sandpit or sand box. Bury some pretend treasure in the sand and then let your child rummage through the sand to discover the hidden objects. You could make it more challenging by saying, for instance, that there are 5 treasures in the sand. Encourage your 3-year-old to count them as they come out as well saying what they are. You could also do this activity with the child blindfolded, so they have to feel the objects and guess what they are once found.

Beneficial outcomes: This is primarily a sensory activity and, as we all know, sensory activities are really good for children in their early years. These kinds of activities will stimulate children’s senses of touch and sight as well as encouraging movement and coordination. More sensory-based activities for preschoolers can be found here.

Making Bird Feeders

There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home.Not only is this a fun activity for your child, but it also helps the local wildlife. There are lots of different ways to easily make bird feeders at home. Just one easy example is to find a pine cone, coat it in smooth peanut butter then roll it in bird seed. Once coated, hang it outside using a piece of string. If possible, hang your bird feeder within easy view of a window where your child can watch, but also follow the advice given in the bold link above in regard to the safety of the visiting birds.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will practise their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as well as learning about nature and a healthy dose of empathy. If successful, children will love this activity and the positive outcome for visiting birds.

Home Learning Activities — for 4-Year-Olds

Now our little ones are bigger and more able, they can get involved in some more advanced home learning activities. Here are a few ideas to get them started.

Reading

This is such a beneficial activity for children — reading is one of the most important and impactful activities that parents can help children with. Read with your child so that they can learn from you. When your child listens to you reading, point at the words and explain some of the rules around words, spelling and how to read. If there are pictures, show the appropriate word with the picture and sound out the letters. You could also talk about the book afterwards, asking questions like, What happened? or Was that funny, sad, happy? etc. Practise acting to the characters in the book, perhaps making the sounds or faces that the characters would make.

Beneficial outcomes: This task will be both fun and highly educational for the child. Reading with under-fives has a whole host of benefits (follow the bold link in the paragraph above), including boosting language skills, boosting literacy, stimulating the imagination and creativity, preparing children better for school and more. Also, mastering reading helps in all other areas of the EYFS curriculum and is one of the best ways to help children maximise their potential in life.

Gardening

Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants.Get your child to help with pulling up weeds, or planting new seeds and plants. Give them set instructions or a demonstration to follow and ensure you stress the importance of caring for the plants and seedlings.

Beneficial outcomes: As well as being a healthy outdoor activity, your child learns about nature, seasons, the flora and fauna in the garden, and the process of growing living things. It also teaches them about the importance of nurturing the seedlings and plants and caring for their wellbeing. It teaches them about the growing process, responsibility and empathy and will also encourage a healthy love of nature — and brand new skills, of course.

Baking

Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under supervision will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds.Baking cakes, biscuits, cookies and breads under your supervision* will be a fun and educational activity for 4-year-olds. What’s more, they’ll end up with something they can actually eat! During the process, try to explain the importance of measuring, doing things in the right order, waiting the right amount of time and so on. Ask them at the end about it, to ensure they have grasped the concepts.

* Under supervision for safety and teaching purposes.

Beneficial outcomes: With this activity, children will catch on to the concepts of measuring out, following instructions and the benefits of completing tasks in a carefully-planned and well-executed way. As well as practising their motor skills and coordination during the preparation processes, it will stimulate their brains in terms of logic, planning, attention to detail, following instructions, creativity and more.

Our Partnership With Parents

We are keen to provide guidance and support to parents in regard to their child’s education while at home, so that we’re all pulling in the same direction. So, if you are a parent of a child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more ideas, insights, resources and ideas for activities that will help in your child’s progress.

Likewise, we also value the unique perspective that parents bring, fully appreciating that they will have special insights about their own child. For this reason, we more than welcome feedback from parents. We can then use this to inform our planning and support for each child’s individual growth even more optimally. That’s real teamwork and, together, we’ll all be striving for the same goals for children under our care.

Nursery & Pre-School Places for Children Under 5 in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston or near Birmingham?

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

We offer not only weekday childcare but also a complete early years education for children under five. We even support free, funded places for those eligible for free childcare through Government schemes. Leaps & Bounds Nursery and Pre-school is located in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, but may also suit those living or working nearby in Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. To request a guided tour of the nursery or to register your child for a place at the setting, please get started using an appropriate button below. We’re also on hand to answer any questions that you may have.

1. Parents is used on this site as a short-hand placeholder for parents, guardians, caregivers etc.

Halloween Fun for Under-Fives!

Halloween on 31st October is a great time to prepare some fun activities for children, including under-fives.Halloween arrives on 31st October, so it’s a great time to prepare for some fun activities for little ones!

Halloween Dressing-Up

Children will absolutely love dressing up in Halloween-themed fancy dress outfits. Although available online commercially, many can instead be home-made. That will not only save money but also give children another fun, creative activity to take part in. For example, a sheet with eye holes strategically cut will make a very effective ghost outfit that children will love wearing. Before you know it they’ll be whizzing around, shouting ‘boo’ at everyone and trying to make them jump. They’ll simply love it and yet it is so simple.

Witches’ outfits are also easy to accomplish, using existing black clothing and an easy-to-make pointy hat made from cardboard and sticky tape. For extra effect, any older clothing that your child no longer needs can have edges cut (by an adult) with scissors so they look ragged and full of character.

Many Halloween costumes are easy to make at home. Some families even make them for the family's pets!Children’s imaginations can run riot with Halloween fancy dress. There are so many themes they can choose from. They could dress up as a witch, a wizard, a character from Harry Potter, a ghoul, zombie or wicked clown from one of the horror films, Harley Quinn, the Joker or even just a skeleton. That’s easy to achieve with some black clothing, white paint and some creative make-up. Many such things can be made at home for little or no cost, requiring only creativity and a little imagination on the part of children and supervising adults.

Halloween Party Time!

