Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!!



On this very spooky night, I wonder where the idea of Halloween came from!!
It must be Halloween..........there were scores of children roaming the streets near me, bags ready and costumes on to ask for treats to prevent a trick!! I have often wondered where exactly the whole concept of 31st October being Halloween, so I looked into the origins of this celebration.

Halloween. or All Hallows Eve, is linked to the old Celtic festival of Samhain (which translates as "summers end") This festival was for people to stock take and prepare for the long winter months. To aid them in this, people would light bonfires to ward of evil spirits as it was seen that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and therefore magical things could occur.

Trick or treating actually found its way over in the Uk from the US and Canada. In Scotland they go "guising" where the children have to do a dance or sing a song before they are given treats. I personally do not know how to feel about trick or treating. My parents always taught me that it was begging and it can be so dangerous for children to be knocking on strangers doors. I do prefer to see children accompanied by adults if they are going to go out, and definitely feel it is better if it is peoples houses that they know on which they visit. It is a very controversial subject with some people.

I have worked in some nurseries which do not celebrate Halloween within their setting because some parents prefer that the whole subject of worshipping the dead is not touched upon. I have also worked in places which have truly embraced the celebration, throwing brilliant fancy dress parties and taking part in some fabulous messy activities!!!

Whether you like this celebration or not, Halloween is so heavily advertised and marketed at this time of year, that it is hard to keep children away from it!! Sometimes perhaps it is fun to get in the spirit of things, if you excuse the pun!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Making the most of Autumn



Autumn is a great time of year for learning........don't waste it!!

Teaching children about change can be a challenge,but using the seasons as your teacher can be great fun!!! The colours of Autumn can offer a wide spectrum of activities to boost your child's learning and Knowledge and Understanding of the world.

Today, we went to visit Sheffield Park gardens in East Sussex, a great place to really soak up the amazing Autumn colours and get close to nature in it's glory. There were many families there, collecting leaves in little bags, comparing colours and sizes....mathematical development in practice!! Many of the children were using the trees as hiding places, and commenting on the sound their feet were making in the leaves as they kicked them about. I must admit, I am a sucker for Autumn! I love this time of year, when the trees are looking at their most beautiful and I can kick the leaves about (I do turn into a big kid when it comes to fallen leaves!!)

Leaves can be collected and placed into scrapbooks ( as we have done today!) or to create leaf prints with paint, or even leaf collages. One fab idea is to use the different shaped leaves to make leaf people!!

Autumn is also a time for apples, which can also bring a whole new dimension to learning. You can make apple crumble with your children, and even do some apple printing pictures if you a feeling a little arty!!!

So, get out there and appreciate the wonderful season that is Autumn! Before you know it, winter will be upon us!!!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Halloween recipe - Toasted bats

Try out the fifth recipe in my Halloween recipe special posts!!

Halloween toasted bats!!
You will need:

Pita bread
Bat cookie cutter
Extra virgin olive oil
Bread dipping spices
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F

2. Mix together the oil and dipping spices

3. Cut out bat shapes from the pitta bread using the cutter and separate the two sides.

4. Lay the bats on a baking sheet with the smooth side of the bread face down. Brush with the olive oil mixture and toast in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes


Give it a go..........a simple treat as a snack at parties or to accompany some warm pumpkin soup!!





Thursday, 27 October 2011

The simple things

Concentrating hard on the task in mind!!





Sometimes a simple item can keep a little one entertained and learning for ages!!My little girl has found something new and exciting in her instrument box. Something that has been in there for a long time, but she has now discovered in a different light........a wooden frog scraper!! It was a wooden instrument we found in one of those brilliant new age quirky shops and thought it would add a different dimension to her instrument collection amongst the plastic ones she has too.

But, she hasn't been using it to create a sound, she has found the little hole on the side where the wooden beater goes and has been spending lots of time trying to work out how it fits inside. She has been carrying it around with her and stopping every so often to try it again, concentrating very hard on it.

She is not only increasing her concentration skills, but also she is gaining hand eye co -ordination and fine motor skills, just by simply doing this one motion. I am keeping an eye on her other interests at the moment to see if any patterns are emerging in her play, as I think there may be a schema developing (more on that as I observe her more!!)

It just goes to show that you can never underestimate the objects your child plays with. Even if you bought them for one purpose, they could end up learning from them in a totally different way!!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Rain, Rain don't go away!!




