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.     

Process Over Product

 

“It must not be forgotten that the basic law of children’s creativity is that it’s value lies not in it’s results, not in the product of creation, but in the process itself. It is not important what children create, but that they do create, that they exercise and implement their creative imagination.” (Vygotsky)

Children are fascinated by the world around them. They are learning through different experiences every moment of everyday. Children live in the moment and engage in what they are doing, not necessarily looking towards the end result.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. More often than not we see children creating exactly the same cards with a perfect painted flower on the front. Yes, they are nice to look at as a parent and for you to be proud of your little ones creative skills. However, what learning outcome is a child gaining from this? Nine times out of ten the child is more excited and passionate about the process of how they come to that masterpiece of art. Creating moments and experiences for children will last them a lifetime, a perfectly painted card however, won’t! There are tons of ‘teaching moments’ in the process.

By providing them with freedom and open experiences to make, create and develop whatever, they as a unique child, wants to, their engagement and learning will thrive. As well as letting their individual personalities shine through!

At Little Owls Woodland this week we have been planting some fir trees with the children. Over the week, we took it in turns to have ago at drilling some holes into the bottom of the buckets and layered stones. Secondly, we packed in soil using what tools the children thought best to dig with. We had spades, spoons, buckets, scoops, etc. Then, we placed the fir tree into the bucket and patted it all down. A child suggested we needed to decorate the tree to make it look pretty, so we went on a hunt for some stones. We placed them around the tree and in the bucket. Throughout we discussed all about how our trees will need water and sunlight to grow, about why we needed to drill holes in the bottom of the buckets.

Once we had finished the children just wanted to plant the next one and the next one! Even though they had created some beautiful fir trees for us to admire, they just simply wanted to do the process over again. We later witnessed many children trying to recreate this process again through play. Many parents spoke about how their child had talked about nothing else and really went into detail of the steps we took.

The process of baking is what attracts a baker, the end result is a bonus.

 

 

 

World Book Day

 

“The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading…”

(The Curiosity Approach)

World Book Day has always been an exciting day, as young children are able to get all dressed up in their favourite characters from their favourite books. However, in recent years I think we have lost some of the true meaning. It’s not ALL about getting dressed up! Reading books is at the heart as to why we have World Book Day.

Did you know 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK say that they don’t have a book of their own? 9% of children and young people say that they don’t own or have a book of their own at home, a statistic that has remained static over the past year.

Let’s make books exciting again! Young children love nothing more than to get into a good story! See their faces light up when looking at the pictures and the concentration as they admire the storyteller.

At Little Owl’s this week we have had our favourite books out. The children have loved listening to new and well known stories. We have even acted out some, especially ‘We are going on a Bear Hunt’. We discussed how we handle books and look after them. A lot of our children have really enjoyed looking through the books independently and sharing with friends leading to lots of provocations and learning.

As Early Years settings we can help and support children and their families to assess books. There are some brilliant ideas that we can do as practitioners to share these amazing books.

  • Invite parents and their children to come into the setting for a ‘Bedtime Story’. The children can come last thing before bed comfy in their pyjamas to listen to a story altogether
  • Donate some books to disadvantaged children
  • Create your own costumes at the setting using recycled materials while acting out the story

Let’s continue to make World Book Day about books and sit back and witness the benefits to children of reading a good book, let them show you their fantastic ideas and imagination.

Why Use Makaton?

 

Makaton is the use of signs and symbols, along with spoken words, to help support communication. Using signs can help children with no or little speech to communicate their needs. This could be due to a learning disability or for children who are very young and speech might be unclear.

Many children may become frustrated when not been able to communicate effectively. Using simple signs can avoid any upset or confusion. A lot of the time children’s understanding develops before their speech, so you can see how this might cause tantrums or sometimes expressive behaviour as the child more than likely knows what they want but are finding it difficult to communicate this. Using sign can allow children to express their needs, wants and feelings.

Makaton can also help develop speech. Providing children with a form of communication will stimulate the sounds and words that comes with speech.

The symbols in Makaton provides children with a visual image, supporting their understanding of the meaning of words. Symbols are lasting and permanent, giving a child more time to take in information.

At Little Owls we use Makaton throughout the daily routine. All adults use signs while communicating with the children. The children tend to pick this up very quickly and often ask for their needs such as; snack or nappy changing through sign. We find Makaton a very inclusive resource and really supports all of our children with communication, speech and understanding of words.

 

Learning in the Snow

 

“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.”  

(Roger Ebert)

It is always exciting when we have snow, for all ages. Whether is it a full blanket of snow or a little sprinkle we all wrap up warm and race outside. Making snowmen, snowball fights and snow angels. But is there any benefits of this for young children? Of course! Even more than just fresh air, getting away from the TV and fun.

Snow days develop creativity for children, building a snowman and finding objects such as, sticks and stones to decorate it with. A lot of the time this is done with other peers, also developing team work. Problem solving is a factor, moulding and shaping the snow, how will it stay together? What can I do to create this? Mark making in the snow is an opportunity to an alterative to pen and paper.

Sledging in the snow is a favourite. This will support children’s physical develop, building resilience. For children to cope with the cold and maybe taking a few falls and getting back up again, these are life skills needed for the future. Self-control and patience is a factor while sledging, children need to wait their turn, to understand it is ok to allow other children to go first.

Science also plays a important role while out in the snow. Lots of discussion can arise, how the snow melts, weather, ice etc. Children will be engaged, they can visually explore for themselves, test their own strategies.

This week at Little Owls we all have made the most of the snowy weather and had lots of different learning opportunities. We have been sledging, digging, brushing the snow, rolling lots of snowballs and of course tons of fun! Snow days are our teachers.

 

The Magic of Storytelling

 

Why do we have books in our children’s bedrooms, on the shelves and in early years settings? Is it just about reading skills?

You might be surprised at the numerus benefits of storytelling in the early years. Stories have so much to offer, they develop listening and communication skills. They improve concentration and memory. A lot of stories and books will provide children with new facts and information, for example about the weather or how flowers might grow. This will also support children to make important links between spoken and written words, widening their vocabulary. Storytelling can be fun to use props and characters supporting a child to become engaged and involved in the story, allowing them to understand what might be happening and what might happen next, creating a sense of wonder.

However, storytelling does not necessary mean reading from a book. Storytelling can be the adult ‘telling’ the story, no book just themselves. Adults can make eye-contact with the children, see their reactions, expressions. Also vice versa, the children can see the adults hands, their body language, how they might feel. The storytellers tone of voice and facial expressions, all of this becomes more obvious and engaging as there are no pictures to detract, their imagination can run wild. This creates a completely different experience for the child, taking away skills and memories that will last a life time.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 

(Rudyard Kipling)

Self-Regulation in Children

“The ability to control emotional and physical impulses should be developed in the early years to help ensure children embrace learning and grow into self-regulating adults.” (Ruth Thomson)

 

Self-regulation is the ability to control our emotional impulses. This might be to stop doing something we shouldn’t, even if we don’t particularly want to and to then start to do something we are required to do. Being able to consistently regulate their own feelings and behaviour is a great task for a young child, the early years is where this should develop.

As adults we make self-regulating decisions daily. We stop ourselves from doing something we know we shouldn’t. We will think about the consequences of our decisions and what might happen in the future. This is a skill that young children need to learn, experience and develop.

What adults can do to support self-regulation in children:

  • In both early years setting’s and the home environment adults can model good self-regulation, set positive examples, keep calm and manage their own stress.
  • Have realistic expectations of young children, allow for set backs.
  • Be supportive and encouraging towards children, allow them to feel cared for and understood, provide them with a voice to share thoughts and feelings.
  • Giving structure and consistency will help reduce stress in children.
  • Adults could discuss with children to use a scale of 1-10 to measure their emotions, this will enhance their self-awareness.
  • Sometimes just simply giving children the opportunity to calm themselves and to ‘see it through’ will develop their self-regulation skills.

A self-regulating child may not always be compliant. They might be creative and strong willed in their actions. They are curious, everything is new and exciting while they develop and grow.

How the Outdoors can be Beneficial for Children with Special Educational Needs

 

Did you know that spending time outdoors has been proven to be beneficial in engaging children with Special Education Needs (SEN).

Freedom to move in a therapeutic, stimulating outdoor environment makes for healthier, happier children. Children with Special Educational Needs face an entire range of different and specific challenges. The outdoors not only supports life skills such as, resilience, problem solving and self-confidence, but can have a positive impact in enhancing behaviour’s and social interactions. The research is incredible!

 

It is vital that all children, including those with additional needs are experiencing the wonderful world of exploration and sensory play outdoors. This will provide them with new exciting experiences to learn and develop in a informal way. The fresh air and open space can release any potential stress or anxiety in young children, in comparison to a busy indoor environment. Simply moving outside to a wide open space will expend their energy and allow children to feel calmer, settle and refocus through creativity and exploration.

“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls” 

Erin Kenny.