Even better — get children together, in their fancy dress, for a Halloween-themed party! Parents and children can even enjoy the preparation itself, making the venue look spooky and atmospheric. For example, adapted cotton wool or commercial offerings can be used to stretch spider webs and cobwebs over objects. Plastic spiders, insects, bats and critters are inexpensive to buy online or from many supermarkets during October too. These can be strategically placed at the scene of the party, along with black balloons, Halloween banners and bunting plus bat and spider window stickers. You can buy Halloween decoration kits and even Halloween photo booth props very inexpensively online.

Add some low lighting provided by some inexpensive Halloween themed string lighting or LED candles  and some spooky music — and the scene is set for a wonderful, very atmospheric Halloween party for the little ones.

Children will enjoy both the Halloween party and the preparations for it!Party bags for all the party guests are also another opportunity for some fun for the children. Some of those plastic spiders, bats and critters will be appreciated (avoid choking hazards, though), perhaps along with other Halloween accessories like stickers and pretend tattoos. Little ones could even put together a little bag of Halloween cookies for children to take home (see more about those below).

Halloween Party Food

Food can even be themed for Halloween, whether at a Halloween party or simply at tea time at home on the day. Little ones can also be involved in this. For example, pumpkin soup is right on theme and is pretty easy to make with help from Mum or Dad (recipes are available online). Children can help scoop out the flesh from pumpkins once adults have done the cutting part.

Children will love helping to make Halloween themed biscuits and other food.They can also help parents make themed cookies, which is another Halloween food example. Bat cookie anyone? Or how about an iced biscuit that looks like a ghost? These can all be made into fun and even educational activities for young children — with adult supervision for safety, of course. Helping to mix the cookie mixture, designing the spooky shapes and adding the creative icing are all good, fun activities for little ones.

Be mindful to take care of children’s safety around the kitchen, heat sources and sharp things like knives and scissors, though.

Carved Pumpkins

Going back to pumpkins, of course another great activity that kids will adore — even really little ones — is decorating carved pumpkins. Families can even pick their own locally (here are some pumpkin patches and farms around Edgbaston and Birmingham). Obviously, for safety, adults will need to do the part where the flesh and shaped holes are carved with sharp tools. Thereafter, though, children can get involved with tasks like scooping out the loosened flesh with a spoon, perhaps Carved Halloween pumpkin designs. They can also be decorated by children using markers, dye or paint.saving seeds so they can be grown into new pumpkin plants next year, putting aside flesh to make soup and — the best part — decorating the pumpkin. The outside ‘face’ or other design can be outlined, perhaps, using acrylic paint or a spirit marker. Even the inside can be coloured, using food dye, for extra effect once illuminated later when it’s dark. Children can decorate the pumpkins as much or as little as they like, whether simply outlining features with a black marker or adding self-adhesive stars or even glitter. Once ready, children can put an LED (fake) candle inside to illuminate the pumpkin when it’s dark. Or, if it’s being placed outside away from children, animals and anything flammable, real tea lights can be used inside the pumpkin, so long as adults supervise lighting and ensure that everyone is kept well clear thereafter. Either way, illuminated pumpkins will be a lovely thing to see and something that children will find fascinating, enthralling and very atmospheric. And, if they’ve been involved in their creation, they are something children can feel be proud of.

A Very Special Night for Children

A youngster helping with the pumpkin decoration and design.All in all, Halloween can be a very special and enjoyable night for children of all ages. Even the tiniest children will find joy in dressing up, getting together with friends to compare outfits, seeing the Halloween-themed decorations and helping to make pumpkins or spooky biscuits! If you’re thinking of organising something for your little one(s), ensure you start preparations in advance so you’re all set by the time the 31st of October arrives. Then, get ready for a memorable night!

A High Quality Nursery & Pre-School in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Our exceptional Edgbaston childcare service will give your baby or under-five child the very best start in life.

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted. Leaps & Bounds is a highly-rated childcare nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We’re also very convenient to those living or working near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick We accept recognised childcare vouchers and support all Government childcare funding schemes. Examples include free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, free childcare for 3 & 4-year-olds, student parents using student childcare grants and tax-free childcare for those who are eligible. To register for a nursery place for your child, request a guided tour or simply ask a question, please get in touch via one of the following:

Seasonal Allergies in Under-Fives - A Rough Guide

Seasonal allergies: how to recognise symptoms, causes and how to treat them.In our last post all about food allergies, we also briefly touched upon seasonal allergies in young children. Today, we take a closer look at those and explain how to recognise their symptoms, what causes them and perhaps most importantly, how to treat them. Also known as “Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis” and, in the case of pollen allergies, “Hay Fever”, seasonable allergies can be miserable for children affected. It’s therefore important to alleviate any symptoms, or at the very least find workarounds, wherever possible. Doing so will make affected children more comfortable and able to breathe more easily.

What are the Causes of Seasonal Allergies?

As the name suggests, seasonal allergies are more prevalent at certain parts of the year than others, usually being worse during spring, summer and/or autumn. They are caused by an allergic reaction to such things as tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander, Seasonal allergies can be caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander.which are present in the air that the child breathes. The child’s immune system treats such allergens as invaders, defensively reacting to them by releasing the protein histamine into the bloodstream as part of its wider physiological response. It is this specific protein that triggers the unwelcome symptoms experienced by the child.

Children can be more prone to seasonal allergies if they have a family history of allergies.

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Children?

Itchy ear canals is one less common symptom of a seasonal allergy.The symptoms of seasonal allergy are similar, but not identical, to what we often refer to as having ‘a cold’. The most common symptoms of a seasonal allergy include nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, an itchy nose, throat and/or roof of the mouth, sneezing and a ‘postnasal drip’ (dripping of mucus from the back of the nasal cavity directly into the throat). The latter can also cause persistent coughing, perhaps accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. Although similar to a cold in many respects, the symptoms of seasonal allergy are different in that they do not include a fever, any cough is usually a ‘dry’ one and nasal congestion is clear and watery rather than thick and cloudy as you might expect if the cause was a cold. Another difference is that a seasonal allergy may persist for weeks or even months, unlike a cold, which generally goes within a fortnight or so.

Sometimes seasonal allergy symptoms go on to trigger asthma for those who suffer from it. Children with eczema may also find symptoms worsening when they also have a seasonal allergy.

If a child develops shortness of breath or tightness in their chest, seek urgent medical advice in case the cause turns out to be something more serious than a seasonal allergy. It’s always best to be cautious with the health of little ones.

Children's eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy.Children’s eyes can also become red, puffy or watery during an episode of seasonal allergy. They may also exhibit dark circles under their eyes and little ones may also seem more irritable, restless and generally fatigued. Another symptom often seen in children with a seasonal allergy is breathing with their mouth open — simply because their noses are so congested. Children with the disorder may also have trouble sleeping, develop headaches and even get itchy ear canals.

What is the Prevalence of Seasonal Allergies in Babies & Young Children?

Seasonal allergies can develop at any age.Although seasonal allergies can develop at any age, it’s important to stress that they are very rare among babies and infants aged up to 12 months. The earliest that seasonal allergies tend to start, if at all, is once children reach the age of 1 to 2. At that age, the seasonal allergen itself is most likely to be an indoor allergen like dust mites, mould or pet dander rather than outdoor allergens such as pollen or grass. If a child is going to develop a seasonal allergy, it’s much more likely to begin between 3 and 5, although most young children who do develop seasonal allergy may only start noticing symptoms as they get closer to the age of 10. Others may develop it as late as 20.

How Do You Treat the Symptoms of a Seasonal Allergy in Infants?

It’s important to try to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies in babies, toddlers and children as it’s an unpleasant affliction to live with and can also lead to ear and/or sinus infections if left untreated.

Medical Treatments

GPs, paediatricians and allergists/immunologists can all help to professionally diagnose and treat seasonal allergies. Treatments prescribed by such medical professionals may include child-safe antihistamines, nasal, oral or ocular (eye) sprays and/or even allergy shots, however the latter are seldom prescribed for the very young. Children whose eyes suffer particularly badly around pollen may even be advised to wear goggles when venturing outdoors, to keep the pollen out.

How Parents/Carers Can Help at Home

There are also things that parents/carers can do to help little ones overcome the symptoms of seasonal allergies. The most powerful and obvious one is to keep little ones away from the sources of the allergens that affect them. Keeping track of pollen counts (often given along with the weather reports on TV) and keeping children indoors on days when the count is high is going to help. Keeping pollen out of the house is also key. Hence, vacuuming thoroughly with a vacuum that has a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filter, keeping windows closed, taking shoes off when coming indoors, regularly dusting, washing sheets, blankets, clothes and curtains etc. and showering/bathing children who’ve been outdoors will all help to reduce pollen, dust mites and other allergens within the household. Drying washing in a dryer, instead of drying it naturally outside, will also help to limit the amount of allergens around affected children. Children’s hair will also trap allergens, so this should also be washed regularly to remove such allergens. Some air conditioners have pollen filters that can help to reduce the number of allergens and dust in the air, as do some free-standing air purification machines.

If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers.If the problem is pet dander, pets may also need to receive regular baths or showers (where appropriate and safe for them to do so) to remove dander from their fur or feathers — perhaps once a week. If the child’s allergy to dander is severe, it may even mean that pets and children need to keep to their own areas around the home, and children taught not to cuddle or stroke them.

If dust mites are causing the allergic reaction in your child, consider switching pillows and blankets to synthetic materials or even use specialist fabrics and airtight covers that block the passage of dust mites in bedding. Regularly wash bedding, pillow cases and even soft toys on a hot setting and tumble dry rather than exposing them to pollens on an outdoor washing line. Carpeting and rugs can also be a host for dust mites so consider switching to another type of flooring that can be cleaned more thoroughly, e.g. laminate flooring. Specially-treated mop heads can even be sourced to clean them. Putting smaller items in the freezer for several hours each week will also kill dust mites, particularly if followed up by a hot wash and tumble dry afterwards.

Mould is also a common allergen.Mould is also a common allergen. Try to keep children away from it anyway (it’s not healthy) and, better still, eradicate it completely. Any leaks, plumbing or drainage issues should therefore be fixed, including outdoor defects if present, as they might otherwise allow the ingress of moisture to the indoors. Dehumidifiers will help to remove moisture from the air indoors, and adequate ventilation around the home will help to stop any mould taking hold (that’s if ventilation is practical, should the child also be allergic to pollen). Extractor fans in bathrooms, showers and kitchens will also help to vent moist air to the outside. Anti-mould paint, grout and sealants are available too, for problem areas like bathrooms, although bathroom and shower walls, tiling, shower curtains or screens etc. will be less likely to become habitats for mould if they’re squeegeed and dried after use. Drying damp towels and flannels in tumble driers will also help, rather than leaving them lying around. Also be mindful not to over-water houseplants, which should be kept away from affected children, and ensure any firewood is stored outdoors. Lastly, keep washing machine doors ajar when not in use and regularly clean the door seals as these can otherwise harbour mould.

We hope that this rough guide to seasonal allergies in under-fives has been useful to parents and carers of little ones.

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A Nursery Place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Are you looking a nursery or pre-school place for your child in Edgbaston — or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick?

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Please get in touch if you are looking for a high quality childcare place for your baby, toddler or under-five child at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our wonderful weekday childcare service is also convenient if you live/work near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Come and see the nursery in action and bring along your little one – we’ll be happy to show you around and to answer any questions. We’ll also be happy to clarify any free childcare options for 2-year-olds, 3 & 4-year-olds, students and more. Please choose a button below to get in touch or to get started with a place for your child:

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 is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds nursery/pre-school has wonderful outdoor facilities Leaps & Bounds nursery & pre-school is in Edgbaston, Birmingham B16, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwickwhere 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.

Today we’re taking a look at some fun food growing activities that under-fives can undertake at home. As we said in that last post, teaching children to grow food has an enormous number of benefits, so our post today explains some easy and inexpensive ways that children can get started.

No Garden Required

Many of today’s vegetable and herb growing activities can be accomplished simply on a well-lit windowsill. So, if you do not have a garden, courtyard, balcony or access to an allotment, it doesn’t matter — your little ones can still get involved in these wonderful activities. The plants will simply need some water, soil, light and a little care.

Re-Growing Herbs for Free

To re-grow herbs, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom and place the stems into water — roots will grow.When you next buy herbs like basil, parsley, coriander or rosemary from the supermarket, get your child to try this simple herb-growing task using a few left-over stalks.

All they need to do is pull or, with suitable supervision, snip off a few clippings, remove any leaves nearest the bottom of the stems and place those stems into water as shown in the photograph (right). If these are left dangling in water for a week or two, roots will start to grow from the stems. The clippings are then new plants, ready to be planted into soil, for example in pots on the windowsill. Once the roots have grown, young herb plants can be potted into soil and grown on the windowsill.Flower pots, used yoghurt pots or anything similar will do, so long as there is drainage in the bottom (place on a saucer or tray to protect the windowsill). Once they’ve been potted in the soil, they’ll need to be regularly watered and, in time, they’ll sprout into fully-fledged herb plants that can be harvested for food as they grow. New clippings can also be taken from the mature plant so that the whole process can be repeated. Children will love seeing and being responsible for this little miracle! And the best thing is that the cost will have been negligible. How’s that for sustainable food production!

Re-Growing Lettuce & Vegetables for Free

Baby lettuce leaves sprouting just 4 days after placing the lettuce base in water.Next time you cut the leaves off a lettuce, the edible part off a celery, or the ‘bulb’ flesh from an onion, instead of discarding the ‘root’ section at the bottom, keep hold of it. In a similar way to what we described above, this bottom section can be dangled or placed into a water vessel for a few days. The tops will eventually grow shoots and the bottom sections will eventually grow roots. In our own experiment with lettuce, the little lettuce leaves nearest the centre started growing in just one day! Plants like celery can also be re-grown and planted into pots once roots have grown.The accompanying photo (right) shows the growth after four days and all this is happening before the roots have even begun to sprout!. In just a week or two, this approach will give children new leaves to harvest for vegetables like lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, bok choy (Chinese lettuce), lemongrass and any similar salad leaf.

Children can use a similar approach using the lower section of things like onions, spring onions or garlic. New plants will sprout, roots will grow and the new young plants can be replanted into soil. With water, soil and light, they will eventually grow new ‘bulbs’ that can later be harvested and eaten.

Carrot tops can also be regrown and used in salads.A similar approach can also be used for carrot tops, except with those it’s the green, leafy carrot tops that your child can retain, grow and later harvest. These can be used in salads and garnishes.

Seeds can be harvested from vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, then grown into new plants.

Growing Vegetables & Fruit Using Free Seeds

Did you know that you can grow new fruit and vegetables from the seeds found in shop-bought fruit and vegetables? All your child needs to do is to keep some of the seeds from inside fruit and vegetables that you already bought as part of your weekly shop. Just a few examples follow — pips or seeds from all of the following can be ‘harvested’ and grown into new plants, ready to sprout new fruit or vegetable plants:

A few fruit examples:

  • Save the pips from apples
  • Save the pips from pears
  • Save the ‘stones’ from peaches or plums

A few vegetable examples:

  • Save the pips from tomatoes
  • Save the seeds from peppers
  • Save the seeds from pumpkins & squashes

Seeds from ripe beans, sugar snaps and similar can be saved, grown into seedlings and planted into containers or grow bags to make new plants and a new crop.The seeds from ripe sugar snaps and beans can also be saved by children to ‘seed’ into new plants, to get free vegetables! Once sprouting, they can be planted out into grow bags or a patch of soil in the garden. They will give the family a whole new crop of vegetables if they’re regularly watered and looked after.

Children can also save the seeds from courgettes and marrows. However, those need to come from really mature ones that have ideally been left to fully ripen on the plant itself. So, for these two examples it may be best to ask around to see if any friends or neighbours are growing any. The seeds in shop-bought marrows and courgettes may not be mature enough to grow new plants from. Plants like marrows, courgettes and beans do need quite a bit of space too, once they become mature plants. Therefore, from a practical point of view, children may have to limit themselves to herbs and vegetables that only grow into smaller plants if their households has limited growing space.

Looking for an Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School or Forest School in Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or 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, Edgbaston, Birmingham. As a Forest School and a nursery/pre-school that educates under-fives as well as looking after them, we encourage children to engage in activities involving nature. These include plant growing as well as learning about and enjoying everything that the natural world has to offer. If you are looking for an outstanding nursery & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham, or the best pre-schools and nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick, please contact us. We’re here to answer any questions,  show you around so you and your little one can experience the setting for yourselves and to welcome your child to the childcare setting if you decide to enrol. Please apply for a place or contact us below:

Next Time …

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.In our next post we outline how children can extend their food-growing activities to include growing ‘microgreens’. It’s a real fun, easy, educational and exciting activity that results in lots of nutritious baby shoots that children can eat in salads or as garnishes. Learn more about how children can grow microgreens at home here.

 

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.

