Spacious outside areas create quiet shaded learning spaces and provide ample room for exploring.

Baby room

Babies feel secure in their own classroom, equipped with cots, soft flooring, mats and toys.


The shaded playground has specialist soft flooring with quality equipment and a large walk in sandpit.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

How can I support my bilingual child?

After many years of thinking that bilingualism may have a negative impact on learning and
development, professionals have now realized that in fact being bilingual can have numerous positive results! The difficult thing for parents who may be bringing up bilingual children is to know the right way to do it. In this post, I am going to look at some common myths about bilingualism and give you some tips on how to support your little one's language development :)


  • Delayed language development - a common myth is that bilingual children have delayed language development. This is in fact not true at all. While your child may start to speak slightly later than their peers, you should not worry as who can blame them when they are building a fantastic range of vocabulary in 2 languages!
  • Learning 2 languages can confuse children - there is no need to worry that learning 2 languages may confuse your little one, children pick up new languages easily and are able to differentiate whom to speak which language to. For this reason it can help to be consistent with your chosen language, just to reduce any possible confusion.
Far from multiple language learning having negative effects, there are many positive results to come out of speaking more than one language. Have a look at my post on the benefits of learning a 2nd language for more information on why it is so good for your little one!

How can I support my bilingual child?

There are many theories on the best way to support your bilingual child at home and I think it really depends on several factors. 

You need to take into account the languages spoken at home and in the community - 

Do both parents speak the same language and wish to teach your child your native language as well as the language of the country they are living in? 

If so, it may be useful to adopt a one language approach where you both speak your native language to your little one at home as they will learn the other language in the community, at nursery and from their peers. 

Does each parent speak a different language and you wish to equally develop both in your little one?

In this case, it may help to each speak to your child in your own mother tongues. This will help them build up exposure and understanding to each language and keep things consistent. It has long been recommended to use the 'one person-one language' model, however it is important to add that it has not been proven that switching between languages causes any difficulty with language learning.

Have you been brought up yourselves as bilingual?

I myself fit into this category and a question I have often asked myself is what language I will speak to my children in. As many bilinguals can verify, we often speak a complete mixture of the 2 languages, choosing whichever word fits better or is on the tip of our tongue. I know that no matter how much I try, I will end up speaking a mixture of languages to my children (although I have read articles advising against this). The main disadvantage that I can see is that your child may lack the vocabulary for certain words. For example, I always use the Arabic names for certain vegetables as that is what I learnt first. I find it difficult to this day to access the English word for them in my mind. Being brought up with a mixture of languages also means I find it difficult to stick to one language or the other when talking. I switch languages without even realising sometimes! This could be avoided by sticking to the 'one person-one language' model mentioned above. However, you have to be realistic and do what works best for your family. 

There is no right or wrong answer with teaching your child languages and remember that they will always gain the language of the country they are living with, regardless of what languages are spoken at home.

 Some tips to support your little one's language development

  • Read stories and sing songs in your native language - this will help make it fun and your little one will learn new vocabulary without even realising it!
  • Involve your child in your native community - I think this is a brilliant way to keep your native language alive. Arrange play dates with peers who are also exposed to the same language and attend community events to increase exposure to your native language and culture. 
  • Give your little one lots of support and encouragement - sometimes it can be hard to communicate in a language that they don't use in their wider community. Encourage them to use your language and also don't be annoyed if they don't. Sometimes children will understand a language 100% but refuse to speak it, choosing to respond in the other language. This is okay and there could be many reasons behind it. Be assured that if they understand what you are saying then they are still developing their language skills, it just may take longer for them to want to respond in that language. Often there is a dominant language - one that is stronger or preferred over the other. Again, this shouldn't be seen as an issue, just keep encouraging your little one's language acquisition by making it fun and pressure free.

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What are the benefits of early 2nd language learning?

In a multi-cultural place like Dubai, you can hear a multitude of languages every day. The benefit of living somewhere like this is that as well as constantly hearing different languages being spoken, most schools and nurseries will offer some kind of 2nd language tuition. So what are the benefits of your little one learning a 2nd language early on and how can you support them?  