Rain may be annoying when you are stuck inside, but can be a great teaching aid for your child!!
My little girl has taken a liking to the rain. She spent at least 10 mins at the patio door today watching the rain fall down outside and constantly repeating "Raining! Eurgh!" I opened the door a little so she could hear the rain falling onto the ground and in the trees and she really seemed enthralled by what she was seeing. We didn't go out on this occasion, much to her dislike, but it really gave me food for thought to look into how rain can boost a child's development.

When working in a Pre- school and nursery environment, I often found that many staff would not wish to take the children outside in the rain. Thankfully, I have also worked in places where the children are encouraged to venture out in the rain, putting on their wellies and exploring the environment as it changes into a watery wonderland.

So, what do children learn from playing in the rain?

1. Moving with increasing control (Physical Dev)
2. Looking closely at similarities , differences, pattern and change (Knowledge and Understanding of the world)
3. Using their large motor skills
4. Using new words like wet, rain, drip, splash, wet, dry, puddle, drizzle, shower and Downpour!

Something as simple as splashing in puddles or collecting rain in plastic bottles can also help with Mathematical development (counting puddles, measuring how much you have collected) Knowledge and understanding of the world can also be developed by creating ripples in puddles (cause and effect) as well as finding items to float or sink in puddles!! The possibilities are endless indeed!!

So, next time it rains, get out there! The forecast is for rain tomorrow and we are going out regardless!!! I am ready to splash!!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Coping with boredom



It isn't always easy being a stay at home Mum!! Boredom can really set in!!

Frustration has really set in!! After watching yet another episode of Peppa Pig with my daughter totally entranced and snorting away, I have realised yet again that life as a stay at home Mum is not as glamorous as it seems!!

I do count myself very lucky to be in this position, and I really wouldn't swap it for the world, but sometimes the days seem to just merge into one and sometimes it even feels like Groundhog day!! I long for days when we have something planned, especially as when she was born, I signed up for as many courses as i could at the Children's centre. Now, I have done all the courses I feel i will benefit from and I am desperately trying to find things to occupy us at home!

I do not drive, and although I could easily jump on a bus somewhere, having the money to do so isn't always there, especially when the bus drivers moan if you don't have the money in correct change!! It is most tough when it is raining and the local park becomes too wet to visit and the last thing on your mind is venturing outside.

It can be quite lonely at times. All the people you know best are usually at work, meaning you are quite isolated at times. I often feel that having a baby actually as made me an outsider. I don't hear from my old work friends any more and everybody seems to get on with their lives whilst I am stuck in the same old four walls. You satrt to realise who your real friends really are! But, I have the pleasure of my wonderful little girl. Thing is, she doesn't like me trying to get any housework done, clinging to my leg or moaning if I shut the kitchen stair gate to get the floor swept! It is exhausting!!

We do play plenty of games together. Drawing, painting, reading stories.........but there is only so many times you can read the same old books!!! Thank goodness for the days we have out going to groups twice a week..........if only it was more than twice!! I love her to pieces, but I often long for the phone to ring or the door to go, just for some adult conversation!!!

The best I can say as advice for any stay at home Mum is to keep yourself busy, plan activities with your child and do your utmost to get out there and meet new people in local groups. These friends often lead to play dates, which I personally love having around our house!!! And if you ever feel lonely, just remember you are not alone............you have your lovely child to be with and although they aren't always the best conversation, when they laugh or smile it's worth a few hours on your own!!!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Halloween recipe - Orange Spiders Web cakes




Time for another recipe to get your Halloween celebrations going!!

Here is another recipe we used for our Halloween party a few years ago. My sister made the cakes and trust me, they were fab!!

Orange spiders' web cakesMakes 12

You need:


12 plain fairy cakes (my sister made her own)
100g icing sugar
100g softened butter
Food colouring
1 Orange
Writing icing
1. Mix the butter and icing sugar, add the grated rind of 1 orange and a squeeze of juice. Add the food colouring.

2. Spread the mixture on top of the cakes.

3. Use the writing icing to pipe spiders' webs onto the cakes

Simple, easy and fun!!!

recipe from Somerfield magazine November 2000

Saturday, 22 October 2011

What's in a name?



Naming your child is the first big decision you make for them and sets them on their road to life
It is probably the thing you most agonise over. Some people wait until their children are born, others know from the moment they find out they are pregnant. But names are so important and can set a president for the lives they have to live ahead of them.

