Posts

How to entertain a baby in London

What to do in London for babies

Most people would think that looking after a baby/infant is easy. They sleep a lot, need to be cuddled, fed and nappy changed. However, babies need to be entertained too! And they make it pretty clear when they’ve had enough. They are in full development mode, learning every day, getting curious. They need to be stimulated, to be helped discovering this huge world. But how to do that?

Talking and making sounds with your newborn will benefit them. 

The sounds are different from what they could hear from within the womb, so they are quite intrigued. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your baby and start building a bond.

Singing to your baby will help regulate his/her arousal level

It’s a sense of awareness and attention. If you play an instrument, do so as much as you can as it is amazing for babies’ cognitive development. You can also use different objects around the house to make different sounds. Even the slightest sounds can cause a baby to turn around or behave in a different manner, causing him to respond to it as well.

We are lucky to have a lot of baby/parents classes in London. Monkey music, Mini Mozart, Bach to baby offer music classes for infants (and older ones as well), in Primrose Hill, Notting Hill, Hampstead, Chelsea and so many other locations. Some of them such as Mini mozart also use real instruments (piano, flute,…) during the class.

Making faces or using masks

It will bring you both you and your baby lots of laughs. Babies around 3 month old have a good idea about facial expressions and the people they are getting used to. This is precisely why babies seem to laugh and enjoy something that seems strange and weird because it is quite funny for them.

Make funny sounds and weird faces, watch your baby’s reaction as he/she can smile/laugh and may try to copy. A box of wafers can turn into a small toy that he can shake around and listen to the sound or scrunch up paper. You can also bring your baby to different messy art classes in central London. Lot’s of fun guaranteed! 

Reading stories

Most of the time, your baby’s entertainment will stem from your interactions with him/her. While your little one may not be able to understand your conversations or when you tell him/her about the things happening or the stories you read, he/she is definitely listening to them intently and picking up on repetitive patterns.

Try to procure books that have pictures and colourful imagery that your baby can look at. Sit your baby on your lap, and read out the stories or just make up your own. Your baby will be transfixed completely. You can also use finger puppets. Libraries throughout London offer “story time” sessions.

This is a great way to get a break from reading the same book over and over again! You can borrow books there too and meet new people.

Sometimes, they just need a change of scenery.

Walking around, showing different objects around the house will help grow their curiosity. And if you do it outside, they will also be stimulated by all the different smells there are. Babies are usually amazed by the other lights and shadows passing by.

We are lucky to be surrounded by quite a few beautiful parks. Regent’s park is my favourite and perfect for a stroll around. Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park are great too. At Christmas time, when all the lights are on in different neighbourhoods and markets emerge, it is my favourite time to take a stroll with an infant; you get to see the curiosity and magic in their eyes!

And also, it usually smells nice. You can find some in Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and many more places.

You can level up the baby gym by attaching (loosely) balloons to your infant’s feet. 

They will kick and jiggle and take immense joy from being in control of their source of entertainment. You have lots of baby gym classes in London. However, if you live in North London, we highly recommend the ones in Kentish Town at Talacre Center. Just amazing! 

Tummy time

we all know how much it is encouraged and important for muscle growth and tonicity but not all little ones like it. By lying on the floor and facing them yourself (while talking or singing), your little one will appreciate more and more this time.

You can also place a book or toys in front of them. In each different neighbourhood, you will have one or more community centres. They run playgroups, with some specifically for young infants.

When searching “playgroups” on your council website, you will find the list of the ones close to you. They are usually free and suitable for both baby and mum/dad. 

Have some sensory play

Give your infant different objects to feel: soft toys, rattles or cloth books with pages of different textures are lots of fun for your newborn. Feeling other things helps your newborn learn about the world. You can take a few old objects out of the cupboard, plastic containers from the shelves, and arrange them all around your little one.

As you start creating towers from them or putting one object inside the other, your baby’s brain will kick into action, and he will use those objects in every way possible. You can create a treasure basket with balled-up socks, whisks, pine cones and let your baby explore it. Ziplock painting is also a great activity, simply place some paint in a ziplock bag and seal it.

Your baby will be able to experience a different feeling, and it’s mess-free! Sensory bottles, place some pompons, flowers, sand or something other in an empty see-through bottle, seal it, and let your little one shake it and observe the movements.Classes like Hartbeeps will offer sensory play along with music.

And for older infants, messy play classes such as Messy Monkeys are an excellent opportunity for little ones to explore and discover different sensations. 

When everything else fails, going for ‘hide and seek’ is a tried and tested option.

The act of seeing something or someone disappearing, only to reappear suddenly, is quite exciting for babies. Try this with your baby. You hide for a minute and then appear in front of them or hide a toy. Your baby will have a fun time.

What’s a crèche?

What do creches offer

It is sooo easy to get lost within all the childcare possibilities and baby activities around!

Whether you are having your first baby or just moved here, I’m sure you have all these questions (and more) coming through your mind; What is the difference between them all?

What age can my baby start? Is it safe? Are the settings checked by someone/something frequently, and who? What are they going to do with my child?

First thing first, here are the different childcare options in London.

  • Playgroups and parents/baby classes will require the parent to stay at all times.
  • Nannies are employed to care for a child in the child’s home. They are professionals with qualifications.
  • Au pairs are a young adult aged 18 to 30 who travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family. The au pair supports the host family with childcare and light housework while learning the language and culture of the host country. They are usually unqualified and should not look after children under 2 years old.
  • Childminders provide childcare services. They are accredited by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. And they also inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people.) to look after children in their own house. Local authorities with environmental health responsibilities can also inspect childminders. A childminder is only allowed to look after a couple of children at once, cannot have more than one infant in the group, and will provide educational activities. The age they take babies in depends on their availability. They are usually open all day and most of the year.
  • Nurseries welcome children from 2-3 months to 4 years old. Children are divided into groups, and the number of children depends on the size of the nursery. They are open all day and most of the year and are inspected by Ofsted and local authorities. They have to follow a program (Montessori, EYFS, forest school,…) in terms of activities and outdoor play or outings.
  • Preschools take children from 2-3 years old until 4 years old. Children are usually separated into different age groups of 8+ children in each. They are most of the time open term time only and are inspected by Ofsted and local authorities. They also have to follow a program (Montessori, EYFS, forest school,…) in terms of activities and outdoor play or outings.
  • Creches generally only take children for a couple of hours at a time, even if they are open all day.  They’re designed to provide occasional childcare. When welcoming children for less than 2h, they do not require to be registered with Ofsted. They usually take children from 6months to 4 years, have mixed age groups, are in a smaller setting and are open term time or year-round. 

What happens at creche when I leave?

All settings will have their routine.

The day usually starts with free play, then circle time, activities, food times and more play.
All children’s needs are taken care of. Their nappies will be changed when the need arises, potty trained children will have the possibility to go to the bathroom at any time, infants are fed when needed, and older ones’ routine includes snack time.

Each setting will have their own settling procedure, to ensure your child’s transition to be as smooth as possible.

The activities are planned to provide children the opportunity to learn, develop, and challenge themselves while having fun. They will work on and develop their creativity, imagination, observation skills, curiosity, fine & gross motor skills, problem solving skills, empathy, interaction/relationship/social skills, cognitive skills, language/communications skills, and so much more.

Being surrounded in a safe and caring environment  will help children learn about themselves, developing their personality and character, gaining confidence and self esteem.

The team looking after your child will be DBS checked and trained.

Therefore, a creche is the perfect spot for a child to have his own safe place outside his home, where he/she will feel comfortable and grow happily with his/her second family. 

SOCIALISATION

Importance of socialisation in child development

Did you know that social interaction is one of the most important factors for health and development?

Social interactions are how we act and react to those around us; they form the basis of any relationship between two or more people at any age.

The earliest a child is exposed to socialisation, the more benefits he/she will be able to benefit from.

And the benefits are:
  • increased cognitive ability
  • good mental health
  • communication skills
  • independence
  • developing strong language skills
  • creativity
  • empathy
  • communication
  • confidence
What is the importance of socialisation in child development?

