Should I Send My Child to Nursery?

Should parents send their baby, toddler or under-five child to nursery/pre-school?Many new parents ask themselves whether they should send their baby, toddler or under-five child to nursery/pre-school. What exactly are the benefits to the child? Well, studies have shown that there are clear benefits for children if they attend a good nursery or pre-school in their early years. That good aspect is crucial, though, and as a good nursery ourselves (that’s official), we strongly agree. The benefits are obvious to us, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Today, we’ll look at the findings of independent research, including a recent study by the Department of Education (‘DoE’), demonstrating the clear benefits of sending children to a good nursery and/or pre-school during their early years.

What is a Good Nursery?

A good nursery/pre-school will nurture children's wellbeing, learning and development.First, though, let’s clarify what makes a good nursery superior to a mediocre one. To give just a few examples, a good nursery will educate children under their care — they don’t simply babysit them because parents are at work. They’ll nurture children’s wellbeing, their learning and their development. They’ll create a learning and development programme that’s tailored to the strengths, weaknesses and interests of each individual child. A good nursery will set personal goals and continually assess the child’s progress, actually in partnership with parents. They’ll help every child to achieve personal bests in every area of a good Early Years curriculum. They’ll also do everything they can to help each child become school-ready by the time they leave, so they can move on seamlessly to Reception Year at primary school. Along the way, a good nursery, like Treetops, will help children in a huge number of ways, becoming more able, more self-confident, more independent, well-mannered, knowledgeable, aware of what’s right and wrong, able to socialise with others in an appropriate way — and so much more.

The Benefits of a Good Nursery or Pre-school

Now we’ve established what a good nursery/pre-school is, what did the 2020 DoE study say about sending under-fives to one? Well, they found that there are both short-term and long-term benefits to children if they attend a good nursery/pre-school during their early years.

Early childhood education benefits the educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes of children in both the short and long term.
(Finding of the DoE study, February 2020).

Early childhood education benefits the educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes of children in both the short and long term.When a child gets a good educational grounding during their early years, their behaviour around others is also seen to improve, with better self-regulation, less problems with peers and fewer emotional issues. A 2002 study (Sammons et al.) found that the benefits could be seen from as young as two.

What’s more, a 2011 study from the OECD found that, by the time they reached the age of 15, children who had received a good early years education were outperforming other students by the equivalent of a year. That’s amazing when you think about it.

Looking further ahead, a 2018 study (Sim) found that a decent early years education, in good nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings, boosted self-confidence and social skills in such a way as to provide “a better foundation for success at school, and subsequently in the workplace.”

“a better foundation for success at school, and subsequently in the workplace.”

Those are far-reaching outcomes! In effect, they’re saying that children’s lives will be positively impacted right into adulthood, simply because they attended a good early years education setting — just like that available at Treetops Nursery in Willesden.

Special Benefits for Disadvantaged Children

A good childcare setting represents a solid foundation for your child's future.The most far-reaching benefits of a good early years education were found to be for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The 2020 impact study by the DoE found the following:

  • Children in this category benefit most if they attend a good early years education setting for at least 10 hours a week by the time they’re 2.
  • Similarly, 3 and 4-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most if they attend for at least 20 hours per week.
  • The results from this are improved verbal abilities and attaining goals expected of their age once they begin school in Reception year.
  • Indeed, those children from backgrounds with particularly poor home learning environments had a marked increase in verbal ability once they moved on to school.
  • So, a kind of levelling-up is provided by decent early years education.

It’s clear that the carefully structured curriculum and approach to learning and development at good early years settings really does help children to be better prepared and able for school at the age of five. This head-start, in turn, helps them to achieve more at school and later in the workplace, with better job prospects, all leading to better lifelong outcomes overall. There is even a link to reduced involvement in crime. These are incredibly important findings.

Good childcare means less poverty and dependency on welfare too, along with lower crime levels.Benefits for Families & the Nation

As well as benefiting children, there are clear benefits to family households too, of course. Without getting too deeply into that in this particular article, obvious benefits include allowing parents/carers to get back to their careers after pausing for parental leave, allowing income levels to be healthier and upward mobility more likely. Overall, good childcare means less poverty and dependency on welfare too, along with lower crime levels.

A Good Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green & Willesden Green

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.If you’d like a really solid foundation for your child’s future, then consider childcare at a good nursery like Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies and children aged up to five. Our Willesden nursery and pre-school is near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green and those in the NW2 & NW6 postcodes. We also support Government-funded childcare for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds (where eligible).

To register your interest in a nursery place for your child, please get in touch. We’ll be happy to hear from you and can’t wait to show you around and to tell you more …

Rough Guide to Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a brain-related learning difficulty that affects both children and adultsToday, we look at another condition that can affect children: dyscalculia. This is a brain-related learning difficulty that affects both children and adults. Somewhere between 3 and 6 percent of the UK population is affected and some may also have other conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. It’s important to know that the condition can affect individuals who are highly intelligent just as much as it affects those anywhere else on the intelligence spectrum. There is no cure for dyscalculia but there are lots of ways to help those with the condition (we’ll come to some of those later). It’s also important to know that, while children with dyscalculia may have issues with numbers, they can often have wonderful skills in other areas, for example in relation to creativity, problem-solving and intuition.

