Child Development and Milestones revealed

Child Development and Milestones revealed

So when should your child be sitting, standing, rolling and walking and why is it so important that we know? Read on to have the child development milestones revealed!

What are gross motor skills and why are they so important?
Gross motor skills are important for major body development such as walking, jumping, skipping, reaching, sitting, standing and maintaining balance and co-ordination. Gross motor skills involve movement of the large muscles in arms, legs and torso. There are many important gross motor milestones in your little ones life and many milestones which your child should meet, sitting, standing, running, rolling jumping and so on. Without the development of these large muscle groups, development of the fine motor muscles is more difficult. For example, if a child cannot sit, expecting them to be able to control their body to write or hold a pencil effectively is a milestone that is quite out of reach.
Take a look at this chart which highlights development in key areas.

child development

If at any point you have any concerns about your child’s development, while they are under five your health visitor or GP should be your first point of call. Following five, care will pass from the health visitor to school nurse and your school SENDCo should be able to pass you the relevant contact details and discuss any concerns with you too.
Our lottery funded classes provide activities which will support all of these key areas of learning and THIS is why coming along to our classes is great for your little ones development and co-ordination primarily, as well as providing fun, play based classes for your little one to learn in. Please sign up to and click lottery funded classes to come along to one of our courses! We can’t wait to meet you!

Phonics – Eye Spy with My Little Eye

Phonics – Eye Spy with My Little Eye

‘I spy with my little eye… something beginning with s!’









‘Oooh sweetheart you have really been thinking hard… I wonder what it could be!’

‘You’ll never guess mummy, you’ll never guess!’

‘Ok then tell me… you clever little sausage you!’



‘Car mummy car!’

‘Oh… you’re right sweetheart I never would have guessed.’

Does this sound familiar? I spy is almost a right of passage through childhood isn’t it. A well loved classic but my word those early days of eye spy can be soul destroying cant they. Let me let you into the wonderful world of phonics and spare you the teeth pulling, the trawling letters of the alphabet and the desperate measures of wishing you were a mind reader so you could atleast check the letter you were given is the correct one for the word they are expecting you to spy!

Learning to read and write is an extremely complex process but there are ways as parents you can help to make the process easier. From the earliest ages, if we look at development matters, children should be spoken to, encouraged to use language, should share books regularly, handle them carefully, turn the pages carefully, enjoy songs and rhymes and as they get older, phonics is introduced. Phonics is a way of teaching reading and writing by teaching individual letter sounds and sound blends and there are plenty of ways you can do this at home.

Play I spy. Yes I know I just said you wouldn’t have to do this but bear with me. Phonics is broken down into 6 phases and the first phase which can begin whenever you feel your child is ready from age 2-3 requires your child to differentiate between different sounds and also sound talk. Here you can focus on a range of games. Go on a listening walk and write down all the things you can hear on your journey. Stop in different places throughout the day and close your eyes for 20 seconds. What was the loudest thing your child heard, what was the quietest. Play hide the instrument. This just requires a tray of instruments and a cover of some sort. You play an instrument under the cover and your child has to say which it was. This gets them to distinguish between different sounds and is a great way of engaging them in educational games without them even realising. You can also play sound talking games. We would always begin these games with cvc words, consonant, vowel, consonant. So for example pig, cat, dog, mop, sun, sit, pat, tap, pan, rat, pin, pot, bin. When you play I spy, sound the word out. I spy a  D.  O.  G.  What can I see. This encourages blending and segmenting, a key component in learning to both read and write. You can have some pictures available if you are playing at home or simply play in the car as you are driving along. At first, you may have to almost give them the word by stretching it really clearly e.g ddddoooooogggg. Your child will become better at the game as time goes on and it will happen really quickly. As they become better at the I spy cvc version, get them to sound talk their object back to you with support until eventually, they will be able to do this independently. The great thing about this is that when your child comes to recognise some letter sounds, they will be able to then spell simple words really easily as they have the key skill of blending and segmenting words orally. Just five or ten minutes per day doing these type of activities will help your child’s development massively.

Another key component of phase one phonics is the ability to continue a rhyming string and to know and understand what rhyme is. Reading rhyming stories is great for this, when reading stop before the rhyming word and see if your child can guess what it might be. Again, when they guess reinforce the fact that the word rhymes, it ‘sounds the same!’ When playing this game in the car its important to think carefully about your starting word. Many a time in the classroom we have had to abort the game… nit rhymes very nicely with a few choice words for example and many a time I’ve been in creases as back, sack and crack comes out in perfect sequence. Simple games like Slug in a jug can be great for rhyming pairs and is a really reasonably priced game too. I use the picture cards in the classroom for cvc I spy too so it can be doubled up as a multi use game!

Alliteration is also part of phase one phonics so again, looking at words that start with the same letter or making up superheros with alliterative names is a great idea. Alliteration is when words all begin with the same letter sounds. An example of an alliterative sentence is,

Silly Simon’s Snake Slithers Slowly

Starting off with your child’s name is always a good place to begin e.g. Lovely Lydia, Happy Harry, Jumping Jessica, Gorgeous Gracie. Having an awareness of letter sounds before actually recognising any letter sounds will help your child distinguish different sounds and help them to be one step ahead when they learn to recognise their letter sounds.

There are many other things you can do to raise awareness of reading and words. Look for print in the environment and discuss what it means. Look at shop names and packaging on favourite foods and make a point of reading the words on the labels. Point to the words in the book as you are reading to your child and show them the difference between the words and the pictures.

All of these small activities done a couple of times a week for five or ten minutes here and there will help your child’s phonic development and in turn their reading and writing development too. Remember, your child will learn much more when they are having fun so make all activities short, snappy and play based. For more useful games and activities follow our Facebook page

Starting School

Starting School

Have you ever been the new girl? Or the new boy? Ever started a new job? Remember the night before – the night where you toss and turn all night unable to sleep, a mixture of feelings keeping you awake – excitement, nerves, anticipation. Even though you know what you’ll be doing, what role you’ll be undertaking, what tasks will be expected. Have you ever got up in the morning and put on the carefully selected clothes laid out the previous evening so as not to have to iron in the morning, or stress yourself out with another decision needing to be made. Have you picked up your easy lunch, one you’ll eat at your desk just in case the other people you’re working with aren’t that friendly, or you don’t want to negotiate your way down to the works canteen. Have you ever driven to work with your tummy trembling, wondering just for that split second whether this was all worth it? I mean surely the old job wasn’t that bad after all – and it certainly would be preferable to this stomach churning sickness you’re feeling right now. Have you ever arrived at your new job, stepped into he office to be greeted by a barrage of people, who’s names you fear you’ll never remember, with no idea how you’ll ever find your way around all of the offices which now seem like some sort of rabbit warren, worried that you’ll never find your way out home let alone your way to the toilet without having to ask for an escort! Have you worried that all day you seem to be bothering busy people with questions they must have answered a zillion times, where the photocopier is, where the staffroom is, what the log in details for different programmes are, where the stationary is kept, what the phone numbers and fax numbers are… the list is endless. Have you ever worried you’ll never get your head around the new expectations, the new job role and thought in your less confident moments that people must be wondering why on earth they ever employed you! Have you got to the end of the day to feel a wave of relief flooding over you, so glad you can escape back to your life as you know it, where you are comfortable and in control. So many of us have been there. So many of us have got to the end of the week and collapsed into bed mentally exhausted, drained and so ready for the huge glass of wine, takeaway and bath that will make us feel so much better. Because as adult, we know how to calm ourselves down. After a tough week, we know the strategies that will make us feel more relaxed, more calm and more like ourselves again.

Spare a thought then for your children. Especially all those little ones starting school this September, because if we as adults feel like that, guess what? Our children too will feel like that. The difference is, is that they have not yet developed the self help skills they need in order to be able to calm themselves down and take care of their mental well-being at the end of a mentally exhausting week.

As our little ones start school, every year we have parents come and say, ‘oh they’ll be fine, they’ve been in nursery since they were 6 months old they’re used to doing all day.’ We also have parents who are cross at the ‘unnecessarily long,’ settling in period which many schools employ allowing children to attend half a day for two weeks. We have parents who are keen for their little ones to be in school all day from as soon as possible because ‘they’ll be fine, they’re used to it, they’re a good settler. The list is endless. And yes, whilst your little one may be great at settling. They may be ‘used to being left full time,’ they may be ‘used to going to nursery.’ They are not used to this new setting. And similarly to you starting a new job, they too are starting a new job. With new rules, expectations, learning curves, friendships to make, boundaries to adhere to, new resources, new staff, new clothing, new dinner rules, new everything. And if we as grown ups struggle with that, you can be sure that on some level, your child will also struggle with that. They may not have the language yet to express their feelings, their worries, their concerns, they may not even be able to process and understand the feelings they are feeling and equate it to starting school. You may find that what you see at home is defiant behaviour, whingy clingy behaviour, emotional outbursts, temper tantrums, need for constant reassurance. All of these things suggest your child could be struggling with feelings they can’t yet express verbally.

So give them time. Give them the gift of grace. Be more patient in the run up to starting school and in the coming half term. Make sure you reassure your child with love, hugs and cuddles. Instead of becoming short tempered and angry at another emotional outburst, try saying, ‘I can see you are cross/angry/upset/frustrated about something what can I do to help you with this?’ Recognise that over the next couple of months, from September onwards your child needs you to be their constant and to help them to identify the things that will make them feel better after a mentally draining day at school.

We have all been the new kid, we’ve all battled through first days, first weeks, first months. We all know how hard it can be mentally. So lets not hold our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can achieve ourselves. Let’s allow them to be the new kid, with all the emotions and feelings that come with this. Let’s help them to find their way during this, ’first,’ for them and let’s help them to navigate this tricky step with a hand to hold. Not a hand that expects them ‘to be fine.’

If you’d like to learn more about how to help your child as they start school both emotionally and academically, sign up to one of our courses either online or face to face. Next one is 16.06.18 10:00am – 11:30am in West Derby Millennium Centre, Liverpool L12 5EA

For more information visit our website

Early Maths skills Mini Mathmagicians

Early Maths skills Mini Mathmagicians

Mini Mathmagicians

It’s a number two, it’s a number two! I smiled smugly at the sink of washing up like something from a fairy advert, glowing with pride as my little darling, just three at the time was clearly engaging with the number line I’d so lovingly created that morning. ‘Is it sweetheart!’ I shouted proudly – ‘you are so clever!’ ‘Mummy, mummy can I have a sweet, I didn’t do it in the potty because I couldn’t find it so I’ve just done it on the floor there.’ Lovely. Add this to my loooong list of parenting and teaching misunderstandings and I honestly could write a blog!

Number 2, one and indeed every other number in between are ones that your child will need to know as they begin school, I love teaching and I love helping parents to better understand the curriculum because its only then, by working in true partnership that children can become their best. I am a true believer in children learning through play and that parents are our number one educators and if that is the case, its always unbelievably helpful if parents understand a little about the expectations placed on our little ones and the targets they are expected to achieve.

Every education provider, whether that be school nursery, childminder, private nursery are all legally bound to use government documents in order to assess your child in each of the seven areas of learning. The Early Years Foundation Stage Document covers children’s development from birth to five, culminating in a set of Early Years Goals that are used at the end of reception to indicate whether your child is working at an expected level of development, below expected level of development or exceeding. Development Matters breaks this statutory document down into age ranges from birth to five and provides activities and suggested questions that parents or educators may ask or do with their children to meet the set objectives.

This is not something that I’d get hung up about, and I’m certainly not suggested downloading target trackers and ‘next step,’ boards for the home but it is useful to know a little about how you can help your child at home with their learning in a fun, play based environment. One of the biggest traps parents can fall into is thinking that they have to do some ‘sit down focus time,’ with their little ones. There’s definitely a time and a place for building concentration but you can do this through play – your little one need never know they are actually learning. And this is where it becomes quite useful to know a little about the expectations for your child’s age. For example lets take the early learning goal for number which reads as follows

Early Learning Goal

Children count reliably with numbers from one to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

If children are expected to be able to count forward and backwards to 20 by the time they are 5, begin counting EVERYTHING. Stairs as you walk them, steps as you take them, when on the swing – count backwards from 20 and when reaching zero let another child take their turn. Count things you find in the park, conkers, trees, leaves, sheep cows, cars. There are literally counting opportunities everywhere! In the first instance – work with numbers to 5, then 10 and work up. You don’t always have to start at number one either – pick a number with your child and count on or backwards from that number – this is a great, often tricky activity but it really helps children to gain an understanding of number and pattern of number. Try going on a number hunt in your street. What numbers can your little one find on car registration plates, doors, bins, road signs, what is the biggest number, what is the smallest number, can they write that number with their finger on your hand, take a little clip board and a pack of post it notes out with you for a number challenge. Often, as soon as we add the word, challenge or game to something our children’s eyes light up. Engagement and excitement about learning is one of the biggest things you can give your child. When your little one has mastered counting by rote, move on to counting reliably. Children need to touch one object and say one number. Board games are brilliant for this as they encourage social skills, concentration and turn taking too. Moving the counter one space for every number they count is a skill that many children entering school don’t have anymore. Virtual games on Ipads, computers and tablets take away the act of moving pieces accurately. Again, anything can be counted. We need 4 forks for tea can you get me 4 out of the drawer. We need 2 bowls, 3 pencils. The more you can encourage counting in a real life setting the more practice your child will get and link being able to count as an important skill to learn.

As the weather gets nicer so much can be done outdoors too. Draw numbers with chalk on the pavement and play number stamp – you say a number and they stamp on it. This can be done with numbers to 3 firstly and built up dependent on your little ones ability. Use water guns to squirt numbers or to hit number targets. You can make some cards with different quantities on e.g. 3 ducks and say ‘squirt the picture with 3 ducks.’ In this way, children are actively engaged in learning and as you can see none of these ideas require you to sit down with a pencil and concentrate. As your child becomes more confident with number you can make the same resources and play the same games using the language of more and less – again, start off small and build up to 20. Stamp on the number that is one more than 2. Squirt the number that is 1 less than 3. Use old socks and pegs to make a child’s washing line for ordering numbers. Write on the socks with permanent marker and get your little one to peg them in order onto the line – this is great for building up fine motor control in the fingers which is key for writing too.

Number is literally all around us and you’ll be surprised how many your children can spot when introduced to them just while they’re out and about. Look for prices in supermarkets and let your children handle real money. Give them a shoping list with numbers on – 4 apples, 2 tins of beans, 6 eggs etc.  All of these real life experiences will help them so much as they begin their school journey. Once parents better understand what the expectations of the curriculum are, the further they can help embed and embellish this learning at home. Your child will have such a head start if you merely play with them whilst also having a basic knowledge of the end goals and expectations. Rolling dices, give me 6 claps, 5 jumps, 4 air punches, throwing beanbags into a hoop how many landed in the hoop, how many outside, how many altogether – simple addition and subtraction games that can be done anywhere. Counting rhymes like 5 fat sausages, 10 green bottles, 5 cheeky monkeys jumping on the bed, one elephant went out to play, all show us the basics of addition and subtraction. Get your child to start recording the numbers on a whiteboard or post it note or selecting the correct numeral to match when you’re singing the song.

Your little one will be a mathmagician in no time if you can incorporate five or ten minutes of play based learning into your routine. Just remember though, research suggests your child’s attention span is a minute plus their age so don’t worry if they seem to lose interest in activities quickly. If your little one is 3 the maximum length of time for an activity ideally is around 4 minutes (On a good day!) Enjoy hunting for numbers with your little one – I’d love to know how you get on! Hopefully there will be no number 2 type announcements to fill you with dread but lets face it – kids will be kids!

I post educational ideas, hints and tips on my facebook page @Beautiful.New.Beginnings and also run starting school workshops focussing on early writing, reading and number skills.

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