Starting School in Reception Year: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a baby, toddler or preschooler, you’ll soon need to think about them starting school. The rules around starting school in England can be confusing at times, so today we take a look through commonly asked questions around the topic to clarify matters. For instance, at what age do children in England legally have to begin school? Is ‘Reception Year’ the same as Year 1 (no, by the way), and is attending Reception Class even compulsory? All these questions and many more are answered in today’s post. Click any question to reveal the answer.

Reception Year is the year most children in England, aged from 4 to 5, start school. It’s a kind of ‘in-between’ year, coming after nursery/pre-school, but before primary school ‘Year 1’. Although Reception Year takes place at primary school, it’s the final year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and continues to use a primarily play-based learning approach. However, once Reception Year is complete, children move to Year 1 and begin the Key Stage 1 (KS1) curriculum, a more adult-led, formal learning approach by topic.

Reception Year is also referred to simply as ‘Reception‘ as well as being known as Year R, Year 0, or FS2 (for Foundation Second Year).

No — as outlined above, Reception Year is the year that precedes Year 1 so, numerically speaking, is Year 0 (see the question above for additional naming variants).

The general consensus is that children who attend school in Reception Year benefit hugely. Having attended Reception, reading, writing, numeracy, social skills and many other abilities will have improved. Studies show that longer-term academic outcomes, including GCSE grades, are improved. Even children’s likely earnings will be higher later on as adults — such is the positive effect of a good Reception Year education.

Attending school in Reception Year is not compulsory, but is a great way for children to transition from preschool to school and to gain extra teaching. As such, it is something that the UK Government’s Department of Education (DfE) believes children should not miss out on.

Children who go into Reception Year are usually aged between 4 and 5. However, there are occasional exceptions. An example would be where a child aged 5 has missed Reception – for whatever reason – and their parents have later made a successful application for their admission to Reception “outside of the normal age group”.

The law states that children reach Compulsory School Age on the earliest of the 31st of the August, December, or March which arrives on or after they reach the age of 5. They would then usually start school in the September term that follows (being the start of the nearest full school year).

That said, most children begin school earlier, at the age of 4, as we’ll see below.

Yes. Despite the compulsory school age for full-time education in England being five, most children actually start school at the age of four. The majority of them will start in ‘Reception Year’ in the September term that follows their fourth birthday. However, whilst still four, they can attend part-time, full-time, or even part of the way through the year. Indeed, some schools have a staggered system for 4-year-olds joining Reception Year, starting them part-time at first. Others, however, require full-time schooling right from the start.

Yes*, for what are known as ‘Summer born’ children. That’s if your child’s birthday falls somewhere during the period 1 April and 31 August and, for example, you feel they are not ready for the challenges of school while they’re still 4. In such a scenario, you can defer their start until they’re five — in accordance with Compulsory School Age rules outlined earlier. Learn more about delaying your child’s school start here.

* Different rules apply to children who are subject to an Educational, Health & Care (EHC) plan.

If your child doesn’t start school until they’re five, local authorities and schools will decide whether such children should start in Reception Year (a year later than most of their peers of the same age) or go straight into Year One with children of the same age. It all comes down to what they feel would be in the child’s best interests, taking into account any special circumstances or special needs. Parents can, however, make a request for such children to start school in Reception Year as opposed to Year 1 and this is known as ‘requesting admission out of the normal age group‘.

This is a tricky area because, on the one hand, the Government’s official view is: “… it is usually not in a child’s best interests to miss the teaching that takes place during the Reception Year, and … it should be rare for a child to start school in year 1.” However, on the other hand, the usual ‘default’ for children starting school at the age of 5, whose parents have not made a request for admission out of the normal age group, is that they would usually go straight into Year 1 — i.e. with children their own age.

Irrespective of whether your child begins school at the age of 4 or 5, you need to apply for a place when they are still 3, or at the very latest when they have just reached the age of 4. More details about applying for school places are available in this guide.

If you live in England*, your local authority is responsible for education in state-funded schools. Click here to find the right local authority for your area and then navigate to the relevant schools section of their website. This will contain a whole host of information usually including a school search function, term dates, eligibility requirements, how to apply for a school place, plus a wealth of additional school- and education-related information.

Try to visit any contenders — most will have open days. Also, check Ofsted reports and school performance tables and try to speak with parents whose children have attended to gain some insights.

* Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different processes. ().

You can alternatively pay for your child’s education through a private (‘independent’) school by making enquiries directly with them. Research to find them online, try a search engine or ask around for recommendations.

Like state-funded schools, independent schools are also inspected and reports will be available through whichever organisation inspects them (about half of them are through Ofsted).

In many cases you can, if you so decide, teach your child at home instead of sending them to school. This is known as homeschooling or ‘Elective Home Education’ (EHE). If going this route, your child must be receiving a suitable, efficient, full-time education and be doing so from the age of five. You can home-school them full-time or educate them part-time at home and the other part at school, although some schools may not allow part-time school placements.

However, there are some scenarios where it’s not possible to home-school your child. Examples may include some children who are party to a ‘School Attendance Order‘, some children with SEN attending special schools, and children who have been deemed by the local authority not to be receiving suitable home education.

More information is available here.

By law, schools must publish certain information on their official websites and this includes a special educational needs (SEN) information report. This must explain their individual policies in regard to eligibility and arrangements for children who have special educational needs and disabilities.

If you would like to suggest any additional questions on the topics of starting school and Reception Year, please let us know using the middle button below; many thanks.

Little Cedars is a High-Quality Nursery in Streatham

Little Cedars Day Nursery provides first-class weekday childcare services in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high-quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rates Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a wonderful childcare nursery located in Streatham in London’s SW16 area. As you can see via the logo on the left, we are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’, so you know your baby, toddler or preschooler will be in safe and caring hands. We’ll ensure they receive the very best care and an early years education that will help them become the very best version of themselves. In this way, they’ll be school-ready by the time they leave us to begin in Reception Year at primary school.

To further explore the chance of a childcare place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, please get in touch using an option below:

The Power of Sport in Early Childhood

Whether they’re naturally sporty or require a bit of practice, most children enjoy sports of one type or another at some point in their young lives. Some may take to a specific sport right away while others may identify a sport that they see potential in much later on. Two things are certain with sport though: firstly children can only discover a sport they enjoy if they try a few out for size and, secondly, sport of any kind is likely to benefit them in a number of ways. With the latter in mind, today’s article investigates some of the ways that sport benefits children in their early years.

Some of the Benefits of Sport in the Early Years

“Sport has such an incredible power to have a hugely positive impact on children’s lives. It increases their physical and mental well-being, helps them achieve at school and teaches important life skills such as working as a team, developing the confidence to try new things and taking leadership.” (Minister for Sport and Civil Society, 07/19)

Sport Offers Something for Everyone

One of the good things about sport is that it comes in so many different forms. Examples include anything from skateboarding, hockey and water sports to football, table tennis, gymnastics and squash. These examples are all very different and that’s a good thing. Essentially, it means there is generally a sport to suit everyone — it’s just a case of trying out several to see which is the best natural fit. With that goal in mind, encouraging young children to sample a wide range of different sports, ball games and sporty leisure activities is highly recommended. Once a child finds a sporting activity they love, it can potentially open up a whole new world to them.

Levelling the Playing Field

That wide range of different sports is a great leveller. With there being some kind of sport for most children, they’ll have something that gives them enjoyment, a sense of achievement and the feeling that they belong. For those children who previously felt a bit different and perhaps an ‘outsider’, including those with special educational needs, that feeling of belonging is important.

