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Screen Time for Kids – The Benefits & Potential Pitfalls

Every parent knows that children love playing on handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as using computers and watching TV. To the very young, all these screens open up a magical world connecting them directly to colourful images, videos, music, sound and games. These can be almost addictive in their entertainment value for young children. However, is that a good thing?

When children are very young, they are at the pinnacle of their ability to be able to hoover up and absorb information and knowledge about the world. This makes them even more susceptible to being stimulated by the almost limitless array of entertaining content that electronic screens offer. So, surely giving them access to such screens is a good thing? Well … in moderation and with access to the right content it’s potentially hugely beneficial. However, there are compelling reasons why little ones’ access to electronic screens should be strictly managed. With that in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the topic to help parents make more informed decisions about how much time they allow their children to spend using mobile phones, tablets and computers, and watching TV.

Electronic Screens Teach Kids Stuff, Don’t They?

Toddlers and young children can have fun with handheld tablets & phones, while learning at the same timeOf course, that can be the case. What’s more, such handheld screens are a great way for parents to keep children entertained when perhaps they need to get on with other things. Electronic handheld devices also teach children about technology and introduce them to IT; essential skills for them to master in this day and age. Even games can be educational, with some designed to improve children’s numeracy etc. while at the same time being enormous fun. The key, though, is for parents to ensure that children are looking at the right content and not for extended periods of time. Ideally, it should be content that’s informative — i.e. content that will teach them something new, introduce them to new topics and allow them to make discoveries that will educate them. So, the content needs to be chosen and curated by parents — not the child.

Parents will need to bear in mind, though, that the content also needs to be fun and entertaining. Children will not watch for long, nor learn anything, if the viewing material chosen by parents is stuffy and boring, so a fine balance needs to be struck so that the child gets the most benefit, particularly from an educational perspective.

Dangerous Content, Screen Hours & Parental Control

At the same time, though, bad content must be out of children’s reach at all times. There are many dangerous and disturbing things on the Internet at all times of the day. There are even some on TV that are totally unsuited to young children, particularly after the 9pm watershed. So, parents must stringently vet what their children are watching and hearing on the Internet (especially), as well as on TV. As we said before …

Parents need to be in control of content choices, not the child.

Parents need to control what children view and listen to on handheld screens and on TV - not the children.There are some tools available to help parents accomplish this. While we don’t endorse any particular online safety application over any other, applications like Norton Family is a good example of one application that offers tools to help parents teach “safe, smart, and healthy online habits” to their children. And it certainly seemed to tick all the right boxes in a limited test that we undertook. Their ‘Parental Controls’ allow parents to be informed about sites their children are visiting and to block unsuitable ones completely. Android apps can also be controlled or blocked — useful if children attempt to use inappropriate apps or begin to get hooked on mindless games — or worse. The parental controls even allow parents to lock devices remotely, so children can’t use them should the parent feel their children have already had too much screen time.

Parents can also pre-set screen time limits and schedules for each day for each device their child is likely to use. This combination will help children to focus on what they should be focusing on, for example homework and useful learning materials, whilst keeping them from straying into dangerous online territory. The scheduling feature is also very useful to ensure children don’t spend too long staring at an electronic screen on any given day, perhaps at the expense of physical exercise or active play.

Of course, parents should also directly involve themselves in what their children are watching or interacting with on handhelds and TVs. After all, even the most clever app is unlikely to ever fully match the control possible through accompanied viewing from an adult.

Inactivity vs. Exercise

It goes almost without saying that regular extended periods of inactivity are not good for health and fitness. In our previous article Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential, we went into great detail about how exercise and active play is critically important to all humans, but especially in the early years. At that age group, it has been proven to not only help in the avoidance of some serious health issues like strokes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, but also to help children achieve better grades, improve cognitive performance and experience a whole raft of additional benefits. Those are incredibly important reasons why screen time should be limited and not allowed to replace active play and exercise. Click the bold green link above for full details.

Additional Health Concerns for Handheld Devices

There are real medical and scientific concerns over exposure to RF wireless radiationHundreds of scientist and medical professionals around the world are convinced that handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets are potentially harmful to humans, especially unborn children, when connected to Wi-Fi. They say that this is due to the ‘RF wireless radiation’ that the devices emit when connected to the web (etc.). What’s more, they appear to have some compelling science and research to back up their claims.

Some of the professionals concerned are involved in The Baby Safe Project, which aims to warn pregnant women and parents about the potential risks to health associated with wireless radiation used in handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets. As these risks may extend to harming unborn children, it’s a serious concern for pregnant women and parents to consider. Learn more about the possible risks of RF wireless radiation and ways to mitigate them here.

Technology for Little Ones at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden we understand both the value and potential pitfalls of technology when used by little ones, so ensure we get the balance just right. Technology is great for education when used correctly and indeed is included as an area of early years education within the ‘Understanding the World’ element of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum at the nursery. However, staff at the setting fully understand that any screen time needs to be limited and, of course, the type of material being viewed is stringently controlled.

Please do get in touch if you are interested in a potential nursery place for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. The childcare setting is also near to Harlesden, Willesden Green and Kensal Green in the London NW10 area, so may also suit parents who live or work in those locations. Please select a contact method from the buttons below to get started.

 

Brushing Children's Teeth – A Guide for Parents

As promised in our Guide to Teething last month, this next guide is all about brushing teeth — specifically for for babies, toddlers and young children. Regular brushing of teeth is an essential habit for young children to get into. Doing so will protect their teeth and oral health as they grow older.

Studies suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.

When Should You Start Brushing Children’s Teeth?

Babies' teeth should be brushed as soon as they first appear through the gumsParents, guardians or carers should start brushing children’s teeth the moment teeth first appear, even when it’s only one or two teeth initially showing through. This is typically around the age of six to ten months when, for most babies, the lower incisors are first to appear. It varies enormously, though, with some babies even being born with one or more teeth. For teething babies, of course, you need to be more gentle with brushing than you would be for an older child, because their gums will probably be sore. Hence, there are some guidelines to follow in that regard. That’s exactly where this article comes in as we explain the accepted best practice for brushing infant teeth.

How Much Toothpaste Should Babies, Toddlers & Children Use?

Check toothpaste labels carefully to ensure you are using the right toothpaste.

Toothpaste containing at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride or ‘family toothpaste’ containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm is suitable for babies and children up to 6 years of age.

  • For babies and children up to 3 years old, use just a smear.
  • For children between 3 and 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount on the brush.

Children 7 years old or more should also use a pea-sized amount, using toothpaste containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm of fluoride.

What’s the Best Way to Brush a Baby’s Teeth?

The NHS suggests that parents sit the baby on their lap, facing away from them towards a mirror (this is so that the child can learn from what the parent is showing them). The baby’s head can rest against you so that it’s kept stable during brushing.

Using the recommended toothpaste suggested in the section above, parents can apply just a smear of toothpaste to either a small tooth brush, finger brush or piece of clean gauze wrapped around a finger (whichever suits best). Then, this can be applied to the baby’s teeth using small, gentle, circular motions to both teeth and surrounding gums.

The baby will soon learn from watching this and will, in time, begin to try it themselves. The parent can help by guiding the child’s hand when this occurs.

As only a smear of toothpaste has been used, the baby does not need to spit it out and indeed, not rinsing will protect the teeth even further.

What About Teeth Brushing for Children Over 3?

Ensure that children find brushing teeth a fun activityThe same general approach can be used for children aged 3 or over, except toddlers may stand, so long as their head can still rest against you so that it’s kept stable and relatively still while brushing takes place. As mentioned in the preceding section, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used for this age group.

The child can spit out superfluous foam after brushing, but does not need to rinse. As before, this is because retaining a covering of fluoride will continue to protect the teeth for longer.

From the age of about 7, children will generally be capable of brushing their teeth themselves, unaided.

Tips to Protect Children’s Teeth from Decay

There are many tips around keeping children's teeth safe from decayAs well as regular brushing of teeth and dentist check-ups, there are many additional measures that can protect children’s teeth. These really all come down to one thing; avoiding added sugar. So …

  • Check ingredients of what your baby or child is eating and drinking. Avoid anything that has added sugars, including baby foods.
  • There are many kinds of sugar so check labels carefully. Sugar can come in many forms including raw, cane or brown sugar, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, inverted sugar syrup and Muscovado sugar, to name just a few.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Young children should stick mainly to water or milk. While milk does contain an element of natural sugar, it’s less likely to cause harm to teeth than man-made or added sugars.
  • If you give little ones fruit juice, dilute it. 10 part of water to 1 part of pure fruit juice is a good ratio.
  • Limit fruit juice intake to 150ml per day maximum if you do not dilute it, making up the rest of their daily drink intake with milk and/or water.
  • Children’s teeth should be brushed ideally immediately after eating or drinking anything sugary. This is to remove sugar and avoid build-up of plaque. In the case of fruit juice, brushing after drinking will remove acid found in the juice, as this can otherwise also harm teeth.
  • Avoid giving children sweets and biscuits except, perhaps, for very occasional special treats. Otherwise they’ll get a ‘sweet tooth’ and it could become a habit, potentially harming their teeth and health.
  • Consider sugar-free medicines if you do need to give your child medicine at any point.
  • Free-flowing, open drinking vessels such as beakers are less likely to ‘bathe’ teeth in sugary drink compared to bottles or valved bottles, thereby reducing the possibility of tooth decay. Learn more about those in the ‘Health & Safety First’ section below.

When Should Children Start Going to the Dentist?

Children should regularly visit the dentist for check-ups, so it’s a good idea to start them early, so that it becomes a normal routine. Children need to appreciate that teeth brushing is important to teeth, oral hygiene and potentially to overall health. Visiting the dentist is recommended in case there is a problem of some kind and also to highlight whether teeth are being brushed optimally at home. If not, a good dentist will be able to point children and parents in the right direction.

It’s important for a dentist visit to be a pleasant, stress-free experience, so be sure to hide any anxiety you may have about dentists as a parent, otherwise this anxiety can be passed onto the child going forwards.

Health & Safety First!

