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Tips for potty training tots: when to begin, how to encourage toddlers, toileting aids and more.

Tips for potty training tots: when to begin, how to encourage toddlers, toileting aids and more.

Achieving potty training success will improve the quality of life for the child, the parent, and other guardians involved in the child's care.One of the key tasks all tots must face, in tandem with parents, is potty training. It’s something we all had to master as toddlers and therefore we know it’s 100% achievable — despite it sometimes seeming to be rather a challenge. Achieving success, though, will improve the quality of life for the child, the parent, and other guardians involved in the child’s care. Learning to master the use of the potty and later the toilet will also be a major boost to self-confidence and independence when the child is at nursery, preschool, and later school. With that in mind, today’s guide outlines our top tips for successful potty training.

First: Some Toileting Milestones

Appropriate timing for starting potty training varies from child to child and situation to situation. That said, the following are rough guidelines for the milestones for many:

  • Most tots stop doing number twos at night by the age of 12 months.
  • Between 2 and 3, some children become dry during the day.
  • By the age of 4, most are completely dry during the daytime.
  • By the age of 6, most are avoiding accidents during both the day and nighttime.
  • Some children, however, may still wet the bed at night beyond the age of 5.

Children cannot help occasional accidents and may indeed be upset by them. It’s essential, therefore, not to scold them or make a fuss about such incidents.

When Should You Begin Potty Training?

Potty training can start any time from 18 months to the age of 3 but most begin between the ages of 2 and 3.Children become ready for potty training at different times — every child is different in that respect, with some starting as early as 18 months and others not training until the age of 3. That said, the majority of little ones begin potty training between the ages of 2 and 3. There are some signs to look out for that will help parents decide when the time is right and we’ll look at those below.

One of the biggest clues that a child is ready to begin potty training is when they become obviously aware of what’s in their nappy. They may, for example, take a peak when being changed, or make it clear they are not comfortable when in need of a change. It could also be as simple as indicating that they are aware when they’re going to the loo in the nappy. Some children may show this by going somewhere quiet and more private when going. Others may do the opposite and make strong eye-to-eye contact with a parent as if to let them know that something is afoot! Such awareness may be key to starting potty training.

Children may also take a lead from parents/relatives or even other children:

A 2½-year-old, who had begun potty training, recently wanted to sit on the “big boy’s toilet” because he’d seen slightly older children doing so at nursery. This was a toileting turning point following what had been, until then, quite a challenging process. (Anecdote from a parent)

There are some practical considerations too. For example, quite a few parents will begin potty training in the warmer months of the year. At such times, there will be fewer clothes worn by children day-to-day, less, therefore, to wash if an accident happens, and likely a working washing line outside to dry everything on. So, by starting during the summer, you can cut down on the workload and potentially save on water and energy.

Encouragement

There are lots of ways to encourage children when potty training.Ensuring children understand the language around toileting is helpful, of course. So, it’s healthy to help children learn the various terms involved, whether talking about a potty, wee-wees, or anything else. Learning appropriate words will empower children to ask for what they need, at appropriate times.

Getting them involved when shopping for toileting products may also give them a deeper interest in potty and toilet training. For example, they may like the look of a potty with a dinosaur on it, or perhaps one featuring their favourite TV character. Other children may like the idea of one of those potties that plays a song when it’s been successfully used.

If there are challenges, families can often get some great success using a reward system. When the youngster successfully uses the potty, they could be awarded a sticker on a colourful, fun-looking potty training chart. Such things are available commercially if you do a quick web search. Another type of reward to be used sparingly could be to award the child a piece of their favourite snack when successful. There’s no doubt this works as an incentive for some little ones.

Another method of encouraging toddlers to use the potty is to walk the child to the potty every 30 to 60 minutes to see if they’re ready to go. The length of time between visits can be gradually extended once that’s working. Visits to the potty are also wise before and after bedtime, following daytime naps, and immediately after mealtimes.

Potty Training/Toileting Aids

Various toileting aids may help with potty and toilet training. Examples include:

  • Various toileting aids may help with potty and toilet training.Potties with designs that are attractive to toddlers e.g. dinosaurs, licensed TV characters etc.
  • Musical potties where a sing-along song is activated on successful use.
  • Portable travel potties — some look like a child’s travel case.
  • Clip-on trainer seats, which attach to adult toilets.
  • Steps to help children reach trainer seats attached to toilets, also allowing them to reach the sink to wash hands afterwards.
  • Pretend toilets and potties that children can use to ‘toilet train’ their own dolls and toys. Such activities can greatly encourage little ones in their own toilet training.
  • ‘Pull-ups’, which are somewhere between nappies and pants/knickers. These may be useful early on or when a child still has occasional accidents but no longer wears nappies.
  • Interestingly, toilet training-themed videos, books, games and songs can also be useful tools to encourage little ones when toilet training as they ‘normalise’ the process.

More Tips for Potty Training Success

  • Making sure that potty training times are fun will help.Only start potty training when your child shows signs that they’re ready. (See the When Should You Begin Potty Training? section above for details).
  • It’s best to start during a quiet time, so there are no distractions.
  • Set a potty training schedule and try to stick to it, so you’re consistent in your message.
  • Try to ensure that your potty training schedule does not conflict with your child’s existing routines.
  • Make potty training fun! (See the Encouragement section above for ideas).
  • Let your child choose their own potty at the store.
  • Buy more than one so you have one in each bathroom/cloakroom and a travel potty.
  • Keep a potty in the bathroom and encourage your little one to use it (or initially even just sit on it) when you pay a visit yourself.
  • Reward your child when successful. Sticker books using fun stickers and a colourful toileting chart can work wonders, for example.
  • Praise your child and their output – it will encourage them.
  • Accidents will happen but don’t make a fuss when they do. Potty training needs to be as stress-free as possible for little ones.
  • Last but not least, remember to encourage good hygiene in your toddler, through handwashing etc.

We hope that our potty training tips are useful and help your child transition smoothly. As we said before, success will lead to more self-confident, independent, and happy children. What’s more, it will also improve the quality of life for parents and caregivers.

An Outstanding Childcare Service in Central Lancashire

We are an outstanding nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We are an outstanding nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley and offer babies and children under five the very best start in life in a warm, nurturing, home-from-home environment. We also support a range of Government-funded hours and childcare schemes for eligible families. If you’d like to explore a possible childcare place for your child in perhaps the best nursery in Central Lancashire, please get in touch:

As well as being perfectly located for babies and children under five in Clayton-le-Woods (PR6) and Chorley, Little Acorns Nursery is also convenient for those requiring childcare in nearby towns and villages. These include Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

The Power of Learning Through Play in Early Childhood

Children learn best when they are learning through play — it is the gateway through which they explore, discover, learn, and grow.In the world of child development and early education, there is a simple yet profound truth: children learn best when they are learning through play. Play is the universal language of childhood and, indeed, it transcends both borders and cultures. Whether it’s building sand castles on a sunny beach or arranging blocks on the floor at home, play is the gateway through which children explore, discover, and grow.

But how and why is play so important? And can it benefit even babies, the tiniest members of society? In today’s article, we’ll unravel the secrets of learning through play. We’ll refer to some findings of scientific studies that attest to its incredible impact, explore play’s significance in the early years and infancy, and explain how childcare nurseries like ours harness its potential to nurture young minds.