We actually did not have names prepared for a boy. i had a real inkling that we were expecting a girl and were we had argued over boys names, girls names came really easily. We had narrowed it down to 2 names and therefore had no idea which one we would pick until we saw our little one. So, she was born and it was either Caitlin Marie or Emily Rose. We went with the latter as it had more meaning to us and suited her perfectly. We have even discussed that when we have baby number 2, girls names will not involve Caitlin Marie as they were the names for our first daughter, and we would like to start afresh!!

Anyway, research in 2008 by Abbey banking found that parents spend around 45 hours agonising over a name and 32 per cent of UK parents believe that a child's name can bring them confidence. One in 10 children are named after celebrities!! I also found out that some other research by yourbabydomainname.com found that 8 per cent of parents actually end up regretting the name they gave their child, which when they had their babies were more popular and "in" at the time. That is why many parents try to choose a name that will stand the test of time. There are so many different names out there, some traditional and others a little more off the wall. Every year brings different trends.............fruit names, retro names even the places of conception ala the Beckhams!!

At the end of the day, a child's name comes from the parents choice and is something to be proud of. I am named after the hall where my parents first met, and that is something I am proud of and gives me a feel that I really am something special. My name also has other meanings......in French it means "light", especially how it is spelt. Our daughters name is meant to mean Industrious and ambitious and is supposed to give her a positive nature which will see her far in life and many friends. We never knew this before choosing her name, but I must admit she has plenty of admirers already and is generally a happy child!! Who knows what the future may hold!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Everybody needs good friends



When parenting is tough on us all, it is great to have other parents to rely on


Just recently, I have really realised how having other Mums around you to become a social network you can always rely on. I have been to a party with my lovely daughter today, spending time with other mums who I have met and become good friends with through the local children's centre. Just listening to our conversations around the room, it is amazing how supportive we are to one another!

You do often take friends for granted and quite often I have sat at home wondering to myself what I can do to entertain my daughter, or if I am having a bad day with her, I begin to feel greatly sorry for myself. But then today I realised that there are other Mums who often feel the same and sometimes just a vent of frustrations can be so helpful and realiving. I have had a bad back recently, and one of the Mums has offered to be there for me as a support if I need help at home, or just need a break from my little one for an hour or so.

It is largely because I attended the Children's centre that I have made such a good network of friends. We have all really jelled and our children seem to really love one anothers company. We all seem to have similar views on parenting and help one another with advice and a comforting shoulder to cry on if things are too much. I am so glad I made the decision to not sit at home alone and went out to the Children's centre to socialise for I have made friends I will always treasure. It is something I feel any parent should do for themselves and their children!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The wonders of music

There are great benefits of introducing music to children
Music is, and always has been, a big part of my life. I am part of a singing group and annoyed my parents for years with my singing in my room as a youth. But, although very annoying, I was actually doing my development a big favour! It is actually quite astounding how much music can actually do. Some of the benefits are :


Boosting language - Singing simple songs to children helps them to understand how language is constructed.


Teaching maths - By learning simple rhythm, which also leads to learning fractions and proportions in older children


Enhancing social skills - Children who take part in music activities as part of a group develop higher levels of understanding and empathy towards others



Expressing emotions - Children learn to express themselves through music and movement


There are many more benefits and research into music with children ( see www.musiceducationmadness.com/benefits.shtml or google "Music benefits for children") I have always found that children respond well to music and have spent many a time in nursery rooms bopping away with the children and making up dance routines! My daughter loves music and only today was found bopping away to Take That's new tune as they performed on television (I cant help it, I'm a fan!)

Even in the bath today, she was laughing and singing in her own little way to her musical fish bath toy! Her instrument box is one of her favourites and she loves to create sounds by shaking and banging the range of instruments I have offered to her. Singing time is a fantastic chance for children to learn tunes and rhythm's and even if you have a baby, you can sing anything to them. When Emily was a few days old, I sang many a pop tune to her whilst rocking her to sleep. She now finds Mummy singing Lady Gaga to her hilarious! (Although it could be the rubbish dancing that accompanies it!)

I introduced music from a very early stage, playing her music whilst she was in the womb. I played her classical, rock, pop........... anything goes! There has been much research into this, such as The Mozart Effect (look it up on google!) explaining the benefits to baby's brain. Music therapy has also been known to help children with special needs to help stimulate the brain.

So, no matter what your taste in music (explicit lyrics left aside please!!) explore music with children -practitioners and parents alike!!!!!

Another teething remedy idea



We have discussed Amber as a natural teething remedy, but how about reflexology?

I was looking through a parenting magazine today which had an article about several remedies which can help children's ailments, especially teething. One which I had not seen before was reflexology. I decided to do some more research into it to see how it is supposed to help.

Reflexology is the massaging of pressure points on a child's feet and hands. It is believed that the hands and feet are linked to various areas of the body and by applying pressure to these points can help to heal affected areas. It can be used to help with sleep problems, teething pain, colic and to boost immune systems. Many courses are available out there to teach parents how to perform baby reflexology on their child.

The benefits of baby reflexology are:

1. It can be carried out anywhere........ all you need to do is remove their socks!!

2. It is a safe and natural alternative therapy

3. You do not need any special creams or oils, just literally your own touch

4. It can actually strengthen the bond between parent and child.

It is an interesting concept. A friend of mine had actually shown me some cards with the pressure points on a hand and foot diagram which was really interesting. It has definitely intrigued me!!!



Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A difficult topic to discuss

What happens when a child accuses you of something at work?This is a topic that is very difficult to speak about, but something that does happen when working with older children. It has happened to me, and can be really upsetting for those involved. I don't talk about it much as the events really did leave me in the horrible position of wondering where to go with my career. So, I will explain to you briefly what occurred and also how you can protect yourself and how employers should support you.

I was accused by an 8 year old child of harming them when collecting them outside of school for an after school club. The child had come out crying, and all I had done was hug them to cheer them up and find out what had happened. After the weekend, the parents who were rightly concerned, complained to my workplace and then a few days later, took it to the police. I was suspended indefinitely and spent the next 2 weeks afterwards wondering what the hell had just happened to me!! Being interviewed by the police was no laughing matter either, feeling like a criminal when all I had done was tried to cheer up a child.

The case was thrown out. No evidence was found to back up the claims and so I was allowed back to work. And that was the hardest thing of all, working with the child who had nearly lost me my job and changed my whole life. It was a scary time, I felt I couldn't hug any child who wanted one and panicked when I accidentally scratched people. It took a long time to get over it all.

So, what do you do if this ever happens to you and, like me, you were totally innocent?

The main thing is try to remain calm and collected. It is a hard thing to do. I was in absolute tears for days and your mind plays horrible tricks on you as you wonder what will happen next. Your employers should offer you counselling during your time of absence. They do have the right to dismiss you under suspension, for the protection of both the child involved and yourself. It is the whole thing of innocent until proven guilty. You have to remember that there are worried parents involved too who naturally will believe their child, and want justice for them, getting to the bottom of the issue. It can be really hard when they are sitting in front of you, accusing you, but in their situation, you probably would do the same.

You will have to write a statement of what occurred. What makes things a little difficult is when there are no witnesses. There were no adult witnesses, but surely if I had hurt someone, somebody in the playground at the time would have seen something!!! This is why it is important that childcare workers collect children from school, they should do so in pairs. This was changed at the place where I worked to protect the staff if anything like this should happen again.

Being falsely accused can change a persons life. It can knock your confidence and set you back in a big way. It took a while, but I stood tall and brushed it aside as best I could, with the support of my friends and family, and especially my partner who was my rock at that time. I am glad I didn't let that one issue stop me with pursuing my career in childcare, for I am sure I wouldn't be here now if I had. You just have to fight for your innocence and do your job as best as you can.

It has been difficult to write this but I hope this post has been helpful to someone out there, or at least rung true with someone who has been through something similar. Unfortunately, it is one of the downsides of working in this field of expertise, but it shouldn't ever put you off doing what you love best.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Halloween recipe - Snotty Smoothies



Why not try this fab recipe for a spooky drink, great for parties or just a Halloween treat!!

Snotty smoothies

You will need:

1 banana
2 kiwi



Handful of ice cubes
1/2 pint milk
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
2 sour snake sweets
1. Pour all the ingredients into a liquidiser and blitz for 1 minute
2. Pour into 2 tall glasses and hang the sour snakes over the edge.

This recipe makes two smoothies

Recipe from Baby Hampshire magazine Autumn 2011

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Finding fun events for free!!




Today we had an eventful visit to a Family Day.........with free admission!!
As today is "family day", it was time to go for a little drive and enjoy the sunshine. I had seen an event advertised in my copy of Baby Hampshire, describing a family day at Fontwell Race course and had written it in the diary a few weeks ago as our family day trip.