N.B. For clarification, we will look at developmental dyscalculia here, not the type of dyscalculia caused by brain injury or stroke.

The Effects of Dyscalculia

A simple dictionary definition of the condition defines dyscalculia as “severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations, as a result of brain disorder.” That is rather simplistic, however. The UK’s Dyslexia Association1 describes it in greater detail:

“Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures.”

Those with developmental dyscalculia have problems making sense of numbers, memorising arithmetic facts and making fluent and accurate maths calculations.The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as used by psychiatric professionals in the U.S., describes how those with developmental dyscalculia have problems making sense of numbers, memorising arithmetic facts and making fluent and accurate maths calculations. Clearly, such limitations can have a profound effect, including in terms of education because maths affects so many learning topics.

Signs of Dyscalculia in Children

Due to the nature of the problem, signs of dyscalculia are unlikely to become evident until a child reaches an age when they begin to learn about numbers and mathematical concepts. Once they start, however, dyscalculic children may show one or more of the following signs:

  • They may have trouble processing and understanding number concepts and, because of this, they will find it difficult to build their own skills around numeracy.
  • Difficulties might include confusion over whether one number is greater or smaller than another and even something as simple as understanding the link between, say, a quantity of three apples and the number 3. Even the link between the number 3 and the word ‘three’ could be lost on them.
  • At pre-school age, counting correctly may prove to be quite a challenge, how it applies to everyday life even more so.
  • Even the concept of what the numbers represent may be an issue.
  • Memory skills may also be affected.
  • Those with the condition may be more prone to continue using their fingers to countThey may be more prone to continue using their fingers to count, long after their peers have moved onto mental arithmetic.
  • ‘Number facts’ will not come easily to children with dyscalculia, including perhaps simple ones like two plus two.
  • Mathematical concepts like addition and subtraction (etc.) will be even more of a challenge.
  • Games and other tasks involving numbers will prove difficult. For example, keeping score in a ball game.
  • Because of all of this, children with dyscalculia may even avoid games and tasks involving numbers. The condition may cause them to have decreased self-confidence; they may become embarrassed around their peers because of their difficulties.
  • As they grow older, understanding and managing money may also become a problem.

Perhaps surprisingly, some dyscalculic children also have difficulty with a sense of direction. This could manifest itself in something as simple as a board game where they cannot grasp the rules around whether, say, a particular chess piece can move to a particular spot on the board. Similarly, some children are poorer than expected at judging distances and coordination. A link between dyscalculia and the way the brain and eyesight work together may be behind this.

Is your child exhibiting any of these symptoms?

If so, don’t automatically assume they have dyscalculia, as something entirely different could well be responsible. If you are concerned, though, speak to a doctor who may refer your child to an educational psychologist, paediatrician or other professional. Bear in mind, though, that there is no de-facto test for dyscalculia. Professional research into the condition is at only a relatively early stage.

How Dyscalculic Children Can be Helped

Speak to the childcare and teaching professionals at your childcare nursery, pre-school, school or education settingAlso, of course, speak to the childcare and teaching professionals at your childcare nursery, pre-school, school or education setting. Just like staff at Treetops Nursery, they will be able to offer some support and also keep an eye out for possible signs. It’s always important for parents and childcare/teaching professionals to be in close contact anyway. In this way, we can all have the same goals in mind, share the same learning and development plans and keep each other informed as each child progresses on their learning journey.

There are many ways children with dyscalculia can be helped. For example:

  • We can give dyscalculic children more time to complete tasks involving numbers. Giving them advanced information and assistance about such tasks will help too.
  • One-to-one help will be the most beneficial as explanations can be deeper, taken at a slower pace and repeated if required.
  • We can all give them lots of practise to build skills and confidence.
  • Larger tasks and problems involving numbers can be broken down into a series of smaller steps and tackled one at a time.
  • Visual reference can help. For example printed multiplication tables.
  • When mental arithmetic is not necessary for a task, let them use a calculator if they’re at an appropriate age for such things.
  • Important words and terms can be highlighted on any printed maths-related task. Doing so can help the dyscalculic child understand more clearly and know where to focus the most attention.
  • Special teaching strategies can help, for example using a multi-sensory approach, special tools or softwareUse of lined or graph paper can sometimes help too, so as to keep corresponding numbers in line and steps more clear.
  • Introducing special teaching strategies can help, for example using a multi-sensory approach or using special tools and software.
  • More than anything, though, it’s about catering to each child’s unique needs, including any Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). At Treetops Nursery, we excel at this with a learning and development programme that’s tailored for each individual. Using this approach brings out the very best in every child.