So, join us today as we explore the power of play and why it should be at the heart of every child’s learning experience. Let’s open the door to a world where fun, laughter, imagination, and natural discovery pave the way to a brighter future for our children.

Why Is Learning Through Play So Important?

Learning through play lays the groundwork for cognitive development, social and emotional growth, imaginative thinking, and a lifelong passion for learning.As adults, we often associate learning with classrooms, textbooks, and structured lessons. However, for children, the process of learning is a dynamic and ever-evolving adventure, with play being their very best companion during the journey.

  • It develops cognitive skills. Play serves as a powerful vehicle for the development of cognitive skills. When children engage in activities like building with blocks, solving puzzles, or pretending to be characters in their favourite stories, they are actively honing their problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and creativity. Importantly, these skills are also the building blocks of a lifelong love of learning, which we’ll come to later.
  • It sparks social & emotional growth. Play isn’t just about individual growth; it’s a social endeavour. Through play, children learn to navigate the complex world of relationships. They practise communication, cooperation, and negotiation as they interact with peers, siblings, and caregivers. Sharing toys, taking turns, and resolving conflicts during playtime are valuable life skills that lay the foundation for healthy social development.
  • Exploration feeds the imagination. One of the most beautiful aspects of play is its ability to fuel the imagination. When children engage in imaginative play, whether it’s hosting a tea party for stuffed animals or embarking on a make-believe adventure, they are cultivating their creativity and expanding their understanding of the world. Imagination is the driving force behind innovation and problem-solving in adulthood, making it a vital skill to nurture from a young age.
  • It fosters a love for learning. Perhaps the most compelling reason to prioritise learning through play is that it fosters a genuine love for learning. When children associate learning with fun, joy and discovery, they will naturally develop a thirst for knowledge that stays with them throughout their lives. Such an intrinsic motivation is priceless and will serve them well in all their pursuits, whether academic, work-related or personal.

So, as we can see, learning through play is a fundamental part of a child’s educational journey. It lays the groundwork for cognitive development, social and emotional growth, imaginative thinking, and a lifelong passion for learning.

Babies & Under-5s

Play-based learning is not just for older children. In reality, its influence begins right from infancy and continues to shape young minds throughout their early years. Let’s explore that a little further.

Play for Babies – Building Foundations

Tummy time for babies allows them to play, discover, explore, learn about the world around them, and build strength.Do babies benefit from play? Absolutely. Play is the first way through which infants start understanding their world. They use their senses to explore toys, grasp objects, and make sense of the environment around them. Sensory play, such as touching different textures or listening to soothing sounds, stimulates their developing senses and lays the groundwork for future learning.

Infant play also plays a crucial role in the development of fine and gross motor skills. As babies reach for toys, practise tummy time, and eventually start crawling and walking, they are strengthening their muscles and improving coordination.

Early Years Play – Growing Skills

Play allows children to experiment, make connections, and refine a multitude of skills.During the run-up to the age of 5, play is integral to children’s development. During this phase, children are like little sponges, soaking up information from their surroundings. Play allows them to experiment, make connections, and refine their cognitive and many other skills. Skills enhanced through play include:

  • Language development. Through imaginative play, storytelling, and conversations with peers and caregivers, children will naturally expand their vocabulary and improve their communication skills.
  • Maths and science concepts. Counting blocks, sorting shapes, and exploring basic scientific principles through hands-on experiments are all part of early years play. Such activities build a firm foundation for mathematical and scientific understanding.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking. Whether it’s solving puzzles, figuring out how to build a tower without it toppling, or strategising during a game, play encourages children to think critically, make decisions, assess risk, and find solutions to challenges.
  • Emotional intelligence. Role-playing and interactive games help children navigate complex emotions. Through these, they will naturally enhance emotional intelligence, develop empathy, and learn about relationships. Such skills are vital for their social and emotional growth going forward.

Play is a powerful and natural tool that’s critical to the development of babies and young children. From sensory exploration in infancy to the cognitive challenges of early years, play enriches their lives and gives them foundational skills and knowledge that will serve them throughout their educational journey.

The value of play is backed up by extensive research

Children who engage in open-ended play activities are better at problem-solving and divergent thinking, a skill that is essential for creativity. (Early Childhood Research Quarterly).

Children who engage in imaginative play demonstrate greater cognitive flexibility and creativity. (Developmental Psychology Journal).

Children who engage in pretend play with caregivers have more advanced language skills, including a richer vocabulary and more complex sentence structures. (Journal of Child Language).

Children who engage in cooperative play exhibit higher levels of empathy and better conflict resolution skills. (American Journal of Play).

Physical play, such as climbing, running, and manipulating objects, contributes significantly to the development of fine and gross motor skills. (Journal of Motor Learning and Development).

Play can lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress, and promote a sense of well-being in children. (Psychological Science).

The scientific evidence is clear: play is not just a pastime; it’s a fundamental component of child development 1. Indeed, learning through play is a major part of a good, holistic, approach to child development. It teaches children almost infinite amounts about the world around them while fostering cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, creativity, and a love for learning that will benefit them throughout their lives. Play is the primary vehicle through which children explore, discover, and grow, and it should be at the heart of every child’s educational journey.

The Role of Childcare Providers Like Little Acorns Nursery

Childcare settings like Little Acorns Nursery are often a child’s first introduction to structured learning outside the home. We play a pivotal role in nurturing young minds through a play-based approach to education. This is designed to encourage children to explore, experiment, and naturally discover through play.

  • At Little Acorns Nursery, we provide carefully-designed play spaces that are rich in stimulating materials, equipment and resources. These allow children to engage in various types of play, from imaginative to sensory.Creating playful environments — we understand the importance of a conducive environment for learning through play. With that in mind, we provide carefully designed play spaces that are rich in stimulating materials and resources. These spaces allow children to engage in various types of play, from imaginative to sensory, in a safe and supportive setting.
  • Trained educators — our nursery staff are trained to facilitate play-based learning effectively. They observe and engage with children during their play, providing guidance when necessary while allowing children the autonomy to explore and experiment. Our skilled educators recognise the many learning opportunities that arise naturally during such play.
  • A balance of structured and unstructured play — we strike a careful balance between structured and unstructured play. Structured activities may include group games, circle time, and planned art projects, while unstructured playtime allows children to choose their activities, fostering independence and decision-making skills.
  • Incorporating learning goals — while play is central to the nursery experience, it doesn’t mean a lack of educational goals. Childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery align play activities with specific learning objectives. For example, a play dough activity can promote fine motor skills and creativity, while a group storytelling session enhances language development.
  • Assessing progress — continuous assessments help our childcare practitioners and each child’s Key Person to gauge children’s development. Such assessments consider, for example, children’s engagement, problem-solving abilities, social interactions, and other skills that emerge during play. This holistic approach helps our educators to tailor their support to each child’s individual needs.

By recognising the immense value of play in child development and providing a nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive through play-based activities, we not only prepare children for the transition to school but also facilitate the development of essential life skills.

Nursery Places at an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Are you looking for an outstanding nursery for your child in Clayton-le-Woods or near Chorley? If so, you should consider Little Acorns Nursery. Not only does Ofsted rate us as an ‘Outstanding Provider’ but we also have a highly prestigious national nursery award under our belt. All Government-funded childcare schemes are supported at the nursery too, making childcare provision more affordable for eligible families. To register your little one for a place, arrange a tour with your child, or ask a question, please contact us:

Little Acorns is a nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, Central Lancashire. Families living or working nearby in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham may also find it convenient.

Coming Soon:

How to Encourage Learning Through Play at Home

Parents and caregivers also play a crucial role in fostering an environment that supports exploration, curiosity, and growth through play. Your home can be a vibrant hub for play-based learning. Moreover, by creating a nurturing environment, providing the right resources, and actively engaging with your child during play, you empower them to explore, learn, and really grow as individuals. We explore the topic of Encouraging Learning Through Play at Home here.

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Today's activity is a perfect opportunity for young children to get closer to nature, and learn about some of it's incredible wildlife.Children and parents, let’s go minibeast spotting! Whether you have a garden, neighbourhood park, or just a few potted plants, there are bound to be minibeasts visiting or living there. What’s more, summer is the perfect time to spot them. Spending time in nature is hugely important for children and there are many benefits to children simply playing outdoors too. Today’s minibeast activity is therefore the perfect opportunity for young children to reap all those benefits, get closer to nature, and learn about some of its incredible wildlife.

Minibeasts

Minibeasts are fascinating little creatures that come in many shapes and sizes. Each is a unique little character and many are simply enchanting. Take bumble bees, for example, with their adorable furry bodies, stripes and antennae, little ladybirds with their cute spots, or stick caterpillars that look just like twigs! There are so many different types, so we’ve put together a free identification poster showing 30 of our favourite minibeasts that are likely to be lurking nearby if families take the time to look. The poster is free to download and share. Print it out in colour at full size (A3) or reduce it to A4 for children to take outdoors. There are little tick boxes too, so children can mark which minibeasts they’ve seen as time goes by.

Our minibeast poster is a nice companion to our previous article that showcased a British Birds poster and a bird-spotting activity, which was published here back in May (follow the bold green link). We’ll also be adding more nature-themed posters in this series over the coming months, so keep an eye out for those, to add to your child’s collection.

Poster Preview:

Poster preview — click to download or view online (PDF format).

Poster Download Instructions

Click the large preview image above (or this link) to view or download the poster in Acrobat PDF format. Whether you left-click or right-click will depend on your own specific browser settings, so try both if in doubt.  You will need to have Acrobat Reader to view the file. Print in colour from Acrobat Reader ideally using high-quality A3 paper, or ‘reduce to fit’ if printing to A4. Alternatively, viewing on a screen will allow you/your child to zoom in to see all the lovely detail, for example using a tablet or smartphone.

Once you/your children have the poster, see how many of the little critters you can spot. Try looking in different kinds of places to see where the little creatures are. Compost heaps are great places to look for some types of minibeast, while flowers, plants, trees, tree trunks and even rotting logs will attract many others. However, be mindful around health, safety, well-being and hygiene (more about that later). What’s more, try not to unduly disturb the minibeasts and be very gentle around them so they don’t get harmed in any way.

Teach Kindness to Kids

Parents can help with this. Be sure that children learn to treat other creatures nicely and with great care; minibeasts are only small and, as such, are very fragile. If you spot any, teach kids to look but not touch, as each little minibeast has a life and feelings — just like you and your child — and won’t want to be disturbed or taken away from its home. Children will learn lessons about empathy, ethics, personal responsibility and much more by using this caring approach.

A Focus on Nature at Little Acorns Nursery’s Forest School

Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope that families and little ones can make the most of the free minibeasts poster and this nature-based activity. At Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, we understand the huge positive impact that nature and outdoor play can have on children. That’s why we encourage them to play and explore outdoors (under supervision, of course). It’s also why we have our own Forest School, which you can learn about here.

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery/preschool that’s located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire. Ofsted agrees and also rates us ‘outstanding’ and we also won a major National nursery award, beating every other nursery in the country to the top spot. Parents/caregivers can therefore rest assured that we offer the very best childcare and early years education service available.

Please use an appropriate button below to register your child for a nursery place, ask us any questions, or to book a guided tour of the setting with your child. We’d love to welcome you.

Little Acorns nursery/preschool is also conveniently near to Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Safety Note

It goes without saying that the child’s parent or supervising adult should be mindful of the health, well-being and safety of children, especially when they are playing outside or taking part in outdoor activities. There are many hazards outdoors, so please be vigilant. This includes, but is not limited to, avoiding stings, potentially poisonous flora and fauna, trip hazards, bodies of water (however small), changes in levels (for the avoidance of falls), choking hazards, sharp objects, stranger danger, traffic and so on. Do your own risk assessments and also teach children to learn about safety and hygiene considerations themselves.

The Big Butterfly Count takes place in July and early August each year, when most butterflies have reached adulthood.Many will have heard of the Big Garden Birdwatch that takes place every year in January. However, fewer are aware of a similar activity called The Big Butterfly Count that takes place in July and early August. As well as being extremely worthwhile, it’s a wonderful activity for both children and adults to get involved in as citizen scientists. The activity helps with butterfly conservation, is educational for those taking part, and encourages families to get outdoors, closer to nature. And, as we know, getting closer to nature is very good for children and people of all ages. Today, we take a look at this wonderful butterfly-spotting activity and explain how children and families can get involved, help these beautiful little pollinators, contribute a little time to the conservation initiative and benefit themselves at the same time.

The Big Butterfly Count

On 'Big Butterfly Count' day, families with smartphones can use the free smartphone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android.Organised by the charity Butterfly Conservation, the long-term aim of the Big Butterfly Count is for butterflies and moths to thrive and be enjoyed by everyone. That’s important because populations of butterflies have really suffered in recent decades, with some species of butterfly even becoming extinct in the UK and elsewhere. Changes in their numbers are also very good indicators of wider problems in pollinators of all types, including bees for example.

The key requirement of the Big Butterfly Count is simply for families across the UK to spend just a little time outdoors, during a very specific time of the year, to record how many different species they see during that time. The findings of thousands of families throughout the UK will then help Butterfly Conservation to understand what species are living in the different UK regions. Data submitted will allow a comparison of reported data from year to year, so Butterfly Conservation can see trends in butterfly populations and spot any significant increases, reductions and areas of concern.

“Help take the pulse of nature.”

When is the Big Butterfly Count?

For 2023, the Big Butterfly Count is any daylight time from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August. The reason this period is chosen is because that’s when most butterflies have reached adulthood, so people should be able to spot more of them. This ‘peak adult’ period is essentially at the same approximate period every year.

How Can Families Get Involved?

Getting involved in the Big Butterfly Count is easy and takes very little time. All that’s needed is a 15-minute period of time during daylight hours, between 14th July and 6th August. Bright, sunny weather conditions are preferred. Families simply need to find a good spot* outdoors and watch carefully, just for a quarter of an hour, and record which types of butterflies they spot. They can then submit their sightings any time up until 31 August. The count focuses on specific species within each area of the UK. These are mainly butterflies but they also include a few daytime-flying moths that Butterfly Conservation are interested in monitoring.

