How to Make a Wildlife-Friendly Garden With Your Child

There are many simple ways that children and families can attract wildlife to their garden or nearby outdoor space.As promised in our last post we now extend our gardening for children theme and take a look at some of the ways that children can attract wildlife to their gardens or other outdoor spaces nearby. Young children, particularly under-fives, will love seeing a variety of delightful little creatures arriving, especially if it results from their actions. The wildlife-attracting activities we suggest today will help their young minds learn more about nature and how to help it, as well as teach them new skills. Spending time in nature is also incredibly good for children and, what’s more, the activities include acts of kindness that will also benefit plants, flowers, and the wildlife itself. It’s a real win-win! So, perhaps take a few minutes out of your day to learn how you can help your child attract wildlife — and make the world a better place!

What Kind of Wildlife Can Children Attract?

We’re talking here about how to attract adorable pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, as well as larger creatures like birds and, if children are lucky, hedgehogs. Some of the activities are also designed to attract interesting creatures like minibeasts, which are always a huge hit with children. So, by following today’s suggestions, children may get to see a wide variety of delightful wildlife!

Children should be aware that wildlife may not visit right away. Wildlife is naturally afraid of humans and often distrusts ‘new’ things in their neighbourhoods. So allow time for the wild creatures to become accustomed to changes in children’s gardens and encourage children to be patient — it’s a great lesson to learn.

How Can Children Attract Wildlife to Gardens?

How children attract wildlife depends primarily on what kind of wildlife they want to attract and, to a degree, what kind of natural space they have available. Supplying a source of food or somewhere to live is the key to success in most cases. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, & Other Pollinators

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and pollinators in general are some of the easiest types of wildlife for children to attract. What’s more, it’s a fun, easy, and educational activity for children to take part in. Here’s how:

Pollinators Need a Drink!

Creatures like bees and birds will all appreciate being given a supply of drinking water.One of the key things that pollinators like bees need is something to drink, particularly when the weather is hot. They expend a lot of energy buzzing about and can easily become exhausted without a source of water. So, a simple thing that children and families can do is to put out some small, shallow dishes of water among any flowers (whether in flowerbeds or flowerpots). The little drip trays that you put under flowerpots are perfect but any small, shallow dish will do. A critically important detail is that a ‘landing stone’ should be placed into the water so that the bees have somewhere safe to land above the level of the water’s surface. They can then crawl to the water’s edge to have a refreshing sip of water without getting themselves into danger. What’s more, you may also find that other types of pollinators visit — perhaps even dragonflies and damselflies if they’re in the neighbourhood.

Pollinators Need Food (think Nectar!)

Children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. Bees and other pollinators will love these!Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and all pollinators also need nectar as a food source. For our children, that means that flowers — and their pollen — are the key to attracting them. So, with adult supervision, children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. These are readily available commercially, are usually marked on the packets as pollinator-friendly, and are usually very inexpensive. They’re also easy to grow (see our wildflower-growing guide for children for more details). These will not only look beautiful once they’ve flowered but will attract bees, butterflies and many other types of pollinators to the child’s garden or nature area. They are delightful little creatures and are also incredibly important, of course, for crop production for our own food. So, once again, if children feed such creatures, they are helping both the pollinators and humans. They can learn a great deal from this activity, therefore.

Attracting Butterflies

Bees, butterflies and even dragonflies absolutely love flowering Buddleia.As we mentioned above, butterflies will be attracted to flowers like poppies and wildflowers. However, they absolutely love flowering Buddleia (right) and Hylotelephium (a.k.a. ‘Ice Plant’ – see main image at top), especially if they’re located in a sunny position. On a good day, children may find such plants absolutely covered with visiting butterflies and other pollinators — and these creatures are a delight for little ones and adults alike. Note, though, that parents will need to hard prune most Buddleia varieties in early Spring, otherwise, they can grow quite large. If space is limited, therefore, stick with poppies, wildflowers, and ice plants rather than buddleia.

Butterflies can be attracted to children's gardens using overripe fruit drizzled with sugar solution.As well as enjoying the nectar from the flowers that children have planted (see above), butterflies can also be lured to children’s gardens through a kind of drink that’s also food for them. For butterflies, children simply mix up to four parts of warmed water with one part of sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Children can then drizzle the sweet solution over small slices of ripe fruit or even small cut-up pieces of a clean sponge. As with the water for the bees, these can then be placed in shallow dishes and left among flowerbeds or alongside flowerpots on a balcony or windowsill. Once they’ve discovered them, butterflies will soon begin to land to sip at this sweet food supply. Children will then be able to see their incredible beauty up close. Download our free butterfly identification poster for children here.

Another food type that butterflies love is — rather strangely — overripe fruit like oranges, bananas, melons, pears, plums and pineapples. Even when these are well and truly overripe — indeed way more ripe than humans would eat — butterflies enjoy them immensely. So, these too can be put out for butterflies to nourish themselves. Children can even make a paste mix of squashed, overripe banana and water and, when butterflies find this or any of our butterfly food suggestions, children can watch as the butterflies sip through the equivalent of their tongue, the proboscis.

Avoid putting these food and water sources near open windows otherwise pollinators and possibly other insects and bugs may get trapped inside your house.

How to Attract Birds

There are a number of activities that children can take part in to attract birds to gardens and outdoor areas.

Food to Attract Birds

Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child's garden or outdoor space.Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child’s garden or outdoor space. Once the birds recognise and trust it, the new food source will provide a regular stream of pretty, feathered visitors. Children will love knowing they helped to attract these wonderful creatures and have been responsible for giving them a much-needed meal. They can also use our free bird identification poster to learn which bird species are which. So, it’s both worthwhile and educational as an activity for children.

