1 - 4 years old
As many nurseries and schools are closed there may be times when you need some help or advice with various aspects of your child’s health, development or learning. Here you will find lots of helpful information, top tips and links to good advice and useful websites for a range of topics.
Practical parenting support
- Family Links– Free downloads with practical tips and ideas for parents
- NSPCC Positive Parenting– A guide on how to set boundaries and build positive relationships
- Baby Wants– Activities you can do with a new born baby
- The Dad Pad–Providing dads to be with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support their partners and give their baby the best possible start in life
- The Communication Trust– A range of support and advice for parents of children and young people who struggle to communicate because they have speech, language and communication needs, as well as supporting all children and young people to communicate to the best of their ability
- Baby Buddy app– Guiding you through your pregnancy and the first 6 months following your baby’s birth. It is designed to help you look after your baby’s mental and physical health, as well as your own
- Action for Children DOTS– Helpful tips for parents of children aged under 5 as well as one on one chat support
- Barnardos parenting advice– A range of free booklets to help parents answer common concerns and challenges of parenting children under 6
- NSPCC Support for parents– Parenting tips on all stages of children’s lives, as well as advice on how to deal with difficult situations.
- RoSPA – Keeping your child safe and avoiding accidents at home.
When a child feels their emotional and physical needs are recognised and met by parents and caregivers, they feel secure and confident about their place in the world and their sense of themselves and others.
A secure bond with parents and caregivers helps children to:
- Feel safe and secure
- Learn to manage their feelings and regulate their emotions
- Feel confident to learn, play and explore from a safe base
- Have empathy and compassion for others
- Develop long term relationships with adults and peers alike.
Developing a bond with your child
The following resources help parents understand why a strong bond with their children is important and shares ideas on how to develop this bond.
- HelpGuide– A wide range of evidence-based information and self-help tools on secure attachment and bonding
- Getting it right from the start– A video providing information and advice about bonding and attachment with your baby through pregnancy and with a newborn baby
- Attachment Parenting– Advice and support on how to develop a great relationship between parent and child
- Special time together leaflet– Advice on the best way to spend special time with your child
- Playing together leaflet– Tips on what children enjoy when you are playing together.
Communication is at the heart of everything we do. It is central to our lifelong learning, confidence, our work, friendships, and having interests that we enjoy.
During a child’s first five years, this is particularly important as we want children to be ready for the transition into an education setting, e.g. school and nursery, and to have their basic needs met. Where children face difficulties with their speech, language or communication, they may find it harder in nursery/school to make friends or to stay calm.
Parents have an important role in supporting their children’s speech, language and communication, and can help develop these areas in a number of ways.
Communicating with your child
- Tiny Happy People– Top tips on supporting speech, language and communication. From eating breakfast to washing hands, make the most of every daily activity by chatting and introducing new words
- I CAN’s Talking Point– Provides information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication
- 10 top tips to support speech and language skills
- How children learn to talk, from birth to age 5
- The Literacy Trust– A range of activities for children from birth to age 12
- Listen and Play from BBC Teach– Familiar songs, rhymes, stories and sound discrimination games to develop children’s phonological awareness and confidence with spoken language
- BookTrust– A range of resources and support to help children and families develop a love of reading and support families where English is their second language
- Baby Buddy app– Provides parents with easy access to trusted information during pregnancy and the early years of a child’s life.
Take a look at the materials listed below to help you develop your baby’s speech and communication skills
Children’s brains change a lot as they grow, and these changes can influence children’s behaviour and how they respond in different situations.
Just like with adults, children’s behaviour can be affected by experiences and environment and/or their parents / carers own life experiences.
Children will not always understand when their behaviour is appropriate or not appropriate, and parents can help them to do this in a positive way.
- Early Years Development Matters– A booklet on a child’s development and what parents can do to support them through the first five years of their lives
- Developmental and emotional milestones leaflet– A comprehensive overview of developmental and emotional milestones from 0 to 18 years. There are also a range of websites and resources on child behaviour
- Beacon house have lots of great resources to support early brain development, attachments and trauma.
- NHS Choices– Helpful advice on how to respond to a range of child behaviour
- Action for Children DOTS– A range of really helpful tips for parents of children aged under 5 as well as one on one chat support
- Barnardos parenting advice – A range of free booklets to help parents answer common concerns and challenges of parenting children under 6
- NSPCC Support for parents – A range of parenting tips on all stages of children’s lives, as well as advice on how to deal with difficult situations
- Sarah Ockwell-Smith– Sarah is a parenting expert and runs a website that includes a range of podcasts and vlogs. There is also a free weekly newsletter.
Digital technology can be fantastic for children and young people, giving them access to a great range of educational resources and social contacts with friends and peers. Equally, there can sometimes be risks around access to digital technology, including children safety, finance, bullying and isolation. There can sometimes be challenges for parents around establishing boundaries.
- NHS guidance on screen time for babies and toddlers
- Internet Matters – Helpful tips on screen time for children aged 0-5 years
- Hungry Little Minds– Suggests a range of good apps for young children, including those aged 2 to 5.
- Mental health and parenting (NSPCC)– Help and advice for parents and families dealing with mental health problems
- If you’re in an unhappy place (Wigan Council) – A range of advice and guidance to help you make positive and healthy life choices
- Keeping your cool – Advice for parents on managing stress and anger
- Alcohol, Drugs and Parenting (NSPCC)– Support and advice for parents or carers who are concerned about their alcohol or drug use
- Controlling anger guide (NHS)– A self-help guide from the NHS to help parents control their anger
- Handle with care (NSPCC)– Why parents should never shake their baby and ways they can soothe them when they cry. There are tips on how to cope when the crying does not stop or seems too much to handle.
- Two hug day– A guide for parents on how to speak to their children about separation and divorce
- Separation and divorce (NSPCC)– Your rights around child contact and advice for supporting children during a separation
- Zero to Three– An online resource for parents who are living apart and parenting together.
Home Learning and Activities
Parents are a child’s first educator and children will learn from any experience they are offered. There are lots of things you can do at home to help them gain new skills and knowledge. Even the smallest thing you do with them can make a big difference. We have put together a selection of helpful websites and ideas on fun things you can do at home to support your child’s development.
Ideas of fun things you can do at home to keep your child active and develop their skills.
- Singing nursery rhymeswith your child is a fun way to develop language and pre-reading skills
- PACEY share some great ideas on how to set out mark makingactivities that you can do at home to develop pre-writing skills, increase hand and eye coordination and fine motor control
- My Kids Time have some really useful tipsto help keep your child entertained while learning at home
- BookTrust have provided some fun digital mark making games and activities that you and your child can do together at home to practice mark making and develop pre-writing skills
- Lovemybooks– you will find wonderful books to read with your child and many creative activities based on each book to make reading even more enjoyable and interactive
- Hungry Little Minds– Simple, fun activities for children aged, ranging from newborn to five years
- Supporting children in the early years during coronavirus closures
- Cosmic kids provide child friendly yoga sessions that are based around familiar stories and songs.
- Create fun spaces at home – Why not create a den under the table or a beach in a tent?
- Early Years Foundation Framework (EYFS) sets out the learning and development stages for children as they grow from birth to five years. ‘What to expect, when?’ guidance gives ideas of the things you can do to help your child learn and develop socially, emotionally and intellectually
- Action for Children Dots – A range of ideas on what you can do together at home to help your child learn and have fun too
- Tiny Happy People obstacle course – Create an obstacle course at home to help children learn about movement and coordination, confidence and action words
- Listen and play from BBC Teach– Familiar songs, rhymes, stories and sound discrimination games to develop children’s phonological awareness and confidence with spoken language.
Below you will find a range of at home activities to try with your toddlers and children – have fun!
Your child’s health is vitally important if they are to live, learn, grow and develop to their full potential. There are lots of ways you can help your child to be healthy, such as providing healthy food and drink, ensuring they get plenty of physical activity, making sure they have a good sleep routine and supporting their emotional wellbeing.
All parents want to keep their children safe, we know how important it is to use a car seat, a fireguard or a stair gate, but did you know that one of the best ways to protect them is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?
Vaccinating your child serves two important purposes:
- Vaccines protect the individual child
- Vaccines prevent your child from spreading diseases to other people.
Childhood vaccinations are safe and important
Sleep is extremely important for children’s physical and emotional development, health and wellbeing, and can be a potential cause of behavioural issues.
As children and young people grow, the advice about how much sleep they need changes, as does the advice about how to encourage and support children into good sleeping patterns.
Children and young people may find it difficult or challenging to understand the importance of sleep, often creating flashpoints which can be stressful for child and parent alike.
- NHS Choices website – provides the approximate hours of sleep needed by children of different ages, as recommended by the Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic
- Sleep Foundation– provides advice about sleep requirements and patterns at different ages
- World Health Organisation– guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5.