Benefits of early language acquisition

  • Your little one's brain is like a sponge and is designed to learn languages from before birth. 
  • During this period of early childhood, your child is very able to mimic accents and pronunciation, enabling them to develop near-native pronunciation, something adults and older children have a much harder time doing.
  • As language acquisition is so important in their early years, even when learning a foreign language, children are more able to understand and use the rules of different languages so find it easier to learn. 
  • As it is easier to learn languages at a young age, you child won't feel the difficulties of language learning that older children and adults do, and should find it fun!
  • It is thought that because the brain can simultaneously run two (or more) languages and can switch between the two, early 2nd language acquisition can have cognitive benefits such as better ability to multi-task, increased observation skills and enhanced problem solving skills.   
  • As well as the cognitive benefits, it has been suggested there are academic benefits too such as improved reading and writing skills and of course being able to speak more than one language opens up doors for the future, for both academic and employment opportunities!

How can you support your little one when learning a new language? 

  • If you are keen for your child to learn a 2nd language, look for nurseries or schools that have this option. 
  • If you have friends or family who speak the 2nd language, encourage them to use this language around your little one, it is amazing what they will pick up!
  • Make it fun! - If it is fun, your child will enjoy it, be more likely to retain what they have learnt and be more interested in learning other languages in the future.
  • Encourage your child - even if you don't speak the language, show your child how proud you are of them and keep them interested and excited to learn. Also see if there are events in your area that promote the culture or language that your child is learning. You could also look for books, songs or programs that incorporate this language. For example, Dora the Explorer is great for helping little ones learn some basic Spanish :)
I hope you and your children enjoy all of the benefits learning a 2nd language has to offer, have fun!

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How can I support my child's literacy development using phonics and music?

In my last post, I talked about why I feel early literacy is so important and how we can support our child's development through story-time and imaginative play. 

In this post, I continue the theme by discussing the importance of phonics and music in early literacy.


You will definitely have heard of phonics as it has long been one of the buzzwords in Early Years, but what exactly is phonics and why is it so important?

What is phonics?

Phonics is about learning sounds rather than letter names. This makes it easier to sound out letters and then blend them together to read a word. Learning that a series of letters make up a word is not an easy concept for little minds to grasp and it has been proven that phonics is much more effective when learning to read than the more old-fashioned wrote learning methods.

While the various phonics programmes all have slightly different ways of delivering phonics, they all have some main components:
  • Becoming familiar with sounds - most programmes will start with the most common sounds, such as 's' or 'a', moving through to more complex sounds such as 'ng'. Many programmes have an action that goes with each sounds and often a song. These are great ways to help your little one remember the sound and you can introduce the action or song early on, making phonics fun!
  • Recognising initial sounds - ask your child if they can think of words that start with a
    We made a sun to practise the sound 's'.
    certain sound, for example 's' sun. This is a first step in becoming aware that a group of sounds make up a word and you can introduce this concept using lots of fun games!
  • Becoming familiar with the letter - the next step is to associate the letter with the sound. See if they can recognize the letter by naming it with the correct sound. Once they are able to do this, they can start to write the letter which can be done in lots of fun and creative ways.
  • Recognizing end sounds - once your child is able to pick out end sounds as well then they are almost ready to start blending sounds to make words!
  • First words - try giving your little one 'consonant-vowel-consonant' (CVC) words such as 'cat' or 'pen' to try and read. This ability to sound out all the sounds and blend them together is key for early reading. While English can be a difficult language to read due to its large amount of non-phonetic spellings, this ability to decode a word will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

What can I do?

We played tennis to reinforce the sound 't'!
It can be quite easy and very rewarding for you to support your child's literacy development by helping them learn their sounds. If they are at nursery or school you could find out what sound they are learning about and reinforce it at home by playing games and doing fun activities. There are a plethora of interesting new ways to learn sounds. Some ideas to get you started are:
    • A treasure hunt to find items with the same initial sound
    • Creating art work that starts with a certain sound
    • Having a tray full of objects or sensory play with items with the same initial sound
    • Sorting objects by initial sound
    • Sing the song or practice the action associated with it (check with your child's nursery or school to make sure you follow what they are teaching)


    I am a huge fan of introducing babies to music. Children can get so much out of music and
    movement activities, as well as music being known to enhance your mood, attention span and learning capabilities. Music also has an important role to play in early literacy and here are some reasons why:
    • Music can help develop listening skills - when young children are listening to music they develop their ability to focus on different sounds, patterns, rhymes and the structure of language. Music gives them a chance to develop these skills in a fun, informal way!
    • Music builds a sense of rhythm - by building their sense of rhythm, children are more aware of the prosody of language - the patterns, intonation, stress and syllables we use. They will look for familiar rhythms and melodies when listening to music which is similar to identifying words with familiar sounds in reading.
    • Songs can tell a story - as well as just hearing language spoken by others or a story in a book, music is another medium where language can be explored. Songs not only practice skills such as rhyming and alliteration but they can also tell a story. 
    • Repetition - the repetitive nature of many songs and rhymes helps children identify familiar words, both spoken and in print, a great skill for emergent readers.

    What can I do?

    As you can see, music has lots of links to literacy and it can be a fun way of introducing key concepts to your little one. Some ways of encouraging literacy development through music are:
    • Sing lots with your child - encourage your little one to enjoy music and songs by singing and moving with them as much as possible.
    • Use song books - stories put to music can be a brilliant way of encouraging a love of stories and can help with recalling new vocabulary and familiar words, as well as developing their sense of rhythm and beat.
    • Play games that develop rhyming and rhythm - there are lots of songs that involve clapping to a beat, for example 'patter-cake baker's man' and most songs have lots of rhyming words. Helping your child develop these skills will really benefit your child when they start to read.
    For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development. 

    Sunday, 16 November 2014

    Aspin Nursery's Top Ten Stories!

    It was incredibly difficult to whittle our favourite stories down to just 10 but we managed it in the end!

    Here are Aspin Nursery's top 10 stories!

    1. One of our all-time favourites has to be 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. An entertaining story, explaining the life-cycle of a caterpillar with vibrant pictures and it also helps children learn the days of the week and to count! A big thumbs up from all of us!

    2. Julia Donaldson has written a fantastic range of stories, with one of our favourites being 'Room on the Broom'. Guaranteed to make your little ones laugh as her broomstick gets fuller and fuller...what will she do? The rhyming style is great for early literacy as well :) 

    3. Brown Bear is a lovely story, looking at animals and colours, and is also written in rhyme. Children never fail to get tired of this story and is the first book pulled off the shelf during story time!

    4. This story / song has all the components of a great classic children's story. Join the family on their bear hunt through the outdoors, where they have to go over, under and through things. Will they find the bear?

    5. Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly is one of my personal favourites. It is great fun to read and has brilliant pictures! We learn that although we may like different things, we can still like each other :)

    6. This is such a lovely story that teaches us all about sharing and putting others first. With lovely glossy pages and shiny special scales, this heart-warming story is sure to capture both you and your child's hearts!

    7. Honey biscuits is a great book where the little boy learns how to make honey biscuits with his grandmother. Not only that, you learn where all the ingredients come from! It also has the recipe so you can make your very own honey biscuits with your little one after reading the story!

    8. Probably Julia Donaldson's best known book,  'The Gruffalo' was an instant hit amongst children and adults alike, with sequel 'The Gruffalo's Child' being just as well loved. Follow the journey of the very clever mouse and find out what he is really up to!

    9.'The Very Busy Spider' has all the hallmarks of a great Eric Carle classic. With fantastic pictures, lots of descriptions and interesting information, it is sure to be a winner in your house at story-time!

    10. Finishing off our list is one of the most iconic children's stories around. Elmer the elephant is a funny, sad, happy, silly, exciting story which teaches children all about individuality as well as colours. There have been many follow on stories to Elmer, each one as good as the first!

    Happy reading!

    Aspin Nursery

    Sunday, 9 November 2014

    Why are reading and imaginative play so important for my little one?

    It seems that all you hear these days is about how important it is to read to your child from an early age and there are lots of schemes around to encourage early literacy in many countries. In this post I have attempted to explain why early literacy is so important and how you can make the most of story-time with your little one :)

    Why is it important to develop early literacy skills?

    The first few years of your child's life are incredibly important for early language and literacy development and on top of that, research has shown that developing early literacy skills is crucial for cognitive development. Due to this, it is never too early to start sharing books and stories with your little one. 