Improving Social & Interpersonal Skills & Communication

The above brings us nicely to another benefit of sport; that of improving social skills. When a child plays a sport with other team members or even opponents, they will naturally learn to improve communication and, through doing so, also hone skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, strategy, and cooperation. These are skills that will stand them in great stead as they grow towards their teenage years and ultimately adulthood.

What’s more, of course, taking part in sports and being part of a team is a fabulous way to make deeper bonds with peers, form long-term friendships, and build an expanding friendship circle. Having decent bonds with others will enrich children’s lives and is a major key to childhood happiness.

Life Skills

It’s also important for children to learn from both success and failure in sports (and in life). Learning skills like good sportsmanship, winning or losing gracefully, resilience, and perseverance are highly useful life skills to master. Similarly, sports and being a part of a team can help instil discipline, responsibility, punctuality, and the importance of playing by the rules. All such skills and lessons will be important and useful throughout life as well as academically.

Cognitive Development

The strategic thinking, communication, teamwork, cooperation and problem-solving aspects of sport will also help children to develop cognitively. As well as being a workout for the body, sports can often also be a workout for the brain. As such, children’s mental agility will also increase. This can only be positive in the classroom and in daily life. Indeed, studies show that memory, concentration and academic performance are all significantly improved when children take part in regular physical activity.

Improving Health, Fitness, Agility & Mobility

Some of the more obvious benefits of taking part in sports, including in the early years, include improved fitness, improved strength and stamina, improved motor skills, and better coordination and balance. All these things will, in turn, improve the lives of children in their daily activities as they grow older.

An active lifestyle and regular active play during sports sessions will also help children maintain healthy bones, muscles, and even weight. With childhood obesity rates now at alarming levels, sport is a simple, fun, and easy activity that will help in the fight against such an important issue.

“The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, yet just 20% of boys and even fewer girls (14%), are meeting this target, despite 95% of children saying that they enjoy being active.” (Public Health England)

Better Sleep

There’s nothing quite like the exertion of physical energy to tire little ones out. Letting them play sports, ball games and run around is therefore a sure-fire way to help them sleep well at night and, if applicable, during daytime naps. And, as we know, high-quality sleep is incredibly important for children and adults alike, allowing the body and mind to recharge in many different ways.

Sports Activities are Great Fun!

Let’s not forget the most obvious but perhaps overlooked benefit of sports — they are great fun for children. Running, playing in teams, and getting involved in a wide variety of energetic activities etc. are an intrinsic part of any happy childhood. Sports allow children to play in incredibly active ways, often over wide spaces that give them a feeling of immense fun and freedom.

Good for Mental Health & Well-Being

Letting off steam through sport and active play will also act as a healthy stress-buster. Letting loose on a sports field and running free will lift spirits and help children shake off any anxiety they may have felt in the classroom or at home. As children’s sporting skills improve over time, they will also get a better sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and confidence. These, too, are important for their mental health and well-being.

“Evidence shows that children and young people who are more active have more confidence, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and stress and better social skills – attributes that can help them deal with the challenges they face in daily life. Positive attitudes towards physical activity have also been associated with children being happier.” (Public Health England)

A Possible Career in Sport

Those children who excel at or learn deeply from sport also get additional opportunities from the activity; a possible career in sport. Opportunities include anything from coaching and physiotherapy to places in professional teams that get featured on TV and radio. And, of course, the most talented may even end up winning gold at the Olympics! Indeed, many of the sports stars that we hear about began their interest at a young age. The career potential of sport is simply immense.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

High-Quality Childcare Near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Streatham boasts many opportunities for sport as children grow. From sports clubs, an ice skating rink, and the world-class Crystal Palace sports and athletics complex, to the famous football stadium at Selhurst Park, many centres for sport are located just a stone’s throw from our Streatham nursery. For children who get into sports at an early age, such venues offer incredible opportunities for both leisure and even possible future careers. Given some encouragement and the right opportunities, perhaps even some of our own little ones could end up as future sporting stars!

If you would like to explore a possible nursery or preschool place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, please get in touch today. You can apply for a place, request a guided visit, or ask any questions using the options below:

10 Ways to Boost Learning Through Play at Home

Children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play.As we previously reported, children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play. Improvements to motor skills, critical thinking, fitness levels, creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence are just a few known benefits. Indeed, play is accepted to be the very best way for children to learn, particularly in their early years. Furthermore, when play is coupled with a deep parental involvement in a child’s education, the benefits can be truly profound. With all that in mind, we follow up today with 10 easy ways for parents to boost children’s learning through play at home.

1. Set Aside a Dedicated Play Space at Home

Optimise the success of indoor play by setting aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child.One of the ways you can optimise the success of any indoor play is to set aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child. Here, you can ensure that children have the space and tools available for stimulating play when needed, and quieter play at other times. Age-appropriate toys, books, and equipment are, of course, the first prerequisite for such an area. However, you may also consider other elements such as a quiet storytelling/reading corner, a play den or teepee, a relaxation area with cushions and blankets, a creative section with art and craft supplies, a play kitchen or play tools section, and so on. Giving your child such a space is sure to encourage them to immerse themselves in their play activities. And, as we know, children learn best through play.

2. Play Proactively & Interactively With Your Child

Getting proactively involved in some play activities may boost your child's imagination through the scenarios and ideas you introduce.As well as giving children the tools for imaginative and educational play at home, your proactive input will also boost the benefits they receive from such activities. So, get involved, lead them sometimes and at other times let them lead. They’ll discover and learn more in this way. Ask and answer questions, encourage them to be creative in their thinking and physical approach and highlight aspects and elements that they may not otherwise have been aware of. Such an approach can teach children so much. It may well also deepen the bond between you.

3. Role-Play Together

There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning.There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning. Role-play allows children to immerse themselves deeply into the game, story, or scenario they are acting out. As such it greatly boosts young imaginations and stimulates creativity skills. So, encourage such activities as dressing up in costumes, acting, and putting on pretend voices to embody characters. You and your child can take this a step further through the setting up of play equipment or props to create a new play scenario, for example, a play den, cave, pretend kitchen, or castle. Children will have immense fun whilst also learning huge amounts from such creative and imaginative activities.

4. Read Interactively Together

Interactive storytelling and reading are great ways to boost children's engagement, imaginations and creativity.Role-playing can also be brought into time spent reading with your child. Reading with a child is hugely beneficial to them, so reading with them in interactive ways is to be encouraged. Indeed, studies show that reading with a child during their early years boosts language skills by the equivalent of 8 months and, to a significant degree, it can also level the educational playing field for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Note that we say read ‘with’ children not ‘to’ them here. Interactively reading with your child is the key here as it engages them more fully so that its benefits can be felt by the child for the long term. So, next time you read with your under-five child, ensure you get them involved and encourage them to immerse themselves in the story or scenario. Let them ask questions or guess what will happen next, and make it fun through role-playing of the characters and suchlike. Reading with children really is worth its weight in gold!

5. Limit Time Spent Using Screens

Playing teaches children so much about the world around them.While electronic screens have their occasional place in the education and entertainment of families, it’s healthy to ensure your child has regular screen-free time. Partaking in active play at home — rather than staring inactively at a screen — can only be a good thing, in so many ways. Social skills will be better when children are actively involved in physical play with others. Motor skills and fitness will also benefit. Creativity levels will go through the roof too when children play in real life. They will also learn so much about the world, everything around them and the endless possibilities available to them by playing in the real world. Ensuring children get access to such benefits and opportunities by switching off smartphones, TVs, tablets and game consoles is something every parent can easily do for their child. Doing so will allow for more traditional play, which will enrich their lives in an infinite number of ways.

