All posts by babycollegeoffice

Encouraging Creativity in Your Young Child

Imagine at BC

“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” – D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality by Winnicott, D. W.

By encouraging creativity in your child, you can help them grow and flourish in so many ways.  Creative development can help lots of aspects of development mature including mentally, emotionally, and socially. As a child grows, society’s constricting rules, pressures, and do’s and don’ts will constrict their imagination. By giving your baby or child creative freedom you will be helping them develop social skills, decision making skills, confidence, and independence.

Creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill parents can help their children develop. As it is a key to success in nearly everything we do, creativity is a key component of health and happiness and a core skill to practice with children. Creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression—it is also essential for science, maths, and even social and emotional intelligence. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change—as well as take advantage of new opportunities.

Creativity can be developed through the various ways parents interact with and respond to very young babies. These may be seen in the diverse ways a caregiver might calm, soothe, comfort, engage, amuse, delight, enthral, or even confuse or confound their child. Playing creatively with babies — even newborns — fosters many aspects of development. The physical skills it promotes becomes one of the primary ways that babies learn about their world, thereby allowing them mental development and new ways of thinking, engaging, discovering, and problem solving. This growth may come from actual toys such as blocks, rings, or cups, but it may also come from cushions with bright colours or textures to explore – even objects that make interesting sounds will ignite a child’s curiosity.

Singing, cuddling, and interacting are important ways to participate in play, but it is equally important to encourage independent play time as well.

Very young children learn about the world through their senses. In order to foster creativity and creative thinking right from the start, draw on this natural proclivity. Stimulating multiple senses, as babies develop the stamina, is a great way to foster imaginative thinking. A vast majority of your interactions should be hands-on activities where you and your baby interact face-to-face.

Toddlers are ready for more when it comes to creative opportunities. Allow your child an expressive outlet for her thoughts, feelings, wishes, and imaginings. Challenge her new representational abilities by using her body in space: have her hop like a bunny, roar like a lion, etc. Get more abstract and see if he can become a kite blowing in the wind, or a balloon blown too full that pops.

Challenge your child’s play to go beyond the familiar routine she may have developed. For example, fly your car to the moon. Look at everyday moments as opportunities to enhance creative thinking. Ask your child why she thinks the dog is chasing the squirrel, or where the bird that flew out of sight is off to or make up her own ending to a story. Bring literature to life, for instance act her favourite book such as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

Dressing Up

Encourage your toddler to be creative with art inspired activities (finger painting, scribbles and messy play) or engage in lots of musical activities: singing, dancing, making musical instruments.  As they grow older encourage imagination games with role play and dressing up.  Try to make all these activities child-led instead of parent-led – you are trying to foster their creativity.

A very valuable lesson for parents is to learn to give their children the time and space for play and to allow them to fail. Children who are afraid of failure and judgment will curb their own creative thought.

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”-Pablo Picasso

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

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Family Holidays

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Family holidays are always eagerly anticipated, but whether you are travelling with your new infant, wriggly crawler or high energy toddler some pre-planning can help ensure everyone enjoys their time away.

Travelling with your little baby

You can feel nervous (and hopefully excited) about taking your new baby on holiday for the first time, but with a little bit of thought it should prove to be a wonderful experience for you all.

The first thing to consider is that travelling with an infant can take longer than with just adults – you have to factor in the time taken for feeding and nappy changes. Many parents choose to do as much of the travelling during the night so that baby is asleep for a lot of the journey. Acknowledging the longer travel time from the outset of the journey can make life a lot less stressful.

When booking accommodation, its always wise to enquire about what baby equipment there is available for you to use as this will help reduce down the number of items you need to squeeze into your car or suitcase!

If you are travelling abroad with your baby you will need to think about your baby’s passport, travel insurance, EHIC card, vaccinations and airline rules regarding baby’s car seat and bottles.

When travelling to a hot country always be mindful that your baby can dehydrate more easily than you.  It’s a really good idea to know the signs of dehydration:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduction in wet nappies or dark urine
  • Rapid breathing
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Cold and blotchy hands and feet
  • Sunken fontinales

A top tip for a happy and more relaxed family holiday is to invite eager grandparents along with you to help look after your darling baby

Travelling with Older babies and Toddlers

Keeping your older babies and toddlers entertained, watered and fed is the name of the game when travelling long distances to your family holiday.

For older babies and toddlers bring along their favourite nursery rhyme cd or playlist or even an audio book.  Think about playing simple travelling games such as ‘picture eye spy’. You might also want to take some new toys and bring them out at intervals throughout the journey to keep your little one amused.

As with infants plan lots of stops to allow your toddler chance to feed, drink and stretch their legs along the journey

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Holidays are a fantastic opportunity for spending some real quality time together as a family.  Often traditions are started which must be repeated every holiday – favourite card game, badminton tournaments… Little children can learn new skills when on holiday.  With lots of parental attention it can be the time that your little one learns to ride a bike or learns to swim.

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

Benefits of Baby Swimming

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Summer is here and the holiday season is often when your baby and toddler may learn a new skill. One of these is learning to swim and this can bring many benefits for your baby.  It van be a slightly daunting experience for most parents trying it for the first time, though for the most part there is nothing to worry about, as infants can start swimming from birth. Be aware though that babies can chill easily, so consider the temperature of the pool.

Benefits of Baby Swimming

  •  Swimming is one of the best loved family activities. It is the largest participation sport in the UK and many children say it is their favourite family pastime.
  • Swimming helps to improve coordination and balance. Because much of your baby’s body is supported by water, the main focus for them is on maintaining balance. On the whole, babies who swim have a much better balance out of the pool.
  • Swimming helps to build muscles. Working and strengthening all of their muscles effectively helps to make them stronger.
  • Swimming provides quality bonding time. We always have less time than we would like with our kids; it is an unfortunate effect of being so busy. Time in the pool is one of the few times when your child has your undivided attention for the duration, so make the most of it.
  • Swimming strengthens your baby on the inside. While swimming will help to develop their muscles and joints, it also improves the strength of their heart and lungs, and helps to develop their brain.
  • Swimming can improve their sleeping pattern. While it isn’t going to make them sleep through the night every night, the extra exercise will help to make your baby sleepier.
  • Swimming can improve a baby’s appetite. Lots of gentle exercise and warm water helps to make a baby hungry, so make sure you have some sort of snack or milk for after they finish.
  • Swimming builds water confidence. Many parents pass on an uneasiness of water to their children because they themselves are not confident swimmers. Going in the water with your baby will not only make them more assured about being in and around water, it can build your confidence too!

Swimming fun

How to help your baby to learn to swim

  • Make sure you baby feels safe – holding them, wear floaties, arm bands and use swimming aids
  • Have fun when in the water and make a game of it
  • With very young children keep it short
  • Start using the right language and really encourage them to use their legs

 

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

Baby’s Summer Senses Development

Outdoor Play

At Baby College we talk a lot about sensory integration, but what is this and why is it important?

Sensory Integration was defined Jane Ayers as “The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with the environment” (1972)

Which means how our bodies receive sensory information and then what it does with the information which allows us to function in our daily lives.

We have 8 senses: smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch and three others less talked about: proprioception (muscles and joints we use to control our movement), vestibular (workings of the inner which control our balance system) and interoception (system which tells our body what is going on inside – feeling hungry etc.) http://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk

Sensory integration professionals are particularly interested in the interaction between and development of the vestibular, proprioception, touch, vision, and hearing. This is because they are important (essential) in supporting our ability to use our body, concentrate, develop self-esteem and confidence as well as having self-control and academic skills.

Summertime gives you many opportunities to play lots of fun games with your babies and young children to promote and encourage this development. Sensory integration should be encouraged from birth. Infants will use their senses to start to understand and learn about the world around them. All the senses need to work together so they can move, learn and behave in a certain way.

Palying in the sand

Activities to encourage seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting for your babies and little ones:

• Make a summer sensory basket with summer items – shells, leaves etc
• Playing in a sandpit, or paddling pool. You can hide items in the sandpit and see if they can find them
• Plant some vegetables, fruits with your child and eat them when they grow
• Plant some flowers, cress, grass seed with your child and watch them grow.
• Finger painting outside. For older children use sensory objects to make it more fun: tree bark, cut potatoes into shapes, stick on leaves and flowers.
• Sit in the garden listening to the birds, feeling the touch of the grass
• Allow lots of opportunity for your toddler to explore their garden or a local park

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

 

How Babies make Friends

Making friends

Learning social skills will be one of your baby’s most important developmental processes as they are hugely important in family life, at school and, eventually, at work and throughout their adult life.

Babies are pre-programmed to make social connections as this will ensure that they are cared for and, therefore, ultimately thrive and survive. They engage us with their eyes, their cries and then their smiles, giggles and coo’s

The first friends your baby will make are you, your partner and siblings. In their first few months, your baby will show preferences for people based on how they feel when they are with them. This will often depend on how they are held and soothed by that person. Lots of cuddles and eye contact can help build trust and attachment together with introducing some gentle fun games.  Once your baby learns to sit up and reach out for new and interesting objects and people, they will become much more engaged and active in their little world.

Your baby will be interested in others similar in size to them, and they will be fascinated and transfixed by what they do. As they start to move around towards the end of their first year, they will naturally move towards people and things that interest them. This curiosity and enthusiasm will help them to build new relationships and show the first signs of friendship.

Until they reach their third year, your little one will most likely play alongside other infants rather than with them. It may seem a lonely way to play, but this is vital to help them build up their imagination and social skills

However, from new research carried out by scientists from Charles Sturt University in Australia babies who are too young to talk can still communicate with other babies, form friendships and even crack jokes to each other. They discovered that babies aged six to 18-months were able to ‘talk’ to each other through gestures like noises, humour and shared play during a series of tests.