    Sharing a story involves so much more that just learning to read. There is a plethora of different skills involved such as:
    • learning to communicate effectively
    • developing vocabulary and understanding of language
    • learning about and respecting books
    • beginning to understand how books work i.e. there is a front cover, pages are turned one by one to read the story
    • developing fine motor skills through handling books and turning pages
    • turn taking and sharing
    • beginning to understand that books convey meaning
    • listening and concentrating for periods of time
    • learning to predict what will happen next
    • imagining and building their knowledge of the world around them
    As you can see, there is so much to be gained from spending time sharing and appreciating books with your little one. Developing a love of literacy early on will prepare them for the reading they will do later. As they already enjoy books reading will be fun, not a chore.

    Tips for a successful story-time!

    • Encourage your child to self-select books. This will give them ownership and involvement in their story-time and they will be happy to have their choice read out to them!
    • Show them how to hold and take care of books. They should understand that books are special, so explain that we hold them carefully, turn the pages like this, close the book when we have finished reading and put it away carefully.
    • Ask your little one to tell you the story. Discuss what you can see on each page and

      what they think is happening. Some children will happily recite a story off the top of their heads, others will need more guidance or prompting. This is a very important exercise and links to the areas of development mentioned above.
    • Adlib - you don't have to read every word in the book. Pitch the story for your child, using words they will understand. They may want to read a certain book but you feel it is too long, so instead of not reading the book, paraphrase to speed the story up. Sometimes it is fun to change the words entirely and read a story from the pictures, especially if you want it to link to a certain topic or idea.
    • Use your voice - vary the volume, pitch and tone of your voice to keep your child engaged in the story. Put on silly voices and accents to make them laugh, it turns
      the story from words on a page into something alive! That is the magic of good story telling!
    • Ask lots of questions while reading - ask your child what they think will happen next and why, and ask questions when you have finished the story (e.g. was that what you thought would happen? Who was your favourite?). Ask your child to point things out or finish your sentences. Not only does it keep them engaged but it's a great way of reviewing their development and understanding.
    • Know when to stop - sometimes it just doesn't work. Know when to stop and either read another story or leave it for another time. Reading should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore.

    How does imaginative play link to literacy development?

    Children develop early literacy skills such as talking, reading and writing through interacting with others. Imaginative play such as role-playing and small world play links to many areas of development and develops communication by taking on different characters, developing a story and having different roles (characters) in the same story.

    Imaginative play also give children the opportunity to:
    • make friends and get to know their peers
    • communicate feelings
    • interact with peers or play independently
    • investigate materials and their properties
    • join in with songs, stories and rhymes
    • re-tell or tell stories

    Why not check out my June blog post 'Supporting your child's literacy and mathematical development at home' for more ideas!

    For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development. 

    Sunday, 26 October 2014

    Toddler tantrums: why do they happen and what can I do?

    Why does my toddler throw tantrums?

    Toddlers will 'act out' for a number of reasons. Sometimes, as discussed in my last post, it is a way of testing boundaries

    Children may also display unsettled behaviour if their routine changes, or if there is no routine. It is their way of telling you they need those boundaries and routines.

    A classic reason for toddler tantrums is often for attention. If your little one wants attention, they don't care how they get it or whether it is positive or negative attention, they just want your full attention. This is often why a new baby in the family can result in a change in your toddler's behaviour as they want the attention back and will do anything they can think of to get it. 

    Frustration or an inability to express themselves is another common reason for acting out in toddlers. They are learning and developing at a phenomenal rate but they haven't quite figured out how to express themselves properly yet. This frustration can lead to almighty meltdowns and misunderstandings.

    Boredom can also play a part in your little one's behaviour. As mentioned, the developmental spurt they are going through means they want to be challenged and stimulated and the things that used to do that don't cut it anymore. Unfortunately they may not be able to explain this to you properly, leading to frustration and a meltdown.
    While there are many reasons why your child may throw a tantrum, the ones I have listed above are just a few to be aware of. At the end of the day, you know your little one best and will be able to recognize the route cause of a tantrum once you get used to looking for it.

    So what are some ways of helping my child (and me!) through this time?

    Make sure you spend quality time with them - have a certain time with them each day that is all about you and your little one, giving them your full attention during this time.

    Boundaries and routines - see my last post for information on why boundaries and routines are so important in helping your child to develop happily and healthily.

    Try and understand them - a toddler wants to be independent and at times can seem very grown up, but at other times they want to be babied. It's an odd in-between time in their development and it can help if you are aware of this yo-yoing they are going through and support them through it. 

    Be consistent - decide how you are going to handle your toddler's tantrums and try and follow the same process as much as you can each time. Your little one needs the boundaries and routines and it will help you stay in control. 

    Don't change your mind - whatever you say must be followed through. If not, your super smart toddler will soon realize that you don't mean what you say and will not care about the threats you make or the rewards you offer. If you say they have 3 chances, after the 3rd make sure you follow through with the consequence you previously explained to them. Children need to learn that actions have consequences and experience this first hand.

    Don't give them negative attention - as mentioned above, children will soon realize if the best way to get your attention is to throw an almighty fit. Stay as calm as you can and deal with the tantrum in a restrained way. Calm them down then talk to them about it afterwards. Once they have managed to control themselves, give them lots of positive attention. 

    Positive attention - when your toddler does something to be proud of, make a huge fuss of them! They will soon learn that positive actions lead to lots of attention and they will be less likely to play up to get negative attention. It is a good idea to give rewards for positive actions and their behaviour will soon change.

    Explain yourself - very calmly explain to your child why what they are doing is not acceptable, what you would like them to do and what the consequences of their actions will be if they carry on. They need to understand what is happening so they can take some control of the situation and learn from their actions.

    Give them space - at this time in their development, toddlers are becoming independent and they need to be able to try things for themselves in order to develop these important skills. Let them know you are there to support them if they need it but that they are grown up enough to try by themselves. For example, let them try putting on their own clothes, feed themselves and tidy up by themselves. Toddlers who are not used to doing things by themselves are often more likely to throw tantrums when they suddenly don't get the help they are used to or don't get what they want.

    Don't worry if it all goes wrong - dealing with toddler tantrums can be incredibly tough and knowing the magic key to calming them down, dealing with your own emotions as well as theirs and trying to stay calm can be very difficult. Try your best and know when to step back, take a deep breath and try again. None of us are perfect and it is okay to approach a tantrum in a way that doesn't work for you and your child. It will be trial and error to find the most effective approach and try to make mental notes on what did and didn't work for you last time.

    Remember, while you will always have times that your children will push the boundaries, the 'terrible two's' is just a phase and there is light at the end of the tunnel. You and your little one can get through this time of huge change, just stay strong and give them lots of love :)

    For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development.

    Sunday, 12 October 2014

    How to set boundaries for toddlers

    How many of you have experienced your toddler telling you what to do, answering back or
    throwing an almighty tantrum when they don't get their way? You are not alone!

    Part of your child's development at this age is to start testing their power and ability to control situations and different people, especially those they hold dearest! They need to know how far they can go and that their caregivers are able to give them limits. To learn this, they play up, don't do what they are told and generally see how far they can push you. Your little one needs to know when they have gone too far and they want to be stopped. 

    It is important for children of all ages to have boundaries they understand and that are consistent, and it is especially important for toddlers who are going through a lot of changes. No matter what our age, we all need a set of rules to adhere to (or rebel against!), it is part of what psychologists call 'theory of mind', which makes us human. Our lives would feel chaotic and disorganized if we didn't have rules in place. It is no different for your little one. 

    Toddlers also have to learn to express their feeling appropriately, another important stage in their development. Dealing with your toddler pushing boundaries can be frustrating, upsetting and make you want to tear your hair out but it is worth it in the end! I will be giving some advice on dealing with tantrums in my next post :) 

    It can be understandably difficult to stick to your guns when your child is pushing you to the limit. However, giving in can be more detrimental to both yourself and your child in the long run. Try your best to stick to your bottom line no matter what. It is important to keep your authority as a parent and not give your child control of the household. 

    So now you may have a good idea why boundaries are important, but how do you set positive boundaries with your little one? Here are some tips:

    Make your boundaries clear

    You need to try and pre-define what is and isn't okay in your house and the consequences that will follow. This is important for both you and your child as in the heat of the moment, it will be much easier for you to stick to your guns if you are confident what they are. It is important for your child as they need to understand what their boundaries are so they know whether they are crossing them or not and what the consequence is if they do. It can be useful with little ones to have visual prompts that you can use to illustrate your expectations and then use them as reminders.  

    Follow through with your consequences

    Be clear, calm and concise when discussing boundaries and ensure your child understands. When your child crosses a boundary make sure you follow through with whatever you explained initially. Your little one needs to know you mean what you say and understand that actions have consequences in order to develop important life skills. Please don't contradict yourself or your child's other carers. This will lead to a breakdown in respect and it will be much harder to build it up again. 

    Be prepared to re-think

    If something doesn't work, don't despair, have a rethink when you are calm and try again.
    Just make sure you explain it all to your child so they are aware of any changes in your expectations. A lot of parenting involves thinking on your feet and we don't always get it right! Instead take a deep breath, know that you are only human and try again :)

    I know it can be a very tough and trying time but you and your child will get through it and the more consistency there is, the better! 

    Good luck and for more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page !

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development.

    Sunday, 21 September 2014

    How to establish helpful routines for your little one!

    You may have heard over and over again how important routines are for your little one but may not know exactly why they are beneficial or how to put them in place in the best way for your child. This post will explain some of the benefits of routines and hopefully give you some useful tips on implementing them!

    Why are routines so important?

    •  Stability - Just like us adults, children need routines and stability. Having a predictable routine allows them to feel safe and in control in a world where they don't have much control over anything! Lots of changes and unexpected events happen on a regular basis for children and having routines helps them to handle these events and feel confident and secure. It also helps avoid tantrums or power struggles as they are just as aware of what is going to happen as you are. Instead of just being told to do something, their routine means that they know this is the time they do 'x'. 

    • Developing important skills - Routine and structure help children to put their day in order as they do not yet fully understand the concept of time. While saying they will play outside in 20 minutes may mean nothing to them, explaining that they will play outside after they have had their snack will make sense to them. They can then prepare themselves for this. A routine also gives your little one a great opportunity to make predictions about what they will do, using concepts such as before, after, next and later. Having a repetitive order of events gives children the chance to develop organization and self-discipline skills as they will learn to be patient and look forward to activities. It also helps develop independence as the more a routine is practiced, the more they will be able to manage on their own. This is great for their self-esteem and for learning a ton of new skills!

    Top tips for establishing routines

    This is what we all really want to you've got the theory but how do you put it in place? 

    • Be flexible -  Routines shouldn't be rigid or impractical, it should be a guide to help structure the day which works with both your needs and those of your little one. If there is a change to your routine, explain what is changing and why. This helps them to prepare for the change and understand what is happening, which will make them more able to deal with changes in the future. 

    • Don't try and start too early - infants will often develop a routine that suits them, which will change as they grow. Once they are a bit older, you can start to establish a routine that fits in with both your and your baby's needs. 

    • Create a bedtime routine - Having a routine order of events that your child associates with bedtime (eg: bath, pyjamas, brush teeth, bedtime story, sleep) will help your little one calm down and prepare for going to sleep. This will hopefully avoid bedtime squabbles and mean they will go to sleep earlier, giving them a better quality of sleep so they have more energy the following day!
    • Have a visual timetable - This is a winner and something I have used in all my nurseries and schools. Make it together with your child, using pictures that they can easily identify with particular activities. Each day, put the activities in the order you will follow and then go through it with your child. Use an arrow or marker to indicate which activity you are currently doing and ask your child to help you move it along the line as you transition from one activity to the next. This is great for learning concepts of before, after, next and later and also gives them the opportunity to chat about what they are going to do, developing their communication skills. It is also great as your little one can revisit the timetable at different times of the day to see what is coming up, giving them control over their day.

    • Transitions - Giving your child a warning about moving from one activity to the next is very important. Sudden transitions can be confusing and stressful for children so give your child a countdown, for example - at the end of the song we will be tidying up so we can go and play outside. This will give your child time to finish their activity and get ready to start a new one.

    These are just a few ideas that I have used successfully, I hope you find them as useful as I have!

    For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development.

    Sunday, 7 September 2014

    Helping your little one settle at nursery!

    Well it's back to school time and for some, it may be their first experience of being apart from mum
    and dad. It can be a difficult time, knowing what to do and how to help your little one settle in at nursery. Don't worry, you are not alone! In this post, I have tried to give you the tools that I believe help both yourself and your child with separating. Remember, this will be a gradual process that needs taking one step at a time.

    1. Visit the nursery

    Before the big day, bring your little one to the nursery as often as you can. Meet the teacher and tell them all the things you think they need to know about your child. Talk to them about ways to settle or soothe them. Give the teacher a soother or favourite toy to help them settle. Let your child play in the classroom and get used to the environment and the people they will be with. We all know as an adult going to new places and meeting new people can be daunting, it is harder for a toddler who doesn't have control of what is happening or possibly the language to express themselves.

    2. Getting ready

    Try and get into the routine for nursery before you start going. Wake up at the time you would need to for nursery and have a nice healthy breakfast. Upsetting the morning routine will mean you have a tired, emotional child and this will make settling in harder for them to cope with. Talk to them about nursery and get them excited about all the things they will see and do!

    3. Saying goodbye

    This can be the tricky bit and the make or break moment. There is so much advice out there but for me, these are the key points:

    Stay Positive - children learn how to deal with situations by reading their parents or carers emotions.
    Although leaving your little one for the first time may be extremely difficult, try and keep it together until you have said goodbye. If they know you are anxious and upset, they will be too. 

    Keep it short - once your child is in the classroom and with a teacher, try and say goodbye confidently and quickly. Tell your child you will be back soon and that you love them, then leave. Although it may go against every instinct in your body, don't hover anxiously or come back if they start crying as if you do, this will make the settling in process take much longer and become more traumatic for both of you. 

    Say goodbye - it can be tempting to make a quick exit while your child is distracted. Although this is very tempting, try and fight the urge to run. When they turn around and suddenly realise you have gone, they will be hurt and confused. Saying goodbye and telling them when you will be back will build your child's trust and confidence in leaving you. 

    Be consistent - Try and follow the same routine for drop off and pick up. Your child will become used to the routine so give them the hug, say goodbye and go in the same way each day. This prepares your child and reassures them that you are coming back. When you pick up be happy and smiley, give your child a big hug and ask them to show you what they have been doing today. Remind them that you have come back as you said you would. 

    4. Give it a chance

    It can be difficult seeing your child unhappy and very tempting to pull them out of nursery. Try and
    give them a chance to settle and get used to the environment first as in the long run the benefits they will get out of nursery will outweigh the initial anxiety. Quite often, children are happy to play and get involved once their parents have gone, ask for photos from the teacher to reassure you that this is the case.

    5. Surprise visits

    Although it can be tempting to come back and see if your child is okay, try and resist the urge to do this. If they see you, you will end up going through the whole process again. Also they will not understand why you have come back but not taken them home. Make sure that any time you enter the classroom after dropping them off, it is to pick them up. This will help them settle. If you are concerned, call the nursery and ask them to check on your little one. While it is best to avoid doing this often as you need to build your trust in the nursery, they should be happy to reassure you that your child is doing fine. 

    6. Build a partnership with the nursery

    If you want your child to bond with their carers, there needs to be trust all round. Get to know their teachers and give them as much information about your little one as you can. Then trust them to do what they have trained to do and leave. Be assured they have your child's best interests at heart and will do all they can to provide the best care they can for your child. 

    7. Remember the benefits 

    It can be easy to forget the reasons you decided to put your child in nursery in the first place. Nursery
    will give them the tools they need to develop as happy, sociable and independent little learners. Learning to separate from their parents is just one of those tools and all the experiences they have at nursery will prepare them for school and beyond. It is good for both of you to have a break from each other, whether it is to go back to work or simply for some 'me time' and it gives them the opportunity to develop their identity as an individual. 

    No matter how much reassurance I give, you are bound to feel worried and anxious. It is fine to feel all these things, the main priority however is to help your little one. If you use the guidelines above, you will be doing your best to give your child an positive start at nursery. Good luck!

    For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

    See you soon!

     Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
    manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
    in psychology and early childhood development.