Tag Archive for: preschool

Maths Concepts for Under-5s — & Why They're Important

Maths Concepts for Under-5s — & Why They're Important

Introducing under-5s to simple maths concepts early will benefit them hugely and lay the foundations for future learning.Once babies have transformed into toddlers, it’s never too early to introduce them to maths-based concepts and language. Indeed, introducing under-fives to such concepts in the earliest years will benefit them hugely as it lays the foundations for future learning. That’s one of the main reasons it is a part of the EYFS curriculum. Continuing this learning at home will also help them instinctively understand that mathematics is a normal and integral part of everyday life. As such, there is no need for it to be perceived as a daunting topic. With all that in mind, today’s guide explores why the early introduction of mathematics is so beneficial to under-fives and how parents and caregivers play a vital role in encouraging their mathematical curiosity, knowledge, and confidence.

The Benefits of Understanding Maths Concepts in the Early Years

As well as the obvious advantage of improving numeracy skills, learning mathematical language and concepts at an early age has several key benefits for under-fives.

Enhanced Vocabulary Development & Language Skills

Children exposed to rich mathematical language will naturally have stronger vocabularies. This, in turn, will facilitate enhanced communication skills, for example, through the mastering of such things as descriptive, comparative, and positional words.

Improved Cognitive Skills

Learning numeracy skills is like a subtle workout for the mind. Such activity is known to stimulate brain development and improve memory, attention, and critical thinking skills. Each of these benefits will allow children to make connections and solve problems more easily.

Stimulated Creativity & Imagination

Mathematics isn’t just about numbers; it also involves creativity. For example, children can explore patterns, shapes, and spatial relationships, each of which has maths at their heart. Indeed, maths is integral to design, art, music, dance, and many other creative areas that children can immerse themselves in.

“Studies show a direct correlation between early mathematical skills and later educational achievement.”

A Foundation for School Success

Familiarity with mathematical terms and concepts also helps to prepare children for school.Familiarity with mathematical terms and concepts also helps to prepare children for formal education, including in many areas other than pure mathematics. Understanding maths concepts from an early age will allow them to confidently engage in number-related exercises and discussions, greatly enhancing their school readiness across multiple topics. Such preparation will allow them to take maths-based challenges in their stride right from the moment they begin Reception Year in primary school. What’s even more striking is that studies show a direct correlation between early mathematical skills and later educational achievement.

What Kind of Maths Concepts Can Parents Teach Tots?

As you’ll see below, there are many different types of maths-related words and concepts that parents can help children grasp. As we said before, maths is all around us, so there are many opportunities to help little ones master mathematical concepts and language — even from an early age. Aside from learning the actual numbers, some examples include the following:

  • Counting fingers, toes, and objects like building blocks is an obvious way to help children master the most simple maths-related vocabulary.Counting is the most obvious example. Counting can be introduced and practised by your little one in many, many situations, from counting how many more mouthfuls of food a child should eat, to the number of Lego blocks in a tower they’re creating.
  • Size is another maths-based concept where, given some parental guidance, little ones can soon begin to understand whether something is tiny, medium-sized, big, gigantic, tall, short, thin, or wide.
  • Measurement is another maths-related concept for children to grasp, so encouraging them to learn when something is full, empty, long, heavy, light, etc., will stand them in good stead both linguistically and in terms of mathematics.
  • Similarly, comparatives will be useful for children to understand. It’s essential for them to grasp concepts and language like more, less, equal, different, the same, identical, and so on.
  • Maths concepts can be found by children in shapes, sizes, measurements, comparatives, positions, patterns, time and, of course, numbers.Shapes also have roots in maths, so children should get familiar with 3-sided triangular shapes, 4-sided shapes like squares and rectangles, and so on.
  • Positions are also founded in mathematics, so children should be encouraged to recognise when something is on, off, inside, outside, up, down, and suchlike.
  • Finally, time also has its roots in numbers and mathematics. Therefore, it will help children to not only tell the time eventually but also understand the meaning behind words like early, late, now, later, soon, etc.

How to Go About It

Parents, caregivers and relatives can help children under five learn about these mathematical concepts and the language that surrounds them. Games, books, and even songs, for example, often include facets of maths and maths language that adults can draw children’s attention to and get them involved in. Counting fingers, toes, and objects like building blocks is another obvious example and one which can be extended to include much of the maths-related vocabulary that we mentioned earlier (numbers, comparatives, positions, shapes, etc.). Mathematics language and concepts can be learned through everyday activities like games, reading books, cooking, playing with building blocks, helping with shopping, and so much more.Creative endeavours can also be vehicles through which supervising adults can highlight elements of mathematics that are built into designs and creations that children may generate. Patterns and shapes are obvious examples of that. Last but not least, parents can involve children in maths facets which are integral to everyday life, for instance, counting items when out shopping, or measuring when putting ingredients together for a meal. Children will love being more involved in such activities and will learn about maths in a fun, natural, and engaging way. Doing so will create the strongest foundations for their future learning.

We may follow up at a later date with some in-depth activity ideas that will help children learn more about maths and the language surrounding it, so watch this space!

Little Acorns: an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Award-Winning Childcare in Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns gives babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life at their Clayton-le-Woods nursery near Chorley. That’s backed up by being rated an Outstanding Provider by Ofsted and a prestigious National Nursery Award too. So, if you want the very best for your child, choose Little Acorns Day Nursery for their weekday childcare and we’ll ensure they absolutely thrive and are prepared for success.

Get in touch today to register your child for a nursery place, set a date for a guided tour of the setting, or ask any questions:

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and preschool located 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.

 

How to Help Your Child Transition to School

Today's post aims to help make children's transition to school as easy and stress-free as possible.Beginning school is a huge milestone for any child as well as for the child’s parents or guardians. Whether transitioning from nursery/preschool or straight from home, beginning school can be a daunting step in a child’s life — especially if they’re unprepared. Today’s post therefore aims to help parents/guardians make the transition to school as easy and stress-free as possible for their child, so they are empowered to feel at home and hit the ground running from the moment they begin. Take a look, therefore, at our guide on How to Help Your Child Transition to School. Following the advice should help make this milestone plain sailing for everyone involved.

Prepare Your Child Well in Advance

The most impactful measure for a smooth transition to school is thorough preparation. As the old saying goes, “Fail to prepare — prepare to fail” meaning you should ensure good preparation if a successful outcome is to be achieved. And, by definition, preparation is required in advance of the school start date. The remaining tips below are all part of that preparation and, as you’ll see, some will be required well in advance.

Well in Advance:

Ensure a Good Early Years Education for Your Child

One of the most critically-important steps for a smooth transition to school is to ensure your child receives a comprehensive early years education.One of the most critically important steps for a smooth transition to school is to ensure your child receives a comprehensive early years education. By this we mean they need to have been nurtured between birth and school age in all areas of their learning and development — ideally including the seven key areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). In essence, they will need help with their communication and language, physical development, personal, social & emotional development, literacy, mathematics (watch out for our separate post on that coming soon), understanding of the world, and expressive art and design. With such skills and knowledge under their belt before the age of five, they will be incredibly well-equipped once they begin school. Without them, they will find the transition difficult and may even be held back.

Early Years Education at Nursery & Preschool

Such an early years education is also available, of course, via outstanding childcare services like those available at Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods. High-quality settings like ours nurture every aspect of children’s learning and development. Through a programme that’s tailored for every child, we do everything we can to ensure they achieve personal bests in every area and are as school-ready as possible by the time they leave us to begin school. With all that achieved, they are sure to thrive from the moment they start. Learn more about why children benefit by going to a good nursery/preschool here.

Close Parental Involvement in Your Child’s Education

Parents/guardians can and ideally should help with this early years education from home too. Indeed, close parental involvement in a child’s education has been shown to be hugely beneficial to that child, with far-reaching short- and long-term benefits. Studies have shown that such children are much higher achievers at school than those who did not receive regular educational support from parents. Follow the bold link to learn more.

Read With Your Child to Super-Charge Language Skills

Reading with your child from an early age has also been proven to be hugely beneficial to children. Studies show that, by reading with them regularly – including before the age of five – their language skills will receive a massive boost and this will help them enormously once they begin school. Reading with (not just to) children can boost the language skills of preschoolers by the equivalent of 8 months — incredible when you think about it. Comprehension, vocabulary, creativity, knowledge, literacy, and even empathy skills are improved when parents regularly read with young children. A love of books and reading is also a natural extension of this and, again, this can only help children once they’ve started at school. Learn more about how you can Super-charge Your Child’s Education Through Reading here.

Nurture Independence, Social & Soft Skills

It's important to nurture children's independence, social skills and soft skills before they begin school.During their journey from birth to school age, it’s also important to nurture children’s independence, social skills and soft skills.

  • Ensuring independence will make them feel more in control and self-assured once they start school. For example, help them learn to wash hands, tie shoe laces, use zips and buttons on clothing and be able to dress themselves. Parents can help children accomplish all of these by demonstrating each and encouraging practising at home.
  • Parents can also encourage good social skills in children while at home, so they are polite and naturally more likeable once they start school. So, try to nurture skills like good manners, understanding right from wrong, mastering negotiations with peers, sharing, helping others and generally being able to make and keep friends. Parents can encourage socialising with friends and relatives of a similar age to accomplish such things.
  • Additional soft skills will help little ones thrive as well as fit in and be positively viewed once they begin school. Examples of soft skills to nurture in children before they begin school include good communication (verbal as well as non-verbal), listening, an understanding of empathy, cooperation, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, resilience, adaptability, good organisation, creativity, resilience and time management. Mastering these will stand children in very good stead at school.

In the Weeks Running Up to Starting School:

One of the small but impactful things you can do to better prepare your child for starting school is ensuring they have a friend joining at the same time.When starting school is only a few weeks away, there are several small but impactful things you can do to better prepare your child for the transition:

  • Forewarn your child that they’ll be starting school soon and give them further reminders as the start date draws closer. This will avoid any nasty shock when the day arrives and help prepare their mindset.
  • Talk about it often as the day draws nearer. Encourage questions, answer them, and listen to any misgivings your child may have. Reassure your child whenever they seem apprehensive.
  • Focus on the positives of school, such as all the new friends they’ll make, all the new activities they’ll participate in, new play equipment and sports facilities, and how school can be a huge adventure.
  • Show them the school, initially through a brochure or website and later during an organised visit where you can both ask questions during the tour. This will help them feel more at home when they arrive as well as helping them know what to expect.
  • Find a friend who will also be attending the same school and the same class. Perhaps one of their peers from nursery/preschool may be attending — perfect if so. If not, ask around to find someone who is and arrange play dates so the children can get acquainted in advance. Knowing they will have a friend there in advance is going to help your child hugely once they start school.
  • Ensure your child gets ample sleep, especially in the run-up to starting school, otherwise, they’ll struggle to stay awake or concentrate at school. Sleep is incredibly good for children anyway.
  • Allow children to sync their body clocks with the hours they’ll be awake once they begin school. So, set a suitable bedtime and getting up time for your child in the weeks before school starts — and stick to it. Towards bedtime, allow your child to gently wind down and ensure they avoid the use of electronic screens (TVs, iPads etc.) during this period. It will help your child get to sleep.
  • Purchase/source any uniform, Wellington boots, shoes, clothes, backpack and PE kit required for school, ensuring it’ll all be the right size for your child once they begin. It’s a good idea to put your child’s name on each item too. Check with your child’s school what else they may need, for example, stationery, lunch box, etc.
  • Practise the school route. A dummy run along the route to school on a weekday is a great idea during the week before your child begins school. Time it to coincide with the real schedule you’ll be following once your child is attending so that you’ll get a feel for how much traffic there will be. Make any adjustments needed so you’ll not be late when the time comes.

On the Day Before the 1st Day of School:

  • Ensure your child knows what's in their backpack and that it's all labelled with their name.Pack your child’s backpack and ensure it includes everything they’ll need. For example, perhaps a snack and/or lunch box, any spare clothes, PE kit, stationery if needed, and so on.
  • Ensure everything is labelled with their name, as appropriate.
  • Go through the backpack with your child so they know what’s in there and where everything is.

On the Day:

  • Be on time. Dropping off or picking up late will stress both you and your child out!Be on time. Dropping off or picking up late will stress both you and your child out!
  • Don’t fuss; it’ll only make your child more nervous.
  • Remind your child that you’ll be there to pick them up at the end of the school day.

Outstanding Childcare & Early Years Education in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Award-Winning Weekday Childcare Services in Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and preschool located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley. This is backed up by our prestigious Best Individual Nursery Award and an ‘Outstanding Provider’ status from Ofsted. So, if you’d like your baby, toddler, or preschooler to have the very best start in life, consider Little Acorns Day Nursery. We’ll bring out the very best in them and do everything possible to ensure they’re as ready as possible by the time they leave us to begin school.

Please select an option from the buttons below to get started on your application, ask a question or request a guided tour with your little one.

Little Acorns Nursery is also conveniently close by for families in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

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.

Encouraging Learning Through Play at Home

Encouraging Learning Through Play at Home

Parents play a crucial role in fostering an environment that supports exploration, curiosity, and growth through home-based play.As we discussed in our recent post The Power of Learning Through Play in Early Childhood, play helps babies and children to improve cognitive skills, social skills, motor skills and emotional growth. It feeds the imagination, boosts creativity and fosters a love of learning. Language skills benefit, problem-solving abilities are enhanced, and children naturally pick up maths concepts and even elements of science through play. With that in mind, today’s post follows up with the topic of Encouraging Learning Through Play at Home.

How to Encourage Learning Through Play at Home

Play-based learning doesn’t stop when children leave childcare nurseries; it continues at home, where parents and caregivers play a crucial role in fostering an environment that supports exploration, curiosity, and growth through play. Through the suggestions outlined below, parents can help children more optimally benefit from everything that learning through play provides — while at home.

Create a Playful Space

Designate an area in your home for play — even a corner with a few age-appropriate toys, books, and art supplies may be sufficient.Designate an area in your home for play. It doesn’t need to be elaborate — even a corner with a few age-appropriate toys, books, and art supplies may be sufficient. Ensure, of course, that the space is safe and free from hazards before your child embarks on their play activities.

Be a Playful Partner

Getting involved in your child’s play is hugely beneficial to the quality and impact of children’s play. Play together, ask questions, foster feedback that’s two-way, and encourage imaginative storytelling during play sessions. Your active participation not only deepens the bonding experience but also profoundly enhances their learning.

Limit Screen Time

Screens are now a pervasive part of modern life, and they can be both a blessing and a challenge. TV, educational apps, interactive websites, and streaming services can provide valuable learning experiences, but too much screen time can have adverse effects on children’s development. At the very least, excessive screen time can potentially impede the development of essential social and motor skills. Therefore try to limit the time your child spends on screens, including TV, tablets, and smartphones. Instead, encourage physical, interactive, and imaginative ‘real life’ play — and your child will reap great rewards. It’s a fine balance between accommodating the digital age and ensuring children take part in real-world activities that support educational growth and development.

Embrace Outdoor Play

Outdoor playing and learning covers many of the areas outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage ('EYFS') learning and development framework.Outdoor play also offers a wealth of learning opportunities. It promotes physical health, stimulates the senses, and allows for unstructured exploration, which all contribute to holistic development. Take your child to the park, explore nature, or simply play with them in the back garden if you have one. Outdoor activities will also foster an appreciation for the natural world. Indeed, we wrote a whole post about the many benefits of outdoor play and another about the huge benefits of nature to children. Take a look at these important topics by following the bold links.

Encourage Pretend Play

Pretend play, such as role-playing with costumes or setting up a pretend kitchen or suchlike, fosters creativity and imagination — and is huge fun for your child. Encourage your child to take on different roles and scenarios during such playtime and watch their creativity and imagination soar!

Read and Explore Together

Reading is a wonderful way to support learning through play.Reading is a wonderful way to support learning through play. Choose age-appropriate books, of course, and be sure to engage in interactive storytelling. Ask and encourage questions about the story, encourage your child to predict what might happen next, and ask them what they might do if it were them in the story. Books and reading teach children so many things and, like pretend play above, truly encourage their imaginations and get their creative juices flowing. Learn more about how you can supercharge your child’s education through reading here.

Let Them Lead

Children learn at their own pace, so be patient and, on the whole, allow them to take the lead during play. Avoid over-structuring playtime; instead, let it flow naturally, following your child’s interests and cues. Doing so will ensure they remain engaged in the activity. Do, of course, sometimes inject new, perhaps creative ideas into their play, though. As adults, we can steer children subtly in their play when there’s an idea or concept that they may not be familiar with and may otherwise have missed out on. Simple examples could include introducing the concept of using different voices for different characters in a role-playing game and showing them a different way to build a structure in a building block or construction-based game.

Celebrate Achievements

Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate your child’s achievements during play. Whether it’s completing a challenging task, creating a masterpiece, or achieving something new, positive reinforcement will make play more fulfilling and boost children’s self-esteem. It’ll also, of course, make the activity more joyful and fun for the child — and that’s a sure-fire way to motivate them to play and learn even more.

Encourage Social Play

Arrange play dates with other children or involve siblings in play activities at home.Arrange play dates with other children or involve siblings in play activities at home. Social play helps children learn essential social skills like cooperation, sharing, and conflict resolution. It’s also a great way to make new friendships, learn from each other, and become a closer member of friendship circles.

Age-Appropriate Toys

When playing involves toys and props, ensure your child has access to those that encourage open-ended play and creativity. Blocks, arts and crafts materials, and imaginative play sets like dolls or action figures are excellent examples as they allow children to lead the direction that their play session follows. With such toys, their imaginations can run riot and they can get truly creative. Rotate the choice of toys and introduce new ones to keep playtime fresh and engaging over time.

An Outstanding Childcare Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Just like at Little Acorns Nursery, your home can be a vibrant hub for play-based learning. A nurturing environment, the right resources and materials, and actively engaging with children during play, will empower them to explore, learn, and grow. By embracing the power of play at home and in settings like Little Acorns, we are paving the way to a brighter future where young minds flourish, curiosity thrives, and discovery is both fun and educational.

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley. Indeed, we are officially an Outstanding Provider according to Ofsted and that’s backed up by our prestigious national nursery award. We also support Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families, making childcare more affordable for Central Lancashire families. If you want the very best for your baby, toddler or preschooler, register them for a place or bring them on a guided tour and we’ll be delighted to show you around and answer any questions. Get in touch:

Little Acorns Nursery is ideally suited for families seeking an outstanding childcare service in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley. It may also suit those living nearby in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham.

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.

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.