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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.

A Guide to January's Big Garden Birdwatch – Children Get Ready!

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in.Parents and children, don’t miss this year’s incredibly important birdwatching activity for the RSPB — and the planet — which occurs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch only takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. It’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time in and around nature. And, as we’ve reported before, nature is extremely good for children! In today’s post, we explain how easy it is to get your little ones involved and why taking part is a win-win-win for families, birds and nature.

What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 and happens annually. It is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world, each year attracting hundreds of thousands of participants up and down the length of the UK. 9.1 million birds were reported in last year’s count.

In essence, people get involved simply by choosing an outdoor patch, and then counting birds that land there during the course of an hour. They then report their findings to the RSPB. We’ll cover a bit more detail on how to go about that later in this article.

Why Does the Big Garden Birdwatch Matter?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time closer to nature.Monitoring populations of bird species every year allows the RSPB and other conservation organisations to see how the various types of garden birds are faring. Whether or not they’re doing well will be a barometer of the state of nature itself as well as that of the individual bird populations. If the RSPB and other conservation organisations can see a problem, they can then mobilise to try to do something about it. Likewise, if they see a particular bird species doing well, they can learn from that and better understand what measures are helping that particular bird population to thrive.

Nature is also incredibly good for children, helping them cognitively, academically, spiritually, mentally, socially, creatively and physically. Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve test results, lower stress levels and even improve earning potential. Learn more about the amazing benefits of nature to children here or, better still, get them involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January!

What Sort of Discoveries Has the Annual Big Garden Birdwatch Uncovered?

Each year, the Big Garden Birdwatch uncovers intriguing and useful data about how bird species in the UK are faring. For example:

  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began in 1979.In 2023, the bird species spotted the most was the House Sparrow, followed by the Blue Tit in second place, Starling in third, Wood Pigeon in fourth and Blackbird in fifth.
  • Despite that, historical data from the count shows that even House Sparrow numbers have significantly declined — by 57% — since the count began in 1979.
  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began.
  • Indeed, during the last 6 decades, data suggests that bird populations in the UK have dropped by over 38 million, a huge and worrying number.

How Families & Children Can Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

There are 4 simple steps required to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January:

  1. Register free, via the RSPB website. By registering you'll get a free guide to taking part and visual reference for identifying different birds.By registering you’ll also get a free guide to taking part in the event, which includes visual reference to the birds to look out for, as well as other perks like a discount on bird food and other bird feeding supplies available from the RSPB’s online shop.
  2. Choose a suitable outdoor patch to monitor during the survey event. It could be your garden, patio, local park, or even a view from a balcony will do.
  3. Between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January 2024, count how many birds of each species, actually land in your patch during the hour’s monitoring.
  4. Once complete, confirm the biggest number of each bird species that has landed at any one time to the RSPB, along with the location of your patch. Please still confirm your findings even if you saw no birds land at all. Make your submissions online here between 26 January and 18 February 2024.

Children can take part individually or as part of a group. They can also undertake more than one birdwatching hour, and submit more than one set of results, so long as they do so from a different location (‘patch’) in each case. The RSPB guide gives more details about each step, so do ensure you visit the RSPB’s Big Garden Watch web area to get familiar with what’s required and to access your free guide.

Keen to Attract More Birds for Your Count?

A great spotted woodpecker visiting a garden bird feeder.If you’re keen to attract as many birds as possible to your Garden Birdwatch count, the RSPB has you covered. As well as providing useful tips on how to attract birds on their website, they also offer those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch a 15% discount on bird food and easy-to-clean bird feeders from their online shop. Delivery is also free to participants. Follow the bold links for more information.*

* (Details are given in good faith and are understood to be correct at the time of going to press. However, 3rd party offers are beyond our control and, as such, may be subject to change without notice).

Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham

High-Quality Childcare 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 hope your little ones have fun getting involved in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch — they’re sure to enjoy the nature-based activity as they take their first step towards becoming little citizen scientists. It’s hugely worthwhile for the birds and ecology and, as we know at Little Cedars Day Nursery, nature is hugely beneficial to children too.

If you are looking for high-quality childcare services in or near Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. Ofsted rates us as a good provider of early years education and childcare and we represent a wonderful start to children’s early years. We bring out the very best in every child and prepare them well to ensure readiness for school when they leave us around the age of five. We support various childcare funding schemes too, making our childcare service even more affordable for eligible families.

To request a place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, or to find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our Streatham nursery and preschool is close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families in those nearby locations.

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.

 

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

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

What Is Child Benefit?

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

Who is Eligible to Claim Child Benefit?

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

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

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

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

How Many Children Can You Claim For?

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

How Much Do You Get?

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

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

Example:

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

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

* How Do Your Earnings Affect It?

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

Is Child Benefit Subject to Income Tax?

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

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

Is Child Benefit Affected by Universal Credit?

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

Can Child Benefit Contribute Towards Your State Pension?

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

How Do You Claim Child Benefit?

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

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

Tip!

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

How Long Can You Claim For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Outdoor Play in Early Childhood

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

Safety First!

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

Adventure Awaits Outdoors!

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

Learning Through Exploration

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

Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play

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

Mental Well-being

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

Outdoor Play & the EYFS

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

A Feast for the Senses

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

Screen-Free Zone

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

Natural Learning

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

Social Bonds

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

Communication Skills

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

Cultivating Creativity

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

Risk Assessment

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

Building Confidence

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

Preparing for School…

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

…& Into Adulthood

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

Outdoor Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

Childcare Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham

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

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

 

Outdoor Safety for Kids — Top Tips for Parents

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

Always Keep an Eye Out

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

Set Boundaries and Rules

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

Be Mindful of Traffic Risks

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

Teach Stranger Safety

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

Stay Clear of Water Dangers

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

Mind the Terrain

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

Climbing Structures & Fall Prevention

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

Sharp Objects & Tools

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

Beware Choking Hazards

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

Flora & Fauna Hazards

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

Animal Encounters

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

Hygiene and Sanitation

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

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

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

Be Prepared for Changing Weather

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

Hydration and Breaks

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

Allergen Awareness

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

Fire Safety Awareness

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

Foster a Love for Nature

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

In Summary

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

Little Cedars Nursery: High-Quality Childcare in Streatham

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

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderIf you are looking for the best nurseries or preschools in the Streatham area, do consider Little Cedars. We offer an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers under five. We’re also conveniently close to those living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

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

Also: See Our Indoor Safety Guide

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

Support for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’) in Early Years Settings

Today, we’re looking at what help is available for children under five with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’, also sometimes referred to as ‘SEN and disabilities’). Good support for such children, particularly in their formative years, is of critical importance to their longer-term progress, well-being and success. Appropriate support, provided in a timely and tailored manner, can have a real, positive impact on outcomes for children’s lives.

An Environment of Inclusivity

It is important to foster an inclusive environment for children with SEND, including at childcare/early years settings like Little Cedars Nursery. Whatever their differences, we know it’s crucial for all children to feel safe, comfortable, valued, and loved, as well as being free to express themselves. It’s also important that all children, irrespective of ability/disability, are able to make friends and socialise freely. This is therefore nurtured at childcare settings like Little Cedars.

Changes can also be made to childcare environments like ours, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Identifying SEND

Identification of a special educational need or disability is the first step to properly support affected children.Identification of a special educational need or disability is, of course, the first step in being able to properly support a child with SEND. For this reason, good early years providers like Little Cedars Nursery will, as a matter of course, watch out for signs of things that might be challenging for children. As prescribed by the EYFS approach to early years learning and development, such assessment will occur as part of the day-to-day activities at such nurseries, preschools and early years settings, as well as during more formal assessments like the Progress Check at 2. Childcare practitioners, the Key Person allocated to each individual child, and the setting’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) will usually all be involved in all assessment stages.

