Tag Archive for: learning and development

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.

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.

Bilingualism in Early Childhood – Why it Matters & How to Support it

Young children are naturally wired to learn languages and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t learn more than one, particularly if they receive appropriate support. Bilingualism refers to the ability to speak two or more languages fluently. In today’s globalised world, being bilingual – or multilingual – has become an increasingly valuable asset. For children, bilingualism can offer numerous benefits, including enhanced cognitive development, improved language skills, and greater cultural awareness. However, raising a bilingual child can also present a few challenges, such as language confusion and potentially a slower rate of vocabulary acquisition in each separate language. In today’s article, we explore the benefits and challenges of bilingualism in children, as well as strategies for supporting their bilingual language development. This may better enable parents and caregivers to support the language development of children under their care.

The Advantages of Bilingualism in Children

Bilingualism can provide numerous benefits for children, including:

Enhanced Cognitive Development

Bilingualism can provide numerous benefits for childrenBilingual children have been shown to have better cognitive flexibility, focus and creativity. Studies have shown that this often leads to better decision-making, prioritisation and planning skills too. With such skills in place, bilingual children may also have a better ability to multitask and switch between separate tasks.

Better Problem-Solving Skills

Bilingual children have been found to be better at solving complex problems. This is likely due to their enhanced cognitive flexibility and ability to approach problems from multiple perspectives.

Improved Language Skills

Bilingual children have been found to have a better understanding of language structure and grammar, as well as a larger vocabulary in both languages combined. Some may also develop better pronunciation and intonation in each language, according to studies.

“Language feeds the brain and links us to our family, our community and our friends. This is vital for a young child’s sense of self.” (National Literacy Trust)

Greater Cultural Awareness and Empathy

Bilingual children have a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures and perspectives. They are more likely to be open-minded and accepting of others, which can also lead to greater empathy and tolerance.

Clearly, bilingualism offers numerous benefits to children and can positively affect their cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development. It is therefore to be encouraged.

Potential Challenges of Bilingualism in Children

While bilingualism offers many benefits to children, it can also present unique challenges. These may include:

Language Confusion

While bilingualism offers many benefits to children, it can also present unique challengesYoung bilingual children may sometimes mix their languages or use one language inappropriately in certain contexts. This is a normal part of the language acquisition process but can be a little confusing, at times, for both the child and their caregivers.

Slower Rate of Language Acquisition? Actually No!

You may have read that bilingual children may take longer to develop language skills than monolingual children. It was thought that this was because they are learning two languages at the same time, which in theory could be more challenging and time-consuming. However, studies show that this is a myth.

“The idea that two languages cause language delays in children has been a long-standing myth … However, research has dispelled this myth. Children are able to learn two languages at the same pace as other children who are learning only one language.” (Nationwide Children’s Hospital)

Possible Language Loss if Not Maintained

If a bilingual child does not have consistent exposure to both languages, they may lose proficiency in one over time. This can occur if the child is not regularly exposed to one language, or if they are discouraged from using one language in favour of the other. As adults, many of us know this to be true if we learnt a second language at school and have not used it subsequently — it’s easy to quickly forget vocabulary if not regularly used.

It’s important to remember that being bilingual is a valuable skill and that the benefits far outweigh the potential challenges that we’ve highlighted. With consistent exposure to both languages and support from caregivers and educators, bilingual children can overcome the challenges and naturally become proficient in both languages.

Strategies & Tips for Supporting Bilingual Children

Parents, caregivers, and educators can support bilingual children and promote their language development in several ways. Some support strategy ideas follow.

Speak Both Languages Consistently

Parents, caregivers, and educators can support bilingual children and promote their language development in several waysParents play a crucial role in supporting their bilingual children’s language development. To help your child become proficient in two different languages, it’s important to consistently speak both at home. Doing so can help children develop a particularly strong foundation in both languages.

Consistent Exposure to Both Languages

Consistent exposure to both languages can also be aided by children having regular access to reading books (including dual language books) as well as audio and visual media presented in each. Music, movies, and even audiobooks, for example, may help.

Encouraging Language Use

Bilingual children may initially prefer to use one language over the other, but it’s important to encourage them to use both. This can be achieved by speaking to the child in both languages and providing opportunities for them to use both of them in daily life.

Emphasise the Importance of Both Languages

Make sure your child understands the value of being bilingual and the benefits it offers. Encourage them to use both languages and help them understand the importance of maintaining proficiency in both.

Creating a Language-Rich Environment

Bilingual children benefit from exposure to a variety of other language-rich environments, such as bilingual story times, cultural festivals, and family gatherings where more than one language will be spoken. These environments can help children develop their language skills at the same time as increasing their exposure to different cultures.

Be Patient

Bilingual language development is an enormous undertaking, so it’s important to be patient with your child’s progress. Don’t worry if your child mixes languages or takes longer to develop language skills in one language compared to the other. Such a thing is relatively easy to rectify with the appropriate focus being given to the weaker of the two, for example when talking at home.

Seek Out Resources & Support

Look for resources and support for bilingual families, such as bilingual playgroups. These can provide your child with additional exposure to both languages and connect you with other families in similar situations.

Provide Additional Language Support if Needed

Bilingual children may require additional support if they are struggling with language development, although the same can be said for any child learning even only one language. Either way, such support can include enrolling the child in language classes or working with a tutor or speech therapist to address any language delays or difficulties.

As we have seen above, bilingualism offers many advantages to children and can help them develop important cognitive and social skills. However, bilingualism also presents a few, unique challenges that parents, caregivers, and educators may have to navigate. By providing consistent exposure to both languages, creating a language-rich environment, and supporting children’s language development, bilingual children can become proficient in both languages and fully realise all the benefits that bilingualism offers. More tips for parents of bilingual children are available in a variety of languages here.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham

The Highest Quality Childcare for Babies & Children Under 5 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.As a childcare nursery, we recognise the value of bilingualism in the children we care for. Therefore, we support their language development in a way that fosters overall growth and development whilst also celebrating their cultural heritage.

Why not bring your baby, toddler or preschooler along for a guided tour of the setting, so you can meet the staff, see the facilities and ask any questions? You can also see how well your child fits in. Or, if you are ready to register your child for a place, we’ll be delighted to welcome them to Little Cedars Nursery. Please take the first step using a button below:

Little Cedars Day Nursery is officially a good nursery and preschool and is located in Streatham, SW16. We are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. All Government childcare funding schemes are supported.

Bilateral Coordination in Children – What's it All About?

Today we explain what Bilateral Coordination is, why it's important and how it benefits children.Bilateral coordination is an important skill for children to master and is something that parents should look out for as children develop in their early years. Today we look at the topic, explaining what it is, why it’s important and how mastery of the skill benefits little ones.

What is Bilateral Coordination?

Bilateral coordination refers to the developmental skill of accomplishing one or more activities, using both sides of the body at the same time. Examples might include using one hand to hold paper still and the other to draw, or coordinating each foot in a different way in order to successfully propel oneself on a scooter or bicycle.

“Crossing the Midline”

Crossing the midline refers to a person reaching across their body, from one side to the opposite side, in order to complete a task.You may also hear reference to the phrase crossing the midline and this is also linked to bilateral coordination. It refers to a person reaching across their body, from one side to the opposite side, in order to complete a task. An example would be a child reaching with their right hand, across their body, to pick up a toy that’s to their left. Crossing the midline in such a way is a significant step because it demonstrates that infants have progressed from naturally using the side of their body nearest the object to using a dominant or preferred side. This may be the first indication parents have of whether their child is going to be left- or right-handed.

Why is Bilateral Coordination Important?

As adults, we take bilateral coordination very much for granted, forgetting that we weren’t born with such abilities. Being able to coordinate both sides of the body to accomplish tasks, activities or even just movements is incredibly important. If children don’t learn the skill, they may appear clumsy and Lack of bilateral coordination skills can make even simple things very difficult for children.uncoordinated and will struggle with a variety of physical tasks.

Signs of Possible Difficulty

Parents/carers can watch out for signs of possible difficulty with bilateral coordination in children. Signs could include difficulty tying shoe laces, buttoning up clothes, handwriting, catching a ball, clapping and even knowing when to lift or bend a limb in order to achieve a particular physical movement — when walking up a step, for example. The appearance of clumsiness is another sign.

The 3 Types of Bilateral Coordination

Bilateral coordination falls into three categories:

  1. Creative activities that require precise hand-eye coordination can help.Reciprocal bilateral coordination: this is where both sides of the body form a rhythmic motion but the movements on each side alternate. Examples include walking, swimming and cycling.
  2. Symmetrical bilateral coordination: this is where both sides of the body are performing the same task at the same time. For example, clapping, catching a ball or doing star jumps.
  3. Asymmetrical bilateral coordination: here, both sides of the body are required to perform a task, but the motions on one side do not match those on the other at all. Cutting a piece of paper, for example, involves one hand holding or moving the paper and the other using the scissors. Tying shoe laces also requires each hand to perform a different task. Playing a musical instrument is another example. For instance, violin strings will need to be held down against the fret board by one hand and played with the other using a bow.

In many cases, the child will find themselves using a worker hand on one side of the body and a helper hand on the other. One ultimately becomes the dominant hand in 99% of all children. Thus, they become either left-handed or right-handed. Just 1% of people are properly ambidextrous, i.e. having no dominant hand, although many more will exhibit one or more ambidextrous skills at some stage of their development.

The Motor Skills Needed for Bilateral Coordination

Mastery of bilateral coordination requires children to develop fine, gross and visual motor skills.Mastery of bilateral coordination requires children to develop and fine-tune three types of motor skill:

  • Fine motor skills — the smaller, precise movements needed to accomplish things like building with Lego blocks, doing up buttons etc;
  • Gross motor skills e.g. walking, crawling, skipping, jumping, riding a bike or peddling a scooter;
  • Visual motor skills e.g. using skilled hand-eye coordination for writing, drawing, tracing and using scissors to make accurate cuts.

Activities That Help Improve Bilateral Coordination

When age appropriate for safety purposes, practising activities like those above and listed below can help children to improve bilateral coordination and body awareness:

  • Ball games are just one of the activities that can help children practise bilateral coordination skills.Threading beads on a string, or string through holes punched though paper or card;
  • Playing catch with a ball;
  • Ball games that use hands and/or feet;
  • Playing with musical instruments e.g. banging drums, playing a keyboard etc.;
  • Carefully cutting or tearing paper along a specific path;
  • Popping bubbles using both hands;
  • Bilateral coordination falls into three categories: reciprocal, symmetrical and asymmetrical.Play-doh — squeezing and rolling it, including use of tools to shape it;
  • Playing physical movement games like ‘Simon Says’;
  • Playing with equipment in playgrounds, for example climbing up a ramp or climbing frame etc;
  • Helping with household duties like carrying shopping, filling or emptying bags, loading and unloading washing;
  • Swimming and other sports activities;
  • Role play as animals e.g. walking on all fours, walking sideways, jumping etc.;
  • Playing the commercial game ‘Twister’, which is also brilliant fun.

Playing with blocks or lego helps infants develop bilateral coordination skills.These are just a few examples. Any age-appropriate game or activity is likely to help improve bilateral coordination so long as it requires precise, measured movements and coordination of both sides of the body. It’s a case of the child practising over time, often through play, until a particular physical outcome has been mastered. Progress is particularly easy to see in babies and infants as they gradually become more physically able, dextrous, strong and coordinated.

Any Concerns?

We should mention that some children take longer than others to achieve mastery of bilateral coordination and this is quite normal — every child is different. That said, a few children are affected by conditions such as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (‘DCD’) and Dyspraxia, which adversely affect coordination. However, a positive diagnosis of such conditions is only really possible once a child reaches the age of 4 or 5. Our Guide to DCD and Dyspraxia in Children explains more. If you have any concerns about your child, please ask your GP or health visitor for a professional opinion.

Nursery Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, close to 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 ProviderLittle Cedars is a wonderful nursery and pre-school in Streatham. It offers an outstandingly good childcare service near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown. We’re also conveniently located if you live or work near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. Click a button below to apply for a nursery place, arrange a free tour of the nursery or to contact us with any queries — we’re here to help!