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

How to Prepare Children For School

Preparing will ensure that the transition from pre-school to school goes as smoothly and stress-free as possible.In today’s article, we take a look at the best ways to prepare children for starting school. Leaving pre-school and starting Reception Year at primary school is a huge step for them. It’s also a big step for parents/carers, of course. So, it’s wise for everyone to be as prepared as possible for the first day and week in particular. Preparing well will ensure that the transition goes as smoothly and as stress-free as possible. So, how do we go about preparing children for starting at school? Let’s take a look …

Nurturing School-Readiness at Pre-School

The good news is that a good nursery or pre-school like Leaps & Bounds will help children prepare for school by default. It’s one of the key goals of any good pre-school, in fact. Decent pre-schools will nurture “preschoolers” (aged from about 3 to 5 years of age) in all aspects of their learning and development. This includes academically, physically, socially, emotionally, in terms of communication and language and also, of course, in terms of introducing them to A good pre-school will teach children everything they need to know in order to be ‘school-ready’ by the time they start in Reception Year.everything they need to know in order to be ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave and start school. As well as encouraging independence and a level of self-confidence, the preparation at pre-school will also include introducing them to reading and writing and a good grounding in understanding the world. These and many other aspects of early eduction will all stand children in good stead, so they can hit the ground running from the moment they begin Reception Year at school.

So, placing your child into a good local pre-school by the time they’re 3 or 4 can pay huge dividends for your child — but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the Department for Education has to say about sending children to nursery/pre-school for ‘early years education’:

“Early childhood education benefits the educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes of children in both the short and long term.”

The Government helps with free funded childcare hours at nursery/pre-school for 3 and 4-year-olds in England — and Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston supports the scheme. (Learn more about free childcare funding for 3 and 4-year-olds here).

Nurturing School-Readiness at Home

Parents, carers or guardians of preschoolers can also do many simple things to help them become school-ready by the time they’re five …

Working in Partnership with Pre-School

Children will benefit if parents help them work towards the same learning and development goals as the pre-school.One very obvious way to help is to ensure that, even when at home, parents/carers work in partnership with the child’s pre-school, i.e. work towards the same learning and development goals for the child. Working on any weaker areas at home will help the child in terms of school preparedness.

Encouraging children to have a built-in desire to learn will help them in both the short and long term.

Visit the School

Visiting the school with the child will also help them be more prepared as they will know better what to expect when the time comes. Familiarity and knowing their way around, ahead of time, is also a very practical benefit of taking them for a school visit. Obtaining a school brochure or prospectus for the child will also help with this.

Find a Friendly Face

Finding out which friends are also going to the school will give children moral support.Finding out which friends are also going to the school will benefit them. If there are none, then a play date can be set up if you can get to know another family whose child is starting on the same day. Knowing one or more friends, who are going at the same time, will be good moral support for all parties. It’ll also stop them feeling isolated, alone or even abandoned, particularly in the first couple of days once they start.

Nurture Independence

Encouraging independence will greatly help children. If they learn to look after their own personal needs before they start school, it’ll help them once they begin. Toilet training, personal hygiene, dressing, tying laces, packing backpacks, eating and tidiness are all good examples of things they can learn at home before beginning school.

Personal & Social Skills

Encouraging independence will greatly help children once they begin school.Similarly, social skills like having good manners, being polite, knowing the difference between right and wrong, empathy for others and, of course, good communication skills will all help children thrive more easily once they’re at school. Parents/carers can help them with this.

Answer & Reassure

Answering questions or finding answers to questions that the child may have will also help to reassure them and allay any fears that they may have.

The Power of Positivity

Being positive with your answers will also help. Encourage children to feel excited about all the wonderful things they will be able to do and learn once at school. There might be new sports, new exciting topics, new equipment, wonderful games and opportunities — so encourage positivity. This is one of life’s big adventures, so don’t forget to remind them.

Prepare

Ensure that both you and your child know the drill for dropping off and picking up at each end of the school day.Nearer the start date, run through what’s likely to happen on the first day with your child, so they’re mentally prepared. Again, be positive about it all.

In the week or two before they start, ensure they get used to an appropriate bedtime and get sufficient sleep. Ideally, their body clocks should have adjusted fully to ‘school time’ before they actually start. So, even breakfast time may need an adjustment in the weeks preceding the start of school. This will all help them get through the day with good concentration and energy levels.

Another good tip is to ensure that both you and your child know the drill for dropping off and picking up at each end of the school day. Where is it done? What time? What is the best approach from a safety perspective? What security precautions does the school have in place should you unexpectedly need to send someone else to collect your child. The answers to all these types of questions will need to be known before the first day.

On the First Day of School

Ensure that the child's backpack is pre-packed with everything they'll need.When the big day comes, ensure that you are both fully prepared so that the start of school is stress-free for both you and your child. This includes:

  • Ensuring that the child’s backpack is pre-packed with everything they’ll need including any sports or P.E. clothes/footwear (suitably labelled with their name), any stationery, a calculator if needed and so on;
  • Ensuring they have sufficient food, snacks and drink should the school not be supplying them;
  • Making sure that the uniform fits, is clean, ironed and ready for the child;
  • Knowing the journey times and parking/dropping-off arrangements, because you don’t want to make your child late — especially on their first day;
  • Making sure that you have the contact details of the school and form tutor — and that they have yours — in case of any problems.

Just before you wave goodbye to your child, ensure they know who is picking them up and when. This will reassure them and is also for safety. Make sure you have agreed security arrangements for pick-up between yourselves and, of course, don’t be late when picking them up when the time comes.

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Leaps & Bounds is an excellent pre-school and nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16). As such, it’s also ideally located if you are searching for pre-schools or childcare nurseries near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers absolutely thrive at the setting and we even have our own Forest School, where children get to benefit and learn from nature. One of our most important goals for every child is also to ensure they are school-ready by the time they leave us around the age of 5. If you have any questions, would like to bring your child for a visit or would simply like to apply for a place, please get in touch:

How to Prepare Children For Nursery & Pre-school

Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones.Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones. Having been surrounded mainly by close family in a familiar and comforting home environment, they’re suddenly expected to settle in somewhere completely alien, surrounded by strangers. It would be a tall order for anyone, let alone a toddler or preschooler. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here are some easy steps that parents or carers can take to make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.

Bring Them for a Visit and/or Settling-in Session

Once you’ve identified the most likely nursery or pre-school contender(s) for your child, take them for a visit. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, for example, we’ll be happy to show both adults and their little ones around the setting — more than once if it helps. By doing so, children can meet the childcare professionals that will look after them before they actually start. They can even sit in on some of the activities, perhaps. Such visits, and any additional ‘settling-in’ sessions, allow children to get to know the staff, familiarise themselves with the layout of the setting and locate exactly where toys and equipment of interest can be found. They also allow new children to get to know other little ones who are likely to be in their peer group. Therefore later, once they start nursery/pre-school properly, they will see familiar faces and equipment and will be able to hit the ground running.

Talk About It

Some easy steps will help make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.Talking about soon starting nursery/pre-school is a great way to get toddlers and preschoolers used to the idea. Even better is discussing all the exciting things that they’ll be able to do once there. For example, making new friends, being creative, playing with new toys, resources and equipment, learning new skills, taking part in extra-curricular activities, learning about nature, outdoor visits and so on. Getting them excited about the opportunities that nurseries and pre-schools represent is key. It also, of course, helps little ones understand what to expect so that they’re mentally prepared when the time comes.

Listen

It’s equally important, if not more so, to listen to any questions or misgivings that your child may have about starting a nursery/pre-school. Answer questions, of course, but also reassure them when doing so. After all, questions may be a little signal that they’re anxious. Carefully crafted answers and reassurance are great ways to allay any concerns that they may have, before they become more deeply set.

We should also add that it’s important not to ‘reflect’ any concerns that you have onto your child. So, be careful what is said within hearing range of your child. The staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery will always be happy to discuss any concerns you or your child have, of course — we’re here for you all, after all.

Having a familiar friend on day one of nursery or pre-school will help children settle in and not feel alone.Find a Friend

You could also ask around to see if your child already knows, or plays with, another child that will start at the childcare setting at the same time as them. As we mentioned above, having a familiar friend there from day one will really help them to settle in and not feel alone.

Nurture Their Independence

Nurturing independence before under-fives start nursery/pre-school is also a great way to help them be better prepared. If they can go to the loo independently, wash their hands, fasten their own shoes, learn to tidy up for themselves, pack their own bag and so on, it’ll greatly help them once they’re without you at nursery or pre-school. Even speaking, communicating and following instructions as well as possible — before starting — will help them to be more confident and more relaxed on arrival. All of this needs to be encouraged well before they start if it’s to be fully effective.

Teach Them a Routine!

Another thing that needs to be done in advance of the start date is getting them used to appropriate bed, waking up and breakfast times. Specifically, the goal is to ensure their body clocks have fully adjusted to be in tune with their day once they start at the childcare setting. If this is achieved, they’re far more likely to feel energised rather than over-tired during their nursery day.

On Day 1

Perhaps sneak a favourite cuddly toy or comforter into your child's pack, so they have 'company' on the day.Before long, the first day of nursery will arrive. There are a few things that you can do to help your child on the day:

  • Ensure their clothes and backpack are ready beforehand, so that’s one less thing to worry about on the day. Perhaps even sneak your child’s favourite soft toy or comforter into the pack, so they have ‘company’ on the day.
  • Don’t be late. That’s important. So, ensure you are all up early enough so that getting ready for the first day of nursery is not ‘panic stations’. It needs to be relaxed, stress-free and fuss-free for your child.
  • Focus on how exciting it’s going to be for your child. Your enthusiasm will help to allay any trepidation they may be feeling.
  • Hide any anxiety you may be feeling yourself and stay positive otherwise your child may pick up on your feelings themselves. That’s also important in the moment that you drop them off and say goodbye.
  • Remind your child what time you’ll be picking them up, so they feel reassured.

Remind your child what time you'll be picking them up, so they feel reassured.Chances are, though, they may well fly through that entrance gate, without so much as a glance or a wave, and can’t wait to disappear for a day of fun!

On arrival, our childcare professionals will will put children’s minds at rest immediately as they welcome them into the nursery. We’ll make sure they feel safe, relaxed and cared for and will ensure they have a wonderful first day at nursery/pre-school.

Our Edgbaston Nursery & Pre-School is near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick

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

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.We are a good nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16), so are also conveniently located if you require childcare services near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. If you’re looking for high quality childcare for under-fives in these areas, please get in touch — we can help. We’re also a Birmingham Forest School, giving children access to outdoor experiences and adventure that teach them about the natural world — and also about themselves. We have an incredible mix of learning and development opportunities at Leaps & Bounds, so why not come along for a visit with your little one. We’ll show you both around and will be happy to answer any questions …

Sensory Activities for Preschoolers
Sensory activities are incredibly important in early years learning and development.Following last month’s sensory activities for babies and toddlers article, we now take a look at a selection of sensory activities for preschoolers. Sensory activities are incredibly important in early years learning and development. In short, they help children develop their senses so their brains and bodies can make sense of all the stimuli around them. As well as helping them to understand their physical place within the world and everything in it, good sensory perception keeps them safe and allows them to interact optimally with everything around them. Through the building of new neural pathways in the brain, sensory activities aid communication, learning, sustenance, coordination, balance, motor function, movement and much more. Such skills are indeed critical to their very survival and success. With that in mind, we look at some examples of sensory play activities that are perfect for preschoolers, below. These are suitable at home as well as at pre-school (always under adult supervision, of course) …

Sensory Play Activities for Preschoolers

Colour Shakers & Sound Shakers

Coloured beads or glitter will make sound or colour shakers even more fun!Recycled, clear plastic bottles can be made into colour or sound shakers really easily. For colour shakers, they can be filled with water and then food colouring can be added. Adding glitter or coloured beads makes it even more interesting! Children can experiment with mixing different colours, shaking or swirling them around in the bottles to see all the wonderful, visual results.

