Tag Archive for: Streatham Hill

15 Ways to Manage a Fussy Eater
It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods.It can be frustrating when children refuse to eat particular foods, often seemingly for no apparent reason. Much of it is new to them, though, if they’ve only recently been weaned off milk. So, firstly don’t get stressed about it. Refusing certain foods initially is quite normal for the very young. Often, all that is needed is a strategy for dealing with finicky eating and a little patience. Let’s take a look, today, at measures parents or carers can take to manage children who are fussy eaters. After all, it’s imperative that they have a healthy, balanced diet.

1. Be Patient

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food, particularly if it has a taste and texture that’s new to their palette. The secret is for them to keep trying it over a few days and weeks. More often than not, they’ll eventually accept it and indeed even realise that they like it if you’ve added it to their plate multiple times over an extended period.

2. Make Allowances for an Acquired Taste

It may take as many as 10-15 attempts before a child will accept and trust a new food.Similarly, some foods are an acquired taste, i.e. one that’s initially not liked, but is later appreciated and enjoyed. Avocados have a taste that’s quite subtle and delicate, for example. Because of that, some youngsters think they are bland — but may well love their subtle flavour and texture once they’re older. That’s an acquired taste. So, again, it’s worth encouraging your child to keep trying foods even if they don’t think they like them in the beginning.

3. Change the Format

Children will refuse some foods based purely on what they look like. For whatever reason, how they look may not appeal to the child. When this happens, one easy solution is to disguise the particular food type next time around. Examples would be chopping it up smaller, mixing it in with something else or even blitzing or liquidising it to use in soup, purée or sauce. They may then not even realise that they’re eating the food they refused previously.

4. Sneaky Pairing

Sometimes you can try disguising a food.If your child loves one food but not initially another, try using food bridges. This is when you pair one food with another food that you know they already like. You can start small and gradually increase the amount of the ‘new’ food. Adding cheese to potato or pasta is one example. Adding a small garnish of finely chopped herbs, vegetables or even fruit to pasta, rice, pulses or meat is another. These may slip under the child’s radar and this will help with gradual acceptance.

5. Make it Attractive to the Child

Similarly, making a new food attractive to the child may help him or her accept it. This could entail using colourful foods to form attractive designs on the plate, rainbow colours, creatively shaped foods and so on.

6. Get Children to Engage with their Food

You can make the food into fun pictures, faces, etc.You could even make the food into fun pictures, all entirely made of the food you want them to eat. For example, peas could be made to represent a hill, broccoli could represent a wooded area, the yolk of a fried egg could represent the sun and so on. This approach will help children to see a fun aspect of food, and to engage more directly with it.

7. Food Themes

You could even ‘theme’ how meals look. For example, one meal could depict a scene with a rocket ready for launch (the rocket could be a carrot). Another food theme might be a treasure island, and so on.

8. Get Children Involved

Involve fussy eaters in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on.You could even get children involved in the creativity and choices around food. With the requisite care around safety, you could involve them in food preparation, choosing foods, deciding how they are displayed on the plate and so on. This will again get them more engaged around food and make it into a fun, creative activity. Children will love that. Remember, though, that this should only be taken so far. After all, you do not want to encourage them to always ‘play’ with their food.

9. Use Fun Plates & Bowls

Plates and bowls and even cutlery that feature fun designs and characters may also help children enjoy the process of eating more. Perhaps a food they’re not yet convinced about could be used to cover the face of their favourite character. You can then encourage them to eat that food type so that they reveal the face and gradually they’ll reveal the whole scene if they eat all their food.

10. Praise Them

Praise will sometimes do wonders when it comes to little ones eating.When your child eats something that they’ve not been keen on eating before, give them positive feedback as this will encourage them. A well done here and a good job there will sometimes do wonders.

11. Send Good Signals

Similarly, sending good signals around food will help to encourage children to eat, for example, referring to a particular food as yummy or delicious. Food needs to be perceived always as a positive thing.

12. Try Home Growing Activities

Getting your child involved in growing food at home may also encourage them to try it.Getting your child involved in growing vegetables, herbs and perhaps even fruit at home may also encourage them to actually eat it. They’ll get an enormous sense of satisfaction if they grow something from seed, nurture it and finally get to eat it. It’ll also teach them new skills and about nature and where some food comes from.

13. Explain the Importance of Food

When they’re a little older and have good language skills, you could remind children why food is so important — giving them much-needed minerals and vitamins, for example, giving them energy, making them strong, ensuring their brain works efficiently and so on. This can be a powerful approach and you may even find them saying such facts back to you if you persevere.

14. Walk the Walk

It’s one thing telling children all the reasons they should eat a good, healthy, balanced meal. However, demonstrating that you are doing so is even better! So, lead by example. Ensure they are seeing that you too are eating a good mix of different foods and be a good role model. You could even educate them about each food type along the way. For example, you could point out that you’re eating potato because it’s high in starch (good for energy to power the body), or cheese because it’s high in calcium (good for bones and teeth) and so on.

15. Offer a Reward

If all else fails, offer a reward to a child who isn’t really cooperating over a particular food. For example, you could say, if you eat all your peas, we’ll go to the swings or similar.

Healthy Eating at Little Cedars Nursery

A healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children's formative years.At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham we know how finicky young children can sometimes be. So, we too occasionally employ some of the tactics described above. After all, food and a healthy, balanced diet is important and never more so than in children’s formative years. Study after study has shown this to be the case. Read our Healthy Eating Guide for Under-Fives for more details.

Our High Quality Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

Near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.If you are looking for the best nursery or pre-school for your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Streatham area, please get in touch. We offer high quality weekday childcare for under-fives and the nursery/pre-school is also conveniently close if you are living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. Get in touch using the buttons below to apply for a place, arrange a tour of the setting or simply to ask any questions. We’ll be happy to help.

20 Ways to Prepare Children for School

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

1. A Good Early Years Education

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

2. Help Learning at Home

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

3. Read With Them

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

4. Forewarn Them

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

5. Listen Up

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

6. Answer Questions

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

7. Reassure Them

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

8. Encourage Independence

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

9. Encourage Social Skills

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

10. Identify A Friend

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

11. Show Them a Prospectus/Brochure/Website

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

12. Visit Ahead of Starting

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

13. Pre-Sync Children’s Body Clocks

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

14. Ensure They Get Enough Sleep

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

15. Prepare Their Uniform/Clothing

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

16. Do a Dummy School Run

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

17. Help Them to Pre-Pack

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

18. Be on Time On the Day

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

19. Reassure & Don’t Fuss on the Day

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

20. Ensure They Know Who Will Collect Them

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

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

A Good Early Years Education at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, Streatham

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

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

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

Forewarn & Reassure Them

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

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

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

Help Little Ones With Independence

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

Synchronise with the New Routine

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

Take Your Child for a Pre-Visit!

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

A Friendly Face

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

The Day They Start

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

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

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

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

Starting at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Babies, toddlers and preschoolers will always get a warm welcome at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Our childcare professionals are all adept at putting children at ease from the moment they start. They’ll settle them in and ensure they are happy, safe and enjoying themselves right from the start.

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

The Quick Guide to Tummy Time

Building upper body strength in arms, shoulders, core and back will help babies in their physical development and mobility.Welcome to our quick guide to Tummy Time. One of the most important things for babies during their earliest development is to build strength, muscles, motor skills and coordination. In particular, learning to lift and safely move their heads is one of the most crucial skills at this young age. Strength and muscle coordination in their neck is therefore very important. That’s not easy when they’re newborns in their first few weeks because their head is comparatively large and heavy compared with their little bodies at that age. Building upper body strength in arms, shoulders, core and back will also greatly help them in their physical development and mobility, essentially helping them to perform and survive safely as humans. Tummy Time is a key tool in learning to accomplish all of these goals — and many more.

Tummy Time will eventually help toddlers learn to crawl.What is Tummy Time?

Tummy Time is the period in the day where a baby under twelve months, under close adult supervision*, will be placed on their tummies (the ‘prone’ position) whilst awake. It can be started right from their first week and generally can take place for 3-5 minutes, two to three times a day. The idea is for them to learn to lift and move their heads, arms and upper body, mainly in order to build strength. There are, however, several additional benefits to Tummy Time …

What are the Benefits of Tummy Time?

As well as strengthening muscles in the neck, arms, core and trunk muscles, Tummy Time has a number of additional benefits:

  • Tummy Time allows babies to better explore to gain improved sensory perception of everything in their immediate vicinity.It helps to stop the development of deformations in the skull. ‘Positional plagiocephaly’ (or ‘Flat Head Syndrome’) might otherwise occur if the baby is only positioned in a limited number of positions, i.e. mostly on its back. Bear in mind, of course, that at this young age the baby’s skull bones are far more flexible than those of an adult, so such deformations are more likely if the baby’s head is always lying in the same position.
  • Tummy Time also decreases the risk of the baby developing ‘Positional Torticollis’, which is a neck twisting problem that’s caused due to similar issues.
  • It also allows the baby to control his or her head more easily. That’s important in many ways, including being able to control what they see, to become aware of their surroundings from a safety perspective and to be able to interact with toys, objects and other individuals.
  • It may help initially to support babies with a rolled-up towel, blanket or similar.Making sense of sensory stimuli is also aided by the positive results of Tummy Time, as babies can better explore and gain improved sensory perception of everything in their immediate vicinity.
  • Tummy Time also encourages babies to use and strengthen their arms, to support their weight, to reach out for objects and so on. Such skills are all a part of improved coordination, better fine and gross motor skills and ultimately they will all help lead the infant to independent mobility as they grow older.

*A Word About Safety

Babies should only be placed onto their tummies when they’re awake and under continuous adult supervision. To avoid the risk of SIDS, babies should only sleep on their backs and never be allowed to fall asleep while on their tummies.

How to Encourage Tummy Time

Tummy Time may not come naturally to babies and indeed many babies will dislike it at first. That’s mainly because the very muscles that Tummy Time is designed to strengthen start out weak. Therefore, Tummy Time will initially be a struggle for many, if not most, and they may resist. It’s important to persevere, however. Parental encouragement is going to be required.

Try putting the baby in a prone position (on their tummy) on, say, a clean blanket or rug.Try putting the baby in a prone position (i.e. on their tummy) on, say, a clean blanket or rug. Lie down on your tummy too and face them, encouraging them to stay on their tummies by use of a game like peek-a-boo. If you can, try to get them to raise themselves onto their arms or, eventually, hands. Move yourself around a little, so they move too and strengthen their muscles. If they’re finding it too difficult initially, a rolled-up blanket underneath their chest may help to start them off. Don’t worry if at first they can only push themselves up on their arms or hands only for fleeting moments; they will gradually improve as they try more and more.

Tummy Time can also be practised in a cradle position.

You can also try the same thing with them lying on your tummy facing you, across your lap or cradled (supporting them underneath with a hand or arm), although the firmer floor option above will give them better resistance to push against, in order to build muscle strength. It’s also important to support their head when needed.

From the age of about 3 months, you can introduce toys and this will encourage them to move about more, e.g. to reach out and grab as well as change the direction they point their faces and so on. All of this will help build strength, motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

After 6 months, they should start to be able to support their weight on their arms in a raised, kind of 'press-up' position.After 6 months, they should start to be able to support their weight on their arms in a raised, kind of ‘press-up’ position. This can be encouraged with some support (and play) from you and they’ll get the hang of it with practise. Soon enough, they’ll also be able to roll sideways in either direction and get themselves back into the prone position when they want to. They’ll soon master the art of passing a toy from one hand to another at around this time. They’ll also be able to get themselves into a sitting position before they’re 9 months old, or thereabouts.

Between the ages of about 7 to 9 months old, you may well find they’ve progressed to crawling. By this time, there’s no huge need for them to continue with Tummy Time, although it’ll do no harm and will continue to build their strength, coordination and motor skills if continued.

Standing will usually come soon too, particularly if encouraged and, of course, supervised for safety purposes. Then, in the blink of an eye, the ultimate milestone will be accomplished as they begin walking and life starts a whole new chapter!

Childcare Places at Little Cedars, an Outstanding Nursery & Pre-school in Streatham

We hope our quick guide to Tummy Time is a useful reference. Of course, at Little Cedars, we also ensure that babies up to twelve months old get to benefit from Tummy Time sessions at the nursery — we know how important it is for their development.

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars is a nursery and pre-school offering outstanding childcare services in Streatham. If you’re searching for a good nursery or pre-school near Streatham Common/Hill/Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec/Broadway/Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood, we’d make a great choice. Contact us for more information, to arrange a visit or to register your child for a place at the setting. We’re also always happy to answer any questions too …

Flexible Working Requests — Your Rights as a Parent

Perhaps you’d rather go part-time while your child is under five.If you were a full-time employee when you had your child, perhaps you’d rather go part time while your child is under five. Or maybe you want to explore the option of flexitime with your employer. Perhaps you’d like to ask if job sharing is possible, or whether you can work only on specific days of the week. What are the rules, though? Does your employer have to offer part-time or flexible working now you’re a parent, or are they under no statutory obligation to do so? Today we take a look at the rules.

In particular, new parents may start to re-think going back to work full time once maternity* leave comes to an end. The nearer their return date gets, the more new parents begin to think about the possible complications that may follow. These may include the ability to drop off or pick up their infant in time from the nursery, or even getting home in time to see them before their bedtime. Being apart can also be a real wrench after spending perhaps every hour of their parental leave with their infant.

Example

Florence works in sales of new homes for a large house builder. She works full time on weekdays, from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. The sites where she works can be anywhere from 10 minutes away to over an hour-and-a-half from her home depending upon where she’s based at any particular time of the year.

Florence goes on maternity leave, fully intending to go back full time once it comes to an end. However, when the date for returning nears, she has a change of heart. Firstly, she’ll miss her child growing up too much if she goes back full time. Secondly, this may be compounded if her employer still expects her to work miles and miles away from home. That would make pick-up from the nursery in time impossible — indeed, she would have to find someone else to pick her child up. It may even mean that she will miss her infant’s evening bedtime on working days. She’s concerned that she just won’t get to see her child much and will miss out on a big part of their early childhood if her working pattern isn’t changed.

Florence decides to ask to go back part-time (3 days per week) and makes contact with her employer to make the request.

Considerations when making a Flexible Working Request

Parents may want to change working hours so that timing fits in with nursery drop-off and pick-up times.The rules state that employees can only make ONE request for a change to their contracted hours/days per year. This must be in writing and is called a ‘Flexible Working Request’. So Florence’s request will need to cover all bases because she won’t get another chance for another request until another year has passed.

So, Florence’s particular application needs to include:

  • the request to reduce from five-days-a-week to just three;
  • the request, if applicable, to reduce or alter the working hours so that the timings fit better with nursery drop-off and pick-up times;
  • a request to only be sent to working locations within shorter distances, so she can still make drop-off and pick-up times for her child’s childcare.

If she misses any of these out, she’ll have to wait another year before being able to re-apply, according to the rules. This assumes her employer is sticking inflexibly to the rules, of course; kind-hearted, family-friendly employers may indeed allow more flexibility but employers are under no statutory obligation to do so.

It’s important to understand is that, while an eligible employee has a right to apply for a flexible working request and their employer is obligated to consider it, they are not obligated to accept it if it means that their business will no longer function properly.

The employee must also have been employed in the job for no less than 26 weeks (6 months) in order to be eligible to make the request, by the way. However, again, some more family-friendly employers may be more flexible even though they’re not obliged to be by law.

The Employer’s Response

The employer must consider the facts around flexible working applications carefully and fairly.The employer must give the employee who makes the Flexible Working Request a decision within 3 months unless the employee agrees to extend that time. This must be done having considered the facts carefully and fairly and without basing it on just a ‘personal’ opinion. They should also discuss the application with the applicant and, if it’s not possible to accept the specific suggestions requested, they should consider whether alternative options are possible.

Unsuccessful Applications

Employers can turn down requests outright if they feel their business will not be able to function properly if the new suggestions are put in place. Examples of reasons why an application for Flexible Working Requests may lawfully be turned down can be seen here. It is possible for the employee to appeal the decision if they feel all factors have not been considered or if the correct policies have not been properly followed. It’s also possible for them to take legal action (an employment tribunal) or to apply to the ACAS Arbitration Scheme in some circumstances (see previous link and scroll down for further information about that).

Successful Applications

If the employer approves the parent’s flexible working application, then the employee’s employment contract will usually need to be updated to reflect the new working pattern. Employers should also confirm the agreed changes in writing, including start dates, working hours, pay, location, holiday entitlement and so on.

Little Cedars Day Nursery: Good Childcare in Streatham

We hope this rough guide to Flexible Working Requests is useful and wish anyone making one the very best of luck for a successful outcome.

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.We are Little Cedars, an excellent nursery and pre-school in Streatham. We’re also very convenient for those looking for nurseries and childcare services near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Please contact us with any questions, to arrange a visit or to apply for a place for your child. We’ll be happy to help:

*N.B. we say maternity leave throughout this article for the sake of brevity. However, the rules also apply for those who have been on paternity leave, parental leave or even if parents haven’t been on leave at all — and simply want to alter their working days/times to better suit their young families.

Quick Guide to Milk - for Babies & Infants

As promised in our last post, we next take look at the many types of milk for babies and infants in the UK. There really are a myriad of options, so this guide should prove useful and help make sense of the choices available.

Breast Milk

Breast milk really is nature’s perfect food for babies, however there are many reasons why formula milk may be preferred.Our “Benefits of Breastfeeding” post described in great detail how breast milk really is nature’s perfect food for babies. It’s tailored to the needs of the baby and even adapts as the baby grows. As well as essential vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins, it also passes antibodies, hormones and polyunsaturated fatty acids to the baby. All these things are incredibly important to the growing infant and many are simply not possible with formula milk and alternatives to breast milk. That said, there are many reasons why parents may switch to other alternatives and that’s where today’s guide should prove most useful.

Formula Milk

There is a confusingly large variety of formula milks on the market.The variety of formula milks is surprisingly large, not helped by the fact that different brands call some of them by different names. Some products and names also seem to have been developed in order to cover small niches, many of which are actually already adequately covered by larger, existing product lines (‘Toddler Milk’ and ‘Growing-Up Milk’ are two examples cited by the NHS). Then add in the fact that many are sold as liquid and also as powder that needs to be made up. The choice can be overwhelming, which is where the following guide can help …

Rough Guide to Raising Children as Vegetarians

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

Infant Milk

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

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

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

The 4 Essential Food Groups After Weaning

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

1. Dairy

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

2. Fruit & Vegetables

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

3. Starch

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

4. Protein

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

Sources of protein that are suitable for vegetarians include:

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

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

Special Mention: Iron

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

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

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

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

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

Vegetarian & Vegan Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe for Children?

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

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

The Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

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

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

Kindness to Animals

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

Protecting the Planet

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet

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

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

Healthy Food at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

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

Growing Microgreens: A Fun, Educational Activity for Children

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

What Are Microgreens?

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

Why Children Should Grow Microgreens

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

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

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

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

What They Are Grown In

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

What Else is Needed?

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

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

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

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

Setting Up & Sewing the Seeds

Setting up is easy:

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

Harvesting your Microgreens

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

Microgreen Meals

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

Childcare Excellence in Streatham, SW16

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

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

Rough Guide to Dysgraphia

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

What is Dysgraphia?

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

What Are the 3 Types of Dysgraphia?

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

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

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

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

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

What Causes Dysgraphia?

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

What are the Signs of Dysgraphia?

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

Signs of possible dysgraphia include:

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

Additional Knock-On Effects

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

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

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

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

How to Help Children with Dysgraphia

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

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

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

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

Special Educational Needs at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

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

One of the Best Nurseries

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