Parents will be alerted to any suspicions and indeed should alert childcare settings if they have a SEND-related concern regarding their child. After all, parents may well have more insight, as they know their child best.

External professionals including health visitors, paediatricians and professional specialists and therapists can also be brought in to help with assessments if deemed appropriate. Only once a possible special need or disability has been identified and evaluated is it possible to look at appropriate support options for a child.

Developing a Tailored Support Plan

External specialists/professionals may be involved in the support plan for children with SEND.Support plans for suspected or confirmed special needs or disabilities are then discussed and custom-designed for the child. Such plans will be agreed between the child’s parents/caregivers, staff at the early years setting itself and any external specialists or professionals involved in the child’s care. Such programmes will be customised to suit the individual child’s specific needs and may include tailored activities, strategies, resources and so on. Formalisation of the support programme will allow all parties to pull in the same direction, working cooperatively for the benefit of the child.

“Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

Progress and the effectiveness of support plans will be evaluated continuously. Should the support plan require fine-tuning along the way, then adjustments will be made to suit the ongoing needs of the child. There is also possible recourse to request an Education, Health & Care (EHC) assessment of the child’s needs from the local authority if deemed appropriate and sanctioned by parents. Should one occur, then a new support plan may be devised.

Similarly, if the help of external experts is required, for example help from a speech and language therapist, this can be arranged as part of the support package for the child.

With the right support, “the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities … can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)

Special Funding & the Area SENCo

Special funding might be available to fund things like additional one-to-one support, special resources, or activities.In parallel to the SENCo at the child’s early years setting, local authorities also have their own Special Educational Needs Coordinator, known as the Area SENCo. They will also be integral to a child’s SEND support plan, helping with coordination between the local authority, the various parties involved in supporting the child, and in relation to any special funding requirements. If approved, special funding might be required, for example, for an additional member of staff tasked with giving one-to-one support to the child, or to fund extra learning resources and activities for them.

Area SENCos also continue to coordinate support for children with SEND through the transition from early years settings to school.

The ‘Local Offer’ Information Portal

Every local authority publishes information that informs families about the support available in their area for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This is encapsulated in what’s known as The Local Offer. A Local Offer example for Streatham may help to illustrate the kind of help and resources available. Little Cedars Nursery is in the part of Streatham that falls within the London Borough of Wandsworth, and their Local Offer for SEND can be found here.

Funded Childcare for Under-5s with SEND

Parents may be wondering whether any free childcare is available for children with SEND. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the options:

  • There are several childcare funding options for children with SEND.All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for a minimum of 570 hours of free childcare per annum, irrespective of whether or not they have SEND. This is known as Universal Free Childcare or their Free entitlement and is typically taken as 15 hours of childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year, but how it is taken can differ. Learn more here.
  • In some circumstances, the above entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds may be extended to 1140 hours per annum, equivalent to 30 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year. This is known as Extended Free Childcare or the 30 hours scheme but, unlike with Universal Free Childcare, is means-tested. Many more eligibility criteria also apply (learn more here).
  • 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for free childcare hours if they fall within one or more specific categories (learn more here). These include:
    – Receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
    – Being subject to an Education, Health & Care Plan (‘EHC’);
    – Having received a referral via their local authority’s Portage Service.
  • Parents of disabled children may be able to claim for free childcare support valued up to £4,000 per year through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme. Learn more here.

More information about various Government-funded childcare schemes is available in our rough guide to childcare funding here.

Nursery Places at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families at Little Cedars. We also endorse all the above support measures aimed at helping children with special educational needs and disabilities. We are officially a good nursery, as benchmarked by Ofsted.  Our nursery and preschool are located in Streatham, London SW16 although we are also conveniently close by for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

If you would like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask any questions or book a tour with your child, please select an option below:

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

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

The Benefits of This Nature-Based Activity

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

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

Choosing Seeds With Your Child

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

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

Where to Get Seeds for Your Child

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

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

Safety First

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

The Activity — Instructions

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

Teach the Importance of Timing

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

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

Choosing a Location to Sow the Seeds

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

Simple Option:

Sowing a Wildflower ‘Meadow’

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

Advanced Option:

Sowing in Soil – Just 6 Easy Steps

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

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

Then wait for nature’s magic to happen!

Wait and Watch Out for the Wildflowers

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

Don’t Forget — the Final Step for Children

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

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

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Childcare Service in Streatham, Southwest London

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

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

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

The Significance of the Age of 2

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

Key Areas of Focus

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

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

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

Preparing Children for School

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

Who is Involved?

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

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

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

The Report

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

To Sum Up

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

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

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

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

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

A Clarification:

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

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

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

Bird Feeders: a Creative ‘Nature’ Activity for Kids

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is to help them make bird feeders.A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders. There are many ways to approach this creative, fun activity and it’s sure to result in lots of our feathered friends visiting. Birds are delightful creatures that are simply a joy to see and hear. They will also greatly appreciate the extra food, particularly at times of the year when it’s more scarce or when they have little mouths to feed. So, this is an activity that’s a win for everyone! Some birds may even become regulars if the food is topped up. In fact, we’ve given some of our own visiting birds names as they now come every day and even stare through the window at us when food needs topping up! With all this in mind, today, we take a look at some of the simple ways children can make home-made bird feeders to encourage birds to visit. Take a look and see how easy and creative the activity can be.

The Quickest & Most Simple Bird Feeder

The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is an apple feeder.The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is simply an apple. This can either be hung with string from a tree branch, bush, or similar, or the apple can be ‘spiked’ on the pointy end of a tree branch, a strong twig or something like a bamboo pole embedded in the ground (so long as it’s tall enough to keep birds safe* from predators). Easy! We suggest stripping some of the apple skin off to expose the flesh. Apples are a particular favourite of blackbirds and bluetits, amongst others.

Tip!

Don’t worry if birds do not come right away after you’ve put out your bird feeder. Birds and most wild animals are suspicious of any changes, so it may take a few days before they learn to trust the new feeder.

Monkey Nut Chains

Monkey nuts can be threaded into chains as a bird feeder suspended between branches of a tree.This is also a very easy bird feeder for children/families to make. All you need is some string and some monkey nuts* (peanuts still in their outer husk). A supervising adult will need to make some small holes in one end of each husk and then string can be threaded through to form a kind of chain (like a necklace). Monkey nuts can be threaded on to form the right length and then this can be tied between the branches of a tree, or similar. See our note about safely locating* them, though.

Home-made Seed Cakes

Home-made seed cakes are both easy and fun for children to make.Home-made seed cakes are another type of bird feeder that is both easy and fun for children to make. Basically, they consist of lots of seeds mixed into a ‘cake’ made from either suet* or lard*. The seeds are mixed in when the lard or suet is melted, so parents/adults will need to help with that part as it’s done by heating it in a saucepan. Once melted, the seeds can be added and mixed in. Once cool enough to be safe, the children can take over to make most of the feeders. First, a piece of string can be tied from the centre of the base of something like a flower pot or yoghurt pot (parents should make the hole, if needed). Then the child can mould the seed cake into the pots, or other similar plastic containers. Once cooled, the seed cakes will harden and can then be suspended from the branches of a tree, bush, fence post or under the eaves of a house or outbuilding. Bluetits, great tits, starlings and robins will usually be the first to try out the new cakes.

A Word About Seeds & Cheese

Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders.Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders. While many commercially-available seed mixtures contain several different types of seed, we have found that birds ignore some of them, so they go to waste. Our own bird feeders have been far more popular when they use more sunflower ‘hearts’ (the sunflowers without the other case) and less of the wheat and barley type seeds. Crushed peanuts* are also popular, but see our notes below about the safety of both baby birds and children when it comes to nuts.

TIP: birds like robins, starlings, wrens, dunnocks and blackbirds also adore grated (mild) Cheddar cheese, but ensure you only put out a little at a time. Don’t give them too much because, although they love it, it should only be given as an occasional treat, not a main meal. It’s also important never to let it go mouldy; mould can kill birds, which is also a reason never to give them blue or veined cheese.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder.All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*.Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder. All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*. All your child needs to do is paste the peanut butter (or suet or lard that’s been safely warmed to soften it) all over the pine cone, including into the open splines. Then the whole thing can be rolled over your seed mixture, so the seeds stick all over the pine cone. Once complete, the pine cone feeder can be hung with a piece of string in an appropriate place outside. Even better: hang several together so the birds can’t miss them. The birds will love pecking them when they’re hungry.

Carton Bird Feeders

Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative.Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative. All you need is an empty milk or juice carton, by which we mean the card ‘Tetra Pak’ type, plus some bird seed/food and some string. Parents will need to help younger children safely attach the string to the tops of the cartons and cut flaps/openings into the sides of the carton. These can be folded down, as shown in the photo, and suspended outside somewhere suitable for the birds. For extra creative fun, children can first paint patterns, designs or even faces on the cartons. This type of bird feeder is great because it not only holds the bird food but also potentially gives birds somewhere safe to land while feeding. As they were originally for holding liquid, they can alternatively be used to hold drinking water for birds — or perhaps children can make one for food and another for drinking water.

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

Clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water.Children can get creative with how they use plastic bottles to feed birds.In a similar way, clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water. The same approach can be used but flaps are not advised as they’re trickier for children to fold and also plastic bottles will have sharper edges than the carton approach above. So, this particular type of bird feeder needs extra supervision from a parent or adult. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible, though. One photo (the first small image at the start of this article) even shows a plastic spoon that’s used as a landing platform and seed dispenser, all in one. Once finished, plastic bottle feeders tend to last a long time, so long as they’re regularly cleaned and refilled.

*Bird Safety & Well-being

Peanut butter, if used, should be free of salt, sugar and flavouring. During breeding season (Mar-Aug) it should be smooth, so it’s safe for baby birds.Peanuts and monkey nuts, if used, should be unroasted and clear of any fungus (break open the outer husk/check the nut surface). Do not touch or use if present.Suet, if used, should be beef suet i.e. from cows. It should be hard and crumbly, not soft and squeezable. Other suets may not be safe for birds.
Lard, if used, should be pure lard. It should remain hard even in warmer weather and should not be squeezable. It is unsafe for birds if it melts in the sun.Locating your bird feeder is important. To keep birds safe from predators, site at least 1.5m above ground and under the overhang of trees/bushes or eaves.Change bird drinking water and clean bird feeders regularly to avoid spreading disease or bacteria amongst the birds. See RSPB guidelines, available here.

**Child Hygiene & Safety

  • Supervise Children

    Children should be supervised by a responsible adult to keep them safe from harm e.g. from sharp tools like scissors and knives and choking hazards like nuts and string.

  • Encourage Good Hygiene

    Encourage children to maintain good hygiene. They should wash hands with soap and water after touching bird feeders, suet, lard, seeds etc. and/or wear rubber gloves.

  • Be Allergy Aware

    Ensure your child is not allergic to any of the bird food before coming into contact with it, e.g. peanuts, seeds, etc.

This article was brought to you by Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. We hope that it was useful and that you and your little one(s) enjoy the suggested activities.

Little Cedars: a First Class Nursery & Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a great choice for families looking for high-quality childcare in Streatham or near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury or 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 ProviderAre you searching for the best nursery or preschool for your child in Streatham? Let us show you and your little one around and we’re sure you’ll soon see how well they would fit in. We offer children under five the very best start in life in a well-equipped, expertly staffed, home-from-home environment.

Apply for a nursery place, book a tour or get answers to any questions by selecting an option below:

Little Cedars may also be conveniently located if you are looking for nurseries/preschools near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.