Early childhood experiences outside the home can have a major impact on a child’s early socialisation; each interaction helps your child move more comfortably among social groups and adjust to changing environments.

It will help them in the learning process of being part of a team/group, solving problems, respecting authority and group/society’s rules, understanding emotions and consequences, easing separation, and forging new bonds. It will also help decrease anxiety for children AND parents, as well as getting them ready for school later on.

Socialising with other children their own age helps children learn the vital skills they will need in later life. Interacting with others at our creche gives children the chance to establish boundaries, to note how others react to their actions, and to find ways to resolve conflicts amicably; all valuable skills that they will take into adulthood!

We will always make sure your child is happy with us, book a trial session

RISKY PLAY

Benefits of risky play

Do you know how important ‘risky play’ is for your child?

Risky play can be defined as a thrilling and exciting activity, that involves a risk of physical injury, and play that provides opportunities for challenges, testing limits, exploring boundaries, and learning about injury risk.

Obviously, here at Les Petit Bellots, your children are safe, and all risk minimized and prevented.

However, we do offer them the opportunity to challenge themselves, develop their self-confidence, resilience, executive functioning abilities and even risk-management skills through supervised risky play activities.

WHAT ARE THE Benefits of risky play? Risky play allows children to challenge themselves on many levels:
  • Physically: by climbing a little higher, running a little faster or jumping a little further
  • Emotionally: by feeling out of control, or overcoming fear
  • Mentally: by learning how to get out of trouble, learning their own boundaries and that of the environment around them

Research also shows that engaging in risky play can actually reduce the risk of injury too. Risky play is a fundamental way for children to figure out the world — how the world works, how their body works.

The benefits include children being able to expand their skills as they climb higher, reach further, or balance for longer, but also experience the consequences of taking risks beyond their current ability.

Our sessions focus on getting your child to learn in a safe environment , book now!

IMMUNE SYSTEM

How to build up a child’s immune system


Did you know that you can help your child build a stronger immune system?  

The immune system is made up of organs, tissues, cells and proteins. Its primary role is to detect and remove foreign substances which have entered the body.

We all know that children tend to get sicker when starting a new collective environment such as creches, nurseries, or schools. This is because their immune system is young, immature and takes a bit of time to learn what infectious viruses look like.

The common parent’s wish would be to try and keep their child in a “safe bubble” so no infections can get in. But, when a child is exposed to a bug for the first time, the immune response is not as quick, or as strong as with a second infection by the same bug.

Which is the main reason why a young child who has not had much “infection experience” is more prone to infection. With age and time, more and more viruses will be seen and recognised, and the immune system will start to work better. This means that in the long term, children will have more benefits from early exposure (creches, playgroups, nurseries, even having pets such as dogs and cats are known to help, as they bring bacteria from outside).


how to build up a child’s immune system? Here is a list of other tips to help you build your child’s immunity:
  • ensure plenty of rest;
  • exposure to fresh air;
  • avoid a stressful environment;
  • have good hand hygiene;
  • offer a healthy diet;
  • avoid sugar;
  • offer a sane/healthy home environment;
  • encourage exercise.

We know what is best for your child, book sessions with us!

BENEFITS OF BILINGUALISM

Benefits of growing up bilingual

Do you fully know how much your child can benefit from a bilingual environment?

Bilingualism refers to the ability to use two languages in everyday life.

One common concern parents and carers come to us with, is that they worry speaking more than one language with their child will confuse them as they learn to talk, causing a delay in their child’s expressive language. Often, the cause for concern comes from observing that their child’s vocabulary is not developing as quickly as other monolingual children their age. It is true that children exposed to more than one language can take extra time to start speaking, though this is not always the case. It is, however, definitely not because of confusion, but because of all the amazing work happening in their brain.

The reason for this is that the brain is forced to work harder as it develops, strengthening a child’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where executive function resides. Between the ages of 0-3, the brains of young children are uniquely suited to learning a second language, as the brain is in its most flexible stage.

In fact, bilingually exposed infants excelled in detecting a switch in language as early as 6 months old.

As adults, we have to consider grammar rules and practice, but young children absorb sounds, structures, intonation patterns and the rules of a second language very easily. Up until the age of 8, young learners benefit from flexible ear and speech muscles that can detect differences between the sounds of a second language.

According to scientific studies, bilingual children are better able to focus, and change their response, easily indicating “cognitive flexibility.” They are better able to plan, prioritize and make decisions, which are traits that require self-control, a very desirable trait in the early childhood classroom, as well as life. As children get older, they tend to score higher on cognitive tests and possess more effective communication skills. Foreign language learning increases their critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility of mind.

Also, many studies have found that bilingualism can also help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s in old age.

Give your child the best chances and book bilingual sessions with us!

Screen time and kids health

Screen time and kids health

As technologies are improving, it is more and more common to introduce our children to screen time. Screen time is the amount of time spent on media devices such as TV, mobile phones, computers, tablets, etc.

More and more parents turn to these technological devices to keep their children “preoccupied”. This is to keep them from crying or from climbing on the furniture and so on.

But what does screen time actually do to your child?

  1. Your Child becomes less engaged in their real time environment = less sensory stimulation
    Children naturally learn from their envitonment. Physical activities ranging from crawling to walking around the house and interacting with the family members are all fundamental to their growth. Whilst a child is engaged in screen time they are in a passive state; hence, they are sensory-deprived. In line with this, their brain development is reduced significantly compared to those whose senses are stimulated by the real-time environment as seen in the figure below.
  2. Too much screen time weakens communication and social skills
    Speaking of stimulation, screen time gives little to no room for communication and social skills. This is known as “viewer passivity”. This takes place when the young minds are subjected to the never-ending stream of images while unknowingly inhibiting their natural capability to communicate and socialise.
  3. Longer exposure to rapid image-changes increases the risk of attention problems
    Due to air-time constraints, images are jammed together in a steady stream that “fractures your attention while condensing and accellerating time”. If young children are then exposed to these rapid image-changes, they would most likely find real-time events or ordinary life, such as a teacher discussing subjects in front of them, dull, slow, or boring. This triggers them to talk and disturb their classmates or do something irrelevant.
  4. Screen time is commonly associated with childhood hyperactivity
    As innocuous as it may seem, most cartoon shows today have violent content in them. The images that suggest violence stimulate our fight-or-flight instincts. But since it is absurd to react to the implied violence, the viewer suppresses the emotion.
  5. Screen time increases risks of weight gain and sleep-deprivation
    The major concern, eventually, comes in when screen-based activities substitute for physical activities. Too often, children are encouraged to use technological devices rather than playing outside. And since children stay indoors for longer periods of time, they are less engaged in physical and outdoor activities. Lack of physical exercise can be a factor in weight gain. The blue light rays from these screen-based devices also affect their sleep-wake cycle. Physical activities are forms of exercise that enable the body to control blood flow, boost mood, and regulate one’s appetite. Physical activities such as outdoor play face-to-face peer conversations, playing board games with family members etc. are generally connected to more positive outcomes for children’s behaviour.

Instead of offering screen time to your children truly BE with your children, meaningfully present and attentive. When you are with your child in the same room but you are on your phone or tablet, your child knows that you are not available, and energetically not “here and now” with him or her. They feel disconnected.

Playing with children is a way to: have fun, create memories, build a stronger bond, increase communication and language skills, learn how to take turns, develop strategies, with planning, anticipating and organizing skills. And if you are using screen time to take a break, or because you need to do something specific instead, encourage your child to play alone. This will help them work toward independence, increase their creativity and imagination, improve their problem-solving skills and patience.

When older children are using screens more independently, it is important to talk to them about the content they are allowed to watch and not watch, to set boundaries, and to install parental control in order to block inappropriate content.

A great alternative to a bilingual nursery in London

A bilingual nursery isn’t the only option in London for your little one to learn French. We look at why bilingual creches offer an excellent alternative to the traditional nursery setting.

Choosing childcare is one of the most important decisions a parent will make.

Building the foundation for your child’s education in a setting that supports your child, your family and your lifestyle is so important.

Childcare is essential for working parents, but increasingly seen as advantageous for stay-at-home parents too who wish to add time to their day, and enrichment to their child’s life.

Nurseries in London vary greatly in terms of provision and quality, and require research to fully analyse and understand how best they can support your child. The parent is often committed to sending their child for an extended day, sometimes starting at 8am and not finishing until 6pm.

Crèches offer an alternative setting to a nursery, offering flexible hours, a shorter day and the chance for the parents to remain onsite, if they choose to. They will take children aged from six months and will support them until they start school. Recent research has shown that children who attended a crèche, found it easier to adjust to formal schooling, allowing children to see adults as mentors able to provide positive guidance.

Bilingual nurseries and crèches in London are an increasingly popular choice amongst the many options out there.

They offer children aged six months and up the benefit of being exposed to French and English, building their confidence to try another language. In these early years, children develop the skills and attitudes they need to succeed in school.

As we live in an increasingly global society, more children are being exposed to more than one language, with French being one of the most popular choices. Research shows the benefits are wide ranging and include bilingual children being able to focus more clearly and ignore distractions, through to improved social sensitivity.

Bilingual crèches offer children the chance to learn songs, rhymes and simple vocabulary, building their confidence and motivating them to learn more language at a later stage in their education. They can improve your previous experiences within a traditional bilingual nursery setting, by offering a supportive and nurturing environment, with the flexibility of ad hoc child care in a small class setting.

Les Petits Bellots is an independent, multi-branch, bilingual mini-creche located in London, welcoming children aged 6 months to 4 years. To find out more, please contact us on telephone: 07401 862 326 or email: info@lespetitsbellots.com.

Separation Anxiety

How to deal with child separation anxiety

Separation anxiety in children is when they struggle with the absence of their primary caregiver, or close family member.

While we are well aware of children being affected by separation anxiety, we hear less about parents separation anxiety. Parents also struggle with strong and sometimes overwhelming feelings in relation to the potential and real absence of their children.

While parents mean everything to their children and children mean everything to their parents; they cannot provide everything for each other. A parent will need a financial income in order to provide food, clothes, etc. and their child cannot provide this. A child will need to socialise with children the same age in order to develop, and a parent cannot be the same as a group of children.

Parents and children have their own needs to address in order to grow and progress, and some needs will not be possible to achieve without including a separation.

There is no such thing as a child (or parent) being ready for a separation. But as we are all unique individuals, some of us can adjust quickly to a new situation and some of us take a little longer.

In order to have a smooth transition, here are a few tips:
  • Talk about it Talking to your child and explaining the situation, what is going to happen or where you are going will settle your nerves and prepare your child.
  • Don’t show your stress/anxiety Babies and children are programmed to pick up on every emotion because of their survival instincts. So if you are anxious about heading off, your child will detect it and it will increase their anxiousness and the child will find it harder to settle.
  • Don’t sneak away It might seem easier to sneak off while your child is distracted, but this could make your child fearful you’ll disappear without notice at any time. Yes, there will probably be tears as you say goodbye, but make sure you explain to your child the situation properly before leaving. Something as simple as words or actions repeated each day, such as “I’ll see you later” or a kiss on the forehead, will help prepare your baby for your departure. Once you go, stay gone until it is time for pickup. Many parents come back to comfort their child when they start to cry, prolonging the goodbye and making the experience more traumatic for everyone.
  • Keep yourself busy Find an activity that works for you in order to control your stress or anxiety. It could be anything from yoga, meditation, reading a book, grocery shopping, catching up with friends… as long as you are enjoying it. Remember that it is beneficial for you and your child to spend time away from each other. Whether you’ve hired a sitter, enlisted Grandparents to help, or chose a childcare setting for your first separation, trust yourself that you’ve made the right choice. You obviously put a lot of time and thought into finding the right caregiver for your little one, so don’t submerge yourself in guilt or second thoughts. You are doing a great job!

We will always make sure your child is happy with us, book a trial session.

How to teach french to a toddler – resources

How to teach french to a toddler

The first and most important rule when wanting to teach something to a toddler is to make it fun!

