Bird Feeder Making Activity for Kids

There are many types of bird feeders that children can enjoy making at home.As promised in our recent posts ‘How to Attract Garden Wildlife – for Under-5s’ and ‘Bee-Friendly Flower Growing for Kids’, we follow up today with a guide to bird feeders that children can enjoy making at home. It’s a creative and educational activity that children of all ages will enjoy. And, With the right location and bird food, the home-made bird feeders are sure to attract a multitude of beautiful birds to the garden for the children to enjoy and learn from.

With any of these feeders, though, don’t expect birds to come right away. They’ll be suspicious of anything new in the garden for a while, so children need to be patient while the birds learn to trust the new addition. Once they have accepted it, though, they’ll come again and again if suitable food continues to be supplied.

Apple Feeders

Starting with the most simple bird feeder of all, children can make an apple bird feeder.Starting with the most simple bird feeder of all, children can make an apple bird feeder. All they need is an apple and something to hold it. So, a piece of string threaded through it would be one easy solution for a hanging apple feeder (an adult may need to supervise for safety reasons). Another would be to spear the apple onto a vertical stick (see example photo), bamboo cane or even a suitably angled tree branch/twig. Again, adult supervision would be wise so the child does not hurt itself. Try peeling off some of the skin to show the apple flesh and this may encourage birds to have a peck. Apple feeders may be particularly popular with blackbirds.

Pine Cone Feeders

Pine cone bird feeders are easy and fun for children to make.These are easy and fun for children to make. All they need is a suitable pine cone that’s ‘opened’, some bird seed and either peanut butter, suet or lard.* Children simply need to paste the peanut butter, suet or lard into the spaces between the pine cone scales, then roll the entire thing in bird seed, which will stick, and suspend the new feeder by string. Easy!

If no pine cone is available, the same approach can be used but using a chunk or thick slice of bread instead of the pine cone. However, we do not recommend it as bread will go mouldy if left outside for more than a day or two, and this can harm or even kill birds.

Suet* Flower Pot Seed Cakes

Suet or lard can also be used to make flower pot seed cakes.Suet* or lard* can also be used to make flower pot seed cakes. However, this will require the help of an adult because it will need to be melted on the hot stove before being mixed with bird seed. While still molten, it can be poured into flower pots or used yoghurt pots, where it will set solid, once cool. Children can take over only once it’s safe to do so. A piece of string can be then used to thread through and hang the seed flower pot or yoghurt pot in a suitable place to attract birds.

*Peanut Butter, Suet & Lard — Important Note

*If using peanut butter, ensure it’s fresh, salt-, sugar- and flavouring-free (or use a good brand of peanut butter made especially for birds). Both smooth and crunchy are suitable but smooth is a little safer for baby birds during breeding season.

With regard to suet, use only proper beef suet, from cows. It should be hard, not imprint if squeezed but instead crumble when handled. Avoid fake suets as they are not safe for birds.

If using lard, ensure it’s pure lard, is hard at room temperature and remains solid when it’s even warmer — otherwise it may simply melt on hot, sunny days, and this can be a bio hazard for birds. Like suet, pure lard should also not imprint when squeezed.

Plastic Bottle Feeders

Plastic bottle feeders are amongst the most adaptable of home-made bird feeders.These are amongst the most adaptable of home-made bird feeders. As the photographs on this article show, they can be hung vertically or horizontally, depending on the way they’ve been adapted. They can also be used to house bird seed/food or drinking water. Birds do need fresh drinking water and, by the way, will often appreciate spring water more than tap water in areas where there is more chemical in the latter. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible with recycled water bottles — children can get quite inventive!

Milk/Juice Carton Feeders

Bird feeders can be great fun when made from used juice or milk cartons.Bird feeders can be great fun when made from used juice or milk cartons. As the example shows, a few simple cuts (with adult supervision) are all that’s needed to form landing stages where birds can land in order to get to the seeds inside. String for hanging can be trapped at the top by using the screw-on lid, or using a hole made carefully/safely in the centre of the lid. Simple! What makes carton bird feeders extra fun is the fact that they can be painted by children. This will stimulate their creativity as well as making the feeders attractive — or even camouflaged.

Monkey Nut Feeders

Another very simple type of bird feeder that children can make is a hanging monkey nut feeder.Another very simple type of bird feeder that children can make is a hanging monkey nut feeder. All children (or a supervising adult) need to do is to thread string through part of the outer husk of each monkey nut, forming a chain of nuts. This can then be strung between the branches of a tree or other suitable place. Birds including tits will easily peck through the outer husk to get to the nuts inside. Squirrels may also visit!

Please note that monkey nuts (peanuts that are in their outer cases) should be unroasted. Before serving them to birds, an adult should break a few open to ensure that there is no fungus between the outer case and the nut itself. The fungus called aflatoxin is harmful to both birds and children as it’s a carcinogen (i.e. causes cancer).

Choosing Your Bird Food

Choosing the right bird food is critically important for the success of bird feeders.Choosing the right bird food is critically important for the success of bird feeders. There are many types of seed to choose from and different seeds will appeal to different bird species. However, to get started, we found that children can’t go wrong with just two or three key bird foods:

Sunflower hearts and/or mild cheddar cheese, each of which are easily and inexpensively available from supermarkets and online. These are extremely popular, especially amongst robins, various tits, sparrows, dunnocks, nuthatches, woodpeckers blackbirds, starlings and thrushes.

If going with cheese ensure it’s grated or chopped into tiny pieces that small birds will be able to easily swallow. Also ensure it’s fresh and has not got any mould on it (this can be dangerous to birds).