There was so much on offer and for everyone to see. There were rabbits, pigs, ducks, chicks, lambs, birds of prey, a fire engine, free craft activities, zumba, stalls, tricycle riding, Father Christmas walking by............the list went on and on!! You could even get a family portrait done and take it home with you for a brilliant price of £10!!! Pity we had just had one done yesterday or we would have jumped at the chance!!

With the weather being so good, everybody had come out for a lovely day. Grandparents, Aunties, uncles as well as parents and friends all sat in the sun enjoying the entertainment and some even had brought a picnic along!!

It just goes to show that sometimes you can have a fun day out which hardly costs a penny! Just by reading local advertisements in newspapers, magazines and fliers you can find wonderful events to participate in. I would like to say how well the organisers had done with today's event and we have already earmarked my parents to join us if the event happens again next year as we had such a lovely day!!! And of course, a balloon makes the day just that extra special in our little girls mind!!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The importance of laughter

One way I have managed to keep children's attention and help them learn is to make them laugh!!

Any one who has worked with me in the past can vouch for the fact that I don't mind making an idiot of myself in front of children. I revel in a child's laugh and the fact that I made them laugh in the first place!! I dressed up and created characters and made learning fun.......I even had an alter ego (known as Mrs Handbag!!) Ahhh the adventures she had!!!!

But there is an educational reason why making a child laugh can be so beneficial. It builds a child's vocabulary and supports creative thinking as well as building self esteem!!! I found an interesting site which underlines the different stages of humour development (www.laughterremedy.com) which is worth a read.

It is great when our little one laughs. She is now laughing when other people laugh, she doesn't understands the jokes, but she loves being part of it!! Today's hilarity came from her Daddy hiding behind the bath and popping his head up, resting his nose on the ledge. Not the world's best joke from a self named comedy genius (!!) but to her the funniest thing she had seen since the last edition of Something Special!! At her age (15 months), the smallest, silliest things are funny and anything involving falling over, nudging Mummy with her feet on a swing and tipping her toys into the bath are the funniest things she has ever seen!!

So, what has made your little one laugh today?? I would love to hear your stories!! Email me @ childcareclair@hotmail.co.uk
Bold


video

This is my little ones first laugh........apologies it is on it's side, but I am sure it will still make you smile!!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Wonderful childminders



How childminders can be a godsend to parents

Childminders are registered child care professionals who open their own homes to provide care and education for other peoples children. Childminding is currently the most popular mode of childcare, with over 100,000 registered childminders in Britain. They are more popular as the type of care they provide is flexible and often offers a family based concept where they work in their own homes. Many childminders have their own children to care for as well as the children they care for, offering them the chance to work as well as caring for their own children.

Childminders are trained and are expected to carry out relevant courses such as First Aid, Health and Safety and manual handling. As childminders are allowed to have up to 6 children at any one time in their care, the ratios are low enough to allow them to care for each individual child's needs. This also means the relationships between child and carer are that bit stronger too. Some childminders also collect children from school, offering after school care for parents who work longer hours.

It is important that parents gain a good relationship with their childminder, whilst still realising that they are business people and will need notice of holidays etc when your child will not be attending. When choosing a childminder that suits you, you should check their certificate of registration and ask the following questions:

1. Do they have the hours and days available that you are looking for?
2. How much does it cost and are meals included?
3. What happens when the childminder is sick?
4. What training do they have?
5. How many other children do they have in their care? How old are they?
6. What facilities are available for sleeping, eating and drinking etc?
7. Are outings part of the routine and how are they managed?
8. What is their behaviour policy?

It would be worth taking your child along to meet the childminder too to see how they interact with one another. Childminders can be the hidden gems of childcare, but you need to act on your gut instinct on whether they suit you and your child's needs.

Many thanks to Liz for the use of her photo from her childminding site www.little-sprouts.co.uk

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Creating an ICT area



ICT doesn't just mean computers...............how to make ICT work for you in a child care environment

It is a common misconception by practitioners that having a computer in your setting means you have covered ICT! There is so much more to ICT than meets the eye, as I found out when studying for a report for my Foundation degree, 2 years ago.

The Rose review in 2009, underlined the importance of the use of ICT to allow children to become confident in their use of technology by the time they reach the end of primary school. In the current economic climate, many child care settings may be finding it hard to fund the required provision for ICT. Many schools are lucky enough to gain access to funds for ICT equipment, a luxury which many privately owned Pre schools and nurseries do not have.

Having a range of programmable toys and computers may seem as an unreachable target by some settings, and they could find it hard to prioritise this sort of equipment when there are so many other pieces of equipment needed within a setting.

ICT equipment can be provided in a range of areas within a setting, as well as within a computer area. For example: A CD player in the music area, calculators for problem solving, Reasoning and Numeracy or electronic typewriters in the mark making area. It can all become part of a settings continuous provision, enhancing children's learning throughout rather than within one area. I have worked in a setting where the ICT provision was just an ICT box. By understanding that ICT can be used in all areas, we removed the box and had our equipment in all areas instead.

So, what are the "Solutions" to finding ICT equipment at a reasonable price?

1 Borrowing : Some settings have a lending scheme where ICT equipment can be swapped on a regular basis. This is a great idea, as each setting could have a few items which can be borrowed and swapped around for children to be able to explore a wide range of equipment.

2. Parent donations : Parents can be asked whether or not they have any old mobile phones, laptops, remote control cars and the like to donate to the setting for children to explore.

3. Car boot sales : Can be a treasure chest for practitioners to find a range of battery operated toys and equipment such as keyboards, torches, calculators and other technology related items, for a fraction of the price that they would be in catalogues! It is important to ensure that the equipment bought at car boot sales are working correctly and are clean before being made available to the children.

4. Internet sites : Some bargains can be found on online market place websites. Again, it is important to ensure the equipment is safe before giving to children.

5. Funding from local businesses: Find out if there are local computer businesses which could either provide ICT equipment at discounted prices, or help to fund your ICT program. They may even donate equipment to your setting. Businesses from time to time update their equipment and so may sell or offer free use of the old equipment.

6. ICT Walks : Even if you cannot afford a wide range of ICT equipment, An ICT walk around your local area can provide a range of talking points for children. A simple trip to the shops unveils scanners, closed circuit TV and digital weighing machines! Not to mention the pedestrian crossings!!

ICT is not more important than other areas of provision, but should be seen as just as vital as what is provided throughout a setting for children's learning and development.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The trouble with cameras



There are a lot of new rules out there banning cameras...........madness or protecting our children?

Since the horrific stories of child abuse within nurseries in 2009, many nurseries have taken measures to protect the children in their care by banning mobile phones in their premises, to prevent such events occurring. I have come across this recently in my local children's centre, where rather than ban phones, parents are asked to have them on silent and calls to be taken away from the children in the corridors. Parents have also been asked not to take photographs of their children in the vicinity of other children, unless the other child's parents are there to consent.

This has caused many of the parents to moan within the group. It was explained that it is for the children's protection and to me, what they are asking is perfectly reasonable. I would not be happy if a stranger was taking my little girls photograph without asking my permission or explaining themselves. You really cannot be too careful sometimes!!

Where things do tend to annoy parents is when it comes to school performances, where parents are asked not to take photographs. I have worked in nurseries where they have got around this by asking each child's parent to sign a consent form to say that they are happy to have their child filmed or photographed during performances. As to yet, I have not encountered any parent saying no, but I could imagine if one parent disagrees, there could be repercussions!!!

It is getting worse too.........recently in the news, a man was banned from taking a photo of his child inside a shopping centre. It even got to the point where a policeman got involved!! It does come to something when you cannot even take photographs of your own child experiencing everyday activities. There are some policies parents will agree with for sure, but this one really does take the biscuit!!!

What do you think?

Photo of my little one taken by peterhallphotography.co.uk

Monday, 10 October 2011

Edible paint............a fab idea for babies!!



Have a go at this recipe for edible paint............no worries about swallowing any!!!

If you want to introdice your child to painting, but are concerned about them eating the paint (as all babies will!!) you can always try edible paint. It is fun and easy to make, I have made some before and it worked fantastically!! This is a recipe I have stumbled across............

2 cups of corn flour
1 cup of cold water
4 1/2 cups of boiling water
Food colouring

Mix the cornflour and cold water together. Add int he boiling water, stirring with each cup. It should create a custard type mixture. Seperate into containers and add different coloured food colouring into each container and stir.

Give it a try!!!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Halloween recipe - Toffee Apples



Another recipe for your Halloween celebrations!!!!

Halloween parties can be lots of fun, and get you to be very creative as my sister and I found when we held a fancy dress Halloween party 3 years ago! Here is a recipe for toffee apples, from Asda magazine, 2008:

Toffee apples

You will need:
6 eating apples
450g demerara sugar
50g Unsalted butter
2tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp Clear Honey
1. Wash and dry the apples. Push a lolly stick into the base of each one, through the core, making sure it is secure. Grease a piece of baking paper, fill a bowl with cold water and put aside to test the toffee.

2.Put the sugar, butter, vinegar, honey and 150ml cold water into a pan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Boil for 10 mins or until the mixture has turned to toffee, testing it as much as possible towards the end. You know when it is ready when a small piece dropped in water turns hard straight away.

4. Remove from the heat and dip the apples in the toffee, coating them. Be careful as the toffee will be hot. Stand on the paper and leave to set before eating.

You can put the names of your guests on the lolly sticks...............we had a few guests at our party, so instead, I put quotes from scary movies on them instead (but that's more for an adult party hahaha!!)



Playing with Pegs



How a simple item such as a peg is actually teaching my little one more than you could imagine!!
Like a lot of children, my daughter has a lot of fantastic toys to play with, but it is the everyday items around the house which are most appealing!! Her latest favourites are pegs. She is fascinated with how I can clip them to things and has spent ages studying them trying to work out how on earth they work!!

Pegs are a great tool for encouraging hand to eye co ordination and fine motor skills. They have so many different capabilities for teaching children new skills, under adult supervision as they can hurt too!! Here are some advantages of peg play:

* They can actually help children to write!! By teaching children how to squeeze the pegs to get them to open, you are actually strengthening the hand muscles and preparing them for holding a pencil correctly.

* They can be used to teach colours, if using plastic coloured pegs. You can sort them into colour piles too!

* They can be used for counting games, such as counting them as you put them back into the peg bag or any container!

* Containers can also be used for hiding the pegs, covering them with lids and shaking to create your very own peg shaker!!

* You can wash some dolls clothes and make a hand made washing line outside using string or wool, allowing your child to peg the clothes out to dry (this was a great activity I used to do in child care settings!!)

* Wooden pegs can be painted for fun and many craft places even have mini pegs for creating crafty pictures, cards and scrap booking!!

So, let the little ones in your care explore pegs!! You could send me your pictures and I will put them on the website for all to see!!!! Email your pictures to childcareclair@hotmail.co.uk

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Grandparents - the forgotten carers??



An encounter today made me so sad to realise how some grandparents are taken for granted

I went to my local shop today to find a really upset shop attendant talking to a friend about her grand child and how she was being expected to look after them for whole days whilst both parents were at work. She was obviously happy to help, but was finding the hours long and tiring when juggling child care with her work and feeling very guilty that the baby has to go to a nursery on the days she cannot help out. She was devastated that she was so tired, but was also upset that she was getting last minute phone calls telling her she needed to babysit.

Grand parents are so special and many are becoming full time carers for their grand children so that the children's parents can go to work. This obviously means parents can cut the cost of childcare down considerably, but some people (not all, I may add!!) do tend to take these wonderful people for granted. According to the Daily Mail in 2010, 1 in 3 working mothers rely on grandparents to care for their child whilst they work. A lot of grandparents are doing so out of love for their grandchildren and do actually enjoy their roles, but for some the daily child care routine can be quite tiring.

My daughters grand parents are fantastic when it comes to babysitting. They are quite happy to spend some time with Emily, and generally look after her once or twice in a month. I do worry sometimes that I am taking advantage, especially when my Mum uses her holiday from work to look after our little one whilst we go away for a weekend. But, they always seem to really thrive from the time they have with her. Saying that, they do get tired after a couple of days with her!!

What we need to remember is that they have done it all before, but despite that, they are at a different point in their lives where they love to help you with your children, but also need their own time to juggle their own work and home lives. One day, this will surely happen to us when our own children have families of their own. I know for a fact that I would feel upset if Emily expected me to look after her children day in day out for free!!

So, let's celebrate our children's grandparents and remember how well they have brought us up, and indeed how very special they are.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Keeping the food ideas fresh and interesting



I am trying to keep my daughter interested in a range of foods by introducing new foods as much as I can
It is amazing how bored I was getting serving my daughter the same old finger foods and I started to try experimenting with new ideas, still keeping them as healthy as I could. She isn't a big fan of hard fruits, but I found that trying other fruits such as mango, melon and raspberries as well as her favourite banana and grapes has proved to be a hit!!

The most recent thing I have tried is bread sticks and celery with dips. She wasn't so keen on the celery, but the dips have proved a big hit, and a messy one at that!! So far, Hummus and Sour cream and chive have been received well and we have a few others to try, along with trying carrot sticks and slices of cucumber next week!!

When trying new foods, it is important to remember that a child has to try things at least 20 times before you can really believe that they don't like something. That is why every week or so, I try her again to see if her tastes have changed.

So far, her finger food favourites are:

Dips,
Bread sticks,
Babybel cheese
Heinz cheese biscuits
Organix snacks
Mango strips
Melon Strips
Grapes
Sandwiches
Chicken
Ham
Jam on bread



Crackers
Melba toast with Dairylea
Crumpets
Pancakes
Cheese scones
Fruit scones
Grated carrot
Toast

These are just a few ideas which you may or may not have tried yourselves. What works for you which I haven't tried yet? I would love to hear your ideas!!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The benefits of home visits



It is something not all childcare providers do, but really should to get a sense of a child's home life

Home visits - a topic which means a great deal to me as I studied this area for my Personal Based Assignment when studying at University. It was something I was a part of whilst in my last workplace and found them really interesting and exciting to carry out. A home visit does exactly what it says on the tin.........you visit the child who is going to start at your setting in their home.

It is a great way to understand a lot more about your child's family background and to see them relaxed int heir own environment. It also allows them to get used to you by seeing you in their house. This is why it is best if possible that the child's Key person is the person who visits. It is also best these visits are done in pairs, for safety sake as well as in case you get lost!! I have been on a home visit alone where I was very uncomfortable with the whole scenario (the child was playing with garden shears!!!)

A good thing to create when doing home visits is an activity box. This would contain a few toys (you can find out what the child likes pre visit and add these types of toys in the box), any uniform the children could wear, book bags, stories and photographs of the setting. This allows the children to get a sense of where they will be going and what sort of things they will find. I started a box whilst doing my university course and I hope it has proved helpful!!

Of course, there are many barriers which can hinder practitioners from carrying out home visits. The most prominent being lack of staff. If you are sending 2 staff out on a visit, you need to make sure the ratios are still met back in the setting, which for many nurseries is a big ask. The staff have to be comfortable with speaking to parents and children in unfamiliar surroundings and need to make sure they get the most out of their time in the child's home. The average home visit should last just 20 mins, which is the perfect amount of time for a child to get used to you, but not always to make sure you get the information you need.

I believe home visits are a fantastic way for parents to get to know the staff too and helps to strengthen the relationship before their child even starts at the nursery. Of course, staff need to make sure they remain professional and try not to judge families by the look of their home. Training would be a good idea to brief practitioners before they enter a home.

What do you think? Do home visits work for you?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Halloween recipe - Witches Broomsticks



The first of a few recipes this month in preparation for Halloween

With Halloween only a matter of weeks away, the supermarket shelves are stocked with party ideas and novelty items. If you are planning a party, it is fantastic to have a range of interesting foods to offer your guests. We held a Halloween party before our little one was born and had a great time pooling together recipes to try (My sister was fab helping out!!) So here is the first of a few recipes I will post to give you some ideas!

Witches broomsticks - quick, easy and simple!!

You will need:

Breadsticks
Twiglets
Packet soft cheese

Simply take a breadstick, dip into the soft cheese and add the twiglets in the cheese to create the end of the broom!! Simple and yet so effective (plus they taste pretty good!!)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sleep talking




More common than sleep walking in young children, what is sleep talking exactly?

Sleep talking is more common than sleep walking and happens to around half of all children at some point. It is more common in girls than boys and can be very clear, or just a murmur! our little one is sleep talking occasionally, even saying "oh-oh!" the other evening and baffling us totally when we checked her and she was happily snoring away!

There are some reasons why sleep talking occurs, such as stress, over tiredness, night terrors and in some young children's cases, separation anxiety. An over excited child can lead to sleep talking too! It can be an annoying condition if your child shares a room with a sibling, but sleep talking does not harm your child.

If you hear your child talking in their sleep, it is best not to wake them. You can try and settle them if the talking seems upsetting to them, but without waking them is best. A study in 2004 found that more than 1 in 10 children sleep talk up to 3 times a week, so it is quite a common thing to happen.

Does your child sleep talk????