With regard to the food to put out for the birds, children/families can buy or make ‘seed cakes’ or ‘fat balls’. Children will love making these and can follow our guide to making home-made bird feeders here. Once complete, these can simply hang from string from branches of trees and bushes, from overhangs on buildings and sheds, or even from brackets used for hanging baskets. All of these are good places as they provide some protection from attack by birds of prey who, if present, usually watch and attack from above.

For a close-up view, a type of bird feeder that attaches to the outside of windows is commercially available.Commercially available ‘Robin peanut cakes’ and ‘sunflower hearts’ are also a big hit with many birds, and can usually be found in supermarkets or online. Whole bird-friendly peanuts are also popular with birds like bluetits and great tits, however, can be a choking hazard for baby birds during the breeding season if not crushed into tiny pieces. More information about suitable food types for birds can be found using the link in the paragraph above.

Another feeding option is a semi-permanent bird-feeding ‘station’ or bird table. As with the bird feeders, these can either be purchased commercially or home-made and need to be sighted somewhere ideally with cover from above — unless, of course, they have their own integral roof. There are even some that stick to windows, so those can be great options for children who live in an upstairs flat or apartment. All bird feeders should be cleaned regularly, by the way, in order to stop the spread of diseases and protect birds’ health. Obviously, too, the use of all such items will require the parent or caregiver’s supervision and help as appropriate.

Put Out Bird Baths Too

Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers or complete bird baths will be welcomed by them.Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers will be welcomed by them. These are best located somewhere a little secluded, e.g. in amongst flowers in a flowerbed or below overhanging shrubs or trees, rather than right out in the open. Otherwise, birds may avoid them as they’ll feel unsafe from birds of prey that sometimes view from high up in the air. If bird baths supplied are on the larger side, birds may bathe in them as well as drink from them. That’s a delight for children to see, so encourage your little one to make one or more bird baths available but also make sure of several things:

  1. Ensure the water is shallow as birds will prefer this;
  2. Put a rock or smaller upturned flowerpot saucer in the middle of larger bird baths as somewhere for the birds to safely land;
  3. Ensure the water is changed regularly and the bird bath is kept clean;
  4. Ensure children wash their hands after touching these or anything else in the garden.

Note that birds often distrust anything ‘new’ in the garden, so it may be a few days or even a couple of weeks before the first bird takes a bath. That said, sometimes a particularly brave bird may come almost right away and, in any case, patience is a virtue, as they say. That’s another important lesson that children also need to learn.

Add Nesting Boxes

Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy.Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy, often inexpensively, and put up around gardens or properties. There are lots of different kinds, for example, blue tit boxes have a hole as an entrance whereas robins require a larger opening. Some research online may be wise and families can decide which type to go for based on what species of birds they wish to attract.

Bird boxes should be positioned carefully, though, bearing in mind the following guidelines:

  • Boxes should face anywhere between north and east otherwise babies can die from the heat during the summer months;
  • Position at least 2 metres above ground level, somewhere cats, foxes, squirrels and birds of prey cannot easily access them (so, not near the tops of fences, for example);
  • For the same kind of reasons, it’s best if bird boxes are located under some kind of overhead protection e.g. under the eaves or an overhang on your house, or on a tall post underneath a tree canopy (this reduces the chance of attack from above by birds of prey). Hiding them within an area covered in climbing plants is another option;
  • Locate them away from permanent bird feeders as they need to be away from other areas that are busy with activity from birds, animals, and humans;
  • Tilt the box forward a little so that rain runs off more easily.

More information about bird boxes and how families can even make them is available on the RSPB website.

How to Attract Minibeasts

Children can make a compost heap to attract minibeasts and give them a home.By far the best way to attract minibeasts, apart from ensuring harmful weedkillers and other nasty chemicals aren’t used around the garden, is to give them a compost heap to live in. Such places will attract minibeasts like centipedes, woodlice, millipedes, worms and many other types — perhaps even slow worms. Building a compost heap is a wonderfully worthwhile, fun, and educational activity for children to take part in and our guide explaining how to make and maintain a compost heap can be found here.

Once the compost heap has been established, minibeasts will move in as it will represent both a home and a food source for many of them. Children can also download our free Minibeasts identification poster here.

Teach Children Empathy & Responsibility

Children should be shown how to take care of and be gentle when looking for wild creatures, as each is an individual who wants to live in peace, is scared of humans and is both delicate and easily harmed. Taking such care will teach children lessons like empathy and responsibility as well as help the garden wildlife to stay safe and well.

Create a Wilderness Area

Lizards, frogs, toads, and newts may also be attracted to wild areas that are damp.Aside from that, minibeasts and many other types of garden visitors love a wild area of the garden or outdoor space to live in, ideally with ramshackle things like flower pots, rocks, piles of rotting leaves, and rotting logs/branches for bugs, slow worms and other minibeasts to live under. Lizards, frogs, and toads may also be attracted to such areas, particularly if the area is kept damp.

In the right circumstances, children may even get to see birds like robins nesting if there is somewhere safe, peaceful, hidden and suitably high off the ground.

Keep grass in wilderness areas long, sow wildflowers there, and disturb the area as little as possible.

Bug hotels are also a great way to attract bugs and minibeasts to the garden.Make or buy a ‘bug hotel’ and place this in the wilderness area too, as it’ll provide a home for all sorts of bugs and insects, including some pollinators like solitary bees, bumblebees, and other minibeasts like ladybirds, woodlice, snails, spiders — even some types of butterfly potentially. Indeed, bug hotels are excellent in autumn as they will provide somewhere safe for the creatures to over-winter and hibernate. The RSPB has an excellent guide to making your own ‘minibeast hotel’ which is another name for a bug hotel. This particular one is fairly large, so will need input from parents or caregivers, however, the same principle can be used by children on a smaller scale if they would like to build their own. We may produce our own guide for them separately in due course.

