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, 22 February 2015

Fine motor skills - advice and activities to help support your little one!

This post is all about fine motor skills - what they are, why they are so important and how we can help our little ones to develop them.

So firstly, let me explain what fine motor skills are:

Fine motor literally means the movements that we make which are controlled by the small muscles in our hands. From birth we start to use our hands to explore the world around us, and as we grow, we begin to gain more and more control of our movements along with our gross motor (whole body) movements. 

Typically, babies start by using grabbing movements or waving their hands, then as your little one grows older and starts to develop their control and cognitive skills, they will be able to accomplish more complex movements such as gripping a crayon or successfully using a zip. As your little one continues their journey through nursery, they will refine their skills and by the time they are ready for school, they will have developed enough control to hold pencils and paintbrushes using them to make marks or write, do up and undo buttons, do activities such as threading or using scissors with control as well as many other activities that require control and hand-eye co-ordination.

This is why fine motor development is so important, as it lays the foundations for vital skills that will be needed as they grow. Being able to use our hands effectively and with control is crucial for your child's ongoing development.

So how can you support your little one's fine motor development?

Below I have listed a few activity ideas you can try with your little one to help them develop their fine motor skills. Keep the activities fun and varied so your child stays stimulated and if you notice an area that needs more development, keep working on that with them. If your little one goes to nursery then have a chat with their teacher and get their ideas and advice as well. 

  • Playdough - a fantastic activity that never gets old. Ask your child to help you make playdough for added fine motor development and enjoyment! Have lots of tools they can use to cut, roll or shape the playdough and have some fun materials that they can use with it such as rice, googly eyes, dried pasta and shells.
  • Threading beads - threading is an excellent activity for developing fine motor skills. Vary the size of the beads or use alternative objects such as penne pasta, small bracelets, buttons or hollow shapes to suit your little one's age and abilities. You could even get them making pasta necklaces by painting the pasta, leaving it to dry and then threading it, this is one of my favourites and nursery children love it!
  • Make some fine motor toys - you could use a container and make holes in it for your little one to post items such as straws or shapes through or they could use them for threading. Hours of fun and relatively inexpensive!
  • Sensory mark-making - this is one of my favourite activities. Use a variety of materials such as flour, rice, lentils, shaving foam, cornflour, gloop or jelly, put them in a tray or straight on the table and let your little one have fun experimenting and mark-making in a range of textures! This is great for their fine motor development, as well as developing their creativity and understanding of the world.
  • Homemade cardboard shapes - make different shapes and use a hole punch to make holes around the edges. Your little one can then practice their shape recognition while having fun threading!
  • Finger, hand or cotton bud painting - lots and lots of fun while strengthening those all important hand muscles. Get lots of paper and some fun coloured washable paint and let your little one go wild!

  • Sorting and stacking objects - both these activities have numerous possibilities and are really good for developing those little hand muscles, as well as mathematical or language skills. Use materials such as blocks, shells, buttons, cups, pasta...the list is endless!
  • Collaging activities - start off with getting your little one to tear up pieces of different textured or coloured paper and stick them on to create a fantastic work of art. As they get older, you can ask them to start cutting the pieces instead!

For more activity 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, 8 February 2015

How to support your little one's physical development!

In this post, we will look at why activities that focus on physical development are so important for little ones and I will give you some fun ideas to get your child moving!

6 reasons why physical activities are important:

  1. They build endurance, flexibility and strength
  2. They increase concentration and attention spans
  3. They promote cognitive and social development, as well as developing your child's gross and fine motor skills
  4. They keep your little one fit and healthy
  5. The body produces endorphins as a result of physical activity which will promote happiness and relaxation in your child
  6. Fresh air and exercise will help your little one get lots of good quality sleep
You can also incorporate many other areas of development into physical fun activities, for example mathematical development could be incorporated by playing a game like musical numbers (when the music stops you must find the number that is said). Developing skills like balance are incredibly important for your little one's cognitive skills and as mentioned above, exercise of any kind will help to increase attention spans. So now, let me give you some fun ideas to get your little one moving!

It can be difficult, especially in a city like Dubai where the weather makes it impossible to be outside for much of the year, but you may be surprised how simple it can be to encourage your child to get moving. Here are some ideas for starters:

  1. Dance and let loose - if you can't get outside, or even if you are in the garden, why
    not throw on some fun tunes and get your child moving and shaking! Dance is a brilliant way of keeping fit and also promotes rhythm (important for language development), control of our bodies and spatial awareness!
  2. Get outside - if you can, try and spend as much time outside when it is possible. If you are in an apartment, why not take a trip to the local park or beach! There is nothing better than fresh air and having space to run around and let loose! The amount of games you can play outside are endless and sure to create hours of fun while developing those all important fine and gross motor skills!
  3. Encourage independence - if your little one wants something, encourage them to try and get it by themselves. If they are getting changed or putting their shoes on, ask them to try and see if they can do it. This will not only develop body control and fine motor skills but it will also boost their confidence!
  4. Act out stories and songs - this will get your little one moving around as well as being lots of fun! It will also promote literacy development :)
  5. Get some play equipment - Have a look for some simple and affordable resources
    such as soft balls, hula hoops, bean bags, cones and balancing equipment. This will help your child develop lots of all important skills and they can create tons of fun activities!
  6. Join some clubs or events - there are always plenty of physical fun clubs or events going on in the local community. Have a look for jungle gyms, soft play, baby yoga, music and movement clubs etc. Not only will your little one have lots of fun burning off steam but it is also a great opportunity for developing their social skills!

For more physical fun events 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, 1 February 2015

How to help your child develop their independence

Developing independence and self-care skills before going to school is really important. In this post, I will be giving you some tips on how to encourage your little one's independence and help them develop those all important life skills.

Why is it so important for my toddler to develop their self-care skills and independence?

  • Confidence and self-worth - that magical moment when a child can wash their own
    hands or go to the toilet with no help is immeasurable. Being able to open their own lunchbox or dress themselves is also a superb achievement. Being able to do these things all alone will fill your little one with a sense of achievement and confidence. They will be so proud of themselves and will want you to share in that amazing feeling! It is important for your toddler to develop confidence and a sense of self-worth as it is vital for their personal well-being and development.
  • Independence at school - going to school is a huge transition in your child's life and they face a number of new challenges, some which they will enjoy and some they may find daunting. Having the skills to be relatively independent at school will help them to settle in and build their self-esteem. It is also important to note that some schools expect a certain level of independence from their pupils and they may not accept children who, for example, are not toilet-trained yet.
  • Gross and fine motor skills - dressing and undressing, putting on shoes and socks or
    twisting open lids are excellent for developing your little one's fine and gross motor skills. They will improve their strength, co-ordination, spatial awareness and control of their body. This is fantastic and will help them so much in all other aspects of their life. 
  • Communication and language - requesting help or following instructions are great skills to practice for your toddler's development. They can also talk through with you what they are doing or respond when you ask them what they should do next. It also promotes learning sequences and routines as well as an understanding of the world around them. For example, you could have a very interesting chat about germs while they are washing their hands. 

So how can I help my little one develop their independence?

Some very simple little things can help your child develop their independence. Here are just a few that I consider important:
  • Toileting - if your toddler is learning to use the toilet or is already toilet-trained,
    give them ownership of the experience by letting them pull their trousers up and down, wash their hands and flush the chain. While of course you should be there to make sure all goes smoothly, allowing them to try and do it alone will really make them feel proud and each time they will get that bit closer to independence.
  • Dressing - the same goes for getting dressed. Try and choose things that will be easy for them to master, such as pull up trousers and t-shirts. Once they have developed their confidence, then they can start to learn how to use zips and buttons. It is also nice to give them some choice in what they will wear (within reason of course!). Not only will this develop their fine and gross motor skills, it will also help them prepare for school and develop their independence!
  • Eating - I always ask my teachers to allow children to do as much for themselves as they can at snack time. It is very important for them to learn how to open and close containers, put the straw in their juice carton and how to pack their food away. It is also important for your little one to learn about healthy food choices, for example that we eat the sandwiches and fruit first and then have the biscuit as a treat at the end. While they might not get it first time and will definitely need your help, letting them develop these skills will really help them to become independent little people!
  • Self-selecting - this is similar to encouraging your toddler to have input in
    choosing their clothes. Let them choose the activity they want to do or which cup they would like to drink from. These little things will develop your child's sense of self and they will become aware of their likes and dislikes and their ability to make decisions. These things are a vital part of their personal development. 
While it can sometimes be hard when your little one doesn't need so much help and support anymore, remember it is really good for them in the long run. 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.