Getting children used to brushing teeth twice a day in their early years sets up a good habit as they grow upThe more obvious additional health and safety concerns include the following:

  • For their own safety, babies and little ones need to be supervised at all times when brushing teeth.
  • In the interests of safety, children must never be allowed to play with toothbrushes or toothpaste nor to run around with them (particularly in their mouths!).
  • Do not allow babies or children to eat of swallow toothpaste, nor to lick the tube.
  • Once babies start to phase out bottled milk (usually weaning off them from the age of around 6 months), bottles with ‘no-spill’ valves and spouted drinking cups and ‘sippy cups’ should be avoided, according to many dentists, orthodontists, speech therapists and healthcare professionals. This is to avoid a whole raft of potential problems including crooked teeth, tooth decay and potential speech issues.

“As oral health professionals at GOSH, we encourage children to move to an open cup as soon as possible to reduce the risk of dental [cavities] which are often connected to bottles or ‘sippy’ cups.” (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children).

Clean Teeth for Healthy Kids

Keeping children’s teeth clean and free of plaque will help to keep teeth, gums and oral health in good shape. Starting early will also encourage kids to get into a good teeth cleaning habit from a young age and be more likely to carry that on into adulthood. Children with good teeth, healthy gums and fresher breath will generally feel more good about themselves, boosting self-confidence and self-image. Amazingly, recent studies even suggest that brushing teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes, may even reduce the risk of poor heart health.1

Our Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, WillesdenThis guide was brought to you by the childcare team at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden. If you’re looking for nurseries in those areas, around London NW10, we’d love to show you and your little one around so that you can see the setting in action for yourselves. To learn more about a possible place for your child, contact us using your preferred method below, while spaces are available:

Kids Say The Cutest Things: 12 adorable quotes by children & toddlers

Every parent, guardian or childcare professional knows that children can come out with the most surprising comments, when least expected. Sometimes they’re hilarious, other times they’re astoundingly astute for such a young age, and other times what they say is simply adorable. Here are a dozen of our favourite preschooler quotes that fit straight into the cute category. Take a look …

Please feel free to bookmark this page, share it on social media or link out to the individual quotes — this incredible cuteness can’t be kept secret!

 

Looking for Nursery Places for a Baby or Child in Willesden, NW10?

If you are looking for a nursery place for your baby, toddler or child in Willesden, London NW10, we can help. Treetops Nursery is one of the best nurseries in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Kensal Green and Harlesden areas of London NW10. We’d be delighted to discuss a place for your child and to tell you all about the nursery/pre-school. If you’d like to learn more and perhaps come and see the setting in action, contact us using one of the buttons below while spaces are still available:

Duckling Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery
Duckling hatching guidelinesYou know both Spring and Easter have arrived when eggs and fluffy, new-born ducklings can be seen at Treetops Nursery. To explain, the nursery took delivery of a duckling ‘hatching kit’ in late March and children at this Willesden nursery have had an absolutely magical time ever since. Over the course of ten days, the children and staff watched as the little duck eggs were incubated, using specialist equipment, right in the heart of the nursery. After just a few hours, fluffy yellow ducklings had hatched, much to the delight of everyone who saw them. More details follow below …

Background — Incredible Eggs

Let’s start at the beginning. A group of 7 small, family-run farms runs a programme called Incredible Eggs. It provides education in the form of chick-hatching experiences for settings like childcare nurseries, schools and care homes across the UK. As part of this, it helps with wildlife conservation too, breeding several rare and pure poultry breeds to safeguard biodiversity and avoid losing some of the breeds forever.A duckling being cared for by a child at Treetops Nursery This also includes breeding and releasing the endangered ‘Grey Partridge’ back into the wild as part of the overall programme. Incredible Eggs also supports several charities and social enterprises. Animal welfare is a top priority and the programme aims to give every bird “a good life, and a life worth living.

The Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery

The team from Incredible Eggs arrived at the nursery, bringing with them all the equipment we would need, along with the precious duck eggs, of course. They professionally set up the equipment for us and explained to nursery staff everything we needed to know for the days ahead. Printed hatching guides, information sheets, posters and instructions were all supplied, so staff were fully briefed as to what to expect and what they would need to do to ensure the welfare, safety and health of the new arrivals once they came.

One of the delightful ducklingsThe Little Miracles Arrived

The eggs had already been partly incubated while at the farm, so in no time at all, tiny ‘cheeping’ noises could be heard from the eggs as they began pecking away at the egg shells, from the inside. It was absolutely magical for the nursery children and staff to witness the little ducklings gradually break free and enter the world for the first time.

A Magical Experience for Children & Staff

Children enjoying the magical experience with the ducklings

Once hatched, the ducklings were gently moved into a ‘brooding’ unit, a lovely warm area where they could dry out, gather their strength and rest for a couple of days. They settled in comfortably and were cared for, fed and watered by knowledgeable staff — all under the watchful eye of the delighted children. Once they were strong enough and adorning their beautifully soft, fluffy yellow plumage, the nursery children were allowed to gently handle the ducklings under close, adult supervision, of course. The children were told to stay calm and quiet and to avoid sudden movements, so as not to scare the ducklings. It was a dream come true for many children and their delight was clear to see. They loved seeing the ducklings learning to eat and drink in their lovely warm brooding unit. It was also fun to see them get excited when staff or children gently scratched around at their food, making them run over to peck it.

Ducklings can swim just a couple of days after hatchingOne of the joys of having ducklings this time (the nursery had hen chicks a couple of years ago) was that ducklings absolutely love swimming! Containers of water or a paddling pool can be set up and ducklings are able to take to the water within just a couple of days of hatching. It’s great fun to watch them learn to dive and to dart around — and it’s super cute!

An Educational Experience

As well as getting to know the beautiful little creatures, the hatching experience was an educational one, touching on several areas of the EYFS curriculum. This includes, primarily, the key area of Understanding the World including learning about nature, living creatures, life and the world around the children. Learning about how animals come into the world and about how they all have their own individual needs and feelings is incredibly important.The ducklings are as cute as can be! So the hatching experience also teaches children respect for nature and may even grow a long-term love of nature and the natural world within them.

“If children grow up not knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it, and if they don’t understand it, they won’t protect it, and if they don’t protect it, who will?” (Sir David Attenborough)

Returning Ducklings to the Farm

It will be sad to say goodbye to the adorable ducklingsOn April 1st, the ducklings will leave Treetops Nursery and go to live back at the farm. It will be very sad to see them go, but it was always a part of the plan and, in any case, the farm is set up to care for them very well as they grow into adulthood. Looking after any creature is a huge responsibility, so it’s good to know that the ducklings will be in just the right environment and will be cared for by professionals. The nursery looks forward, however, to next year, when we hope to do it all over again and watch with the children as more magical lives begin.

A Place for your Baby or Child at our Nursery in Willesden

Are you interested in nursery places for babies and children in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden? If so, Treetops Nursery may be able to help. We’re a high quality childcare setting in Willesden, London NW10 and would be happy to discuss a possible place for your child here, while a few spaces remain available. If this is of potential interest, please contact us using one of the buttons below:

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 …


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.

Child Benefit in England – A Quick Guide

A childcare setting in EnglandIf you are living in England and are bringing up one or more children there, you are usually eligible to receive Child Benefit. This is a payment made by the Government to help with the costs associated with bringing up children. It’s made to those responsible for bringing up children up to 16 or, if they’re still in approved education or training, 20 years of age. This guide will go through the key facts around what you’re entitled to and eligibility.

How Much Do You Get?

If eligible, the Government will pay £21.05 per week for the eldest child and £13.95 per week for each additional child. (Latest information suggests this will increase to £21.15 and £14.00 respectively for 2021/22, from April). It’s usually paid on Mondays or Tuesdays every four weeks, although single parents with certain other benefits may apply for weekly payments instead. Payments need to be paid into a single bank account and only one person can receive them.

There isn’t a limit on the number of children that you can claim for. However ….

Beware the ‘Benefit Cap’

Receiving Child Benefit will not directly reduce the amount of any other benefits that you receive from the Government. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that the total amount of Government benefits, including Child Benefit, are limited by what’s known as the Benefit Cap. Broadly speaking, this limits the amount of total benefits received to an absolute maximum of £23k a year inside Greater London and £20k per annum outside, although single parents who do not live with their children are eligible for a maximum of £15.41k and £13.4k in those two respective areas (correct as at time of writing, February 2021). The Government’s Benefits Cap Calculator will help clarify your own particular situation.

There are additional benefits of applying for Chilld BenefitAdditional Benefits of Child Benefit

  • Child Benefit payments allow you to receive National Insurance Credits and these count towards your State Pension. This is particularly important for those who are not working.
  • Claiming Child Benefit also means that your child will get their National Insurance Number automatically once they reach 16, rather than having to apply.

Noteworthy Considerations

  • You need to register the birth of your child before a claim can be made.
  • Your claim can be backdated by up to 3 months, so it makes sense to claim as soon as possible or you could miss out.
  • If you work or have savings it does not affect eligibility to claim for Child Benefit.
  • If you live as a couple and one of you is not working, it may be best for the responsible parent who is not working to make the claim. This is so that they continue to build up their National Insurance contributions. These will count towards their State Pension when they retire.
  • If you are not living with your partner but are both responsible for bringing up your child(ren), then you’ll need to decide among yourselves who will put in the claim. Usually this is the person who lives most with the child(ren) in question.
  • However, where there is a dispute about who should claim, you can both claim and then HMRC will decide who to pay the Child Benefit to. Again, though, the benefit is usually awarded to the person who lives with the child the most, although there are exceptions as the rules are complex.
  • Those earning £50k or more (before tax) can still claim but will need to pay what’s known as a High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge. If they’re living with their partner, the person earning the most is the one who will need to pay the charge, irrespective of who is making the claim.
  • The High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge increases as earnings increase above £50k. Once they reach £60k the charge is likely to outweigh the benefit itself. In such circumstances you can elect not to claim or, if one isn’t working, then they could fill the claim form in anyway, so they receive the aforementioned National Insurance Contributions towards their State Pension. A box can be ticked if they elect not to claim the Child Benefit itself and this will stop the high-earning partner from paying the charge.

There are some reasons why you may not be eligibleReasons You May Not Be Eligible

There are a number of scenarios in which you are not eligible for Child Benefit in England. These include:

  • if your child has been in residential care or in hospital for more than 12 weeks (unless you’re still spending out on their needs);
  • if a local authority has been looking after your child for the last 8 weeks;
  • if your child has been in custody or prison within the last 8 weeks;
  • if your child is married or living in a civil partnership although exceptions apply if they’re not living together or if their partner is in full-time education or training;
  • if your child is in receipt of any of the following: Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or tax credits;
  • if you are living abroad, although there are some rare exceptions (rules are complex).

How to Start Your Child Benefit Claim

Claim your Child Benefit here using the appropriate form. You may also need to download Acrobat Reader from the same page if you don’t already have it. Choose form ‘CH2’ (paper and electronic versions available) for your first two children, or form ‘CH2(CS)’ if you’re claiming for more than two. If sending important documents like birth certificates through the post as part of your application, ensure you save copies and also ask Royal Mail for a ‘proof of postage’.

Allow 3 months before you receive your first payment. This may also include any backdated amounts covering up to a maximum of 3 months before your application if your child is up to 3 months old at the time you applied.

High quality childcare is available at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, NW10Childcare in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal Green, NW10

Bringing up children costs money so it’s good that an array of Government support is available. As well as Child Benefit, the Government also offers free ‘childcare hours’ and many employers offer childcare vouchers. Treetops Nursery in Willesden supports the Government’s childcare schemes including 15 hours of free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds and 15 to 30 hours of free childcare for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds per week, as appropriate. We also accept virtually all childcare vouchers at the nursery.

A Nursery Place for Your Child

Get in touch if you are interested in your child attending Treetops Nursery. We’re an outstanding, high quality nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden and Willesden Green in London NW10. Contact us while a few places are still available to avoid disappointment. We’ll be happy to help. Choose from the following options:

Top Marks for Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery - ChecklistBack in December, we published what turned out to be a very popular checklist for choosing a nursery. Our interactive file was a downloaded multiple times and continues to be shared amongst those looking for a good nursery for their children, right across the UK.

How Does Treetops Nursery Measure Up?

Here we’ll explore how Treetops Nursery measures up when using the Nursery Checklist. As you’ll see, Treetops performs extremely well. Take a look …

Convenient

Convenient location in Willesden near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal GreenThe nursery would be extremely hard to beat if you’re looking for high quality childcare from a nursery or pre-school in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green areas in north west London and the NW10 postal zone.

The setting is open 51 weeks of the year from Monday to Friday, only closing for a week over Christmas/New Year and during public or bank holidays. It’s open early from 8am right through to 6pm.

The nursery caters for babies from 6 months of age to children up to five years old, so is a perfect setting where children can prepare for the move to school at age five, while allowing parents and carers to continue with their careers in the interim.

Low Fees & Support for Government Funding Schemes

Fees at Treetops Nursery are extremely competitive, with half days costing no more than £35 per session and full days just £62. For those attending all week Monday to Friday, this is discounted to £275 for the week, or afternoons only would be £145 per week. Siblings receive a further 10% discount. All food, drinks and healthy snacks are included in the pricing.

Most childcare vouchers are accepted and the nursery supports 15 and 30 Government-funded hours for eligible children aged 2 to 4.

So, full marks for affordability!

Excellent Facilities & Equipment

Wonderful facilities, equipment & toys indoors & outsideEquipment and facilities at the nursery are excellent, both indoors and outside. An excellent overview of our outdoor spaces and play areas is available here and you can learn more about our excellent equipment and facilities, including for sensory play, here. As you’ll see via that link, there are also separate rooms and areas for each particular age group plus a sensory room and movement play room. Treetops Nursery is also lucky in having several natural outdoor spaces close by, so that children can enjoy the outdoors and learn from nature.

You Can Visit the Nursery

We welcome parents and carers who are considering Treetops Nursery for their child. Come and see the setting for yourself and bring your baby or child with you — you’ll soon see how easily they could fit in. Click the button below to arrange a visit:

You’ll see that the nursery is warm and welcoming – a true home-from-home for your baby or child. Children and staff are happy at the setting and the little ones settle in very quickly when they first join. Staff will be happy to show you around, tell you everything about the nursery and to answer any questions that you might have. We’re here to help!

Don’t Take Our Word For It! Here’s What Others are Saying ….

Treetops Nursery scores 100% in independent online reviews, for example, scoring the full 5 Stars on Facebook’s reviews section. It doesn’t get any better than that! Just a few of the lovely comments people have written include:

“Really nice nursery with experienced staff and nurturing environment, great space too”

We’re extremely well thought-of as a nursery so, if you’re local to us, ask around and we’re convinced our previous parents will give glowing feedback about how well we looked after their little ones.

“My child has been with treetops since 9 months old and has worked her way up through all of their rooms … [she] is extremely happy at treetops, she has made lovely friends over her years. She is very fond of all of the staff … always enjoys her meals and tells me all about her activities at the end of the day. I would highly recommend treetops to any parent looking for a nursery place.”

A good Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery, WillesdenA Good Ofsted Report

Our most recent Ofsted Report was also full of wonderful comments from the inspector who visited last time around. Take a look at our in-depth article showing all the positive feedback contained in our Ofsted report and you’ll soon see why we passed every benchmark with flying colours. We were officially rated as ‘a good nursery’ in every single category!

Excellent Safety & Security for Your Child

Treetops Nursery has excellent security protocols in place to protect children under its care. These include CCTV monitoring throughout the nursery, including indoors, in all the outdoor spaces and also in the reception/entrance area. Safety and security are primary concerns of all staff and stringent protocols are in place to ensure children are safe at all times, including at drop-off and pick-up times. These protocols ensure that only the right people have access to the children.

There are also robust health and safety protocols and measures in place to protect the children’s wellbeing. Staff are trained in First Aid, Safeguarding and Health & Safety as appropriate and the nursery also has suitable anti-COVID precautions in place to protect the wellbeing of staff, children and their parents or carers during the pandemic.

Excellent Additional Features

A modern, spacious nurseryChildren’s individual needs, including for those with special needs, are well catered-for at Treetops Nursery, Willesden. In fact, a learning and development programme is tailored to the needs, strengths, weaknesses and interests of each individual child. A ‘Key Person’ is also assigned to each child and this staff member continually monitors their progress, making changes to the tailored programme as appropriate as time goes by. Parents and carers are kept fully informed of children’s progress, including via a journal that is kept for each child. Parents are also free to add notes to the progress journal so a more complete picture is maintained for every child.

The nursery also has a very useful and informative phone app for parents and carers. It allows them to track their child’s learning and development, activities and more.

Within the fees, Treetops Nursery supplies healthy, balanced meals using fresh, high quality ingredients. Special diets are also catered for, including vegan, vegetarian, etc. We also have a 5 Star food hygiene rating – once again top marks!

The setting utilises the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework for all that it delivers. This high quality framework covers everything from the nursery curriculum to safeguarding, learning and development programmes, health & safety, suitability of staff and the ‘Key Person’ approach for each individual child. High staff-to-child ratios are all a part of this – and much more. It’s an excellent framework around which the entire nursery operates.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby or Child, in Willesden

If you like what you see in this round-up of what Treetops Nursery has to offer, perhaps consider Treetops as a nursery/pre-school for your baby, toddler or child. Our outstanding nursery is in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green in London NW10. Do, please, get in touch while a few places are still available. We’ll be happy to tell you more, answer any questions and show you/your child around. Please choose an option:

A Good Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery

One of the first things people should look at before settling on a nursery for their children is the latest Ofsted Report for the setting. After all, it’s wise to check the professional and independent feedback that such reports contain. On this note, parents and carers considering Treetops Nursery for their baby or child will be pleased to know that we passed with flying colours in its most recent Ofsted Report. Although it’s been a while since that report, we thought we’d share the outcome so that parents can see for themselves just how good a nursery Treetops is. In fact, we were rated as a good nursery in every single category and we’ll cover that in more detail below.

Treetops Nursery passed with flying colours

First, though, we’ll explain a little about Ofsted and what they checked for during the most recent inspection.

Ofsted

Ofsted is the UK’s official “Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills”. As such, they inspect services providing education and skills and regulate services that care for children and young people. This includes childcare settings, nurseries and pre-schools throughout the UK. Ofsted inspections and the resulting reports are part of this governance.

Ofsted Report for Treetops Nursery, WillesdenWhat they checked

  • The Ofsted Inspector observed the quality of the teaching during various activities, both inside and outdoors. They then appraised the impact of this on the children’s learning.
  • During the inspection, the Inspector talked with both staff and children, at appropriate moments throughout her visit, to further her insight.
  • Joint observations were also undertaken by the Ofsted Inspector, in tandem with the nursery manager and room leaders.
  • Meetings were also held with the nursery manager and area manager.
  • Documentation was checked by the Inspector. This included ensuring that nursery staff were checked in terms of suitability, training and qualifications for the jobs they were undertaking. These checks would also, of course, ensure that all staff had been checked and deemed suitable for working with children.
  • The Inspector also spoke with parents during her visit as well as reading through written feedback supplied by them. All such comments and feedback were taken into consideration when putting together the final Ofsted Report.

The Ofsted Inspector’s Conclusion

In her final Ofsted Report, the Inspector said that Treetops delivered all of the following:

  • good standards and quality of early years provision;
  • good, effective leadership and management;
  • good quality of teaching, learning and assessment;
  • good personal development, behaviour and welfare;
  • good outcomes for children.

Glowing feedback indeed! The Ofsted Report goes on to look at each one in more detail and we take a look at the lovely feedback below:

“Effectiveness of the leadership and management is good”

As you can see by the Report’s findings, our new management at the time of the last Inspection had already had a good, positive impact on the nursery and the quality of the services delivered. Here’s what Ofsted reported:

“ Staff, parents and children’s voices form an integral part of the nursery’s improvement plans, which include the support from the local authority. Qualified staff show a good capacity to continuously improve the services for children. Parents and staff praise the positive impact on children, following the immediate changes made by the new management. All children, including those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, are safe and make rapid progress.”

It’s good to see Ofsted recognising the rapid progress made by children with special educational needs and/or disabilities at the setting.

On safety and safeguarding of children under our care, the report says:

“The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Staff take part in ongoing safeguarding training and confidently promote the child protection policy. They know the possible signs of abuse and the procedures to follow for the referrals of concerns.”

“Quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good”

The high quality of staff, teaching activities (both indoors and outside), learning resources and the overall educational programme were all applauded in the Ofsted Report:

“Qualified staff confidently promote the areas of learning across the nursery and children access resources to start their own play. Children also enjoy a good balance of adult-led activities, which effectively promotes their learning needs and interests. Younger children love singing and confidently request their favourite songs, using simple language, props and the song cards created by staff. Staff plan well-targeted educational programmes for children with plenty of indoor and outdoor learning opportunities. Older children find natural resources in the ‘secret garden’. They are challenged by staff to describe and research the resources in books.”

Their final conclusion in this part of the report was that “Teaching is good and children progress well”, which is a great result.

“Personal development, behaviour and welfare are good”

The Ofsted Report also praised the nursery staff in regard to the way they handle children’s personal needs, also encouraging good manners and behaviours:

“Staff obtain detailed information from parents about children’s personal requirements and maintain close partnerships with them to promote their ongoing needs … They engage parents to support their emotional needs.” Also they said children themselves “are independent and learn to manage their [own] personal needs.”

The Inspector also recognised that children at the setting are accepting of others and well-behaved. The Ofsted Report states: “Staff are good role models and teach children to be polite and accepting of others” … also saying … “Children are praised and behave well … Children learn about each other and explore the varied cultures across their community.”

In regard to healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, the report said: “Staff effectively promote children’s health. Meals are nutritious and children enjoy plenty of outdoor play and exercise every day.” It’s great to see our work in this regard recognised officially.

“Outcomes for children are good”

A good outcome for every baby or child is, perhaps, the most important goal any nursery or childcare setting can achieve. So, it’s great to see that the good outcomes for children under our care have been officially recognised by Ofsted. The Report says:

“Children learn through play. They are enthusiastic and motivated to learn, fully enjoying the exciting activities available to them. For example, younger children enjoy playing with plastic balls. They learn to name colours, count and roll the balls to their peers while saying their names. Older children collect objects of different sizes from the garden and try to balance them on scales. They are confident communicators and use sophisticated mathematical language to describe what they are doing. They are effectively challenged to develop their skills across all areas of learning. Children make good progress, given their starting points, and gain the necessary skills to successfully start school.”

Gaining the necessary skills to successfully start school is also a key goal for any good nursery. It’s therefore great to see Ofsted recognising how well Treetops Nursery prepares children so they are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us.

The Next Ofsted Report

Generally speaking, Ofsted inspections and reports tend to happen every four years or so. This means that Treetops is due a new one in the near future, although it may be held up a little due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place at time of writing. Gov.uk’s Ofsted page reports that, for now, inspections will be carried out remotely until after the February half term although, of course, that could change. We’ll keep you posted with an update, though, the moment any new Ofsted Report becomes available. With the nursery’s goal of continual improvement, we are aiming to do even better next time. So, watch this space!

A Nursery Place for your Child in Willesden, NW10

If you are searching for high quality nurseries in Willesden or a good nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green, please do consider Treetops Nursery. As you can see from the most recent Ofsted Report, we offer very high quality childcare for babies and young children. If you’d like to explore the possibility of your baby or child attending Treetops Nursery, please get in touch via one of the following options. We’ll be happy to help further.

A Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers

In today’s busy world, fast food and ready meals are a quick, easy and convenient choice. It’s common knowledge, however, that home-cooked food using fresh, high quality ingredients is always a better choice for adults and children alike. Freshly prepared food avoids many of the nastier things like additives, colourings, too much sugar, salt and processed ingredients. However it’s tricky, as we don’t always have time to start meals from scratch when we’re juggling the many demands of today’s frenetic world. Eating healthily is important, though, and even more so for very young children. We’ll explore this in today’s article …

Fresh vegetables & herbsHealthy, Balanced Meals for Children

Eating more healthily requires a balance of factors. These include:

  • ideally using fresh, healthy, quality ingredients whenever possible;
  • meals that, over the course of each day, represent a balanced diet for children;
  • care to ensure children are eating the right portion sizes.

Getting the balance of these right benefits growing children enormously. These include obvious benefits, like maintaining a healthy weight, along with some surprising benefits like the avoidance of certain diseases later in life. We’ll take a closer look …

Healthy eating has many benefits for toddlers and preschoolersThe Benefits of Healthy Eating for Children

Eating a healthy, balanced diet from an early age:

    • helps children to get into the habit of healthy eating as they grow older;
    • gives children the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that, critically, their growing bodies need for full and optimum development;
    • helps children maintain energy levels needed for their activities each day;
    • helps to maintain cognitive function, mood and good mental health;
    • helps children avoid obesity and the health risks associated with it;
    • helps children to have a better self-image and thereby to be more confident with better self-esteem and mental wellbeing;
    • means that children are less likely to be bullied for being overweight;
    • helps children to avoid diseases later on including heart and blood pressure issues, diabetes and perhaps even cancer. That’s an incredible, often overlooked benefit!

What should young children be eating?What Should Children be Eating & Drinking?

Pre-school aged children should have six to eight drinks every day. These should ideally be water and sometimes milk, but not sugar-rich drinks.

They should be eating three meals and two or three healthy snacks. Ensure that the meals comprise a balanced diet i.e. one that gives them all the things they need to be healthy, to grow and to thrive. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that four food groups are always covered in each day’s food intake:

Food GroupPossible SourceNotes
StarchPasta, rice, cereal, potato, breadContains starch (for energy), Vitamin B and calcium. You can introduce wholegrain varieties if added gradually
Fruit & VegAny fruits and vegetables, ideally fresh but frozen, canned or dried is also OKContains Vitamin C & many other nutrients. Serve approx. 5 hand-sized portions per day
DairyCan include milk, yogurt & cheese (full fat versions for toddlers, semi-skimmed from the age of 2)Contains calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B and potassium. Serve approx. 3 portions a day
ProteinEggs, fish (occasionally include oily fish), meat, pulses, nuts, tofu, soyaContains iron, zinc and much more. Serve approx. 2 portions per day

What are the correct portion sizes?Portion Sizes

There are some useful ways to measure portion sizes for young children:

  • For fish, meat, or the vegetarian equivalent, a portion size is about the size of the child’s hand.
  • For fruit and cereal, a portion is about the size of the child’s fist.
  • For vegetables, a portion size is anything from the size of the child’s cupped hand upwards. There is no upper limit so they can eat more if they like it — indeed vegetables are useful to fill a hungry stomach between meals if they’re feeling peckish, or when they ask for seconds.
  • For starchy foods like rice or beans, one portion is about the size of the child’s cupped hand.

More detailed guidelines for portion sizes can be found here (external link).

“Children’s food preferences and eating habits are formed early in life and the time that they spend in early years settings provides an ideal opportunity to shape healthy behaviours.”

Toddler eating fruitHealthy Eating at the Nursery

At Treetops Nursery, we recognise the importance of healthy eating in under-fives, particularly as healthy eating early in children’s lives can often set a pattern for life. In view of this, our in-house chef prepares balanced meals each day for the children. Only fresh, high quality ingredients are used and all special diets are catered for. We serve 3 high quality meals per day along with healthy snacks (fresh fruit/vegetables) mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Fresh drinking water is available at any time and all food and drink is included in our standard nursery fees. Take a look at a typical menu here.

A Nursery Place for your Child in Willesden, NW10

Perhaps you are looking for nurseries in Willesden or a nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green in London NW10. If so, please do consider a childcare place for your baby or child at Treetops Nursery. Select an option below and we’ll be in touch by return to confirm next steps.

Choosing a Nursery? Download our Handy Checklist!

Nursery Chooser - checklistIf you’re choosing a nursery and haven’t yet made up your mind, our handy Nursery Checklist will really help. It’s designed to help you come to the best possible decision, in a really simple way.

  • Step 1: Download our Nursery Checklist here (Excel format, or PDF also available*).
  • Step 2: Fill in the answers to the questions.
  • Step 3: Then use the completed checklist to compare the nurseries in an easy, at-a-glance format.

The nursery checklist is a 1-page, A4 document. It prompts you to find the answers to all the right questions. You fill in the relevant section for each nursery that you’re comparing and, optionally, you can score each answer for its quality. At the bottom of the checklist, the total will be automatically computed assuming you are using the Excel version*. The overall winner should be pretty clear to see, top/right of any of the ‘sheets’ (switch using the tabs at the bottom). There you’ll see all the totals compared, one directly above the other. Simple!

Most, if not all, of the information should be readily available from the nursery websites. Failing that, call the nurseries to find answers you don’t know. We’ve included Treetops Nursery as an example, using real information, so you can easily get the ball rolling and see what a great nursery Treetops is!

The Nursery Checklist automatically totals the scoresWe’ve split the handy checklist into a handful of appropriate sections. Sections covered include location, convenience, fees, whether the nurseries accept Government-funded childcare schemes or vouchers, what’s included in the price, facilities and equipment, an appraisal of the nursery itself and staff, Ofsted reports, whether each nursery has been recommended, how it scores in online reviews, safety and security and much more. Download the Nursery Checklist here. You can also print it out if needed — it’s designed to fit beautifully on A4, portrait format.

Share it

We hope it’s useful to you! Please feel free to share it — or this article — with other parents and carers or on social media (please retain the example and copyright notice if sharing the files).

Looking for a Nursery in Willesden, Harlesden, Kensal Green or London NW10?

We’d love to hear from you if you are looking for a nursery in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green in London’s NW10 area. You’ll see from the Nursery Checklist that Treetops Nursery stacks up very well indeed. If you agree or would like to explore the idea of your child attending our nursery, please select an option below for more information or to get the ball rolling. We can then arrange the next steps.

* An Acrobat PDF alternative is here but, unlike the Microsoft Excel eversion, it doesn’t automatically total the scores.