How to Encourage Hedgehogs

If children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit.With the right preparation and if children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit. Better still, they may even move in under and raise families of adorable baby hedgehogs if the circumstances are right. Piles of leaves in wild areas, compost heaps in garden corners, unlit bonfire wood stacks, beneath sheds and where there are leaves collecting under undergrowth are all great areas for hedgehogs to stay, particularly if they’re secluded and peaceful areas away from noise, activity, and garden pets like dogs and cats. Ensuring there is a suitable gap under garden fences will also allow hedgehogs to come and go as they please, to forage for food. Ensure they’re not too big, though, if you have a pet.

If encouraging hedgehogs to the family garden, ensure children know not to feed them bread or milk as these are harmful to them.

Avoid using pesticides and harmful chemicals in the garden. Examples to avoid include weedkiller, snail or slug killers, and patio cleaning chemicals. These are usually potent poisons and are likely to kill garden creatures — even birds and their young, whether ingested directly or via eating of poisoned slugs, snails, or bugs.

Little Cedars Nursery: the Natural Choice for Childcare in Streatham

We offer the very best start for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers 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 nursery and preschool in Streatham that understands exactly how to bring out the very best in every child. During their time with us, we’ll ensure we do everything possible to ensure they’re ‘school ready’ and primed for success by the time they begin formal education at school. We’re located in Streatham but are also conveniently close for families in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Many free, Government-funded places are also supported for eligible families and Ofsted rates Little Cedars as a ‘Good Provider’. So — your child is in the very best hands at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today to register your child for a place, arrange a visit, or ask any questions:

 

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:

 

Guide to National Offer Day for Primary School Admissions

What is National Offer Day in the UK?

National Offer Day is the day that parents receive confirmation of which school their child has been offered for the next academic year. For those with preschoolers who require primary school places starting in the September term, over 92% (2023: 92.5%) will typically get an offer from their first choice and over 98% (2023: 98.6%) usually receive an offer from a school within their top 3 choices. Out of 568,600 primary school applications made last year for the academic year 2023/24, only 8,000 (1.4%) didn’t receive offers for one of their preferred primary schools (statistics are lower for secondary school places).

In today’s guide, we outline how and when parents of under-fives should apply for primary school places, how places are allocated, what to expect on National Offer Day (a.k.a. Primary School Offer Day for preschoolers), and what your options are if you do not receive an offer for your preferred school.

When Will Your Child Receive Their Primary School Offer?

National Offer Day for primary school places falls on the 16th of April (for secondary school places it is the 1st of March). On the ‘offers’ day, those who applied for places online will receive an email* from their local council to confirm the offer. There are lots for the council to send out, so the time of day the email arrives with you will vary from location to location. Also note that, in years when those dates coincide with a Bank Holiday or a weekend, the offers will instead be sent during the next working day.

* Some local authorities also allow parents to view offers through the council’s admissions portal/system.

When is Compulsory School Age?

Although most children begin school in the September following their fourth birthday, they have the option to start a little later if preferred. Compulsory School Age, which is the age they must be when they begin full-time education by law, is whichever comes first of the 31st of December, March or August following their fifth birthday. In practice, though, most children in the UK begin school at the age of four and reach five during their first year at school.

When to Apply for Your Child’s Primary School Place

For primary school places, you must apply in advance when your child is 3 or has just turned 4 at the time of application, even for those wishing to start school later.

Applications for September Reception year primary or infant school places should usually be made no later than 15 January that year but can be made as early as September of the previous year.

Example:

For a child starting primary school at the age of 4 in September 2024, apply any time from 1 September 2023 to 15 January 2024.

‘In-Year’ Applications:

For one reason or another, for example after moving house, some families may have to apply for a primary school place for their child after the school year has started. Such ‘in-year’ applications will obviously not follow the usual dates outlined above and, once an offer has been received, the child will usually begin at the agreed primary school at the start of the next full term.

What If Your Application is Late?

“Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.” (Gov.uk)

It’s worth noting that applications may not be processed until some time in May if they are received late. As May is long after the processing of all those that were received on time has occurred, the odds of getting a school place at your first choice are potentially reduced if you’re late. In other words, if you want to stand a better chance of getting your preferred school for your child, don’t be late with your application! Late applications may also require the use of a separate ‘late application’ form.

How & Where to Apply

Families should apply for school places for their children through their local council even if they are applying for a school in a different area. They should also still apply if they are applying for a school that’s linked directly to their child’s existing nursery/setting. When applying, you’ll be able to list your preferred schools in order and, subject to available places, this order will be taken into consideration when your application is being processed.

Applications for primary school places can be made online (start here) or via your council’s paper application form. Note, however, that those applying via a paper form may receive the outcome of their application a little later, probably via 2nd Class post, if they didn’t include an email address as part of their application.

Criteria for School Offers

As well as the timing criteria outlined above, other factors will influence how likely you are to receive an offer for your preferred primary school, although the exact factors vary from school to school. They may include how close your child lives to the preferred school, whether your child has a sibling there already, whether you as a parent have worked at the school for 2 or more years, whether it’s a faith school that matches your faith, plus other potential factors.

Accepting Offers for Primary School Places

Be warned that the offer you receive for your child’s primary school place will include a deadline and you will need to accept the offer by that deadline in order to secure your child’s place. If you do not accept it in time, the primary school place may instead be offered to another child.

What If Your Child Is Not Offered a Place at Your Preferred School?

For one reason or another, a small percentage of families (2023: 1.4%) will not receive an offer from a school within those they selected as ‘preferred’ during their application. If your local council is unable to offer your child a place at any of your preferred schools, the council will need to offer you a place at an alternative primary school. Usually, this will be the nearest primary school that has a place available.