Similarly, for sound shakers, children can instead fill bottles with dried pasta shapes, uncooked rice grains or breakfast cereals that then make different sounds when shaken around.

Children can experiment, creatively, with colour and and/or sound in this way, stimulating vision, hearing, touch and coordination. They could even compose their own rhythms, adding ‘drums’ and suchlike by using, for example, wooden spoons as drumsticks and empty cartons or boxes as ‘drums’. In addition to the sensory benefits, these types of activity are a great way to teach children about recycling and repurposing something that would otherwise be discarded.

Paint & Pigment Play

Messy play Messy play with paint and pigments is wonderful for children's senses.with paint and pigments is wonderful for children’s senses, particularly those of touch and sight, but also potentially sound too. Allowing children to get really ‘hands-on’ with paint will stimulate their creative juices too. They can really let go of inhibitions if you allow them. They’ll love to get really messy with squelching paint, mixing colours with hands and even feet, mark-making with fingers or through handprints and footprints. They’ll get to grips with the way that colours mix and form new colours and tones. They’ll learn about the different feel of paints that are diluted or have a thicker consistency. They’ll even learn about the different textures that their fingertips can feel as the paint goes from wet and fluid to solid and dry. While adults take these things in their stride, we all had to learn about such things when we were little and messy play activities are a great opportunity to do so.

Creative Food

Playing with food as part of a sensory activity can offer useful learning opportunities.While it’s not usually a good idea to encourage children to play with food, doing so as part of a sensory activity can offer a useful learning opportunity and is great fun for them if supervised appropriately. The key is to ensure they understand that this is a learning activity, not a meal time, in this particular scenario. Activities can include making faces and other images out of their food (broccoli for trees and so on) as well as combining different food textures, colours and tastes together in creative ways. They’ll enjoy the hands-on nature of this activity as well as honing sensory skills like touch, taste, smell and visual senses. Fine motor skills will also benefit. At the end of the activity, and assuming hygiene has been suitably good, they can even eat the results! As well as being good from a creative and sensory standpoint, food creativity may even encourage them to try different foods, tastes and food textures — great for fussy eaters!

Sand Play

Playing with sand is always a massive hit with children, particularly in their early years.Playing with sand is always a massive hit with children, particularly in their early years. A sandpit, sand table or visit to a sandy beach will give preschoolers wonderful play opportunities with this fascinating, natural material. Through hands-on play, they’ll get to enjoy and learn from the different textures, consistencies and states that are possible when sand is dry, moist or even runny through mixing it with water. Building of sandcastles is, of course, a natural progression, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s possible when playing with sand. Sandcastles using pre-shaped buckets are all very well. However, the magical and organic-looking sand ‘mountains’ that can be made through running extremely wet sand through the hands is on another level. Sand is so adaptable and the list of multi-sensory play activities using it is only limited by a child’s imagination. With sand, they play and learn in an almost effortless way.

Playing with Dough

With dough, you can add rich colour stimulation into the sensory mix.Playing with dough offers similar opportunities for sensory and creative discovery. With dough, though, you can add rich colour stimulation into the mix. Whether shop-bought, or home-made with salt dough and food colouring, playing with dough is always a huge hit with children. It stimulates the mind and the senses in so many ways. Touch, sight, and even smell are the more obvious senses that are stimulated, but vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body position) are also potentially stimulated and enhanced through dough play. It’s highly creative too, of course, with opportunities to form sculptures, animals, characters and anything a child can imagine. Some types can even be baked (under adult supervision), so they harden. Then, children have created their very own toys!

Sensory Gardens

If you have a garden, allotment, balcony or windowsill, making a sensory garden is a wonderful activity for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds.If you have a garden, allotment, balcony or windowsill, making a sensory garden is a wonderful sensory activity for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds. Preschoolers will have real fun planting seeds, herbs, scented flowers and suchlike, then watching them grow. This can be quite a creative process too. Once they’ve grown, the children then get to enjoy all the wonderful smells, textures and colours too. If you are growing herbs with your child, even their taste senses will be in for a treat. Sensory gardens are a real feast for the senses, stimulating touch, coordination, balance and body awareness during the building phase then smell, sight, touch and potentially taste once complete. (Close supervision is essential, of course, particularly in regard to avoiding any poisonous or toxic plants).

Nature

Time spent in the countryside, immersed in nature, is the ultimate sensory experience for children.Taking this a step further, time spent in the countryside, immersed in nature, is the ultimate sensory experience for children. Spending time in the natural world with your child teaches them so much and stimulates potentially all the senses — sight, touch, smell, hearing, vestibular (the movement sense) and proprioception (the sense of body position). Even taste may be stimulated if some safe, edible vegetables or fruits are discovered. (Learn more about the benefits of nature to children here and learn more about our Birmingham Forest School here).

Sensory Play at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston

Our Edgbaston nursery provides a huge variety of sensory play equipment and multi-sensory activities, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.We understand the profound importance of sensory play at Leaps & Bounds Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As such, we provide a huge variety of sensory play equipment and multi-sensory activities at the setting, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Discovery and learning through the senses helps little ones develop in so many ways. For example, aiding physical development, mobility, cognitive skills, motor skills, coordination and, not least, their understanding of the world and their safe place within it. We hope that the examples of sensory activities above help parents or guardians with a few ideas for continuation of this learning journey at home.

Childcare & Nursery Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Are you looking for good nurseries and pre-schools in Birmingham or Edgbaston? Or perhaps you need a childcare nursery near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick or the B16 area? If so, please consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We’re a high quality childcare nursery and pre-school based in Gillott Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16 0ET). Please click a button below to make contact and we’ll be happy to tell you more or to show you and your little one around …

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers
Sensory play ideas to help babies and toddlers during early learning and development.In our last post, we examined the importance of sensory perception in under-fives. It was clear how incredibly important such sensory perception is for young children and how their very survival relies on being in touch with their senses. Through these senses, they learn about the world and everything around them. This also trains their bodies and brains to recognise the stimuli and automatically react. It helps them to know what’s good or bad for them, keep themselves safe and be able to live and communicate successfully in the world. With that background in mind, we follow up today with a look at some examples of sensory play activities that can help babies and toddlers during their early learning and development.

