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:

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

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

How to Keep Your Children Safe in the Sun

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



“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

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

Many parents are put off by messy play, as although the idea of finger painting or crafts sounds fun at first, the reality of paint, glue and glitter getting everywhere and the inevitable operation clean up that follows it soon sets in. However, many studies have shown that messy play is one of the best ways for our children to learn and develop, so now is the time to embrace it and get messy!

Here at Schoolhouse Daycare, we encourage our children to engage in messy and sensory play as much as possible as the many benefits are worth it. Plus, we clean up all the mess! To help you get involved in messy play activities with your children, we’ve outlined the main benefits that it provides.

It Fosters Curiosity, Imagination and Exploration

There is no right way to carry out messy play, it is all about letting children explore and experiment with different objects and raw materials without any end goals to restrict them. For example, although toys can be fun, such as a toy car, children are restricted in the ways that they can use them. With raw materials such as sand, water, chalk, paint, play dough or paste, children’s imaginations can run wild and they can spend a long time exploring these, making their own discoveries, stimulating their curiosity and developing their knowledge.

With messy play, the sensory experience also helps children to understand their senses. By exploring how things feel, smell and taste, this type of play nurtures an awareness and understanding of the world that surrounds them.

Baby playing with tissue paper

It Encourages Communication and Language Development

Messy play is a sociable activity, whether with family or other children, so naturally, it will enrich relationships through social interaction. As young children can’t explain things verbally, it allows them to share their discoveries in different ways through the use of objects and gestures and in order to do this, they need to think through their actions so they can communicate this explanation which also helps develop their cognition.

Depending on what you make the messy play activity, you can also use it to develop language skills and encourage speech. For example, using letters in the activity helps develop an understanding of the written language, by describing sensations and textures to your children you can help them build their vocabulary, and by talking through what you’re doing and asking open-ended questions such as “I wonder what happens when I do this?” you are providing speaking and listening opportunities and encouraging thinking skills.

It Practices Good Concentration and Nurtures Future Skills

High concentration levels are needed while engaging in messy play, from exploring objects and engaging all of their senses to thinking through their discoveries and trying to communicate them. This helps children to develop essential learning skills which then enables them to focus and concentrate when learning and practicing practical skills. Next time when you see your child making marks in the sand, they could be developing an early form of writing! Or perhaps when you see them swap an object with another child, they are learning to share and negotiate with others.

Girl blowing bubbles

It Promotes Physical Development

Hands-on play also offers many physical benefits, allowing your children to develop an awareness of their body and personal space whilst strengthening their muscle control. Activities such as pouring, shovelling or drawing in the sand help build strength in the large muscle groups at the top of the arms and it is these muscles that then enable the smaller muscles in the hands and fingers to make precise and controlled movements. In messy play, children can play with tools to develop and practice their fine motor skills as well as their hand-eye coordination, until soon they can hold a pen or eat with a fork!

It Supports the Ability to Play Independently

In today’s younger generation especially, children are losing the ability to be able to amuse themselves. With messy play, we can teach them that you can make your own entertainment! In an unrestricted play environment where there is no right or wrong way to do things, this is the perfect situation to allow your child to play how they want to. By using their own mind to plan, explore and problem-solve, they are building a self-confidence and self-esteem that will develop them as independent people.

Two boys playing in a stream

Ideas for Messy Play Activities to Do with Your Child

Get involved and get messy with our messy play ideas!

Get outside: the natural world is a playground of textures, smells and sensations, so go find some puddles or autumn leaves to jump in too!

Make the most of mealtimes: with younger children especially, allow them to experience eating in its entirety. Allow them to feel, smell and taste their food to engage all of their senses, then when they are slightly older you can teach them about table manners!

Play in the bath: water is one of the best natural materials to play with so why not add some sponges or empty plastic bottles and give your children an opportunity to play and explore.

Invest in a sandpit: sand triggers many sensations so let your child dig, pour and make sandcastles until their hearts are content. 

Get creative with the mess: messy play is about the way things feel so go crazy with ideas. Whether you’re using everyday objects like paint and washing up liquid or investing in materials such as play dough and slime, you’re children just need to be given the opportunity to play with it and explore it.

Explore your food cupboards: food provides a great source of exploration and sensory stimulation so hunt for anything you can crunch, mash or manipulate. Dry foods such as cereal and pasta or interesting foods such as mashed potato, baked beans or jelly are perfect!

Little boy with buckets in the sand

With messy play, preparation is key to minimising the cleanup. As long as you cover surfaces, allow plenty of time to play and clean your little rascals up before the activity remains, you will have a great time together and reap all the benefits!

So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy getting messy!


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 great articles? See more from us here:

Surprising Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Healthy in Winter

10 Things to Do with Your Children Over the Summer Holidays

How to Keep Your Children Safe in the Sun

Surprising Reasons Why Outdoor Play is Healthy in Winter

In Scandinavian preschools, you will find children playing outside at every opportunity. Even in the depths of Winter, children will be wrapped up in warm overalls and will spend the day exploring forests, climbing moss-clad boulders or wading in creeks up to their rain boots. With these forest schools promoting exclusive outdoor play and its benefits, why is it then that we are not following suit?

As with many things in life, we tend to adopt the behaviours and ideas of our culture because it is what we are used to. In the UK, this typically involves staying indoors for the Winter for worry of catching colds! While this seems logical to us, the wet and cold weather actually offers many benefits that we don’t know about, so we should be spending more time outdoors especially in these months.

In Scandinavian countries, children are found to be fitter and more attentive with better motor skills as well as being generally healthier. To help you understand why here are surprising reasons for why outdoor play is healthy in Winter.

Little girl in the snow

Children Can Escape Indoor Germs

Probably the most surprising health benefit of outdoor play is that it is better for our health! With viruses and bacteria being more prevalent in the Winter it is important to get outside where there is fresh air as the germs that we bring in the house are being recycled over and over again through our air vents. For children, in particular, getting outside is also essential for them to develop a strong immune system as they come into contact with bacteria in a natural setting and the more time they spend outdoors, the less likely they are to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies in the future.

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

Fresh Air is Healthy – Even in Winter!

Another contradiction to our common beliefs, exposure to the cold doesn’t necessarily cause acold. In fact, if dressed appropriately, fresh air is healthy for everyone even in the Winter. When people spend a lot of time indoors, especially when they are overheated and poorly ventilated, germs are recirculated and easily passed from one person to another. That’s why outdoor play is crucial! Not only does it allow children to breathe fresh air and reduce the spread of infection, but it also refreshes the mind, allows them to burn energy and establishes a positive understanding for year-round exercise throughout the rest of their lives.

Outdoor Play Provides Opportunities for Better Exercise

We all know that we as adults should be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. For children, it is advised that they should get 60 minutes a day and this is even more important throughout the Winter. When children don’t exercise enough, this excess energy can affect their sleep cycle and appetite which in turn affects their development and ability to maintain a healthy body weight. While exercise, in general, regulates this and ensures a healthy lifestyle, Winter exercise, in particular, is essential for muscle growth, strength and gross-motor development. Why? Because everything about this environment challenges us! Whether just walking through snow, or engaging in slightly more strenuous activity such as shovelling snow, sledging or building a snowman, this season provides us with unique opportunities for exercise that develop us in various ways.

Winter Play Helps Children to Develop

Much like exercise, outdoor play also provides opportunities for learning and development, some of which are exclusive to those Winter months. With outdoor play equipment being frozen and covered in snow, children are challenged with finding alternatives which stimulate their imaginations and offers different ways to learn. Physical and cognitive challenges such as “how will I pack this snow tightly to build shapes?” and having an awareness that they need to adapt their behaviour in this new slippery and less safe environment, all ensure that they learn important life lessons and develop vital skills.

Playing Outdoors Supplies Children with Essential Vitamin D

You may not think that there is enough sun in the Winter months to provide us with our daily requirement for Vitamin D, but you’ll be surprised yet again. While adults can take vitamin D supplements to compensate for the lack of sun and amount they get from their diet, children can’t. Vitamin D is even more essential for children as well as it promotes calcium absorption, ensuring strong bone growth and preventing bone deformities such as rickets, so it is important we get them as much sun exposure as possible. With sunlight and vitamin D having a large impact on daily mood, outdoor play in the Winter will help keep those little ones smiling!

Two girls on a sled on the snow

With all these benefits that outdoor play provides in Winter, hopefully, now you won’t be afraid to get your children outside and active. Just remember to dress up warm and stay safe! As the Scandinavian’s say – “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!”


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.



NCBI – Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play

5 Spooky Halloween Activities to Enjoy as a Family

Halloween can be a really exciting time of year. With less pressure than Christmas but more festivity than other occasions, it is a perfect opportunity to get your children involved in fun, simple activities which can be enjoyed as a family and with friends. Unsure of what spooky activities you could get involved in? Check out this list of easy suggestions to bring some spine-tingling enjoyment to your October! 

1) Pumpkin Carving

A great activity for the family, carving a pumpkin into your favourite supernatural friends or scary faces can be a great way to pass an afternoon. Scooping out a pumpkin is the perfect mix of cool and gross to get that Halloween-y feeling. A simple search online will reveal hundreds of templates which can be printed out and used to guide your vegetable art. Alternatively, freehand it and let your creative juices flow! Kids can draw onto the skin with a pencil before you use the knives to carve or child-safe carving kits can be found at local craft shops or supermarkets. Then, once it’s done, watch the dancing candlelight illuminate your creation for a great accompaniment to a cosy autumn night in front of a family Halloween film!

A pumpkin with a smaller pumpkin in its mouth

 2) Spooky Baking

To get the kids really excited, why not get your hands dirty in the kitchen with some spine-chilling baked goods! Chocolate, orange extract for some colour or strawberry sauce for a bloody touch can really spook up your cakes. Use raisins or chocolate chips to make fly cookies and rice paper designs to decorate your ghoul cakes (‘cause fairy cakes aren’t scary enough) and watch the enjoyment fill your children’s faces. This is easy, innocent fun which can be used to cater a Halloween get-together or supply an autumnal cake sale for charity.

Halloween cakes and toy spiders

  3) Halloween Party 

For something a little extra, why not use your pumpkins to convert your home into a haunted house for the night? Getting family, friends, and neighbours around for a night of Halloween festivities can be a great laugh for both adults and kids, plus it can provide opportunities to raise money for a local cause. Simple decorations like black and orange paper chains, spray-can spider webs and hanging skeletons with some of your spooky baking can set the scene for a true spooktacular. Add in broomstick racing, bobbing for apples, fancy dress competitions, and other party games to make a memorable night for the children and provide a well-deserved laugh for the parents!

A pumpkin with welcome carved into it

 4) Local Events and Shows

If you aren’t the hosting type, don’t feel left out. Many local adventure and activity centres will be throwing magical nights filled with eerie mystery and wonder to get involved in. Check out websites of zoos, country parks, and theme parks to see what’s going on near you. There are many light shows, Halloween performances, and late openings to keep your little devils entertained into the spooking hours. Alternatively, if nothing local takes your fancy, use the weekend for a trip somewhere further afield for a ghoulish getaway. Events at Thorpe Park near London, Blackgang Chine on the Isle of Wight and the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh are perfect examples.

A sign saying happy Halloween and a pumpkin

 5) Trick or Treating

Often misunderstood as being menacing or simply too North American, the tradition of going door to door in ghostly costume goes back to the 1700s in Britain. Whilst now significantly more commercial, a simple tour of the neighbourhood in the dark, fiendishly dressed and hunting confectionary is really exciting for your little ghouls. It can be a good way for them to get to know their neighbours and their neighbourhood and if you escort them, you can teach them good habits that will deter trouble in their teenage years when the temptation to ‘trick’ could land them in trouble. Some innocent fun with game neighbours can be one of the simplest ways to get involved in Halloween and with any luck, will tire your little ones out for a good All Saints night sleep.

Three dogs in halloween costumes


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.

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

Winter is coming! And with the winter weather comes the annual outbreaks of coughs and colds we’re all far too used to. Whilst for the most part, not serious illnesses which we will recover from quickly and completely, it’s never nice to see our little ones sniffling and sneezing. To help you prevent this as much as possible, this guide will give some top tips to help your little ones stay well this winter.

Keep Warm and Dry

Changes in the winter climate mean that the world outside gets wetter, windier and colder. Whilst there is very little truth in the old wives tales of this causing pneumonia and viral infections, there is definitely sense in wrapping up and staying dry. The best way to do this is by wearing thin layers of natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and fleece rather than a single bulky layer, topped with a waterproof layer if it’s raining. This helps to control your children’s temperature by adding and removing layers as needed. Hats, loosely fitting scarves, and gloves also keep their extremities warm.

A table full of colourful hats and gloves

Wrapping up is particularly important for newborns and children with asthma as the frigid temperatures can exacerbate asthma attacks. If you know your child has asthma, make sure they take their prescribed medications and carry their inhaler and spacer with them throughout the season.

TOP TIP: If dressed appropriately, it is actually very healthy for children to be outside during the Winter months so don’t hibernate away for 3 months! Exercise is a great way to keep warm and the fresh air and sun are important for both psychical and psychological well-being during the long nights. So get out for walks in the crispy leaves, play in the frosty air and definitely go and build a snowman!

A snowman next to a small tree

Optimise Your Home

The importance of the environment doesn’t stop at the front door. There are some very simple things you can do to keep your home as health-friendly as possible during winter. Keeping your home at above 18ºC can ensure you are comfortable and ventilating your home with trickle vents and extractor fans when cooking or bathing prevents damp. Drawing curtains and using draft excluders can also prevent drafts which would add to the chill factor.

All of this can help to keep you and your children well as cold and damp can exacerbate asthma and risks of complications from heart and lung problems. Whilst too cold is a problem, for babies make sure to not overheat them either – between 16-20ºC is ideal.

A window with a winter scene outside

Hand Hygiene is Key

The vast majority of winter illnesses are viral and are not treatable. Your body simply fights them but it can take a few days to weeks to get rid of them. Therefore the best way to get well is to prevent them in the first place! The most effective way of doing this is practicing good hand hygiene and teaching your children to too. Whenever you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your hands if one is not available, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands in soapy water. Alcohol gel is suitable for unsoiled hands but can be more irritating than gentle soap for children so get sudsy instead where possible. Other techniques such as not sharing cups and cutlery can also prevent the spread of infections.

Soapy hands

Healthy Eating and Supplements

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a good mix of fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins and some fats is essential to a growing child, especially so when they are using resources fighting bugs and keeping warm. Dairy and fruits and vegetables provide an essential mix of immune system boosting vitamins and minerals and meat, fish and pulses are packed full of protein for growth and repair. Keeping well-hydrated with plenty of water is also important as we lose water into the cold air when we breathe out and when we sweat in our warm clothing.

TOP TIP: if you feed your child a vegetarian or vegan diet or if they suffer from digestive conditions such as lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease or coeliacs disease, they may benefit from taking multivitamins to supplement their regular intake and prevent illnesses.

A chopping board full of fruit and vegetables


Vaccinations are the most effective method of preventing illnesses; they trick your body into thinking it has seen the infection before so when you next see the infection, your body is ready to fight it rather than scrambling its defences against the new bug. A lot of infections we target with vaccinations can occur at any point in the year such as mumps, tetanus, and polio. However, the flu is a classic winter infection whose incidence skyrockets in the winter months.

Flu is a viral infection which leads to a headache, nasal congestion, fevers, and aches. It is mostly just very unpleasant but in some case can be serious with more under 5’s admitted for flu than any other age group. The flu vaccine is offered as a nasal spray to children aged 2-8 or any child with a serious health condition like asthma, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and splenectomy. It is needle-free, incredibly safe and very effective at protecting your child.

Important things to note: The flu vaccination is not suitable for severely immunocompromised children and those with egg allergies. If your child is unwell, their vaccination may be postponed until they have recovered. Your child may get a slight runny nose after the vaccination and this is normal.

Two teddy bears acting as a doctor and patient

If Your Child Gets Unwell

If your child gets unwell, don’t panic. Cold and flu, sore throats and winter vomiting are mostly simple and uneventful and your child will recover completely in a few days. If you are worried, speak to your pharmacist, see your GP or call 111 for professional advice. A healthy diet and good hydration will aid recovery and simple medication like paracetamol (Calpol®) and ibuprofen (Nurofen®) will help to relieve aches and fevers. Avoid using products with caffeine in and avoid aspirin products in under 16’s.


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.

How to Keep Your Children Safe in the Sun

Did you know that around 80% of our lifetime sun exposure occurs during our childhood? It’s true. The Skin Cancer Foundation has done numerous studies and has also found that just one blistering sunburn could double our risks of getting melanoma in later life.

So, with the effects of sun burn becoming more known and the fact that we have been getting some really hot days this summer, there has never been a more important time to make sure that sun protection is a top priority for us and our children.

To help you keep your children safe in the sun, here is our top advice.


Apply Suncream Properly

The first port of call when keeping your children safe in the sun is ensuring that they have sun cream on and that it is applied properly. Make sure to choose a sun cream with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 20 or higher, apply it generously at least 30 minutes before your child goes out in the sun and to all areas that will be exposed to the sun (including ears, hands, feet, behind the neck and lips etc). It’s also important to remember to reapply certain sun creams every 2-3 hours, especially after swimming or activity.

Cover Up

As well as sufficient sun cream, you also need to make sure that your child has physical protection from UV damage. Try to dress your children in dark-coloured clothing where possible, with long sleeves and trousers if not too hot. Sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas for outside play are also essential.


Keep them Hydrated

Many young children get ill during hot weather due to dehydration, so it is really important that you keep lots of fresh and cool water available and keep prompting your children to drink throughout the day. When going out for longer days, remember to take a cooler bag to keep your drinks cold and don’t leave them out in the sun.

Girl wearing sunglasses and a hat

Keep them Cool

One of the most important ways to keep your children safe in the sun is to keep them as cool as possible. On hot days, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are a serious risk, especially for young children, so make sure that you take certain measures when making the most of the outside. Hot weather can also exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, so keeping cool is vital. The best ways to keep your children cool and to avoid any unnecessary heat exposure are:

  • Limit outdoor play between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM (when the sun rays are at their strongest)
  • Limit outdoor time to shorter periods
  • Reduce the level of activity on hot days
  • Seek shade as much as possible
  • Ensure your children are sufficiently covered in clothing and sun cream
  • Always test the floor temperature with the back of your hand (hold it there for at least 5 seconds)
  • Always keep pushchairs in the shade and out of direct sunlight

Trees in a green park

Enforce Sun Protection Behaviours

Our children learn from us, so it is really important to exhibit sun protection behaviours ourselves to set a good example. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and apply your own sun cream in front of your children to reinforce this positive behaviour. Only then can we teach them the importance of sun protection and keeping hydrated.


Young children are very susceptible to the sun and are at a higher risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and sun burn, therefore it is essential for parents to make sure that they are kept safe in the sun with the measures above.

Only then are you ready to venture out into the sun safely with the peace of mind that your children are happy and healthy!

10 Things to Do with Your Children Over the Summer Holidays

Keeping the kids occupied over the summer is always a feat, with so many weeks stretching ahead of you and the time, exercise and expense of it all. Even the most adventurous parents can struggle with keeping them occupied.

While the summer as a whole is a bundle of fun, the prospect of school starting again is a welcome respite for us all. So, with school starting again soon, we have put together a list of fun and inexpensive things to do with your children over the summer holidays to keep the whole family entertained! You can make it till the end, trust us!

Summer Holidays; 10 Fun Things to Do

1. Spend the Day at the Park

On a sunny day, a visit to a nearby park is great fun. Most have attractions such as nature trails or cycle paths, plus they are free, so grab your bikes and head out for a great day full of family activities!

Handy Resources: See Green Flag awards to find your nearest park or National Trust for a summer garden near you.

Trees in an open green park

2. Hit the Beach

We all love the beach, so a day out with sun, sand and sea will definitely satisfy all family members! You can head out with a picnic to your local spot or discover new ones where you can swim, fish in the rock pools or even find a beach side fun fair to amuse yourselves.


3. Visit a Farm

Whether it’s a local farm or a well-known attraction, taking the children to spend some time with farm animals is magical. They will love stroking the rabbits or feeding the lambs, and many farms offer other activities such as tractor riding, strawberry picking or maize mazes; a perfect day out for the summer holidays or on the weekend!

Handy Resources: See Pick your own farms to find your nearest farm.

A white lamb in a person's arms

4. Watch a Film at the Cinema

Normally a visit to the cinema can leave you reeling from the cost, but during the summer holidays, many cinemas offer special screenings especially for children where tickets can cost £2.50 or less! This means that taking your children to see a movie with some popcorn will be a real treat (and affordable)!

Handy Resources: See kids screenings in the summer holidays with Vue, Odeon or Cineworld.


5. Explore the Community

Is there anything going on in your local community? Sometimes there can be a local festival, county fair or free event going on around your area without you even knowing, so it is always worth a check. Remember to pick up tourist brochures or check social media for things that are going on.


6. Get Creative at Home

You don’t have to go out to have fun, just make your own at home! Why not teach your children your favourite baking recipes, make your own garden den or create a treasure hunt? You could even camp outside just for fun. The only limit is your imagination!

A heart shape in a cookie

7. Participate in Free Outdoor Sports

The summer is full of free activities and classes that children can take, you just have to know where to look. It’s true, you can treat your children to football coaching, tennis coaching, swimming session, park runs and much more, and it’s all free for you!

Handy Resources: Get involved and see Swim Safe, Tennis for Free, ParkRun and FA Skills for more information.


8. Discover History with Free Museums

Perfect for those rainy days are free museums! Mix up the summer holidays with a visit to the national history or science museum and explore the exhibitions with your children. Not only will they find a lot of fun activities for children, but they will also learn something new too!


9. 2for1 Attractions

Do you remember those vouchers on the Kellogg’s cereal boxes? If you cut them out and collect them, now is the time to use them! These vouchers allow you one ‘free’ adult entry per voucher for a whole range of attractions and Merlin theme parks, once you purchase one ticket to the attraction. Think how many you can get free for Sea Life, Madame Tussauds or Alton Towers? You could take the whole family!

Handy Resources: See GrownUpsGoFree for the full list of attractions!

A teacup at the funfair


10. Take Part in Store Activities

During the summer holidays, many stores offer free activities at certain times of the day for children. How cool is that? Can you imagine how excited your child would be to head to the Disney Store to make their own Frozen bookmark or to race Disney Pixar Cars on a real race track? Even the Lego store, Pets at Home and Hobby Craft offer fun workshops for children.

Handy Resources: Find a free activity near you at Pets at Home, The National Gallery, Dobbies, The Disney Store and Hobby Craft.


So, what are you waiting for? These are incredibly fun and mostly free activities for you to do with your children for the remainder of the summer holidays! Enjoy!