Treetops Nursery's Wonderful Outside Spaces & Play Areas

In recent years, Treetops Nursery in Willesden has had literally hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on it to vastly improve both the setting and its facilities. Starting as far back as 2007-2008, architects were commissioned to design, build and improve upon the existing childcare facilities that existed prior to that date. The work then included internal remodelling, the addition of extra spaOur sandpit is always very popular with the childrence for babies and young children and generally an improvement all around. A new block was added to house a community area and crèche together with several break-out spaces. An enormous canopy, that has been of huge benefit to the nursery, was also added. With that addition, children can now play outside and keep dry even when it’s raining. Similarly, the bicycle and buggy area and the route from the adjacent King Edward’s Park to the nursery were also each given coverings, so that children and staff could be given some shelter in all weather conditions outside. At the same time, the front entrance was totally redesigned and the reception area enhanced and remodelled. This now represents a wonderful checkpoint where staff can monitor and manage the comings and goings of everyone entering or exiting the building, to keep children safe.

Some of the activities, facilities, toys & equipment

Even in recent months, significant investment has been made to outdoor areas including equipment, toys, finishes, boundaries, resources for the children and lots of interactive activities. Some of the outdoor equipment includes:

  • More of the excellent outdoor facilitiesa bike park with bicycles and buggies,
  • a water activity area,
  • a ‘music wall’ where children can explore sound and percussion,
  • a book reading zone,
  • a plant growing zone,
  • outdoor blackboards where children can write and draw in chalk,
  • sand pits, which are a huge hit with the children,
  • Children have access to natural materials to explore and learn fromball pits, which are always fun for kids,
  • rocking horses/animals,
  • colour and counting activities plus an ‘alphabet fence’,
  • slides and a timber ‘tree house’,
  • natural materials and textures to explore,
  • portable activity easels,
  • messy play activities (always popular with children!),
  • … and much more!

All these outdoor improvements have been an absolute godsend during the pandemic; the outside spaces have been used far more by the staff and children because they keep everyone naturally more socially distanced and the open air is more effective in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. All this is possible due to the wonderful set-up of the nursery, with outdoor areas available to enjoy, in comfort, in virtually all weathers — at any time of year.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

Are you looking for high quality nurseries near to Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green? We’d love you to consider Treetops Nursery, in Willesden NW10, if so. Please get in touch for further details:

Microgreens: fun, nutritious, food growing for little ones

There are now microgreen farmsThere is one class of edible plant that can be grown all year round and is perfect for kids to grow indoors, for example on a windowsill. Some types of this food will sprout in as little as a week. What’s more, it’s tasty and highly nutritious. Growing it is super-easy and a perfect way to keep kids entertained, educated about nature and eating healthily. It’ll also be a welcome addition to mealtimes for the whole household.

Growing Microgreens

We’re talking about Microgreens (also referred to as micro leaves). These are the early, edible, sprouting leaves of very young herbs, leafy greens and some root vegetables that might usually be thought of in a larger, more mature form. The tender new leaves are cut just days after they first sprout and can be made into wonderful salads, garnishes or meal accompaniments. They also bring some very tasty flavours to mealtimes. The young micro leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, look fantastic on the plate and will grow back time and time again after snipping. The secret is simply to harvest the immature micro leaves and to stop them from growing to full size. Just harvest … re-harvest … and re-harvest.

“Micro leaves are usually eaten fresh and raw, and the fresher the leaves are, the more vitamins and minerals they contain. Each little leaf is a gold mine of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals such as iron, folic acid and potassium.” (Gardeners World)

Various microgreen leaves sproutingHere are just a few examples of plants that make suitable microgreens and can easily be grown by children indoors:

  • Basil — their tasty baby leaves are full of flavour and can be harvested just ten days after seed planting. They’re wonderful on salads, pizzas and can even be made into pesto sauce.
  • Coriander — their tiny, delicate leaves pack a unique and punchy flavour that’s perfect with salads, stir-fries, chopped onions and curries. They can be harvested a couple of weeks after sowing the seeds.
  • Rocket — ready to harvest just a week after first sowing, rocket microgreens are another flavoursome and slightly peppery leaf to add to salads and put onto pizzas. Very tasty!
  • Mustard leaves — these may not be to every child’s taste, but many adults will enjoy the slight heat they’ll bring to salads, stir fries and Eastern dishes. Ready to first harvest in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Salad with microgreensFennel — just 10 days after first sprouting, leaves from young fennel seedlings will give a pleasant aniseed tang to dishes like pasta salads, risottos, soups and even stuffing.
  • Beetroot leaves — the sprouting microgreen leaves from the beetroot take just ten days to appear after sowing. With their rich green leaves and red stems, they look wonderful in salads and lend their mild, earthy flavour to garnishes for some fish dishes.
  • Radish leaves — in just a week, the young, fiery leaves from the radish seedlings will be ready to snip and add to salads, stir fries and sandwiches. For some, their microgreen leaves are even tastier than the traditional root.
  • Spinach — tender leaves from young spinach plants can be harvested in ten days or so. They’re really good for you too. With their mild flavour, they’re a perfect addition to leafy salads, risottos, pastas and noodles.
  • Broccoli leaves — these will be ready to first harvest in just a week and have quite a different flavour than their fully-grown counterpart. With their slightly spicy taste, they’re also great in salads, risottos and omelettes.
  • Red cabbage microgreens are packed with nutrientsRed Cabbage micro leaves have one of the highest Vitamin C concentrations of any microgreen. They also contain Vitamin K, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. As with many of the microgreens, many top chefs use them as an attractive and tasty garnish. They can be sprinkled over soups, salads, grilled vegetables, stews and cooked meats. After sowing, they take only days to appear.