Looking for the Best Nursery in Willesden, or near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is an outstanding nursery based in Willesden, close to Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green. If you have a baby or child aged up to five, do consider us for your weekday childcare. Due to the popularity of our nursery and pre-school, places are in high demand. So, to avoid possible disappointment, let us know as soon as possible if you are considering a nursery place here for your child:

Dyspraxia: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Disorder

Most people have heard of dyslexia, however the disorder known as dyspraxia is less well known. If you are a parent with children, dyspraxia is something to be aware of, so that you can look out for the possible signs. Today we’ll answer commonly asked questions about the disorder.

Q: What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person's ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity.A: Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity. Children with dyspraxia may therefore appear ‘clumsy’. It can be anything from mild to more severe and obviously the mildest variety is hardest for parents to spot. Dyspraxia is classified as a type of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (‘DCD’) and indeed healthcare professionals may use this terminology for the condition. They may also refer to it as a Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function, or ‘SDDMF’ for short.

The condition affects four times as many males as it does females and can also sometimes be found in those with ADHD, dyslexia and autism. However, as with dyslexia, dyspraxia has nothing to do with the level of a person’s intelligence.

Q: What Causes Dyspraxia?

Children with dyspraxia may appear to be clumsy.A: Dyspraxia can be something people were simply born with (that’s the developmental kind) or, for others, it was acquired through brain trauma, for example because of an injury or stroke. In this post, however, we’ll concentrate on developmental dyspraxia in relation to children.

The reasons for developmental dyspraxia are unclear, however children who were born prematurely or underweight are more prone to the disorder. There is also some evidence to suggest that it can be inherited within families who are prone to the condition. Sadly, children are also more likely to have the disorder if their mothers drank alcohol or took illegal drugs during pregnancy.

Q: What Are the Signs of Dyspraxia?

A: Children with dyspraxia may appear clumsier than their peers. They may also be less naturally good at sport and indeed may even avoid it. Picking up other skills may also be a challenge. Concentration and attention spans can be adversely affected. Following instructions can be a challenge.

Babies may exhibit unusual body positions and have trouble learning to roll or sit. Toddlers under one may adopt strange postures. Infants may be slower at learning to crawl too.

Children with dyspraxia have difficulty with a variety of physical tasks and activities.Children with dyspraxia may also have difficulty:

  • independently dressing, buttoning clothes and tying laces;
  • walking, jumping, skipping and running;
  • using writing instruments to draw and write;
  • mastering the use of cutlery to feed themselves;
  • catching, kicking and throwing balls;
  • stacking objects and playing with some toys;
  • carrying out everyday physical tasks and activities in the most appropriate order.

All of this is because they are less able to coordinate movements and physical actions as well as they would without the condition.

One knock-on effect of this is that they may not reach their development milestones as soon as others in their age group. Indeed, this can be an indicator to watch out for. However, DCD/dyspraxia is often hard to diagnose until children are at least 4 to 5 years of age.

Q: What Are the Knock-On Effects of Dyspraxia?

The posture of toddlers may be odd if they have DCD/dyspraxia.A: Due to its nature and particularly in regard to its negative effect on sports and active play skills, dyspraxia can lead to children becoming less naturally fit, with all the ramifications that brings.

The effects of dyspraxia can also make children less able to make new friends. This may make them feel a bit left out, ‘different‘ and therefore feel rather isolated. This can, in turn, also lead to lower self-esteem, reduced confidence, frustration and even behavioural problems.

Q: How is Dyspraxia Professionally Diagnosed?

A: If you think your child may be dyspraxic, contact your GP to ensure the problem is not caused by something entirely different. Also liaise with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (‘SENCo’) at your child’s childcare setting, pre-school or school, for advice and support. The GP or SENCo may refer your child to a specialist healthcare professional, for example an occupational therapist and/or paediatrician. Assessment and diagnosis is often carried out by both. Learn more about diagnosing dyspraxia and DCD in children here.

Q: Is there a Cure for Dyspraxia?

A: Although a tiny number of children who are deemed to be a little clumsy may grow out of it, there is no cure for dyspraxia for the vast majority. Some children’s challenges will improve with age, however the earlier symptoms are spotted, the sooner parents, carers, guardians and professionals can help the affected child.

Q: How Can We Help Children with Dyspraxia?

Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD.A: Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD, from a variety of specialists. Support may be needed throughout childhood, including at pre-school and school, to help optimise ability around physical tasks and processes. As every child’s challenges will be unique, a support plan will be customised for each. Support may involve a variety of professionals who will aim to help the child overcome their difficulties as far as possible and to build their confidence, self-esteem, abilities etc. The specialists involved may include paediatric occupational therapists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists or a mixture of several. All will work in tandem, of course, with childcare professionals, teachers, parents and guardians. Learn more about treatment for dyspraxia here.

Q: How Does Treetops Nursery Help Dyspraxic Children?

A: As well as looking out for possible first signs of dyspraxia/DCD — and any other disorder — we will work with any specialists to play our part in any tailored support plans for affected children under our care. This may involve task- and process-oriented activities to help children overcome difficulties. As well as working with any guidance from the specialists it will, of course, involve strategic cooperation with parents, carers or guardians involved in the child’s care. In this way, everyone will be working to the same aims, using the same, shared support plans. Our Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (‘SENCo’) will also be a crucial part of formulating this plan and, indeed, one of their key roles is to promote equality of opportunity irrespective of any special educational needs or disorders (‘SEND’). In ensuring this, every child achieves personal bests in every area, becoming the very best version of themselves.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries in Willesden, Near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery School is a popular nursery and pre-school in Willesden, NW10 (near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green). We offer outstanding childcare for babies and children aged up to 5, Monday to Friday. To express an interest, ask a question, book a tour or pre-register for a place, please get in touch:

Dyslexia Q&A: Answers to frequently asked questions about the condition

Today we’re looking at the dyslexia, particularly in relation to its affect on children, including under-fives. Following are the answers to a series of the most commonly asked questions about the condition.

Q: What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is categorised as a Specific Learning Difficulty ('SpLD')A: Dyslexia is categorised as a Specific Learning Difficulty (‘SpLD’) in the UK. Most notably, it adversely affects a person’s ability to read because of a general difficulty in learning or interpreting letters, words, and often other symbols. Indeed, it was originally referred to as word blindness. There are other ways dyslexia affects people, though, and we’ll come to those in more detail later.

Q: What Causes Dyslexia?

A: The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown, however it tends to run in families, so is most likely to be a genetic issue, i.e. passed down through parents’ genes. It affects the way the brain processes language and this can even be seen brain imaging tests.

Q: Can You Become Dyslexic, or Grow Out of It?

Most notably, dyslexia affects a person's ability to read or interpret letters, words, and often other symbols.A: As it’s a genetic issue, people are born with the condition. Symptoms may begin to show as a child matures during early learning and beyond. As it is something that’s inherent in their physiology, it is not something people can ‘grow out’ of. It is a lifelong issue. It can be managed, of course, with various approaches available to mitigate its effects as far as possible.

Q: Is Dyslexia Linked With Intelligence?

A: No. There is no recognised link between a person’s intelligence and dyslexia. Many dyslexic children are indeed highly intelligent, even gifted in some areas, but sufferers cover the whole range of the intelligence spectrum.

Q: What Are the Early Signs of Possible Dyslexia?

A: Early signs of possible dyslexia may include the following:

  • Someone with dyslexia may describe written letters and words as ‘jumbling up’ or even visibly moving so as to totally confuse their meaning.
  • This often extends to more than just reading, though; some dyslexic children also jumble up words when speaking out loud. This difficulty can impede the speed and depth of their overall speech development.
  • Dyslexic children may be great at answering questions verbally, but poor when asked to do so in writing.They may also have trouble remembering words.
  • Dyslexic children will find learning the alphabet tricky. Because of this, they will not seem interested in attempting to do so and will also have difficulty with writing and spelling.
  • Pronunciation may also be affected. Dyslexic people may switch around syllables without realising. For example, they might say ‘topato’ instead of ‘potato’ and so on.
  • The concept of words rhyming may be lost on dyslexic children. So, they may even have trouble learning simple nursery rhymes.
  • Dyslexia can even affect the speed that children develop fine motor skills. Interestingly, this can extend to difficulty tapping out a regular rhythm on a drum or other percussive instrument.
  • Dyslexic children may also have trouble remembering the order of things like days of the week, number facts (2 plus 2 equals 4 etc.).
  • Taking this a step further, dyslexic children may find following a string of multiple-step instructions tricky to remember. If given in separate instructions one at a time, however, there is no problem.
  • Dyslexic children may also be great at answering questions verbally in class, but poor when asked to do so in written form.

However, just because a child exhibits any of the above symptoms, it does not necessarily mean they are dyslexic. It should also be noted that symptoms of dyslexia vary enormously from person to person. Only a proper test, by a professional, will ensure a correct diagnosis. We’ll come to that later.

Q: How Else Will Dyslexia Affect My Child?

Dyslexia can cause difficulty in writing, spelling, with grammar and even with spoken communication.A: Being unable to easily read will hold children back. If they have trouble reading, they will have trouble reading text books for any of the topics at school. Some classroom and test situations will become more stressful for them as a result.

Difficulty writing, spelling and with grammar will also hold them back and may even make them stand out amongst their peers at school. This could make them feel inferior, even if they’re highly intelligent, and in turn lead to lower self-image and self-confidence.

Such impacts can sometimes also go on to affect whether a dyslexic person later goes on to study in further education. Possible lower grades and degraded communication skills could then go on to impact their life in the workplace once they become adults. As such, dyslexia can be a real vicious circle unless mitigated.

Q: Can Dyslexia Affect Mathematics?

A: Yes it can. Indeed, estimates suggest that up to 90% of dyslexic children have some kind of problem with maths. Because numbers are characters just like letters, they too can get jumbled from the perspective of the dyslexic child. Memorising number facts can also be problematic. This can all make mathematical tasks extremely difficult for some, but by no means all, of those affected by the condition.

Q: How Can Children with Dyslexia be Helped?

A: There are many ways that early years, teaching and other professionals can help children with dyslexia; in fact there is a whole raft of possible measures available. A few examples include:

  • One-to-one help from a teacher, teaching assistant, parent or specialist can really help dyslexic children.One-to-one help from a teacher, teaching assistant or specialist;
  • Allowing extra time to take notes and complete tasks;
  • A system of teaching that might include multiple senses (e.g. sight, touch and hearing together);
  • A different structure to learning and lesson plans, with instant feedback from the supervising adult;
  • Modification of assignments to allow for the difficulties associated with dyslexia;
  • Simple measures like ensuring that a school child has correctly written down sufficient notes for an assignment, before they leave the lesson;
  • Breaking larger tasks down into a set of individual single tasks, to make them easier to follow;
  • Encouraging a child to verbalise is also sometimes fruitful, including for mathematical tasks.
  • Concentrating on phonic skills in a highly structured way, using small, methodical steps;
  • Repetition is also important;
  • Reading together, particularly when it’s fun rather than a chore;
  • Any external dyslexia therapist/professional should also try to work in tandem with nursery, pre-school or school setting professionals.
  • Other possible help can come in the form of audio recordings, audio books, computer text readers and word processing programmes.

These represent just a fraction of the ways in which adults can help children with dyslexia. Special Educational Needs (SEN) support at early years settings and schools, however, is key, particularly if introduced from a young age.

Q: How Can Nurseries Like Treetops Help Dyslexic Children?

A special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) can recommend measures or interventions that may help a child with dyslexia.A: Childcare professionals will be on the look-out for any signs of possible dyslexia (see the list of possible signs earlier in this article). Parents can do the same and, because the condition is thought to be inherited, this is particularly important if one or more of the child’s parents is dyslexic. Signs can be hard to spot, but the earlier the condition is recognised, the sooner the child can be helped. If any signs of possible dyslexia are suspected, supervising adults and childcare professionals can initially monitor the child’s progress going forwards. They can also assess the child against benchmarks for the same age or peer group in case it’s just a temporary blip in their learning progress.

Individual support from childcare and teaching professionals at nursery, pre-school or school can be given where a child is thought to be struggling and dyslexia is suspected. A special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) at the setting can recommend any measures or interventions that may help the child. An alternative teaching approach can be a part of that if required for the individual. Often, however, the symptoms of dyslexia are not so obvious until children are older i.e. are attending school and reading/writing significantly more.

Q: How Can Dyslexia be Properly Diagnosed?

A: If the presence of dyslexia is unclear, parents can consult with a GP to ensure the problem is not caused by something else, e.g. poor eyesight, ADHD or some other condition. Once dyslexia is strongly suspected, an in-depth professional assessment can be arranged to discover whether dyslexia really is the issue. Learn more about how a professional dyslexia assessment can be arranged here.

An Outstanding Nursery in Willesden, Near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenIf you live or work in north west London and have any concerns about your under-five’s learning and development, Treetops Nursery School would be happy to discuss your child’s needs and possible attendance at this excellent nursery. We are one of the most popular nurseries/pre-schools in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. We certainly bring out the very best in children under our care and also have wonderful facilities. For these reasons, the nursery is in very high demand, so do express an interest at the earliest opportunity if you are thinking of applying for a childcare place here:

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 new friends, new activities, new games and new, exciting opportunities.
  • Tell your child which of their existing friends will be starting at the same school. If there aren’t any, try to reach out to another parent whose child is starting on the same day and arrange a play date for the two. Having a friendly face there from day one will really help them settle in.
  • Ensure your child gets sufficient sleep in the run-up to starting school. In the one or two weeks prior to starting, it is a good idea to get them used to getting up, getting dressed and eating breakfast at a particular time. Doing so will help their body clocks adapt in readiness. In the evening, of course, they should be going to bed at a sensible time so they get enough sleep. The last thing they will need is to feel unable to stay awake in their first week of school.
  • Most schools have a prospectus, brochure or website. Take a look through these together. Point out interesting and exciting aspects of the new school. Find answers to any questions your child asks and be positive.
  • Tell them about your first day or week at school, assuming it wasn’t awful, of course. It’s OK to mention if you were a little apprehensive, but that it all turned out well in the end and you made some excellent new friends etc.
  • It will help your child if they visit, so they're familiar with where to go, where to hang their coat and so on.It’s also great if you and your child have already visited the school previously, for example during an open day or evening.
  • Try to ensure that your child can take care of some of their personal needs independently. For example, in respect of the use of the toilet, hygiene, tying shoe laces, dressing and eating.
  • Social skills will also help them. So, a knowledge and confidence in their own communication abilities, social skills, table manners, understanding of right and wrong and so on will stand them in good stead.
  • Encourage them to have a desire to learn. So, give them an insight into all the amazing things they can discover about the world – and themselves – if they delve a little deeper and have an inquisitive nature.

Parents Themselves Must Also Be Prepared

It’s also important, of course, for parents to be prepared.

  • Ensure that your child's uniform is ready, fits nicely, and is labelled with their name.As a parent, you’ll need to know where to go and at what time. That’s the case for both drop-off and pick-up. Ensure you know whether the first day is going to be the same as a ‘normal’ day.
  • Ensure your child knows who will be collecting them and drill them about safety in this regard.
  • Ask the school, well ahead of the start, what safeguarding process they have in place in regard to picking up your child at the end of the day. There may be details you need to know on arrival.
  • Ensure that your child’s uniform, if applicable, and any equipment like sports kit is ready for your child to take. Does everything fit? Are clothes labelled?
  • Make sure you know what equipment your child will need. Ensure he/she knows where it is e.g. in a rucksack, bag or pencil case.
  • Does your child need a packed lunch and/or any snacks? You need to find out.
  • Do you have all the necessary contact details of the school or staff? Do they have yours?
  • Is everything prepared and ready so that your child is not late on the day? Have you timed the route at the appropriate time of day, so you know how long the journey will take? Turning up late will cause unnecessary stress, including for your child.

It almost goes without saying, of course, that enrolling your child in a nursery or pre-school setting well before they’re five will help them educationally, developmentally and in terms of preparedness for reception year.

Are you Looking for a Good Nursery in Willesden, Harlesden or Kensal Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is a wonderful nursery and pre-school in Willesden, conveniently close to Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. It is one of the most popular nurseries in north west London, with high demand. For this reason, do get in touch as early as possible if you are interested in a childcare place your baby or child at the setting:

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

A familiar face will help to make them feel more at home right away.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 make a note of whether any of the books, toys or games at the nursery are the same as you have at home. Anything familiar to the child will always help to make them feel more at home once they’re at the nursery.

Encourage Independence

Helping children become a little more independent will really help with their self-confidence once they start nursery or pre-school.Helping toddlers with toilet training, personal hygiene, speaking, communicating, following rules, tidying up after themselves, hanging up their coat, fastening shoes, packing their backpack and suchlike will also help them with their self-confidence once they start nursery. If they are a little more independent and able when they start, they will naturally also be a little more self-confident and relaxed at the new setting.

Listen & Reassure

Giving your child a voice is also important. Encourage them to ask you questions and take time to properly answer them, so they know what to expect. Find suitable responses to reassure them if they have any concerns and always be sure not to reflect any concerns you have onto them.

Set a Routine

A week or two before their start date, try to get them used to a daytime routine that mimics the timings at the nursery. For example, snack times, meal times, times for a daytime nap and so on. In tandem with this, get them used to a suitable routine for getting up in the morning, getting dressed (as independently as possible) and going to bed. Their body clocks will soon adjust to this in readiness for a similar pattern once they’ve started at the nursery. Sufficient high quality sleep will be essential, of course.

Keep preparations relaxed, soothing and feeling as natural as possible for your child.

On the First Day of Nursery/Pre-SchoolEnsure you and your child are fully prepared, on time, and stay positive on the first day.

When the first day of nursery arrives, ensure you and your child are fully prepared with everything you need, on time too. You don’t want to cause your child stress by being late or disorganised. Also ensure that each of your mindsets is positive. Focus on the positives and reassure your child by reminding them what fun they’re going to have and how exciting it is to now be going to nursery. Your child will only get one chance to get a good first impression of going to nursery! It’s also helpful to hide any negative feelings or anxieties you have about leaving them at the nursery (your child may pick up on these if not), so keep it relaxed, natural, free of fuss — and positive. Also remind them, of course, that you’ll see them later (N.B. be on time!) and can’t wait for them to tell you all about their exciting first day at the nursery. In any case, though, you may find they can’t wait to get through the door and don’t give you so much as a second glance, particularly if they spot a friend or staff member they met at the earlier nursery visit.

Consider putting your child’s favourite teddy bear or comforter into their backpack, so they don’t feel alone.

Consider putting your child's favourite cuddly toy or comforter into their backpack, so they always have a friend with them.Our childcare professionals have many years of childcare experience, so helping children settle in is second nature to us. Rest assured, we will ensure that your child has fun, feels relaxed and is safe at all times. We will ensure that this milestone in their lives goes as smoothly as possible and that their time at the nursery/pre-school is a resounding success.

Nursery Childcare Places in Willesden, Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is a high quality nursery and pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. It is in very high demand in the Northwest area of London, so please get in touch as soon as possible if you would like to enrol your baby, toddler or preschooler, or to arrange a visit. Please choose an option:

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;
  • Play helps children to improve their dexterity through fine motor skills like holding, rotating and moving small objects in precise ways to suit their intended outcome, all at the same time as honing their hand-eye coordination;
  • As they grow older, play also helps children to improve and develop their gross motor skills, enabling them to confidently and precisely control their limbs to lift, throw, extend, pull, push, move and eventually walk, run, jump and so on;
  • Play also helps children to learn from their mistakes just as much as from their achievements. That’s an important lesson that we’ve all gone through even into adulthood;
  • Doing so also helps children to get a more balanced view of the potential risks and rewards associated with carefully-considered actions and the comprehension of cause and effect;
  • Regular physical play helps children to remain active and more fit. After all, lying inactive or sat in front of a TV or other electronic screen has the opposite effect;
  • Playing helps children to improve social skills, make friends and form closer bonds with supervising adultsPlay also keeps children mentally fit as it stimulates their senses, brains and sense of adventure;
  • Regular and varied play also helps children to identify their own talents and interests;
  • Play stimulates children’s imaginations, leading to greater creativity and new ways of thinking;
  • Improved problem-solving and critical thinking is a natural, positive outcome of this;
  • Children also learn to interact with others through play, thereby improving social skills including communication, speech, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, role-play and so on;
  • Children develop closer bonds through play, including with other children as well as any supervising adults. Through play, friendships naturally form;
  • With all of these benefits, children naturally become more self-confident individuals, becoming more able to tackle things independently i.e. with less need for adult direction;
  • Their emotional development also benefits;
  • Play is also a great way to relieve any stress, even diverting attention away from pain;
  • Playing with children also helps the supervising adult to immerse themselves into their child’s world, becoming more able to see the world from the child’s perspective.

Playing helps children to be more creative and to think differentlyAll in all, play fosters both physical development and mental development in children. Doing so sets them up with improved physical and cognitive abilities as well as incredibly important life skills. Combined, this also sets under-fives up beautifully for school-readiness when they leave pre-school.

We may follow this post up, at a future date, with some suggested play activities and guidance.

One of the Best Nurseries in Willesden, Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden, our childcare professionals create carefully-planned opportunities for play using a huge array of stimulating equipment, facilities and programmes. That’s all part of the learning and development plan that’s customised for each individual baby or child at the nursery. It’s widely accepted that children, particularly the very young, learn best through play. This approach, together with the individual attention of our exceptional childcare professionals, is why little ones absolutely thrive at Treetops. It’s also why Treetops is so popular and in-demand as a nursery and pre-school in the NW10 area.

If you are looking for one of the very best nurseries in Willesden, Willesden Green or close to Harlesden or Kensal Green, please make contact while we still have some childcare spaces available. Please choose an option:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

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 also 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 begin to nudge them towards becoming more mobile and coordinated as they improve their fine and gross motor skills.
  • As babies get more used to Tummy Time, it will also give them more access to new sensory experiences as they can increasingly explore the world, suitable safe objects and textures around them.

Tummy Time can also happen with the baby facing you, to encourage them to strengthen control of their head and coreAnother important benefit of Tummy Time is that it helps babies avoid conditions like positional plagiocephaly (otherwise known as ‘flat head syndrome’) and positional torticollis (i.e. a twisted neck) because it allows them to change position more often.

Safety note: babies should only be on their tummies when playing and only ever under close supervision. They should sleep on their backs, as it is safer for them and reduces the chance of SIDS. So, it’s important not to let them nod off when playing on their tummies.

Example Activities

Tummy Time can include a variety of activities, each of which will help the baby develop those new skills and physical strength. Initially start with shorter sessions, for example 1-2 minutes and later 2-5 minutes at a time. Increase this gradually as they build up strength. By the time they’re 3 months of age, they should be doing Tummy Time for a minimum of an hour, split up into smaller sessions, over the course of the day.

Up to 3 months of age:

  • Several Tummy Time positions are possible, including supporting their weight lengthwise from underneath.You can lie the baby on their tummy (while awake of course) on a soft blanket or rug on the floor. Get down low so you can interact with them and play games like peek-a-boo at their level.
  • Alternatively he/she could lie across your lap with you supporting his/her stability with a helping hand and laying against you for extra support …
  • … or even position him/her on their belly on top of yours, so you’re face-to-face.
  • In any of these positions, you can ensure that you keep the baby safe while you encourage them to prop themselves up on their hands, elbows or arms and lift their heads, even if only fleetingly initially. A rolled-up blanket can help as support and to give them reassurance.
  • Another great Tummy Time position at this age is threading your hand and lower arm horizontally underneath their length, so you support their weight lengthwise from underneath, rather like you’re carrying them. Their limbs can hang down either side of your supporting arm (so they’re a little like a lion lying along a branch in a tree). You must, however, support their head and neck with your other hand/forearm. This position will give the baby the opportunity to take turns in supporting their own head and limbs, so strengthening muscles and developing motor skills etc.

3 to 6 months:

  • From the age of 3 months, you can try to encourage greater control from the baby by tempting them with toys and rattles. You can even move these around a little to encourage greater motor control like reaching out, following the direction of movement with their head position, as well as giving them the opportunity to practise and improve their visual tracking.