6. Use Toys That Allow Open-Ended Play

Open-ended play is the type that young children will usually learn the most from.Toys that allow open-ended play are the toys that young children will usually learn the most from. For example, allowing your child to play with building blocks and materials for arts and crafts will let your child’s imagination run riot. Through these, they will be able to create an infinite range of scenarios and possibilities. Dolls and action figures are also good examples that will allow children to immerse themselves in open-ended play, with you there to help expand those possibilities, scenarios and learning opportunities even further.

7. Allow Your Child to Take the Lead

The avoidance of over-structured games and play scenarios will also allow your child to take the lead. Children learn in different ways and at different paces to each other, so allowing them to guide the direction of play will also allow them to play and learn at their own unique pace. It will also allow them to tailor their play to their own particular interests, which will also ensure their engagement is optimised. Your involvement, however, can help your child avoid missed learning opportunities and perhaps some scenarios that they may not have thought of themselves, so it’s a fine balance.

8. Facilitate Social Play

Group play allows children to learn social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and conflict resolution.It doesn’t have to be just you and your child playing. Siblings and your child’s peers can also be encouraged to join in. Consider inviting your little one’s friends to your home or local park for a play date. Getting your child’s friends and peers together for group play will allow your child to learn and hone social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and potentially even conflict resolution. And, with you there to oversee the group session, you can be sure that home play will be fulfilling, organised, fair and rewarding for all who take part.

9. Encourage Outdoor Play Too

You can facilitate learning through play outdoors too.Remember that you can facilitate learning through play outdoors with your child too. Whether in the garden, park or countryside, playing outdoors gives children a vast number of learning opportunities — and it’s great fun! By accompanying children outdoors, they can naturally explore and discover — and enjoy doing so in ways that are much more free than when playing indoors. Outdoor play is a feast for the senses, it will encourage the honing of physical skills like balance, coordination, motor skills and strength as well as fitness. Playing in the natural world is also incredibly good for children’s mental well-being and holistic development. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor play and the importance of nature to children by following the bold links.

10. Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements Together

Use the power of positive reinforcement to take your child’s enjoyment of home play to the next level. Giving positive feedback to your child when they accomplish a task or achieve something new will greatly encourage them. It’ll give them a sense of achievement, boost confidence, and let them know they’re doing well and are on the right path. What’s more, it’ll encourage them to play to learn more.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider

The concepts above are, of course, also the types of approaches we use at Little Cedars to boost the learning of children under five in our childcare setting. We are a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham in South West London, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. We also support many of the Government-funded free childcare schemes and are rated as a Good Provider by Ofsted.

Contact us today to explore a possible nursery/preschool place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham:

 

Exploring Spring with Children Under 5

Paying attention when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the seasons.At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, one of the activities we do with children around this time of year is to explore the season of spring. Spring is a wonderful antidote to the cold, winter months as new shoots begin to sprout from the soil, flowers start to reappear, birds begin to return from warmer climes and there are early indications of warmer weather ahead. Paying attention to such things when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the various seasons. It’s also a free, fascinating, and educational activity that parents/guardians can do with children. Families can, for example, explore the signs of spring in the garden, out on walks, in local parks, and in the countryside. With that in mind, today’s article looks at the type of things children and families can look out for during the season of spring.

When is Spring?

According to the meteorological calendar, spring arrives on the 1st of March and ends on the 31st of May every year. As such, it keeps things very simple, synchronising spring with a standard calendar’s full months of March, April and May.

According to the astronomical calendar, however, spring for 2024 arrives on the 20th of March and will end on the 20th of June, although exact dates can vary a little from year to year. To explain, the astronomical calendar is based on the position of our planet’s elliptical orbit around the sun and involves the tilt of the Earth. Using that alternative timeline, spring begins on the ‘vernal’ (spring) equinox, which is a day of equal length to the ‘autumnal’ equinox later in the year.

Things Children Can Look Out For in Spring

Spring is such a vibrant and exciting season that there are lots of things children and families can look out for. Here are a few suggestions to start things off:

Baby Farm Animals

Meeting spring lambs or calves is always a huge hit with children.As every child knows, young lambs are an absolute delight. They’re incredibly cute and the way they play, group together with fellow lambs, and happily jump into the air is simply adorable! Although timing varies from farm to farm, most newborn lambs arrive during early spring — typically in March — with others arriving in April, particularly if they’re in UK areas further north where it can be colder. At Little Cedars Nursery, we try to ensure children get to meet some spring lambs or calves each year and it’s always a huge hit with the children.

Frogspawn

Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds.Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds. Children will love watching the little eggs change over time, their contents growing from tiny black dots into creatures that have obvious legs, tails and heads. And, once they emerge from the eggs, the tadpoles continue to delight little ones as they gradually develop into tiny frogs. It’s a wonderfully magical thing for children to witness in spring and is also hugely educational.

Sprouting Snowdrops

Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives.Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives. They’re pretty little plants with slender green leaves and flowers that, as their name suggests, resemble delicate drops of snow. Young children will love that! Look out for them in gardens, parks, forests and hedgerows. Each plant generally forms a ‘bunch’ of around ten stems and they reappear every year. Warn children to look but not touch, though, as they are poisonous if eaten.

Shooting Daffodils

Daffodil shoots begin to appear in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden.Another of the earliest plants to appear in the year is daffodils. Their shoots begin to appear through the soil in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden, lawn, forest or flower bed right into May. Once daffodils are in bloom, you also know other plants will soon follow. So, they’re a great sign of the changing season for children to look out for, and a signal that gloomy winter is now over and summer is not far away.

Daffodil flowers come in many different forms, with different coloured ‘trumpet’ style blooms including yellow, white, orange and indeed mixtures of those colours. Perhaps encourage children to see how many different types they can spot when out and about — many residential gardens will have daffodils growing, so this activity can be done in towns and cities as well as in more rural areas. As with snowdrops, though, daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so children should again look and admire them rather than pick them.

Bumblebees

Once they know they're peaceful creatures, children will generally love bumblebees.Bumblebees are amongst the cutest of garden visitors and many children will naturally love them, particularly once they’ve realised how adorable they are with their velvety bodies, sweet faces and attractive markings. They’re also peaceful little creatures, many of whom don’t even have a sting, who simply want to go about their business of collecting nectar from flowers. Bumblebees start to reappear in the spring — because flowers are also reappearing after being dormant over the winter months. They then become more and more populous as the months become warmer and can be seen right into autumn.

There are many types of bees in the UK and all types are incredibly important to both nature and humans; it’s mainly bees that pollinate flowers so more flowers, plants, trees and indeed crops can grow. Because of this — and their cuteness — bees are a wonderful thing to encourage little ones to look out for and learn from. If there were no bees, the human race would be in big trouble and they also therefore represent a great way to introduce children to the concept of looking after nature, conservation, and green matters.

It’s important, too, to ensure children respect them by admiring but not interfering with them. Like children, they have their own lives and have feelings too. Bees can teach children so much!