*Another alternative, by the way, is for children and families to monitor butterflies during a 15-minute walk i.e. you do not necessarily have to stay in one spot.

  • The Big Butterfly Count app shows the results of butterfly counts all over the UK. This image shows the number of counts in Clayton-le-Woods for 2022's count.If you are counting butterflies from  a static spot, count up how many of the same species you see at the same time. For example, if there are three Large Whites visible at the same time, count that as three. If you see only one at a time, but see it on three separate occasions during the 15 minutes, that counts as only one. That’s so that we can be sure it’s not the same one visiting three times!
  • If you’re counting while on a walk, however, simply count the number of each species you see during the entire 15-minute time frame.
  • You may do as many counts as you like; then simply submit the separate records, through the app, for each different location and/or date.
  • As well as having a section for your own submissions, an interactive map can be found on the smartphone app to show you results from other people across the entire UK. Zoom in for more detail. Shown in the image is the butterfly counts for 2022 in Clayton-le-Woods. In the app itself, each is clickable so you can find out which species were spotted and the number of them.

Where is a Good Spot to See Butterflies?

The 'Big Butterfly Count' smartphone app has a useful section to help you identify which butterflies and daytime-flying moths you see.A good spot, by the way, would be either somewhere outdoors with lots of flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators, or somewhere you’ve left out some very ripe fruit e.g. pieces of ripe orange, apple, nectarine, grapefruit, banana, or strawberry— butterflies love sweet fruit even when it’s a little over-ripe! Whether that’s in your own garden, near potted flowers on a patio, school grounds, in a park, or out in the countryside is entirely up to you and your family. Even if you spot no butterflies during your 15-minute count, you should still submit your results, by the way, as that might indicate a problem with the butterfly population — and potentially other types of wildlife loss — in that area.

“Numbers of butterflies and moths in the UK have decreased significantly since the 1970s. This is a warning that cannot be ignored.”

How Can You Identify the Types of Butterflies?

Help is on hand to help children/families more easily identify which butterfly species they spot on the day — and at any other time. On the day, families with smartphones can use the free Big Butterfly Count phone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android. Below are the links to download them, free of charge, and they seem pretty fast to download too.

Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Apple IOS   Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Android.

Detail pages include information like the difference between males and females and their distribution in the UK. Photos show wings both open and closed.For the youngest of children, an adult will need to supervise the use of the app but many older children will no doubt take to the technology like ducks to water. The app includes several sections including an excellent guide to up to about 21 species that the Big Butterfly Count is particularly interested in this year. Shown are details about each type along with photographs for reference and ID purposes. Details of each type of butterfly — or daytime-flying moth — include information like the difference between males and females, their distribution in the UK, and whether their populations have increased or decreased. Photos show each type with wings both open and closed, making identification even easier.

What if you Spot a Butterfly Species You Can’t Identify?

If you happen to spot a butterfly that’s not included in the species of interest shown in the Big Butterfly Count phone app for your area, you can instead submit them using the free iRecord Butterflies app, details of which are available here. That alternative app can be used any time of year and features many more types of butterflies and moths. It still, however, allows you to submit your sightings to help with conservation and monitoring efforts. Indeed, you could argue that it’s a more permanent way of children helping to both monitor and report butterfly sightings as little citizen scientists.

What If You Don’t Have a Smartphone?

If you don't have a smartphone or can't use the app, downloadable charts of the butterflies in your area are available from the Big Butterfly Count website. This is the one for England for the Big Butterfly Count in 2023.You/your child can still get involved in the Big Butterfly Count even if you/they don’t have a smartphone. Instead of using an app, download charts of the butterflies in your area from the Big Butterfly Count website. You’ll need to fill in a very short form to access the chart links, but they are free of charge and obligation. Choose the most appropriate download link for your region and download the chart. You/your child can then view it on screen and zoom in for the best detail, or print it out on paper. Once you’ve ticked off any that you/your child have seen in the 15-minute period, you will need to ask a friend or family member who has the app if you want them to submit your count for you, however. That’s because paper, email and phone submissions cannot be accepted. Spotting butterflies is a wonderful activity for children, though, whether or not their results are submitted.

Safety & Well-Being of Children & Butterflies

Safety is paramount, of course, so young children should be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult. It’s also important, of course, not to disturb or interfere with the butterflies. They are extremely delicate little creatures and their wings and bodies are too fragile for handling. Please do not try to catch them — you will do more harm than good.

“Butterfly declines are also an early warning for other wildlife losses … if their numbers are falling, then nature is in trouble. That’s why taking part in this massive citizen science enterprise is of great importance.”

A Focus on Nature at our Outstanding Nursery/Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

At Little Acorns Nursery, we know how important it is to get children involved with nature, so will always encourage worthwhile, educational activities like this one. As a Forest School setting, we encourage them to appreciate the natural world and all the flora and fauna within it, so this butterfly-spotting activity is a perfect fit. We also encourage children elsewhere and at home to get involved — it’ll do them, their families, butterflies and the natural environment great good.

Ofsted rate Little Acorns Nursery as an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, and we’re also the winner of a National Nursery award. It simply doesn’t get any better than that and you therefore know your baby, toddler or child under five will be in good hands at Little Acorns. All Government childcare funding schemes are also supported for eligible families. To register your child for a place or to enquire about the possibility, please choose an option below:

Although Little Acorns is located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire, we will also be a convenient option for those looking for high-quality childcare near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Quotations in this article are from Butterfly Conservation.

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids - with Free Poster

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster)

Free A3 bird poster for children use to see how many birds they can spot and identify over the course of a year. Read on (below) for download instructions.Are you looking for a fun and educational activity for your children? Why not encourage them to do some bird spotting? Not only is it a great way to spend time outdoors, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about nature and develop observation skills. As we know, being around nature is hugely beneficial to children and outdoor play is important.

To help you get started, we’ve created a free PDF poster featuring 40 British birds that children can try to spot and identify. Whether little ones are in the garden, park, or countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to see these beautiful birds in their natural habitat. Children can even try to spot birds when they’re simply looking out the window — this is quite an accessible activity.

So why not download the poster, print it out, and head outside with your children? Instructions are given underneath the preview image shown below. Who knows, your little one(s) might just discover a new passion for birdwatching and nature!

Bird Poster Preview:

Bird Spotting Activity Poster - click to download (Acrobat PDF format, 4.8MB) then print out or view on screen.

Bird Poster Download Instructions

The poster is supplied as an A3 Acrobat PDF file and is less than 5MB in size. Click the large preview image above (or this link) to download the poster file. Depending on your device and web browser settings, you can usually left-click to view the poster on screen or right-click to save the file, then view it by opening it in Acrobat Reader . If printing, ideally print it to high quality A3 paper, or ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer only prints to A4. Viewing on screen is also recommended as the images are high resolution — you can zoom in to see the detail, even on the tiny inset images.

Teach Respect for Wildlife

Remember that the birds you’re observing are wild animals and should be treated with empathy and respect. Stick to designated trails or paths. This will help protect fragile habitats and minimize your impact on the environment. Teach children to avoid disturbing habitats, making loud noises, or getting too close to birds and other wild creatures. This is especially important when the time comes for young birds to leave their nests; they should not be disturbed and, generally speaking, their parents will know where they are even if you/your children cannot see them nearby.

With our free PDF poster featuring 40 British birds, you and your children can embark on an exciting adventure of birdwatching. Tick off each bird as you spot and identify them, and see how many of the 40 you can find over the course of the year. You might be surprised at how many different species you encounter!

An Outstanding Nursery & Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope that our poster helps you and your family to start exploring the wonderful world of British birds! We love nature at Little Acorns and always encourage little ones to make the most of natural environments. It’s one of the many reasons we are also a Forest School setting.

We are an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, offering the very best childcare service to babies and children under five. We support the Government’s free childcare funding schemes for eligible families too. If you’d like the very best start for your little one, enrol them for a place at Little Acorns and we’ll bring out the very best in them. We’d also welcome a visit, so why not arrange a tour and we’ll show you around and answer any questions you may have. Please select an option below to get started:

A Word About Safety:

While birdwatching is a fun and educational activity, it’s important to prioritise safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re out in the field:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings and any potential hazards, such as steep drops or bodies of water. Always keep a close eye on children and make sure they stay within your line of sight.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and footwear. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent if appropriate. Don’t forget some water, so you all stay hydrated.
  • Binoculars can be a valuable tool for birdwatching, but ensure they are used responsibly. Children and adults should avoid aiming them directly at the sun and be aware of surroundings while looking through them.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a fun and enjoyable birdwatching experience for the whole family. So head outside to discover the wonderful world of British birds!

Little Acorns is a nursery and pre-school located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire. We are also conveniently close for those families living or working near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham.

Significant Childcare Funding Announced for Families

Significant New Childcare Funding Announced for Families.

A Guide to the Game-Changing Childcare Funding Initiatives Announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2023

Generous and far-reaching childcare funding reforms were announced in the Spring Budget 2023 last month. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s new funding plans should give more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs going forwards. The new initiatives will:

  • allow Generous childcare funding was announced in the Spring Budget 2023, giving more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs.parents to return to the workplace sooner after the birth of their child if they so choose;
  • help fill vacant jobs in the workplace;
  • allow parents (particularly women) to progress their careers sooner after starting a family;
  • help to boost the UK economy, and;
  • perhaps most importantly give more children access to a good early years education, starting potentially at a younger age. Beginning no later than the age of 2 has been shown to better prepare children for the transition to school, boost children’s education overall, improve GCSE grades, improve career prospects and even increase earning potential once they reach adulthood. Learn more about the benefits of a good early years education here.

So, the new childcare funding should make a huge difference for those families that are eligible. Let’s take a look at the 3 key childcare funding initiatives announced…

Significant New Childcare Funding for Children Aged 9 to 36 Months

Many parents will already be aware of the existing, free, Government-funded childcare hours available to all 3 and 4-year-olds in England (plus some disadvantaged 2-year-olds). Well, in the biggest news from the Spring Budget, free childcare funding will soon extend to much younger children, aged from just 9 months of age if they suit eligibility requirements. Here’s how the free childcare will be rolled out:

  1. From April 2024,Significant new childcare funding has been announced for children aged from 9 to 36 months. children aged 2 from eligible working families will be able to claim 570 hours of free childcare each year. This is typically taken as 15 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks, although exactly how it’s taken may be agreed otherwise between the family and the childcare provider.
  2. From September 2024, just five months later, the same free childcare scheme will be extended to eligible children aged from just 9 months of age. This comes later so that childcare providers have time to adapt to the extra capacity.
  3. A year later, from September 2025, eligible children aged from 9 to 36 months will be able to claim double the amount of free childcare hours, taking their annual free childcare allowance up to 1140 hours. These will typically be taken as 30 free hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, but it may vary if childcare providers can offer flexibility.

In each case, eligibility for children aged from 9 to 36 months will use the same criteria as for those 3- and 4-year-olds receiving 30 hours of free childcare for 38 weeks of the year in the existing scheme. That scheme will continue to run too, meaning that children from 9 months to the age of four (inclusive) are all supported, right up until they start school. It should make a huge difference to working families and particularly benefit women, who have commonly found it difficult to return to careers following maternity leave.

Significant Improvements to Childcare Funded Through Universal Credit

Significant improvements have been unveiled for childcare funding through Universal Credit.Until now, 87% of those eligible to claim childcare support through Universal Credit were not doing so. One of the main reasons for this was that it’s geared towards low-income families yet required them to pay childcare fees in advance — and later claim them back. Paying in advance is not so easy when household income is low, as is typically the case for households that would otherwise be eligible. For this reason, another of the Chancellor’s initiatives announced in the Spring Budget 2023 is to roll out the following improvements:

  1. The Government will pay for childcare costs, subsidised through Universal Credit, in advance and;
  2. They will increase the amount eligible families can claim in childcare costs, through Universal Credit, by almost 50%. This will increase the amount of free childcare funding available through the scheme from £646 to £951 per month for a single child, and from £1,108 to £1,630 per month for two children. The increase will take effect from July 2023 and the rates paid may be linked to the Consumer Price Index until 2027/28.

The two measures combined should make a tangible difference to cash-strapped parents who would like to get back into the workplace, increase existing working hours, or boost household income. It will also mean, of course, that more children have access to an all-important early years education.

Significant Improvements to Funded Childcare Hours for Children at School

The Wraparound ‘Pathfinder’ Scheme

The Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school and up to 6 pm after the school day ends.The final childcare-related initiative in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget aims to fix another key problem for parents: how to juggle their own longer working hours with their child’s shorter school hours. When a child attends school, they often finish their school day several hours before their parent is finished at work, for example. There is therefore a childcare requirement to bridge the gap and this may be required both at the start and end of the child’s school day. In view of this, the Chancellor announced the piloting of a new Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme, which would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school morning and, later in the day, fund childcare for the mismatched afternoon hours up to 6 pm. The pilot will test the scheme to see how well it works. If successful, the Chancellor aims to roll it out to the whole of the UK from September 2024.

A Good Early Years Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding nursery and, with its incredible national award for childcare, offers babies and children possibly the best childcare provision available in Lancashire. So, if you are looking for the best nursery or preschool for your baby, toddler or child under five in Clayton, Chorley or Central Lancashire, please get in touch. We support all Government childcare funding and free childcare hours for eligible families and are a Forest School setting too. We’d love to show you and your little one around, register your child for a place or answer any questions that you may have. Please select an option below to take the next step and we’ll be happy to help.

Little Acorns Nursery is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Follow for Nursery News, Expert Insights & Early Years Information

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on Social Media – for Nursery News, Early Years Information & Expert Insights.

Keep up-to-date with everything happening at Little Acorns Nursery and in early years news and research - subscribe to our social media channels.Are you are a parent or carer of a child under five? If so, you could learn a lot about childcare, parenting and early years learning and development by following Little Acorns Nursery on social media. We’re active across multiple social channels including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and share high quality content useful to parents of under-fives. That includes parents of children at Little Acorns although, actually, parents anywhere will find the content educational and useful. Our high quality content includes unusually informative ‘early years’ articles and information. For example, a whole range of guides, the findings from various studies, suggested activities for kids and overviews of things like childcare funding schemes with eligibility guidelines. Also, of course, the social media channels include posts relating to the exciting activities happening at the nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley.

Following is an overview of where you can find — and follow — Little Acorns Nursery and what you can expect to see if you do …

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on Twitter

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on TwitterFollow Little Acorns Nursery on Twitter. There, you’ll see links to some great topics that relate to early years education. You’ll also see regular tweets and posts showing the exciting play and activities that children are taking part in at the nursery.

Follow Us on Facebook

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on FacebookOn Facebook, we share our ‘bigger’ guides and articles from our blog as well as showing interesting content from third parties. Also, of course, we post regular photos and updates for all the goings-on at Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods.

Follow our Pinterest Pins & Boards

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on PinterestWe love Pinterest! Its simple, pictorial approach makes it easy to just pick out something that interests you and save it to your own Pinterest pin board, so you can simply save it or share with others. We’ve got lots of pin ‘boards’ on our Pinterest profile, where we’ve pinned images and links to articles that interest us as early years practitioners. We think you’ll like them too. Board topics include nature activities, sensory activities for under-5s, early years parenting, Forest School, outdoor play, preschool, nursery school activities and, of course, Little Acorns Nursery itself.

Follow Us on Instagram

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on InstagramIf you’re on Instagram, check out our photo gallery on our own Instagram profile. It shows images of the children playing and learning at the nursery as well as featured images that link to our highly interesting blog posts.

Our Google Profile

See photos of the childcare setting, view a location map, read about us, find links to our blog posts and check out our customer reviews. Speaking of which …

Review Us

Review and rate Little Acorns Nursery on Google or FacebookIf you have used our childcare service and were pleased, please review and rate us on Google, or alternatively rate us on Facebook. Of course, though, if there’s anything at all that you’re not happy with, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation right away. We’re here to help!

Bookmark our Blog

Bookmark Little Acorns Nursery's blogWe’re active here on our Little Acorns blog too. Here, you’ll find larger articles that tend to cover the ‘bigger’ topics that parents and carers of children under five will find useful. These are well-researched, detailed and often very educational articles that will keep parents well-informed. For example, we cover topics like childcare funding schemes, help available to children with special educational needs or disabilities, educational food growing activities for under-fives, a myriad of ways parents can super-charge children’s reading and education, wonderful outdoor activity ideas for little ones, and a whole host of guides, how-to articles, activity ideas and useful information relating to parenting or early years learning and development. We’re adding to these great articles and guides regularly each month. So, if you haven’t already done so, bookmark our main blog page and come back regularly — our blog is a real treasure trove of information for parents! Follow the bold links for more information.

Little Acorns Nursery may add more social channels in the future, so watch this space.

An Outstanding Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyIt’s official, say Ofsted: Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and pre-school. We provide exceptional, award-winning childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire (PR6). We are also conveniently located for those in the following towns and villages nearby: Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham. If you would like your child to have the very best start in life, Little Acorns Nursery represents the ultimate childcare choice for families in Central Lancashire.

To register your child for a place, ask a question or to see the nursery in action, please click an appropriate button below:

Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

Today, we look at how early years childcare providers can help children under five if they have special educational needs or disabilities.Today, we look at how early years childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery can help children under five if they have special educational needs and disabilities. This is often referred to as ‘SEND’ or in longer forms like ‘SEN and disabilities’. Let’s explore the topic to get an overview of some of the help available.

Childcare Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

Early years and childcare providers can support children under five in a variety of ways if they have special educational or developmental needs, and/or a disability. Indeed, helping affected children as early as possible in their lives is of paramount importance:

“Early identification of needs and the timely provision of appropriate support, together with high aspirations, can help ensure that the vast majority of children who have SEN or disabilities can achieve well and make a successful transition into adulthood.” (DfE)*

The specific strategies used will depend on the child’s individual needs and the resources available to any particular provider. That said, typical examples of ways that early years childcare providers — and others — can support children with special needs include the following:

Identifying Children with Special Needs

If an area of special need is suspected, early years providers can work with parents and sometimes other professionals to get an assessment and support if needed.Actually identifying an area of special need or disability is, of course, the first, crucial step in being able to help a child. If an area of special need is suspected, early years providers can work with parents and sometimes other professionals, for example health visitors, speech and language therapists, paediatricians and so on. Involving such professionals will help with any diagnosis.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the presence of a special need may not be crystal clear in many cases, especially when children are very young. As an example, it would not be possible to diagnose dyslexia until a point when a child’s understanding of language is sufficiently developed to actually begin the process of reading text. However, the involvement of such external expertise may make the initial identification of a child’s special need or disability more feasible.

Following such a diagnosis, the various parties surrounding the child can then, together, develop a plan of how best to support that child during their early years and potentially beyond. For our part as a nursery and childcare provider, we will also ensure that we regularly review the support that an affected child receives, making adjustments and taking further actions etc. when appropriate. 

Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Environment

It's important for early years providers to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports children of all abilities.This is important. Early years providers can create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports children of all abilities. Encouraging the inclusion of children in social groups and in the making of friends, for example, is of huge benefit to children’s well-being. Childcare settings can also provide special equipment or adapt the environment to make it more accessible for children with specific physical needs.

Creating a positive and responsive culture is also crucial, so that children feel comfortable to express themselves, irrespective of any differences or abilities/disabilities that they may have.

Additional Support and Resources Through Funding

In some circumstances, childcare providers can access special funding in order to provide additional support and resources to children with special educational needs or disabilities. Examples include the hiring of additional staff to provide one-to-one support, providing extra resources to support learning, or offering additional activities to extend children’s experiences. Access to the specific funding will, though, require eligibility criteria to be met. Often, such funding applications may require a team effort between parents/carers, childcare settings and potentially other types of early years professional mentioned above.

Tailoring Learning & Development Plans & Activities to Meet Individual Needs

Learning and development plans and activities are tailored to suit each child. This is designed to meet the needs of every child individually, including those with special needs.Early years providers like Little Acorns Nursery adapt the individual learning and development plans and activities to suit each child. In this way, they’re custom-designed to meet the needs of every child individually, including those with special needs. This is done as a matter of course as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) approach to early years education and development. The tailored approach helps to level-up the playing field and, in effect, encourage equal opportunities for each child. It also helps them to reach their own personal bests in every area of their learning and development.

Progress Checks

The EYFS approach means that our early years practitioners use a continuous assessment approach in regard to every child’s progress, whether or not they have special needs or any disabilities. However, for those affected by SEN or disabilities, such an approach is even more crucial.

Special education provision for children, including those with SEN or disabilities, follows four stages of action: “Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

In tandem with this, all children receive a Progress Check at 2 and this will highlight whether progress is on track, additional support is appropriate and indeed whether there is a SEND-related issue. Either way, tailored activities and strategies will be planned and put in place to address any issues and help optimise every child’s progress.

Special education provision for children, including those with SEN or disabilities, follows four stages of action: “Assess, Plan, Do and Review.Later, each child will similarly have an ‘EYFS profile’ completed during the final term of reception year. However, as we’re focusing this article on children under five, we’ll not go into detail about that here.

The SENCo

As well as having a ‘Key Person’ allocated to each child, early years providers like Little Acorns have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). The SENCo oversees the setting’s tailored support for children, under their care, who have special educational needs or disabilities. Similarly, the local authority will have an Area SENCO. They will advise and help coordinate support for children with special needs between the local authority itself, the child’s parents, early years and education settings, health and social care services and so on. The Area SENCO will also help when the time comes to transition the under-five child to school.

Communicating with Parents and Other Professionals

Communication is key. Childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery will communicate regularly with parents/carers and, when appropriate, local authorities, health visitors, paediatricians and other healthcare professionals. This is to ensure that everyone is aware of the child’s progress and any additional support that may be needed. Ensuring that all parties are pulling in the same direction is crucial to outcomes for each child, particularly if they have special needs and/or disabilities.

“When a child is very young, or SEN is first identified, families need to know that the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities, with the right support, can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)*

EHC Assessments and Plans

In the event that a child does not make the expected progress despite everyone’s best efforts and high quality support, there is recourse to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment via the local authority. If such a request is made by a childcare setting, it would only be done with the knowledge of the child’s parent(s) and after discussion with them. Basically, such an assessment may result in a brand new plan to support the child, if that’s deemed appropriate. It’s a big topic in its own right, so we may follow up separately to explain more about EHCs in due course.

The ‘Local Offer’ from the Local Authority

The 'Local Offer' from local authorities outlines the help available in the area for children with SEN or disabilities, including how to access that support.It may be useful for parents and carers to note that local authorities have a duty to publish what’s known as a ‘Local Offer’. This outlines the help available in the area for children with SEND, including how to access that support.

A good example is the Local Offer published by our own local authority (Lancashire County Council), which can be found here. (Note that the early years childcare section of that particular Local Offer can be found here). A quick search there for SEND services will indeed reveal Little Acorns Nursery as an outstanding provider of childcare services, including for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Free Funded Childcare Places for Children with SEND

While all 3- and 4-year-olds in England have access to free childcare provision each week, 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for a significant number of free childcare hours if they get a Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’), have a valid Education, Health and Care (‘EHC’) plan or have been referred through the local authority’s Portage service. Follow the bold links or speak to us at Little Acorns Nursery if you are local to Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, and would like to learn more more about the options.

Outstanding Childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyChildren get the very best start at Little Acorns Nursery. Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire (PR6). We are also close to Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village and Whittle-le-Woods. Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham, so may suit those living/working in any of those nearby locations. Trust your child’s early years education and childcare to an award-winning nursery/pre-school and a nursery recognised by Ofsted as an Outstanding Provider

To register your child for a place at Little Acorns Nursery, to ask a question or to see the nursery in action, please contact us:

* Quotation references: DfE, ‘Early Years: Guide to the 0 to 25 SEND Code of Practice’

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens can be grown in trays, egg cartons, used yoghurt pots or any shallow pot or dish that has drainage.As promised in our recent Educational Food Growing post for kids, we’ve got another wonderful food-growing activity for children today. Whether you have a toddler, preschooler or older child, they’ll love this activity and it also has a huge range of benefits. It is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in the miraculous growth of delicious food that children and the whole household can eat! What’s not to love, therefore, about our growing microgreens activity! Today, we explain just how easy it is.

First: What Are Microgreens?

Children can get really creative with what they sow their microgreen seeds in!Microgreens, also known as micro leaves, are the young shoots of growing plants that are edible. Examples include the seedlings of herbs like basil and coriander, red cabbage micro leaves and the shoots from root vegetables like beetroot. When growing, the seedlings form a thick and rich ‘carpet’ of shoots that, when ready, can be snipped off en masse and used in meals as salads or garnishes. What’s more, they’re delicious, highly nutritious and make meals look amazing. The entire activity can also be accomplished indoors in any home. You do not need to have a garden because a well-lit windowsill or counter top will more than suffice.

Growing Microgreens is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in delicious food that children and the whole household can eat!

Additional Benefits of Children Growing Microgreens

Getting children directly involved in growing microgreens can also encourage them to try new foods, enjoy new flavours and to get much needed vitamins and minerals at the critical time when they are developing. Teaching them to grow food will also teach them a huge number of lessons, for example about nature, the circle of life, how to care for another living thing responsibly, where food comes from and even meal preparation, nutrition and balancing diets. Growing microgreens is a doorway to all of this and more, yet is so simple as an activity.

 

There is a huge variety of different microgreens

What You’ll Need to Start Growing Microgreens

You/your child will need a few things to get started in the growing activity:

  • Microgreen seeds in a seed tray being sprayed gently with water.Microgreen seeds. These are available inexpensively online or at places like garden centres and even some supermarkets. You can buy microgreen mixed seeds or choose seeds for rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish or mustard. Each has a distinctive look, when growing, and flavour, when eaten. Read the packets for more detail or just have fun and experiment!
  • One or more shallow seed trays – also available inexpensively from garden centres or online. Alternatively, you can use any shallow tray left over from a ready meal, or use used yoghurt pots, egg cartons, cut down kitchen roll ‘cores’ or similar. Whatever you use will need to have drainage holes underneath, so parents will need to help any piercing, for safety purposes.
  • As the main pots or tray require drainage holes, you will need another tray, cut-down pot or saucer to catch drips underneath. This is known as a drip tray and simply protects your surface from moisture.
  • Lastly, you’ll need some light soil to sow the seeds in. This can be from the garden if you have one and are on a low budget (sieve first), or buy peat-free compost. Multi-purpose compost or a compost specifically for seeds and cuttings will be perfect. If you’re on a really low budget, another alternative is to simply sow microgreens directly onto layers of dampened tissue paper e.g. horizontal sheets torn from a kitchen towel.

That’s all you and your little one need, apart from water, natural light and some care and patience.

What to Do

Once you’ve got the above items together, your child can take the following steps:

Step 1: Fill the seed tray, pots or cartons almost to the top with compost or whatever is being used as ‘soil’ (see the tissue option above if the budget is low).
Step 2: If using soil or compost, this needs to be tamped down gently to flatten and level the surface.
Step 3: The microgreen seeds can now be sprinkled lightly and evenly (best done from a little bit of a height), or manually spaced if your child enjoys that alternative approach. Clumping should be avoided.
Step 4: A light sprinkling of additional compost (or sieved soil) can then go on top to keep seeds in place. It may be best to do this outdoors.
Step 5: An additional layer of kitchen towel or tissue can be placed on top of the seeds, but only until the seeds start to germinate later on.
Step 6: Lightly sprinkle water or spray the seeds gently with a water spray, taking care not to disturb or wash away the seeds.
Step 7: Place the trays or pots, with their drip trays underneath, onto a well-lit windowsill or counter top. A little ventilation will also not be a bad thing for the seeds.
Step 8: Your child will need to check that the seeds/soil/tissue are damp each day and watered lightly to ensure they don’t dry out. Watering can either be done from above (ideally using a mister or water spray so as to not disturb the seeds) or from below by simply pouring water into the drip trays. This will be slowly drawn up into the soil naturally, particularly if it’s not too deep.
Step 9: As soon as shoots begin to appear, your child should remove any covering (from Step 5), taking care not to disturb the seedlings, and continue to water lightly each day as the seedlings grow.

TIP: Don’t forget to get your child to wash their hands after touching soil and seeds etc.

Harvest Time!

For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury.Different microgreen seeds grow at different rates but usually a dense carpet of growing shoots and tiny leaves will cover the trays or pots within one or two weeks. Generally speaking, when you can see small, immature leaves at the top of shoots about 1 to 1¼ inches tall, they are about ready to be harvested. For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury. The carpet of microgreens can be snipped off, using scissors, low down near where the shoots begin. It’s best to snip them off rather than to pull them up by the roots because then they have the chance to regrow and give you/your child a second crop later on. The microgreens can then be washed in a fine colander, under a cold tap, to remove any remnants of soil.

And Eat!

Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers.Your child can then continue the fun by helping with meal preparation (with adult supervision for safety). Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to things like soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers. They are incredibly attractive to look at, jazzing up any meal and also giving children extra nutrients to consume. They are also a great way to encourage children to try new tastes and food textures.

By growing microgreens themselves, children will have had great fun and will have learned so much along the way. It’s a fabulous and educational activity, any time of year!

A Place for your Child at our Outstanding Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Are you searching for outstanding nurseries or pre-schools in Clayton-le-Woods (PR6), Chorley, or near to Clayton Green and Clayton Brook in Central Lancashire?

Little Acorns is in Clayton-le-Woods and is rated by Ofsted as an outstanding nursery. It is also an award-winning nursery, having won an important National award. Our childcare service is simply unrivalled in the area.  So, if you’d like your child to experience the very best childcare, register for a nursery place at Little Acorns Nursery. You can also request a guided tour or ask any questions using the buttons below. We look forward to hearing from you.

The ‘Progress Check at Two’ – Rough Guide

The ‘Progress Check at Two’ – Rough Guide

Every 2-year-old attending childcare settings in England is subject to a progress check at the age of 2.Every 2-year-old attending registered childcare settings in England is subject to what’s known as a ‘Progress Check at 2’. Today we explain what it entails, who is involved and how it benefits little ones. Here’s our rough guide to the Progress Check at 2:

What Exactly is the Progress Check at 2?

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is, as the name suggests, a complete progress check for children who have reached the age of two. It should be completed before their 3rd birthday and appraises their progress in all the key areas of their learning and development. It’s actually a part of the continuous assessment that goes hand-in-hand with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Amongst other things, the EYFS governs the learning and development curriculum that’s in place for children attending officially-registered childcare/early years education settings in England. It is appropriate to check that all is well in such areas, particularly at this critical age, and we’ll explain why later in this guide.

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is Not the Same as the ‘2-Year Review’ — But They’re Linked

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is not the same as the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they're ideally linked.The Progress Check at 2 should not be confused with the Healthy Child Programme’s 2-Year Review that 2-year-olds also undergo around the same age. While the ‘Progress Check at 2’ looks at the child’s learning and development progress and is the topic of today’s guide, the separate ‘2 Year Review’ is more about the child’s health and wellbeing and is undertaken by healthcare professionals like health visitors. They will look at things like overall health, immunisation uptake, physical and mental health and development, overall wellbeing and support levels from parents, carers or guardians.

Although the two reviews are different, there are definite areas of cross-over, so it makes sense for both reviews to align and feed into each other. It’s therefore useful for them both to be undertaken at a similar time, in tandem if possible. In this way, a 360 degree picture can be put together to give a complete, all-round, holistic view of the child at this milestone age. In so doing, any issues can be picked up early, so that suitable measures or interventions can be put in place to improve things for the particular child under review. For this reason, parents, guardians or carers of 2-year-olds are encouraged to allow the sharing of information*, pertaining to their child, between the various professionals involved in each of the two reviews.

Ofsted inspections will also check to ensure that Progress Checks at 2 are undertaken in an appropriate way at childcare settings. They also recognise the benefits of these progress checks aligning with the separate, more health-based, 2-Year Reviews.

The Significance of Age 2

The age of two is a significant one, hence both reviews taking place at this age. It’s a key age where the levels and progress of each child’s learning, speech, language, cognitive, physical, social and emotional development are becoming much more clear. Optimising each area as early as possible will pay long-term dividends for children, so it is a great moment to check that everything is heading in the right direction.

Areas of Focus in the Progress Check at 2

The 3 'prime' areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum are the core focus areas of the Progress Check at 2.The three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum are also the core focus areas of the Progress Check at 2. Hence, the checks will look to see how well the child is progressing primarily in their:

  • Communication and Language;
  • Physical Development;
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

Having said that, the early years professionals who undertake the progress checks are at liberty to also report findings in other areas of the child’s learning and development should they deem it appropriate. For example, they may also include a summary of the child’s progress in the remaining 4 (‘specific’) areas of the EYFS curriculum. As anyone familiar with the EYFS will know, these are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts & Design.

Who Undertakes the Progress Check at 2?

The Progress Check at 2 is a joint undertaking between the child’s early years/childcare provider, their parents, guardians or carers and, where appropriate, their health visitor too. Once complete, a written summary of the progress check will be provided to parents, or carers/guardians, as appropriate.

Identifying Support Areas Where Needed

The Progress Check at 2 is used to discover whether progress is at expected levels for the child's age and development.The core idea behind the Progress Check at 2 is to discover whether progress is at expected levels for the child’s age and development.

Using the findings of the progress check as a kind of benchmark for each individual child at that age, children can then be supported in any ways that will help optimise their progress going forwards. By sharing the findings with parents, any ongoing support that the child needs can also continue at home as well as at nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting that they attend.

Once identified, any strengths can be further enhanced and any areas of concern can be mitigated through extra help and support if needed. An example would be where an area of specific educational need or disability has been identified in the child. In such cases, the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) will become involved along with any other health professionals or specialists* if required. Together, they would put in place a support plan of measures that are most likely to help the child in any areas in which they are struggling. Such a plan will include both strategies and specific activities that will be designed to help the child, whether that’s at nursery, at home, or both.

Preparing Children for School

Through implementing the progress check and setting up support so early in their lives, children are more likely to overcome areas where they were struggling by the time they start school. This avoids them being held back at such a crucial milestone. Without such measures, they could otherwise have a bad start at school and this could lead to a detrimental domino effect in their education and development going forwards. As you can see, the Progress Check at 2 is therefore incredibly important — and a powerful tool to help little ones thrive.

Outstanding Childcare Services at an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

If you’d like to give your child the very best start in life, choose an award-winning nursery/pre-school and one that’s ranked as an outstanding nursery by Ofsted. Little Acorns is just such a nursery and even has its own Forest School. With all of this, it’s hard not to consider it the best childcare service in Clayton-le-Woods, Clayton Green, Clayton Brook, Chorley, or indeed Central Lancashire.  Register for a nursery place or contact us to arrange a guided visit. You and your little one can then see Little Acorns for yourselves. We’re on hand to answer any questions too. Please choose a button to take the first step:

* Except where it is required by law, information sharing with third parties only takes place when permission has been granted by the child’s parents, carers or legal guardians (as appropriate).