School Readiness

 

Parents and carers are often filled with mixed emotions – some know that their child is probably ready for the next step; some are equally sad that their little one is taking this big step and some are confused about the words ‘school readiness’ which we see and hear everywhere.

What does being “school ready” mean?

School readiness is about been ‘ready to learn’ not knowing how to read and write or count to 10, otherwise what would be the point in going to school? It is about children preparing themselves, been comfortable in their learning environment.

  • Independence – been able to go to the toilet, pull up their trousers and wash their hands
  • Knowing how to sit and listen
  • Be aware of other children – can interact with others appropriately with friendly behaviours
  • Having strong social skills
  • Can cope emotionally with being separated from their parents
  • Have a curiosity about the world and a desire to learn
  • Understand some boundaries
  • Good language skills – to communicate with adults for support or other peers

If the child attends a pre-school or child care setting the professionals will be supporting and encouraging ‘school readiness’ throughout. Parents/careers can also encourage all these skills at home.

PACEY_preparingforschool_guide.pdf  Parents, check out this free guide for some top tips on preparing your little ones for school.

Keeping the Sun Fun!

 

As much as we are all enjoying the recent warm weather it is vital to keep safe in the sun, especially children. It is easy to forget the dangers when there is so much fun to be had. There are many precautions that we can take, here are just a few that may help:

  • Children’s skin is much more sensitive than an adults, extra precautions should be taken
  • suitable clothing should be worn, sunhats, light long sleeve tops
  • Spend time in the shade, between 11am and 3pm is when the sun is at it’s strongest in the UK
  • Apply at least SPF30 sunscreen regularly
  • Ensure sunscreen is applied on the face, neck, backs of hands and ears, or any skin exposed
  • Protect your eyes, where possible wear sunglasses

Swimming/water play:

  • Wear water-resistant sunscreen
  • When in water it can be more difficult to notice if you skin is burning due to the cooling water. Ensure sunscreen is reapplied straight after waterplay, even if it is water-resistant
  • Wear appropriate clothing while in the water, sunhats, swimsuits

Applying sunscreen:

  • Ensure to use at least two teaspoons of cream if you are covering your head, neck and arms. At least two tablespoons if you are covering the entire body. Applying too thin will reduce the protection
  • If you are going out for the day or for a long period of time sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before leaving and then again just before leaving
  • It is suggested that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours as direct sunlight can dry the cream from the skin
  • Make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years

Dealing with sunburn:

  • Sponge sore areas with cool water and apply aftersun cream to sooth
  • Stay out of the sun until the skin is fully recovered
  • Painkillers can be used if necessary, paracetamol or ibuprofen for all potential inflammation

You should take extra care in the sun if you:

  • have pale, white or light brown skin
  • have freckles or red or fair hair
  • tend to burn rather than tan
  • have many moles
  • have skin problems relating to a medical condition
  • are only exposed to intense sun occasionally (for example, while on holiday)
  • are in a hot country where the sun is particularly intense
  • have a family history of skin cancer

(Sunscreen and sun safety – NHS (www.nhs.uk))

 

‘Scribbling’ – The Hidden Meaning

 

Adults see scribbling, but for children it is their masterpiece!

Mark making is a very important phrase of a child’s development. It is a visual way to communicate and interact in a meaningful way with adults in their lives, as well as developing their coordination, creativity and literacy skills.

The phases of scribbling in young children can be categorised:

  1. Random scribbling – this first phrase is the very beginning of children showing interest in holding a pencil making random marks, typically this can be seen as lines in different directions.
  2. Controlled scribbling – this next stage shows the child having much more control over the pencil and will leave marks where they want to on the paper.
  3. Naming of scribbling –  at this stage the child is thinking more into the mark making action. They are beginning to make links with their marks on the paper and the world around them, this could be something that is meaningful to them in their life, a personal experience or object.
  4. Early representational attempts – at this stage, the child’s drawing may start to resemble real-life images, because they have greater muscle control and a greater understanding of the world around them.
  5. Representational stage of scribbling –  in the last and final stage children will draw basic objects, this usually starts with circular shapes. It might be their own personal version, e.g. they may draw five circles together and call it a car.

As adults we should provide opportunities for children to mark make it their own way. This doesn’t always have to be using a pencil and paper. Try sticks in the mud, flour and a paint brush or their finger dipped in paint. The possibilities are endless.

Life Skills

As our children grow older we want them to be able to look after themselves and be independent. We want them to head out into the big wide world prepared so the future seems exciting. This starts from a early age and children as young as two will be beginning to learn new life skills everyday. This may be zipping up their coat, helping to put the washing away at home or learning to cook in the kitchen. It is never too early to start.

Montessori talks about ‘practical life activities’. “Practical life activities are applicable for all ages, even infants, and change depending on what the child can do at each stage of development. The activities can start with something as simple as pulling pants up or washing hands and can get as complicated as baking a dessert, or even developing a business plan in the elementary or middle school years.”

“When taken seriously and presented as an approachable, impactful challenge, these activities hold inherent dignity. It’s not “just” getting dressed or “just” juicing an orange if one is doing it oneself. The child is learning to follow a complex motor sequence, independently, in order to fulfil his or her own desires and needs. These skills, when taught early in life, allow children to believe in themselves as well as develop the self-discipline needed for success throughout their lives.” (The Importance of Practical Life Activities Within the Montessori Method)

This week in the Woodland we have been cooking on the fire. We all helped to chop the vegetables and prepare the food. First we washed our hands, put on a aprons and discussed why these steps were important. We used chopping boards and safety knifes to cut up the butternut squash, rhubarb and onion before roasting on the fire. The fire itself gives children experiences of safe risk taking and supports their understanding of boundaries at Nursery. We even got to devour our delicious creation for dinner!

 

Healthy Eating and Portion Control

 

It is important to keep a healthy well balanced diet for young children for their health and well-being. It is advised to ensure children eat from all four food groups everyday to maintain the nutrients they need.

However, a huge factor is portion control! This is just as important, if not the most important part for a healthy, well balanced diet. It can be easy to think the more they eat the better, overfeeding can be harmful and have some lastly effects, for example, obesity or diabetes.

It can be difficult to understand the correct portions for some foods, especially taking into consideration the size, age and personality of the child.

The appetites of children can vary considerably from day- to- day, meal-to- meal and from child- to- child. Their appetite can be influenced by age, gender, activity level, growth spurs, puberty and whether the child is unwell or recuperating from being ill. There are no specific recommendation on how much a child should be eating, however this is just a guide.

This chart is a useful guide for portion control: (Portions and Serving Sizes – HealthyChildren.org)

Portions and Serving Sizes - HealthyChildren.orgSome top tips to support meal times:

  • Gradually increase portion sizes as the child grows older.
  • Avoid over filling plates as this can be off putting for younger children particularly for fussy eaters.
  • Ensure that the proportions on the plate are correct.
  • Offer small portions to begin with and allow second helpings if they eat it all.
  • Remember that second helpings should still be nutritionally balanced, so ensure that they include food from each food group and not just the food group/s that children prefer.
  • Offering second helpings of the vegetables, salad or fruit is a good idea to ensure your child gets plenty of vitamins and minerals but not too much energy.

 

The Benefits of Climbing

 

One of the first instincts for a young child is to climb. To pull themselves up, a way of getting up the stairs or to explore their surroundings. When let loose at nursery outdoors, young children need assess to climbing equipment to cater for their instincts and t0 take risks.

School readiness is a huge topic of interest for both practitioners and parents. Nurseries and pre-schools must create an environment that prepares young children for the big jump into school. Climbing frames/equipment in nurseries will improve children’s confidence and help prepare children for larger climbing challenges for primary school, both physically and mentally, which is all vital to settle in.

  • Improved Dexterity – Climbing will develop children’s fine motor skills, their grip and grasp. This in turn will support them in hand writing later on in the classroom.
  • Confidence – Children might feel a little nervous at first about climbing new equipment, however in time children will learn to take safe risks and to overcome their fears.
  • Physical Strength – Climbing will build children’s physical strength, developing their gross motor skills for a healthier more active lifestyle.
  • Problem-solving skills – While climbing children will develop critical thinking skills, to figure out which moves to take, which foot to put where.
  • Safe Risk Taking -Children will learn to take safe risks and will experience falls and mistakes that they will learn from.

At our Woodland setting we have made a great climbing challenge for the children using a big net hanging from the trees. The children have to work hard and use their climbing skills. This has become very popular. It has been wonderful to see the children’s skills develop and their confidence grow.

Tearing Paper

 

You don’t need expensive toys and amazing activity ideas to keep young children busy and learning. Tearing paper up into little pieces can be very satisfying and also very useful for young children’s fine motor development. The act of tearing encourages useful finger and co-ordination skills. The child will have to practice holding the paper in between their pointing finger and thumb and to move each hand in different directions. It is harder than you think!

Make it fun! Use lots of different paper, different colours, textures and sizes. Kids love to get messy, you could get the glue out and stick down some pieces to make a collage.

