Entries by Mark

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Preparing Your Child for School

Preparing Your Child for School

Foresight and preparation will help them transition smoothly and stress-free.Following up from our post last month about preparing children for nursery, we’ll now take a look at preparing them for school as they approach the age of five. Preparing them well will pay dividends on many levels, not least to make it as stress-free for them as possible. Foresight and preparation will also help them transition smoothly.

Any good nursery or pre-school will, of course, help your child to prepare for starting school. Indeed, attending a good nursery/pre-school is one of the best ways to ensure that your child is well-prepared, in readiness for school, so they can hit the ground running from day one. At Treetops Nursery School in Willesden, ensuring they are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us is one of our key goals.

Aside from educational and learning factors, how can parents help prepare their children for School? We’ll explore some of the options.

How Parents Can Prepare Children for School

There are quite a few ways in which parents can help children prepare for the start of Reception Year at school:

  • Your child will be more at ease if they know another friendly child starting on the same day.Have you sat down with your child and forewarned them what’s going to happen, when, how and why? Put their mind at rest so they’re mentally well-prepared, ahead of time.
  • Make sure you ask them if they have any worries or concerns. Allay any fears with common sense advice and ensure they know who to speak to at school if they have an issue.
  • Make it sound like a new adventure! Focus on the positives. Explain how exciting school will be. For example, there will be …
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Preparing Your Child for Nursery or Pre-School

Preparing Your Child for Nursery or Pre-School

Parents & guardians can really help toddlers ready themselves for nurseryGoing from living a life at home with the family to suddenly being thrust into a new environment full of strangers would be daunting enough for anyone. It’s especially true, though, for under-fives starting at nursery or pre-school. So, the key is to prepare children for the change and, of course, for the nursery/pre-school to be very welcoming and accommodating. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the things that will help toddlers and preschoolers transition as smoothly as possible.

How to Help The Transition to Nursery/Pre-School

Firstly, and most obviously, it’s a great idea to talk to your little one so they get used to the idea of going to nursery or pre-school. Although they may not initially grasp what to expect, the more you talk to them about it and give regular reminders, the more they will be mentally prepared when the time comes. Describe it to them, focus on the positives like making new friends, taking part in new activities and games, having access to exciting equipment, and so on. Maybe even role-play some of the things they should expect, perhaps as part of a game (make it fun!).

Arrange a Visit

Once you’ve selected the best nursery or pre-school for your child, arrange a visit. At Treetops Nursery we’re always happy to show both parent and child around the setting, so they can see what’s what, meet the staff and children, and ask any questions. Both child and parent can even sit in on activities during an arranged visit to see if they feel at home, before committing. It may even turn out that they know some children already there and that also helps to break the ice and to hit the ground running once they enrol. If not, perhaps encourage interaction with one or more children that’ll be in their cohort during the visit. They’ll naturally then gravitate towards them once they start properly. Another tip during your visit is to …

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The Importance of Play

The importance of play for babies, toddlers & children under 5

Play is incredibly important — perhaps more so than many people realise — especially during a child’s formative years. That’s why under-fives, in particular, must be given ample time and encouragement to play. Play is incredibly important, especially during a child's formative yearsIn short, allowing a young child the tools, time and guidance to play regularly will help them with many elements of their learning and development — and that’s critical. Indeed, that’s why good nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings encourage children to learn in large part through play.

“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children” (Paediatrics Journal)

The Benefits of Play

Regular play, starting from when children are babies, helps children in a myriad of ways as they grow to become first toddlers, then preschoolers, and beyond. The many benefits of play include:

  • Play is an essential part of a happy childhoodFirstly, it’s fun for them and is an essential part of a happy childhood;
  • Play helps babies, toddlers and children to learn about the world around them, by interacting with all the things in it (under adult supervision, of course);
  • Play helps to educate children about themselves, their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, skills and preferences;
  • It teaches them about all the things they interact with too; from size and weight to texture and a variety of other properties;
  • It improves cognitive function and aids healthy brain development …
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Tummy Time for Tots

Tummy Time for Tots: a guide for parents of babies including benefits, suggested tummy time activities & more.

Learning and development for babies is helped through activities known collectively as Tummy TimeEven newborn babies should be encouraged to be active, in order to learn and develop their abilities through interaction and play. At this age, this is achieved largely through activities known collectively as Tummy Time. This is an incredibly important tool for their early development. Tummy Time pretty much describes the essence of the activities — i.e. time spent awake and active on their tummies during their first year.

There’s a very good reason why high quality nurseries, pre-schools and other early years professionals encourage under-fives to learn largely through play. It’s the most natural way that they will develop physically and socially, learn about the world and develop skills like communication, language and problem-solving along the way. The beauty of learning through play is that it’ll also be great fun for the child, so won’t seem like a chore at all. It’s no different when children are babies and that’s where, for them, Tummy Time comes in.

The Benefits of Tummy Time

You are your baby’s favourite playmate! Babies, particularly newborns, totally rely on their parents for play as well as for everything else. Tummy Time should be a part of that.

  • Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby's neckIt helps them to build physical strength, particularly in their upper body, and helps them achieve various developmental milestones.
  • Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby’s neck. That’s important because their head is rather heavy for them when they’re first born and an otherwise weak neck will be a potential safety risk if not strengthened. They need to learn to control its position.
  • Raising themselves onto their arms whilst lifting their head will take this a step further to increase strength in arm muscles, shoulders, core, back and torso generally.
  • Doing all of this will also …
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Jolly Jokes for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Jolly Jokes for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Continuing the entertainment theme from last month, today’s post looks at some popular jokes for preschoolers and toddlers. These are great for childcare professionals and parents to keep up their sleeves and are sure to bring a smile to children’s faces. Each one passed our own ‘chuckle test’, so are popular with adults too.

Take a look below (click for a larger view) — after all, who doesn’t need a bit of silliness and happy children to brighten the day!

Please feel free to share these on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media and to bookmark them in your web browser. The jokes are downloadable, so can be printed out for display, to brighten everyone’s day any time …

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Willesden’s Place in TV, Song & Modern Culture

Willesden’s Place in TV, Song & Modern Culture

It’s surprising how many times Willesden and Willesden Green have made it into modern culture. After a little research, we’ve found that they’ve featured countless times on TV and in several pop songs, they’ve helped to launch careers of a myriad music legends and even shaped the global music industry. Take a look …

Willesden: Regular Filming Location for ‘Jonathan Creek’

Actor and comedian Alan Davies links to Willesden Green via Jonathan CreekWillesden was a major filming location for ‘Jonathan Creek’Willesden and other north-west London areas close by feature regularly in the long-running BBC mystery crime drama Jonathan Creek. This popular series stars actor and comedian Alan Davies as the main protagonist. Other occasional stars who appeared in the series included Griff Rhys Jones, Rik Mayall, Jack Dee (who we’ll hear more about below), Bill Bailey, Nigel Planer and even Bob Monkhouse.

Jack Dee’s ‘Lead Balloon’: Also Filmed in Willesden

Jack Dee's ‘Lead Balloon’ series was filmed in WillesdenActor and dead-pan comedian Jack Dee co-wrote and starred in ‘Lead Balloon’, a BBC4 comedy series that first ran on British TV from 2006 to 2011. The first episode actually achieved the highest ever ratings for a comedy on the channel at the time and the series later aired on BBC2 and to audiences on BBC HD. There were three series in total, with the first two being filmed in and around Willesden. Indeed, the main characters Rick (played by Jack Dee) and his partner Mel (played by Raquel Cassidy) live in a house located in Willesden. A café called ‘Michael’s Café’ in series one and two is, in reality, ‘Gracelands Café’, which is located just a stone’s throw from Willesden in Kensal Green.
Minder used Willesden as a film location (photo shows Dennis Waterman)

‘Minder’ Used Willesden as a Film Location

Willesden also features in the British TV comedy-drama ‘Minder’ that was extremely popular on ITV/Thames Television from late 1979 through to the mid-90s. One of the two key protagonists, Arthur Daley (played by George Cole), kept a lock-up garage in Willesden and this is where he kept all his …

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Overcoming Childhood Obesity — & Why it Matters

Overcoming childhood obesity — & why it matters

We previously covered the importance of healthy eating and exercise in children’s early years. Both play clear roles in a healthy lifestyle and in fighting potential weight and fitness problems. In today’s post we’ll take a closer look at obesity in young children, how to recognise it, and why it’s important to try to overcome it.

Obesity occurs when excess body fat accumulates in quantities that can be detrimental to health.

How to Recognise Obesity in Children

Apart from any obvious, physical signs, the easiest way to check whether your child has possible weight issues is to check their Body Mass Index (‘BMI’). While it’s not a perfect system, it’s an easy starting point to get a quick overview. The NHS has a great tool for measuring your child’s BMI, which you can access here. It’s quick, simple and free. Select the ‘Child’ tab at the top, enter their height, weight, date of birth, sex and the date of the measurements and then click the ‘calculate’ button at the bottom. Simple! The results are almost immediate and also include some useful Exercise & active play are key tools for fighting obesity in young childrenguidance and links. Your child will fall into one of 4 possible categories:

  • Your child is underweight;
  • Your child is a healthy weight;
  • Your child is overweight;
  • Your child is very overweight.