Robin Peanut Cakes‘ are also a huge hit with the same feathered friends, especially robins plus the addition of long-tailed tits, which are perhaps amongst the cutest of all UK birds — they are adorable! Robin Peanut Cakes are available from the physical and online shops of The National Trust, Ocado, Morrisons and many others, including Amazon.

Bread should ideally be a last resort (it’s not actually that good for birds) or, if used, it must be fresh, mould-free, torn up into tiny pieces and never left to rot. So, little and often is better than putting out a large amount all in one go when feeding birds bread, otherwise it can quickly go mouldy and harm the birds.

Locating Bird Feeders

To protect from attack from above by birds of prey, bird feeders should be located ideally under some kind of ‘overhang’.Children and adults should look for a safe and suitable place to site their newly-made bird feeders. To protect from cats and other ground-level predators, bird feeders should be at least 1.5 metres above ground level, while remaining low enough to allow for easy refilling. To protect from attack from above by birds of prey, bird feeders should be located ideally under some kind of ‘overhang’. For example, under the branches or canopy of a mature tree, or below protruding eves of a house or building. Children may well find that the bird feeders are more popular if these rules are followed.

Hygiene for Birds

Woodpeckers love sunflower seed hearts.For birds, the bird feeders will need to be cleaned regularly so that disease is not spread throughout the bird populations. The RSPB has some useful guidelines here.

Bird drinking water should also be regularly changed and any vessel holding it also cleaned from time to time. Whether near drinking water or food, bird droppings are a particular hazard for birds, as these can spread disease and parasites.

Hygiene & Safety for Children

For children, particularly the very young, an adult should supervise the feeder-making activities, cleanliness around the bird feeders and even hygiene around bird food.

Adults may need to step in during the feeder-making process itself if materials need to be cut or punctured with scissors or a knife. These are especially hazardous for the youngest children who are not yet fully dextrous or good with hand-eye coordination.

After touching or cleaning used or dirty bird feeders, children should wash hands with soap and water or, better still, wear rubber gloves during the process. Any cleaning of feeders should ideally be done outside and any handling of cleaning chemicals (see RSPB link above) should be done by the supervising adult, not the child.

Last but not least, nuts are a known allergen to an unlucky few. Avoid them unless you know for certain that your child is not allergic to them.

Nature is So Good for Children

Long-tailed tits love sunflower seed hearts too. They're incredibly cute!Children learn a huge amount and benefit enormously from nature, particularly the very young, so making bird feeders to attract wild birds is a very worthwhile activity. It also supports several aspects of the EYFS curriculum, including understanding the world, nurturing creativity and much more. What’s more, it need not cost much, if any money to accomplish and will also help our feathered friends, particularly during months when there is precious little natural food around for them.

Do You Want the Best Childcare in Willesden for your Child?

Or perhaps you need high quality childcare near Harlesden, Willesden Green or Kensal Green.

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.We are Treetops Nursery, one of the best nurseries and pre-schools in Willesden, and also near to Willesden Green, Kensal Green, Harlesden and London NW10. We’re independently rated by Ofsted as a Good early years provider in every category, so you know your baby or child under five will be in safe and capable hands. To register your child for a nursery/pre-school place, arrange a tour of the setting or find answers to any questions you may have, please contact us:

How to Attract Garden Wildlife - for Under-5s
Nature provides the most wonderful creatures that will both fascinate and educate young children.The little creatures that nature provides are some of the most wonderful, magical things that both fascinate and educate young children. Nature is a wondrous thing, when you think about it. All the little beings and characters that crawl or dart around any wildlife-friendly garden will enrich both the garden and any onlooker. What’s more exposure to nature is known to benefit children in many different ways. With that in mind, today’s guide provides ways to make any garden more wildlife-friendly. By following the suggestions, young children can get to see more of these beautiful little visitors, many of whom may even become regulars if the conditions are right.

Attracting Mini-Beasts, Insects & Reptiles to the Garden

Mini-beasts like woodlice, centipedes, millipedes and many other bugs will love it if children leave them an undisturbed compost area to nest in. Insects and even reptiles like lizards and slow-worms may even move in. All they need is composting vegetation like rotting leaves, logs and perhaps grass cuttings that gradually break down — and they’re happy!

Hedgehog Hotels

A commercially available hedgehog hotel.Hedgehogs also love piles of leaves, so long as they’re left undisturbed and are somewhere peaceful and safe. Therefore, a pile of them under a secluded bush or underneath a shed may prove popular with them. Children can also make hedgehog hotels — or buy commercially available ones from a garden nursery or online. It’s essential that hedgehogs are able to get into the garden in the first place, though. Therefore, there needs to be a space somewhere to get in, e.g. under a garden gate and/or under one or more parts of the fence around the garden. If there are no gaps, then there is no point in putting out a hedgehog hotel.

On a side note, milk is harmful to hedgehogs, so never put it out in the garden for them.

Insect Houses & Bug Hotels

A bug/insect hotel.If children have no garden, simply attach an insect house (also known as a bug hotel) to any external wall. Alternatively, stand it firmly out of harm’s way, preferably somewhere peaceful, undisturbed and out of direct sun for most of the day. Simple insect houses and more complex bug hotels can be bought inexpensively online or from garden centres. They can also be home-made using chopped-up lengths of bamboo (or similar hollow sticks) bundled together with string. Children will need supervision for such an activity, of course, for safety. After a few weeks, children may notice that some of the hollow ‘tunnels’ are obstructed and this is likely to be insects, including solitary bees, ladybirds and some fancy types of solitary wasp, who have moved in or filled the hollow cores with pollen or nectar. They may seal entrances to overwinter or to protect eggs laid inside.