SAFETY FIRST: Always supervise your baby or child, so they don’t hurt themselves, touch or ingest anything that could harm them.

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Bubbles are a feast for the sensesBubbles

Watching colourful bubbles floating in the air is sure to be a big hit with babies and toddlers alike. You can almost see the sense of wonder in their expressions as they watch them float. To them, bubbles are magical as they hang in the air with their wonderful rainbow colours gently moving around on the surfaces. Babies will be even more delighted when a bubble lands on their skin. They’re a feast for sight as well as touch at the moment the bubble lands and delicately bursts.

Sensory Foil

Sensory foil is a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of sounds that they find fascinating.There is a type of safe sensory foil blanket on the market that you can buy for babies. It’s been a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of different sounds that totally intrigue them. What’s more, it doesn’t have the sharp edges associated with some types of paper. Babies can simply lie and roll around on the foil blanket to enjoy the sounds, or scrunch them with their hands to have more control or to hear louder sounds. It’s a great way for them to hone their hand-eye control, fine motor and listening skills. They’re also great visually, particularly if there are any coloured lights or objects in the room that will reflect on the foil in magical ways. Generally speaking, babies are mesmerised by sensory foil, so give it a try if you haven’t done so.

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze 'pods'.Scents

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze ‘pods’ (see photo example). Simply waft near your baby’s nose to let them enjoy the wonderful smell of lemon, mint leaves, and so on. Be mindful of possible pollen allergies and toxins, though, so do your safety research on any contents before exposing your baby to them.

Black & White/High Contrast Cards & Books

Black & white images will allow young babies to see and recognise shapes more clearly as well as synchronise those images in both eyes together.Did you know that high contrast images are great for young babies? That’s because lower contrast images, especially pastels, may be lost on them as their eyesight isn’t yet fully developed. Also, with relatively poor eyesight and eye coordination when they’re first born, high contrast black and white images will help babies to match the images they perceive in one eye with the same image in the other.

Babies will not recognise the full spectrum of colours that we see as adults until around five months of age. That’s another reason books or cards containing images in high contrast black and white are becoming more popular in recent times for this age group. They allow infants to see and recognise shapes more clearly than lower-contrast alternatives as well as having the aforementioned eye/image coordination benefit. This visual sensory stimulation is also thought to help their brain synapses to develop faster in a kind of beneficial ‘feedback loop’.

Sound Activities

Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making.Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making. This type of activity will allow them to experiment with different ways to make sounds, stimulating auditory senses as well as helping them to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It’ll also help them to understand cause and effect more clearly, i.e. to associate sounds they’re making with their causes.

In the most simple approach, babies and toddlers can use something like a building block as a ‘drum’ and a wooden spoon as a ‘drumstick’ and gradually learn to tap away. Babies aren’t born with great coordination, so this is a good first step to give them more control over limbs. Taking it a step further, a responsible adult can make them sound shakers by half-filling clean plastic bottles with dried rice, pasta or similar and then sealing securely. Once safely sealed, babies and toddlers can have fun shaking them to hear the different sounds that can be made through their own actions. Such sensory activities will help them learn in so many ways, both in terms of physical skills and coordination as well as making new brain connections and associations.

Different Materials & Textures

Your baby can also be introduced to different materials and textures like this feather example.Your baby or infant can also be introduced to different materials and textures (suitably supervised for safety, of course, and any choking hazards avoided). Whether it’s a piece of velvet, faux fur or a feather, babies and toddlers will be very intrigued by the look and feel. So, think about introducing them to a variety of materials, both man-made and natural, that perhaps contrast each other so the child can learn how to connect the look of something to the feel of it. These are basic skills, but ones we each had to learn at a very early age.

Food

Once your baby or toddler has been weaned onto solids (e.g. as purée or liquidised foods), they can explore different tastes and food textures. They may be more likely to do so if you give them a spoon, so they can learn to control which food they taste, perhaps from a variety of options that you have prepared for them to try. When they’re suitably dextrous, a variety of finger foods can also be given to them to try. Take precautions, of course, in regard to possible allergens, so choose food types with caution and do your research.

In these ways, various senses will be stimulated in new ways and fine motor skills will improve. Also, exposing them to a variety of different foods and tastes early may give them a broader set of food preferences once they’re older i.e. potentially make them less likely to become fussy eaters.

Nature

Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous.Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous. There’s something amazing to see, hear, smell, touch and feel everywhere (under close adult supervision, of course). Flowers, with their scents and beautiful colours, will amaze them. Or, have you ever noticed the different smells after it rains, or the warm breeze brush past your face on a sunny day? These will all be new to babies and a feast for the senses. Indeed, nature is the ultimate tool for sensory awakening for babies and toddlers. That’s one of the many reasons that Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is also a Forest School (learn more about our Edgbaston/Birmingham Forest School here).

Sensory Activities at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we fully understand the importance of sensory play, so build sensory-based activities into the learning and development plan for every child. Each child has access to multi-sensory play equipment and we even have a sensory zone. Stimulation of senses at this early age does so much to help in early years development. It helps integrate a comprehensive view of the world into children’s very beings and reinforces their safe place within it. It helps to build new pathways in the brain and vastly improves cognitive skills. It aids physical development including coordination and motor skills and so much more. We hope some of the sensory discovery ideas above are useful for parents/guardians to use as part of their child’s home learning activities. Next time we’ll look at sensory activities for preschoolers.

Nursery Places in Edgbaston/Birmingham

For more information about a nursery place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch. We’re a high quality nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick.