Tag Archive for: active play

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:

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.

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:

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

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

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

The Benefits of Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Tummy Time

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

  • Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby's neckIt helps them to build physical strength, particularly in their upper body, and helps them achieve various developmental milestones.
  • Encouraging them to lift their head regularly will strengthen a baby’s neck. That’s important because their head is rather heavy for them when they’re first born and an otherwise weak neck will be a potential safety risk if not strengthened. They need to learn to control its position.
  • Raising themselves onto their arms whilst lifting their head will take this a step further to increase strength in arm muscles, shoulders, core, back and torso generally.
  • Doing all of this will also begin to nudge them towards becoming more mobile and coordinated as they improve their fine and gross motor skills.
  • As babies get more used to Tummy Time, it will also give them more access to new sensory experiences as they can increasingly explore the world, suitable safe objects and textures around them.

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

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

Example Activities

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

Up to 3 months of age:

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

3 to 6 months:

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

From 6 to 9 months:

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

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

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

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

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

Early Years Exercise – & Why it's Essential

The Benefits of Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise to children and why it's so essential, particularly for children under five

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of regular exercise to children and why it’s so essential, particularly for children under five. Exercise is shown to have a huge range of benefits to humans, and this is especially true for children, as we’ll see.

Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviours.2

Some additional benefits of exercise — including a few that may surprise you — are:

  • Exercise is shown to have a huge range of benefits to humans, and this is especially true for childrenLess likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease including hyperlipidemia1;
  • Less likelihood of strokes1;
  • Less likelihood of developing high blood pressure1;
  • Less likelihood of developing cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial and lung cancer)1;
  • Less likelihood of developing glucose intolerance and insulin resistance1;
  • Less likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes1;
  • Less likelihood of developing low bone density and subsequent osteoporosis1;
  • Less likelihood of becoming obese1;
  • An improvement to the symptoms of depression and anxiety;
  • Stronger muscles and bones;
  • Improved physical fitness;
  • Maintenance of a healthier weight;
  • The creation of nerve connections in the developing brain, which aids learning;
  • Improved social skills and peer relationships through communal exercise and sport activities;
  • Healthier levels of self-confidence;
  • Improved coordination and motor skills;
  • A better quality of sleep.

Last but not least, exercise and physical activity can be great fun! Indeed, that is the key to encouraging children to exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to be a dull, repetitive chore. In contrast, it can and should be thoroughly good fun and great entertainment if approached in the right way. For example, as part of a game, sport activity or physical ‘challenge’.

Active play is a fun way of having exerciseHigher physical activity and physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., concentration, memory) among students.3

With the NHS reporting that one in every five UK children are overweight or — worse — obese before they even start school, exercise is a critically important issue. If we can get children into good exercise and healthy eating habits in their early years, they’re statistically more likely to maintain healthy weights and to generally be more healthy as they grow towards adulthood.

Exercise Recommendations for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Downloadable Infographic: Exercise recommendations for babies, toddlers & preschoolersUK chief medical officers and the NHS each recommend4 a minimum of 3 hours (180 minutes) of physical activity every day for toddlers (1 to 2) and preschoolers (aged 3 to 4). The three hours should be spread over the course of the day and the NHS suggest a mixture of both light activity and more energetic physical activity, both indoors and outdoors (weather conditions permitting). A useful infographic4 can be downloaded via the thumbnail image shown.

Toddler exercise can include light activities such as standing up and generally moving around, rolling around and playing. Skipping, hopping, jumping and running activities would be suitable as the more energetic types of exercise from time to time each day. Active play can include climbing, cycling, ball games and playing in water. Supervised closely, of course.

Preschoolers aged 3 to just under 5 can do any of the above but it can be a little more vigorous, at times, as they’re a little more sure-footed and coordinated by that age.

Exercise for Babies

Parents, childcare professionals and carers should encourage babies to be active at periods throughout the day. Crawling is good (supervised and safe, of course). If they haven’t yet mastered crawling, they can move about on the floor as best they can (again under close supervision), moving limbs around, pushing, pulling, reaching, grasping and so on. The UK Chief Medical Offices’ guidelines suggest at least 30 minutes spread across the day.

There is now a large body of evidence that the amount of physical activity in the Under-5 period influences a wide range of both short-term and long-term health and developmental outcomes.4

Exercise & Physical Activity at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery is in Willesden, near Harlesden and Kensal Green in London's NW10Knowing how important it is, we take exercise very seriously at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. However, we ensure that it’s always fun and exciting, so that children enjoy it, naturally. Physical movement and active play are all part of the nursery’s EYFS curriculum, in fact. As well as carefully planned physical activities, active play, games and challenges tailored to the needs and abilities of each individual child, the nursery has a huge range of toys, games, equipment and interactive facilities. Together, these naturally encourage physical movement and exercise. The programme is pre-planned by staff and a ‘Key Person’ allocated to each child. In this way, every child accomplishes an optimal early years education and well-rounded developmental opportunities,  achieving personal bests along the way in readiness for the time when they’ll move on to school.

Are you Looking for Nursery Places in Willesden, Harlesden, Kensal Green or NW10?

At time of writing we have a few places available at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden and Kensal Green in London’s NW10. Do get in touch while they’re still available if you are looking for the highest quality childcare for babies, toddlers and under-five children in those areas. We’ll be happy to discuss nursery places with you …

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References:
1. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2018.
2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA; Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
3. Michael SL, Merlo C, Basch C, et al. Critical connections: health and academics. Journal of School Health. 2015;85(11):740–758.
4. UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines, September 2019.