Songbirds

Robins are beautiful to listen to.The return of many of the UK’s favourite birds is another wonderful sign that spring has arrived and winter is over. While some birds, including robins, may stay during winter, others will have migrated to warmer places, perhaps thousands of miles away. Once they return to the UK, children will be able to watch out for them and listen out for more birdsong. Early mornings and sunsets are great times to hear them, particularly when the weather is calm, meaning their sounds travel more clearly. For example, tiny wrens have an incredible and very melodic set of sounds. Robins are also beautiful to listen to. Thrushes sometimes sing at the tops of trees at dusk too, and that’s also wonderful to hear. Encourage children to watch and listen out for other birds too, for example, blackbirds, starlings, doves, blue tits, great tits and occasionally more rarely-seen birds like goldcrests.

Birds are fascinating creatures for children to learn about and spring is a fabulous time to start to see them as they return to gardens, parks, and the countryside. Download our free bird identification poster to get your child started.

Pussy Willow Buds

The soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit with children.Buds on trees and bushes can also be an interesting natural phenomenon for children to look out for in spring. Many are quite beautiful if you take the time to have a close look. Young children are indeed fascinated by several types of tree buds in early spring and perhaps the most attractive one to them is pussy willow. For them, the soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit and something that really draws their attention. They really do feel furry and it’s almost as if they’re little creatures or kittens paws — quite a magical thing for any child to look out for in spring!

Catkins

Catkins are also fascinating for children, especially the youngest.Catkins are also fascinating. Their little dangling fronds almost look like yellow caterpillars, so this is another type of spring occurrence to draw children’s attention to. From such attention, they can be taught lessons about pollen, seeds, nectar and the circle of life.

We hope this starter guide to exploring spring with children and under-fives has given families food for thought. There is so much to see, hear, touch (when safe) and smell in spring and it’s a great time to encourage children to start spending more time outdoors, weather permitting. Getting children interested in nature and spending time in the natural environment is incredibly important to them and has a huge number of benefits — some quite astounding in fact. Learn more about the benefits of nature in childhood here.

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham

High-quality childcare in Streatham, close to Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery and preschool located in Streatham in Southwest London (SW16). We offer a complete early years education for babies, toddlers and preschoolers aged under five. We support many Government-funded schemes for free childcare too and are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

If you’d like the best weekday childcare for babies and children under five, contact Little Cedars Nursery today:

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham is also suitably located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Eye Colour in Infancy: The Magic of Changing Hues

Eye colour can completely change during early childhood.Have you ever noticed that some babies are born with blue or grey eyes that later change to brown, green or hazel? It’s a magical metamorphosis that sometimes occurs in growing infants and it can be quite intriguing. Parents may indeed wonder whether their newborn child’s eyes are going to change or remain the same as they were at birth. The answer comes down to a combination of time, location, genetics and something called Melanin and today’s article explores this captivating phenomenon.

Eye Colour, the Iris, & Scattering of Light

Blue or grey eyes are common during infancy in Northern Europe.When we talk about eye colour we are, of course, talking primarily about the colour of the irises of a human’s eyes. The iris is the circular muscle around the centre pupil and it is this muscle that governs how much light can pass into the eye by making the pupil larger or smaller. When there is lots of light around, the iris constricts the size of the pupil and, in contrast, makes it big when light levels are low.

It is on the surface of the iris muscle that you find the colour pigmentation that most affects eye colour. However, in some cases, the exact hue that an onlooker perceives is also affected by the way light wavelengths are scattered from the surface of the iris and out through the lens. Effects including the ‘Tyndall’ effect and ‘Rayleigh Scattering’ are potentially a part of this and each may be responsible for altering the colour we see when we look at a person’s eyes. In a similar way, the white light coming from the sun is scattered in such a way that makes the sky look blue. However, when it comes to the eyes, this scattering of light wavelengths only really shows when there is very little Melanin in the eyes.

Melanin

The more melanin pigment the eyes contain, the darker the eye colour will be.Melanin is a protein that’s secreted by special skin cells called melanocyte cells, which form colouration pigmentation in our bodies, including in the eyes, hair and skin. When it comes to the eyes, a lot of melanin pigment means the eye colour is more likely to be dark, for example brown. In contrast, those without much melanin eye pigmentation will have lighter eyes, for example, grey or blue. It is also those lighter colours that are most affected by the Rayleigh Scattering and Tyndall effects that we discussed in the last section.

Eye Colour & Location

Worldwide, brown eyes are the most common colour in infancy.Melanin is a protective protein and, by having more melanin pigmentation, an eye has greater protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) sun rays. That’s one of the reasons that populations from hot, sunnier countries are more likely to have brown or darker eyes — because those are better protected from the sun’s UV rays. Indeed, brown eyes are the most common eye colour in infancy, despite some common misconceptions. It is true, however, that blue or grey eyes are common in infancy in Northern Europe, where the sunlight is less strong.

Changing Eye Colour in Infancy

Interestingly, many babies born with grey or blue eyes end up with eyes of a different colour. This is because the protective melanin pigmentation can take time to build up in the irises and it’s this that accounts for many babies starting off with grey or blue eyes and ending up with green, hazel or brown eyes. The metamorphosis may take between 6 and 9 months to begin showing dramatically, with the changes mostly complete by the age of 3 years. That said, subtle eye colour changes can continue right into early adulthood in some cases.

Eye Colour & Genetics

Genetics also play a part in the colour of eyes.Genetics also play a part in the colour of the eyes and can be helpful when attempting to predict a newborn’s eye colouring. However, correctly predicting the colour of a baby’s eyes based solely on that of parents is not guaranteed. That’s because any inherited colouration may skip one or more generations. And, with a mix of different chromosomes and genes being passed down from parents, grandparents and beyond, skipping generations can sometimes result in completely unexpected eye colouring in infants. Genes will also control how much melanin will initially be present in a newborn’s eyes as well as affecting further production as the child ages and the eyes adjust to conditions.

What About Heterochromia?

Those affected by heterochromia may have two different coloured eyes or two colours present in an eye.Heterochromia is a condition that affects less than 1% of the world’s population. Those affected may have two different coloured eyes or perhaps two colours present in one eye. The causes of heterochromia include physical injury, disease, genetics or sometimes the use of specific medications.

The singer David Bowie famously had eyes that appeared to be two different colours. This was the result of a condition called anisocoria, allegedly caused through a scuffle during an argument over a girl. In Bowie’s case, the injury caused one iris to become paralysed and remain permanently larger than the other. It is this difference that makes one eye appear to be darker.

Baby eye colour is a fascinating topic and, as we have seen above, predicting the colour of your newborn baby’s eyes may not be as simple as it may seem. Witnessing a baby’s eyes gradually turn from grey or blue to green, hazel or brown is also quite a magical milestone and we hope today’s guide has gone some way to explaining why such an incredible metamorphosis can sometimes occur.

Your Childcare Nursery in Streatham

Little Cedars provides high-quality childcare for babies, toddlers & preschoolers in Streatham, SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Do you have a baby, toddler or preschooler who requires reliable weekday childcare and a high-quality early years education? If you’re living in or around Streatham, Little Cedars Day Nursery may be just what you’re looking for. Our warm, welcoming, home-from-home environment and well-trained staff offer loving care from Monday to Friday and bring out the very best in every child. We are officially a good childcare provider too, and equip little ones with everything they need to thrive. To explore the possibility of a childcare place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, please choose an option below and we’ll be delighted to help.

It may help nearby families to know that our Streatham childcare nursery is also close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

 

15 ways children learn best through play, how it benefits them & why it's important in early childhood.