Appealing Your Child’s Primary School Offer

If you do not receive an offer for one of your preferred schools for your child, you can appeal the decision if you so wish. The offer letter will give more details about how to do so. More information about the appeals process can be found here.

Note, however, that it may be wise to first accept the offer your child was originally given so that you have something to fall back on should your appeal be unsuccessful. Doing so does not, apparently, adversely affect your appeal. The same is true if you decide to ask to go on a waiting list for a preferred school, and we’ll come to that next.

Primary School Waiting Lists

In the unlikely event that no primary school place is available, or if you do not receive an offer at your preferred school for your child, you can apply for your child to be put on a waiting list. This would be done through your local council although you can also contact the school itself to enquire. Interestingly, you can also put your child’s name on a preferred school’s waiting list even if you have already received and accepted an offer elsewhere.

Good Luck!

We hope this guide has been useful and wish you good luck with your primary school applications. We hope that you receive the choices you hoped for once the primary school offers day arrives.

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 ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham, SW16. Rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’ of early years childcare and education, children under our care receive a first-class start to life in our warm, loving, home-from-home environment. At Little Cedars, we bring out the best in every child to help them become school-ready by the time they leave us to begin school in their fifth year.

Get in touch today to learn more about a nursery place for your child at Little Cedars:

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 Treasure Hunt — a Fun Nature-Based Activity for Children

Preview of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet.Autumn is a time of the year when magical colour changes occur across gardens, parks and landscapes. Leaves can be seen in a multitude of different colours before falling along with seeds, ripening fruits and berries. In autumn, nature shows us a wonderful metamorphosis and it’s a time of beautifully crisp air and clear distant views. It’s all incredible to behold and also offers children some unique seasonal activity opportunities.

One such activity is an autumn treasure hunt. Here, children get to explore the outdoors and see if they can spot some natural delights that are only available at this time of year. For example, can they spot a red leaf? How about a purple one… or a multicoloured one? Can they spot an acorn that’s fallen from an oak tree or spot ‘winged’ seeds falling like helicopters from a sycamore tree? Can they find some conkers or sweet chestnuts? And so on. With that in mind, we’ve put together a free reference sheet featuring 20 such items for children to look out for. Children or accompanying adults can print it out, take it along and tick off each item that’s successfully found. The activity could even be the basis of a competition between multiple children, perhaps with a treat or extra sticker for the child that checks off the most.

So, take a look and save the reference sheet by clicking the preview image below — the file is in Acrobat Reader format, so should work on most devices.

Autumn Treasure Hunt Reference Sheet (Click to Download):

Large view of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet. Click to download and view the Acrobat PDF, then print out.

This activity is great for children because it gets them outdoors, close to nature. And, as we’ve mentioned before, study after study concludes that outdoor play is incredibly important to children and being close to nature has huge benefits for them. However, remember to pay close attention to the safety and well-being of children under your care at all times, especially when playing outdoors — see some examples of things to look out for in the ‘child safety precautions’ box at the end of this article.

We hope you and your child enjoy this wholesome nature-based activity this autumn. It’s a simple but effective way to encourage children to appreciate nature and The Great Outdoors. It’s also a fun way to open their eyes and educate them about the sheer magic of nature and the natural world around them.

A Childcare Nursery for Your Child in Streatham

Are you looking for a high-quality childcare service 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 ProviderThis nature-based activity comes courtesy of the team at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, London SW16. We provide an outstanding early years education and high-quality childcare service for babies and under-fives. We also support free, Government-funded childcare places subject to eligibility and availability.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of your child having a nursery or preschool place at Little Cedars, please get in touch:

Little Cedars may also suit families living or working nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Child Safety Precautions

As with all outdoor play, it’s important to ensure children are safe and kept out of harm’s way. For example, children, particularly the young, should be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times. Also, ensure they understand that they should avoid touching anything potentially poisonous like fungi and berries. Even things like conkers are poisonous if eaten. Acorns contain toxic tannins as well as being a potential choking hazard. Parents/adults should therefore ensure that children know not to put anything anywhere near their mouths when foraging or playing outdoors. And, of course, avoid touching the spiky cases of sweet chestnuts because they’re needle-sharp! These are just examples and supervising adults will need to do their own risk assessments before and during any outdoor activity involving children. More safety tips for outdoor play are available here.

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.

The Power of Outdoor Play in Early Childhood

Outdoor play is one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits.In today’s guide, we take a close look at the incredible importance of outdoor play for children, including those under five. Outdoor play isn’t just about fun; it’s one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits for little ones. So, in this comprehensive article, we’ll explore why outdoor play is so essential for our youngsters and how its effects can be transformative. Let’s take a look…

Safety First!

Before we set off on our outdoor adventure, though, let’s put safety first. Outdoor play should always be supervised, especially for young children. Ensuring a safe environment is paramount. With that in mind, we invite you to explore our top tips for outdoor safety for children, which are designed to help supervising adults keep children secure while they explore and learn in The Great Outdoors.

Adventure Awaits Outdoors!

For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place.For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place. Picture a world where a simple stick can become a wizard’s wand, or a puddle can transform into a treasure-filled lagoon, and you’ll soon understand how exciting the outdoors can be for children. Indeed, outdoor play is the realm of limitless imagination. It offers children a vast canvas in which to immerse themselves into adventures, fostering creativity and igniting their instinctive curiosity.

Learning Through Exploration

The outdoors serves as a natural classroom where hands-on learning experiences provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge. Whether it’s identifying birds, navigating outdoor climbing equipment at the nursery, or discovering minibeasts, the world outside really is a superb teacher.

Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is a powerful catalyst for physical development. Activities like climbing, running, and jumping help children build stronger bodies. It enhances fitness, fine-tunes motor skills, and improves balance and coordination. These physical skills are real foundations for a healthy, active life.

Mental Well-being

A wealth of studies has illuminated the positive impact of outdoor play on children’s mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and thereby goes a long way in promoting overall well-being. The calming, positive influence of nature and the opportunity to disconnect from screens and social media all contribute to a happier, healthier mindset in children of all ages.

Outdoor Play & the EYFS

Outdoor play also seamlessly aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, another key cornerstone of early learning and development. It can potentially support all prime and key areas of the EYFS, especially aiding children in communication and language, physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, and understanding the world.

A Feast for the Senses

Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children's early years.Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children’s early years. That’s a time when millions of new pathways form in the brain with every interaction. From the vibrant colours of flowers to the feel of grass underfoot, children’s senses come alive in the outdoors, especially close to nature. Beyond the five main senses, proprioception (awareness of body position) and vestibular senses (balance and spatial orientation) also play a crucial role during outdoor play.

Screen-Free Zone

In today’s digital age, outdoor play offers a refreshing break from screens like TVs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. It encourages children to be more active and explore the real world. Outdoor play also fosters an interest in a healthier lifestyle that has less screen time and more physical activity. Such a balance is essential for overall well-being, health and fitness and may even contribute to a reduction in rates of obesity in children.

Natural Learning

When they’re playing outside, children will effortlessly learn about nature, the seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions.The outdoors serves as an exceptional classroom. When they’re playing outside, children effortlessly absorb knowledge about the world around them. In the open air, they will naturally learn about nature, seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions. It is true learning through discovery.

Social Bonds

Outdoor play is a catalyst for social interaction too. During outdoor play, children make new friends, strengthen existing friendships, and learn valuable social skills like sharing, cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Such skills are the very building blocks of positive relationships and will stand children in good stead as they grow older.

Communication Skills

Communication skills absolutely flourish outdoors. Whether it’s narrating their imaginative adventures or engaging in conversations with peers, children will refine their communication skills in totally natural ways. Building on communication skills enhances their ability to express themselves effectively, builds confidence and is a key tool for their very survival when you think about it.

Cultivating Creativity

The outdoors gives children a myriad of opportunities for creative play.The open spaces of the outdoors also serve as a wonderful canvas for creativity. Children’s imaginations run wild outdoors as they invent games, stories, and art inspired by the natural world. Outdoor play encourages them to think in new, innovative, ways and to truly embrace their creative potential.

Risk Assessment

Outdoor play also empowers children to assess risks independently. While playing outdoors, they will learn to make decisions, evaluate situations, and take calculated risks, all of which will help prepare them for life’s challenges.

Building Confidence

As children master outdoor activities, their self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence will soon begin to flourish. Such qualities are vital for their overall growth, happiness and indeed future success.

Preparing for School…

All the benefits of outdoor play combine to help prepare children for the transition to school. The skills and lessons that outdoor play has taught them will help them enter formal education equipped with the social, cognitive, and physical skills they need to absolutely thrive.

…& Into Adulthood

Outdoor play is so much more than a childhood pastime; it represents a series of natural stepping stones in a child’s journey towards adulthood. The skills, knowledge, and well-being children gain from outdoor play will serve as the very foundations that will help them throughout their lives.

Outdoor Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that nurture learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience.At Little Cedars Nursery, we really understand the profound impact that outdoor play has on early childhood development. With that in mind, our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that help to nurture every child’s learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience. And let’s not forget one more important factor about outdoor play — it’s simply immense fun for children! As such, it is a perfect way to facilitate learning in the most natural way of all — through play.

Childcare Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, 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 ProviderAs a parent or guardian of a baby or child under five, you’ll naturally want to find the best nursery or preschool in your area, and Little Cedars certainly ticks all the boxes for childcare in the Streatham area. We are rated officially as a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, so you know your child will be in good hands. We’re also convenient to families living/working in the following areas nearby: Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To request a childcare place for your child, a guided tour, or answers to any questions you might have, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help:

 

Outdoor Safety for Kids — Top Tips for Parents

Outdoors, the fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth.As parents and caregivers, we understand the incredible value of outdoor play in our children’s development. The fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth. However, while we encourage outdoor adventures, safety must remain our top priority. With that in mind, this article provides some essential tips and precautions that will help to safeguard children during outdoor play. The suggestions can be used as a checklist, but parents/caregivers should use it only as a starting point and do their own risk assessments.

Always Keep an Eye Out

Let’s start with the most obvious; while outdoor play is a wonderful way for children to learn and grow, constant supervision is crucial. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your child, guiding them away from potential hazards and ensuring their safety at all times.

Set Boundaries and Rules

Ensure boundaries for outdoor play areas are understood by children under your care.Boundaries create a sense of security. Ensure boundaries are understood and that play areas have clear markers. Guide children to understand and respect these boundaries to reduce the risk of children wandering away — and potentially becoming lost.

Be Mindful of Traffic Risks

The bustling world outside may often involve traffic hazards that demand our utmost attention when children are under our care. To mitigate this risk, play areas are best located away from access to busy streets, ensuring that children are shielded from the dangers of passing vehicles. Drives where vehicles are parked are also best avoided.

Teach Stranger Safety

Outdoor play can bring encounters with unfamiliar faces. Teach your child about stranger danger and the importance of staying close only to trusted adults. Clear guidelines should be established in regard to possible interactions with strangers.

Stay Clear of Water Dangers

Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision.Children are naturally drawn to water, but it can pose significant risks. Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision. Even shallow water can be dangerous for little ones.

Mind the Terrain

Outdoor terrain can be uneven, and young children are prone to trips and falls. Before allowing your child to play, scan the area for potential trip hazards and clear them away. Teach your child to navigate uneven ground carefully.

Climbing Structures & Fall Prevention

It's important to teach children a safe approach to climbing.Although they’re young, children want to explore and will naturally want to climb as they get older. It’s therefore important to teach children a safe approach to climbing. This should include emphasising the importance of staying within safe heights to prevent falls, assisting with climbing technique and, of course, risk-assessing what they should and shouldn’t attempt to climb in the first place.

Sharp Objects & Tools

Children are naturally drawn to exploring their surroundings, which includes investigating potentially dangerous items. Therefore thoroughly inspect new play areas to remove sharp objects, tools, or equipment that could harm curious hands.

Beware Choking Hazards

Children’s natural curiosity when exploring may often lead them to want to put objects in their mouths. This can obviously be extremely dangerous, so ensure vigilance at all times. Inspect play areas to remove small items that could pose choking hazards, ensuring a safe space for our little ones to explore.

Flora & Fauna Hazards

Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.While exploring nature is exciting, it’s essential to be aware of potential dangers. Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.

Animal Encounters

Nature’s wonders may include encounters with wildlife. While we might cherish these experiences, we should take precautions to ensure outdoor spaces are free from potentially harmful creatures and educate children on respectful interactions with animals.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Promote hygiene by teaching children the importance of cleanliness during and after outdoor play.Outdoor exploration sometimes involves contact with dirt and mud. Promote hygiene by ensuring handwashing facilities are readily available and teaching children the importance of cleanliness after outdoor play.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Proper attire is crucial for outdoor play. Dress your child in weather-appropriate clothing, including hats and sunscreen for sun protection. When the weather becomes colder, layering of clothing will help to keep children warm in comfort.

Be Prepared for Changing Weather

Weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before outdoor playtime. Be prepared with a store of sunscreen when it’s sunny and raincoats or extra layers for when it turns cold and rainy. Suspend play during lightning storms or extreme weather conditions. Be mindful of slipping hazards when it’s wet.

Hydration and Breaks

Outdoor play can be physically demanding, so be sure your child stays hydrated. Provide breaks for rest and water to prevent exhaustion.

Allergen Awareness

Some children may have allergies triggered by outdoor elements. If your child is affected, be sure to maintain an allergen-free environment by regularly cleaning and inspecting play areas and educating friends and relatives about allergy management around your child.

Fire Safety Awareness

Children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and be supervised during fire-related activities.Campfire stories can be delightful and intriguing for children, but we must always prioritise fire safety. If you decide to expose them to it, children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and always supervised during any fire-related activities. Fostering a responsible understanding around fire safety is paramount.

Foster a Love for Nature

Encourage your child to appreciate and respect nature. Teach them to observe wildlife from a safe distance and not to disturb animals or their habitats. This helps to keep children and wildlife safe.

In Summary

As parents and caregivers, our priority is the safety and well-being of our children. By using these essential starting points, you can help ensure that your child’s outdoor play is not only fun and educational but also safe and secure. At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, we share your commitment to providing a safe environment for outdoor exploration. Our dedicated staff, thoughtfully designed play areas, and safety-conscious practices further enhance  the outdoor experiences of children under our care. Together, therefore, we can create enduring memories of outdoor adventures that are as secure as they are captivating, enriching and fun for our little ones.

Little Cedars Nursery: High-Quality Childcare in Streatham

A Childcare Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

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 ProviderIf you are looking for the best nurseries or preschools in the Streatham area, do consider Little Cedars. We offer an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers under five. We’re also conveniently close to those living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To apply for a childcare place, arrange a guided tour of the setting, or ask us any questions, please simply choose an option to contact us below:

Also: See Our Indoor Safety Guide

The above is a useful companion article to our earlier guide, 20 Ways to Childproof Your Home, which concentrates mostly on indoor safety. Click the bold blue link for more information.

Sowing & Growing Wildflowers - A Nature-Based Activity for Kids

This nature-based activity benefits the children taking part, the natural environment, pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole.In today’s guide, we outline a simple but powerful nature-based activity that will be both fun and educational for children and under-fives. This one is all about how to sow wildflower seeds. Once growing, these will bring beauty and wonder to any setting. The activity will also complement our recent Butterfly-Spotting Activity for Kids as it should result in exactly that kind of little visitor to the child’s world — along with bees, insects, hoverflies, damselflies, and possibly even dragonflies and birds. Sowing and growing wildflowers really is very simple and the results will be beneficial in a multitude of ways. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to approach this excellent children’s activity and learn why it’s so worthwhile.

The Benefits of This Nature-Based Activity

This type of nature-based activity benefits everyone and everything, including the children taking part, the natural environment, little pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole. Let’s take a quick look at some of those benefits:

  • Growing wildflowers is a fun and educational activity for children, including under-fives.Children benefit very much from spending time in nature, as we outlined in our article entitled “Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children” last year. There is an incredible array of benefits associated with spending time in nature, so click the bold blue link above to learn more if you haven’t already read that enlightening article.
  • The activity will not only be fun for children, but it will also be educational. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, reproduction, care of the environment, care of and empathy for living things and also they will learn new skills and interests. It could even lead to a life-long hobby or career!
  • The wildflowers themselves will, of course, benefit as it gives them a home and somewhere to propagate/reproduce.
  • Pollinators like bees, butterflies and other insects will enjoy feeding on the pollen found in the wildflowers once they bloom. Pollen is absolutely essential to their survival.
  • The pollinators are thus called because they pollinate both the wildflowers and other plants and crops. By pollinating them, it allows them to reproduce new generations. That’s essential to the natural world and all the creatures in it. Crop reproduction is also, of course, essential to our own survival.

Choosing Seeds With Your Child

Children can help with the wildflower selection process and may enjoy doing so. There are several factors that may help children decide which to grow and parents can help steer children if needed. Factors may include:

  • You can choose which wildflowers your child will grow using various factors like colour, style and whether the wildflowers will attract pollinators.Colour(s) — Children can help decide whether to grow wildflowers of just one colour, a limited 2- or 3-colour palette or perhaps multiple colours. If parents have an existing colour theme in their garden or plant area, they may wish to point children in a particular direction, so as to keep that colour theme going.
  • Type and style — Children may also take a shine to a particular type of wildflower. A good example might be poppies, which mostly have the same style of flower but are available in different sizes and colours.
  • Compatibility with wildlife — Choosing wildflowers is a great opportunity to teach children that their choices have real-world effects on nature and the environment. For example, nudging children towards wildflowers that are pollinator-friendly, i.e. attracting creatures like bees and butterflies, is a great lesson to give them. It also adds an extra facet to the entire activity as they will later benefit from being able to see such adorable visitors coming to their wildflowers.
  • Cost and availability — Cost and availability are additional factors as some wildflower seeds may be harder or more expensive to obtain than others. Again, parents/caregivers can explain such factors to children and it will teach them further valuable lessons.

Where to Get Seeds for Your Child

There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money:

  • There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money.Free wildflower seeds can be harvested from existing wildflowers — either from your own wildflowers if you have them, or from those found in the wild along hedgerows and similar (N.B. only do so in moderation and for personal use). Timing will, of course, be critical because seeds will only be available at certain times of the year, i.e. when the wildflowers have “gone to seed” at the end of their flowering period.
  • Seed swap schemes may also be available in your neighbourhood or, if not, perhaps a scheme could be started amongst friends or with other parents at your child’s nursery or school.
  • Free or almost free seeds can sometimes be available from charities, organisations and even commercially if you get the timing right. Try a Google search for “free wildflower seeds UK” and you may be pleasantly surprised by the number of sources that will happily send you free wildflower seeds for your child to grow. Others, like Just Bee Honey, will send you free wildflower seeds if you cover the cost of postage (some simple terms apply).
  • Commercially-sold wildflower seeds are also, of course, readily available to buy from local outlets, supermarkets and online. If searching online, perhaps try a search query like “wildflower seeds for children” or “bee-friendly wildflower seeds for kids” or similar. You will be met with lots of options to choose from, so filtering down to pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds and those that are suitable for children to grow will help to narrow down the huge range of choices.

Safety First

This type of activity should be supervised by a responsible adult, paying particular care regarding hazards (e.g. ponds), potentially poisonous plants/seeds, and hygiene (e.g. contaminated soil, germs, etc.). Adults can also consider teaching children about the identification and mitigation of such dangers during the activity. They will thereby also learn about self-care, personal hygiene, risk assessment and suchlike. Children and adults should wash hands etc. with soap and water following completion of this activity. Learn more safety tips for children here.

The Activity — Instructions

Once you have obtained seeds, the rest is very easy and children will enjoy and learn from taking part in the various activities involved.

Teach the Importance of Timing

Timing is an important factor because you/your child will need to plan and know when the wildflower plants and flowers will actually appear. Apart from over winter, wildflower seeds will typically take between 60 and 80 days to grow and begin blooming. Start sowing no earlier in the year than March. Mid-to-late March is good as spring will arrive around the third week of that month here in the UK and it will therefore be nicer for children outdoors. Your child can sow seeds as late in the year as mid-October or even early November if there is no snow or frost, but they should be aware that planting the seeds that late in the year mean that they will not grow until spring of the following year.

If they want to attract the most butterflies to their flowers, then a good time to sow seeds is mid-May as peak butterfly time is 60 to 80 days later.

Choosing a Location to Sow the Seeds

Wildflower seeds can be sown in flower beds, pots, containers, window boxes or indeed on lawns if a ‘wildflower meadow’ type scene is preferred. The following guidelines for sowing should help but also read any specific instructions on seed packets if these have been purchased.

Simple Option:

Sowing a Wildflower ‘Meadow’

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.Sowing seeds on existing lawns that you/your child want as a wildflower meadow is simply a case of scattering seeds on the lawn, ideally spaced out in such a way that they don’t have to compete with each other once they start growing. Then ensure that the area of lawn is kept moist by either rain or, if there is no rain, regular sprinkling from a watering can fitted with a sprinkling head (a.k.a. ‘rose head’). Children may need to remind adults not to cut the lawn thereafter, of course!

Advanced Option:

Sowing in Soil – Just 6 Easy Steps

For sowing in locations where there is soil rather than grass, a little preparation will be required.

  1. Identify your intended spot, whether that’s an area in an existing garden flower bed, flower pots or containers, window boxes or grow bags on a patio or balcony. A fairly sunny spot is recommended.
  2. Ensure the soil is free of weeds. Children can help with weeding, if necessary, so long as they have guidance from an adult and are mindful of safety and hygiene considerations.
  3. The top inch or two of soil should be loosened, for example, using a rake if it’s a flower bed.
  4. Help your child to sprinkle seeds evenly so they’re not spaced too close to one another, otherwise, they’ll have to compete once they start growing. Sprinkling carefully from a height will help, e.g. by raising an arm, and/or simply sprinkling one pinch at a time with care.
  5. Once scattered, it’s best to ensure the seeds are embedded in the soil otherwise they could be blown away or even eaten by wildlife. Therefore the soil can be patted down so it’s no longer loose. This will help keep seeds in place.
  6. Lastly, your child will need to be reminded to keep the area moist through regular watering, while taking care not to over-water.

Then wait for nature’s magic to happen!

Wait and Watch Out for the Wildflowers

Children will love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting their home-grown wildflowers.Children will love it once the wildflowers begin to grow and later bloom. They’ll also love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting and the results of the activity may indeed give them a great sense of accomplishment. The whole process and the results are quite magical when you think about it.

Don’t Forget — the Final Step for Children

Once the wildflowers are past the prime of their flowering stage, remind children to look out for the appearance of seeds and seed pods. You can either teach your child to leave these to self-seed for next year or help them to safely harvest the seeds. These can be stored somewhere safe and dry, ready to repeat the entire process next time.

All in all, this nature-based activity is a perfect way to demonstrate the circle of life to children.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Childcare Service in Streatham, Southwest London

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 ProviderWe hope you have found this nature-based activity useful and of interest to your little one. Little Cedars Nursery represents an outstanding choice for weekday childcare, offering a high-quality early years education for babies and children under five. We are a nursery, as well as a preschool, in Streatham, in Southwest London, so may suit families with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. We nurture all children under our care so that, by the time they leave us, they have become the very best versions of themselves and are as ‘school-ready’ as they can possibly be. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes.

Why not arrange a guided visit with your child, so you can see the setting in action? Ask us questions, see how your little one fits in and, if you like the nursery/preschool, we’d love you to apply for a place for your child. Please select a button to get started:

While Little Cedars Nursery is based in Streatham, it’s also conveniently close for families in and around Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

The Progress Check at 2 – it's purpose, who & what are involved, etc.

At Little Cedars Nursery, we understand the importance of monitoring growth in children’s learning and development and ensuring they are reaching their full potential. With that in mind, today’s article is a detailed guide to the Progress Check at Two. An essential milestone in children’s early development, the assessment leads to profound benefits for young children. So, today, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Progress Check at Two, its purpose, what to expect, and how parents* can actively participate.

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a comprehensive evaluation conducted for children who have reached the age of two. This assessment, completed prior to their third birthday, examines their progress across various essential areas of their learning and development journey. Its primary aim is to identify any areas where additional support or intervention1 may be needed. By closely monitoring children’s progress, early years providers can tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs and thereby ensure children’s optimum growth and success.

1. In cases where specific educational needs or disabilities are identified, a collaboration between the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and relevant health professionals or specialists will be built into the support plan that’s tailored to the child’s requirements.

The Significance of the Age of 2

The age of two is a pivotal period in a child’s development. It is during this stage that a child’s progress in learning, speech, language, cognitive abilities, physical growth, and social-emotional development becomes increasingly clear. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at this early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track. A solid foundation for the child’s long-term growth and success can then be built.

Key Areas of Focus

The Progress Check at 2 concentrates on children’s progress primarily in the three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. These are:

  1. Communication and Language,
  2. Physical Development, and
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

However, those involved in conducting the assessment often also evaluate children’s progress in the remaining four ‘specific’ areas of the EYFS curriculum. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and lastly Expressive Arts and Design.

Preparing Children for School

Initiating the Progress Check at 2 and providing early support increases the likelihood of children overcoming developmental challenges before starting school. This proactive approach prevents setbacks during this crucial period in children’s lives. Without such intervention, children may face difficulties at the beginning of their educational journey, potentially hindering their overall growth and learning long into the future. Without a doubt, the Progress Check at 2 is vital in facilitating a smooth transition into school and fostering children’s long-term success.

Who is Involved?

The Progress Check at 2 is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years childcare provider, their parents and, if applicable, their health visitor and any external professionals that may be involved in the child’s early years learning and development.

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

The importance of parental involvement during a child’s early years education cannot be overstated. Such involvement is particularly invaluable to early years educators and childcare providers during the progress check. Ultimately, it is also crucially important to the child being assessed. Parents are therefore encouraged to share any observations or concerns that they may have regarding their child’s development. Their insights, combined with those of the child’s childcare/early years provider and those of any external professionals (if applicable), create a holistic picture of a child’s growth and progress. It thereby enables providers like Little Cedars Nursery to organise tailored support to address children’s specific needs most effectively.

The Report

Following the assessment, parents will receive a written summary of the report. This outlines their child’s achievements, strengths, and any areas for further development. The report serves as a valuable tool that allows all involved parties to track a child’s progress over time and to devise a plan of action to support their individual growth trajectory. It also serves as a basis for ongoing communication and collaboration between the childcare/early years provider and the child’s family.

To Sum Up

The Progress Check at 2 is a significant milestone in every child’s early development journey. At Little Cedars Nursery, we are committed to fostering a supportive and engaging environment that nurtures each child’s unique abilities. By actively participating in the progress check process, parents are ensuring that their child receives the necessary support and resources to absolutely flourish. Together, we can help children reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful educational journey ahead.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of Childcare & Early Years Education in Streatham

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.

Little Cedars is a good nursery — and that’s official, says OfstedOur nursery and preschool are in Streatham, SW16 but are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. We may therefore suit families living or working in those locations.

At Little Cedars Nursery free childcare is available as all Government childcare funding schemes are supported for eligible families (follow the bold links for more information).

Please choose a button below if you’d like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask a question or arrange a guided tour to see how well your child would fit in. We’ll be delighted to help!

A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’  is Different to the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they’re Intertwined

As well as the ‘Progress Check at 2’, there is another, related assessment called the ‘2-Year Review’. Although both occur around the same age, they each serve distinct purposes. In contrast to the Progress Check at 2, the 2-Year Review is more about the child’s health and well-being. It is undertaken by healthcare professionals such as health visitors and assesses overall health. This includes things like immunisation status, physical and mental development, well-being, and parental support. Although separate, the two reviews share overlapping areas and, for that reason, are often conducted simultaneously. The result is thereby a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s development at this key age.

* To avoid repetition in this article and for the sake of brevity, the term ‘parents’ is used as a placeholder for parents, guardians or caregivers.