How children can grow microgreens at home

Your children will need very little to get started. You’ll need to buy them some packet seeds, which you can get at your local garden nursery or online. If you’re unsure who to order from online, Suttons are probably the best-known supplier and seed packets there seem to start from as little as just a pound or two. You can also find mixed seed packets. (If you’re on a really tight budget, you can alternatively take a look at the excellent post about growing food virtually free of cost, by our sister nursery in Streatham).

Along with the seeds, your child will need some multi-purpose or seed and cuttings compost (peat-free is more eco-friendly) and something to sow the seeds in. If you’re going to grow the microgreens on the windowsill, you could use flower pots, slim seed trays (perhaps left over from plants or herbs you have previously bought), containers, yoghurt pots with drainage holes pierced underneath, egg cartons, or even the cardboard cores from used kitchen rolls, cut down to a suitable size. Any of these will need something to sit in, to catch any draining water, for example a saucer or seed ‘drip tray’.

Lemonbalm micro leaves sprouting in compostYour child will need to fill the chosen containers with compost, not quite to the top. Tap it to level the soil, then pat it down just a little to firm it. Some gardeners also indent the compost where the seeds will go. The seeds then need to be carefully placed or lightly sprinkled into the indented areas. It’s important that your child spaces the seeds out so there is no clumping, otherwise significant problems can occur (the crop might get diseased or even completely fail). The seeds don’t need to be covered but a light dusting of sieved compost will keep them in place while allowing light to get through. The seeds then need to be lightly watered. It’s best for your child to do this part outside, just to avoid potential mess indoors, taking care not to over-water nor to wash the seeds away. A way to water them indoors is to simply stand the vessels in some shallow water for 30 to 60 minutes, so the compost naturally draws up the moisture.

The rest is also very easy. Your child simply needs to place the potted seeds on a light windowsill and ensure that the compost is always kept damp, taking care not to over-water. Also consider a label for each pot for identification purposes, particularly if several different seed types have been planted. Some people cover the seed pots or trays with a single sheet of kitchen towel, newspaper or even cling film to keep the moisture in while the seeds initially germinate. Your child will need to check under the covering every day. The moment little shoots can be seen, the covering will need to be removed, so long as the soil is kept moist thereafter, so it never dries out. Ensure the potted plants get full light and ventilation too. Within a week or two depending on the seeds chosen, the young shoots will grow baby leaves and can then be harvested. Snip them near their bases before mature leaves start to replace the baby leaves. If you want to benefit from them for longer, snip them like this rather than pulling up their roots, so they can sprout and re-sprout time and time again.

Eat & enjoy!

A sandwich with microgreens as a garnishOnce rinsed, the tender young micro leaves can be enjoyed in meals by the whole family. They’ll add often exquisite tastes and textures to meals as well as adding much-needed vitamins and minerals to the family diet. That’s even more important for growing toddlers and preschoolers, of course. And, throughout the growing journey, the children will absolutely love seeing the new shoots grow into young plants. They will have learnt new skills, had great fun getting to know more about nature and have a real sense of achievement. Chances are, too, that they will love the taste of the micro leaves.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

We hope you and your family enjoyed this article and will have fun growing your very own microgreens. The post was brought to you by Treetops Day Nursery in Willesden, London NW10. We are a childcare nursery and pre-school, suitable for babies from 6 months and children up to 5 years of age. We’re also convenient for parents and carers who are looking for high quality weekday childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal. Please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a possible nursery place for your child.

For further details, contact Treetops Nursery:

FREE childcare funding for 3 & 4-year-olds: A complete guide

In our last post, we published a complete guide to free childcare for 2-year-olds in England. Now it’s time to look at the free childcare funding available for 3 and 4-year-old children. With up to 30 hours of free childcare available in this age group, this represents a great opportunity for parents or guardians to continue with their careers and boost household income, particularly following maternity or paternity leave. It’s also wonderful for the children, who will naturally benefit from early years education and be better prepared for school when the time comes at age 5.

So, how does the 30 hours of free childcare funding work, and who is eligible?

How 15-30 hours of free childcare funding works

Guide to how the free funding available for three and four year olds works

This is funding that comes from the Government, via local councils, to pay for childcare at nurseries, pre-schools and similar approved childcare providers. The funding goes direct to the childcare settings or providers, not to the parents or guardians of the children. There are two possible halves — 15 hours of free childcare and an additional 15 hours on top of that, potentially taking the total available up to 30 hours of free childcare for each child.

The first 15 hours of free childcare

The first 15 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds in England is very straight forward. In essence, all 3- and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to the 15 hours of funding for childcare each week. Well, to be more precise, the scheme allows for 15 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks in any one year. That’s a total maximum of 570 hours a year. However, so long as the total hours in any given year does not exceed 570, some childcare settings will allow parents or carers to spread the free childcare out over a different number of weeks, simply by adjusting the number of hours used during each of those weeks appropriately.

Eligibility for 15 hours of childcare funding:

  • All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible (and there are also similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  • The free childcare funding can only be used in conjunction with approved childcare settings and providers. Treetops Nursery in Willesden is one such approved nursery.
  • The children are eligible from the term* following their 3rd birthday, until they reach compulsory school age or start Reception Year at school.
    * (Terms usually start in early January, April or September).
  • The 15 hours of funding is not means-tested, nor is it related to whether or not the parent or guardian is working or unemployed etc.
  • The Government funding does not include food and consumables (nappies, sun cream etc.), so you will need to check this with your individual childcare provider.

30 hours of free childcare

Up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year are potentially available

30 hours of free childcare funding is also available for eligible families. However, it includes the first 15 hours explained above, plus a possible additional 15 hours per week, when eligible. This takes the total amount of free childcare available to a possible maximum of 1140 hours per year, or 30 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks. As with the first ‘15 hours’ scenario, some childcare providers allow it to be spread out over more of the year, so long as the number of hours per week is reduced accordingly. And, as before, the free childcare funding can only be used with approved childcare providers like Treetops Nursery, Willesden.

Eligibility for 30 hours of childcare funding:

You and your partner, if you have one:

  • must be working¹;
  • must be earning¹ the equivalent of 16 hours per week, on average over the next 3 months, at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage²;
  • must not be earning £100,000¹ or more of net income in the current tax year, including any bonuses;
  • may usually still claim when on sick leave, annual leave or parental leave.

¹ Has your work or earning level been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? If so, there are some temporary and very welcome exceptions to the rules, which you can find out about here.

² Note that, if you’re self-employed, you can base your 3 month average on what you expect to earn during the current tax year if your earnings over the last 3 months are not sufficient.

You may be still be able to claim for 30 hours funding at the same time as:

  • Eligibility explainedclaiming Universal Credit, tax credits³ or Tax-Free Childcare;
  • receiving childcare vouchers;
  • claiming Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance — if you are not working but your partner is;
  • starting or re-starting work within 31 days of the application date.

³ Please note that, if you are receiving tax credits, getting 30 hours free childcare funding could affect how much tax credits you receive. Check here.

Reasons you may not be able to claim 30 hours childcare funding

You are unlikely to be eligible if:

  • your child doesn’t live with you;
  • you foster the child in question;
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you and your partner, if you have one, do not have access to public funds (according to your UK residence card);
  • someone else already claims Tax-Free Childcare for your child.

How to apply for 30 hours free childcare funding

Firstly, have your National Insurance number and, if you’re self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) ready. You’ll be applying via the ‘Government Gateway’ so if you have not accessed this before, you’ll also need to set up access to it for the first time. As part of that you’ll need to have your mobile phone or landline number ready, along with your UK passport and possibly details of any tax credits, your P60 or recent payslip.

If you are separated, only one of you can apply so, ideally, you’ll first need to agree which of you will be applying (if you can’t agree, apply separately and HMRC will decide who ends up with the ‘childcare account’).

If you have a partner living with you, you will need to include them in the application. However, eligibility will not be affected by their income or employment if they are in prison or are absent from the household for more than six months of the year.

Set aside about 20 minutes or so for the application (5 minutes longer if you have not accessed the Government Gateway before) and then you can start the application process here. You usually find out whether your application is successful within a week, sometimes straight away. If successful, you will receive a code that you can give to your childcare provider so that they can access the funding.

Free childcare funding at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

30 hours free childcare is available at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery accepts both 15 hours and 30 hours of childcare funding for eligible families, spaces permitting. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Willesden in London NW10 so are also convenient for parents and guardians looking for high quality childcare at a nursery or pre-school near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal.

For further details about Treetops Nursery:

FREE Childcare for 2-Year-Olds – A Complete Guide

2 year old playing with bubblesHave you heard about the free childcare funding that’s available for eligible 2-year-olds? Do you want to learn more? If you are a parent who is looking to work, or perhaps to get back into work after starting a family, then this could be a perfect solution for you and your toddler. Under a Government scheme, approved nurseries, pre-schools and childcare providers in England can supply up to 15 hours per week of childcare for eligible 2-year-olds. It’s an absolute no-brainer, so we thought we’d put together this comprehensive guide to tell you everything you need to know.

The benefits of free childcare for 2-year-olds

Free childcare hours will be a great help to families:

  • It will help those on maternity or paternity leave to re-enter the workplace more easily, knowing that their young child is being cared for in a safe and secure environment.
  • For up to 15 hours a week, the childcare will be funded by the Government, free of charge, enabling families to boost household income and quality of life.
  • The 2-year-olds benefit greatly as it allows them to make an early start on their education and development. They can prepare for school for around three years and hit the ground running there when they reach the age of five.

A Department of Education study showed that children who start early education no later than the age of two will have long-term benefits including enhanced abilities, better confidence and improved social skills, to name just a few. Studies also show that even their lifetime outcomes and future employment potential are improved if they started early years education and care by the age of 2. The greatest benefits were seen by those children receiving at least 10 hours per week. So, with 15 free hours a week on offer for free, it’s something that every parent in England should at least consider.

How it works

2 year old girl at nursery

It’s quite straight forward. First, it’s wise to do a rough check to see whether you/your child is likely to be eligible (see the next section below for that). If it looks like you are eligible, you can apply for the funding via a Government website – more about that later. If you are approved, your child can begin free childcare from an approved childcare provider (… such as Treetops Nursery in Willesden). The Government will pay the cost of the childcare, up to 15 hours per week for 2-year-olds, direct to the childcare provider. Your child can begin receiving the childcare in the year in which they reach the age of 2. Which term they start in depends upon the month of their birthday so, in real terms, they usually begin on, or soon after, the 1st of January, 1st of April or 1st of September.

Eligible 2-year-olds can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of a year. Usually that is taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks. However, some childcare providers allow it to be a little more flexible with, perhaps, less hours per week but over more weeks of the year, so long as the total is no more than 570 hours overall.

Eligibility requirements for free childcare funding for 2-year-olds

In order to be eligible for the free childcare funding, either

  1. the parent(s) need to be receiving one or more of the requisite ‘qualifying benefits’ or
  2. the 2-year-old must fall into a qualifying ‘additional needs’ category.

We’ll explain more about each one …

1. The ‘qualifying benefits’

Little boy playing at pre-school

In order to qualify, the parent of the two-year-old must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-related);
  • Employment & Support Allowance (if income-related);
  • Income Support;
  • Universal Credit related to low income (household income after tax being less than £15,400 per annum excluding benefits);
  • Tax Credits related to low income (household income less than £16,190 per annum before tax);
  • The guaranteed part of Pension Credit (which tops up weekly income if below £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for couples);
  • The ‘run-on’ Working Tax Credit payments paid for four weeks after stopping work;
  • Payments paid to asylum seekers* via Part 6 of the Immigration & Asylum Act.

Amounts shown are correct at time of writing (September 2020) but may be subject to change thereafter.

* Note: Asylum seekers who have an NRPF (‘No Recourse to Public Funds) Visa and non-EAA citizens who are ‘Zambrano Carers’ may still be eligible in some cases.

2. The qualifying ‘additional needs’

Toddler in play area

The two-year-old may still qualify for free childcare funding if:

  • the local authority are charged with looking after them;
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance;
  • they have a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN);
  • they are subject to an Education, Health & Care plan (EHC);
  • they have left care under an Adoption Order;
  • they have left care under a Child Arrangements Order;
  • they have left care under a Special Guardianship Order.

Note: Please check with your childcare setting whether additional items like nappies and meals will cost extra as, strictly speaking, these are not covered by the Government scheme for 2-year-olds.

How to apply for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old

Toddler with play camera at nursery school

Applying for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old is quite straight forward:

  1. Initially, we recommend that you discuss your possible application with your intended childcare provider. See below for contact details and links if this is likely to be Treetops Nursery in Willesden.
  2. Once you’re ready to apply, you can do so on the Government’s Childcare Choices website.

Free Childcare for 2-year-olds at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, accepts free childcare under the Government scheme for eligible 2-year-olds, subject to available places of course. An added bonus is that those accessing 15 free hours of childcare for their 2-year-old do not need to pay the usual £50 registration fee at Treetops Nursery.

Get Started

If you would like more information about free childcare funding for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, please call 020 8963 1259 or send us a message here. You can also book a visit to our nursery here. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Willesden, London NW10, so are also ideal for parents and carers looking for outstanding childcare services near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green.

Boost Your Child's Language Skills by 20% Through Reading

Parent reading with toddlerBack in July, we wrote a detailed article about the importance of parental involvement in the education of children. One critically important element of that is parents or carers actively reading with their children. Indeed, parent-child reading has been proposed as a possible solution to the performance deficit often experienced by children from lower socio-economic backgrounds (through no fault of their own). That makes parent-child reading incredibly important as a way of evening up the playing field and ensuring that pre-school children are completely prepared when the time comes to move to school and beyond. If not, research shows that they are likely to do worse at school and go on to have poorer life outcomes generally.

The research is compelling

A study funded by the Nuffield Foundation, whose mission is to advance educational opportunity and social wellbeing, looked at the impact of adult-child reading from data gathered over 40 years. The results are frankly astounding.

“Reading with pre-school children boosts language skills by eight months.”

TFamily reading a book togetherhat’s incredible when you bear in mind that the children studied were, on average, just 3¼ years old. An 8 month skills boost is therefore equivalent to an extra fifth of their entire lives! Such an impact, at a time when they’re right in the middle of their pre-school years, is incredibly important for them. After all, this is a critical time in their learning and development — and one that will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives.

Reading with children is the key

You may have noticed that we said reading with children, rather than to them. It makes sense to involve the children in the reading process, so they learn from parents/carers and pick up little nuggets of information and know-how as they progress, together, through each book. For example, parents can point out details about letters and phonetics. They can get children to familiarise themselves with the shape of words and syllables, so that they become embedded and instantly recognisable to the child. They can also help children identify new words more easily, through their association with adjacent images. They can also highlight the correct use of phrasing and grammar and so on. In such ways, children are going to pick up a methodology in their approach. The bottom line is that reading with children will not only improve their own reading ability, but also their communication, language, comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and ultimately overall literacy.

Additional benefits of reading with children

Mum reading with under-five child

As well as boosting overall literacy and preparing preschoolers well for school, reading with children will also have a number of additional benefits for a child. Children engaged in regular reading sessions with parents or carers will develop greater imaginations as they explore stories together. They will develop a greater understanding of the world as they encounter new topics. They will learn to express their emotions more readily as they respond to stories or characters. This, in turn, will nurture their feelings of empathy and improve upon their social development. Studies also show that parent-child reading creates stronger bonds between them. It also encourages a love for reading as they grow. This is important, of course, because a love of reading will naturally translate into a deeper understanding of a wider range of topics. That’s education, right there, in a nutshell.

A love of reading will naturally translate into a deeper understanding of a wider range of topics. That’s education, right there, in a nutshell.

The magical thing is that it’s all done in a natural, relaxed way — it feels in no way like ‘work’ for the parent, nor like ‘‘studying’ for the child. Chances are, the parent will learn new things along the way too. It’s an absolute win-win!

Reading at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Mother & child enjoying a story together

At Treetops Nursery in Willesden, we understand the profound importance of reading a wide variety of engaging reading materials with the nursery children. We read with them in an interactive way. As well as encouraging the basics like connecting sounds with letters of the alphabet, we encourage children to follow along, get actively involved and give feedback about the story or topic. Their active involvement includes listening, speaking, asking and answering questions and expressing themselves. They learn from all of this, improve reading, writing, language and vocabulary skills and also become more self-confident in the process. What’s more, it’s actually great fun for everyone involved!

Looking for a nursery place for your baby or child in London NW10?

If you’re looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your baby or under-five child in or around Willesden in London NW10, we’d love to help. We’re particularly convenient for those looking for childcare in Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green and Brondesbury Park. We currently have a few vacancies, but they may not stay around for long. So, if you are looking for a vacancy for your child in a top-notch nursery with outstanding staff and facilities, please get in touch here, call 020 8963 1259 or book a visit to Treetops Nursery here. We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully showing you around in the near future.

Fighting food fussiness in under-5s. How to encourage toddlers to eat

Many parents will be all-too-familiar with how fussy toddlers can be when it comes to food. Some children will even avoid certain foods, absolutely refusing to try them, based solely on how they look. This can be infuriating! In the extreme, it can also potentially pose a risk to the healthy balance of a child’s diet.

Give peas a chance!

Many adults, myself included, will recall that we were just the same at some point during childhood. Later on, we may realise how delicious something really is, even if we thought we didn’t like it when we were young. I recall believing that peas were incredibly dull and should be avoided at all costs, for example. I now believe them to be amongst the tastiest vegetables on the planet! Nothing material has really changed about peas, so it’s my perception of them that has changed; I simply needed to give them a chance.

Acquired tastes

Other foods can become an ‘acquired taste’. For example, many youngsters initially perceive olives as being quite disgusting. Later on as adults, however, many of the same people end up adoring them. Sometimes, it’s just a case of mentioning this weird facet of human nature to your toddler. Trying to reason – and empathise – with them in this way may well register with them eventually. Despite appearances, children often take such messages in, even though they might refuse some foods, point blank, at first. This eventual acceptance often gradually occurs as they become more mature in mind as well as in body.

Food refusal is normal, so don’t stress

Is your toddler a fussy eater?If your child’s refusal to eat certain foods is making you stressed, take a moment to realise that this is perfectly normal. Indeed, many toddlers go through such a phase in their earliest years. If they’ve recently been breastfeeding, they will have become accustomed to a sweet-tasting diet. When they are weaned onto solids and suddenly become mobile, it’s natural for them to be wary of eating just anything — it’s so new to them. In fact, refusing some foods is an instinctive survival mechanism. It’ll take time for them to become accustomed to new tastes and textures.

If your child gives you a resounding no, try, try and try again.

What’s more, it’s known that it can take about 10 to 15 instances of exposure to a particular food before many young children will accept it. So, if your child gives you a resounding no, it’s really best for both of you to try, try and try again. After all, it would be such a shame for them to miss out on something delicious and nutritional for the rest of their lives.

What else can parents do?

As well as the straight forward perseverance approach outlined above, there are a number of things that parents and carers can do to encourage preschoolers to eat a more varied diet and to give new food types a try.

Food bridges

Food ‘bridges‘ are a subtle trick where you add different foods to those that your child already enjoys. So, if your child loves mashed potato, for example, perhaps try adding a little grated cheese on top or mixed in with it. If they like roasted potatoes or ham, try adding a little cooked apple. A little bit at first may fly under their radar and get them used to the taste before increasing the amount over time.

“We eat with our eyes first.”

Changing appearance

Similarly, changing the appearance of food is a highly useful tool to fight fussy eating. It is said that we eat with our eyes first, so try and make meals look as appealing as possible. For example, you can harness the rainbow colours of fruit and vegetables and the different shapes and sizes of foods. You can even make pictures with food on the child’s plate or cut food into shapes to make it more appealing. These are great ways to get children to become engaged with their food, to make food fun and to get children to become positive about it.

Get sneaky

Maybe if a certain food type isn’t liked, try hiding it. For example, you could puree a particular vegetable that they don’t like. Once you’ve done that, you could add it as part of a pasta sauce, for example, or as a dip, topper or garnish. This is a great way of children building up a taste for it without even realising.

Get children involved

Get children involved in food choice and preparationInvolving children in planning meals, shopping for food and even preparing the food can encourage them to eat more food types. For example, they could help when picking vegetables or have a say in how food is displayed on the plate. You’ll also be teaching them new things along the way.

Make it fun

There are a great many ways in which parents and childcare providers can make eating fun.

  • Choosing plates, bowls and cutlery that have fun designs is a great way to start, particularly if you allow the child to have a say in the choice. Perhaps there is a picture on the bottom of the plate that is only visible once the food has been eaten. Or perhaps their spoon or fork has a design on it that is shaped like an animal that the child particularly loves.
  • You can also theme meals. The child could perhaps pretend to be a character from their favourite book or film. Then, the food can be themed to suit. For example, a space rocket shaped from food could be given to budding astronauts. Or maybe use a Treasure Island theme for all those pirates out there. It’s amazing what fun you and your child can have turning vegetables like sweet corn and peas into pieces of “treasure”. Rainbows are another popular theme and here you can use the different coloured fruit and vegetables to create your masterpiece.
  • The youngest children will, of course, always enjoy the tried and tested ‘here comes the train’ approach (“Choo Choo!”). Some may enjoy a similar approach with an aeroplane coming in to land. This type of thing can easily be turned into an enjoyable, playful game.

Positivity & a gentle nudge

Make food a positive experienceUsing positive phases like yummy, tasty and so good when eating will help to build positivity around food. Talking about how food was prepared or how an item of fruit or vegetable grew in the garden may spark an extra level of interest in the child. Making food sound generally positive is a good approach. Remind the child how good the food will make them feel, how it will recharge them and make them energised and ready for the day’s tasks. For example, you could explain how they will have lots of energy for the swings, or park or when playing ball etc.

Reward them

Rewarding children for trying new foods and eating healthy options is a great way to encourage them. This is the ‘carrot’ rather than the ‘stick’ approach (remember; you want to build positivity around food, not negativity, so reward them when they get it right, rather than punishing them when they refuse food). Reward charts with set food goals can be a great way of approaching this if the child is being particularly fussy in their eating. For example, your child could be rewarded for trying new foods or for clearing their plate. Rewards will make food fun and positive. The choice of reward can be anything that you think may sway your child, for example a trip to the park, their favourite dessert or a small gift perhaps.

Be a good role model

Infant creatures across the world learn about food from their parents — and humans are no different. So, let your little one see you eating different foods yourself, including any they’re refusing. Being a good role model will help your child to see that new foods are safe — and even enjoyable. Sometimes, you just have to show them! Also look out for their favourite TV stars, or even best friends, eating foods that they are currently refusing — good role models can make a huge difference. However, never forget that it can take multiple attempts, so you need to remember to be patient and not to force it.

Healthy eating at Treetops Nursery

Healthy eating and quality ingredientsWe confess that we’ve been known to employ a few of the tips above at the nursery! Healthy eating is very much in our DNA at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, NW10, so we do all we can to ensure that our under-fives are getting the right sized portions, healthy food and a good dietary balance. Our in-house chef prepares tasty meals using only the best, most fresh ingredients. All special dietary needs are catered for, including vegetarian and vegan options when required. Children attending all day will receive three high quality meals plus a snack in the morning and another in the afternoon. Drinking water is available on tap all day. All food and drink is covered within our standard fees. Learn more about our approach to nutrition, healthy eating and see some menu examples here.

Looking for a nursery place in Willesden, London NW10?

If you are looking for a nursery place for your baby or toddler in Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, call us on 020 8963 1259. Alternatively, book a nursery visit here or email us here. We have places for under-fives available at time or writing and will be happy to welcome you to the setting and to answer any questions.

Every parent should read this
Parental involvement in a child's early years educationResearch has repeatedly proved that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s education, particularly if they’re involved right from the early years. That impact can be hugely positive if the parents get it right. In this article, we explore the many benefits of parental involvement in children’s education, how parents can support their children from nursery to university, improve their success, maximise their personal and career potentials and thereby give children the very best start in life. That is priceless.

“It has been proven time and time again that parents who invest time and place value on their children’s education will have children who are more successful in school.” (Meador)

The positive impact of parental help for children cannot be overstated. A well-supported child will go on to get better grades and ultimately be eligible for wider, higher quality, career choices once they’re older and ready to leave education. So the message is: if you’re a parent that wants your child to do as well as possible in their education and development, then your child needs your support. Be ready for the long-haul, though, because they will need your support at nursery, throughout their school years and even into higher education.

Research¹  has shown that parents can help improve their child’s development and education irrespective of: how well they did at school themselves; their socioeconomic status and ethnic/racial background.

What are the benefits of closer parental involvement?

As we mentioned above, parental involvement in a child’s development and education can ultimately lead to better results in school and enhanced life choices later on. That’s just the tip of the ice berg, though.

A mother helping their child with homeworkBenefits for the child include:

Better life skills:

  • Improved self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • Improved social skills;
  • Improved communication skills;
  • Better focus and organisational skills;
  • More confidence when it comes to tests/exams;
  • Better problem-solving skills;
  • Enhanced tenacity (to keep trying);
  • Greater comprehension and general knowledge;
  • Encouragement and moral support for the child;
  • An enhanced, positive outlook.

Toddler reading with a parentBetter prospects:

  • Better grades;
  • An improved level of skill;
  • Potentially a greater number of skills;
  • A wider choice of lesson topics to study;
  • A choice of better schools and universities to apply to;
  • Ultimately a wider choice of careers with potentially higher pay;
  • Potentially a better quality of life and happiness due to all of the above.

Additional benefits:

  • A closer bond between parent and child;
  • A closer, more strategic alliance between parent and education setting;
  • Reduced rates of truancy;
  • Better behaviour;
  • Higher morale because there is continuous and reliable background support.

So how can parents help?

Setting high but realistic expectations of a child, and explaining the reasons why, will ultimately help the child achieve more. Parents do not suddenly need to become strict and to make the child work all hours. It’s not about that although, of course, if a child has simply become lazy, a little encouragement will help to set the child on the right path again. It’s as much about letting the child know that you’re there for them as it is about proactively helping them if they’re struggling with a topic. Moral support goes a long way with a child but hands-on assistance is priceless when a topic seems unsurmountable for the child. Brainstorming problems together will help too. Setting aside an area of the house where the child can work undisturbed — and without distractions – will also greatly help with the child’s focus.

For preschoolers, you can read to them. You can listen to them read. You can correct them and explain things to them, setting them on the right path in a calm way, in an relaxed home environment.

Reading and writing are the foundation behind every other topic.

You can check their writing. You can also encourage even young children to check spelling and grammar. Even if you’re not great with those yourself, there are many electronic applications that will check for you/your child, whether on a PC, Mac, tablet or mobile. Microsoft Word is the obvious example — or the Open Office ‘Writer’ equivalent. That application is available free online (don’t forget to download and set the appropriate language pack too). However, the child needs to learn the correct spelling and rules around grammar, not just rely on devices to correct things for them. Parents can help with that and it is incredibly important because reading and writing represent the foundation behind every other topic.

Father and baby readingModern curriculum-based text books are extremely good these days, so many parents will be able to pick even unfamiliar topics up and guide a child if they’ve not been able to find their way on a particular homework task or piece of research.

When tests are coming up, it can be stressful for children. Testing them in the run-up to exams will let both you and them know how they’re doing in their preparation. Even just being there for them will help maintain their wellbeing and let them know that they’re not on their own — someone has their back. Adults often understand the nuances of questions a little better than children and adolescents too, so they can help clarify things.

Involving yourself more with their nursery, pre-school or school will allow you and the staff to be on same wavelength — more like a partnership, in fact. Parent evenings are essential to attend (read more about that below) and, taking things a step further, you can even consider joining parent groups and school boards so you really have your fingers on the pulse of their education. Collaborating with an educational setting has been shown to have measurable benefits for children.

Proactively select the best settings for your child

One of the best ‘first steps’ a parent can take is to research the actual nursery, preschool, school, college or university that the child will apply for. Check their websites. Speak to staff. Ask around and check feedback on parent forums and similar. Arrange a visit — this is priceless as you’ll be able to see the setting in actual use. Are the children happy? Are the facilities good? How are the staff? Does the setting have good reviews and so on. This is an excellent first step for any parent.

Parent evenings

A mum helping her daughter with homeworkLike most nurseries and educational settings, Treetops Nursery hosts parent evenings which allow nursery staff and parents to discuss the child’s learning and development in detail. It’s also a great opportunity to make sure all parents are up to date on everything happening at the nursery, in particular in regard to their own children. Parent evenings typically happen twice a year but, at Treetops, we’re always available to speak to parents, so please don’t feel you have to wait until a parent evening to discuss anything about your child.

Personal Development Folders for every child

Every child at Treetops Nursery also has their own personal development folder, which is kept up to date by a ‘key worker’ assigned to the child. These staff members monitor progress of the child’s learning and development as they progress through the nursery and pre-school. We actively encourage parents to view their child’s development folder regularly and to keep up to date on progress through dialogue with the key worker for their child. Parents are also invited to add details of experiences the child has outside of the nursery. In this way, a more rounded picture of the child’s development is maintained.

If you’re a parent that wants your child to do as well as possible in their education and development, then your child needs your support.

Summing up

We hope that this article has gone some way to explain why the involvement of parents in their children’s education is so impactful and so incredibly important. A child that has experienced the involvement of a parent in their education is likely to end up with a more rounded education with better grades, enhanced life skills and ultimately better life choices. As we said before, that is priceless.

Contact Treetops Nursery

If you are looking for a nursery or pre-school in Willesden, north west London, and would like more information about Treetops Nursery, we’d be delighted to tell you more about the setting and explain what we can do for your baby or toddler. Call 020 8963 1259 or email us here and we’ll be happy to help. You can also arrange a visit here and see our location on a map here.

Follow Treetops Nursery on social media

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that we’ve got a sparkling new website. It’s user-friendly, works nicely on mobile phones and it’s going to be much easier for us to keep up to date. That means that we can keep you better informed — great news! Our plan is to publish several high quality articles on the new blog area each and every month. We’ll keep our new social media channels up to date with information, images, nursery- and early years-related news too. We’re now on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Business (our profile links are below).

We can keep you better informed

Treetops Nursery is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram & Google Business

With a view to that, we’d like to invite you to follow us on social media and to regularly visit our news blog. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep up to date with the nursery and childcare in general. Parents across the UK should find the information we’ll publish very useful even if they don’t have children at our Willesden nursery. Our plan is to write and publish some extremely useful articles that’ll appeal to a wide audience of parents, wherever they are. This will include comprehensive guides to topics like childcare funding in the UK, ‘evergreen’ articles about education for babies and toddlers, parenting, the curriculum, activities and all manner of useful, original and informative content. If this sounds of interest, please follow us:

Social media profiles for Treetops Nursery, Willesden

We’d love a review, recommendation or feedback

Reviews are incredibly important to small businesses like ours, and a little goes a long way. So, if you’re on Facebook or Google, we’d love it if you could leave a nice review or recommendation for Treetops Nursery please. It’s wonderful to hear positive feedback, so we know we’re getting things right for you and your child. Thank you if you’re able to do this for us.

Of course, if you’re not happy with anything whatsoever, please get in touch with us directly at the nursery (020 8963 1259 or contact us here), so we have a fair chance to address any concerns and put things right. We want you to know that we’re always listening to constructive feedback (good or bad) and genuinely strive to be the very best nursery and pre-school in the NW10 area. We want you to have total peace of mind as a parent, so we’ll always listen and aim to constantly improve everything possible, as time goes by. So, thank you in advance for helping us to be the best nursery in Willesden.

Do you need a childcare place for your baby or toddler in Willesden, London NW10?

If so, Treetops Nursery could be perfect for you. We’re in Doyle Gardens, Willesden, London NW10 3SQ and would love to show you around. It’s the best way to see for yourself the excellent facilities, lovely atmosphere and exceptional staff. We are, of course, exercising extreme caution in regard to COVID-19 (take a look at our coronavirus health and safety measures here). Rest assured, the health and wellbeing of our babies, children, parents and staff is our primary concern. Call 020 8963 1259 for further details about the nursery, contact us here or email . We’ll be delighted to discuss everything with you and welcome your family to the nursery.

Social Distancing and Anti-Virus Measures at the Nursery

At our Willesden nursery and pre-school, and other nurseries within our group, we looked after children of key workers during the lock-down. This all went very well indeed and we’re very happy to report that there was not a single case of COVID-19 within any of the nurseries, their staff, children, babies or immediate families. This is a testament to the safeguarding measures put in place and also to everyone following the advice of the nurseries, NHS and Government. Thanks to everyone for taking such good care — it worked!

The nursery has re-opened!

We’re very pleased to announce that Treetops Nursery has now re-opened. We’re welcoming existing families back at the same time as inviting new children who need a safe childcare place in Willesden and NW10.

How are we protecting children from COVID-19?

Now that we’re emerging from the lock-down, it’s more important than ever to exercise social distancing, cleanliness and best practise measures to keep everyone safe and well going forwards. With more people now mixing again, this is more important than ever. With that in mind, we have introduced leading-edge measures to safeguard everyone attending the nursery and preschool. With our owners having medical backgrounds, we are uniquely positioned to ensure that these are the best safeguarding measures possible. They also go far beyond Government and NHS guidelines. So, the message is:

We have incredibly strong measures to keep babies & children safe from C-19

So what are the new health and safety measures? While the following is not an exhaustive list, it’ll give you an insight into the kind of protocols we’re putting in place at the setting …

What are our anti-virus safety measures at the nursery?

It’s an absolute given that we’re practising social distancing at the nursery. We’ve taken this several steps further, though, to absolutely minimise any risks:

  • Parents are staggering collection and drop-off times, so they will encounter other families less often.
  • Parents and guardians are also asked to remain outside at all times — they will not be allowed inside the nursery until further notice. While waiting outside, they will be required to maintain a minimum social distance of 2 metres from others.
  • Within the nursery, most of the curriculum has been moved to outside areas. We’re very lucky at Treetops Nursery because our outside spaces are incredibly large and spacious. That means that our children have absolutely loads of room to play and learn in, outdoors, where they too can keep a good social distance from one another. This is far safer than being enclosed within indoor spaces, where air would otherwise circulate and dissipate to the atmosphere less freely. Of course, we have ensured that there are plenty of sheltered, undercover areas outside for children and staff. They will be able to play, learn and work comfortably – come rain or shine.
  • We are confining babies and children to their own small bubble groups. The size of these groups will depend upon the age of the children within them, being either 3, 4 or a maximum of 6 individuals per group. Children will remain in their particular bubble group until the risk is over. This measure will help to keep children isolated from any contagion.
  • We are also ensuring that the nursery is not filled to capacity. Limiting numbers in this way will also help to maximise social distancing and to keep other safeguarding measures under close control.
  • We are encouraging children to proactively keep their hands well-sanitised too. They regularly wash their hands extremely thoroughly under our supervision, taking care to wash every inch of their hands and fingers. We are also stressing – and re-stressing – the importance of social distancing to them as well as ensuring they understand the need to use the inside of their elbows (or tissues which they then safely discard) if they need to cough or sneeze.
  • We will be regularly taking temperatures using the type of electronic thermometers that you may have seen on TV. These can take the child’s temperature from a distance and alert us should anyone start to exhibit symptoms.
  • Children will be required to take a COVID-19 test should they experience symptoms of the virus, and be asked to isolate away from the nursery. If deemed to be at risk of potentially having the virus, other members of their bubble group will also be asked to isolate away from the nursery and to take a test, just to be safe.
  • As part of the above, we will follow the NHS’s ‘Track & Trace’ programme so that the virus can be tracked should anyone test positive. As mentioned above, though, there have been zero cases to date at any of our nurseries. The measures and care taken by all parties are clearly working.
  • Staff will also personally be taking some excellent additional precautions. These include: changing into a clean uniform when they arrive at the nursery; washing all clothes and uniforms at 60 degrees (to kill all bacteria and viruses); wearing medical-grade ‘FFP3’ masks whenever appropriate; wearing face visors and a double set of gloves when changing nappies; using alcohol-based antimicrobial wipes liberally around the nursery to keep toys, equipment, surfaces, hands etc. free of bacteria and viruses.
  • Our in-house chefs and cooks are also taking additional safety measures. Along with the obvious hygiene-related measures that one would ordinarily expect around food preparation, our chefs and cooks are wearing FFP3 masks plus face visors when preparing food.

More information about coronavirus in children can be found here.

Does your baby or toddler need childcare in Willesden or NW10?

If you need childcare for your baby or under-five child during the working week, please get in touch. Treetops Nursery and pre-school offers half-day and full-day childcare for little ones from Monday to Friday, 51 weeks of the year (Bank Holidays excepted). We open at 8am and close at 6pm. Our nursery/pre-school is in Doyle Gardens, Willesden, London NW10 3SQ.

Call 020 8963 1259 or email us here for further details and we’ll be very happy to help. Alternatively, click any of the bold links for further information.