As your baby grows into a toddler you will notice that they like to imitate both you and their friends and spend lots of time watching what you and they do. They will also also want to assert their independence, they may start to refuse to hold your hand when you walk down a street or throw a tantrum when you say no to something they want to do.

Group fun at Baby College

Your toddler is interested in the world, but mainly in how everything in it relates to them. As your child learns to talk and communicate with others, they will also learn to make friends. Your toddler will start to enjoy the company of other children now, both their age and older.

Between the ages of two years old and three years old, your toddler will understand love and trust. They will be able to show affection now. However, they aren’t yet able to put themselves in other people’s shoes or understand that other people have feelings too.

Your toddler is becoming better at sharing their toys and taking turns.  It’s a good idea to play lots of games with your baby that encourages this behaviour and to explain to them how it makes the other children feel when they are being kind and sharing. In our Baby College Junior classes, we encourage lots of socialising between the children and they really look forward to seeing each other in class and get very excited when one of their favourites arrive. This is the first steps of them forming friendships

http://www.babycollege.co.uk

The Baby College Family

Happy mum and baby at Baby College

We all know that babies are not born with an instruction manual and bringing home your eagerly anticipated new-born can be both wonderful and terrifying.  All new parents have experienced that moment when they arrive home for the first time,  shut the front door and turn to each other and think “what do we do now?”

At Baby College we recognise the critical role parents play in their children’s lives and our carefully planned programme reflects this.  We make parents as much the focus of our classes as their babies so that we help reduce down this uncertainty and empower our customers to parent with knowledge and confidence.

Participant numbers within our classes are kept purposefully low so that our customers really get to know each other and that lifetime friendships can be formed.  Peer care and support throughout your child’s life can be key for your happiness.

Our classes are designed to increase parental knowledge through weekly insights into different aspects of your baby’s development.  Our research-based activities are practiced in class so that they can be replicated at home. This provides you, our parents, with a large variety of ways to actively stimulate and play with your baby and gives you the confidence to know that you are doing a wonderful job in this most vital of roles.

All our highly trained and dedicated Baby College teachers are here to help their parents.  They are always available to listen to any concerns you may have; answer any questions and give advice where possible or point you towards the most appropriate health professional if necessary.

Baby College teacher and child

We take our role as the Baby College Family very seriously and that’s why our customers return to us term after term, baby after baby.

“Thank you for helping guide, teach and entertain Theo and all us through your wonderful Baby College classes.  We’ll always remember you! From Lydia, Henry, Theo and all the grandparents”

You too can be part of the Baby College family…  book a class near you at http://www.babycollege.co.uk

Music and your child’s brain

Music play

Singing and music play an important role in our culture and are present in a variety of our social and educational activities: theatre, television, cinema, celebrations, worship etc. From birth, parents instinctively use music to calm and soothe children, to express their love and joy, and to engage and interact.

Research undertaken by a team of researchers in the 1990s showed that the exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills.  Children who also had musical training (minimum of three years) outperformed other children in tests on non-verbal reasoning, auditory discrimination, vocabulary and fine motor skills.

The psychologist Howard Gardner already argued in 1983 that music intelligence is as important as logical and emotional intelligence. This is because music has the ability to strengthen the connection between the body and brain to work together as a team. For instance, when dancing and moving to music, children develop better motor skills whereas singing along to a song helps them to practise their singing voice and improve their language skills. In general, the exposure to music supports children in their development process to learn the sound of tones and words. Exposure to music also benefits a child’s social and emotional development too.

Music can impact our emotional and psychological states. When we listen to calming or happy music the body produces ‘happy’ hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin.  These bring with them the feelings of pleasure and happiness. If parents play happy, lively music they can help cheer their children up and equally playing calm music will help with relaxation.

Music can help children express their emotions.  Playing sad music can have the effect of making the listener feel sad and this can help small children express these feelings (during times of stress or difficulty)

Music can help with forming long term memories. Listening to music seems to light up the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for storing long term memories. So while many things might be going on at the time of making the memory, it’s the music that is likely to form a particularly strong association with that recollection. Those suffering with Alzheimer’s and dementia can even be aided in recalling previously lost memories through the use of music.

Parents play the most important role in musical education and the more exposure that a child has to music and music play at home improves a child’s music ability far beyond those who have no exposure.

Music and singing is used throughout our Baby College classes; from the very beginning with our Hello Song, dancing, music play, action rhymes all the way through to our parachute ride and Goodbye Song.  We use traditional nursery rhymes and modern variations to help give parents inspiration for play at home.

Ideas for parents:

  • Dancing with your baby whilst listening to your favourite songs
  • Singing nursery rhymes
  • Tapping out the beat onto your baby (feet, legs, hands) when you are listening to music or singing nursery rhymes
  • Bouncing baby on your knees to the rhythm of the song/rhyme
  • Older children – pots and pans drum set
  • Make homemade shakers for/with your child
  • Action rhymes

http://www.babycollege.co.uk