Flowers are Irresistible

Flowers, and the nectar they provide, are irresistible to bees, butterflies, hover flies and ladybirds.Flowers, and the nectar they provide, are irresistible to flying insects like wonderful bees, butterflies, hover flies and ladybirds. Many different flower types will attract such creatures and create a real buzz in the resulting flowerbed. We’ll write a separate post in due course about the types of flower that children can grow, perhaps from seed. Poppies are just one example to get children started, though. However, suffice it to say, if children grow any types of flowers, adorable creatures are likely to visit and bring real life to the garden.

Waterholes for Bees, Dragonflies & Damselflies

Children can also place small, shallow dishes or jar lids of water amongst any flowers that are growing in flowerbeds. It’s important to put a ‘landing stone’ in the middle, so that visiting bees, dragonflies and damselflies have somewhere safe to land. They’ll sit at the water’s edge and sip the water, particularly on hot, sunny days.

Sugar Water for Butterflies & Moths

Sugar water drizzled over ripe fruit will attract butterflies and moths.Similarly, butterflies and moths will enjoy a drink. However, in their case, they like some sugar dissolved into the water (a 50/50 mix is good, so the water may need to be warm during the preparation stage). Once cold, the sugar solution should be drizzled over pieces of ripe fruit like apples or oranges, which can then be placed into shallow dishes or speared onto vertical sticks. These can then go into the garden, balcony or window box — anywhere so long as they’re alongside any insect-attracting flowers.

Attracting Birds

The main way of attracting birds to the garden (or to the house if you have no garden) is through the use of the right type of bird food. They love bird seed, fat balls and even Cheddar cheese! Birds love fat balls, Cheddar cheese and sunflower hearts.The cheese is a big hit with robins, blackbirds, pigeons, doves, sparrows and dunnocks, for example, but never use blue or mouldy cheese as it could harm them. These same bird types also love sunflower ‘hearts’, the inner kernel of sunflower seeds, which can be purchased inexpensively with the weekly shop from most supermarkets or, of course, online or from garden nurseries. ‘Robin Peanut Cakes’ by the National Trust (also available from Ocado) are also a massive hit in our own garden. Long-tailed tits, woodpeckers, starlings and nuthatches all adore such foods mentioned in this section. The seed can be sprinkled on the ground (little and often is best, so the food doesn’t go off, and somewhere safe away from hiding prey). Better still, for their safety, the bird food can be placed in bird feeders attached high up to windows, walls, sheds and fences. Birds also need water to drink and to bathe in.Or place on bird tables if you have them. Ideally, though, feeders should also be protected from attack from above, by birds of prey, so under a building overhang or overhanging tree branch would suit — not too near the ground either, otherwise cats are a potential threat. We’ll follow up in due course with a separate post showing children how to build and site home-made bird feeders — they’re easy, inexpensive and fun!

Birds also need water to drink and to bathe in. So, some shallow water somewhere will prove popular once the birds have watched it for a few days and seen that it’s safe. A rock or upturned pot base placed into the shallow water will allow birds somewhere safe to land, just like we did above for the bees. Commercial bird baths would work, of course, but if budgets are limited any static, shallow vessel will do. Large pot bases are a good example. Birds do notice when things are moved, though, so wherever it’s sited, it needs to stay put, so they learn to trust it.

While we refer to ‘gardens’, any accessible outdoor space will do if no garden is available. Windowsills, patios, courtyards, balconies, shared allotments, walls for bug hotels and areas of common ground may all suit if they’re made friendly and peaceful for wildlife. Areas should be hazard-free, though, so avoid siting them anywhere that’s had weedkiller or other poisonous chemicals used.

Wildlife Will Enrich Your Child’s Life

Making wildlife-friendly gardens will enrich the lives of both the wildlife and children.Making wildlife-friendly areas will enrich the lives of both the wildlife and children — and their families. Visiting birds, mammals, insects and mini-beasts can teach children so much educationally as well as encouraging a deep respect and empathy towards nature. They can help children grow their understanding of ecological issues and possibly even lean children towards greener lifestyles as they grow up. Witnessing local wildlife in the garden can also feed into children’s creativity, encouraging them to draw, paint, take photos, build things and so on. In time, many of the delightful little visitors may indeed become regular ones that become familiar, friendly faces that come to say hello daily if conditions are right.

Outstanding Weekday Childcare in Willesden, NW10

Are you looking for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Harlesden, Willesden or Kensal Green?

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Ofsted rates Treetops Nursery as a Good in every single category. So, babies, toddlers and under-fives under our care are exceptionally well cared for. We are a nursery and pre-school offering high quality childcare in Willesden, London NW10. We’re also very near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green so would be equally suited to those who live or work in those locations. If you’d like to register your child for a childcare place at Treetops Nursery, or would like to visit the setting to see it for yourself, we’d be delighted to welcome you and to answer any questions:

 

15 Baby Facts That May Surprise You

A baby is born, somewhere in the world, every 3 seconds.Today we take a look at some amazing baby facts, many of which may come as a surprise. Human babies are incredible in so many ways, but you may not be aware of just how incredible they really are …

1. One Born Every Minute?

That’s not even close! Did you know that a baby is born, somewhere in the world, every 3 seconds? That equates to 28,800 new babies coming into the world every single day and over 10½ million new babies every year.

2. Babies Favour September

More babies are born in September than in any other month.Studies suggest that more babies are born in September than in any other month. In fact, the top four birth days are all in September with 9th September seeing the most babies born, followed in order by 19th, 12th and 17th September. With September being the first term of the year in the UK, it may come as no surprise that those September babies, being the oldest in the class, tend to be the smartest in their peer groups.

3. Short People Live Longer

Another study suggests that shorter people live longer than taller people, on average. With females being statistically shorter than males, it makes sense, then, that male babies will have lower life expectancies than females.

4. Foetuses have Gills, Fur & a Tail

While they’re foetuses, babies have fur, a tail and gills at certain stages of their development. The gills are slits found in the neck, called pharyngeal arches. These eventually develop into ear and jaw bones before the baby is born. Meanwhile, the tail becomes the child’s coccyx. In regard to having fur, some babies will lose theirs by the time they are born but others may shed it within the first few weeks following birth.

5. A Unique Smile

Baby humans are the only primate babies that smile at their parentsHumans are just one species within a group of 200 primates that includes monkeys, apes and lemurs. Did you know, however, that baby humans are the only primate babies that smile at their parents? That’s unless other primates use some other way of smiling that’s unknown to us, of course — it’s possible!

6. Amazing Brain Growth

Just in the first year, babies’ brains will grow to twice the size, going on to triple from their birth size by the time the child reaches the age of 5. Scientists believe that as many as a million new brain connections are made every single second when you interact with your baby and up to three-quarters of every meal goes towards building the infant’s brain. It does not actually stop developing fully until the age of about 21.

7. Taste Super Powers

When babies are born, they have a staggering 30,000 taste buds.While adults have about 10,000 taste buds on their tongues, new born babies have a staggering 30,000. What’s more, these are spread over their tongues, tonsils, the back of their throat and on the sides and roofs of their mouths. Despite this, it’s not until they’re around 4 months old that they begin to taste salt.

8. Babies Have Nearly 100 More Bones than Adults

While adults have 206 bones, babies are born with an incredible 300. This leads naturally to the question what happens to the missing 94?. Well, they don’t go missing, exactly. Instead, some of them fuse together to form a single bone by the time the individual is an adult. A good example is those that make up the skull, being made up of several separate bones when the child is born, but fusing into a single bone by the time they reach adulthood.

9. Are Babies Born Without Kneecaps?

Babies don't have a bone kneecap when they're born, but they do have one made of cartilage.Well, kind of — they don’t have a bone kneecap when they’re born, but they do have one of sorts, made of cartilage. This hardens to form bony kneecaps by the time the child reaches between 2 and 6 years of age.

Such differences help make the baby more flexible and easier to pass through the birth canal when they’re born.

10. Newborns are Short-Sighted

Babies are born short-sighted, only being able to focus on an area 8 to 14 inches away.When babies are first born, they are short-sighted, only being able to focus on an area eight to fourteen inches away. This is great for seeing their mum, of course, but they have to rely on peripheral vision for more distant visual cues. In time, though, their distance vision will deepen and improve.

11.No Teardrops

Have you ever noticed that new babies don’t produce tears in their first few weeks? They may still ‘cry’ but it’s a tearless version until they’re roughly one month old.

12. Newborns Instinctively Hold Their Breath Underwater

Until 6 months of age, babies automatically hold their breath when under water.For obvious reasons don’t test this but, until they’re about six months old, babies have an automatic ability and instinct to hold their breath when under water. They even automatically adjust their pulse rate and outer blood vessels while they’re submerged.

13. Surprising Gestation Statistics

It’s not clear why, but there are some interesting statistics around the gestation period for different groups. Indian babies apparently stay in the womb for 6 days longer, on average, than white babies. And, in turn, white babies stay 5 days longer, on average, than black babies. That correlates to Indian babies spending an incredible 11 days longer in the womb than black babies. Another interesting statistic is that female babies spend a day longer in the womb than males.

14. The Origins of Memory

What’s your earliest memory? How old were you in that memory? Generally, people don’t recall anything before the age of three. It’s unclear whether this is because their memory syntaxes were not fully formed until then, or because they were not fluent from a language perspective until about that age.

15. The Wonders of Breast Milk

Breast milk adapts itself to perfectly suit the infant drinking it.Did you know that breast milk adapts itself to perfectly suit the infant drinking it? As the baby grows, the milk composition changes automatically, providing the exact calorific content that the infant needs.

What’s more, natural breast milk has all manner of additional benefits over formula milk. Incredibly, it reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by an incredible 50% when taken for a minimum of two months. It also reduces the chances of babies and infants developing a range of diseases and allergies as well as passing on antibodies to the child.

The Highest Quality Childcare in Willesden

Treetops Nursery is a perfect choice if you are looking for outstanding nurseries or pre-schools in Harlesden, Willesden or Kensal Green.

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Treetops is graded by Ofsted as a Good Nursery — in every category. So, your baby, toddler or preschooler will be exceptionally well catered for at the childcare setting. Our nursery and pre-school is located in Willesden, London NW10 but is also conveniently near to Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green. So, if you live, work or require weekday childcare in any of those locations, you should consider Treetops for your childcare provision. We really give every child the very best start in life at this crucially important time in their lives. We do everything we can to nurture them so that they’re the very best version of themselves in readiness for school by the time they leave us at the age of five.

Please contact us if you’d like to register your child for a place at the nursery, or if you’ve like to visit the setting. We’re also always happy to answer any questions:

Free Childcare Grants for UK Students

This is for parents who wants to study in higher education, but will struggle to afford childcare.Are you a parent who wants to continue studying in higher education, but may struggle to afford childcare costs? If so, we have some great news for you. Student Finance England offers eligible students, who are also parents, a generous grant for their child’s childcare. This may allow them to continue with higher education in the knowledge that their child is being looked after by childcare professionals while they study. It can make a real difference, allowing parents to concentrate on studying and potentially increase household income once they graduate their courses.

Today, we’ll take you through the rules around eligibility for the childcare grant and explain how much is available.

The childcare grant for students is in addition to other student finance.

Eligibility Rules for Student Parents

There's no need to worry about childcare costs if you are elible for a student grant.To be eligible, the following rules apply:

  • The parent’s child(ren) must be under the age of fifteen, or under seventeen if they have special educational needs.
  • The child(ren) concerned must be financially dependent on the applicant.
  • The student/parent also has to be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on household income (even if they don’t claim it).
  • They can’t already be receiving a postgraduate loan.
  • They must be a permanent UK resident.
  • They must be studying full time.
  • They, or their partner, must not also be claiming Tax-Free Childcare or the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit.
  • They or their partner must not be in receipt of childcare funding from the NHS.

A few rules also apply in relation to the childcare provider that receives the funding:

  • The childcare provider cannot be related to the applicant or child(ren) if the childcare provision is at home.
  • They should be officially recognised in the UK as a childcare provider, i.e. be registered with Ofsted or on the General Childcare Register.

The childcare grant does not need to be paid back.

How Much Do You Get?

The Childcare Grant for students is worth up to 85% of the cost of childcare while studying in further education.The Childcare Grant for students is worth up to 85% of the cost of your childcare while you’re studying in further education.

If you have one child, it can amount to up to £183.75 a week or 85% of your childcare costs if lower. If you have two or more children, then it’s worth up to £315.03 a week or, again, 85% of your childcare costs if that’s lower. You will have to cover the remainder. (Figures are correct for the academic year 2022-23; figures for 2021-22 are £179.62 and £307.95 respectively).

You don’t receive the grant directly; it’s effectively paid to the childcare setting itself (after all, it’s a grant specifically for childcare). Part of the mechanism for payments to the childcare provider is the setting up of a Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS) account. You’ll receive instructions explaining how to set one of these up once your application for the childcare grant has been approved. Then later, Student Finance England sends funds to the account. Once the course has commenced, you will need to approve payments to the childcare provider on a weekly basis. It is then paid directly to them. Should any funds remain once the academic year is complete, this will be returned to Student Finance England.

How You Apply

Applications for Student Childcare Grants are most commonly made online. You apply for a Student Childcare Grant as part of your application for the standard undergraduate student finance (start here).

They can also be made using a paper form if the student finance application has already been made by the time you apply, or in the event that you later claim for an additional child. Once filled in, the paper application can be sent to Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ or alternatively send it to them via your Student Finance Account.

Treetops Nursery Provides High Quality Childcare in Willesden, North West London

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.We hope the guide to Childcare Grants for students is useful. If you are a student living or intending to study in North West London, Treetops Nursery can certainly help with your childcare needs while you study. We’re Ofsted registered and are officially a Good Nursery, so your child(ren) will be in good hands. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Willesden, NW10 and are also very near to Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green. So, we may be very convenient if you are living in Willesden or in North West London, or are studying for an undergraduate course at a college, university, university-linked hospital or other higher education setting in the region — there are many. Please contact us for more details or to apply for a nursery place for your baby or child under five:

16 Ways Nature Benefits Children

The natural world will enrich children's lives in a myriad of natural ways.At the time of writing, spring is just around the corner and snowdrops and daffodils are already sprouting out of the ground. Soon, it’ll start to feel warmer and we’ll be more likely to venture outdoors again. With that in mind, we thought the time was perfect for a post all about the benefits of nature to children, particularly in their early years. If you’re a parent/carer and your children don’t usually get much exposure to nature, take a look at these benefits and consider encouraging them to get out more. The natural world and everything it offers will enrich their young lives in a myriad of natural ways.

1. Nature is Good for the Mind & Spirit

Nature is good for both mind & spirit.Nature is good for both mind & spirit. Many studies have shown that time spent with nature is very healthy for mental wellbeing and you only have to spend time in the Great Outdoors to know that this is true. There is something instinctively calming about spending time outdoors, surrounded by flora and fauna, and this is very beneficial for mental health, including relieving stress, anxiety and even depression.

2. Imagination Stimulation

Nature stimulates the creative mind in children. The natural world is a place of absolute wonder, when you think about it — particularly for the very young. So, spending time outdoors sets their minds working to create adventures, build, perhaps draw, create dens, collect flowers, invent games and so much more. Nature is an almost limitless source for children’s imaginations!

3. Nature Gives Children Perspective

Nature stimulates the creative mind in children.Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, small issues they may be facing will become insignificant and they will learn what’s really important and what’s not.

4. Nature Promotes Profound Thinking

Children also get to think bigger thoughts and ask bigger questions when they spend time out in nature. For example, “Where do I fit into the world?” … “What is this little creature doing?” … “What is he or she thinking?” … “How do those little seeds grow in the wild?” … “What is life?” … “How did we all get here?” … “Where does planet Earth fit into the bigger picture?” … and so on.

5. Nature Gives Children Greater Freedom

Nature allows children to feel much more free than they ever can indoors or in the confines of a playground.The natural world is vast so, with suitable adult supervision, allows children to feel much more free than they ever can indoors or in the confines of a playground. They can run around over larger areas, across different terrains and a myriad of different types of natural environment. It’s no wonder you see children putting their arms out like wings when they’re out in the natural world — they feel so free it makes them feel like they could almost fly!

6. Nature Facilitates Personal & Social Skills

The freedom and opportunities that children get from being out in nature help them to improve and build many skills. Playing and having adventures outdoors with other children will help them to improve language, social skills, self-confidence, teamwork skills, leadership skills, the ability to assess risk, responsibility, cooperation and so much more. What’s more, it also helps children to form closer bonds and friendships.

7. Nature Helps Children Focus

Children with ADHD particularly benefit from time spent out in the natural environment because it helps them to focus. Studies back this up as well as confirming that short-term memory can improve and mental energy increase for any child after a spell out in the natural world. Indeed, research shows that children’s attainment and engagement levels are higher in the classroom if they recently spent time in the natural environment.

8. Nature Improves Fitness

Nature helps children to become stronger and fitter in the most natural of ways.With the space to run around, explore, climb and build, nature helps children to become stronger and fitter in the most natural of ways. Another good thing about it is that it doesn’t even feel like they’re consciously ‘exercising’ when they’re having fun out in nature — it’s totally natural.

9. It Nurtures a Healthy Lifestyle

Time spent in the Great Outdoors as a child can often build a deep appreciation of nature, a natural tendency to keep fit, to eat a healthy diet and generally lead a healthier lifestyle as they grow older.

10. Nature Helps Improve Motor Skills

With the myriad of physical activities on offer in the natural world, children will improve both gross motor skills and fine ones without even trying. From running, jumping, balancing and coordination to finer skills like holding, fashioning, tying and hand-eye coordination, nature gives children an incredible range of opportunities to hone physical skills.

11. Nature is a Sensory Feast

Nature is an absolute feast for the senses.Nature is also an absolute feast for potentially all of the senses, giving children ample opportunity to see, touch, smell, hear and (under suitable supervision) even taste. Vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body position) senses are also amply stimulated in the Great Outdoors. Stimulation of the senses is incredibly important for children, particularly in their early years, helping in the generation of new brain pathways and syntaxes that are part of the essential building foundations of children’s lives.

12. Nature Helps Children Appreciate the Environment

Spending time in the natural world also helps children to appreciate the flora and fauna that it contains. It’s a magical world, when you think about it, and every living thing has its own specific needs. Recognising this helps children to become more environmentally conscious and to build skills like empathy, responsibility, self-control and to understand the importance of caring for others.

13. Nature Helps Children Sleep Soundly

Time spent in nature, with everything it brings, helps infants sleep more soundly at night too — and that can only be a good thing. Studies back this up.

14. Nature Supports the EYFS

Nature supports many of the goals of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).Nature supports many of the goals of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage, an important framework that guides the learning and development of under-fives in England). Allowing children access to nature and the natural environment will help them with Understanding the World as they explore and discover, Physical Development as they play and move around in the outdoors, and both Communication & Language and Personal, Social & Emotional Development as they interact naturally with friends and supervising adults. That’s at least four of the 7 key areas of the EYFS.

15. Nature Improves Academic Performance

Numerous studies have concluded that the benefits of time spent in the natural environment help children to perform better academically. Improvements can even be seen in areas like reading, writing and mathematics.

16. Nature Gives Children Perspective

Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, they will learn what’s really important and, perhaps, what’s not.

Nature at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children to use.The many benefits of nature are fully supported at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. Our wonderful outdoor areas even include plant-growing area and other play areas where children can enjoy the fresh air and explore natural materials and textures. The nursery/pre-school is also adjacent to the King Edward VII Park, so it feels very ‘green’ since it is surrounded by trees and natural vegetation. Roundwood Park is also only a stone’s throw away, with its flower garden, wildlife area and aviary. It’s a formal Victorian park, with English Heritage grade two listed status and holder of a Green Flag Award, for the high standard of the park and green spaces within it. Children at Treetops Nursery — and their families — therefore have easy access to nature and natural things all around.

Weekday Childcare Services in Willesden, near Kensal Green & Harlesden, NW10

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Treetops Nursery is officially a ‘good’ nursery, located in Willesden, NW10 and also close by if you are looking for nurseries or pre-schools near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green. Please get in touch if you’d like to bring your baby or child along for a visit, apply for a nursery place or simply ask any questions you may have:

EYFS Early Learning Goals for Under-5s

Early Learning Goals are integrated into the EYFS framework and are used in nurseries and pre-schools.Treetops Nursery adheres to the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) framework. This is a structured approach to learning and development for under-fives and is prescribed, by the UK Government, for childcare settings such as ours. It covers 7 key areas of focus for learning and development, which are explained concisely on our Curriculum page. Today, we look at the Early Learning Goals that are integrated into the EYFS framework, including how and why they are used in nurseries and pre-schools.

The Purpose of the Early Learning Goals

The Early Learning Goals (‘ELGs’) are used as a way for early learning practitioners and childcare professionals to continually gauge the progress of each child’s learning and development. Specifically, they’re used as incremental benchmarks to help ensure that children are successfully heading towards ‘school readiness’ by the time they leave early years settings around the age of 5. This is the point when they move to Reception Year at primary school.

“The ELGs should support teachers1 to make a holistic, best-fit judgement about a child’s development, and their readiness for year 1.” (Department for Education, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation)

Children are assessed continually against Early Learning Goals that are appropriate for their age. A ‘Key Person’ assigned to each child is a critical part of this. The assessment allows the Key Person and other childcare professionals to tailor the individual learning and development programme so that it is customised to the strengths, interests and any weaknesses of each child.

Parents/carers are also kept informed at all stages and are indeed encouraged to continue helping their child towards the same goals when at home. This tandem approach has been shown to have enormous benefits for the child, both in the short and long term.

Furthermore, if a special educational need is identified during assessment, families and childcare practitioners can then discuss more specialist, professional support for the child, should it be deemed appropriate. Setting goals, and monitoring performance against them, is a great way to identify such needs.

