The EYFS requires that parents are involved in assessments of their children because there is a recognition that parents spend more time with their little ones than any individual carer does and therefore knows them best.
Carers should take the time to talk with parents as a key part of undertaking assessments. In particular they should solicit the parent's views on how their child is developing and what milestones they have noticed the child has hit or is progressing towards. They should talk about what each child enjoys doing because what they do in a domestic setting may be different to what they do with a childminder or at nursery.
Parents may have a better insight into how language is developing and should offer their observations to the keyworker undertaking the assessment. They should also discuss other patterns that they have observed in play or development.
Parents aren't trained child practitioners so may not willingly express the information required so the childminder or key worker should spend the time asking relevant questions to try to ascertain information from the parents that is useful for the assessments.
Ideally parents will interact with childminders and key workers regularly so that this information is gathered frequently and not only at junctures where formal written assessments are being made. This will help the key worker plan next steps for children, taking into account emerging development.
As a parent, if your work life restricts the time you have to interface with your child's key worker, perhaps you have to drop off quickly before work and pick up quickly once done before your next scheduled engagment, then look at setting up meetings with the key worker on a regular basis so that you have the opportunity to feed into assessments.
The EYFS covers broad aspects of child development (such as Communication and Language, Literacy, Mathematics) rather than specific topics such as 'Dinosaurs', 'The Romans' or 'Days of the Week'. At ToucanLearn we have a range of activities suited to the capabilities of each individual child. The selection of activities you see for a 3 month child is different for those of a 9 month child or 2 year old toddler. Our activity programme takes each child up to school age.
If you want to cover specific topics in your setting then look at adapting our activities to cover the topics you want to cover. Some of our activities will map very easily whilst some may not. For example, if you are studying 'Minibeasts' then look at adapting the range of activities being offered to change the focus to creepy crawlies instead.
Of course, there are plenty of other activity sites on the Internet and a quick search will bring up all sorts of activities relating to specific topics. Where ToucanLearn differs is that we offers activities aimed at the specific capabilities of each child, each one focusing on different aspects of the EYFS at that stage of development. By adapting our activities to a different topic, you can ensure that the activities are pitched at the right level in terms of capability.
The first five years of a child's life are hugely important in terms of development and sets them up for the rest of their lives. Understandably the first five years of life sees enormous growth as a baby grows into an infant.
You can easily monitor a baby's growth in weight and size, but what is more difficult to monitor is the development of their brain. Over this critical period the brain is forming and the neurons are evolving into a network that will power your childs thinking for the rest of their lives. Scientific research has shown that the more a baby is stimulated, the earlier their brain develops and the more attentive and clever they will grow to be in time.
Stimulating a baby from birth will pay dividends in the long run. This is why you should constantly talk with your little ones, even if they are nowehere near being able to communicate back. This is why you should expose them to lots of different environments - take them on days out, take them on long walks (even if you are simply pushing them in a buggy) and show them as many different experiences as you can. All of this will help their brain develop early on and you will be rewarded with bright children in the future.
If your baby or toddler attends a playgroup or nursery, they will be assigned a key worker who takes on the responsibility of liaising between your child and you, the parents. The key worker assumes the role of primary carer for your little one, ensuring that they settle into the nursery setting, integrate with the other children, and generally ensure your baby's welfare whilst they are in their care.
The key worker is also responsible for reporting on the six areas of learning and development within the Early Years Foundation Stage and to this end, they will make regular observations and report back to the parents. They will also raise any concerns about development should they notice anything.
The key worker does not shadow your child the whole time or play solely with their key wards. A key worker will take responsibility for several children simultaneously and may only make observational notes on an occasional basis rather than every day.
You should always be made aware who your child's key worker is, this information is usually displayed on a notice board within the setting, and the preschool may hold 'parent's evenings' where you can interface directly with the key worker to be told of progress and any concerns. Over time your key worker may change, and you should be informed at the time. If you ever have concerns about how your child is setting into their day setting, then do not hesitate to raise them with your key worker.
It's so important for babies and toddlers to drink - we all know that, but what should they drink from? An open cup, tilted cup, non-drip spout, bottle? Does it really matter? Surely in order to protect carpets and clothes, using a non-drip cup is absolutely fine.
There are so many cups and spouts to choose from that it's a bit bewildering and there seem to be growing concern from dentists regarding the spouts that our children are using. Experts say that drinking from a cup should be encouraged from 6 months and bottles should not be used after a year.
Experts advise that non-spill cups should be avoided and that open cups should be sipped, or that cups with free flow spouts are better. Teaching toddlers to drink from a cup can be messy, and time consuming, but it is best for them and their teeth. Even breast fed babies can drink from an open cup held to their mouths. This is a good idea if you wish to avoid nipple confusion.
Advantages of using a sippy cup:
- Independence: the child feels independent and can hold with handles and drink alone
- Hand-eye co-ordination: this improves with using the cup
- Limits mess: spillages are less dramatic
- Toddlers become dependent on using a spout and won't drink form anything else
- Can impair growth of teeth
- Can increase tooth decay if used with squashes or sugary drinks
- There are many designs and choice can be confusing!
- They can need lots of 'sucking' to get out any drink so can be hard work!
With the football World Cup underway, football fever has gripped the nation - no doubt dad's are looking at their baby and toddler sons, wondering whether they could represent their country in the 2030 World Cup final?! Well, it might require a bit of imagination, but anything is possible!
Like any sport, football offers family fun - yes, perhaps only the children are on the pitch, but the family can support the team, get to know all the players and help with the logistics of running a young football club. Football offers a great opportunity for regular exercise and the game will instill physical and social skills in your children.
Children won't be able to join a local football club until they are 5 or 6, although there are some organisations that start introducing children to sport skills from the age of 3 upwards. Initially they'll be working with balls and running around obstacles to help practice their dexterity. Just as a toddler is beginning to learn how to control their body, they can begin to practice those skills that will help them on a sports field in later life.
There's an enormous leap from local football team to world cup qualifier, but starting early and developing good motor skills early on will certainly give your little ones a head start over many other aspiring players out there!
In the first few months following birth, your baby is experiencing the world through its senses, and it is those experiences that help form connections inside the brain and these connections that shape the individual mind of your baby. At birth, a baby is barely able to see but they have an acute sense of smell. At three days old they can recognise the smell of their mother's breast milk and the odour of their parents, yet they can still see only centimetres in front of them. They have an innate ability to recognise faces and are attracted to faces close by.
By three months their brains have developed considerably and they are able to control themselves better - they can choose where to look rather than being fixated on moving objects nearby. They might move their arms and legs seemingly randomly, but this is helping them to build up muscles, an essential component on the way to being able to roll, crawl and later walk. This movement allows them to interact with their physical surroundings and this intensifies the rate at which the brain develops as it is exposed to new experiences. Research shows that babies who are denied the opportunity to interact physically with their surroundings develop at a slower rate so it is particularly important to work with babies suffering physical or mental disability to ensure that they can develop as best they can.
Interacting with your baby is especially important even during these early months - try to spend time with your newborn baby stimulating them. Stimulate their vision by exposing them to high contrast patterns and making movement in front of them; stimulate their hearing by playing background sounds and music, and rattling toys in front of them. Stimulate their sense of feel by touching stroking them and letting them hold your fingers and baby toys.
It would be easy to ignore your newborn baby and leave them lying in another room for their first few months while you get on with the chores you have to do, but the more time you can spend with your baby, the more rewarding for both you and your little one!
Don't forget that here at ToucanLearn we have activities suitable from birth onwards. Our early activities are simple and aimed at helping to stimulate early development in your child. All our activities link into the Early Years Foundation Stage Areas of Learning and Development, so you can monitor that you are giving your baby a broad range of activities even at this early stage.
Growing up is full of minor achievements but none make a parent more proud than those early defining moments when baby first rolls over, learns to crawl, walk, talk and one day, to write! The first few years of life are filled with milestones when your child achieves something that you've not seen them do before.
There are four main developmental areas, learning control of the body with fine and gross motor skills; personal and social development and language. Here are a few milestones to look out for in your baby's first year:-
0 - 3 Months
- Spontaneous smiling
- Turns towards source of sound
- Tracks an object waved in front of face
- Learns to roll over
3 - 6 Months
- Starts chewing
- Learns to squeal and gurgle
- Looks at own hands
6 - 9 Months
- Feeds themselves with their fingers
- Pulls up to a standing position
- Passes an object from hand to hand
- Starts uttering 'dada' and 'mama'
9 - 12 Months
- Drinks from a cup
- Starts 'cruising' - uses furniture as a support and moves around room
- Begins to use recognisable words
Of course, babies develop at different rates and reaching milestones late may not have any bearing on wider development. They may even skip milestones, for example starting to crawl without managing to roll over, or taking first steps unaided without cruising.
Every child registered in ToucanLearn has a private blog space. Log milestones for each of your children and in time you'll have an invaluable record of their early lives that not only will you look back on fondly, but one day your children might thank you for too!