Recent research has stated that over 60% of parents find it hard to play with their children and struggle to play with them in new and exciting ways. In today's busy life, with work, commitments, dates, appointments, some parents even forgo playing with their children at all in order to do other things!
The research was carried out by Pampers, and it found that over half of the population would like to spend more time playing with their children but that other commitments get in the way.
Play doesn't have to be clever, or expensive or use special equipment or take hours to prepare. It is simple, it is easy and it can be the best thing in the world for both baby and parent.
ToucanLearn is full of ideas and inspiration for play for babies, toddlers and pre-school children up to age five. It is so easy to use, and has some great ways to entertain you and your baby. Take a closer look at ToucanLearn and join for free at www.ToucanLearn.com. Don't be one of those parents who don't know how to play with your baby, seek inspiration from ToucanLearn.
Here are a few ways to introduce the sense of touch to children with appropriate EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) areas of learning and development included.
There are so many more activities like this at http://www.ToucanLearn.com, where learning is fun for you and your little one!
We've progressed a long way from the Victorian days when children were best kept our of sight and out of mind, but the sad truth is that modern living often means that your children spend more time with a childminder than they do with you. Are you kept informed of how your children are doing, and do you have a good idea of their progress?
The government's Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires for child minders, carers and nursery teachers actively to keep records of every child's progress. Make sure that you are getting the level of information you want about your children and how they are developing. If you aren't hearing enough, then ask for more - if you feel your childminder is being too diligent, then they will be delighted to be asked to reign back a bit and tell you just what you want to hear!
At ToucanLearn, every child receives their own Daily Diary designed especially for childminders to share information with parents. By sharing the Daily Diary you can stay informed about what your children are doing every day. This service can be used for free, but premium members can also upload photos to keep a photographic record of everything they do too.
We know from feedback that we receive about our service that many parents are able to view what their children are doing throughout the day - they can see pictures of new artwork once it has been uploaded, and they can read what their little ones are making, doing and eating during the day. Here at ToucanLearn we're dedicated to helping working parents share as much information about their children as they can. If you don't feel you are getting the information you want from your childminder, why not ask them to start posting a Daily Diary in ToucanLearn? Our FREE service means they don't even have to spend a penny to do so!
The Institute of Education says that there is huge support for the Early Years Foundation Stage among early years practitioners following a study carried out by the Government to assess the popularity of EYFS among the groups of people working within the framework. It seems the majority of people who work with children are very happy with the framework and the guidance that the EYFS provides. Great changes are not required.
The Areas of Learning and Development were seen as largely appropriate although teachers did note that the focus seemed to be on numeracy, literary and communication rather than social, personal and emotional goals.
Assessing children, especially the younger ones, was also seen as difficult and following development of each child was not always deemed appropriate.
We hope that for all childminders, services such as ToucanLearn help! If you aren't already signed up to our EYFS activity programme, sign up FREE now!
We're delighted to announce the launch of our new app for iPhone, Shape Bugs, aimed at teaching preschool children to draw and recognise simple shapes.
If you trust your children with your iPhone or iPod Touch then let them choose a shape to draw. They can select their favourite colour and must draw the shape as cleanly as possible - squares, rectangles and diamonds must be drawn with four straight lines, triangles with three straight lines and circles and ovals with one. Don't take your finger off until the shape is complete!
If the shape is reconisable as the one you set out to draw, then you'll hear a cheer and a face will appear to make your Bug. If the lines weren't drawn cleanly then you'll hear a comiserating 'Ohhh!' and can try again!
Download Shape Bugs from the Apple store, and have hours of fun...!
At ToucanLearn we encourage you to keep a daily diary for your little ones, but if you have children of a school age who can read or write, why not have them record a diary of their baby and toddler siblings? A diary kept by a young child of their younger sibling would make for a fascinating account, you would get a glimpse of their understanding of the world and interpretation of events. If your children are too young to be able to write, then how about trying to keep a recorded diary, making an audio or video recording each day? It's really easy to make audio and video recordings these days, using mobile phones, smartphones or laptops or computers with webcams.
Keeping a diary of a young baby from a siblings perspective would make for an interesting project for you, but would become an invaluable record for your children in years to come!
It has been reported that teachers and carers who are afraid of spiders and creepy crawlies are stopping our children learning about the natural world! Children are not getting involved with nature because teachers and carers are afraid of getting mucky from soil in the great outdoors and are too scared of insects to teach about them.
Experts have said that natural history and nature in general is not being taught in schools. Not so for the childminders and parents who enjoy ToucanLearn! There are some great outdoors activities that introduce insects and teach children about their natural environment. We don't agree with the 'don't get mucky'! philosophy of learning and teaching! The whole idea is to get children involved. Get them interested and inspired! The muddier the better!
The Chairman of the Association for Science Education said teachers need more support to carry out experiments and take children outside. Perhaps these teachers should join ToucanLearn!
He also said that Parents should take their children outside to enjoy the natural world, to learn where their food comes from, what grows in the woods and what goes on in nature.
So, let's take his lead, pull on some wellies, grab a magnifying glass and get out there in the undergrowth! Have fun, explorers!
Many families don't have the luxury of a parent staying at home to raise their children, many families require two incomes to support themselves, and it's a sad truth that your childminder may see more of your young children than you do. Given the amount of time spent away from your children, how do you know that they are in good hands? ...that your nanny, childminder or nursery is really great with them?
Part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) mandates good lines of communication between carers and parents. It is important for parents to know what their children have been doing, what they are learning and how they are progressing. ToucanLearn's Daily Diary offers one way in which carers can share their experiences with parents. Nanny's don't have to follow EYFS but it is still good practice for you to develop a formal or informal way that lets them tell you what has been happening.
If you have doubts about the quality of your child care, you should raise it with the care provider in the first instance. If matters remain unresolved, you can take complaints to OFSTED. They will investigate not only people registered as OFSTED carers, but also people providing care services that aren't enrolled on their registers. You can find out more about how OFSTED respond to complaints in this document. Child services are, understandably, a hugely important and sensitive area. OFSTED will take your issues seriously, and will work with both sides to ensure a high standard of care, and the implementation of best practice.
We've just launched two great new features on ToucanLearn - a more featured Daily Diary and the ability to share children between different ToucanLearn accounts! Both of these features are aimed at allowing childminders and parents to pursue the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) even more easily than ever!
Our new Daily Diary replaces the private blog space that we offered each child in the past. The Daily Diary offers more structure than a blog, in particular:-
The Daily Diary is fully compatible with the old blog area so anything that you have entered before remains in place and is just as accessible. Over time we have further plans to improve the ability to pull out reports to allow you to see how well you're covering EYFS, pull out accident records and to extract your entries in a printed format.
We've also launched the ability to share children between ToucanLearn accounts. This is aimed at allowing childminders, parents and teachers all to share and contribute information against the same children. Now parents can access the Daily Diaries put together by those looking after their children. Child sharing is really easy:-
Everyone can take advantage of child sharing, whether they are a free user or a Premium Member, but there are restrictions for free members - you can only access activities and the Daily Diary for two children, if you need more then you should upgrade to Premium Membership. Free users also only see a limited number of activities.
We hope that you find these two new features handy, and we look forward to adding even more functionality in the future!
National Family Week runs from 31st May - 4th June 2010 and is the biggest and most publicised celebration of family life. It's an annual event and it aims to celebrate all things family, promote the idea of spending quality time together and it also advocates an active lifestyle. ... as does ToucanLearn!
National Family Week is backed by all major political parties, and it works with hundreds of partners and supporters to help support family life. There are restaurants, retail companies as well as charities that support the project. David Cameron, Terry Wogan, Amanda Holdon, Sally Gunnell and Ester Rantzen are amongst many all lend their support.
Thousands of events will be taking place across the country - many of them free of charge for children - in all sorts of venues. The deals on offer cover all sorts of venues that want to encourage families to enjoy eating, learning, playing, exploring and getting out and about together. The project runs throughout the whole of the half term week, see the official website for information on events, and access to lots of special offers throughout the week.
ToucanLearn is all about spending quality time with your children... after all, ToucanLearn (two can learn!) better than one. An annual subscription is just £16 a year for hundreds of activities, games, crafts and ideas about how to entertain and inspire your children. All the activities are age specific and great fun for everyone!
There's no doubt that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requirements place a huge burden on childminders and teachers, but linking your activities to the EYFS and planning topics in advance need not be as difficult as you might imagine. Every activity you choose to undertake with babies and toddlers will have some learning benefits, and it's usually pretty easy to stretch activities to cover almost any of the areas of learning and devlopment.
Let's look at three basic activities, and see how we can adjust them to cover all six of the areas of learning and development.
(1) Finger Painting
Sit your little one down with a large sheet of paper and some poster paints, and ask them to create a 'picture' dipping their fingers in the paint and drawing on their canvas. You can easily cover each of the areas of learning and development:-
(2) A Walk in the Park
Take a stroll out to your nearest park and observe what's happening around you, at the same time, covering all the areas of learning and development:-
(3) Make-Believe Restaurant
Set up a restaurant with your little one(s), pretend you have a nice restaurant, beautiful tables, and lots of customers. Pretend to make and serve food, and let's see how we can fit it to those areas of learninf and development once more:-
All of the activities we present in ToucanLearn are tagged with the key areas of learning and development they support, we flag the specific focus areas within each area that they compliment. However, with just a little bit of imagination, you can expand any activity to cover almost any of the areas of learning and development.
Why don't you decide on a theme to pursue each week? It might be counting, shapes, colours, animals, countries or anything else. Choose a theme, and adjust each activity you undertake to fit in with the theme. It's easier than you might think, and you'll have a lot of fun together at the same time!
Surely, once children begin to read or learn their numbers they should be doing that in their spare time, rather than playing? This couldn't be further from the truth! In fact, children that play tend to become better and more attentive learners on average, and what you must remember is that when chidren are playing, the are learning the whole time too! This is what ToucanLearn is all about... sharing ideas of games, activities and crafts that are GREAT FUN, but we show you the learning elements too so you can see exactly what your little ones are actually learning about. As they are doing the activities with you, they are learning even more (Two CAN Learn much better than one)!
Do you need special equipment at each age stage in order to encourage your child to play?
NO! Play can involve anything (more or less!). From wooden spoons and saucepans, to folded socks and a washing basket! It can mean jumping in puddles to learn counting or throwing gloves to see how far you can get them or posting junk mail into a shoe box made into a letter box. All sorts of things can be used as long as you are there to help the game along!
What do children learn through play?
They learn about the properties of objects and how they work. That if you throw something hard, it will go far. They learn about their own limitations: they may be great on the scooter but not so confident on a bike. They learn about their environment (stairs and steps) and other places (on a walk to the park). They learn how to play with other children and how to interact with adults.
Will playing make them better at school?
Many studies have concluded that children that play with their parents are more curious and interested in learning. Playing is a great way to get them active and interested. It may also help their social skills and helps develop healthy relationships with other children.
Plus, possibly most importantly, by playing with your children, you are developing and securing your won relationship with them - which is absolutley vital.
So, just get out there and do some ToucanLearn activities, fool around, have a laugh and enjoy these special years when playing can be so much fun for your both!
As election fever grips the UK, you can barely escape the debates raging in the news, but what is the future for the Early Years Foundation Stage framework? EYFS was created by the Childcare Act 2006, coming into force in September 2008. If Labour win another term at the coming election, then the EYFS has greatest chance of survival, but if either the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats come to power, there is likely to be fairly major change to the framework. In the event of a hung parliament, the EYFS could either be sidelined as an issue that isn't worth bringing to the fore, or, depending on the balance of power, it could be an easy issue to tackle whilst more controversial issues are sidelined.
The EYFS has always stirred controversy amongst early years professionals. Chief argument against it is that it is too prescriptive and creates too much burden on child carers. The Conservatives were arguing, even before EYFS was mandated, that the proposed framework would stifle the creativity required for children to learn in the early years, and they were critical of the 'box ticking' exercise of the Areas of Learning and Development.
There are also opponents that claim that some of the goals of EYFS are too advanced for the preschool age group that it is aimed at, particularly in its numeracy and literacy objectives.
Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have stated that they will pare down the EYFS. The Liberal Democrats will scrap the EYFS in its current form and introduce a smaller framework to replace it. They would also cut back the Department of Children, Schools and Families and replace OFSTED with an Education Standards Authority.
The Conservatives have been less clear about the future of EYFS; whilst there is no doubt in their camp that the EYFS is overly bureacratic and offers the wrong approach to early years education, they have not stated whether they would scrap it altogether or simply reshape it. Speculation is that they would reduce its regulatory scope, making it more of a guiding framework, but keep something in place. They do remain committed to Sure Start Children's Centres and propose improving them further. They will also prioritise tackling the falling population of child carers which they attribute to the over-regulation of early years eductaion.
If Labour wins a further term in power, EYFS is still likely to undergo reform. As Labour launched their manifesto, Gordon Brown referred to their 'play based early years framework' with no direct mention of EYFS by name. Whilst many early years practitioners would argue that EYFS is nothing like a play based framework, ToucanLearn's emphasis has always been on learning through play and that is the premise with which we integrated with EYFS. Wider speculation is that Labour realise they have created too much burden with EYFS and will look to undo some of their change.
We were in contact with the Department for Children, Schools and Families as we adopted EYFS into ToucanLearn and even six months ago we found the department largely paralysed by the knowledge that change was imminent with the election due, regardless of the outcome. This paralysis has been a criticism of the cyclical nature of set-term politics in this country for a long time - no government department is going to set about major upheaval within a year of an election for fear that an incoming government will change course.
Whatever the outcome of the election, EYFS is likely to undergo some reform. At ToucanLearn we remain committed to the principle of learning through play - it will take a much more radical paradigm shift in early years education before anyone says that that's not a good way for babies and young children to learn and develop!
It's official - parents are spending three times as much time with their children as they did a generation ago. Some of the findings concluded by Dr Sullivan and his team at Oxford University inlude:
The research was carried out by analyzing diaries kept by parents between 1975 and 2000. The people were then divided into three separate groups: those with no O Levels or GCSEs, those with one or more and those with a higher education qualification, such as a Degree.
When it comes to domestic chores, men do more now than they did and despite the advent of domestic appliances with "time-saving" claims, both men and women spend more time on domestic activities today than 25 years ago.
The results showed that in 1975 fathers spent a matter of minutes each day with their children on average. By 2000, this figure is more like 35 minutes. When it came to mums, in 1975 they spent about 20 minutes with their children and by 2000 it was over an hour.
This goes against the common opinion that suggests because more women are working they actually spend less time with their chidlren. This could be explained by the fact that parents are more aware of the need and benefits of spending time with their offspring.
This is where ToucanLearn comes in - we wish actively to encourage parents to spend more time with their children; with hundreds of ideas, games and crafts to do with your children, there's no excuse not to play together! Tell a friend about ToucanLearn and share the fun!
New research has found that one in ten children will be obese in the next five years - what a staggering statistic! Research carried out at the University of London studied statistics between 1995 and 2007. The health survey for England provided the data which takes a sample of UK households.
If the trend continues, then researchers predicted that 1 in 10 boys aged between 2-10 will be obese by 2015, and approximately 1 in 9 girls. In lower income families the statistic was slightly worse. They said 'these increases will affect the lower social classes to a larger extent'.
The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health - let's hope the predictions don't become reality. It's so important to get kids up and moving from an early age.
Children who are overweight at a young age risk greater likelihood of health problems in later life, including diabetes and heart disease. Children who are more active in their first few years are statistically more likely to maintain an active lifestyle when they are older.
There is so much that parents and carers can do and its one area where you don't need to spend much money. Going to the local play park, setting off on nature walks round your neighbourhood, heading off the woods and climbing on fallen tree trunks, even walking or scooting to school instead of driving. Enjoy an active lifestyle with your children and they will benefit for years to come. Premium Members of ToucanLearn can search for 'Physical Development' activities 'Outdoor' and find lots of fun games and activities to do outside, specifically aimed at the capabilities of their children!
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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!
Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!
You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.
Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.
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