Five things you need to check about your child's pre-school care

By: Bernice Maune

It’s an exciting time to watch your little one go off on their own and get accustomed to spending the whole day at day care.

For some parents this may have happened earlier and for the rest, taking your child to pre-school brings mixed emotions as you watch them develop and grow while attending pre-school. We’ve come up with a great list which you can consult before looking for a day care centre.

You want to make sure that you child is in good hands and that the centre has all the right facilities to ensure your child is safe, protected, eats well and is taught in a conducive environment.

  1. What structure does the day care centre have and how is it rolled out through the day?

Make it a point to find out what the morning and afternoon routine consists of so that you can understand how your child’s routines may change from the one he has been used to. If the routines are entirely different then have a chat with your child to explain that there will be different meal times or naps will be scheduled out at a certain time. This is also the perfect opportunity to inform the day care staff of any medication that needs to be given to your child and the exact times.

  1. Are the staff at the centre trained in first aid?

International best practises state that at least one staff member should have training in medical aid and be able to effectively dispense it should an incident occur. This is very important and should be priority as children are susceptible to accidents such as choking or going into shock over an allergic reaction to food. Day care centres that do not have any staff trained in medical aid should not be considered for your child’s safety.

  1. How knowledgeable are the teachers and what is their teaching style?

For any parent, knowing the credibility and reputation of the teachers at a day centre is essential. You will want to know what teaching style they do they employ, do they focus on personal development or are group sessions more important. Also what makes a great teacher? The best teacher will bond with your child and make him feel safe. Once they have that connection the teacher can more easily help your child learn. Ask how the teachers engage with children? What is their level of attention and will all your child’s questions be answered?

  1. How does the pre-school communicate?

Ideally, the staff should prioritise communication through several ways. There should be correspondence going out every week in the form of newsletters informing parent what activities the school is involved in. There should be communication on an inter-personal level where parents are invited to meetings and one on ones to discuss their child’s progress at school and on a peer level.

  1. How does the school develop and implement programmes to increase development?

All pre-schools should have a yearly planner and schedule which outlines the programmes that they have for each level at the day care centre. This should be freely available to parents so that they can see what their children are likely to be involved in throughout the year. The planner should include sports activities, social events and any educational based plans to improve your child’s development. This is where having a meeting with the director or the principal of the school is imperative to understand what their vision and goals for the school are. This meeting should also aim to clarify how child hood development programmes are decided on and by whom, also at what level are parent allowed to give input and receive feedback?

Choosing a pre-school for your child is an important step in setting up your child’s educational career. Making thorough enquiries about a prospective day care centre for your little one will guide your final decision and give you perspective on how they will interact with their teachers and what measures will be placed to ensure they learn and have fun in a comfortable environment.

How to make learning fun for your toddler

By: Bernice Maune

The winter season brings with it harsh weather which can affect your toddler’s smooth skin which is usually kissable and soft.

However, you can prepare yourself for the change in weather by following our tips to keeping your bundle of joy’s skin soft and smooth as ever.


Your child should be well hydrated during any season but pay extra attention by giving your child water and liquids which will help to keep them hydrated from the inside out. Focusing on breast milk and formula keeps your baby plenty hydrated and helps ensure he gets all the extra important nutrients he needs.


Pick a moisturiser which is cream and water based instead of a lotion which may contain additives and fragrances. Stick to products that contain both water and oils but no fragrances and few chemical additives. Aim to moisturise your baby right after bath time to ensure that the moisturiser is quickly absorbed while the skin is still damp. If possible, bath and moisturise your toddler twice a day.

Baby friendly soap

Choose a soap or shampoo that is either fragrance free or lightly fragranced to keep chemicals and additives being absorbed into your baby’s skin at a minimum. This can result in dry or irritated skin so picking a moisturiser which feeds your child’s skin and nourishes it will reduce and skin irritation problems.

Remedy for chapped lips, cheeks and noses

These areas are affected as they are the most exposed and are usually moist from your toddler licking their lips or drooling all over themselves. Use a barrier cream or Vaseline to shield your baby from experiencing dry, cracked lips, nose or cheeks.

Skin rashes and infections

Some toddlers may get a rash or skin infection such as eczema during the cold winter months so this may require extra care to keep your child moisturised. Invest in skin products which do not have perfumed and are not brightly coloured to avoid worsening the skin condition. If you’re giving your child vitamin supplements, look for one that contains omega-3 acids, as they help to maintain skin health.

During winter prioritise keeping your toddler warm but also pay extra care to what’s going on under the layers of clothing so that your child is comfortable and happy through the cold season.

What to do if your toddler hasn't started walking

It may be tempting to compare your child’s growth with toddlers in a similar age group but it’s essential to recognise that children develop uniquely and at their own pace.

While toddlers generally start walking at 14 months, if your child hasn’t started walking you should also look out to see how their other motor skills are developing. Are they beginning to explore by crawling, grabbing ahold of objects to balance themselves or kneeling? These are all monumental motor skill developments and indications that your child may be getting ready to take their first steps soon. So you may not need to worry.