The Goals

The Early Learning Goals prescribed in the Department for Education’s ‘Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation’ document are too lengthy to reproduce in full within the scope of this article today. However, they can be read in full within their document on pages 11 to 15 inclusive. This can be downloaded by following the green link in this paragraph. We also include an abridged overview of the goals below.

In essence, though, the Early Learning Goals are designed to help children become naturally curious, with an enthusiasm to learn, to help them form healthy relationships with adults and peers, and generally to thrive as individuals. Some examples of the types of goals follow …

• Communication and Language Goals

Goals are set for Communication & Language, a prime area of focus within the EYFS framework.Goals for Communication & Language, a prime area of focus within the EYFS framework, include performance against benchmarks for attentive listening, responding appropriately to what they’ve heard, speaking skills, good use of English and self-expression skills.

• Personal, Social and Emotional Development Goals

Goals around physical development, the 2nd of the prime focus areas within the EYFS, include good self-regulation in terms of behaviour around others, demonstrating patience in respect of needs, wants and any impulses, following instructions appropriately, demonstrating confidence and perseverance when challenged, personal skills like independence, the building of good relationships with others and even understanding healthy food choices.

• Physical Development Goals

Goals for physical development centre around gross and fine motor skills.Goals for physical development, the third of the prime focus areas of the EYFS, centre around gross and fine motor skills. For their gross motor skills, goals are set for skills like negotiation around spaces and obstacles, appropriate movement skills for doing so, suitable balance, strength and coordination skills. With regard to fine motor skills, goals are set around things like the ability to appropriately hold and use writing instruments and tools, and demonstrating accuracy when doing so.

• Literacy Goals

Goals for literacy include several around comprehension, vocabulary, reading and writing, understanding letters and words, phonics and spelling.

• Mathematics Goals

Mathematics also has a set of early learning goals.These include understanding numbers, counting, recognising patterns within numbers and number systems, comparison and comprehension of quantities, recalling number bonds and recognition of odds, evens, etc.

• Goals for Understanding the World

These goals cover quite a bit of ground including comprehension and knowledge about people, roles and society around the children as well as more distant, the past and the present, different cultures, other religions and countries, plus a knowledge of the natural world.

• Goals for Expressive Arts & Design

Goals in this specific category centre around use of creative materials, techniques and tools along with creative expression skills themselves. As well as exploring colour, design, form, function and suchlike, children will be expected to appropriately share their creations, speak about them and perform any stories, songs, rhymes and so on.

“Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all areas of learning and development.” (Department for Education, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation)

Progress Check at 2

A key part of the ongoing assessment against the Early Learning Goals is a progress check at the age of two. Parents/carers will be provided with their child’s assessment at that age and it will include findings in relation to the child’s strengths and any areas that are below expectations. This can then be used “to develop a targeted plan to support the child’s future learning and development involving parents and/or carers and other professionals (for example, the provider’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or health professionals) as appropriate.” More details about the progress check can be found on pages 18 and 19 of the EYFS document (a link is provided in the grey box earlier in this article).

A Great Childcare Nursery in Willesden (near Harlesden & Kensal Green)

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Treetops Nursery is a wonderful nursery in Willesden, London NW10, also suitable for those looking for nurseries or pre-schools near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green. Ofsted recognise that we offer “good standards and quality of early years provision”,  “good quality of teaching, learning and assessment” and most importantly “good outcomes for children”. If you’d like your baby, toddler or preschooler to benefit from our high quality childcare service, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to show you around, answer questions and more …

1. For the purpose of this article, the term ‘teacher’ is a placeholder for any type of practitioner working with a child.

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 for Education (‘DfE’), 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 DfE 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 DfE 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 DfE 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 …

Food Growing Fun for Kids: Teach Children to Grow Vegetables, Salads & Herbs at Home
Children can grow vegetables, salads and herbs at home, almost free of cost.Did you know that you can grow vegetables, salads and herbs at home, almost free of cost? You don’t need seeds and you don’t even need a garden! Today we’ll explain how you and your child can help the household with an almost endless supply of potentially free, home-grown fresh produce, all year round. Children will have enormous fun with this amazing activity, whilst learning new skills and gaining important knowledge along the way. Even better — you all get to eat the produce once the home-grown ‘crops’ are ready! And it should save money for the household.

Home-Grown Vegetables & Herbs For Free? How?

Show your child how to regrow small off-cuts of vegetables and herbs that you would already have bought as part of your weekly shop.One of the many beauties of this activity is that you don’t need to buy any seeds or plants specifically for the task. You are going to show your child how to regrow small off-cuts of vegetables and herbs that you would already have bought as part of your weekly shop. To explain, some of the parts that you’d normally discard can actually be used to grow new vegetables — lettuce, for example. And, for herbs, there’s an easy and free way to grow new plants from small cuttings of shop-bought herbs that you may have purchased anyway (basil or parsley, for example). Using this approach, you could grow your own vegetables, salads and herbs and, in theory, never have to buy any again! We’ll explain later, in more detail. First, we’ll look at what you and your child will need for your plants to grow in.

No Garden Needed?

As we mentioned above, you do not need a garden or greenhouse for this activity. As a minimum, all you need is a windowsill that gets lots of natural light. During warmer months, of course, a balcony or small outdoor patio or space will allow the activity to spread out and bigger volumes to be grown, but it’s really not essential. In any case, keeping to a windowsill means there’s less likelihood of garden pests eating the produce.

Egg cartons, used yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and the plastic trays from ready meals can make great flower pots.If your household already has flower pots or seed trays, then great. If not, there’s not even any need to buy them if you simply recycle things like empty egg cartons, used yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, the plastic trays from ready meals and suchlike. So long as they’ll hold some earth/compost and some holes are pierced in the bottom for drainage (this is best if done by an adult, for safety), then you’re almost good to go.