Challenges around sleep
Change4life website has some great advice about healthy eating and ways to keep your child active as well as simple ideas for healthy mealtime recipes.
Some pre-school aged children can be fussy about what or how they eat. It is not uncommon for children to refuse to eat certain foods, eat a very limited range of food or refuse to eat at all.
If your child is becoming fussy about what they eat or refusing to eat certain food the following advice may help:
- Try not to get angry or worry. If your child is growing and developing well – just wait for your child to outgrow this phase
- Eat together as a family and eat the same meal, ensuring that your child has an appropriately sized portion and that their food does not have any added salt
- Keep trying with new foods and offer them in different ways e.g. offering carrot cooked, uncooked, grated, mixed in a sauce etc.
- Get your child involved in preparing and cooking meals
- Praise your child when they try something new
- Aim for no more than two snacks a day
- Don’t cook to order, if food is uneaten at the end of the meal, just take it away without comment.
What if I need more help?
If you are still worried or need further help and support, speak your health visitor and/or GP.
- Most children will be toilet trained somewhere between 2 and 5 years old.Children are individuals and will accomplish this goal at their own pace. Toilet training is a developmental milestone with huge variability from child to child. Children who refuse to sit on the potty or toilet may not be ready for toilet training.However, if they’re ready, it should usually only take between two to three weeks to train a child for daytime toileting (night time toileting is different, and can take longer).Parents should also be aware that:
- Wees and poos can both bring with them a different set of challenges
- Toilet training should only be started when children are ready to be toilet trained – see signs of readiness
- You can start preparing a child for toilet training even before they start showing signs of being ready – see preparing children for toilet training
Key messages for parents
- Do the training when you have time and patience and don’t have too many other family pressures. Major transition times for your family or for your child (new nursery, new baby, new home) are not good times to begin toilet training and they may cause some relapses in children who already appear to have been trained.
- Gently guide and prompt but most of all follow the child’s lead. The toddler years are a time of increasing independence and wish for control.
- Choose a day to begin when your child is showing signs of being ready.
- Expect that your child’s interest in the process may fluctuate. When this happens, give the process a break and begin again in a few weeks.
- Expect accidents and setbacks. Don’t make a big deal out of wet pants, wet beds, and other accidents. Stay calm and positive, “It’s ok, next time I bet you will use the potty”.
- Expect and allow for toilet training to take place over two stages (wees and poos) as necessary. Children often learn bladder control before bowel control.
- Speak to your child’s nursery or childcare providers to ensure that your child is receiving a consistent approach/message both at home and in the childcare setting, and to ensure that they can support you with any challenges.
Resources and videos
- Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak– This guidance provides excellent material on how to help children and young people cope with stress, the need to listen and acknowledge children’s concerns, provide clear information about what is going on, for adults to be aware that their own reactions are emotional clues for children and young people, the need to create a new routine, and to talk about what children have seen and heard through social media
- How to promote positive mental health in children (CAMHS) – Online mental health support for young people. CAMHS are the NHS services that assesses and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties
Further Help and Support
We have included advice and information on a variety of topics that you may find useful during this time, such as financial advice and housing support, useful apps and websites and how you can keep in touch with your local Start Well Family Centre.
If you are already receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction you must tell the council about a change in your circumstances within 30 days, this includes:
- Losing or getting a job
- Having a baby
- A partner moving in or out.
Child Tax Credit is a benefit that helps with the cost of raising a child if you are on a low income. It is one of six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit.
Further advice and guidance
- Wigan Council Housing Benefits advice
- Citizens Advice
- Money Advice Service
- NHS advice on maternity and paternity leave
- StepChange Debt Charity – 0ffering free, expert advice and practical debt solutions. No matter how large or small your debt problem is, they will look at your financial situation and give you expert debt advice and recommend debt solutions to suit your situation. They will also help you set up and support your chosen solution.
Are you at risk of being homeless?
Visit Wigan Council to get support if you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The council must provide emergency accommodation if you’re homeless and have children or are pregnant.
You can also contact Shelter for free, independent advice.
Our Start Well Family Centres are there to help you give children under five the best start in life. Support includes:
- Early education and play
- Health services
- Information and advice about children’s services
- Parenting support.
During this time parents are advised to keep their children at home where possible. You can keep in touch with your local Start Well Family Centre and stay up to date with events by visiting their Facebook page: