Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children

Nature is incredibly beneficial to children.It’s amazing how much nature benefits children, particularly in their early years when they’re finding out about the world around them — and also learning about themselves. There have been many studies into the importance of nature, to youngsters in particular, and the studies all reach a similar conclusion — nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children. Today we’ll explore the topic and learn why children should regularly access the natural world.

Multiple studies show that nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children.

Nature’s Benefits for Children, Particularly in their Early Years

So, let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of nature to children, especially in their early years.

Time spent in nature, even for just a short time, has been shown to restore children’s cognitive abilities, improve attention spans and boost mental resilience. Studies even showed this to be the case when just a view of nature was available from the classroom. For this reason, experts have suggested that education settings will benefit children more if they are made into more ‘green’ environments in terms of there being flowers, grass and trees nearby.

Another study showed that test results from children were improved after they’d spent time in a woodland environment. Improvements were seen in both accuracy and speed of answers. That’s an amazing result, when you think about it!

Stress is reduced through exposure to a natural environment.Stress is also reduced on both a mental and physiological level through exposure to a natural environment. In studies, stress hormone and blood pressure levels both improved after exposure to nature, helping children both physically and emotionally. Nature seems to be a great way to recharge children’s batteries and lower stress and anxiety, as well as improving attention, engagement and academic performance. That includes improvements in important skills like reading, writing and mathematics.

In a further study from the U.S. in 2019, children growing up around more natural surroundings were — incredibly — found to have improved earnings potential. They even put a figure on it, being almost $30k more in earnings over the course of their lifetimes, simply because they grew up closer to nature.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The list of additional benefits to children, associated with being around nature, includes:

  • Improvements in general fitness, motor skills (both fine and gross) and coordination. Children are usually extremely active and engaged when out in nature and such exercise is very good for them.
  • A better quality of sleep after spending time out in nature.
  • Children discover new skills like leadership, problem-solving, teamwork and even risk-assessment.Improved social skills and even wider circles of friends due to the opportunities offered through outdoor play and adventure.
  • Playing out in and around nature will often also help children discover new skills like leadership, problem-solving, teamwork and even risk-assessment.
  • Creativity also gets a massive boost from nature as children experience different activities, objects, materials and opportunities to allow let their imaginations run riot.
  • Nature is also a feast for the senses, so sensory opportunities are enormous in such environments. These can teach children so much, but should obviously only be undertaken under close adult supervision.
  • Children’s feelings of empathy are also often enhanced through contact with nature. With all of the flora and fauna around, children will soon learn to care more about the wellbeing of other living things.
  • Nature can also encourage children to think on a much deeper level then their usual play allows. For example, they may start to think about about creation, life, their place in the world, their impact on the planet and ultimately about what’s really important.
  • Children who spend time in nature often live greener lifestyles.The new skills, knowledge and freedom that nature gives children also helps them to become more self-confident and independent individuals.
  • Children who spend time around nature also often go on to have greener lifestyles, to protect the planet that they’ve come to appreciate.
  • Many also go on to have lifelong appreciations for the Great Outdoors, its incredible array of environments, plants, trees, insects and animals.

Nature is a great gift and children should be given every opportunity to explore it, learn from it and enjoy everything it has to offer, both spiritually and physically.

Nature for Children in Streatham & Tooting

Little Cedars Nursery has some wonderful facilities for the children. These include an area where they can grow vegetables and also a small animal enclosure, each representing a great way to introduce children to nature on a smaller scale.

We’re also fortunate to be located just a stone’s throw away from large open spaces including Streatham Common, Tooting Common and Tooting Bec Common.

Even in built-up cities like London, immersion in nature is possible e.g. through parks & commons.Even in built-up cities like London, immersion in nature is possible via gardens, parks, commons or, if you’re lucky to have them near you, nature reserves and nature gardens. There are many of these dotted around London, including several not far from our Streatham nursery. So, whether they visit with parents, carers or as part of an outing organised by Little Cedars Nursery, children can benefit from everything that nature has to offer, virtually on their doorstep. With everything it has to offer them, nature is thoroughly recommended for children (and adults) of all ages.

Looking for Good Nurseries or Pre-schools in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery & pre-school in Streatham, offering high quality childcare services 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.Nature has so much to teach children.If you’re searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Streatham, do take a look at Little Cedars Nursery. We’d love to show you and your child around and offer a high quality childcare service for babies and children aged up to five. The nursery is very near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown. It is also close to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may be convenient if you live or work in any of those locations.

Please choose your preferred contact method below to apply for a nursery place, book a tour or ask any questions — we’ll be very happy to help:

The Benefits of Pets & Regular Animal Interaction to Children

Today we explore the benefits of pets and animals for children and outline animal-related initiatives that we're undertaking at the nursery/pre-school in Streatham.Sooner or later, many parents will consider the possible benefits of pets and whether their child should grow up with one. Mostly, the answer is positive because growing up with a pet can benefit children in many important ways — and really enrich their lives. However, looking after animals is a huge responsibility, not least to the animal itself, so should never be taken on lightly. Today we explore the topic and also outline a couple of animal-related initiatives that we have undertaken at our nursery/pre-school in Streatham.

“Although no pet should be the sole responsibility of a child, they can learn to take on certain responsibilities (such as feeding or refilling water bottles) with the aid of a supervising adult.” (1)

The Benefits of Pets & Regular Interactions with Animals

Children are naturally drawn to the cuteness of pets.On a simple level, pets are incredibly cute and great fun to be around. As such, most children are naturally drawn to them.

At a deeper level, animals and pets can teach children a huge amount about nature, the similar sentience of non-humans and ultimately also about themselves. Looking after and living with animals can teach children countless skills and new pieces of knowledge. It can also encourage feelings of responsibility, empathy, compassion, loyalty and happiness — indeed, a pet can be the very best friend a child or indeed adult could ever dream of having. They can be a huge source of comfort when a child needs it, for example when facing one of life’s many challenges. Pets are someone a child can confide in, knowing they can trust them to keep their secrets safe. In fact, children often form deep bonds with pets, often just as deep as they would be with a brother or sister. More often than not, pets simply become part of the family.

A pet can be the very best friend a child could ever dream of having

A pet can be the very best friend a child could ever dream of having.Familiarity with animals and closeness to pets also teaches children respect for other individuals (whether human or non-human), including recognition of the consequences of their actions towards them. It shows them how to care for others too. It can also teach them patience (e.g. when training) and even some of the harder lessons about life cycles.

Animals such as dogs also encourage children to get out and about on walks, perhaps out in nature, which is all good for both heart and soul. Regular playing, walking and interaction with pets can positively transform physical things like blood pressure and chemical levels in the body as well as helping children when they’re feeling down or lonely.

Considerations

Regular playing, walking and interaction with pets can positively transform both physical and mental health.Introducing animals like dogs and cats to the household is quite a life-changing thing. After all, they are the kinds of animals that pretty much become one of the family and, as such, require significant time, care and attention for their own wellbeing. They also often live freely within the house and require access to the garden and, for dogs, regular walks outdoors. They are quite an undertaking, so the decision to introduce one needs careful and thorough consideration. Many animals form deep, lifelong bonds and you will become their family just as much as they become yours. So, that lifelong commitment is an important one — they are absolutely not unfeeling objects to be treated like just a toy.

We have our own chickens that children can care for at the nursery in Streatham.Pets like hamsters, rabbits, budgies and guinea pigs require less space in the household, of course. Indeed, some types of pets can be housed outdoors in suitable hutches. They’re also small enough to be temporarily moved elsewhere, for example to a friend or neighbour when you go on holiday. However, despite them being small, they too have their own needs and wants, including your care and regular attention. Giving them this, however, will be rewarded and children who spend significant time with any pet will soon begin to pick up on each one’s distinct personality and any likes or dislikes. Treat them well and pets will become trusting and friendly. Dogs, in particular, are incredibly loyal when treated well.

The important thing with all types of pet, though, is to ensure that your child understands that they’re not a toy and they have real feelings and needs of their own. Taking on a pet requires commitment, money for food and bedding etc. and a significant investment of time.

Research First

Children at Little Cedars nursery & pre-school will be able to watch fluffy chicks grow into adult chickens.Just like humans, animals need care, proper food, fresh water, friendship, comfort and stimulation. If they don’t get these essentials, they may lead miserable and potentially even foreshortened lives. So, before a family takes on a pet, it’s best to thoroughly research the particular type of animal and exactly what they will require, from food, nutrition and bedding to stimulation (games, exercise etc.), contact with others and medical needs. Families should find out about all these things before taking an animal on. For some types of animal, for example dogs, even the breed and background is important. That’s for the wellbeing of both the pet and the family itself. Remember too that some animals will need training, for example toilet training in the case of cats, dogs and perhaps even ‘house’ rabbits. Some dogs may also require behaviour training. Everything needs factoring in beforehand including things like who will look after the pets while adults are at work, what happens when you go on holiday, who will exercise the dog, clean out the rabbit hutch regularly, feed the rabbit or clean the budgie cage.

Chickens & Butterflies at Little Cedars Day Nursery, Streatham

We also have our own rabbits, Miffy and Bella, at Little Cedars Nursery.At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, we believe that children will learn a huge amount through contact with animals. For this reason, we have our own chickens and rabbits at the setting — and the children adore them! Our rabbits are named Miffy and Bella and indeed naming them naturally encourages children to treat them like individuals rather than something to play with.

We are hatching some fertilised eggs in an egg incubator.We are also raising some new chickens from fertilised eggs that we currently have in an incubator. We’ll teach children all about the life cycle of chickens with these. Once they hatch, children are sure to love the adorable little chicks that will emerge and they’ll be able to watch them grow up from fluffy chicks to adult chickens. When old enough, the chickens will join our existing, fully-grown chickens that we keep for the children in our animal enclosure outside.

Children are able to care for the various animals that we keep and this gives them valuable life lessons as well as being enjoyable and educational. It also means that the animals get love, attention and stimulation, which is so much better than being stuck in a closed hutch all day.

A newly-hatched butterfly, that recently left its cocoon, at the nursery.We also have a caterpillar/butterfly enclosure indoors at the setting. Through this, children can follow the incredible life cycle of butterflies, starting off as tiny eggs, hatching into caterpillars, building cocoons and eventually emerging as incredibly beautiful butterflies. This is an amazing metamorphosis for children to witness and teaches them so much about the wonder of the natural world as well as the individual needs of some of its creatures.

Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school 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.If you are looking for the best childcare nursery or pre-school in Streatham area, please do consider Little Cedars. We offer high quality childcare on weekdays for babies and children aged up to five years old. We’re also conveniently located if you are looking for good nurseries or pre-schools in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

Please use one of the buttons below to apply for a place for your child, arrange a visit, to call us or to ask us any questions — we’re here to help:

20 Ways to Prepare Children for School

A guide to the ways parents can help prepare under-5s for starting school in Reception Year at age 5.In a follow-up to last month’s post about transitioning under-fives to nursery or pre-school, we now outline 20 ways parents can help prepare children for starting school as they approach the age of five. We’ve broken this down into a list of 20 easy-to-action suggestions:

1. A Good Early Years Education

Our absolute topmost tip is to ensure that children attend a good nursery/pre-school well before the age of five. Study after study has shown that a good early years education gives little ones a massive head start in terms of school readiness, with long-term benefits continuing even into adulthood.

2. Help Learning at Home

Parental involvement with children's early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills.Parental involvement with children’s early years education has also been shown to boost achievement, morale, attitude, behaviour and social skills enormously. These are all things that will help them to hit the ground running once they start school. Home learning is even more powerful when designed to synchronise with what children are learning at their early years setting or school (like a two-pronged approach).

3. Read With Them

Reading with children in their early years can help boost language skills by 8 months — before they're even five!Reading with children, well ahead of them beginning school, has also been shown to boost their language skills, incredibly by the equivalent of as much as 8 months before they’re even five! The key is to read with them; not just to them. Learn more about the benefits of reading with under-fives here.

4. Forewarn Them

Forewarning children that they will be starting school around the age of five is also a sensible thing to do. It should be mentioned multiple times before they reach the age of five, so children learn to expect and accept it. Just treat it as normal (which, of course, it is to you and I) and be enthusiastic about it.

5. Listen Up

Children will fit in better at school if they are well prepared for it.Listen to any reservations your child may have about the prospect of starting school. Listening is important, so be on the look-out for any concerns and reservations they may have.

6. Answer Questions

Try to read between the lines too, as they may not be able to fully articulate everything they’re feeling at such a young age. Answer any questions they may have about school and take time to ensure they understand the answers.

7. Reassure Them

At all times reassure children when discussing anything about starting school and life there once they’ve started. Put their minds at rest. Focus on the positives. Mention the many benefits of school, so they look forward to it rather than getting anxious about it. After all, it’s fun, educational, they will make lots of new friends and there will be lots of new equipment to play with — and so on. You can also mention your own positive memories of school so that they know you’ve been through it yourself.

8. Encourage Independence

Nurturing children's independence well ahead of them beginning school will really help them.Children will greatly benefit in Reception Year at school if they’re already independent when they start. So, nurturing aspects of their independence well ahead of them beginning school is a good policy. For example, ensuring they know how to independently look after personal hygiene, dress themselves, tie shoe laces, dress, use the toilet, pack their bag and so on. If they can do this before they start school, it will help them enormously.

9. Encourage Social Skills

Social skills are another thing to nurture in children well before they begin school. Communication skills will help them to get on. Good manners, politeness and knowing right from wrong will also help them fit in, make friends and be positively viewed from the ‘get go’.

10. Identify A Friend

Ensuring children know a friendly face when they begin school will help them settle in better.Parents/guardians will also be wise to identify one or more of their children’s friends (or potential friends) that will also be starting school at the same time. Ensure they meet up and play regularly, before they’ve started school. In this way, there will be a friendly face at the school from the moment they start. It’ll help them feel more at home and less alone.

11. Show Them a Prospectus/Brochure/Website

It’s also a wise idea for children to acquaint themselves as much as possible with their new school, before they actually start. Therefore, obtaining a prospectus, brochure and/or taking a good look at the school’s website together would be an excellent idea for children. It’ll really help them to know what to expect.

12. Visit Ahead of Starting

Even better is a physical visit. Schools will offer open days or one can usually be arranged for children and their parents. Having a tour will help children get to know their way around the school, see the facilities, ask questions and bring the school into much clearer focus for the child. It’ll make it more tangible and less of a daunting prospect for the child if they already know it. Seeing the facilities and equipment may even excite them.

13. Pre-Sync Children’s Body Clocks

Getting enough sleep is essential for children's success at school.Several weeks before they start school, children should start to synchronise their day with the timings of the new school day. This should include getting up time in the morning and ideally even timings for lunch and suchlike. In this way, children’s body clocks will have adjusted in good time, before they actually start.

14. Ensure They Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critically important for children. After all, they do not want to end up struggling to stay awake during their school lessons. Therefore setting a sensible bedtime — and sticking to it — is crucially important. A gradual wind-down towards bedtime will help them sleep well as will the avoidance of electronic screens in the run-up to bedtime.

15. Prepare Their Uniform/Clothing

Ensure that uniform, PE kit, stationery, lunch box & backpack etc. are all ready and labelled.Ensuring children have everything they need, at least a little ahead of starting in Reception, is a good approach. Check that you have all items of their uniform, PE kit, any stationery, lunch box if appropriate, backpack or bag and so on. Is everything marked with your child’s name? Usually it should be.

16. Do a Dummy School Run

Close to the time the child will start at their new school, it is a good idea for parents/guardians to do a dummy run to the school at the actual times the child will eventually be dropped off and picked up. In this way, parents/guardians can ensure that they won’t be late, which might otherwise cause more stress for both themselves and their child. It’s important for the first day, in particular, to be as stress-free as possible.

17. Help Them to Pre-Pack

Getting your child involved in actually packing their backpack or school bag (with supervision) will help them to acquaint themselves with everything in it. That way, if they need something when they’re at school, they’ll know they have it and where they can find it. Doing this the night before, with the exception of food if it needs to be kept refrigerated overnight, will mean there’s also less to do on Day One.

18. Be on Time On the Day

All this pre-planning should make it more likely that you’re on time at the school on the first day. That’s important, as a last-minute rush will only cause unnecessary stress for both you and your little one. So, ensure you leave for the journey in good time. And don’t be late at picking-up time!

19. Reassure & Don’t Fuss on the Day

If you’re anxious, stressed or sad on your child’s first day, don’t let on. It’s best to keep everything positive as far as your child is concerned. So, stay up-beat, calm and reassuring. As we said before, focus on the positives (“you’re going to have so much fun!” etc.) and it will all seem so much more ‘normal’ for your child — as normal as a walk in the park.

20. Ensure They Know Who Will Collect Them

Your child will need to know, ahead of time, who is collecting them.Your child will need to know, ahead of time, who is collecting them. If it’s not you, then they need to know clearly who it will be. They also need to be clear around their general safety rules, stranger danger and so on. Schools should also have safeguarding policies in place for unexpected scenarios. For example, if you are unexpectedly delayed and need to send someone else to collect your child, does the school have a password system in place to ensure that only the right person can collect your child? Find out.

Also, as a parent, you’ll need to ensure you have the requisite contact details for any relevant school personnel (e.g. the number of the main office/reception desk) in case you need to contact them for any reason. They must also have your number and any back-up contact details.

A Good Early Years Education at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, 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.Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham offers babies, toddlers and under-fives a really good early years education as part of its high quality childcare service. If you are looking for the best nurseries or pre-schools in the Streatham area, Little Cedars Nursery really should be on your short list. Children absolutely thrive at the setting, achieving personal bests in every area of the early years curriculum and becoming ‘ school ready’ by the time they leave us to move on to Reception at school. We offer outstandingly good childcare services in Streatham, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown and are convenient for those living or working in Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To arrange a visit, ask any questions or to apply for a place, please get in contact — simply choose a button below.

How to Transition Under-5s to Nursery or Pre-School

Attending nursery or pre-school for the first time is a massive step for little ones. There are ways you can make it plain sailing for them.Whether or not you’ve finished choosing a nursery or pre-school, you’ll need to prepare your little one in the run-up to attending. After all, going from spending all their time with parents/guardians to attending nursery or pre-school is a big step — it’s a massive change for them. In a worst case scenario, they’ll suddenly be in a new, unfamiliar place, surrounded by children and adults that they simply don’t know — and you won’t be there. However, there are a number of things that you can do to make the transition stress-free and even enjoyable for them. Today’s guide shows you exactly how to prepare your little one for nursery or pre-school.

Forewarn & Reassure Them

Well ahead of their nursery/pre-school start day, forewarn them regularly that that’s where they’ll be spending their days in the coming weeks. If you mention it reasonably often, they’ll come to accept the plan and they’ll be more mentally prepared once they start.

Explain why the change will happen too, in terms they’ll understand. For example, you could say it’s so that they can make new friends, play with exciting toys and have fun on amazing equipment you just don’t have at home.

Always be positive about it. Listen to any misgivings they may have too — and don’t let on if you have any yourself, otherwise they may pick up on those and it could worry them. Reassure them that nursery/pre-school is going to be huge fun. And, of course, answer any questions they may have, in a suitably reassuring way. Always take time to talk it over with them if they ask about it.

Help Little Ones With Independence

Helping children to be more independent will really help them once they start at nursery/pre-school.In the weeks or even months before their first day, toddlers and preschoolers will also benefit from becoming more independent. You can help to encourage this. For example, you could help them with toilet training, help them learn to dress themselves, encourage them to deal with personal hygiene, cleaning their hands and so on. Can they pack their own backpack? Do they know how to hang their coat up? Helping them to master all such skills will make them more confident and relaxed once they begin at nursery/pre-school.

Synchronise with the New Routine

Once you have chosen and been accepted by a nursery/pre-school, you’ll easily be able to clarify opening times, lunch times and so on. Using this, you can introduce equivalent timings to your child’s home life, so their body clock gets used to the same timings. This can include timing of snacks, meals, any morning or afternoon naps, but also include bedtime and timing of getting up and dressing in the morning. If your child’s body clock is already synchronised to the daily routine they’ll have at nursery/pre-school, then they’ll be far less likely to become tired once they make a start at the setting. That’s even more true if, of course, they are getting enough sleep. All such factors need to be built into the new routine well ahead of them actually starting. It should then be plain sailing and they’ll arrive at the setting alert and energised, ready for the exciting day ahead.

Take Your Child for a Pre-Visit!

Any good nursery or pre-school will be happy to show you and your child around.Any good nursery or pre-school will be more than willing to show you and your child around the setting — more than once if required. At Little Cedars Nursery, this is commonplace and it gives parents and children the opportunity to see the setting actually ‘in action’. They can ask questions, see all the amazing facilities, equipment and toys, speak to the childcare professionals and see if they feel at home. Settling-in sessions are also an option, prior to fully joining.

A Friendly Face

Knowing someone who will be at the same nursery or pre-school will help them settle in.Such sessions and visits are also a great way for children to get to know other children at the setting, or even to discover that an existing friend already attends. Knowing someone who will be at the same nursery or pre-school will help them settle straight in, being a friendly face to greet them from the moment they start. Getting to know the childcare practitioners ahead of starting is also going to help, of course, so they feel at home, secure and looked after by someone familiar, right from the word go.

The Day They Start

Be positive on the day they start. Be enthusiastic about them starting and remind them what good fun and how exciting it will be. Remember too, not to pass on any anxiety or misgivings you may have to your child – it will not help them to remain relaxed and positive if you’re giving negative signals.

Perhaps put their favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their bag, so it's there if they need it.Being fully prepared is a big part of the success of this important milestone. However, there are a few things parent/carers can do for children on the actual day they start nursery or pre-school.

  • Pack you child’s bag or backpack the evening before, so it’s not done in a rush on the day.
  • Ensure that everything is labelled with your child’s name.
  • If your child doesn’t yet know anyone at the nursery/pre-school, perhaps pop their favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their bag, so it’s there if they need it.
  • Make sure you’re already familiar with the route and then, on the day, set off in good time. Doing so will ensure that, traffic issues permitting, it’s not a rush. And don’t be late — it will only stress both you and your child out on this critically important day.

Remind your child that you'll be seeing them later when it's time for them to come home again.When you drop your child off, don’t make too much of a fuss about being apart from your child. Also, remind them that you’ll be seeing them later when it’s time for them to come home again. This will all reassure them. And, if you can, see if you can pair them up with a friend for them to go in with. Chances are, they’ll then hardly be able to contain themselves with excitement and will not even look back!

Starting at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, 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.Babies, toddlers and preschoolers will always get a warm welcome at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Our childcare professionals are all adept at putting children at ease from the moment they start. They’ll settle them in and ensure they are happy, safe and enjoying themselves right from the start.

If you are looking for the best nursery or pre-school in Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Nursery. We give children an amazing start in life, bringing out the very best in them in every area. We offer a first class childcare service in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown and also conveniently close to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To contact us, arrange a visit, apply for a place or simply ask a question, please use one of the buttons below and we’ll be happy to help.

Rough Guide to Raising Children as Vegetarians

Today we look at the types of foods and nutrients that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.In our last post, we asked “is a vegetarian diet safe for your children?” and, in essence, the answer was yes, so long as they get all the nutrients they need. What’s more, we discovered a huge range of benefits of vegetarianism. These included significant benefits to both health and to the planet. In today’s post, we’ll follow up by looking at the types of food groups, vitamins and minerals that are essential for children as part of a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

Infant Milk

While little ones are still drinking milk and haven’t yet moved onto solids, it’s fairly simple. Breast milk will obviously contain just about everything a baby or toddler could want, with one possible exception: Vitamin D. The NHS recommends that breast-fed infants should take a Vitamin D supplement, which is available in easy-to-administer drop form.

For those children still drinking only breastmilk or formula milk, it's straight forward.For those on dairy-based formula milk, it’s pretty much plain sailing too. Because vegetarians — as opposed to vegans — are OK eating dairy-based food, formula milk is generally fine for them. The most popular types are based on cows’ milk, although several other animal milks are also available. So long as dairy-based formula milk is high quality, given in the right quantities, consumed at the right intervals and is age appropriate for the child, it contains all the nutrients and vitamins needed. That’s without the need to give additional supplements too.

There are an incredible number of different types of formula milk, including specialist varieties and others that are not based on dairy milk at all. Formula milk is a huge topic in its own right, so we have now published our separate Quick Guide to Milk for Babies & Infants here.

The 4 Essential Food Groups After Weaning

Once they’re weaned off milk, a well-balanced diet for children will include food from all four of the main food groups. These are:

1. Dairy

It’s important that dairy products for children are all pasteurised, basically for the good of their health and wellbeing. Infants can have whole (full fat) cow’s milk mixed in with food or added during cooking, but must not use it as a drink until they’re a year old. We’ll go into much more detail in our milk guide next month. Dairy products are wonderful sources of calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients.

2. Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are generally full of vitamins, minerals like potassium and fibre.Fruit and vegetables are really a given because they pack so much goodness, including many vitamins, minerals like potassium and also fibre. Fresh vegetables and fruit are ideal but, failing that, frozen, tinned and even dried varieties are also OK.

3. Starch

Starchy foods provide energy by breaking down glucose as well as providing a range of nutrients like iron, calcium, folate and B vitamins. They are also another source of fibre, which is important for digestive health. Starchy foods include pasta, bread, potato, grains and cereal like oats. Wholegrain varieties are generally best for human health.

4. Protein

Protein is a little more complex for vegetarians, simply because they don’t eat the most obvious sources of it — meat, fish and seafood. However, there are lots of sources of protein, as we’ll see shortly. Protein is essential as a key building block for the body. It builds muscles, bones, hair, nails, tissues and organs as well as providing Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and amino acids. Health professionals recommend that children and adults get protein from a variety of different sources and have at least two portions of protein per day.

Sources of protein that are suitable for vegetarians include:

  • Houmous is a good source of protein but choose a smooth variety to avoid choking.Tofu, also known as bean curd, which is made from soy.
  • Lentils and pulses, including peas, beans, chickpeas, sugar snaps etc.
  • Houmous, made from chickpeas, is also therefore a good source of protein but ensure only the smoothest variety is given to infants, so as to avoid possible choking.
  • Grains contain protein, but should be served in ground form for very young infants, again so as to avoid possible choking. Examples include oats, barley, rice and quinoa. Quinoa is unique in containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • Nuts are also a great source of protein but should be served to infants in smooth ‘butter’ form to avoid choking risks. Examples include peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and walnut butter (a great source of Omega-3).
  • Seed butters are also great sources of protein.
  • Lastly, there is also a cross-over between dairy products (see above) and protein because cheese and yoghurt also contain protein.
  • For vegetarians who are OK eating eggs, these are also an excellent source of protein as well as Vitamin B12.

Please note: although great as a source of protein for adults, Quorn is not recommended as a regular meat replacement for children. While it’s great for protein, fibre and making them feel full, it’s low in fat, so will not offer sufficient energy release to children during their early years.

Special Mention: Iron

Iron is incredibly important as part of a healthy, balanced diet for children as well as adults. However, there are certain foods that block its absorption into the body. These include:

  • Tea.
  • Some whole grains and legumes i.e. those that contain ‘phytates’.
  • Dairy foods that contain ‘casein’.
  • Eggs and dairy foods containing a specific type of calcium.

In order to counteract this, firstly ensure that the child has a varied diet. In addition to this:

  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, which otherwise block the absorption of iron.any pulses, seeds or grains should be sprouted, cooked or soaked before consumption (as appropriate);
  • any foods that block iron absorption should be consumed separately to main meals;
  • Vitamin C should be included in the meals as this binds to any phytates, thereby neutralising their effect on iron absorption. Citrus fruits, berries and juice (diluted 1 part juice to 10 parts water) are rich in Vitamin C, as are vegetables including broccoli, spinach, greens, asparagus, tomatoes and many others.

We hope that this rough guide to bringing up children as vegetarians has been useful. If so, we recommending reading the NHS’s guidelines for bringing up a healthy child on a vegetarian or vegan diet here. It is also always wise to obtain advice from your child’s health visitor, midwife, doctor or other healthcare professional.

Vegetarian & Vegan Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for at Little Cedars Nursery. These and any other special diets are supported fully by our in-house chef, who prepares food freshly each day as part of our healthy eating regimen at the setting. Little Cedars is one of the best Streatham nurseries and pre-schools for babies and under-fives. It’s also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. To register for a nursery place for your child, to arrange a visit or to ask any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help:

Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe for Children?

This month is often referred to as ‘Veganuary’, which is why vegan and vegetarian food, facts and meal ideas are all over social media at the moment. Parents/carers have many different reasons for raising their children on a plant-based diet. Whether it’s for health reasons, for the protection of animals, to protect the planet, for religious reasons or simply a matter of taste, more and more people are ‘going veggie’. Raising children as vegetarians or vegans is a natural extension of that. Today, we’ll begin to take look at considerations around vegetarianism for under-fives and children in general.

Studies show that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is a healthy diet.Let’s first take a look at the benefits of vegetarianism …

The Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

Study after study has shown that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is generally a healthy diet. That ‘well-balanced’ element is a crucial one, however, and we’ll come to that later. That said, it’s widely accepted that a vegetarian diet:

    • is good for the heart, reducing the risk of getting heart disease;
    • usually leads to lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), which could otherwise cause strokes;
    • reduces the risk of developing cancer;
    • lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing hypertension;
    • There are a huge number of health benefits for vegetarianism.is linked to a reduction in symptoms for those with asthma;
    • promotes good bone health;
    • lowers the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes;
    • reduces the risk of chronic disease;
    • usually results in a lower body mass index compared to that of meat eaters.

Kindness to Animals

What’s more, an obvious benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it does not require the death of any animals. That benefits the animals themselves, of course, but also the planet as a whole as we’ll see below. And, of course, it’s a good lesson in kindness for children as part of nurturing their moral compass.

Protecting the Planet

“Research shows that meat and dairy products are fuelling the climate crisis, while plant-based diets — focused on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans — help protect the planet.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

A vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously.Scientific studies conclude that switching to a vegetarian diet will help the planet enormously. That’s because significantly less greenhouse gas is produced in growing crops compared to raising livestock. What’s more, scientists believe that the necessary reduction in green house gas emissions will be achieved far more swiftly through a widespread switch to vegetarianism than through what’s currently just a gradual shift away from the burning of fossil fuels. Growing crops rather than animals also causes far less pollution in waterways and oceans and also uses significantly less water. The benefits of vegetarianism to the planet are simply enormous.

“A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050.”
(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Learn much more about the the benefits of a plant-based diet, for the health of both humans and the planet, here.

The NHS says it's OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans so long as they get all the nutrients they need.Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Safe for Children?

Well, it’s good news there too. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), it’s perfectly OK to raise children as vegetarians or vegans, “so long as they get all the nutrients they need.” What’s more, they’ll go on to reap all of those aforementioned benefits and will generally tend to live more caring, greener lifestyles as they grow older. And getting all the requisite nutrients is not at all difficult once parents or carers know what’s required.

The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet

“Children need plenty of energy and protein to help them grow and develop. It’s also important that vegetarian and vegan children get enough iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.”
(The NHS)

In our next post, we’ll go into more detail about the types of food, drink, vitamins and minerals that need to be included in order to achieve a well-balanced vegetarian diet for under-fives. So, come back again on Monday 31 January and you’ll see that a vegetarian diet is perfectly feasible and healthy for your little one(s) when you follow a few simple guidelines.

Healthy Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & Balham

Our own in-house chef always caters for special diets including vegetarians and vegans, as needed. This is all part of a healthy food regime at the setting, where food is freshly prepared using only the highest quality ingredients. Food and drink are, of course, included in our standard fees. Little Cedars is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Streatham that’s perfect for babies, toddlers and children under five. It’s also conveniently close to Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury as well as Colliers Wood. If you’d like to register a place for your child, to arrange a visit or simply have any questions, please get in touch.

Growing Microgreens: A Fun, Educational Activity for Children

Microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year.Back in April last year, we wrote an article about teaching children to grow food like vegetables and herbs at home — and its many benefits. It turned out to be enormously popular, so today we follow up with a guide to growing microgreens, for children. This activity is great fun, very educational and the result is extremely nutritious food!

What Are Microgreens?

Also known as micro leaves, microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year. What’s more, they can be grown indoors, without needing much room, and all at negligible cost. Take a look at the photos and you’ll soon get the idea of what type of crop they are; they’re basically the very young sprouting leaves and shoots of things like root vegetables, young herbs and leafy greens. We’ll go into more detail about those shortly.

Why Children Should Grow Microgreens

Once ready, microgreens can be used as salads and garnishes.Microgreens are great fun and extremely easy for children to grow. Once ready, they can be used rather like salads and garnishes. They are very tasty and are extremely nutritious.

Because they’re so compact, they can also be grown in virtually any household. They can be grown indoors too, for example on a windowsill, so families without gardens can also enjoy growing them. What’s more, getting children to grow microgreens may save money for the household.

Growing microgreens will really educate children about nature and the importance of caring for a living thing. It’ll help them learn new skills, teach them to be responsible and also help them learn more about where food comes from.

Growing their own food may also make children more likely to try different foods, particularly natural ones like these that are so good for them. All things considered, this fun, natural, educational activity is a total win-win!

What They Are Grown In

Microgreens can be grown in small spaces like windowsills, indoors.Microgreens are traditionally grown in shallow seed trays, which are inexpensive to buy. However, at home, they can just as easily be grown in flower pots, used yoghurt pots, empty egg cartons, the trays from ready-meals or even cut-down cardboard cores from kitchen rolls. So long as water is allowed to drain from them and they can support at least a shallow depth of compost, these can all be suitable. Plastic cartons will need a few holes punched in the bottom to allow for drainage, so parents might need to organise that in order to avoid their children hurting themselves. Other than that, it’s plain sailing for supervised children to do themselves.

What Else is Needed?

Microgreens are usually grown from seeds and, for those, you have a couple of options. Both are very inexpensive. You can use either:

Suitable seeds include rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish and mustard.Suitable seeds include: rocket, a type of strongly-flavoured lettuce; beetroot, with their lovely red stems and mild, earthy taste; spinach, which also has a mild flavour and is full of goodness; red cabbage, which is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals; fennel, which will have a distinctive aniseed flavour; broccoli, which will grow into sprouts that have a slightly spicy taste; radish seeds, which also grow into leaves that taste a little fiery; and also mustard seeds (for children who are OK with even more hot, spicy flavours).

The only other things that are needed for children to grow microgreens are water, drip trays and some compost.

  • For the compost, ‘Multi-Purpose Compost’ or ‘Seed & Cuttings Compost’ are both perfect. Peat-free versions of those are even better, as they’re kinder to the environment.
  • You’ll need some seed ‘drip trays’ to place under your trays or pots of microgreens. As the name suggests, these are simply trays to catch the draining water and to protect your windowsill etc. They’re inexpensive to buy but, if you’re on a budget, a saucer or suitably shaped plastic carton of some sort will be fine, so long as it’s watertight underneath and is shallow enough. This is also a great way to recycle plastic and show your child how easy it is to do so.

Setting Up & Sewing the Seeds

Setting up is easy:

  • As soon as shoots appear, remove any covering and ensure the compost is kept moist.First, your child should fill the seed trays, flower pots or equivalent, almost to the top, with some compost.
  • Then firm it down a little so it is flat and even.
  • If they want to manually space out the seeds individually, then they can use a fingertip to indent where the seeds will go, then pop a seed into each indent.
  • Otherwise, the fastest and easiest approach is to lightly sprinkle the seeds onto the compost. Be sure to do it lightly (tip: sprinkle from a little bit of a height to make this easier). Your child should avoid allowing the seeds to clump or be spread too densely, otherwise problems can occur once they start to grow.
  • Optionally, the seeds can then be covered with a light sprinkling of more compost, just to keep them in place while still allowing some light to get to them.
  • Water lightly (outside may be best to avoid any mess indoors). Be gentle when watering so the seeds do not simply wash away.
  • Place the pots or trays of seeds back on the windowsill or similar. Wherever they are placed, it needs to be in full daylight during the day and also ventilated.
  • Optionally, they can be temporarily covered with a piece of kitchen towel or cling film, but this is only while the seeds germinate.
  • Your child should check daily to ensure that the compost stays moist. If needed, water gently from above or, if seed trays are shallow, put some water into the drip trays so the compost draws it up.
  • Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.As as shoots begin to appear (usually after just a few days), remove any covering if used and continue to ensure that the compost is always kept moist, but not over-watered.

Harvesting your Microgreens

In just one to two weeks, you should have a nice ‘blanket’ of shoots and baby leaves growing beautifully. The idea with microgreens is to harvest them while they have baby leaves, before mature leaves start to form. So, they should be harvested while still very young. Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.

Microgreen Meals

Full of vitamins and minerals, microgreens can be used in a huge number of different meals.Once harvested, they should be rinsed to get rid of any stray compost. They are delicious to eat and, depending on the seeds grown, have a huge variety of tastes and colours. Children and parents alike can benefit from the nutritious and tasty shoots as part of a variety of meal types. Full of vitamins and minerals, they can be used in salads, as pizza toppings, garnishes, toppings for risottos, soups and pastas, as fillings in sandwiches, sprinkled on top of baked potatoes or into burgers and much more. They’re very adaptable and, with their distinctive tastes and textures, will make any meal really special.

Childcare Excellence in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamChildren will love growing these little edible plants and harvesting them for food. They will learn so much along the way, building to a great sense of achievement in what is a great home learning activity. Learning at home is just as essential as all the learning that takes place at nurseries like Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Children will learn best when it’s a true partnership between nurseries/pre-schools and parents, so we encourage regular feedback and cooperation.

If you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Streatham for your baby or under-five child, please get in touch with Little Cedars Nursery. Our nursery is also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so get in touch if you’d like to discuss or register a place for your child. We’d love to show you around …

Rough Guide to Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a learning disorder that adversely affects children's ability to write coherently and/or spell.We previously covered dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia. Today we’ll take a look at developmental dysgraphia; what it is, what the signs are and how to help children affected by the disorder.

What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning disorder that adversely affects children’s ability to write coherently and/or spell. That’s in contrast to dyslexia, which affects their ability to read and, indeed, children with dysgraphia may have no trouble reading. As with so many learning disorders, dysgraphia has nothing to do with the level of a child’s intelligence. It affects more males than females and sometimes goes hand-in-hand with other conditions including ADHD.

What Are the 3 Types of Dysgraphia?

Dyslexic dysgraphia results in poor writing legibility specifically when the writing has not been copied from an existing written source. It also gets worse with longer texts. Copied written work, however, may be good although spelling is likely to be bad. This type of dysgraphia is not thought to be the result of poor motor skills nor is it thought to be caused by a neurological issues. Despite the name, dyslexic dysgraphia is unrelated to dyslexia.

Even drawing can be unintelligibleMotor dysgraphia is primarily the result of poor fine motor skills and poor dexterity, making the control needed for legible writing or drawings difficult. It may also be the result of poor muscle tone. In contrast to dyslexic dysgraphia, motor dysgraphia may result in poor writing legibility even when the words are copied. Spelling, however, is not adversely affected. Short bursts with unusually high concentration levels may result in better letter and word formation, but the level of concentration needed to achieve this is unsustainable over a longer period.

Spatial dysgraphia also results in mostly illegible writing and drawing, however in this case it’s the result of issues around spatial awareness. So, for example, written work may stray from the lines on lined paper and spacing between words will be poor. Both copied and spontaneous writing is usually illegible but spelling is normal.

Some dysgraphic children have more than one type of dysgraphia and it’s also worth noting that some may exhibit symptoms that do not necessarily fit straight into any of the 3 types above.

There is another type of dysgraphia that’s caused by neurological trauma, e.g. through a brain injury. However, we’ll concentrate here only on developmental dysgraphia.

What Causes Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is caused by neurological issues, although the exact cause is unknown. It may, though, be associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

What are the Signs of Dysgraphia?

Developmental dysgraphia can usually only be recognised once children start learning to write. For this reason, it’s seldom emerges until around the age of 5. It manifests itself when writing skills are significantly below what’s expected for a person’s intelligence, age and level of education.

Signs of possible dysgraphia include:

  • In all forms of the disorder, writing will be poor and often largely unintelligible;
  • Writing is likely to be very slow;
  • In some cases, spelling is also adversely affected;
  • DyWriting is likely to be very slow and can be exhausting for those affectedsgraphic children may also hold their writing instruments in an unusual way or have strange posture when writing;
  • The grip on the writing instrument may also be unusually tight and the child may also watch their hand when writing;
  • Pain may be experienced when trying to write or draw and those with the condition may assume this is normal. It may start in the forearm and potentially spread to the entire body. Stress can also bring this on in the dysgraphic;
  • Dysgraphic children my mix lower case with upper case letters. Numbers may also be difficult (so maths can also be adversely affected);
  • Sizing and spacing of letters and words will be irregular;
  • Letters and words may be incomplete, missing or simply wrong;
  • Communication via the written word will be a struggle;
  • Those with the condition may talk to themselves while writing, for example saying words out loud when writing them.

Additional Knock-On Effects

Because writing is so challenging, those with the condition may exhibit a reluctance around written tasks, often not completing them. This may be incorrectly construed as laziness to the uninitiated. Those with the disorder may also find writing very tiring, even for short texts. In a classroom situation, dysgraphia also makes the taking of notes extremely difficult and this can lead to additional problems around academic topics, for example keeping up with the curriculum.

Sadly, dysgraphic children’s difficulties around writing may also lead to low self-esteem and even anxiety and mental health issues. With the disorder holding a child back in so many ways, it can also lead to reduced prospects generally. So, the earlier the child is diagnosed, the more likely their challenges can be reduced to a minimum.

If positively diagnosed, an occupational therapist is usually at the forefront of any follow-up treatment.Diagnosing Dysgraphia

As with many learning disorders, it’s always wise to first contact a GP to ensure that the issue is not caused by some other condition, for example poor eyesight. If dysgraphia is still suspected thereafter, specialists may need to be involved in order to get a firm diagnosis. They may include a paediatrician, psychologist and occupational therapist who may test the child’s writing, fine motor and academic skills. Whilst doing so, the child’s pencil grip, posture and general approach to writing will also be appraised. If positively diagnosed, an occupational therapist is usually at the forefront of any follow-up treatment.

How to Help Children with Dysgraphia

Like many of the other learning disorders, there is no cure for dysgraphia. However, there are several ways that dysgraphic children can be helped, so the challenges they face are reduced. An occupational therapist may set a plan in motion to strengthen hands, fingers and wrists, for example. They may also recommend specific ways to improve writing.

Special papers can help children with dysgraphiaAt education settings, additional bespoke learning strategies and interventions, that all teaching professionals can employ, may include:

  • Allowing dysgraphic children more time to complete tasks (both classroom assignments and any tests);
  • Use of special writing instruments that may have different types of grip;
  • Use of special lined paper that has raised lines. This can help affected children to keep writing within the lines more easily;
  • Supply of pre-printed lesson notes, so there is less burden on the dysgraphic child to take handwritten notes;
  • Use of special tools, for example voice-to-text software, dictation machines and proofreading applications;
  • Bespoke learning and development plans, customised to the strengths and any weaknesses of the child;
  • Teaching professionals may also be able to offer dysgraphic children different ways to submit assignments, for example non-handwritten submissions.

Childcare/teaching professionals and parents/guardians should work together on a shared planChildcare/teaching professionals and parents/guardians should always work together and compare notes, so that all parties are fully informed about any challenges the child may have. By doing so, they can share strategies and each work with the child towards the same goals. It’s important to begin such work as early as possible, so that the impact of the disorder on the child’s life is minimised. Early diagnosis is therefore crucial.

Special Educational Needs at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamChildcare professionals at Little Cedars Nursery will support children with any learning disorders and disabilities as a matter of course. Although dysgraphia normally only manifests itself once children reach the age of about five, we will nevertheless watch out for possible signs during children’s pre-school years at the setting. If suspected, we’ll put in place a customised learning and development plan that will help them to overcome any challenges they may be facing. Our childcare staff, including our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) will work with parents/guardians to support their children in the best way possible. Our aim is for each child to achieve personal bests in every area possible, so they’re ready and able for school when they leave us to begin their time in Reception year.

One of the Best Nurseries

Would you like your baby or under-five child to attend one of the best nurseries in Streatham,  Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood? If so, contact us for more information about Little Cedars Day Nursery, apply for a place or arrange a nursery/pre-school visit. We’d love to show you and your little one around:

Parents: Your Right to 18 Weeks of Unpaid Parental Leave

Our statutory maternity leave & pay guide from August 2021 briefly touched upon a parent’s right to unpaid parental leave. As promised, we now come back to the topic in more detail, below.

Employed parents are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18.Your Right to Unpaid Parental Leave

It’s fair to say that many employed parents* in the UK are unaware of their right to take parental leave on an unpaid basis. In fact, employees are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18. That’s significant time off in addition to any standard annual leave. It’s per child too.

*While we use the term “parents”, the rules apply to those with ‘parental responsibility’ over the child. This includes parents who are named on the child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate, or those who officially have, or expect to have, parental responsibility(i)  over the child. Foster parents are not eligible unless they are legally recognised as having parental responsibility e.g. via a successful UK court application.

Why Take Unpaid Parental Leave?

Parenting is an incredibly important task. However, it’s not always easy for working parents to find enough family time with their children, even at important milestones in their children’s lives. Aside from holidays and breaks, sometimes parents simply need additional time off to gain necessary time with, or for, their children. Unpaid parental leave can be useful when appraising nurseries, pre-schools, schools and further education settings.For example, there may come a time when parents need to look at nurseries, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and, as children approach their mid teens, further education settings. Other reasons to take time off might include time for parents to visit relatives with the children, or to investigate extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs, or simply to spend quality time with their children.

The good news is that most parents who are employees in the UK are entitled to additional time off, on an unpaid basis, from their employer. Although it’s unpaid leave, it can be an absolute Godsend to busy parents, who may well appreciate the time off even if they have to go without pay during their absence. Rules apply, of course, but it’s fair to say that many parents do not make the most of this opportunity.

How Much Unpaid Leave Are Parents Entitled To?

Parents can take 18 weeks of unpaid leave per child until the child reaches the age of 18. The maximum they can take in any one year is 4 weeks (again, per child) unless their employer agrees to more. Unpaid parental leave must be taken in whole weeks rather than sporadic days. Should an employee only work for, say, 4 days per week, then their week off is essentially the same as that. Should their working pattern be more random, then an average of how many days they work per week is computed from working times over the whole year.

What if Parents Change Jobs?

Taking unpaid leave may be particularly useful when maternity or paternity leave comes to an end.It doesn’t really matter if you change jobs. The rules around unpaid parental leave apply in relation to your child(ren); not your employer. So, if you change jobs and have already used up 9 weeks of unpaid leave for one child during your previous job, then you can still use another 9 weeks, so long as it’s taken before your child reaches the age of 18.

What Other Rules Apply Around Eligibility?

In addition to the rules discussed above, an eligible parent must have been employed by their current employer for at least one year before making a claim. They must be an employee (not a contractor/sub-contractor, agency worker, ‘worker’ or self-employed).

Employers have a right to ask to see a birth certificate or other proof showing parental responsibility over the child in question. And, of course, the child for whom the claim is being made must be under 18.

Claiming Unpaid Parental Leave

Just 3 weeks' notice must be given to the employer, but they can postpone it for up to six months if there is good reason to do so.To claim a period of unpaid parental leave, just 21 days (3 weeks) of notice must be given to the employer and this must state the start and finish dates. It can be confirmed verbally although employers may request the notice in writing.

Given that 3 weeks’ notice is not long in the business world, an employer has the right to request a postponement of the unpaid parental leave if there is a fair reason for doing so. An example would be where such leave would cause significant disruption to the smooth running of the business — perhaps suitable cover cannot be arranged in time. However, in such a scenario, the employer must confirm in writing, within a week of the original request, why the leave is being denied. They must also suggest a new date for it to begin. This must be no later than 6 months after the original date and must be for the same number of weeks originally requested.

Make the Most of Your Parental Leave Allowance

So, all in all, it’s pretty straight forward to get extra leave off work to spend with, or for, your children. Although this particular type of leave is unpaid, sometimes time is the most precious commodity of all — often far more important than money. There’s also only one chance to make the most of your child’s childhood, so unpaid leave is worth thinking about from time to time, while you still have rights to it under UK employment law.

A Wonderful Childcare Nursery in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamWe hope that the information brought to you here is useful. We are Little Cedars, a wonderful nursery in Streatham, supplying an outstanding childcare service in and around Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Norbury, Balham and Colliers Wood.  Why not book a visit with your child to see the setting in action, register for a place, or contact us to ask any questions — we’ll be happy to help.

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

20 Amazing Baby Facts

When preparing articles for this website, we often spot interesting baby facts that may surprise people. So, today, we thought we’d share 20 or so of our most surprising discoveries with you.  Many are a reminder of just how amazing babies really are!

1. Twenty Babies Born A Minute

Did you know, one baby is born every three seconds. That’s 20 every minute, 1200 every hour and nearly 29,000 every single day.

2. Rapidly Expanding Brains

A baby’s brain will more than double in size in their first year. By the time they’re five, it will have tripled in size compared to its size at birth. The brain will not finish fully developing, however, until the individual reaches their twenties. The brain of newborn boys may also grow faster in the first 3 months than that of newborn girls. It’s something that’s keenly debated amongst experts, though.

Babies are born with 50% more bones than adults.3. Almost 50% More Bones Than Adults

Babies are born with more bones than adults. In time, some will harden and fuse together into just a single bone. Babies’ heads have soft spots when newly born, but which don’t last. That’s because various, separate, bones form their skull at birth. Initially these are connected by something called ‘noggin’, but later the separate skull bones fuse together. Babies are born with around 300 bones. By the time they’re adult’s they will have just 206.

4. But No Kneecaps

Babies do not have kneecaps when they’re born! Had you ever noticed? These finish appearing only once the baby reaches at least 6 months of age.

5. Amazing Taste

Babies have about 30,000 taste buds when they’re born. This is three times as many as adults. This is accounted for by the baby having taste buds not only on their tongue, but also on the sides and roof of their mouths as well as on the tonsils and back of the throat. Despite this, they apparently can’t taste salt until they’re about 4 months old.

Newborn babies are short sighted, only being able to properly focus on an area 8 to 14 inches in front of them6. Not So Hot on Eye Sight

Newborn babies are short sighted, only being able to properly focus on an area 8 to 14 inches in front of them — that’s perfect for seeing mum when being breastfed when you think about it. This area of focus will increase with time, of course, and babies also use their peripheral vision to make up for the lack of deeper focus.

7. Fur, Gills & a Tail — Yes, Really!

According to the experts, foetuses have gills, fur and even a tail during development. All three end up disappearing either before birth or, often in the case of fur, within the first few weeks after being born. The tail will have become the coccyx and the ‘gills’, which are temporary slits (pharyngeal arches) in the neck, will have developed into jaw and ear bones by the time the babies have been born.

8. No Tears for Weeks

Babies don’t cry tears until they’re about a month old. Until then, it’s rather like ‘dry’ crying.

Newborns hold their breath underwater and even adapt their heart rate and peripheral blood vessels while submerged.9. Natural Born Swimmers (… Kind of)

Newborns hold their breath underwater automatically and even adapt their heart rate and peripheral blood vessels when doing so. We strongly advise against you testing this, of course, but apparently it’s true. This natural ability does not last past the age of six months, however.

10. Baby Time in the Womb

Some interesting statistics suggest that, on average, female babies remain in the womb a day longer than males, white babies remain there 5 days longer than black babies and Indian babies remain there 6 days longer than white babies. If true and not simply a momentary glitch, the reasons for this are a bit of a mystery.

11. No Memory Before Three

People’s long-term memories go back no earlier, in general, than the age of three. This is believed to be because either memory function hasn’t developed sufficiently until then or because memory may be tied to the ability to understand language.

12. Recognising Day & Night

It can take up to 12 weeks before a baby will recognise the difference between day and night. Hence, the irregular sleep pattern that can last until they’re 5 or so months of age.

13. Eyes to the Right

85% of newborn babies prefer to face to the right when lying on their back. The preference only lasts a few months, but may also be an indicator of whether they’ll turn out to be right-handed or left-handed.

Breastfeeding babies for at least 2 months halves the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)14. Is Breast Really is Best?

As well as protecting against diseases, breastfeeding babies for at least 2 months halves the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) — that’s incredible when you think about it. It also gives greater protection from SIDS the longer you continue.

15. And Breast Milk Adapts Like Magic

Expressed breast milk for a baby should never exceed 4oz per bottle no matter what age they are. While formula-fed infants have bigger bottles as they grow older, babies fed via bottles containing expressed breast milk should stick to 4oz (1 to 1½oz per hour) maximum. That’s because the breast milk adapts itself to their precise needs as they grow; it constantly changes its composition as the child gets older and that includes calorie content contained per ounce. That’s clever!

Human babies are the only primate babies that smile at their mother or father.16. The Only Smiling Primate

Human babies are the only primate babies that smile at their mother or father. That’s quite remarkable, although we wonder whether other primates have a different way of smiling that we don’t recognise or understand.

17. Special Birth Months

According to statistics, the most common date of birth is the 9th of September. This is closely followed by the 19th, 12th and 17th of September, in that order. Interestingly, babies born around this time stand the best chance of being the smartest in the class and going on to have the greatest success in life. We considered whether this could be linked to school starting in September, making these children the oldest, most mature pupils in the class at a time when learning and development is so crucial.

Meanwhile, people born in October seem to live the longest, living on average 160 more days than those born in the Spring.

Scientific evidence also points to the month of birth affecting personality. For example, those born in the summer months having the most optimistic outlooks.

18. And the Not So Special

Meanwhile, December, January and February are the least common months for births, with December 25th and 26th seeing the fewest during the entire year.

Firstborn children are 1.7 times more likely to live to the age of one hundred.19. Outcomes of Being First Born

Children who are first-born are 1.7 times more likely than their younger siblings to live to the age of one hundred. Those with young mothers at birth stand the greatest chance of doing so. The first born is statistically more likely to have better mental health but have a slightly higher propensity to be overweight or have high blood pressure. Firstborns are often natural leaders but younger siblings may experience that simply as bossiness when growing up!

20. The Origins of ‘Infant’

The term ‘infant’ comes from the Latin ‘infans’, which means ‘unable to speak‘ … which makes sense, when you think about it.

We hope that you have found these surprising facts of interest and have perhaps learned something you didn’t know before — we certainly enjoyed putting them together for you.

High Quality Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamWe are Little Cedars, a pre-school and childcare nursery in Streatham. As well as being one of the best nurseries in the London SW16 area, we would also make a convenient choice for anyone requiring childcare nurseries, pre-schools or playgroups in/around Balham, Tooting, Norbury, Colliers Wood, Furzedown, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham Park.  Why not book a visit, register for a nursery place, or ask any questions — our childcare professionals are here to help:

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675