The only things you might need to spend a few pounds on, just to get going, are:

  1. Some compost (or use suitably fine, sieved earth, ideally from natural compost, sourced from outdoors if you want to save money). If buying new, choose peat-free compost as it’s better for the planet. Multi-purpose compost is fine, or seed and cuttings compost will also suit.
  2. Drip trays to put under your pots or seed trays. These are simply to catch the water and to protect your home. They’re very cheap to purchase. If you’re on a budget, though, you could simply source suitably sized food trays, for instance left over from ready meals, or use existing saucers and suchlike. So long as they catch any draining water from your pots or seed trays and are watertight underneath, they’ll be fine.

Regrowing Vegetables

Root sections from root vegetables like celery, leaks, lettuce and even garlic can be regrown.Now for the really clever, fun part! Instead of throwing away the ‘root’ part — that you’d normally cut off and discard — from the bottom of vegetables like onions, celery, garlic cloves, beetroot and lettuce, your child should save them, because that’s the part that will regrow if you encourage it. Show your child how to safely cut off and save a section about an inch deep, containing that ‘root’ section, from the bottom of used vegetables from your ordinary, weekly shop. Green onions, spring onions, lemon grass, various types of lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots are all additional examples of vegetables that have this bottom root section that can be harvested for later regrowth. Ginger too, but this takes significantly longer to regrow.

Once saved, simply place the lower sections, root downwards, into water e.g. in a suitable dish or glass. The depth of the water should be such that the top part is not submerged, but the root section is. Your child should ensure that the water level is maintained during a period of one to three weeks, depending on which type of vegetable it is (they grow at different rates). Some time during this period, visible roots will start to grow. Perhaps increase the depth of water once this happens. Once roots are substantial, the new plants can be transferred to the pots or containers of compost. Ensure that the roots are covered in soil but the upper parts protrude into the air as that part will eventually start to grow too. Carrot tops can also be regrown for use as 'greens' in salads and suchlikeThe compost should be kept moist as the vegetable regrows into another one that can, again, be harvested to eat as part of a healthy meal.

Interestingly, carrot tops (the growing green leaves above the root) can also be harvested for use as ‘greens’ in salads and suchlike. Instead of discarding these, pop the tops in water as above and soon enough you’ll see lots of greens growing.

Regrowing Herb Clippings

Herbs like basil, coriander, parsley and rosemary are easy to regrow from cuttings left in water.Herbs like basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary are also easy to regrow. When you’ve used most of them from your weekly shop for meals, save a few clippings from left-over stems. Clipping length will be different depending on the herb used. For example, basil clippings should be about 4 inches (100mm) long and rosemary clippings should be 2 to 3 inches (50-75mm) long. You may need to experiment a bit at first, so save a few different lengths if unsure initially.

In a similar way to the root vegetables above, these clippings need to be dangled and left in water on a windowsill until the roots are a couple of inches (50mm) or so in length. Once again, those can then be transplanted to the pots or containers with compost burying the roots. Again, your child should keep the compost moist until new, substantial herb plants have regrown and are ready again to eat. At this time, the whole process can begin again. Regrowing herbs is a great way to encourage children to try more types of them, to widen their food palettes and preferences.

Growing Seeds from Shop-Bought Vegetables

Another way to regrow shop-bought vegetables is to harvest seeds from inside them.Another way to regrow shop-bought vegetables is to see if they have seeds inside. Tomatoes and peppers are great examples of these. So, when you’re next using them up for meals, get your child to save the seeds from things like peppers (you’d normally discard these anyway) and some seeds from a tomato — each one contains many. These too can be used to grow brand new plants and vegetables for next to nothing. It’s a little more advanced and they need more room, though. The best time to harvest tomato seeds is between summer and autumn, then plant them in spring if they’re intended for the garden. Here’s an advanced method of saving tomato seeds.

Marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes are filled with seeds that can potentially give you new vegetables free of charge.It’s similar for marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes, although those need significant space (they’ll want to spread out), so may be more suitable outside once they begin to grow significantly.

Whichever seed you choose to grow from repurposed vegetables, they can be spaced out in your compost pots or trays, then lightly dusted with a thin layer of extra compost to stop them washing away when they’re watered. You can cover them with kitchen roll sheets or cling film initially, as it may help them to germinate faster. Once shoots begin to appear, the child can remove the covering and then ensure that the compost is kept moist, but not soggy, while remaining on the windowsill. Once the seedlings have grown bigger, for example after a month, they will need to be transferred to bigger pots and this may have to happen again when they’re even larger. If allowed to grow to full size and looked after, flowers will eventually appear and later those will turn into new vegetables that will ripen, ready to harvest roughly two months after sewing the seeds.

Children Love Natural Growing Activities

Treetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children.Children will love looking after these living things and seeing them grow or regrow. They will learn so much along the way and will have a great sense of achievement when successful. Once they’ve succeeded in producing something they can eat (… and potentially regrow again) they’ll probably want to do it more and try different things. The result, of course, is also fresh produce, which is rich in vitamins and nutrients and good for family health. Children will have been entertained, they’ll understand nature better and they’ll learn skills like patience and being responsible too. A key lesson is also to learn from mistakes — something we all have to do. What’s more, this natural activity for children may even save money for the household. All in all, it’s a great activity from every perspective.

Our Childcare Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green & Willesden Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children to use and this is just one of many wonderful outdoor activities that they can enjoy and learn from at the setting.  It is a really popular nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green, so places are in demand. To register for a place for your baby, toddler or under-five child, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to show and 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: