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:

 

The Power of Sport in Early Childhood

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

Some of the Benefits of Sport in the Early Years

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

Sport Offers Something for Everyone

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

Levelling the Playing Field

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

Improving Social & Interpersonal Skills & Communication

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

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

Life Skills

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

Cognitive Development

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

Improving Health, Fitness, Agility & Mobility

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

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

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

Better Sleep

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

Sports Activities are Great Fun!

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

Good for Mental Health & Well-Being

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

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

A Possible Career in Sport

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

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

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

10 Ways to Boost Learning Through Play at Home

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

1. Set Aside a Dedicated Play Space at Home

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

2. Play Proactively & Interactively With Your Child

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

3. Role-Play Together

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

4. Read Interactively Together

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

5. Limit Time Spent Using Screens

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

6. Use Toys That Allow Open-Ended Play

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

7. Allow Your Child to Take the Lead

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

8. Facilitate Social Play

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

9. Encourage Outdoor Play Too

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

10. Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements Together

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

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

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

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

 

Exploring Spring with Children Under 5

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

When is Spring?

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

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

Things Children Can Look Out For in Spring

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

Baby Farm Animals

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

Frogspawn

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

Sprouting Snowdrops

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

Shooting Daffodils

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

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

Bumblebees

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

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

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

Songbirds

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

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

Pussy Willow Buds

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

Catkins

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

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

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham

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

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

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

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

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:

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

With World Wildlife Day falling on the 3rd of March and Spring virtually upon us, we thought it was a great time to produce another free wildlife poster for children and families to download. This one features 20 wild British* land mammals that children will love! Using the poster, they can learn to identify the animals shown and perhaps look out for them when out and about over the coming months and years. It’s a handy reference tool that can be used to get to know their furry neighbours, whether in local parks, on trips to the countryside, or whilst on holiday. While some creatures like grey squirrels are common to see, some of the others shown are more shy — but that just makes it more exciting when they are finally spotted!

Many of Britain's wild mammals are stunningly beautiful and children often have a natural interest in them.Getting children interested in nature, and spending time around it, is extremely good for them as we’ve reported before — the benefits of nature to children are simply huge. Today’s focus on British mammals will not only be a good way to encourage an interest in some of Britain’s wonderful creatures but may also help them understand more about the need to support conservation efforts and protect wildlife. It’s a great way to foster empathy in little ones too. We’ll tell you more about World Wildlife Day shortly but first, grab yourself and your children the free mammals poster — the creatures shown are stunningly beautiful and kids are bound to love displaying the poster.

Download, print out and feel free to share this British Wild Mammals poster. Click the bold blue link or the preview image below and save to your hard drive. Once opened in Acrobat Reader and printed out, children can see if they can learn the different animal names and even spot some of the beautiful creatures over coming years while outside, in the countryside, or on holiday.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

United Nations World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day - 3 MarchWorld Wildlife Day celebrates the world’s flora and fauna. It happens on the 3rd of March each year and is a way to raise awareness of the need to protect nature. That can be achieved by reducing harmful emissions, pollution, habitat loss, and the loss of biodiversity. By introducing children to the beautiful wildlife around them, children will naturally be more empathetic towards other creatures and even progress to learning about conservation matters and the impact of humans on the planet. In this way, little ones can grow into young stewards of the planet and have an active interest in protecting it going forward. Get them started today by downloading our free Wild Mammals poster — who knows where it could lead!

Parents, teachers and early years practitioners can learn more about the United Nations World Wildlife Day here.

Other Free Wildlife Posters Children Can Download

Don’t forget that this is just one in a series of several wildlife/nature-related posters. All of them are free, shareable, and will be both fun and educational for children. Choose from today’s British Mammals poster above, our British Birds poster, Minibeasts poster, or Butterflies poster. Follow the links for more details and the free downloads.

Exceptional Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars: a high-quality childcare nursery in Streatham, London, SW16

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 love nature and all the benefits it brings to children, so we’re lucky to be located close to Tooting Common at Little Cedars Day Nursery (Streatham, SW16). We also encourage children to get involved in planting and growing in our own garden at the setting as nature teaches them so much. It’s all part of the early years learning and development programme at the setting.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today and explore the possibility of a nursery/preschool place for your child in Streatham:

Based in Streatham, Little Cedars Nursery may also suit your little one if you are looking for a high-quality nursery or preschool near Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

* By ‘British’ we mean mammals that can be found and seen in Britain. We are keeping things simple for little ones but appreciate, of course, that some of the animals featured were not originally indigenous to Britain. Examples include the Muntjac Deer (originally from China) and the grey squirrel (originally from North America). Even some red squirrels that we see in parts of Britain may be descendants of some that were imported to boost our own declining populations. We also appreciate that there are several sub-species not shown, e.g. several types of mouse, shrew, vole and others. That, again, is to keep things simple for little ones.

Little Cedars Nursery: News Round-Up for Spring Term 2024
Today, we give you a glimpse into some of the themed activities and topics that children are getting involved in at Little Cedars Nursery this Spring term. They’re many and varied and give children insights into different subjects, elements of life that they may not yet be familiar with, different cultures, key dates, celebrations and traditions. Such insights will stand them in good stead educationally as well as socially — Children from Little Cedars Nursery mixing ingredients on Pancake Day.and many of them are simply great fun too!

One highlight from just this week, for example, was Pancake Day (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday), which fell on 13th February this year. Children certainly enjoyed getting involved! The photo shows some of our nursery children getting involved in mixing ingredients. Later they could be seen rolling, kneading and shaping pancakes. The next day it was, of course, Valentine’s Day, giving children the chance to get creative and make or give cards if they so chose.

Learning Opportunities from the Spring Term Calendar

With this term running from early January until late March, there are many key dates and celebrations to draw children’s attention to. It’s a great way to broaden children’s horizons and help them learn about the wider world, society, different cultures and religions.

JANUARY

January saw many key dates arriving throughout the month. Examples included: Martin Luther King Day on the 15th Winnie the Pooh Day on the 18th World Religion Day on the 21st National Handwriting Day on the 23rd Burns Night on the 25th Australia Day on the 26th the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch from the 26th to the 28th and National Storytelling Week, which began towards the end of the month and stretched into the start of February, which we’ll come to below.

These, along with additional key dates not shown, represent great learning opportunities for children at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham.

FEBRUARY

The start of February continued with the remainder of National Storytelling Week followed by additional key dates including Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year on the 10th Shrove Tuesday (a.k.a. Pancake Day) on the 13th Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent on the 14th Random Acts of Kindness Day on the 17th World Thinking Day on the 22nd plus additional key dates not listed.

These are great opportunities for children to discover new facts, understand new concepts, learn about different cultures, get creative, and so on.

MARCH

March 2024 is also jam-packed with key dates that can present great learning and discovery opportunities for children. Examples include: World Wildlife Day on the 3rd World Book Day on the 7th (we’ll certainly be making the most of that at Little Cedars Nursery) the festival of Maha Shivratri on the 8th Mother’s Day on the 10th — a wonderful opportunity for our children to make something creative for their mums the start of Ramadan also on the 10th St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th the Spring Equinox on the 20th (it’ll be lovely to say goodbye to Winter!) World Poetry Day on the 21st the Jewish holiday of Purim (23rd to the 24th) the Hindu festival of Holi (24th to the 25th) Palm Sunday on the 24th, the Easter dates of Good Friday (29th), Holy Saturday (30th), and Easter Sunday on the 31st.

The 31st is also when the clocks go forward and we start to enjoy lighter evenings again — fabulous! With that in mind, we’ll be adding some Spring-focused content to the site, relating to the early years, in the coming weeks.

As well as looking at celebrations and festivities from the calendar like those above, we also explore additional topics with the children during the Spring Term.

Earlier in the term, nursery children enjoyed an array of fun, sensory activities involving colour and snow foam.Earlier in the term, for example, our nursery children enjoyed an array of fun, sensory activities. Using brushes, they explored primary colours and mixing to make secondary colours using snow foam. As well as learning about colours, this activity also helped them practise hand and eye coordination, get in tune with their senses and develop the small muscles needed for fine motor control.

In our minibeast hunt, children gathered around a tuff tray, spotting and ticking off different insects hidden in the soil.Another recent activity that proved to be a hit with our nursery children was the insect/minibeast hunt. As you can see in the photograph, children gathered around a tuff tray, spotting and ticking off different insects that we’d hidden in the soil. While these particular insects were only man-made representations, children can also use our free Minibeasts Poster to find real ones out in the garden or countryside. Spending time around nature is hugely beneficial to children, as we previously reported, so follow the bold links if you’d like more information.

Children love planting in our garden and learning about nature, responsibility, and caring for other living things.This term, with that in mind, there will be lots of planting in our garden. Children generally love this activity and it teaches them about nature, responsibility, caring for other living things and so much more.

We’ll also explore the topic of people who help us with the children. This may include a visit from the police, a postman and perhaps a short trip on a public bus. All such things will open children’s eyes to some of the facets Later in the Spring Term we'll explore the topic of baby animals.of modern society and even the jobs that people do.

Later in the Spring Term, we’ll explore the topic of baby animals and this is sure to delight the little ones! As with the planting activity, it should also nurture their caring side,We have exciting 'Play Sports Motion' sessions for children every Wednesday. helping them understand the need to be gentle, responsible and empathetic towards other creatures.

And don’t forget, we also have exciting sports sessions for children every Wednesday, through the external expertise of coach Mihai of Sports Play Motion. Sessions are filled with fun, ever-growing skills, teamwork and laughter. The children look forward to every session!

A 5-Star Nursery in Streatham

Our Streatham nursery is a homely, welcoming, five-star learning environment for under-fives

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 ProviderIf you’d like to explore the opportunity of sending your baby, toddler, or preschooler to Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, please get in touch. We regularly attract 5-star ratings and reviews and are officially a ‘Good Provider’ of early years childcare and education, so you know your child will be in good hands. Please select an option below to get started:

Little Cedars is also near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families from those nearby locations.

National Storytelling Week (27 Jan - 4 Feb 2024) — a fun & beneficial activity for children & families.

The annual activity is a great opportunity for children and families to get creative and to entertain one another through the sharing of stories.Children and families, get ready for National Storytelling Week! For 2024, storytelling in the UK is officially celebrated from Saturday the 27th of January to Sunday the 4th of February. It’s a great opportunity for children and families to get creative and to entertain one another through the sharing of stories.

Storytelling is an ancient and important tradition across the globe and one that has many benefits for both the storyteller and the listener. As such, it’s something that should be encouraged amongst children of any age. Today, we take a closer look at some of those benefits and suggest ways that both kids and families can make the most of this wonderful, free activity.

Storytelling: the Perfect Antidote to Wintery Days

Through storytelling, children can be transported to different locations, situations and climates, all in the blink of an eye.National Storytelling Week couldn’t come at a better time of year. As many across the UK have witnessed in recent weeks, January brings with it cold days, dull skies, and wintery weather. Even the daylight hours are short, limiting the number of activities children can undertake outdoors. With storytelling, however, families can be transported to any number of different locations, situations and climates, all in the blink of an eye. Indeed, storytelling can take children to places and scenarios that would simply not be possible in real life. Such is the power of this art form and the human imagination.

Some Benefits of Taking Part in National Storytelling Week

Whether storytelling is a simple verbal activity or dramatised in some way through acting or the use of props, it can be highly entertaining and captivating. There are also a significant number of additional benefits for both the storyteller and the listener, including:

  • Storytelling offers a significant number of benefits to both the storyteller and the listener.Stories stimulate imaginations;
  • Storytelling enhances creativity;
  • By showing what it’s like to be someone or even something else, stories nurture empathy;
  • Storytelling can be a great way to relax;
  • Storytelling helps to expand vocabulary and literacy;
  • Storytelling helps to improve children’s speech and listening skills;
  • Stories can be a great way to share new facts;
  • Stories open up new worlds to children;
  • Stories are a great vehicle for escapism, which is important, especially to those who have had a challenging day;
  • Storytelling activities can even lead to careers involving writing or other creative jobs;
  • Last but not least, storytelling is simply great fun!

So, all in all, there’s every reason for children and families to get involved in National Storytelling Week from Saturday the 27th of January to Sunday the 4th of February 2024. However, don’t stop there … storytelling is worthwhile any time of year!

How to Enhance Children’s Storytelling Sessions

If you’re an adult overseeing a storytelling session with children, perhaps start them off by telling them a short story yourself to get the ball rolling. They can learn from your example and then take turns to tell their story to the group. Making up brand new stories is beneficial (it will promote greater creativity) but it’s also OK for the youngest children to be influenced by existing stories they’re familiar with if they initially struggle to create something from scratch.

Setting aside a storytelling corner or niche will encourage children to tell stories and to read.Another great way to help children create new stories is to encourage them to be inspired by objects around them. For example, a teddy bear, toy character, or picture nearby may inspire them. This can be taken further by providing children with a basket of such props, for example, a toy animal, pine cone, toy crown, goblet, apple, and a rock. A ‘story scrapbook’ can be used by children in a similar way. Such things can significantly help children to become more creative and generate storyline ideas, sequencing, and plot twists.

Try encouraging questions and interaction from children who are listening. This will help to get them more involved and immersed in the storyline.

Another creative approach is to let them influence how the story should unfold by making suggestions along the way.

Hand or finger puppets can also be excellent, immersive tools to bring stories to life. Adding in some acting will add an extra layer of drama and entertainment to stories too, so encourage this. It can be taken to many different levels, perhaps with the use of different voices and accents, fancy dress to look like a character, introducing props and so on.

Why not set up a storytelling corner or nook? This can be used all year round and should be a quiet, comfortable space. Perhaps scatter cushions, blankets, and soft toys, and add fairly lights, props and, for young actors-in-the-making, costumes. A bespoke storytelling corner is sure to encourage children to come back to the activity throughout the year.

Such approaches are a recipe for a very entertaining, captivating and immersive storytelling session, which children will love! It’ll get them thinking deeply, stir their creative juices, boost their imaginations, and allow them to enter a different and magical reality for a short time. They’ll learn more about the world and gain improvements to skills like empathy and literacy along the way. Through the simple activity of storytelling, both the listener and storyteller will benefit in a myriad of ways. So — get children involved this National Storytelling Week and watch them blossom!

Little Cedars: Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

A High-Quality Nursery in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, 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

Are you searching for the perfect nursery or preschool for your child in or near Streatham? Little Cedars Day Nursery offers a high-quality home-from-home environment where babies, toddlers and preschoolers absolutely thrive. Rated as a Good Provider of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, Little Cedars represents a wonderful choice for families looking for the very best fit for their little ones. We also support a raft of free childcare funding schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Our Streatham childcare nursery may also suit families living nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Eye Colour in Infancy: The Magic of Changing Hues

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

Eye Colour, the Iris, & Scattering of Light

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

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

Melanin

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

Eye Colour & Location

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

Changing Eye Colour in Infancy

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

Eye Colour & Genetics

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

What About Heterochromia?

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

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

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

Your Childcare Nursery in Streatham

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

1. Play & Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand

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

2. Play Boosts Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking Skills

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

3. Play Hones Motor Skills

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

4. Play Makes Children Fitter

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

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

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

6. Play Enhances Cognitive Skills

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

7. Play Improves Social Skills

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

8. Play Helps Children Learn to Communicate Better

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

9. Play Enhances Emotional Intelligence

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

10. Play Stimulates Children’s Senses

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

11. Play Makes Sense of Mathematics

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

12. Play Teaches Children Real-World Science

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

13. Play Teaches Children to Assess Risk

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

14. Play Educates Children About the World Around Them

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

15. Play Makes Learning Fun & Natural

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

Children Learn Through Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

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