From 6 to 9 months:

  • Encourage the baby to support their own weight on their hand and arms (like a ‘push-up’ position) for short periodsEncourage the baby to support their own weight on their hand and arms (almost like a ‘push-up’ kind of position) for short periods. This can initially be done by helping to support them with a hand, lifting them under their chest or tummy. They’ll soon catch on and help to push themselves up and support their own head more and more.
  • Soon enough you’ll notice that they can pass a toy from one hand to the other.
  • At this stage, they should also start to be able to roll sideways from the tummy position, in either direction, going from tummy to back and reverting to their tummy position again.
  • Toys can be used to encourage them during these activities, so they practise reaching out and swivelling bodily to grab them. It’s like a full upper-body workout!
  • Before long, your baby will be able to site unaided, using their own arms for support.
  • Soon thereafter they’ll begin to crawl (usually around 7-9 months of age). Once they’re achieving this, there’s no real need to continue with Tummy Time exercises although spending some time on their tummy will continue to benefit them and build strength and motor skills etc. while they’re playing.

Then the real fun begins! Before you know it, they’ll begin to stand on their own two feet, supporting their own weight while holding on for support. Walking will be the next major milestone thereafter, on their amazing journey of life.

Are You Looking for an Outstanding Nursery in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green?

Tummy Time is all part of the excellent childcare services available to our youngest babies at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. As well as being a nursery for babies, we offer the highest quality weekday childcare for children up to the age of 5 and aim to get every one of them ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us. If you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please get in touch while places are still available — we’d love to hear from you and show you around:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

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.

As well as being entertaining, laughter is good for us. It lightens the mood and can cut through anxiety, stress and even pain. We’ll cover many more benefits and the importance of laughter in much more detail in a future post, so watch this space.

Nursery Places in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal Green

The childcare team here at Treetops Nursery hope you and your children enjoy this light-hearted article today. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Willesden NW10, offering high quality childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green, NW2 and NW6. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and children under five in a safe, secure and well-equipped childcare setting. For more information — or to arrange a visit to the nursery/pre-school for you and your child — please get in contact today:

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 91st centiles — quite a wide range.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s BMI or weight (whether overweight or underweight), consult your GP. They may be able to offer guidance or a healthy lifestyle programme referral. However, not all weight issues stem from incorrect food or exercise levels and can occasionally be the result of an underlying medical condition — another reason to check with your GP.

Why Does Childhood Obesity Matter?

The reason this is important is summed up perfectly by the NHS:

“If your child is above a healthy weight now, they’re more likely to be above a healthy weight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life.”

Statistics around childhood obesity, and their ramifications, are startling:

  • The age at which children are becoming obese seems to be getting worse i.e. reducing.
  • By the time they start school, 1 in 5 children in the UK are either overweight or very overweight.
  • Between year 6 and the age of 15, 1 in 3 children are overweight or very overweight — a very concerning statistic.
  • Once children are obese, there’s a much greater chance that they will remain so as they grow older.
  • By the time they reach adulthood, obese people are 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease and depression are also statistically more prevalent in obese people.
  • Premature death is twice as likely if you are obese.

Healthy, balanced eating habits also help to fight obesity at any ageSocio-economic background matters too:

  • Under-fives from deprived backgrounds are 2 times more likely to become obese.
  • 11-year-olds from low-income backgrounds are 3 times more likely to become obese.

And society is suffering due to obesity too:

  • More is spent by the NHS each year tackling the adverse effects of obesity than is spent on the fire service, police and judicial system combined.

All in all, fighting obesity early really matters!

How to Tackle Childhood Obesity

There are two clear ways that parents, guardians, carers and childcare professionals can help to ensure that children avoid weight problems and potential obesity. In essence, both come down to the child maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Through regular exercise, ideally starting from a young age so that good habits are formed early. Read our Guide to Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential here for full details.
  2. Through a healthy, balanced diet; one that contains the right food groups in the right amounts. Again, children should be doing this right from an early age so that eating healthily comes naturally as they grow older. Read our Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers here for further information.

Both are great guides with some excellent background information, tips and more. So, perhaps bookmark the links and feel free to share any of our articles on social media or online. All we ask is that you link back to our original post(s).

A Healthy Start at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenThe childcare professionals at Treetops Nursery do, of course, follow exactly this approach. We supply healthy, balanced, meals and drinks, which are freshly prepared on site each day using only the best ingredients. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers also get ample, rich opportunities for active play and exercise as part of their tailored learning and development programme. All this, together with the excellent early years curriculum at the nursery, gives them the very best start in life and clean, healthy foundations to build upon once they leave us to begin school at age five.

If you are searching for the best nurseries for your baby or child in Willesden or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Facilities and resources are excellent and the setting has a wonderful Ofsted report. If you’re considering a place here for your child, please contact us. We’ll be happy tell you more and to show you around. Please choose from the following:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us