Play teaches children about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them.Watch any infant, toddler or preschooler for just a few minutes and you’ll see that one thing comes naturally to them; play. Indeed, it’s as if they’ve been programmed that way, with the need to play coming instinctively to youngsters, whatever their species. Aside from it simply being great fun, there are a multitude of very good reasons for that — play teaches them an enormous amount about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them. It also allows them to learn and fine-tune a whole swathe of new skills as they grow older, play new games, and become more experienced. Add in some careful steering and nurturing during that play from Mum or Dad and they have a real recipe for success. With that in mind, we look today at the key ways in which learning through play profoundly benefits children.

1. Play & Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand

Role-play activities teach children how to use their imaginations and think creatively.Play and creativity go hand-in-hand. Whether making up a new game, role-playing, constructing, or playing in a den, children will naturally create both scenarios and physical items as part of their play. Such activities teach them how to use their imaginations and to be creative — in a myriad of ways.

2. Play Boosts Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking Skills

During play, children will inevitably reach points where a problem needs to be solved or a challenge overcome. Such things will help to stretch children’s minds and stimulate thinking skills to help them invent new ways to do things, solve problems, accomplish tasks, or do something more efficiently. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills will benefit hugely in this way and these are crucial skills for children to learn as they grow older.

3. Play Hones Motor Skills

Children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play.Different play activities require different types of movement and physical interaction from children. Indeed, this is a fundamental aspect of play. Whether jumping and running with large movements or carefully constructing with small items like building blocks, children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play. Such physical skills are essential to their ability to navigate and interact with the world around them and, in the most natural of ways, play is at the heart of enhancing those abilities.

4. Play Makes Children Fitter

All that running around, chasing, jumping, hopping and playing games is sure to raise a child’s heart rate and, in time, get them a little out of breath. That’s great exercise, right there, but play makes it fun rather than a chore. And, as we know, exercise is good for us, helping to keep us more fit and healthy. In fact, along with a healthy, balanced, diet, it can even help children to reduce or avoid the prospect of childhood obesity.

5. Play is Good for Children’s Emotional Well-Being

Did you know that the hormone cortisol, which the body releases when under stress, reduces when children play? It just goes to prove that playing makes children happy — after all, it’s great fun — and that’s great for their overall emotional well-being.

6. Play Enhances Cognitive Skills

Playing not only improves physical fitness, motor skills and coordination, but it also improves brain function. After all, play takes a myriad of different forms, each type requiring a different mixture of concentration and cognitive skills to succeed. Play is, indeed, like a good workout for the mind, with every passing minute of play enabling the brain to form countless new connections that will stand a child in good stead through improved skills and knowledge going forward.

7. Play Improves Social Skills

Social skills are also improved through play.Social skills are also improved through play. Children naturally play with other children and, by so doing, will soon pick up social skills as they begin to better understand social protocols that allow them to succeed both as individuals and in groups. Decent manners, saying please and thank you, cooperation, teamwork and closer bonding are all examples of social skills that can benefit through group play. Other examples include conflict resolution, better sharing, negotiation and communication, which we’ll come to next.

8. Play Helps Children Learn to Communicate Better

Play is a great facilitator of communication amongst children.Through all this play, children will be communicating with each other and with any adults that are supervising. As such, play is a great facilitator of communication. Indeed, good communication is essential to most games and, through it, children can cooperate and achieve in ways that will help them in both the short term and into adulthood. Improving communication skills is also a fundamental way to improve success when you think about it.

9. Play Enhances Emotional Intelligence

Play also allows children to see things from one another’s perspectives. Role-play games are a great example and, through such endeavours, children can better understand how their actions might affect others. Through such play opportunities, they’ll learn to have improved empathy, patience, and perception of others. Those are important tools for any individual to master, both as children and as adults.

10. Play Stimulates Children’s Senses

One of the key ways babies and infants learn is through the senses and it’s through play that they often do this. Whether reaching out to touch a soft toy during tummy time, playing with coloured shapes, or progressing to creative play with play dough and suchlike when they’re older, they can learn a lot about the world through the senses during early play. Learn more about The Benefits of Sensory Play for Under-Fives here.

11. Play Makes Sense of Mathematics

Playing can also teach children about mathematics.Mathematics is often embedded into games and pastimes. Children can learn, for example, about adding, subtracting, multiplication and division through games. Even dividing group play into teams requires some fundamental maths to ensure teams are equal in size. Building towers out of blocks is another great example where children can count how many blocks they can stack into a tower before it falls over. They can try to beat their own maximum, or even compete against one another to see who can use the most blocks.

12. Play Teaches Children Real-World Science

Play also teaches children about science and how it applies to the real world around them. Properties of materials are a good example, with children learning to understand the properties of liquids, solids, play dough, gravity, heat and cold, cause and effect, and so on — often through the simple act of playing.

13. Play Teaches Children to Assess Risk

Another great skill that children can learn through play is that of risk assessment. Should they climb further up this tree or is it too dangerous? Should they add another block to their tower construction, or will it tip over? Can they leap across this puddle without getting wet? All such things are great examples of how simple play activities can teach children how to assess risk — and learn from it.

14. Play Educates Children About the World Around Them

By immersing children into widely differing environments, play teaches children about the world around them, and everything within it.Play comes in a vast array of different forms, shapes, and sizes. Through so doing, it introduces children to countless scenarios, situations, and challenges. By immersing children into such widely differing environments, they learn huge amounts about the world around them, and everything within it. Whether it’s newfound knowledge about a new object, material, place, culture, activity, or something else, play is an amazing conduit to new knowledge and the need to learn new skills. Play is the ultimate educator and the incredible thing is that children may be unaware that they’re learning — they’re having too much fun!

15. Play Makes Learning Fun & Natural

All in all, play teaches children a vast amount about the world around them, about themselves, and about others. It also teaches them a myriad of new skills. Incredibly, it makes such learning fun and totally natural. As such, play is an immensely powerful teacher that’s key to the success of every child’s early learning and development.

Children Learn Through Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

The childcare professionals at Little Cedars Nursery understand very well the superpowers of play. That’s why babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn mostly through play and child-led activities at the nursery in Streatham. Through play and a learning and development programme that’s custom-designed for each child, little ones absolutely thrive at Little Cedars, achieving personal bests in every area of the curriculum and personal development. In this way, we ensure they are as school-ready as possible by the time they leave us as they approach the age of five.

Nursery & Preschool Places at a Good Nursery/Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWould you like to explore the possibility of your baby or under-five child attending Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham? We’re officially a ‘good provider’ of childcare and early years education and offer a warm, cosy, home-from-home environment where every child thrives and feels valued. We’re also conveniently located if you live or work near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Get in touch today to get started on your application, to visit, or to find out more:

Autumn Composting Activity for Kids — Leaves, Learning & Fun!

This composting activity teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability and also provides an exciting outdoor activity connecting them with nature.Autumn is a magical time filled with vibrant colours, falling leaves, and a wonderful quality to the air. With rustling leaves covering the ground in a myriad of hues, it’s the perfect season to engage children with the wonders of a composting activity. Composting is fun, worthwhile, and educational. It not only teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability but also provides an exciting outdoor activity that connects them with nature. In today’s article, we’ll explore the joy of composting with an autumn twist, where children can harness the abundance of fallen leaves to create a rich and fertile compost for the garden. Children of all ages will love this nature-based outdoor activity and it’s a win-win in every sense — for children, nature’s flora and fauna, and the garden itself.

Leaves, Learning & Fun!

The Magic of Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are rather like nature's confetti.Autumn leaves are rather like nature’s confetti and they play a crucial role in composting. Perhaps explain to children how leaves provide essential carbon and nutrients that are key ingredients for a successful compost pile. Encourage them to collect a variety of leaves in different colours and shapes, so this activity becomes a stimulating treasure hunt too.

No garden? No worries; composting needs as little as a corner somewhere and the final product is just as good for indoor plants.

Creating a Compost Bin

Guide children in setting up a compost bin — or it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden.Guide children in setting up a compost bin or, in its most basic form, it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden if you have one. If not, an undisturbed corner somewhere outside will suffice. Emphasise the importance of a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Leaves are a fantastic source of carbon, balancing out the kitchen scraps and other green materials that you and your child may soon start to add.

Layering the Good Stuff

Help your little one understand the layering process of composting. Start with a layer of autumn leaves, add kitchen scraps like fruit leftovers, vegetable peels, and crushed eggshells, and then sprinkle a bit of soil if you have access to some. Repeat this process, creating a compost ‘lasagna’ that will eventually turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Turning the Pile

Composting is not just a one-time activity; it’s an ongoing process. Show children how turning the compost pile every few weeks helps speed up decomposition. This is a great opportunity for them to get their hands dirty (under supervision) while learning about the science behind composting.

Observing the Changes

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes. Discuss how the compost becomes darker and richer over time. Point out the minibeasts that’ll no doubt move in and, of course, teach them to be gentle around them, to nurture their sense of responsibility and empathy. You can also use composting as an opportunity to talk about the importance of recycling and reducing waste.

Using Compost in the Garden

Once the compost is ready, involve children in spreading it in the garden. Or, if you have no garden or outdoor plant areas, the compost is just as beneficial to indoor potted plants. Explain how the nutrient-rich soil that they have generated will help plants grow strong and healthy. This hands-on experience connects them with the entire cycle of composting, from collecting leaves to seeing the positive impact on plants.

Autumn Composting Activities

While waiting for the compost to develop, children could decorate the compost container through painting, or even do some leaf art!To make composting even more enjoyable, you and the children could incorporate other autumn-themed activities. For example, they could create leaf art while waiting for the compost to develop, they could decorate the compost container through painting, or they could take part in an autumn treasure hunt for different types of leaves and seasonal seeds. This all adds an extra layer of fun to the composting process.

Composting is Fun, Worthwhile & Educational

Composting in autumn is not only a practical way to manage organic waste but also a delightful and educational activity that gets children outdoors and brings them closer to nature — and that is good for them! The vibrant colours of fallen leaves, the earthy smell of compost, and the satisfaction of creating something valuable from nature’s bounty make this experience both educational and enjoyable. So, encourage them to gather those leaves and embark on an autumn composting adventure together!

Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

High-quality Weekday Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham. As well as providing weekday childcare for children under five, we also provide them with a high-quality early years education. This is all done by childcare professionals in a lovely home-from-home setting away from the busiest part of Streatham, close to Tooting Common, in Aldrington Road. At Little Cedars, we nurture every child so they achieve personal bests in all areas of their learning and development, ensuring they are school-ready by the time they leave us at the age of five. All the main Government-funded childcare schemes are also supported for eligible families.

Get in touch to ask any questions, to arrange a guided visit, or to enrol your child for a childcare place. We can’t wait to meet you and your child!

Little Cedars Day Nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Safeguarding Note

Children, particularly the very young, will require adult supervision and oversight when playing or exploring outdoors. Please do your own risk assessments as well as teaching children to be mindful of hazards, stranger danger, health and safety. Our safety tips for outdoor play should help to get you started.

Little Cedars Nursery Streatham – 5-Star Rated by Families

Example: 5-star ratings of Little Cedars Nursery via a review posted on daynurseries.co.uk in February 2023.When you’re searching for the best nursery for your baby or toddler, or the perfect preschool for your 3-or-4-year-old, the choice can often be overwhelming. A Good Ofsted rating will help, of course. However, genuine customer feedback is crucial as a tool to gauge the suitability of local childcare providers. And recommendations and 5-star ratings can be priceless. So, if you’re a family looking for childcare in the Streatham or Tooting area, it may help to read what the parents of some of our children have to say about us — and that’s exactly what today’s post is designed to showcase.

The good news is that our reviews on Google and elsewhere are awash with 5-star reviews and glowing testimonials about the quality of our childcare services and the loving, nurturing qualities found at the setting. Take a look below to read just some of the wonderful feedback that Little Cedars Nursery receives, from families past and present.

Sara Z recommends Little Cedars Day Nursery

5-star rating

“My daughter has been at Little Cedars for some time now. Lovely little nursery and great staff.”

(Sara Z. via Facebook, June 2022.)

5-star rating

“Maggie the centre manager was helpful and super efficient with everything! Thank you”

(Charlotte M. via Google, 2 months ago).

5-star rating

“What an amazing nursery. I had my little ones here for years … they really loved [it] and the management & teachers are so lovely. I just want to say thank you for taking care of my kids so brilliantly. Always so helpful! I will miss you and my kids too xxx”

(Rita T. via Google, 2 months ago).

5-star rating

“Lovely setting away from the hustle and bustle of Streatham. Nice big garden and friendly staff who always make our baby boy feel welcome. The baby room is clean and full of kind staff – whenever we drop off or collect our child he is in the lap of a team member and given a lot of attention. He loves the rabbits in the garden and gets plenty of outside play. The chef cooks a variety of healthy meals and snacks and is also so friendly with the babies. Prices are affordable for the area without any compromise on quality – we highly recommend LC!”

(Roxanne H. via Google, 2 months ago).

5-star rating

“My son has been attending this day care for almost 2 years now. As a first time mom I didn’t have enough confidence in myself when it came to choosing a nursery however as soon as I stepped into this facility and met Maggie I knew this was a journey my son and I would enjoy.

Needless to say 2 years in I’m completely happy that I chose Little cedars day care as my son’s educational starting point.

From the little baby room to the toddler room he has grown [in] leaps and bounds, his social skills are amazing, his vocabulary improves with each week and I love the close-knit relationships he enjoys with both the staff and his peers.

The staff are friendly, very attentive and strive for excellence. There are many activities that are planned for the kids throughout the school terms and parents are invited to some which is great and they also have a big outdoor area which is awesome for the little ones to enjoy in all climates.

I love the fact that there are chickens and rabbits in the garden meaning the learning continues beyond the classroom. The toddler room also has a lizard named Lizzy who the kids help look after too, thus again helping develop their nurturing side.

There’s a good ratio of staff to pupils and your child will not be part of the furniture, it’s an overall wonderful experience.

It’s such a lovely atmosphere from drop off to pick up you just know you’ve left your child in an environment where they can learn and explore and be well taken care of all at the same time.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to all the staff at the day care … Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

(Nomvula B. via Google, 11 months ago).

5-star rating

“Nice place; my daughter is excited to go there”

(‘Local Guide’ Hamza Y. via Google, a year ago).

5-star rating

“My daughter attends this nursery for over a year now. I just love the friendly vibes, the lovely facilities (including resources, grand garden and animals!) Maggie, the manager, has been just wonderful and you can see her deep commitment as she often supports her team in the rooms! [A] hands-on manager that will always give you time to talk about your child is a recipe for success! Highly recommended!”

(‘SmallFrog’, via Google, a year ago).

5-star rating

“Amazing nursery! Our daughter loved it here and all the staff are fantastic!”

(‘Local Guide’ Johann H. via Google).

Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

A home-from-home that nurtures babies and children under five, in Streatham, near Tooting

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderIt’s clear from the feedback highlighted today that Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham is not just a childcare provider. Indeed, it’s more like an extended family that’s as invested in nurturing the growth and development of little ones as parents are. At Little Cedars, curiosity is sparked, friendships are forged, and the foundation for a love of learning is laid.

If you’re local to Streatham or Tooting and like what you’ve learned in this post today, we look forward to the opportunity to be a part of your child’s early years, shaping moments that matter and creating a haven where your little one can truly thrive.

To enquire about a nursery or preschool place for your child, please get in touch:

Little Cedars is a high-quality childcare nursery in Streatham, close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Why Not Write a Review?

We’d love your feedback! Are you happy with Little Cedars Day Nursery? If so, why not post a review to our Google profile (here)? And, of course, if there’s something you’re not happy with or if you have a suggestion, please let us know and we’ll urgently work to address it. Feedback from parents is incredibly important to us as part of our continuous mission to improve the breadth and quality of the childcare services we provide. Thank you.

Spooky Kids' Activities for Halloween: Fun Ideas for 31st October

Children love getting into the spirit of Halloween!The arrival of October means it’s time for children and families to prepare for Halloween! Arriving on the 31st of the month, it’s a firm favourite for any childhood and gives children the opportunity for uniquely spooky fun, games and dressing up. Indeed, Halloween offers a wonderful variety of activities for children to take part in and that’s exactly what we look at in today’s article. Stand by, then, to prepare the household for some spookylicious Halloween activity ideas for kids!

Dress up in Spooky Halloween Costumes

A white bedsheet with two eye-holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully-effective ghost costume.Children adore dressing up for Halloween. The spooky nature of Halloween costumes really appeals to them, especially if they get together with friends and compare outfits on Halloween evening.

A huge range of wonderful Halloween fancy dress costumes is available to purchase. However, your child can have even more fun and potentially save costs by making their own Halloween outfit. It’s both great fun and a wonderfully creative activity. Here are a few ideas but bear in mind, of course, that any fabric cutting should be done by adults or, for older children, under their supervision:

  • A white bedsheet with two eye holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully effective ghost costume. Kids will love wearing these and leaping out at unsuspecting family and friends!
  • Black sheets or clothes are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Add pointy hats made from card.Similarly, black sheets are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Alternatively, use black clothing and, if it’s no longer being worn for anything else, it can even be given ragged edges for extra effect. Add pointy black hats made of cardboard or paper and the costumes are complete.
  • Clothing that’s no longer needed is a great canvas on which children or parents can paint the bones of the body, so children wearing the costume look like spooky walking skeletons. Some black and white face painting will complete the effect by creating a ‘skull’ face!
  • Home-made spider costumes are also feasible using black clothing, stuffed jumpers (for the body) and extra spider legs made from black tights stuffed and attached to the child’s belt.
  • Similarly, children can dress up as pumpkins simply by using an orange top or t-shirt, suitably decorated in paint so children look like walking, talking Jack-O’-Lanterns!

As you can see, these home-made Halloween outfits are fairly simple to accomplish, without the need for much, if any, expense. This activity is also one that really gets children’s creative juices and a sense of fun flowing.

Display Some Spooky Halloween Decorations

Set the atmosphere with spooky decorations!If you want your child’s Halloween experience to be truly spooktacular, encourage them to decorate the house – whether inside or out – with all manner of ghoulish decorations and ghostly paraphernalia. Home-made spider webs can, of course, be made using string, thread or stretched-out cotton wool. However, such decorations can usually be purchased inexpensively from supermarkets, which typically have cheap Halloween decorations around October each year. Spiders can be home-made by children from wool or black pipe cleaners, or similarly bought commercially along with shop-bought decorations depicting skeletons, ghosts, bats and suchlike. You can also buy LED lights, including strings of lights, that look like Halloween pumpkin lanterns. Such lighting is great for extra atmosphere!

Make Spooky Food & Drink

Children love cooking and decorating biscuits and cookies for Halloween!If your household is carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, perhaps save some of the flesh and use it to make a spookylicious pumpkin soup for the family to eat come Halloween evening time. There are plenty of excellent recipes online and children can help make the soup, under supervision for safety purposes.

Children of all ages also generally love cooking biscuits and cookies, so why not encourage them to make some that are Halloween-themed? Perhaps try ghost-shaped and bat-shaped cookies with decorating in black and white icing (see example).

Drinks can also be themed by children by painting Halloween imagery onto paper cups – it’s another simple Halloween children’s activity that’s both fun and creative.

Supermarkets are also sure to sell Halloween-themed party food, drink and accessories as Halloween approaches, so there’s usually lots for children and families to choose from.

Host a Spooktacular Halloween Party!

Combine the Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party!Children can combine Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party for friends and family. Such preparations are sure to set up a wonderfully spooky atmosphere in which children will have immense fun comparing outfits and getting into the spirit of the event. Add Halloween-themed games, play ghostly music and take turns to read ghost stories and the evening is sure to be one to remember! It’s also a great conduit through which children can socialise and perhaps grow stronger bonds.

Trick-or-Treating Activity

Children will absolutely love tricking-or-treating and it's sure to result in much giggling and laughter!Take the Halloween activities to an extra level by arranging a group trick-or-treat session, under adult supervision, for children in your street. They will absolutely love this activity and it’s sure to result in much giggling and laughter if it goes as planned. However, be sure to check with each neighbour before the day. In that way, they can opt out if they prefer not to get involved. For those that do take part, most neighbours usually go the ‘treat’ route but be ready for the possibility that a few may opt for the ‘trick’ option, in which scenario the children under your supervision will need to be ready with a fun but harmless trick. Some forethought and creative thinking may be needed there, with care being taken not to allow children to overstep the mark.

Also, be sure to buy suitable sweets or gifts for children who may trick-or-treat and knock on your door (age-appropriate, of course).

Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches make great family photo opportunities around Halloween time.Pumpkin patches are often wonderful places for children and families to spend a few hours in the run-up to Halloween. In such places, your little one can explore amongst hundreds of pumpkins and other gourds of different sizes and shapes. And, if they find one they take a liking to, they can usually be purchased to take home, or might even be included in the price if the venue has an entrance fee. Pumpkin patches often also have other Halloween-themed activities at this time of year, whether it’s displays where you can take memorable snaps of your child amongst the pumpkins, wheelbarrow rides for children across a pumpkin field, pop-up refreshments with Halloween-themed food and drink or pumpkin-decorating workshops, they’re always great fun for children. They really help to make Halloween the special time of year that it is.

Pumpkin patches are usually found on farms and agricultural locations, so you may not have one locally if you live in a big city like London. However, some may be a short train, bus or car ride away. Either way, try Googling ‘pumpkin patches near me‘ and see if any of the results throw up a pumpkin patch that’s within reach.

Decorate Pumpkins & Make Jack-O’-Lanterns

Family preparing a Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkin.Once you’ve sourced a suitable pumpkin for your child, it’s time for the really fun part — pumpkin carving and decorating! While the carving part may not be suited to children of a young age (knives are super-dangerous), they can usually help, under supervision, with scooping out the flesh and then, the most fun part of all, decorating. Pumpkins can depict faces, spiders, owls or any spooky imagery you or your little one can imagine. And, even if they may be too young to carve the holes,Examples of carved pumpkin Jack-O'-Lanterns. they can still decorate using paint or markers, or simply enjoy Mum or Dad getting creative on their behalves.

