How to Develop a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

Many parents dread the time of day when it’s time to wrestle the kids to bed. When children resist going to sleep, the house is filled with whining and screams of “no” and “I don’t want to” where every step of brushing their teeth, putting on their pyjamas and finally getting them into bed is a battle. It’s no surprise that parents fall onto the couch after the war exhausted thinking of where the evening has gone. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Whether you may believe it or not, a relaxing and peaceful bedroom routine is possible and anyone can achieve it. You may already be achieving it and for that, we can only say “well done!” but for those of you who are not, this article is for you.

Healthy sleep habits are such an important and vital part of healthy development for children, so here is our advice on how to develop a peaceful bedtime routine in your home.

Read: 5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018

What do you consider to be a perfect bedtime routine?

Before you can create a bedtime routine that will suit you and your family, you first need to think about what a perfect routine would be for you. Consider:

  • What time do you want your children in bed?
  • What activities do you want them to do before bed (e.g. put away toys, brush teeth, wash face, shower or get their backpack ready for tomorrow)?
  • What common excuses does your child use for not going to bed and how can you eliminate them/incorporate them into your routine (drink of water, use the toilet etc)?
  • What activities can you add to your routine so that you both enjoy it (read a book together, sing a bedtime song, snuggle, talk about the good things that happened today etc)?

Once you know what your ideal evening would look like, only then can you start working towards making that your reality.

A woman sleeping with a dog next to her

3 things that you can do to end the day more peacefully

Create a ritual and connect before lights out

When both you and your children have had a long and sometimes stressful day, it is beneficial for everyone knowing that the evening will end peacefully. To ensure this, create a ritual that will create a calm and soothing atmosphere before bed. You can decide what you would like to do and then discuss this with your children to see what would make their perfect bedtime routine too. When children feel involved they are more likely to want to follow this routine.

Make sure that your routine involves a lot of one-on-one interaction as children just want your attention. Often, children only play up to get your attention, so spending some time in the evening reading together or singing bedtime songs can really make a difference to how your child behaves. Even if you have many household duties or are stressed from your work day, it’s essential that you put that aside and schedule some time to be with your children. You’ll soon find that you feel less stressed for it as you say goodnight and close that door knowing that you’ve spent quality time together.

A newborn sleeping and holding his mother's finger

Set a time and stick to it

So you know when you want your children to be in bed, now you need to start working your routine backwards to figure out what time you need to start preparing for bed. Contrary to what many parents do, a routine shouldn’t be started 10 to 15 minutes before lights out. Children need plenty of time to wind down and relax before they transition into bed.

Having a set time each day where the bedtime routine starts is great because not only does this mean less stress for you, but it also allows your children to know when they need to start getting ready so that they can finish their games or stories before settling down. This allows them to be in a much better mindset to sleep well. Once you have your times, stick to them as much as possible. It’s okay to be flexible when times call for it but you need to set your limits such as the number of stories you’ll read to make sure that the routine is as consistent as possible.

An alarm clock

Limit screen time, especially after dinner

There is nothing more stressful for you than nagging your children to do something and 20 minutes later, they are still staring at the screen of the TV or the iPad. We’ve all been there and it is incredibly frustrating, but what’s more is that it is actually very harmful to our children. Bright screens can ruin a bedtime routine as they stimulate the brain and negatively affect our sleep patterns, so you need to be thinking about how you can limit this before bed.

Limiting screen-time at least 30 minutes prior to bed is enough time for your child to focus on relaxing and getting into the right frame of mind for a good sleep state. With a peaceful bedtime routine that starts well before bed, however, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if your child knows that there are no screens once the routine starts.

A little girl on the computer with her mother

So there you go, bedtime no longer has to be a huge hassle if you just take control and take some time to implement these new and healthy changes. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t take straight away, however, as there are no instant fixes to a problem. Be patient and take the time to develop this routine and you’ll soon find that your evenings are so peaceful that you won’t know what to do with yourselves!

 

Do you have more advice on developing healthy habits? See more from us here:

 

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

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7 Common Nursery Worries and How to Overcome Them

When our little ones are going to nursery or school for the first time, it can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. For parents, there are worries about how your child will cope away from you and if they’ll make friends, and for our children, they may have a lot of worries as they have so many new things that they will be facing.

While it may be tempting to succumb to this worry, it is really important that parents keep things positive and express excitement for nursery or school (even if they don’t feel that way), and if your child still has worries, to address them and help them overcome them.

To help you enjoy this exciting time without all the unnecessary worry, here are seven common concerns that parents have about nursery and our tips on how you can overcome them healthily!

Worry 1: What if they get upset when it’s time for me to leave?

This is one of the most common worries that parents have and it’s no surprise really, as no matter how much you prepare for that first day when it’s time to leave our emotions tend to get the best of us.

What you can do: Practice saying goodbye with your child before the big day and come up with your own personal ritual to give them comfort. This could be a handshake, an Eskimo kiss or a special phrase you might say after a big hug. Keep goodbyes short and sweet as that will be best for the both of you.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

Worry 2: What if I break down when it’s time to leave?

Even when you try your best to talk positively about nursery and school so that your child feels good about it, it might not be enough to calm your own worries about that day. With that being said, however, it is crucial that you don’t get emotional in front of your child as they sense our nerves and take them on themselves.

What you can do: Do everything you can to keep it together in front of your child. The easiest thing to do is think of something funny and smile. When you smile, your whole body relaxes and your child will sense this and relax too. If that’s not enough, think how good it will be for your children if you relax and practice breathing deeply from your stomach and concentrate on softening your facial expressions.

Worry 3: What if they miss us when we are gone?

Don’t assume that your child will have a hard time adjusting being away from you because you may project your worries onto your child. In reality, it will be strange at first but your children will be occupied all day until that perfect moment when you’re reunited at the end of the day.

What you can do: It’s important that you don’t set your children on a track to develop anxiety when they think about leaving you. Concentrate on developing positive traits in your children to help make adjusting to change that much easier; developing self-control and peer-related social skills will help them throughout their whole lives so just think about this when you’re teaching them.

Worry 4: What if they don’t make friends?

This is a common worry among children and parents and even as adults we worry about meeting new people whenever we are doing something new, so this is completely natural.

What you can do: Help your child build the social skills they’ll need. Sharing, playing collaboratively and kindness are a huge part of nursery, school and life there afterwards, so reinforce these morals at home and they will be making friends in no time. Where you can, try to organise play dates and give more encouragement to children who are shy.

Worry 5: What if they don’t adjust?

Again, don’t assume that your child will have a hard time adjusting because in reality they will most likely love their educational environment and make new friends in the process.

What you can do: To make the transition easier, visit the nursery or school before the first today so that your child can familiarise themselves with the new environment and see how nice it is. They can even meet their teacher so that they start looking forward to their first day instead of being scared.

Two girls drawing

Worry 6: What if they don’t learn what they are supposed to?

Try not to dwell on what your child may or may not learn and whether they will be on the same level as the other children. There is a lot of variability among preschool-age children so it is normal for them to learn at different rates.

What you can do: All you can do is try to stop worrying. Even if you think that your child is “behind,” it is important to remember that they will pick up most of their social skills, fine and gross motor skills, and even academic skills, just from playing with others and in their own time naturally. If you want to, you can complement nursery activities with similar ones at home.

Worry 7: What if they don’t cooperate with the teacher?

Some parents tend to worry about the possibility that their child may be naughty or disrupting and won’t cooperate with the teacher.

What you can do: Lay some groundwork at home to prepare them for nursery/school. Get your child used to listening to an adult by reading books out loud to them and if they get up and walk away or interrupt, remind them that you are reading and that you would like them to sit quietly and listen.

A mother and her son looking at eachother

You may or may not have noticed that all of these common worries start with the dreaded “What if?” These are what are known as “hypothetical worries” meaning that parents are worrying about things that may or may not happen, things that are out of their control. This is counterproductive and can have a negative impact on you and your children, so don’t dwell on things that might not happen. Instead, take an active approach with your anxiety and help your child prepare for the next stage of their lives.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Do you have more nursery worries? See more help and advice from us here:

 

12 Questions You Need to Ask Your Nursery

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children?

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

Just like with adults, children get stressed too. This might seem like a strange concept, as what do children have to be stressed about? They have no work or bills to pay, no responsibilities or pressures, but while this is true, we forget that it is hard growing up and learning what your place is in the world.

From learning new skills and having new experiences to more specific pressures such as academic performance, separation anxiety or relationships, children often suffer in silence. This can have a significant negative impact on their health and development, so as parents, we need to learn to recognise when this is happening so that we can provide the support and advice that they need.

Stress is very common in children and most will experience anxiety at some point in their lives, so here is everything you need to know about recognising stress and how to help them deal with it healthily.

A little girl holding her parents' hands

Signs of stress to look out for

It’s difficult to notice changes in your children if it happens slowly over time or they hide how they are feeling, but if they are exhibiting one or more of these signs, it’s important that you address it with them to see if they are okay and how you can help.

Your child may be stressed if you notice:

* Changes in their behaviour – this can be anything out of character that lasts for several weeks.

* Symptoms of worrying – biting nails, chewing their hair, or getting upset or anxious about things more than normal.

* Signs of aggression – they may be more irritable, angry or frustrated than normal, or take their emotions out on family members at home.

* Social withdrawal – your child may isolate themselves by avoiding family members, activities such as sleepovers, or not wanting to go to school.

* Regression – this is when a child reverts back to infantile behaviour as a way of dealing with stress. This can include using the potty, sucking their thumb, bed wetting, having tantrums or becoming clingy.

* Aches and pains – emotional stress can manifest physically, so pay attention to how often your children get headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, a rapid heart rate or fatigue.

* Sleeping problems – this can be either an inability to fall asleep, poor sleep or nightmares.

* Changes in their eating habits or weight – your child may eat more or less than usual which may lead to weight loss or weight gain.

* Academic problems – whether it is a lack of concentration or being disruptive, your child can exhibit signs of stress in school which will affect their performance.

Two boys standing and sitting in front of two doors

How you can help your child deal with stress

If you notice that your child is exhibiting signs of stress, it’s important that you help them deal with it.

1. Don’t dismiss or laugh at their worries. What may seem trivial to us are big worries for our children, so take them seriously and provide them with lots of reassurance that they’ll be okay.

2. Normalise stress. Let your child know that stress is a normal part of life and that it is essential that we recognise it and deal with it.

3. Discuss healthy ways of dealing with stress. By engaging in a conversation with your child about stress, you’re allowing them to think about it for themselves and work out what is best for them. Do they think that physical activity can help? Do they need to relax more or try techniques such as breathing and muscle relaxation? Do they know what mindfulness is and why it is important?

4. Model healthy coping behaviours yourself. Children learn from their parents so it’s no good telling them what they should be doing and doing something different yourself. Actively try to commit to healthy coping methods yourself such as exercising and use it to teach your children valuable life skills for the future.

5. Limit screen time and monitor their use. Devices are windows to the world, so the last thing that you want is for your children to be exposed to potentially distressing information online. Limit screen time to two hours a day and keep an eye on their social activity to monitor any changes in behaviour.

6. Be mindful of the changes in your life. Anything can cause your children stress from you having another baby to your financial worries or your own trivial stresses. Be mindful of this, as children pick up on it, and try not to discuss family worries until the children are in bed.

Two toys saying happy and keep on smiling

It can be really difficult to notice if your child is stressed, especially if the changes are very subtle. However, it is essential that even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, that you address it and help them manage it.

Even if it isn’t a major issue to be stressed about (by your standards), by teaching your children to cope with stress, you are arming them with essential life skills that will lead to a much healthier and happier life.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more help and advice? See more from us here:

8 Ways to Help Your Children Protect Their Teeth

How to Choose the Best Educational Toys: the Ultimate Guide for Parents

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Fun Spring Activities to Do as a Family this Spring

Spring is here and with the way the weather has been lately, we are sure that you are almost as itching to get outside as your children are!

To shake off the winter blues, here is a range of fun spring activities that you can do as a family this Spring, no matter what the weather is.

Reconnect with nature

Get outdoors and get hands-on with nature! There’s nothing like taking a simple stroll outside, whether you’re taking a walk around your street or driving to a location where the natural scenery is worth the trip, so make sure to take the time to take your kids outside. Walking is not only good for all of you, but it also allows your children to gain an understanding of the world around them. Let them feel the earth in between their fingers as they plant a garden, the sand in between their toes at the seaside, and let them collect leaves or twigs for arts and crafts or go bird watching, bug hunting or animal spotting in the wild!

Read: What is Heuristic Play and Why is it Good for Our Children?

Go for a picnic

Ahhh, fresh air! It may not be as warm as Summer yet, but it is the perfect time to get layered up and venture outside for some outdoor eating. Whether you’re heading to the beach, to a grassy park or even just in your back garden, throwing a picnic together is a great way to mix things up from the usual routine of eating at the table. Just grab a blanket and go and if it rains, bring that picnic indoors for a fun family meal on your living room floor!

A Spring picnic hamper

Fly kites

Springtime brings some blustery days which is ideal for taking those kites for a spin! This is a great activity to do as a family as you can do it anywhere and depending on your level of interest, you can have fun flying a basic kite to learning how to fly a stunt kite and teaching your children. What do you do on days where it is too wet to fly a kite? Why not make a pinwheel instead!

Make a birdhouse or bird feeder

Spring is all about new life, so why not take this opportunity to teach your children about animals and nature by doing something fun? One activity kids love is making a birdhouse or bird feeder. Not only is the art project itself an entertaining activity to do as a family, but it also provides hours of fun later too! Once you’ve assembled your bird house or feeder, place it in the garden where you can see it from indoors and get ready to attract a variety of birds. Buy a bird book and binoculars and start ticking off species!

A bird house in a tree

Get creative with plants

Everything starts to grow in Spring so take this moment to teach your little one’s valuable life lessons. By simply planting seeds with your kids, you can teach them about responsibility and care as they nurture the plants to grow whilst also teaching them about plants and different species. Once they’ve bloomed, you can even use them to make plant art or come up with experiments, such as putting white flowers in different coloured dyes, to teach your children about science. Don’t even limit yourself to plants either, you can plant lots of things such as vegetables or trees and use them to teach your children about the world.

Go camping or build a fort

This is a perfect activity whatever the weather! If you’re feeling adventurous and the weather is great, pack up the car boot and head to the outdoors for some family camping. Not only is this great quality time with your children, but it also allows you to teach them valuable survival skills such as making fires, assembling shelter, and fishing. Is the weather bad or you just don’t want to get outside? Then build a fort inside! Grab some sheets and blankets and create your own fairy princess castle.

A family camping in the mountains

Whatever the weather, grab your kids and do something together outside! Use this list of spring activities for some inspiration and go and make some memories this Spring.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

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How to Choose the Best Educational Toys: the Ultimate Guide for Parents

Toys are meant to be played with but they can also promote skills that are vital to your little one’s development.

As a parent, one of the most rewarding parts of watching our children grow is to see them learn and develop as people, so why not choose the best educational toys and watch this every day?

With so many choices of toys available, this guide will help you choose the best ones for supporting your child’s development. 

Select toys that match your child’s interests and abilities

Your child has to be interested in a toy before playing with it, so make sure you choose toys that are age-appropriate and ones that match your child’s interests. This may be a trial and error approach at first, but you’ll soon see what your child is most interested in. Then you can match toys accordingly such as alphabet blocks if your child likes building as this will help their development with letter and sound recognition. Again, make sure that the toys you select are age-appropriate as you want them to challenge your child without them getting bored.

wooden building blocks spelling play

Look for toys that promote heuristic play

Heuristic play is the sensory exploration of ‘everyday items’ which is very beneficial to the development of children. You can promote this same type of play through the types of toys that you select, just make sure that they are open-ended and can be used in a variety of ways. Toys like building blocks or bricks and arts and crafts materials give your children the freedom to be creative and use these objects however they want. Plus they can be used as many times as they want!

Many open-ended toys encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning in a fun and natural way, which are essential lifelong skills.

Read: What is Heuristic Play and Why is it Good for Our Children?

Choose toys that promote social skills and collaborative play

You want to be encouraging your children to be as social as possible from an early age as this contributes greatly to self-confidence, communication and interaction in later life. By choosing toys that promote the development of social skills, such as board games, puzzles, experiment kits and building materials, you are teaching your children to share, take turns and essential skills such as negotiation and compromise. As your children grow, they’ll only learn different developmental skills such as teamwork and problem-solving.

Opt for toys that spark imagination, providing opportunities for pretend play

Pretend play is essential for our children to engage in as not only does it develop creativity, but it also helps to promote language and literacy skills. From taking on different characters and acting out new situations to trying to communicate and building their vocabulary, toys that can provide these opportunities are great for our children. Opt for toys like play kitchen sets with pretend food, shopping tills with pretend money, or DIY and workshop sets with pretend tools and you’ll soon your children grow into their own.

Seek age-appropriate board games that are great for improving math and language skills

Board games are incredibly fun but they can also drastically improve math skills for young children. From counting as they move around the board to reading the questions and learning essential strategy skills, board games can help develop math and cognitive skills no matter how many times they are played. Just remember to choose games that are age-appropriate as you don’t want them to be too hard that your child is deterred from playing or too easy that it doesn’t challenge them or help them develop.

Pieces on a board game

Pick toys that encourage exploration of the real world

Exploring, discovering and learning about the real world is something that we never stop doing, even as adults, so why not start helping our children do this early to build their understanding of the world around them? Toys that invite children outdoors such as binoculars and a bird book, a bug-catching kit or science kits, can really get them involved in nature, promoting a natural curiosity and desire to learn that will be invaluable for the rest of their lives. Providing hours of discovery, children will be asking a variety of how and why questions that are also essential for critical thinking.

The best educational toys are ones that capture your child’s attention and keep it, continuously challenging them to explore and discover. Just remember to get involved with them, as nothing is greater for their development than interacting and bonding with their family while they play!

 

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

8 Ways to Help Your Children Protect Their Teeth

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

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8 Ways to Help Your Children Protect Their Teeth

We all want our little ones to have the happiest and healthiest smiles, so help your children start out right by helping them protect their pearly whites. Here are 8 ways to do just that.

Take them for a checkup

It has been recommended that children should see a dentist by their first birthday as early preventative advice and care can be given if needed. It also allows children to learn early that seeing the dentist regularly is important and ensures that they are not scared. Plus, who doesn’t love getting a “good job!” sticker?

Make sure they eat healthily

The food children eat directly affect the status of their dental health long term, so teaching our children nutritional health is just as important as promoting oral hygiene habits when it comes to helping them protect their teeth. To foster a healthy and well-balanced diet (and promote these positive habits throughout their life), children should avoid sweets, desserts and sugary drinks, especially before bed. Limit snacking and promote three meals a day made up of lean meats, fruit and vegetables, cheese and low-fat dairy products, unsweetened foods and water instead of sugary juices or drinks like coke.

blueberries, blackberries and raspberries

Cut back on juice

Although juice is healthy, it is very high in sugar and when children drink it all day long, it can lead to tooth decay. Try to limit juice to the mornings or only as a treat as children shouldn’t have any more than 100ml a day. Always promote water as much as possible, using squash with no added sugar as an alternative.

Limit use of the sippy cup

While the sippy cup is a great tool for helping young children move from a bottle to a glass, it can lead to problems if parents let them drink from it all day long. Unless a child is drinking water, a sippy cup can lead to decay on the back of the front teeth if the drinks are sugary.

Aim to ditch the dummy after 2 years of age

A dummy is perfect for babies but when your children reach 2-3 years of age, using it can affect how their teeth line up and even the shape of their mouth. When your child reaches 2, you need to be trying to wean them off it, otherwise, you need to consult a doctor if they’re still using it when they are 3.

A little girl with a pacifier laughing at a snail

Check children’s medicine

We all know that children’s medicines are flavoured so that they will be more willing to take them, what’s surprising, however, is just how sugary they are. When your child is taking medicine, make sure to check the sugar content and brush their teeth afterwards to decrease their chance of cavities. If they are on long-term medications such as medicine for asthma and heart problems, then consult your dentist about how often to brush because it could be as often as four times a day!

Teach and model good habits

Children will learn habits from parents so it’s crucial that we model good ones! From even before your baby has teeth you can gently brush their gums with water and a baby toothbrush and when they have teeth, brush twice a day with an infant toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. It is essential that we teach good oral hygiene, so brushing, flossing and even mouthwash are things that we can instil in our children from an early age.

Use oral health care as a bonding experience

We all read bedtime stories to our children so why not make brushing our teeth together a part of that routine? You could even make brushing their teeth a group activity, making a chart and giving everyone gold stars or a sticker when they’ve done a great job. Children are much more likely to join in when they see grownups brushing their teeth, so take the time to do it together and teach your little ones the importance of health, hygiene and family time.

A family and dog in a forest

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children?

12 Questions You Need to Ask Your Nursery

When it comes to our children, we want the absolute best for them and to take care of them always. While we can always try our best, we do have to work, and when they are young, this means taking them to nursery or daycare where they can stay throughout the day.

Leaving our children in someone else’s care can be tough for many parents, therefore choosing a suitable nursery can be one of the most important decisions that they’ll ever have to make.

To help you find the best nursery for your children, we’ve put together a list of essential questions to ask that can aid in your decision.

  1. Are you registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales?

  2. What are the opening hours and how long can my child stay?

  3. What if I need to change a day or book an extra day? How much will that cost?

  4. What is the staff turnover like?

  5. What experience and qualifications do your staff have?

  6. What is a key worker?

  7. What food will my child have whilst they are with you?

  8. How will food allergies be managed?

  9. Where will my baby sleep?

  10. What do I need to provide for my child?

  11. How will I know how well my child is developing?

  12. When do I need to pay my bill?

Two girls drawing

As a well-established and successful day-care provider, we at Schoolhouse Daycare think that these are the essential questions that any parent should ask a new nursery that they are considering for their children. If you want to find out more, you could always drop in for an unexpected chat and you can ask more in-depth questions such as:

  • How long have your staff worked here?
  • How do you ensure the safe recruitment of your staff?
  • What are the ratios of staff to children?
  • What’s a typical daily routine that my child will have?
  • What activities/play opportunities to you provide for the children?
  • How do you manage children’s behaviour?
  • How do you support children’s learning and development?
  • How do you ensure the safety of the children in your care?
  • Can I see the nursery’s registration certificate and latest inspection report?

Not only will this allow you to see the environment for yourself, but it will also give you confidence if the staff are very prepared to answer all of these questions and you can see a lot of happy little faces around! Most nurseries should be happy to show you around, so organise a visit and ask your questions to give yourself peace of mind.

 

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

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What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children?

Heuristic

adjective

“enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves.”

Have you ever experienced a specific moment with your child where they’d rather play with the box that a new toy has come in rather than the toy itself? Or even another everyday object over a new toy? If you have, this is what is known as heuristic play.

What is heuristic play?

 

The term “Heuristic Play” was coined to describe the interaction of babies and children with everyday objects – not toys.”

Today, children are surrounded by loud, colourful toys that tend to be made out of plastic or wood, and while these might be good at stimulating some of the senses, they tend to lack the sensory and heuristic properties critical for supporting creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

wooden building blocks spelling play

With heuristic play, this involves the sensory exploration of ‘everyday items,’ anything from some rice or pasta or a wooden spoon to a piece of string or sticks from the garden. The difference between this and playing with toys is that toys are often limiting in what they can do, meaning a car is meant to be rolled back and forth, while heuristic play with any household object allows your child’s creativity to take over. Having an open-ended object to play with stimulates innovation, creativity and imagination as your child discovers the ways the object can be used, all characteristics of which are essential to learning and development.

Why is heuristic play good for our children?

 

“Toys that do less, actually teach more.”

1. It stimulates creativity and imagination

Imagination leads their play with heuristic objects, rather than muscle memory taking over when a child knows that a noise happens when they push a button. With heuristic play, open-ended play opportunities allow children to explore, learn and develop in a completely natural way.

Baby playing with tissue paper

2. It supports gross motor skills and brain development in infants and toddlers

Infants and toddlers, in particular, require a variety of sensory exploration to support their cognitive growth and development. With heuristic play, they are able to do this on a much wider scale than with toys that may limit their abilities to develop.

3. It stimulates multiple senses and critical thinking

When a child pushes a button on a book and it makes a sound, they learn that this action makes that sound and that sound corresponds to whatever context is on that particular page. With heuristic play, children can make sounds from banging different objects together or knocking them against another surface. However, unlike the toy, this leads them to figure out the context for themselves – why did that make this sound? What would happen if I banged this item with a different item? All of these questions only come about by exploring and they are far more valuable later in life when our children need to develop certain skills such as innovation and critical thinking.

4. It promotes early mathematical conceptual learning

When a child is exposed to a variety of items that range in size, shape, weight and texture, the time they spend exploring only aids their mathematical conceptual learning. This doesn’t tend to happen with typical toys as the need to explore is lessened when they know what the toy is meant to do.

Rice, noodles and potatoes lined up in piles

5. It allows children to gain an understanding of the world around them and encourages independence

The mantra that “toys that do less, actually do more” is very relevant to heuristic play. It means that basic, everyday objects that we consider boring (or not toys) actually offer a world of possibilities to learn for our children. While they learn to play they also start to gain an understanding of the world around them, and more importantly, especially with children today, they learn that they don’t need much to self-entertain. It is through handling and exploring these objects that babies and toddlers begin to make their own choices and decisions and start to develop as people.

How can I encourage heuristic play?

To help support your child’s learning and development, all you’ll need to do is provide them with more opportunities for open-ended discovery. Here at Schoolhouse Daycare, we use the ‘treasure chest’ method where we fill a box with heuristic objects of different sizes and textures and let the children discover them for themselves. Obviously, we always keep a watchful eye on them as we supervise, but it is essential that you allow them the freedom to choose and explore the objects without offering them the objects first. You can easily do this at home by filling a box with household objects such as egg boxes, measuring spoons, and shower puffs and sometimes outdoor objects such as leaves and pinecones. Just remember to rotate them fairly frequently to encourage new and different learning experiences.

A little boy reaching into a toy box

Usually, 30 minutes a day is enough for the treasure basket heuristic play, so make sure that you clear a space for it with no other toys around, have the TV off and take the basket away once your child is satisfied so that they don’t tire of the objects. It is also important that you supervise and observe but don’t encourage or distract. Your child needs the freedom to explore on their own at their own pace. As well as the treasure basket, you can offer heuristic play opportunities at any time, such as taking your children outdoors more often or even in moments where you’re doing chores, such as letting your child play with the basket of pegs as you hang up the washing.

We are not saying toys are bad, we are just highlighting how important heuristic play is to our children’s development so that you can mix it in with their day-to-day life. By offering your children heuristic objects that support their creative thinking or taking them outdoors to explore nature, you will essentially be giving them the best start in life in order for them to become better adults when they grow up – isn’t this all we want as parents?

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018

10 Things to Do with Your Children Over the Summer Holidays

5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018

With the New Year just around the corner, we are sure that you are thinking of things that you would like to do better, whether as an individual or as a family. We all do it and at such a reflective time, it’s hard not to.

While some changes may seem very optimistic (and some near impossible!), it is possible that you can make some positive changes as a family to make life at home healthy and happy. You just need to work as a team! The good news is, is that we can help you do just that with these 5 healthy habits for 2018.

1. Get Outside as Much as Possible

Getting outside in any weather has many benefits, so try to get as much fresh air as possible in the New Year! Even if it’s just getting out for 20 minutes, make sure to schedule some time purely for light exercise outside. Whether it’s a short walk or bike ride, throwing a ball around the garden or collecting items in nature for some arts and crafts at home, you’ll soon feel the benefits of it and everyone will be happier for it.

Read: Surprising Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Healthy in Winter

A family having a water fight outdoors

2. Limit Time on Gadgets Indoors

Technology is taking over our lives in today’s world, so it is really important that we are strict with our children and with ourselves, to how much time is allowed to be spent on them. Spending a lot of time looking at a harshly lit screen can affect our sleep and lead to other problems such as headaches, so try to establish a routine where there is dedicated screen time. It is best to avoid it before bed as it wakes you up and in the morning as you’ll have trouble getting your little ones ready for school!

A mum and daughter looking at a laptop screen

3. Eat Healthy and Get the Children Involved with the Cooking

Many of us make the New Year’s resolution to eat healthier but only a few of us succeed! If you want to develop healthier food habits for you and your family, it doesn’t just have to be about what you eat. Being healthy can simply be about making sure that you are all eating regularly, that your children don’t dictate what you eat, that breakfast and lunch are always accounted for and never rushed, and that you all eat dinner together every night for some great food and family bonding time. All these habits are important for our health, so these simple changes can have a big impact.

A child baking

In such a modern age, it is also beneficial to get your children involved with the cooking as much as possible. Not only will this help them to understand how important fuelling our bodies is, but it will also teach them responsibility and they’ll have fun! Get them involved in making meal plans and the cooking and you’ll find that they will have a much bigger appreciation for food and family time.

Need ideas? Check out these Kid’s Cooking Recipes!

4. Exercise for 20 Minutes a Day

Exercise is essential for our health, so if you’re going to make one healthy change in the New Year, make sure to try and do more. Just 20 minutes a day is the daily recommendation which, even with how busy our lives get sometimes, every single one of us can make time for! Introduce a fun workout in your household that gets the kids involved, from an assault course or skipping to an exercise video or your own made up routine. You’ll soon find that you all enjoy it, are happier for it, and you’ll almost always end up doing more than 20 minutes which is great for the heart. 

Home fitness equipment

5. Work on Building Healthy Routines Together 

One of the best ways to make a family healthier is to bond and work as a team. Every family has their own areas they need to work on, so why not do it together? Do you need to make more quality time to have with each other or is it simply showing more gratitude? Do you need to improve your current bedtime routine or do you need to get outside more? Whatever you feel like you could work on, the healthiest way to do it is to sit down together and decide on how you’ll achieve this together. Not only will it make you all stronger for it, but it will show your children that they are valuable members of this family and they will want to work together.

A family and dog in a forest

When building healthy routines as a family, get creative. Introduce things that every family member will like such as a Friday film night, and when it’s too cold to get outside, make your house an indoor playground! It’s really important for our health to burn off excess energy, especially for children, so think of ways you can do this indoors when you need to. This could be anything from buying a trampoline for the garage, playing board games, hosting a Wii sports competition or building a giant fort in the middle of the living room. The important thing is that you get everyone involved in doing something instead of sitting around.

Read: 10 Fun Activities To Do with Your Little Ones Over Winter

Pieces on a board game

So there we go, 5 simple and completely do-able healthy habits to adopt in the New Year! Start off by working on one habit and you’ll soon find that they will all naturally become part of your daily family life. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? See more from us here:

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

10 Things to Do with Your Children Over the Summer Holidays

10 Fun Winter Activities To Do with Your Little Ones

If you saw our latest blog on “Surprising Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Healthy in Winter,” you’ll know that it’s important to get outside as much as possible with your children in this season, as long as you dress up warm! For those times while you are in the house, however, what can you do as a family to fill those dark and cold evenings?

Here is where we come in! To help you have some fun and make some memories together, we’ve compiled a list of 12 fun activities to do with your little ones over Winter. Enjoy!

1) Make homemade hot chocolate

There’s nothing like cradling a hot mug in the Winter to warm up your hands and licking off a delicious chocolate moustache you get from sipping your drink! Warm up your children’s bellies by making the best homemade hot chocolate together with marshmallows and all the toppings.

A spoon in a mug of hot chocolate

2) Transform the house into a Winter Wonderland

Why not bring the Winter indoors (just without the cold!)? Have fun transforming your home into a magical Winter Wonderland by making paper snowflakes and hanging them up in unexpected places. You could even buy snow in a can to decorate the windows and pillow stuffing to create your own snow scenes.

3) Teach your little ones about the weather forecast

Make the most of the weather by educating your little ones! You can make the weather forecast fun by helping your children measure the outside temperature every day and making a graph of the weekly trend. You could even get them to make predictions about next’s week weather as well. Not only is this different and entertaining, but they’ll learn some valuable life skills too!

A table full of arts and crafts

4) Build a fort!

Forget a snow fort, lots of fun can be had indoors with blankets, sheets and pillows! Build your own super fort with large boxes and spend hours playing make-believe. You can even bring in your bedding and camp in the living room after a great bedtime story!

5) Make Christmas cards for a local nursing home

As Christmas is the time for giving, why not teach your children the importance of being charitable? Make Christmas cards for a local nursing home and deliver them yourself so that your little ones can see the smiles that they bring to people’s faces.

Don’t have a local nursing home? Collect old Winter coats from the family and take a trip to a charity shop. The Shoebox Appeal is also a great activity to get your children involved in.

6) Bake some Winter favourites

Winter is full of delicious hearty foods, so make some of your favourites! Who doesn’t love a freshly baked cookie, warm mince pie or filling cooked dinner? It’s a lot of fun for your children to help out and they will definitely enjoy eating them!

Need ideas? Check out these Winter Recipes!

A heart shape in a cookie

7) Get creative

Arts and crafts are always a winner with children so try to come up with a few unique ideas to do together. Why not teach them about your family tree so they can draw it? If you want to make things, how about a pine cone bird feeder or a family time capsule? 

8) Engage in messy play

Messy play is one of the best activities our children can engage in, so create some of your own Winter scenarios! You could bring snow into the house in a bowl, experiment with cold water and ice cubes, raid your cupboards for foods to play with like sugar and marshmallows. You could even make the most of putting up the Christmas decorations by playing with tinsel, glitter and paint to make snowflakes out of your handprints.

Read: 5 Reasons Why Messy Play is Important and Benefits Children

A row of cups filled with different coloured paint

9) Build an indoor obstacle course

Do your children have excess energy? What better way to burn it off than the ultimate obstacle course! Create your own out of household objects and mix up the rules to keep it interesting. This is so much fun for all the family, so try it out next time you’re stuck indoors or your children are getting a bit bored.

10) Play board games together

December especially is a time for family traditions, so bust out the board games and introduce your children to some of the classics! There is no better way to bond and have some quality time this way, plus you get to play some of your favourites!

Pieces on a board game

Next time you’re stuck indoors or the children are starting to get bored, don’t fret! Use some of these Winter activities to keep the family entertained and make some unforgettable memories together.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

Looking for more ideas or advice? See more from us here:

Stay Well This Winter: How to Keep Your Kids Sniffle Free

5 Spooky Halloween Activities to Enjoy as a Family

5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018