Toddler learning and adult learning are very different; you will not be able to sit a toddler down with all his focus “because it’s time to learn”.

If you have no idea how to teach a language to a toddler or don’t know where to start, just stop for a minute and ask yourself:

How did my child learn to understand me/the language I am speaking to him?

When they are young, the children’s capacity of learning is huge, they are eager to learn and can learn very fast. Which is why the best way to teach them a second language is by introducing it into daily activities as much as you can.

The more your child will be exposed to that second language, the more he/she will learn.

SONGS TO TEACH FRENCH TO A TODDLER

Starting with songs is a great idea, if you don’t speak French, look up the lyrics and try your best to sing along, your little one will copy. Learning a language together is a priceless bonding activity!

TOURNE, TOURNE, PETIT MOULIN!

This is one of the songs we’ve been singing through the term! Click on the button below to watch the video animation and practice singing along in French!

Song words

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

SI TU AS DE LA JOIE AU COEUR

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

MEUNIER TU DORS!

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

UN JOUR DANS SA CABANE 

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

PETIT ESCARGOT

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

AH LES CROCODILES

You can WATCH THE VIDEO here!

STORIES TO TEACH FRENCH TO A TODDLER

Audio books are great, there is a vast selection nowadays, some with just words and some with a whole story. Toddlers can be independant using them.

Stories are amazing for children to develop their vocabulary. Take a trip to the library and pick some French books together! And if you do not speak French, on youtube you can find storytelling videos where people read actual books.

Story: Un Grand Cerf, by Virginie Guerin

Un grand cerf

This is one of the books we’ve been reading this term!

Summary: In his house, a large deer watched a rabbit coming to him through the window. All children know this rhyme. Here it is today, in an animated book. Surprise and humor guaranteed! Materials to touch: Deer fur, Deer antlers, Rabbit fur, Bees Animations: Cutout window, Tree shaped cutout page, Door to open, Final pop-up, and many materials and surprise activities!

STORY ‘LE LIVRE EN COLERE’, BY CEDRIC RAMADIER

Summary: “Here is the angry book, so angry it’s all red! But the anger, fortunately, passes and the book calms down, gradually relaxes. Phew! That’s it, the book is no longer angry! This is a great book to talk about emotion and anger”.

Petit Chat Perdu, by Natacha, collection Père Castor

Summary: The little cat is lost and a little hungry. The dog advises him to go see the farmer and say “Woof! Woof!” to have a bone, or say “Cock-a-doodle-doo” to have grain… but what the little cat really wants is milk, and he is getting more and more hungry… Who is going to help him out?”

Story: Quel temps fait-il?’, by Mélisande Luthringer

Summary: “Interactive book with tabs to lift, turn and pull, and with other surprises to touch and feel. It is also a fun book to discover about the weather (wind, rain, etc.) as well as the seasons.”

Story: ‘De Toutes les Couleurs’, by Chuck Murphy

Summary: “Lifting squares of paper and pulling on tabs is always very funny, especially when you see penguins, a parrot, a tiger or a flock of butterflies, magically popping up. If, in addition, all these animals, big and small, allow us to learn the colours, the rainbow will no longer be needed! A very successful animated book where the discovery of colours is stimulated by true curiosity.”

Story: ‘Délivrez-moi’, by Alex Sanders

Summary: “Ah, thank you! That’s nice!” As you free the little bear by opening this book, it will take you into the woods, since Croco is not there… But what if it is still there, this big, green, and mean crocodile? Then you’ll have to run… to the last page: And clack! Good-bye, Mr Croco!

MORE TIPS ON HOW TO TEACH FRENCH TO A TODDLER

Try to introduce French whenever you can during the day:

  • use puppets or turn your child’s favorite plush toy into a puppet that talks in French;
  • Go to the zoo and call the name of the animals together in French;
  • Play hide and seek by counting in French;
  • Play board games in French e.g.:
  • snakes and ladders,
  • board games,
  • family games or play games by using flashcard games e.g.: Go fish, memory game;
  • You can also find cartoons in French on Youtube or online.