Tag Archive for: reading

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.

Why your child should learn to play a musical instrument.

Children will naturally start to move, dance, join in or even learn songs that they hear.Both children and adults have a natural affinity with music. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures that just about everyone seems to enjoy in one way or another. Children will naturally start to move, dance, join in or even learn songs that they hear — such reactions seem instinctive to them. Learning to play a musical instrument is therefore a natural next step for them. Indeed, it’s one that parents, guardians and carers should consider encouraging, particularly given how beneficial such an endeavour will be to their child. Learning to play a musical instrument is not simply fun; it profoundly benefits children’s learning and development. With that in mind, we take a look today at the incredible array of benefits that learning a musical instrument poses for children, including under-fives.

The Benefits of Learning to Play a Musical Instrument

• Enhanced Cognitive Development

As something that stimulates multiple senses and encourages new connections in the brain, learning to play music aids cognitive development and enhances memory skills. Because of this, children who learn to play and read music have been shown to achieve better grades at school and in exams.

“Children who learn to read music achieve better grades at school and in exams.”

• Improved Coordination

Hand-eye coordination skills are also aided when learning to play a musical instrument.Studies have also shown that learning an instrument or learning how to read music develops the left side of the brain. This area is responsible for processing language and reasoning. Hand-eye coordination skills are also aided when learning to play a musical instrument and reading music. As children’s playing and reading become more advanced, it requires the brain to work at a range of speeds, which is also great exercise for the brain.

• Improved Well-being

Music has different effects on mood, depending on the music, style and time signature. It can have a calming effect, for sure, and importantly can be a great stress reliever. Children can ‘lose themselves’, entering a different phase of being when focusing on playing or listening to music. When playing in the background, music can also help to promote concentration, for example if they are working, drawing or being creative.

• Allowing Self-Expression

Music gives children a really flexible way of expressing themselves.Music gives children a really flexible way of expressing themselves. For instance, the way they choose to bang on a drum, shake a tambourine or strum a guitar can allow them to show happiness, anger, frustration, calmness and many other emotions. Playing a musical instrument gives them a real freedom of expression, even at a very young age. Then, if they reach a point where they are able to make up their own melodies and arrangements, music can become an almost immeasurably powerful tool for self-expression and communication.

• Encouraging Social Skills & More

Group music sessions are a brilliant way for children to make friends and enhance social skills. Whether collaborating on a piece of music with friends at pre-school, school or outside of nursery/education, it encourages teamwork, cooperation and working towards a common goal. A healthy dose of socialising and fun is all a part of it too. A progression, perhaps, to music clubs will also encourage little ones to mix with children of other ages. In turn, such group music activity can help children become inspired and further encouraged by peers.

“Music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” — Billy Joel

• Improved Mathematics Skills

It's never too early or too late for children to start learning to play a musical instrument.Although playing an instrument is creative, music and maths are very much intertwined. Beats, rhythms and scales are all based on maths and children naturally need to work out some maths in order to understand the song and any sheet music. This will naturally help them to better grasp mathematics and illustrate a real-world example of how it underlies many things.

• Boosting Reading Skills

Reading music is a whole new skill that children can get to grips with once they’re at a suitable level of cognitive development. The child needs to read and work out which notes to play, how long to hold them, what key is involved, how to read on ahead, follow rhythm and patterns and so on. It’s an amazing skill to accomplish and is an excellent way to boost reading skills as well as cognitive function, hand-eye coordination, self-expression and so much more.

• Better Listening Skills

Music is a natural way to encourage listening and that's even more true when children learn to play music themselves.Whether your child is listening to a tutor, teacher, friend or relative, listening skills are very important. Music is a natural way to encourage listening and that’s even more true when children learn to play music themselves. Doing so in their early years will help them to follow instructions, listen out for smaller details as well as the bigger picture. Working together on a piece of music is also a fantastic way to hone group listening skills and teamwork and to encourage collaboration.

• Improving Understanding of Culture & History

Music can open up a whole new world to children. It can give them new insights into different countries, different eras, different cultures and different styles. They’ll suddenly become aware, for instance, of rock, blues, jazz, folk etc. and how other cultures use different instruments and styles in their music.

• Supporting the EYFS

Playing a musical instrument helps all 7 areas of the EYFS.Indeed, music helps to support all 7 focus areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Learning to play and read music helps children improve personal, social and emotional development, physical development (fine motor skills etc.) communication and language, literacy, maths, understanding the world as we saw above and, of course, expressive arts through musical expression and creativity. All these things are at the core of the EYFS. Music is amazingly powerful and impactful in its reach and the bottom line is that it helps children boost grades.

• Boosting Confidence

Playing music helps children to boost self-esteem and self-confidence.When children master a song, no matter how basic, they get an enormous sense of achievement and even more so if they are praised by adults and peers. Such praise also encourages the child to progress further, of course. Boosting self-esteem and self-confidence in their early years is important for their future wellbeing too. Achieving something through learning, patience and practising regularly also teaches them that persistence and effort will help them overcome challenges. That’s a very important lesson in life.

It’s Never too Early or too Late to Start Playing Music

It’s never too late or too early to start learning a musical instrument. With all the benefits, though, it makes sense to give your little one the wonderful opportunities that playing musical instruments provides as early as possible. It’s easy to start, too. When they’re tiny, you could start them off with simple instruments. For example, they could beat a drum — even a home-made drum, which can be simply an empty box, upturned container or upturned pots and pans, using a wooden spoons as drumsticks. Triangles are simple for infants to ‘ting’ and tambourines are super-easy for toddlers to shake. There are lots of simple ways children can begin to learn to play music themselves.Little ones can first practise keeping in time to music or a beat that an adult is demonstrating, perhaps. Maracas are also good starter instruments although, again, anything that makes a shaking sound can be made at home at zero cost. For instance using an empty carton or plastic container securely sealed with dried rice, pasta or lentils inside. Once they get the hang of such percussive or shaker-style instruments, you can consider transitioning them to more advanced instruments like recorders, ocarinas, keyboards, stringed instruments and so on. Often, children will be more than willing to give such instruments a try and some encouragement and guidance from knowledgeable adults or older children will always be helpful. And, who knows, they could end up being maestros and even stars in the making!

Outstanding Childcare at a Good Nursery in Streatham

Little Cedars (Streatham) is a good nursery/pre-school across all areas, say Ofsted

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 ProviderOfsted independently rates Little Cedars Nursery as a good early years provider, scoring high in all areas that they assess. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Streatham that gives babies, toddlers and under-5s the very best start in life. By the time they leave us, they’ve achieved personal bests in every area of the curriculum and we aim to ensure they’re ‘school ready’ by the time they leave us at the age of five.

We’re very near to Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown as well as being conveniently close to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Why not come for a guided tour with your little one — or simply apply for a nursery place for your child.  Get started by choosing an appropriate contact button below. We’ll also be happy to answer any questions.

Dyslexia - How to Spot the Early Warning Signs

Many dyslexic children are highly intelligentDespite many dyslexic people being highly intelligent, dyslexia makes it difficult for them to recognise words and/or be able to break them down into their smaller components. It is recognised as a Specific Learning Difficulty (‘SpLD’) and can seriously affect their education if not recognised and addressed early.

A dictionary defines dyslexia as “a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence”. When it first came to the attention of doctors in the late 19th Century, it was more commonly referred to as “Word Blindness”, which pretty much sums up how dyslexia affects people afflicted by it.

The Adverse Effects of Dyslexia

Symptoms of dyslexia can include blurred, jumbled or even moving letters when readingSuch an affliction can have profound implications for a person. It will adversely affect their reading, writing and comprehension, thereby limiting their overall learning capability and hindering overall literacy. These are particularly critical skills during their early years as that’s at the start of their education, when the knock-on effects of such limiting factors will be at their most significant. It will slow down their progress in many topics and areas of education, also leading potentially to lower self-confidence and possibly even getting them mislabelled as ‘slow’ or ‘lazy’ by the unenlightened. Ultimately, it can severely limit their potential careers and life outcomes.

Those are incredibly unfair ramifications and that’s why we are taking a closer look at how parents, carers and education professionals can learn to spot the signs of dyslexia early, so that dyslexic children can be helped as soon as possible.

“The earlier a child with dyslexia is diagnosed, the more effective educational interventions are likely to be.” (NHS)

Early Warning Signs of Possible Dyslexia

In pre-school children, there are several things to watch out for. These include:

  • There are many signs to look out for when it comes to possible dyslexiaChildren finding it difficult to learn the alphabet;
  • Little interest in attempting to do so;
  • Difficulty pronouncing multi-syllable words (or phrases) including jumbling the the order of them — ‘flutterby’ instead of ‘butterfly’ for example;
  • Difficulty with rhyming words and even nursery rhymes;
  • Slower speech development compared to others in their year group;
  • Finding it difficult to express themselves verbally, including jumbling word order in sentences and having trouble recalling appropriate word(s) to use;
  • Slower development of fine motor skills, for example maintaining a regular rhythm on a percussive instrument.

We should add, though, that having any or even all of these problems does not, in itself, definitely mean that the child has dyslexia — they are just possible signs of it. Many children without dyslexia may have some of these symptoms, so it’s important not to jump to incorrect conclusions. The symptoms of dyslexia also vary greatly from person to person, so diagnosis is not easy.

Dyslexia Signs in School-Age Children

It may become easier to diagnose dyslexia in children once they start school, as they will be reading and writing more by that time. Signs of possible dyslexia to add to the list above may then include:

  • Dyslexic children can struggle both reading and writingThe child describing words and letters as visually jumbling, blurring or even moving around when they try to read them;
  • Giving poor written answers but good verbal ones;
  • Difficulty learning common sequences of words like months of the year, days in the week and, as we mentioned before, letters of the alphabet;
  • Difficulty following a sequence of instructions given at the same time (e.g. ‘put the fork on the plate, then take it to the kitchen’), but being OK if they are given separately;
  • Inconsistent spelling and incorrect letter order;
  • Mistaking numbers and letters for one another, for example using p instead of d or 9 instead of 6;
  • Slow reading and writing speeds, poor quality of handwriting and making mistakes when reading out loud;
  • A lower-than-average grasp of phonetics, phonology and ‘word attack’ skills, that might otherwise have helped a child to work out the possible meaning of multi-syllable/multi-part words through attention to the individual parts.

Learn more about assessment and diagnosis of dyslexia on the NHS site.

Is There a Cure for Dyslexia?

There is no cure for dyslexia, but measures can be taken to help mitigate the adverse effects of itThere is no cure for dyslexia, but measures to mitigate its effects can be taken by education professionals, parents, carers and even those affected by it. It’s incredibly important, though, for both parents and education professionals to try to recognise it early, for example at nursery or pre-school, so that a suitable teaching programme can be introduced as early as possible.

Dyslexia & Special Needs at Little Cedars Nursery

If staff or parents of children at our nursery suspect that a child may be dyslexic — or have any other special needs — it’s important to discuss it together as early as possible in the child’s education. In this way, an appropriate learning and development programme can be agreed; one that is tailored to suit the individual child’s needs, in the best possible way. Doing so as early as possible, ideally starting in their pre-school years, will help to limit any adverse effects caused by the condition. When properly addressed, there is no reason why a child with dyslexia shouldn’t be able to absolutely thrive, despite the condition. It goes without saying that we are always happy to discuss any concerns parents may have about their children — indeed we encourage it so that we can work together to address such concerns.

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is an outstanding nursery in Streatham SW16, near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting and Balham. If you are looking for high quality nurseries or pre-schools in any of these areas, please get in touch and we’d be delighted to show you and your child/children around, so you can see the wonderful nursery facilities, happy children and exceptionally professional staff for yourself. Please get in touch, while a few places are still available, via one of the following:

*THIS* is Why You Should Read With Your Child

A young child reads with a parentIn April last year, we published a compelling article about the importance of parental involvement in the education of children. In today’s, we study the specific importance of reading with children and how doing so profoundly benefits those children. What’s more, those benefits have long-term positive effects on the education and outcomes for those children …

First, a Clarification

First, parents need to know that the biggest positive impact from reading is when parents read with children, not just to them. So, in other words, both parent and child need to be involved in the task of reading, in an interactive kind of way. In so doing, for example, the parent can be there to help the child tackle tricky words, perhaps pointing out individual syllables, how something should be pronounced, how it should be spelt, why certain things are spelt the way they are, and so on. As time goes by, those children will learn and begin to recognise the ‘shape’ of whole words, which will become more familiar to them and allow them to be instantly ‘computed’ by the child as they begin to read more often. This interactive help from the parent or carer will teach children the methodology as well as helping them directly with letter combinations, syllables, phonetics, etc.

The biggest positive impact from reading is when parents read with children, not just to them.

Some Obvious Benefits of Reading with Children

There are many obvious benefits to the child if a parent helps with readingReading with children also makes the task less daunting, particularly for the youngest children. Reading together also makes it more interesting and more fun. When it’s more interesting and more fun, the child is going to enjoy it more and naturally want to read more often — eventually independently — and all of that is priceless as part of their education and general knowledge going forwards. Reading can also bring parent and child closer through the time spent together. It can be great fun for the adult too, particularly when the child gets older and adults are exposed to classic children’s books that perhaps they were not, themselves, exposed to when they were young.

Fiction Books

Reading with children teaches them about English, spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, phonetics, comprehension and pronunciation. The regular and varied subject matter also helps children to open up their imaginations. This in turn will help them to become more creative, more imaginative individuals. This is true whether the reading material is fiction or non-fiction.

Non-Fiction Books

When it comes to non-fiction reading, of course there are a myriad of benefits to the child as they will be learning about many other topics along the way. So, reading carefully-selected factual material together will teach and benefit them on many levels. When they’re older, of course, this will help them to pinpoint and better comprehend relevant sections of text books when answering homework assignments.

Profound Additional Benefits of Reading With Children

Socio-economic Impacts

Sadly, children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are statistically shown to perform less well then those from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Parents reading with children, however, has been proposed as a solution to this deficit — it may well even up the playing field, which is incredible when you think about it. Indeed, research shows that children who do not receive reading help from parents are highly likely to perform worse at school and to end up with poorer outcomes in life. Again, that’s a profoundly important finding.

Children who do not receive reading help from parents are highly likely to perform worse at school and to end up with poorer outcomes in life.

The Nuffield Foundation Study

Adults reading regularly with children throughout their early years was found to boost the children's language skills by the equivalent of 8 months.The Nuffield Foundation’s mission is to advance social wellbeing and educational opportunity. In a partnership with the University of Newcastle, the foundation funded a deep study1 using data going back 40 years. Its findings are astonishing. When adults read regularly with children throughout their early years, it was found that the children’s language skills were improved by the equivalent of 8 months. This was for children aged, on average in the study, just 3¼ years old. That’s virtually in the middle of their early years education, so an 8-month leap in language skills at that incredibly young age is amazing when you think about it.

Adults reading regularly with children throughout their early years was found to boost the children’s language skills by the equivalent of 8 months.

Conclusion

The benefits gained from parents reading with children, particularly in their early years, are clear to see. Reading boosts so many areas of a child’s education and the benefits are even greater when parents oversee and help with that reading. So, if you want your child to hit the ground running with their learning and development, read with them from an early age. Their comprehension, vocabulary, language skills, creativity, use of English, reading itself and overall literacy and knowledge of a wide variety of topics will benefit enormously. So too will their skills of empathy, their ability to express themselves, creativity and imagination. What’s more, by the time they leave nursery or pre-school, they’ll be even better prepared to hit the ground running by the time they start school at age 5. And many will also learn to love books and this can only help to benefit them further and enrich their lives as they grow older.

If you want your child to hit the ground running with their learning and development, read with them from an early age.

Reading at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Childcare professionals read with all children at Little Cedars Nursery in StreathamIt will come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that we put all of the above into practice at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Getting closely involved in children’s reading, using a huge variety of reading material in an interactive way, gives our nursery children the very best start in life. Indeed, our childcare professionals prepare them thoroughly for school by the time they leave us. They take with them reading, writing, literacy, language, vocabulary and self-expression skills in the process — and all this accomplished at least in part through guided reading.

If you’d like to consider the possibility of a place for your baby or child at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, please get in touch while we still have a few places available. We’re a nursery and pre-school offering outstanding weekday childcare near Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Upper Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Furzedown & Balham in London SW16.

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