Once ready, the spooky pumpkin(s) are ready to display indoors or out once it gets dark. Adults should supervise if lighting the pumpkins with real-flame tea lights, or better still look out for flickering LED fake candles, which will be the safest option. Children will love looking at these pumpkin lanterns (also known as Jack-O’-Lanterns) glowing in the dark and they will really set the Halloween atmosphere.

The smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers, so there's no need for dangerous carving.TIP: Kids don’t even really need a pumpkin; the smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers! They look really cute and an added bonus is that they avoid the need for any carving.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, London SW16

We hope today’s article gives children and families some good ideas for Halloween this year. These days, it’s simply a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun, socialise and get creative with friends and family. It’s also a unique milestone in the calendar each year and something children can really look forward to.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby, Toddler or Preschooler in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderTrust your weekday childcare to a ‘Good Provider’ (it’s official!). We are a high-quality nursery and preschool located in Streatham, London SW16, offering a first-class early years education and childcare service to babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five. We may also suit if you’re located in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. What’s more, we support free childcare through various Government schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Request a place for your child, a tour, or more information below — we look forward to hearing from you:

Child Benefit: a Complete Guide for Parents/Guardians (2023/24 Edition)

Today’s guide aims to explain everything you ever wanted to know about Child Benefit in the UK. This benefit could be a lifesaver with the current economy and interest rates being what they are. Learn the rules around eligibility, discover how much you can get, and see how many children you can claim for. We’ll also explain what impact your earnings may have, how long you can continue claiming for, and much more. So, if you’re responsible for bringing up a child, take a look!

What Is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is a financial support scheme designed to help parents and guardians with the costs of raising children.Child Benefit is a financial support scheme, provided by the UK Government, that’s there to assist parents and guardians in covering the costs of raising children. It is an essential part of the social safety net in the United Kingdom and aims to help families with the financial responsibilities that come with bringing up children. Eligible families are free to spend Child Benefit however they like, whether that’s on children’s clothes, food, or something else.

Who is Eligible to Claim Child Benefit?

In the UK, Child Benefit is available to those primarily responsible for raising a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training (N.B. that’s unless they get paid for working 24 or more hours per week instead, begin an apprenticeship, or claim certain benefits themselves).

Child Benefit is usually paid to the person who is primarily “responsible for the child’s care”.

To be eligible, you must be living in the UK, the child you’re claiming for must reside with you, and you must be spending at least the equivalent of the benefit you’ll receive on caring for your child (e.g. through food, clothes, etc.). Up to a certain level, income doesn’t affect eligibility (we’ll explain rules around income later in this guide*) and you do not need to be working. Note also that savings do not affect eligibility. Interestingly, you do not necessarily have to be the child’s parent in order to claim, although only one person can claim for a particular child.

More details about eligibility for Child Benefit can be found here, including some caveats, exceptions and special circumstances.

How Many Children Can You Claim For?

There are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for, so each child in your care can be covered if you're eligible.You can claim Child Benefit for all of your children who meet the eligibility criteria. It may surprise some to learn that there are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for (unlike with some other types of Government child support), so each eligible child in your care can be covered under this benefit.

How Much Do You Get?

For the 2023/24 tax year, the rates for Child Benefit have increased to the following levels:

• For the eldest or only child: £24.00 per week;
• For additional children: £15.90 per week for each additional child.

Example:

If you are responsible for looking after 3 eligible children, you will get 1 x £24 per week plus 2 x £15.90 each week. That amounts to £55.80 per week or £2901.60 per annum.

These rates can be a valuable contribution to your family’s finances and provide some relief from the costs associated with raising children. They are usually paid to you monthly, however, you may be able to arrange weekly payments in some circumstances. The money is paid directly to you and can be paid into most types of bank or building society accounts, with the exception of Post Office card accounts and Nationwide Cash Builder accounts with sort code 07 00 30 that are registered in someone else’s name.

* How Do Your Earnings Affect It?

Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually.Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually. In such cases, you may have to pay a ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’. This charge gradually reduces your Child Benefit entitlement if your income is between £50,000 and £60,000. Indeed, if your income exceeds £60,000, you’ll likely have to repay the entire amount through this tax charge. We’ll cover more of the detail in the next section below…

Is Child Benefit Subject to Income Tax?

Whether Child Benefit is subject to Income Tax depends on the level of you/your partner’s income:

  • If you or your partner earn less than £50,000 per year, Child Benefit is not subject to Income Tax, i.e. it is tax-free.
  • If you or your partner earn over £50,000 and no more than £60,000 per annum, you will need to repay 1% of your Child Benefit income for every £100 earned over the £50,000 threshold. This is done through a special kind of income tax called the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’.
  • Because that equates to 10% for every £1000 of Childcare Benefit received, 100% of Childcare Benefit has to be repaid through the special income tax charge if you or your partner’s income reaches the upper (£60,000) threshold.

Is Child Benefit Affected by Universal Credit?

No, child benefit is not affected by anything you receive through Universal Credit. As separate schemes in their own right, each is paid independently of the other.

Can Child Benefit Contribute Towards Your State Pension?

Child Benefit will count towards your state pension National Insurance (NI) contributions if the child you are claiming for is under 12 and you are either not in work or do not have sufficient earnings for NI contributions. However, should you not need the NI State Pension credits yourself, you may be able to ask for them to be transferred to your partner/spouse in some circumstances.

How Do You Claim Child Benefit?

Child Benefit can be claimed online or via downloadable paper forms.Claiming Child Benefit is a straightforward process:

  • You can apply online through the official Government website. Fill out the necessary details and submit the form, and you should start receiving your payments within a few weeks. Learn more about how to claim online and what information you’ll need by watching this video.
  • Alternatively, you can use a physical claim form. Two versions of the form exist: a CH2 form to use if you are claiming for up to two children and a CH2 (CS) form for any children in addition to those. Use the bold links to download and print out the forms if you decide to go with the ‘paper’ option.

Tip!

Payments can only be backdated by 3 months. It’s therefore wise to make any claim before your child reaches the age of 3 months.

How Long Can You Claim For?

You can usually claim this benefit until your child reaches the age of 16. However, if your child continues in approved education or training, you can still receive this benefit until they turn 20. As we said before, that’s unless they are paid for working 24 hours or more per week instead of their education or training.

Child Benefit is a crucial source of financial support, helping to ease the financial burden of raising children for eligible families. Be mindful of the income thresholds that may affect your entitlement, and ensure you claim it promptly to access the full value of this funding. Also, keep in mind that Government policies and rates may change over time, so it’s advisable to check the official Government website links above for the most up-to-date information on Child Benefit.

A Nursery Place for Your Child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, SW16, we are mindful of the significant costs associated with bringing up a child. We therefore support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families. Parents/guardians can also rest assured that we’ll give babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life, in a warm, nurturing environment. And, as Ofsted agree, we are a good nursery and early years provider.

If you’d like to register your child for a nursery place, ask us a question or arrange a tour of the nursery/preschool with your little one, please get in touch — we’ll be delighted to help.

Our childcare service is based in Streatham near Tooting Common and the A214. As such, it is also conveniently located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.