Why?

  • Children will learn to move, reach and grasp which will develop the muscles and skills to scribble, in time learning how to write
  • Body awareness, developing to make big movements and small movements, such as, pincer grasp
  • Awakening and developing the brain
  • Coordination skills

Next time your at a lose end, try tearing paper with your little ones, the learning possibilities are endless.

The Importance of Oral Health and Dental Care in Young Children

 

Getting the best health care for your child is very important to everyone. A healthy mouth is important for overall health and wellbeing. Bad oral hygiene can affect how a child eats, sleeps, talks and plays. Not only does good hygiene help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, these been the most common dental problems, but also can help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes.

As soon as your child has their first tooth come through or before their first birthday you should get an appointment to see the dentist. This is so the dentist can check up on the child’s growth of their teeth and look out for any signs of decay. Most dentists are experienced with helping and supporting children with their visit. As a top tip be sure to ask your dentist before hand what things are in place to support children, to make them feel comfortable and happy.

Top Tips:

  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • After brushing, spit don’t rinse
  • Reduce the amount of foods and drinks that contain sugar
  • Ask the dentist for a quick ‘hello’ visit before the appointment
  • Talk to your child before your visit about why we go to the dentist

If brushing your child’s teeth or keeping good oral hygiene is an issue and it might be upsetting your child there are some items that might help. This might be the case for children with learning disabilities and autism. www.fleglings.org.uk is a shop which helps and supports families with disabled children by supplying products and equipment to help with their everyday challenges.

Why We Should Ditch The Shoes – Benefits of barefoot learning

 

At the Woodland this week we have been exploring ‘barefoot walks.’ The children got to have the freedom to take off their shoes and socks and feel the dirt in between their toes. The children loved it! They wanted to explore different areas of the Woodland to feel the dirt, water and mud. They could run, walk and jump around. Here’s why us practitioners love it too:

Development of the brain and nervous system. The feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain.

Support foot and muscle growth. Walking barefoot can help develop and maintain an appropriate range of motion in the foot and ankle joints as well as strengthening stability within the muscles and ligaments of the feet and body.

Improve sensory development. Feeling the earth beneath their feet allows children to develop their somatosensory, proprioceptive, and vestibular sensory systems in ways that are not possible with shoes on.

Help connect us with nature. Research also tells us that children thrive in the outdoors and natural environments, so not having shoes as a barrier between our feet and the natural world increases the health promoting effects of spending time in nature for social and emotional wellbeing.

Give children a sense of freedom. Not wearing shoes allows us to blow off steam, relax, and reawaken the senses.

Improves safety awareness Walking barefoot teaches children to assess a situation and adapt to it. If there is a rocky surface, children quickly learn to slow their pace and seek the most stable surface. When barefoot, children tend to step with less force and are more likely to notice if they are putting their feet on something wet/spikey/soft etc.

 

 

 

Implementing Maths in the Early Years

 

When planning to implement Maths into an Early Years setting, practitioners need to reflect in ways which children learn. For information to sink in and allow the child to really have that ‘WOW’ moment we cannot just put numbers in front of them and ask them to recall or count to 10. Not only is this boring and not something a child would want to necessary do, but the child more than likely will forget within a few hours.

The best way in through PLAY! Seize the moment they are interested make it fun, bring excitement. It is very important for parents/careers to understand that your children are not ‘just’ playing, they are learning through everything they do, exploring how something might work, problem solving within their play.

As practitioners, when we are planning for Maths, we need to ensure this is through active learning as children are playing and exploring, and that as children grow, the experiences we provide support them to develop their own ideas. Maths must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. The challenge is to provide a simulating environment for our youngest children, which supports their continuing development as confident Mathematicians. For example, at Little Owls we have scales always available to the children in the environment. The children can weight items around them, explore how the scales might move, why something might be heavier than the other. This is something the child themselves can learn at their own pace on their terms.

Make the most of everyday routines to talk about the quantity of children who are in the room, playing in the sand, listening to the story. Talk about how many slices of apple or roast potatoes there are on the plate at lunchtime, or wheeled toys in the shed. Children also can actively explore and experience shape, space and position as part of everyday play. They need lots of opportunities to move themselves and to manipulate objects. They can find out what it is like being under, over or behind things as they crawl beneath tables, climb on boxes, hide behind blankets and jump off logs.

By including Mathematical talk within play, providing interesting recourses within the environment and giving children opportunities to explore and play with number rhymes and songs will all support children with Maths, giving them to best start to develop their mathematical understanding later on.