“To grow up healthy, children need to sit less and play more.”
Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy” – World Health Organization (WHO).
Screen time is a sensitive subject at the best of times for most families. However, now in a world of virtual birthday parties, and Zoom classes and with both parents and children spending a lot more of their time at home, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to know when and how to put limits and restrictions on your child’s screen time.
There are many benefits to reduced screen time including “improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children which will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” says Dr Fiona Bull, programme manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, at WHO.
At St. George’s, we understand that it’s often difficult to limit screen time at home, that’s why at nursery, we plan a range of activities that don’t involve screens! We encourage children to play and learn outside in our beautiful large gardens, we encourage yoga, music, singing and dancing, we read and listen to stories from our teachers and peers and we do lots of sensory play including activities with water, play dough and sand. For more activities, please see http://stgeorgesnursery.com/age-group/.
The wide range of activities we do at St. George’s Nursery helps to keep the children active, fit and healthy, as well as to boost their imagination, creativity and enhance their motor and social skills.
Here are a few things you can do at home too…
Start by recognising that with so much more happening online nowadays, some screen time is inevitable. However, there are techniques you can use to limit this:
“When we tell kids not to do something, we almost always need to tell them what to be doing instead,” says Stephanie Lee, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.
Develop a non-screen activity menu with your children that includes their various other favourite activities, such as cooking and baking, arts & crafts or even teaching pets new tricks. This will help when they are feeling fed up or bored, they have a variety at options ready to go.
Your children may try to reject your new system and act grumpy for the first couple of days. Children often try their luck with new restrictions and try to gauge how firm they really are. If you keep with the plan, rejection and push back are likely to disappear and your children will become accustomed to their new routines.
This definitely won’t be an easy one but it’s important to lead by example. Children are likely to replicate behaviours such as putting your screens away at certain times of time every day. Not only will this help your children decrease the time they spend on their screens, but could also help you control the amount of time you spend doing the same and could give you more valuable and mindful time with your children.
“Being a mother comes with a lot of things; responsibilities, constant learning but most of all emotions. Every day we go through a whirlwind of emotions with our little people. From feeling loved up to moments of frustration due to exhaustion. All these feelings are valid and normal. We can’t always be super happy and it can be difficult to constantly know what to do and what is right.
Guilt. This is a feeling that reoccurs on a daily basis for me. When I was pregnant, I felt guilty because I felt rubbish from the constant sickness and nausea when I had hoped so hard that I would become pregnant. Guilt because I didn’t attend any pre-natal exercise classes to bond with my baby because I was managing a service alone and was left so tired that at the end of a working day, all I wanted to do was sleep. Guilt, because I didn’t go out to make friends with other pregnant women because I wanted to organise myself to start my own business.
After little man arrived, this feeling continued. Guilt that I felt overwhelmed with the 10 hours plus of cluster feeding every day. Guilt that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby which was why he was constantly feeding. Guilt that I wasn’t looking forward to breastfeeding because it was painful with sitting as my coccyx had moved during birth. Guilt that I didn’t get out in the early months because I was constantly feeding and the only position I could do it in comfortably was laying down. So on and so on.
It’s hard to come to terms with the reasons behind feeling guilty, and there will always be something that affects us. My recent feeling of guilt has come from the idea of returning to work.
I always knew I wanted to go back to work because I love what I do. Helping others achieve positive experiences gives me a sense of achievement and being. I am passionate about what I do and I love to see the difference I bring to other mothers and their relationships with their babies. This being said, I love seeing my son grow and develop and feel so fortunate to have had spent the last 13 months with him. Unfortunately, however, due to change in circumstance, I have had to re- evaluate my work/ home balance. Before going off on maternity I had planned to go back to work 3 days a week, spend 2 days with my son at home, manage my business 1 day and to spent 1 day as family.
Life had different plans for me and in actual fact I now have to work full time. I sat deliberating with my husband on what was best for us and what was best for me. I knew if I was going back to work, it would have to be to a job I loved and with the niche that I work in, that wouldn’t be easy. Work have offered me some flexibility but I still have to put in the 37.5 hours. I still want to continue supporting women with positive birth experiences and teaching hypnobirthing so it all came down to weighing the importance of each aspect of my life.
I have taken the role and will continue my business too. This has built so much guilt as I know I will only spend 1 hour an evening with my son and will miss 1 weekend a month with him, but what I also know it that this is an opportunity to grow, learn and make the most of the time we have together. I’ll pre plan the night before so I can enjoy that hour with him, playing and bonding. The 3 weekends a month I have with him will be for us. We will make the most of doing things together and enjoying every moment I have with him. I have left the feeling of guilt for holding my son whilst he naps and co- sleeps at night because that is my quality time with him. If things don’t work out at work and it means I have to give it up, we will deal with that at another time. But for now, I acknowledge I will miss some time with my son, but what I will do is make the most of the time I do have with him.
It’s not easy being a parent, not knowing if you are making the right decisions for you and your baby. Regardless of whether you choose to be a stay- at- home mum or a working mum, you have made that decision with good reason. Remember in each case though- make the most of the time with your little person. The house can wait, other people can wait. Do what is right for you and enjoy the precious moments you have together.”
Mental health problems affect roughly 1 in 10 children and young people. The most common mental health problems seen in children are anxiety, ADHD, conduct disorders or learning disabilities.
Alarmingly, 70% of children and young people who experience mental health problems have no had appropriate interventions at the right age.
The emotional well-being of children and young people is just as important as their physical health. Most children can start to show signs of mental health difficulties from a young age but often times these are misdiagnosed or ignored.
Because young people process information, events and emotions differently, nurturing children’s health is influential on their mental health as adults.
Teaching children and young people healthy coping mechanisms, how to regulate strong emotions, how to create a safe space which is welcome to emotional and physical expression are all ways we can try to promote good mental health in children.
The start of good mental health in children leads to the development of well-round and resilient adults. Additionally promoting good mental health helps lead children into dealing with daily struggles and adversities much better in adulthood and helps them grow into strong self-confident individuals.
Head over to the http://www.theminddoc.co.uk/ for more on mental health.
The world is moving in a dangerous direction, and if we want our children to grow up into a natural world anything like our own, we need to act now. A warming globe and wasteful behaviour could threaten food stocks, increase extreme weather, lead to flooding, and destroy precious ecosystems.
Why do we at St. George’s Nursery need to be more sustainable?
Sustainability can be defined as ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
At St. George’s, we’ve been working hard to think of lots of ways that we can act more eco-friendly. Why? Because we want to ensure that we are doing everything we can in order to help minimise the detrimental effects of certain human activities but more importantly we understand that the path to a more sustainable Earth will depend on how we educate the next generation. We want children to grow up with an understanding of how to look after the planet, and in turn, go on to influence others with their behaviour. The earlier you can teach these core principles, the better.
Children should be taught to respect and care for the world they live in from a young age, if they do, they are more likely to preserve it and consume more appropriately. This could help reduce the consumption of plastic in the future. One of the best ways for children to learn about the environment is to experience it.
Our aim is to empower our children, raise environmental awareness amongst parents, children and the wider community, and improve the overall school environment.
So what are we doing to help?
Our eco-committees, made up of both children and staff, have been learning about various topics such as biodiversity, energy, transport, water, waste and litter and have been implementing various new measures around the nursery.
From reducing waste and using more eco-friendly products, to conserving water and energy, we want to continue to educate ourselves and our children to lead healthier lives, make more mindful choices and protect the beautiful world in which we live.
How can parents help?
Help to reinforce what the children are learning at nursery – from recycling, reducing waste and reducing energy consumption to walking more/ taking more public transport to reduce our carbon footprint.
Wherever you live, take your child outside into nature, whether it is in a local park, or just outdoors, they can learn so much about nature from seeing it and being part of it. They need to understand that they have a shared responsibility to protect the animals and trees that they love so much.
“Looking after the world around us has never been more important than it is today. It’s up to us to take positive actions now so that future generations have a whole, healthy planet to grow up in.
But most importantly of all, we act as role models for your children, showing them how to look after the planet, teaching them about the living world and its precious resources, and fostering their love for nature.”
At St. George’s we take pride in the fact that we have such dedicated long-term staff, who are passionate about both childcare as well as St. George’s.
Every single one of our staff makes each child and their families feel welcome, ensuring that all children are safe, happy and learning. They go above and beyond to foster an environment where our children, their families and our fellow colleagues feel a part of the family.
Many of the team members in the list below started with us in their teens! They are constantly building on their knowledge and skills and their passion for what they do continues to grow stronger and stronger.
Below is a list of our long-term employees (10+ years with St. George’s), and how long they have been a part of the St. George’s family. We are grateful to each and every one of the employees below, for their hard work over the years as well as their commitment, loyalty and dedication.
“For some children lockdown has been an opportunity to flourish. All that quality unstructured time spent with parents and siblings has been precious, if at times challenging. But in the case of too many other children it’s been a very different story.
With no grandparents, nannies or nurseries to keep their children entertained and stimulated, working from home parents have had little choice but resorting to iPad or TV screen as digital childminder for up to eight hours a day. Cooped up and without the interaction they’d normally get at nursery, primary school or toddler group, under-fives have just not been engaging or speaking enough – and in some cases this has left them unable to string a sentence together.
Shermeena Rabbi, Consultant Speech & Language Therapist says: “Usually children’s vocabulary develops naturally from playing with other children. They learn from interactions at soft play, nursery and toddler classes. Not having these opportunities has left many nursery-aged children with delayed verbal skills”. Citing the parents of a two year old who was barely speaking or engaging with them, “unfortunately their reliance on technology as a pacifier has had negative effects”.”
Through a parent link app, parents are able to access information about their child’s day at a suitable and convenient time for them. Using the First Steps platform, we are able to increase our partnership with parents by allowing two-way communication between our parents/carers and St. George’s Nursery, including their child’s key worker.
Ideally every day at pick up time, every parent and key worker would talk and discuss in depth their child’s growth and development, but as you know this is not always possible – especially now since parents are no longer permitted to enter the building due to Covid safety regulations. We want to ensure that parents are still updated so that they don’t miss a moment of their child’s progress and wow moments!
This is why we use a Parent Link app, which allows parents to remain informed with events at the nursery throughout the day. Parents are able to log in to the app and observe their child’s activities at a time that suits them. Furthermore, parents are encouraged to add to their child’s learning journey and contribute notes and observations for their key worker to read. This in turn helps the key worker to create a more bespoke learning plan for each child and also improves and strengthens their relationship and bond with the parent. Even parents who are unable to collect their children themselves, they can continue to maintain good communication with their child’s setting.
From engaging with you in your child’s learning journal, to viewing daily activity, meals, nappy change and bottle change and sleep notes, we want to ensure that parents have strong connections to their settings and involve themselves in each stage of their child’s learning.
For more information on how to access the app, please see the link below:
What a better place to learn and develop than in the wonderful outdoors, admiring and appreciating the nature surrounding us? At St. George’s, we take every opportunity to take our learning outdoors and to teach our children to respect and understand the world around us.
Especially now more than ever, the Government is urging nurseries to use outdoor spaces where possible. Our staff have been making even more use of our outdoor areas and constantly cleaning everything (to find out more about our new cleaning and safety policies, please email or call us). Even though there is little evidence of Coronavirus being transmitted in schools + nurseries, we continue to do our best to keep our children and staff safe at all times.
All of our nurseries have an enclosed and secure outdoor play area for older children and a separate outdoor area for younger children, where they can play safely. Children laugh and squeal with delight as they make “mud pies” in our well-resourced mud kitchens, or as they build dens and play hide and seek. They enjoy splashing in muddy puddles or just putting their feet up and relaxing with a good book
We believe that anything you can teach in an indoor classroom can be taught outdoors, often in ways that are more enjoyable for children
There are numerous benefits to learning outside of the traditional classroom setting. Children often feel less restricted to express themselves outdoors and there are less space constraints enabling children to explore more freely. This freedom is excellent for both a child’s physical development as well as mental development.
Here are some of the benefits of high-quality outdoor learning experiences:
It will help children develop an understanding and appreciation of the environment and the world in which we live, including awareness of the different plants, animals and other species around us. It will help them to respect and care for the earth, and understand the ‘interrelationships among humans and the habitat. As the world becomes more populated and polluted, and as some animal and plant life becomes endangered and extinct, the role that we all play in protecting or destroying the earth can be reinforced. Through nature study, children can learn how they affect the environment as well as how the environment affects them.’
Children who play outdoors from an early age are more likely to enjoy exercising and carrying out other activities outside as they get older. Studies have shown that children who engage in a minimum of 2 hours of physical activity rather than those who sit in front of the television or video games all day are more active in the later years of their lives.
Children feel more freedom to discover new things when they are used to spending time outdoors. They learn to invent new games, create new activities and develop their own ideas, which in turn helps them acquire a risk-taking, self-sufficient, ‘can do’ attitude. This forms the basis of a strong foundation for not only future learning but also their future working lives.
Whilst being indoors often leads children to feel intimidated and stuck to confined spaces, being outdoors often helps children to express themselves more freely and become more outgoing and sociable.
Children are faced with increased opportunities to take risks whilst being outdoors. “Is that tree safe to climb?” “Can I jump off this log?”
“The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves.” – Roald Dahl
A strong focus on learning outside teaches children to not allow challenges get them down and to not give up easily. In turn, they build strong skills such as determination, ambition, as well as resilience.
Of course it’s a huge decision whether to send your child to nursery or not and yes, they’re your little treasures, but a high-quality preschool is designed to set young minds up for future academic, emotional, and social success.
According to Edward Melhuish, Professor of human development, University of Oxford, “it’s clear that nurseries benefit the majority of children, regardless of background.”
Read on to hear about some of the benefits of sending your child to nursery:
Children need to be able to develop their independence, confidence and problem-solving skills, as well as their feelings of security, comfort and belonging. Researchers from Sorbonne University in Paris said: “Access to high quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties and promote pro-social behaviours.”
Nurseries offer a good early years language development programme that supports every child. These enjoyable programmes are built and designed to nurture attentive listeners and excellent speakers. Age-appropriate games, songs, books and other activities are used to provide children with the confidence to experiment with speaking and listening.
At St. Georges Nursery School, we encourage our children to foster self-respect and a positive self-image so that they are confident and assured in their abilities and skills. We support them to make independent choices, for example in managing their own hygiene and by making equipment, resources and supplies easy for them to access. We teach children to understand their feelings and emotions and manage their behaviour appropriately. We promote valuing and respecting others and we encourage relationship building with both staff and other children through helping them to develop strong social skills.
New blog coming soon on “How attending nursery helps to set your child up for success in the next stage of their life – school” for more on this!
Early years childcare offers a great opportunity for children to socialise at a young age, and in turn, it can help them learn communication skills as well. According to the Telegraph, a study found that young children who are looked after by their parents or grandparents are worse behaved than those sent to nursery. The study found that children who attend a nursery or creche staffed by professionals are less likely to have poor social skills, difficult relationships with peers, or behavioural issues – particularly if attendance lasts a year or more.
Children attending nursery school have the chance to play with both other children and staff members. As well as giving children the opportunity to have fun, play is crucial when it comes to a child’s well-being and development. An active lifestyle is fundamental in helping children to develop healthy habits to last a lifetime and children require a variety of play as a part of their growth and development.
In the digital age we live in in front of iPads, phones and TVs, we want our children to still be able appreciate and enjoy the great outdoors. Thought it may be tempting at home to switch off and put on the TV, one thing you don’t see at St. George’s is a television. Play is vitally important as your children will develop muscle control and strength, balance and coordination, and research shows that play helps cognitive development enabling children to retain more information.
The variety of activities at nursery are usually greater than what can be offered at home, including dress up and role play, sports singing and dance classes and messy play using paint, water, sand, and glue.
It is suggested that when children begin walking by themselves, it is beneficial for them to be outdoors for at least three hours each day enjoying some physical activity. Outdoor play means that children receive a range of settings and environments for learning.
For further information on children’s health and fitness, please see our blog ‘Health and Fitness in the Early Years’
Although there aren’t lots of rules and staff controlling children’s every move or activity, at St. George’s we have a structured routine (thought it may not always seem that way!). A planned and controlled environment encourages children to make friends, share and play amicably with their peers and staff. The organisation of our classrooms is often invisible to children, but it is effectively ordered to inspire communication and collaboration, and to minimise clashes or congestion.
Take caring of both ourselves and others helps us to develop our sense of competence and self-confidence. We encourage our children to help at nursery by putting toys away, keeping things tidy, by laying the table at meal times or looking after the classroom pet. We also teach our children to become an asset for their peers, to help them assist other children in areas they may not be confident in or to help and welcome newcomers.
The children’s thoughts, ideas and interests are used to create various activities which fosters the children’s interest and motivation to learn. During activities, teachers monitor, question and listen to the children in order to provoke further ideas and inspiration (the ‘right’ answer is not the goal).
Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and children have the most active imaginations. It opens the door to many possibilities, and it can fuel learning. It builds social and cognitive development. We nurture our children’s creativity by spending lots of time outdoors, and participating in activities such as riddles, singing rhymes, art, inventing scenarios, storytelling as well as many more.