Also bear in mind that not all babies begin to walk at 14 months. Some start quite later at 16 or 17 months. If your little one has gone past that mark and is still not walking, then you may seek professional help to assess your child’s motor skills.
Make an appointment with your doctor where a medical examination should be conducted, followed by a neurological exam and an assessment of your child’s reflexes, posture, and muscle tone. During this examination, the doctor should also take into account other important developmental issues including language, fine motor, and social skills.

The following steps should be taken during the examination

  • Your baby’s limbs should be carefully examined to check if they are stiff or suffering from any muscle constraints which could be affecting his balance and ability to start taking a few steps
  • An examination with a pediatric neurologist must be booked to rule out any brain development issues
  • A developmental paediatrician will also be able to assess language and motor skills
  • Surgery or physical therapy may be recommended should there be a medical diagnosis of a health related problem

At home you can aid your toddler in his development by carrying him less often and urging him to play in different positions. Try kneeling or crawling over cushions or helping him to stand while you support him. This will contribute and help stabilise his co-ordination, balance and develop his strength and confidence to start taking those first steps.

What to take into consideration when choosing a nanny

Picking a nanny is one of the most important decisions you will make as essentially, the caregiver will stand in for you when you are not available to fully care for your child.

Make the right decision by following a process which will help you find the right person that you can trust with your child and who can fit into your family life.


Ask for at least three references from the prospective nanny or agency. Prepare a list of questions which should include the following:

  • How long did you employ her?
  • Why did she leave?
  • What was her compensation level?
  • What are her strengths, and what about her do you most respect?
  • In what areas could she improve?
  • How are her communication skills? (Both with the parents and the children.)
  • Does she have initiative?
  • Is she organized?
  • Does she handle stress well?
  • Is she warm and social?

First aid training

Ask if she has first aid training and how she coped in an emergency situation. Her ability to administer first aid should rank highly on your priorities list, especially if you have a toddler as they are very active and are bound to explore indoors and outdoors. If you have a swimming pool, CPR training will come in handy in the case of an unfortunate incident.


How many children has she cared for? A prospective nanny should have at least one year of cumulative prior experience as a paid childcare provider. Experience could be as a teacher, daycare provider, camp counselor or babysitter/nanny.

Personality compatibility

Ideally, her personality should fit in with the family and everyone should feel comfortable around her and vice versa. Schedule a trial run to watch how she interacts with your children.

Interview questions

Ask potential candidates specific questions that relate to your family. Find out what their past job duties were and if they are willing to do the tasks you are looking for help with. Talk about your parenting and discipline styles, and find out if the prospective nanny will agree to follow your lead.


Ultimately trust your instinct and allow it to guide you in making the final decision. You know what’s best for your child and your gut will instinctively tell you who the best person to look after your precious child is.

Watch the video below to help guide you on picking a nanny

Why sensory play can improve your child's development


With sensory play, you can expose your child to a variety of fun activities which eliminate the formalness of being in a classroom.

Sensory play encourages toddlers to explore what they find in their environment, activating their touch, smell, taste, balance, sight and hearing senses.

The sensory activities allow children to refine their thresholds for different sensory information helping their brain to create stronger connections to process and respond to sensory information.

Learning through sensory play comes easily to toddlers as the skills they will depend on include understanding objects, spaces, people and finding out how to interact with these.

Sensory play places the focus on the child and the sense which they are exploring through playing with clay for example. As they mold the clay, they learn to focus on the clay and shaping it despite any external distractions which may occur in their immediate environment.

The result is that the child connects the item being explored with a pathway in the brain which receives stimuli, accepts and sends a message back that it is safe to engage with the item.

Sensory play literally helps shape what children to believe to be positive and safe in the brain. Ultimately, shaping the choices children make and impacting behaviour.

Top of Form

Here are 5 reasons why sensory play is beneficial:

  1. Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.
  2. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
  3. This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory
  4. Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
  5. This helps children learn sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry)

How to make your own sensory activity

Make your own sensory activity by using the recipe below. Once the rice has been coloured, you can place it in a sensory bin and get your toddler to sift through the colours, feeling the rice and grouping the colours. He can also use the rice to decorate or make his own textured painting.

Recipe for coloured rice:

1 cup dried rice. (I use jasmine rice because I love the smell!)

1 teaspoon food colouring (I have also used diluted paint before with the same outcome.)

Paper towels

Tray or plate (this for drying the rice)

A container with a screw on lid on.

  • Add food colouring to the container and pour in one cup of rice.
  • Screw on the lid and shake, shake, shake until the rice is completely covered.
  • Add a little more food colouring if needed to achieve desired colour.
  • Place the wet rice onto a paper towel and plate.
  • Using a spoon spread the wet rice out evenly to dry out. If it is a sunny day, I place the wet rice out in the sun to air dry.
  • Give the container a wipe and a rinse, and proceed with your next colour!
  • When the rice is dry, gently rub the rice between your fingers to break up any rice that may be stuck together.
  • Coloured rice will last for several years if stored correctly in an air-tight container.


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