When children do something wrong, even very young ones, it's important to have a way to instil discipline, and the 'Naughty Step' offers a good way to do this. The 'Naughty Step Technique' can be used for children who are old enough to understand when they do something wrong, and you explain why it is wrong. When this happens, take the child aside, explain what they have done wrong, and place them on the bottom stair where they must wait for a set duration.
You might use a fixed duration such as two or three minutes, or perhaps have them stay for one minute for each year of their age so that the punishment increases as they grow older. During this time, make sure that they receive no attention as this will encourage them to play up to the crowd.
Explaining what they have done wrong is essential, and try always to be consistent in meting out the punishment. Lack of consistency can lead to confusion and mixed signals. Make sure that once relieved of their post ofn the naughty step that you ensure you child apologises for their behaviour to the relevant party, and end with hugs to show that although you have disciplined them, that you still love them.
If you want to use this technique when you are away from home, then you could take a small mat with you as a portable 'Naughty Mat'. When needed, put it down in a quiet corner and have them stand for the same duration that you would use at home.
'No' is the ultimate negative command and should be used carefully when working with babies and young children. Although baby's recognise 'No' from around 6 months, they may not actually react and stop what they are doing until somewhat older as they approach a year. It's very easy to scream 'No' at our little ones the whole time, every time that we see them doing something that they shouldn't be doing, and especially as they start cruising and exploring the house in new ways.
Try to balance the negativity of 'no' with some positives and you will reap the rewards - you will find that your little ones become far more responsive. Instead of yelling 'No', explain why you are saying it. Perhaps use 'Hot' if you mean 'No, don't touch, that's hot!', or 'Bang' if you mean 'Don't pull that, it will fall!' and so on.
Instead of leaving a negative taste in their mouths, explain what your little ones CAN do. Demonstrate that they aren't to play with a small-easy-to-choke-on-object, instead give them something that they CAN play with. Rather than telling them 'No' when they start pressing buttons on the television, give them something that they CAN press buttons on, like a keyboard on a computer that is turned off or a remote controller with the batteries removed.
Balance 'No' with praise for positive things. When you observe your little one doing something good or safe, reward them and tell them they are doing well. This will discourage them from doing bad things simply to gain attention from you.
One of the joys of having preschool children is that you needn't be confined to your home - there are plenty of places that you can take young children that allow you the freedom to be out, and that extend their understanding of the world around them. When you think of places to go out with your children, some of the obvious places are the local park, playgroups and soft play - these are obviously child-oriented.
But consider also other places that might not otherwise spring to mind. Take them on a bus or a train - you don't need to head anywhere special, just take them for a ride. Take them to shopping centres not simply to shop, but to explore the spaces. Sit and talk with your little ones about what you can see. Go to your local library and swimming pool, visit any local museums or galleries.
Although you may not consider many of these spaces to be 'child friendly', preschool children will find plenty to keep them stimulated in even, what might appear to you to be, the most ordinary environments. Remember that the world offers so many new experiences for babies and toddlers and just being out and about will stimulate them far more than you might imagine. They are constantly taking in new sights, smells and sounds, and everything that they experience is building up their knowledge and understanding of the world. Babies and young toddlers will go wherever you take them and every day presents new adventures for them.
If your little ones don't have the best concentration, or seem to tire quickly from monotonous work, then spice up their involvement by choosing fun locations where they can do their colouring, shapes, letter practice and so on. Some children are naturally challenged with arduous tasks such as practicing their letters or colouring in pictures, others get bored rather too quickly. If you have difficulty encouraging your little ones to settle down to do their work then try doing it outside at a garden table, or in the park at a picnic table. Maybe create a camp from a few old sheets draped around bushes, or if the weather forces you inside, drape a sheet or towels over a clothes airer. No space is too small for your little ones to cram in. They will enjoy it all the more if they are hidden from you.
Tasks such as colouring, writing, constructing jigsaws and the like take time and concentration. Many children don't persevere at these tasks for the time required but they are really important activities in order to encourage fine motor skills and problem solving, indeed, to help with concentration.
Build your little ones an 'office' space and tell them that they are 'going to work', something that they see parents doing. Young children love to mimic grown-ups and this will give them a sense that they are doing what you do. Relocate to a cafe, the local library or the park. Make an adventure of basic tasks and you will find that your children quickly lap up the excitement of doing otherwise very ordinary activities in a different setting.
Listening to and recounting stories is a terrific exercise for toddlers as it helps them think of a series of events and to develop their language skills. Sit down with a story that you enjoy and read it to them. At the end, ask them to act out the story themselves, with the help of a few props such as teddy bears, dolls and other relevant toys. See whether they are able to recall the story and act it through. Help them through if they struggle to remember it, you could even read the story again and again in order to help them.
Young children have the most remarkable memories and will quickly learn whole stories, such as The Gruffalo or Fix It Duck, after hearing it just a small number of times. If they can learn a book then have them recite the whole book and act along with their props. Books that rhyme are easier to learn because of their rhythm but even fairly long passages of prose can be committed to eager young memories with little practice.
Have your little ones take on the different characters in a story, and use different voices for the different roles. You can play along too, take on one of the roles, or perhaps act as narrator to tell the overall story while they act out the details.
While Nannies, Childminders and Au Pairs are all there to help look after your children, the terms of engagement are very different, and that is what distinguishes the different roles.
A Nanny is paid to come into your house and help look after the children. A nany has set hours and will generally work to a routine, but usually only looks after your children, possibly alongside her own. You effectively employ a nanny and they have certain employment rights, including the ability to take paid maternity leave.
A childminder is someone who you pay to look after your children in their own setting. They may pick children up from your home or from school, you usually have set hours and may be responsible for paying additional for any overtime incurred. They will usually be OFSTED registered and inspected, and will look after a children from various families, often of varying age groups.
An au pair is someone who looks after your children, usually in return for board and lodging and a small amount of 'pocket money' (typically less than £100 per week). Au Pair's are usually foreign nationals and often young women and men taking a 'gap year' before or after higher education and are generally looking to spend some time in this country and improve their language skills. In addition to working an agreed number of hours looking after children, they may do light housework and other chores such as cooking meals. Usually an au pair is a 'live in' position so you must have a spare room for them to live in, and you must share bathroom and kitchen facilities as required.
You will generally have a contract in place for each of these types of role, and you should look at insurance cover to make sure that they are covered for the work they do for you. All may look after children of all ages, including babies, although they are restricted by law as to how many children of different age group they may look after at once. Therefore, for practical reasons, not all child carers have the necessary space to take on your children, and they may focus on offering services to children of a specific age or attending certain settings or schools.
Learning to recognise colours takes time and patience but it comes to all toddlers with practice. To help toddlers to learn their colours, undertake long term colour projects. Create a 'colour wall' in your home or setting, create a label for each colour, written in its own colour. Write balloon letters, coloured in for best effect. Attach the labels to the wall leaving space around them and you are now set to start your project.
Every few days, select a magazine or catalogue and look at the pictures with your little one. Identify an object in the picture that is primarily a single colour, point to it and talk about what colour it is. For children who aren't yet talking, tell them what colour it is, for young toddlers who are babbling, ask them what colour and see if they can guess correctly.
When you have talked about the picture and identified the colour together, cut the picture out and lift up your toddler so that they can stick the picture to the wall around the correct colour label.
Over a few weeks, your wall will grow into a great big colour chart with large swathes of each colour around each label. It will look pretty and serve as an aid for remembering colours and the repetitive nature of the project will help them to identify and learn their colours.
The summer holidays are the classic time to visit the great theme parks, stately homes and other tourist attractions around the country, but if you have pre-school children, you can enjoy much more rewarding visits just outside of school holidays. Many attractions give special entry offers, such as 'Mum's Go Free', or they entice you with offers on food in restaurants etc. School holidays represent peak periods for most attractions who are desperate to attract custom at other times when they are quiet. As most other children are stuck in classrooms, venues are so much less busy meaning that you can enjoy better views, play on more rides and just enjoy a less crowded day out.
The best times to take advantage are midweek days close to the start or end of school holidays as other visitors often overlook these days. Do check that attractions are open first as some may close during quiet times, or offer limited opening times or limited access.
This is a great opportunity to visit any attractions on your doorstep that you might have overlooked in the past. Often we ignore the attractions close to home, go along and visit them as you might find a local treasure that you come back to time and time again.
There seems to be so much emphasis on superheroes with super, out of the ordinary powers, that sometimes regular human beings who aren't able to fly or catch villains with their laser beam eyes seem boring! How about doing a session on real people who are in their own way, super heroes!
What are the qualities of a super hero?
- Put others first
- Help people less fortunate than themselves
- Always willing to listen and be useful in all sorts of situations
Talk about real people who have these qualities. See what the children come up with. (Doctor, paramedic, fireman).
Visit a surgery. Have a chat about what tools a doctor uses. Are there any at your setting you can do some role play with? Or perhaps set up a home corner like a doctor's waiting room and surgery. Can you take a role each and be the receptionist, nurse and doctor.
Look at a hospital on line or some images of hospitals and ambulances in books at the library. Set up an accident: Teddy has fallen off a bench! He needs to get to the Teddy and Dolly hospital. Carry him in a special pram or box to the hospital and act out what might happen.
Chat about what the firemen wear - their protective clothing etc. Talk about what they do (rescue people, save houses from burning and help with road accidents). Also take a look at what they might use (water hoses, ladders etc). See if your local fire station will permit a visit. Take the children down to see the fire engines and meet a real fireman.
Making friends, especially if you are a toddler, is not always easy... some children are keen to have 'best friends', others go around in packs and some are simply not interested at all. When you ask who they played with a nursery and they say 'no one' it can be heart-breaking. But, we have to remember that some children are emotionally 'advanced' and understand the concept of having a friend; whereas others are more interested in playing along side another child with no interaction at all.
If your child is nervous of making friends or you want to gently encourage them to make some new friends, here are a few ideas for encouraging and guiding them. Friendship is an important part of all our lives and the importance placed on making friends in childhood is demonstrated by the fact that 'Forming Relationships' is part of the EYFS and is a focus of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Here are some tips on how you can help children make friends:
- Give them plenty of opportunity to make friends: see lots of people and do lots of different activities
- Give them lots of praise when they do something kind to another person
- Don't force them or try to make them form friendships with people they don't like even if you like them!
- Try not to interfere when they are interacting or playing
- Be bold and approach people at playgroup and get to know them yourself
- Lead by example, chat to people and make friends yourself
- Talk about being kind, sharing and being a good friend while you are at home
- Support any efforts to make friends even if they fail
- Look at photos of friends and chat about how much fun they can be
All three and four year old children are entitled to free nursery education: 15 hours a week of free education is applicable for 38 weeks of the year. This is the case until they reach compulsory school age.
Where can you get Free early education places?
- Nursery schools
- Nursery classes
- Children's centres
- Day nurseries
- Play groups
For more information about free nursery education contact your Family Information Service (FIS) or local council.
When your child qualifies for a free place
If your child is born between: 1 April and 31 August they are eligible for a free place from: 1 September following their third birthday or the beginning of the autumn school term
If your child is born between: 1 September and 31 December they are eligible for a free place from 1 January following their third birthday or the beginning of the spring* school term
If your child is born between: 1 January and 31 March they are eligible for a free place from: 1 April following their third birthday or the beginning of the summer* school term
These details are based on a three-term school year.
Christmas is approaching at 100 miles an hour and will be with us in no time at all so make sure your craft cupboard has all the ingredients for festive Christmas craft to do with your toddlers! There are loads of decorations that you can make for Christmas so make sure you are stocked up with crayons, glue, scissors, glitter, card, coloured paper, cotton wool, googly eyes and anything else that makes for festive decoration.
Here are just a few ideas of things to make:-
- Christmas Cards: make lovely glittery Christmas cards for friends and family, for younger children, draw pictures for them to colour themselves. Older children can draw their own pictures with Santa, Christmas trees, reindeer, baubles, candles etc. Use glitter or cotton wool to make sparkly or fluffy snow.
- Paper Chains: Craft shops will sell strips of brightly coloured paper with adhesive at one end. Lick this and stick it into a loop and create a chain to decorate your house. If you can't find paper chain strips, just cut strips of any coloured paper and stick them with glue or tape.
- Glittery Holly: cut small holly sprigs and dry them inside overnight. Apply glue to each leaf and sprinkle glitter on. Make sure you do this over a sheet of paper so that you collect all the surplus and pour it back into the tube. Try to beat the birds to holly sprigs with berries on!
- Snow Scene in a Jar: Find a jar with a screw lid and buy a small plastic toy that can fit inside the jar. Ideally look for a Christmas themed toy, you'll find a Christmas cake decoration in most supermarkets at this time of year. Glue the toy to the lid and glue some extra stones on too. Use either an all purpose adhesive or a glue gun - this is definitely a job for grown ups! When dry, fill the jar with water and add some glitter, put the lid on and screw it tightly and you have a snow scene. Instead of a plastic toy, why not have your little ones mould something from plasticine instead? Penguins and snowmen are fairly easy for little ones to make.
- Countdown Calendar: Although Christmas will arrive quickly, it will seem ages away to your little ones. Help them see how far away Christmas is by making a countdown or advent calendar. Give them a surprise each day, whether it be a Christmas picture, chocolate or some other treat, and they will be able to see how many more sleeps until the big day! Use the exercise to practice counting, count how many days left until Christmas each day.
- Tree Decorations: Make decorations from the Christmas tree - be creative and use different materials: pine cones, paper or card, plasticine, clay, pipe cleaners etc.
These are just a few ideas for Christmas fun craft. The most important thing is to ensure that your craft cupboard is well stocked in the run up to Christmas so that you can entertain the children with craft ideas whenever you wish to!
There is a constant public health message that we must protect ourselves from the harmful damage that the sun can cause, but more importantly, we must look after our children in the sun! We still have a limited understanding of long term damage that can be caused short term exposure to the sun, but increasingly it is believed that a single episode of sunburn during childhood could lead to skin cancer in later life. It is essential, therefore, that you look after children when they play out in the sun, especially when on holiday to hotter parts of the world. You must also ensure that anyone else looking after your children, at nursery, with a childminder, or at school, also looks after their health.
What precautions should you take to protect your children in the sun?
- Apply sun screen with a sun protection factor of at least 50
- Re-apply sun cream throughout the day at two hourly intervals
- Re-apply sun cream after being in water, even if the cream states that it is water resistant
- Make sure your child's body is clean before applying sun cream, rub off any sand particularly before applying lotion
- Have the children wear sun hats, make sure that the backs of necks are covered too
- Avoid being in the sun altogether during the hottest parts of the day
- Create your own shade to sit in on the beach or in other exposed places
- Wear clothes with a stated sun protection factor
- In really hot places, keep t-shirts and hats on when swimming or playing in water
Be aware that sun cream is NOT recommended for babies under 6 months because their skin is delicate and very thin. Chemicals in sun block may actually harm the skin of a baby. Instead, make sure that they are protected by clothing and keep them in a shaded place, out of the sun.
Learning the concept of big and small may seem quite simple, but in fact, learning about size is a part of mathematical concepts. Here are a few activities for the children to try out to help them learn sizes:-
Teddies and Wellies - Line up some wellie boots or shoes and grab a few different sizes bears and dolls. Try putting the dolls and teddies in each of the pairs of shoes. Predict whether the toys are too big or too small to fit in!
Dress-up time - Take a selection of hats, shoes and coats that belong to different members of the family. Try them on and decide if they are too big or too small!
Messy time - Make some hand prints with other children or do some yourself. Look at the prints together and say which are bigger and which are smaller. Measure them with a tape measure if you have older children or cut them out to compare them.
Story time - Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and act out the story using chairs, different sized bowls etc.
Tubs and pots - Take a few tubs and pots of different sizes. Look at them and compare them. Fill some with water. Transfer the water between them to see which hold more and which are bigger than the others.
Books - Go to a bookshelf and look at all the books. Compare the sizes of the books and sort them in size order. You'll end up with a tidy books shelf too!
As grown-ups, it's easy to take for granted how easy counting is, but for a young toddler, learning to count is more than just learning a sequence of words as they might a nursery rhyme. Counting involves being able to make a connection between numbers as words and a quantity of items.
This is called 'Cardinal Principle' and an elementary rule states that when you count a number of objects, the number of items in total is the last word spoken as you count them. For example, if there are five apples on a table: 'One' - 'Two' - 'Three' - 'Four' - 'Five'. 'Five' was the last number encountered, therefore there are five apples. This principle seems perfectly obvious to the developed mind, but this is one of the fundamental connections to make when learning to count for the first time.
Toddlers don't need to count items if there are three or fewer - they can look at them and establish how many there are. No counting is required.
New research undertaken at the University of Chicago has discovered that children who are exposed more to the numbers between 3 and 10 as words make the connection between numbers and counting, and understand quantities sooner than children who hear those numbers less in everyday language.
Whilst this might seem an obvious conclusion, it reiterates the importance simply of counting objects over and over with children from an early age, and also of talking about quantities in everyday language.
Exposure to numerical language also helps improve mathematical capabilities later on in life which is much less obvious. So by undertaking counting exercises regularly, not only are you teaching your children to count, but you are also improving their chances of doing well at maths later, which in turn might have a direct influence on their career path way ahead in the future!
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