You may find that BMI results reference centiles. These are a way of comparing a child’s BMI to those of other children of the same age. They use data from Nationwide surveys, which offer a useful comparator. For example, a boy who is on the 60th centile weighs more than 60 out of 100 other boys of the same age in the survey. The healthy weight category for children falls between the 2nd and

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Top 25 Benefits of Breastfeeding

The Top 25 Benefits of Breastfeeding

When it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula milk, there’s a good reason why the phrase ‘Breast is Best’ holds true. In fact, there are many benefits to breastfeeding including several for both baby and mother. Here are our top twenty-five:

15+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Babies

  1. Breastfeeding benefits babies enormouslyBreast milk is nature’s totally natural food for newborns and little ones, containing nothing artificial or added.
  2. It’s tailored perfectly to the needs of the growing infant, adapting to their needs as they grow.
  3. It passes on antibodies straight to the newborn baby.
  4. It contains everything the baby needs for healthy development, including all the right proteins, vitamins, fats and even hormones.
  5. Breast milk also contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the baby’s developing brain.
  6. Data suggests that at least 6 months of breastfeeding protects against the possible development of childhood leukaemia.
  7. It’s also likely to protect against the development of Sudden …
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Formula Milk Guide

Formula Milk Guide

In this guide, we explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UKLast month, we mentioned what a huge topic formula milk is. So, in this post, we thought we’d explore all the different types of milk available to infants in the UK.

As a rule of thumb, the best type of milk for your baby is breast milk, given in tandem with suitable Vitamin D supplement drops. We’ve written a separate post about the benefits of breast milk here. Suffice it to say, though, that breast milk is best and has an enormous number of health benefits to both mother and child, including many that simply can’t be achieved by formula milk. That said, there are many reasons why formula milk may be the only viable option and we’ll explore the different types available in our Formula Milk Guide below.

First, though, some words of warning. There are several types of milk that you should never give to your baby if they’re under 12 months old.

Milk Types to Avoid Giving Babies Under 1

  • Condensed milk a.k.a. ‘Evaporated milk’ should be avoided. This is milk (usually from cows) that has been thickened by evaporating off about 60% of the water. It is usually also sweetened by adding sugar and has a slightly darker colour than standard milk.
  • Dried milk a.k.a. ‘Powdered milk’ or ‘Milk powder’ should also be avoided. This is liquid milk that has been evaporated until it’s turned into dry powder.
  • Cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk should also not be given to babies under 12 months of age except when used in cooking and only then when it’s been pasteurised. After the age of 1 it’s OK to drink so long as it’s pasteurised.
  • Soya milk, Oat milk, Rice milk and Almond milk, along with other similar drinks described as ‘milks’, should be avoided by babies under one.
  • Rice drinks should also be avoided right up to the age of 5 due to the presence of arsenic.

What Types of Formula Milk Can Your Little One Drink?

A young boy feeds bottled formula milk to his siblingBaby and infant formula milk comes ready-made in liquid form or as a powder that needs to be carefully and hygienically made up. The liquid variety is usually the more expensive of the two and needs to be used sooner, due to its shorter shelf life. Whichever is used, labels should be carefully checked to ensure suitability for the age of the particular baby/infant in question.

Note too, that there are many kinds of formula milk and one could argue that many of them are simply attempts by manufacturers to introduce niche products that appeal to a particular market or situation. As you’ll see, however, according to the NHS, some of the

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Raising a Vegetarian Infant – Rough Guide

Raising a Vegetarian Infant - Rough Guide

More and more parents are bringing up children as vegetariansMore and more parents are bringing up youngsters as vegetarians these days, so we thought we’d put together a rough guide to raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers as vegetarians. When doing so, certain considerations will need to be made, including ensuring that meals are nutritious, containing all the necessary food groups, vitamins and minerals needed by the very young.

Breast Milk

Babies will usually have breast milk or formula milk up until they are at least 6 months old. If they are only receiving breast milk, it’s recommended that they are given a suitable Vitamin D supplement, available as drops.

Vegetarian Formula Milk

There’s no need for Vitamin D supplements, though, with high quality, age-appropriate formula milk, as it’s already included. Formula-fed babies under six months should, of course, be receiving ‘First Milk’ (otherwise known as ‘First Infant Formula Milk’) and this contains everything they need during the first six months. It can be supplemented by solids once they start weaning, usually from the age of 6 months through to a year old.

Formula milk is available for vegetariansThe good news is that formula milk that’s suitable for vegetarians is available. Parents may ask their midwife or health professional for any recommendations in regard to types or brands, particularly if one formula milk disagrees with the baby. However, whichever brand and type is chosen, the formula milk must be formulated for the baby’s specific age. This is usually obvious on the product label.

Vegetarian formula milks are usually based on cow’s milk although many other alternatives are available. Parents who wish to limit how much dairy products their infant consumes therefore have quite a wide choice but, if they’re avoiding dairy, they need to ensure that the formula milk is fortified with extra calcium and is unsweetened. They also need to read up because formula milk is a surprisingly big topic and can be a little bit of a minefield. There are several concerns over soya milk and rice milk, for instance, but those are just two examples. Check out our Formula Milk Guide for much more information about all the different kinds available as well as which formula milks to avoid.

Moving to Solids

From around the age of 6 months, your baby will usually start the process of weaning off of milk and begin to eat solid foods, albeit given in puréed or liquidised form initially. This is when parents then need to be mindful of their child’s nutritional needs and this is even more pertinent when bringing up a child as a vegetarian.

The four main food groups that need to be covered are: