4 Top Things to Know Before Sending Your Child to a Preschool in Serangoon

Every parent gets anxious at the thought of sending a child to preschool. “Will he cope? Will I choose the best preschool in Serangoon?” These are some of the questions that parents ask. Understandably, you have concerns. Knowing what to expect will help you to make informed decisions. You will also put your worries aside. 

Your child will be in good hands.

The first day of preschool in Serangoon is naturally challenging for parents and children. Both the parents and the kids experience separation anxiety. However, parents are often anxious, wondering if their child will be okay. 

The teachers and caregivers at the preschool in Serangoon are trained to take care of your child. They understand your child’s anxiety and what they need to do to calm him. It is not easy entrusting a stranger with your child. However, remember this is just the beginning. 

After getting used to his preschool teachers and friends, he will be moving on to primary school to start over. This will be the norm in his life. It is unavoidable. 

Your responsibility is to ensure you get him into the best preschool. From then on, it will be the teachers’ responsibility to ensure he remains content during the hours he spends in preschool. 

Teachers meet children with different temperaments and personalities.

Parents often worry that their child will not cope. Usually, it is because the child is too hyper, aggressive or too quiet. Interestingly, some parents assume that a child may overwhelm the teachers. If this is a concern, it shouldn’t be.

Preschool teachers are trained to handle children of different temperaments. Your child will be fine, so will the teachers. If anything, a new environment may be what your child needs to cool down, especially if he is hyperactive. Preschools have hundreds of activities available for children. 

The teachers will introduce practical and enjoyable activities to your child. Before long, he will be excited about going to preschool, and you will realise you had no reason to worry. 

Children achieve milestones at different times.

You will likely meet other children at the preschool in Serangoon who have achieved milestones ahead of your child. You shouldn’t be concerned about this. Children do not achieve cognitive development at the same time. 

Teachers of preschool in Serangoon appreciate the difference in children’s development. You shouldn’t worry about your child being left behind because the teachers give personalised attention to each child. 

Maintain open communication with the teachers

When you send your child to a preschool in Serangoon, you must maintain close contact with his teachers. They are the ones who will update you on your child’s progress and challenges. 

The teacher will also give you ideas on activities you can introduce at home. A child will develop cognitive skills much faster when a concept is reinforced at home. 

For example, a child will develop thinking and decision-making skills much faster if he is introduced to activities that will stimulate these skills at home and school. 

Preschoolers and their teachers share a special connection. Your child’s experience will not be any different. After choosing the best preschool in Serangoon, you only need to provide the necessary support to ensure your child has an incredible learning experience. 

How The Singapore Kindergarten Programme Facilitates Learning

Children in Singapore join the kindergarten programme at the age of three years. The programme lasts three years. Although the kindergartens decide which of the six approved curriculums is most suitable, they all have one goal, to ensure the children are ready for primary school. 

How do the different curriculums facilitate learning in the different kindergarten schools in Singapore

Nurtures Children’s curiosity. 

Children are naturally inquisitive, and this is the trait that makes learning possible. All the kindergarten curriculums in Singapore encourage children to keep exploring in a bid to discover the world. 

The Montessori curriculum used by some kindergarten schools in Singapore practices spontaneous learning. Since children are unpredictable, this curriculum gives teachers the freedom to steer learning according to the children’s object of interest. 

For example, when children ask why plants have different smells, teachers may decide that a lesson on senses is ideal. Children learn, and at the same time, they get answers to the questions they have. 

Regio Emilia kindergarten program promotes project-based learning, while The High Scope Method emphasizes learning through interactions with the environment. 

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences focuses on multiple dimensions in learning, depending on the child’s interest. For example, a child who is curious about languages or music is given a chance to satisfy his curiosity through learning. After that, he is graded according to his performance on subjects that he is curious about. 

Encourages active learning.

The Singapore kindergarten programme encourages learning through experience and experiment. Children in kindergarten are still undergoing cognitive development. Their brain functions are still not performing optimally, so learning from experience or experiment will help them retain their memories. 

The play-based and Waldorf Steiner curriculums encourage practical activities to make learning easier for children in kindergarten. The games children play help to boost attention and memory in children. The teacher may introduce the alphabet and numbers to children as they play to help them learn faster. 

Fosters cognitive competence

Singapore is well known for its education values internationally. Many countries are trying to find ways to emulate the system of education to boost students’ performance. Kindergarten schools in Singapore don’t just focus on learning, but the kindergarten programme emphasizes cognitive development. 

Some of the cognitive skills children are expected to develop as they learn include reasoning, critical thinking, decision making, and conflict resolution. These are skills that children develop as they learn. 

For example, when they read or listen to stories, children become curious and start asking questions. Sometimes, the stories do not make sense to the child. This is a sign that he has started reasoning and thinking. These cognitive skills are essential when the child gets to primary school and starts learning more complex concepts, such as math.

The kindergarten programme is structured to prepare children for mainstream learning. So, whichever curriculum you opt for, the outcome will be the same. However, despite the curriculums sharing similar goals, the approaches vary. So, you must choose one that is most suitable for your child.

If your child is interested in different disciplines, such as languages and music, you can nurture his interests by looking at kindergarten schools in Singapore that use The Theory of Multiple Intelligences curriculum. This way, your child can take advantage of available resources that will improve his learning experience. 

Should Your Toddler Join a Playgroup?

If you are exploring the idea of sending your child to a playgroup for toddlers, you are not alone. Many parents wonder if a playgroup is a worthwhile investment, especially if an adult is at home to care for the child. Some parents also question spending thousands of dollars on playgroup Singapore. Do the benefit outweigh the cost?

Playgroup helps a child to become independent.

When your child joins a toddler playgroup Singapore, this is probably the first time he is away for hours from home and the family. This is a new experience for him, so he will likely suffer separation anxiety in the first few days. However, over time, playgroup will be his new routine. 

Knowing that you will pick him up after a few hours will give him comfort and confidence to enjoy his day with his newfound friends. Playgroup will prepare your toddler for school since he will have the coping skills to stay away from home during school hours. 

He will develop new skills.

When toddlers start interacting with other children, they naturally start developing various skills. They include socialization, sharing, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and cooperation skills. These are skills that young children develop when they regularly interact with other children. 

Most children do not develop these skills until they join preschool. So, your toddler developing them at playgroup gives him a head start. 

Your toddler will learn to take instructions from other adults.

When parents are the only adults in a child’s life, the toddler is likely to assume that he is only supposed to take instructions from them. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be for the child to look at other authorities, like teachers, for guidance. 

Playgroup Singapore is a great way to introduce your child to other adults. Early interaction with other adults, besides his parents, will make it easier for the child to listen and respect his teachers when he gets to school-going age. 

Playgroup will help a child with stranger anxiety.

How does your child behave when he meets people for the first time? Does he cling to you? Some children do not seem affected by being in a new environment or about the strangers around them. However, some children make their parents question the wisdom of going with the child anywhere because of his reaction when among strangers. 

When your child joins playgroup Singapore, you will initially leave him with total strangers. However, he will learn to trust his caregivers and his new friends. Before long, attending an event will no longer be a daunting task since your toddler will not be clingy.  

Your toddler will learn new activities.

When at home, a child is exposed to a few activities. Some toddlers get bored playing with the same toys, and then they become destructive. Toddlers have a lot of energy, so expecting them to sit still for a long time is an exercise in futility. 

Toddlers are always looking for something different to do. Unfortunately, because of limited space or inadequate availability of playthings, your toddler will venture into forbidden spaces. They end up destroying items in the home in their search for things with which to play. 

Toddler playgroup Singapore is the perfect place for your child to explore as much as he likes. He will learn new activities that will keep him busy for hours. By the time he gets home, he will be exhausted. You don’t need to be concerned about your house being turned inside out since all he will want is to rest after the day he had. 

Playgroup has several benefits, especially for toddlers who don’t get a chance to interact with children their age. The few hours that your toddler spends in toddler playgroup Singapore gives you a chance to rest to take care of tasks that require your attention. 

Comparison Between Nanny Services and Childcare in Bedok

Bedok is one of the neighbourhoods attracting families interested in outdoor living. The cycle paths, fishing spots, stretches of beach, and running tracks are favoured by young adults and families with young children. With an estimated population of 289,000, the demand for various amenities, including childcare in Bedok, is high. 

One of the questions that many working parents battle with is should they hire a nanny or use a childcare centre. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. You only need to figure out which option works best for your family. 

Benefits of hiring a nanny or babysitter

It is not uncommon for families in Singapore to hire a nanny to care for the children, especially for families where parents work away from home. Some people opt to have a live-in nanny. 

Families that don’t have enough space to accommodate a nanny opt for a baby sitter who only works a few hours a day before leaving. 

Hiring a nanny means you have a low ratio of child to caregiver. If you have one child, you basically hire someone to care for him fully. This is unlike childcare centres, which usually have a few children per caregiver. 

Your child shares the caregiver’s attention with other children, making personalised care in childcare in Bedok a little difficult. 

Nannies also offer a more flexible service. For example, if you are leaving home later or earlier than usual, you can request the nanny to come in at the ideal time. If you are running late from work, nannies are often ready to stay late until you get home. 

This is unlike childcare centres which follow a schedule. If your child is attending the full-day schedule, you are expected to pick him up by 7 pm. 

Nanny service, in some cases, is cheaper than childcare in Bedok. Even with the infant subsidies in place for working Singaporean parents, some nannies charge a much lower rate. 

Benefits of childcare services in Bedok

One advantage childcare in Bedok has over nanny services is the availability of a specially prepared curriculum for children of different ages. The activities are designed to help achieve his milestones. The program targets sensory, motor, linguistic, intellectual, emotional and social skills. 

Caregivers at the childcare centre look at a child’s interaction with the environment as a learning opportunity. Children under the care of a nanny may not have the same opportunity to develop critical cognitive skills. 

Caregivers in childcare centres are specially trained to handle children with different temperaments and conditions. This is something you may not find in a nanny service. If your child has special needs, you’ll likely receive better and more professional service at childcare in Bedok. 

So much goes into the choice of care you get for your child, especially during hours when you are working. It is best to weigh the option of childcare in Bedok against nanny services. 

While the cost of the service is important, it should not be the only consideration. Instead, consider the pros and cons before opting for the most suitable one.  

The Benefits of investing in an IB Diploma education

 

  Do you want to have extra classes aside from the ones you are already taking in school? Do you want to take advanced lessons for your future subjects? Do you want to gain more experiences which could improve your skills and make you better at doing things? If yes, then you should probably take the IB Diploma Programme (DP) which according to the ibo.org is an academically challenging and balanced program of education with final examinations that prepares students, aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. There is no doubt this program could help students a lot with all the benefits it could give you.

In an article by Monikah Schuschu, let us learn more about what IB Diploma is and its benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Earning an IB Diploma?

In past posts on the CollegeVine blog, you may have noticed that when we talk about AP courses and exams, we sometimes mention another acronym that may not sound as familiar to you: IB. This stands for International Baccalaureate, and represents another advanced educational option for high school students that exist alongside the AP program.

While the IB program isn’t as popular as the AP program in the United States, it can definitely be a worthwhile option for those who have access to it. In particular, earning an IB diploma, which requires that you take certain courses and fulfill additional academic and extracurricular obligations, can be an impressive qualification to add to your resume.

Read on for more information about the IB Diploma Programme and how an IB diploma can enhance both your high school experience and your college prospects. Read more here.

Great! It is truly undeniable that the IB diploma programme could help you when you enter high school and college as well. What is amazing with this program is that you do not just learn academics because it also includes components which allow you to learn creativity, innovation, and such.

CATS Education will give us three ways on how your child could benefit from IB diploma’s Creativity, Activity, and Service program.

3 Ways Your Child Benefits From the IB Diploma’s Creativity, Activity and Service Programme

Experiential learning challenges students to pursue a journey of self-discovery while engaging with community and global issues. This is why Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) is an essential component of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.

As an international boarding college offering the prestigious IB, CATS provides this two-year programme for motivated and proficient students who show an interest across a broad range of subjects. The IB is the fastest growing and most respected qualification for students preparing for higher education, recognised by the best universities in the UK and abroad for inspiring internationally minded students to become caring, critical thinkers. In fact, independent research shows that IB students get higher degree results than A level students and earn more when they leave university.

Here is how the Creativity, Activity and Service component prepares students for university and career success. Read more here.

Amazing! Now we know that the IB Diploma programme caters to all kinds of learning. It is true that on-hand experiences are really great teachers because it gives you the opportunity to learn by doing. Creativity, activity, and service could really improve something big in you and you can use it at any aspects of life.

To encourage you more to take the International Baccalureate Diploma Programme, Dr. Patricia Fioriello will give us more benefits on having it.

12 Benefits of International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

What is International Baccalaureate Diploma Program?

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program was established in 1968 by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva, Switzerland with the goal of delivering international academic standards in most of the local schools.

IBO academic philosophy is summed up in the following words of its mission statement:

“Through comprehensive and balanced curriculum, coupled with challenging assessments, the International Baccalaureate Organization aims to assist schools in their endeavors to develop the individual talents of young people and teach them to relate the experience of the classroom to the realities of the world outside. Beyond intellectual rigor and high academic standards, strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship, to the end that IB students may become critical and compassionate thinkers, lifelong learners and informed participants in local and world affairs, conscious of the shared humanity that binds all people together, while respecting the variety of cultures and attitudes that makes for the richness of life.” Read more here.

It is really amazing how the IB Diploma programme contributes a lot of learning and experiences to students. That is why if you ever got a chance or a choice to take this program, don’t hesitate because it adds additional knowledge that you could really use not just in school but on other aspects as well. In addition, it could be an asset if you are applying in universities for college and it also gives you increased opportunities of obtaining a scholarship which could help you with your expenses and your education as a whole.

All About Learning How to Speak Arabic

Learning how to speak one language could make you communicate and understand the people around your community, but what if you travel to other places? How are you going to communicate with other people? Learning foreign languages could really benefit us in ways that we don’t know.

If you are looking for an Arabic course in Singapore, you should check out Berlitz Language School. They are one of the most established and oldest language schools in the world, and they offer a wide range of language courses and at varying proficiency levels. If you want to learn Arabic seriously, you should check out their site here: https://www.berlitz.com.sg/l/language-menu/arabic-language

 

That is what we are going to talk about today specifically with the Arabic language.

To start, Madeenah will tell us about the importance of learning the Arabic language.

The Importance of Learning the Arabic Language

Whilst every effort has been made to render this translation from it’s original Arabic source to English, one must appreciate the rich nature of the Arabic language and how difficult it can be to accurately capture the true essence of the Arabic text in any language. Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

{Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur.aan in order that you may understand}.[1]

This book[*] and any other book translated from Arabic should never allow the reader to become complacent and hold back from learning the Arabic language, ever! Rather, it should only serve a temporary purpose in assisting the student of knowledge on his way until he has attained his goal in having learnt the Arabic language.

When I began my Arabic language studies at the Islaamic University of Madeenah back in 1993, I remember being interviewed by Dr. V. Abdur-Raheem[2] to assess the level of my Arabic knowledge so as to ascertain exactly which class he should enrol me into; It was then that I sought his advice by asking him the question every Arabic language student[3] asks: Read more here.

The importance given above are not just those that refer to knowing how to speak the language, but it also refers to learning how to read Arabic. Well in relation to that, Culture Vulture will give us 20 must know Arabic words and phrases for your business trip to the Arab world

20 Must Know Arabic Words and Phrases for your Business Trip to the Arab World

Travelling to the Middle East, The Gulf or Arab world on business?

No matter where in the world you go for work knowing a few words or phrases in the local language can break down barriers, build relationships and smooth the way to business success.


In this blog, Zoe Trunks looks at 20 “must know” Arabic words and phrases every business person should learn before they visit an Arabic speaking country.

Our first four words are key when greeting and saying goodbye to people:

1.    مرحبا – Hello (marhaban): This greeting is widely used throughout the Arab countries and is also one of the easiest greetings to pronounce making it a good word to know.

2.    تشرفنا – Pleased to meet you (tasharafna)

3.    كيف حالك؟ – How are you? male (kayfa halak) female (kayfa halik): There are two versions of this phrase: as with many Arabic phrases this phrase is dependent on the gender of the person you are speaking to, the first version is to be spoken to a man. Read more here.

The terms given above does not only apply when you are traveling for a business tour because you could actually use them all even if you are just traveling for a simple vacation. The terms given above are just the basics but it would actually help you a lot. Now, Jesa will give us three smart tips to pick up Arabic quickly.

3 Smart Tips to Pick Up Arabic Quickly

Marhaba! In this post, I would like to discuss 3 smart and easy ways for you to pick up Arabic quickly. I want to thank a close friend of mine who brought up this idea a couple of times over the last couple of months. She is learning Arabic and constantly asks me about different ways to get immersed in an Arabic speaking environment. My best advice to her centered on different things that I do to maintain my level of fluency (مستوى الفصاحة). I offered her these tips and after a few weeks she rushed to thank me mentioning that these tips granted her great exposure to an Arabic speaking environment in turn facilitating the learning process. In addition to my friend’s request, many of you through different means have asked the same question. How can I continuously practice Arabic? I am confident that these tips can help you out! Some of these might be obvious to many of you, while others might be new and useful. Needless to say, Arabic like other languages requires a constant drive for speaking (التكلم), listening (الاستماع), practicing (التمرين), reading (القراءة) and writing (الكتابة) on a daily basis; otherwise, it becomes rusty and might seem difficult all over again. Read more here.

As mentioned above, in order to pick up Arabic quickly, you should surf the internet for Arabic resources, read Arabic newspapers, and listen to Arabic music. Doing these would really help you a lot with learning how to speak, read, ad write Arabic. It would not be easy but it would help. Patience is a must if you are going to learn how to speak a foreign language. However, just remember that everything would be worth it in the end.

Some Top Back-To-School Tips For Your Kids With Special Needs

 

 

 

Starting a new school can be daunting especially for parents with special needs child. New school year means, new grade and new class and new people. This is a pretty erratic thing for a child with special needs and you must help your child in any way possible. The new goals for a new year should be designed to help your child in adapting to the new environment an there are some of the ways in which you can be on top of all the stuffs that will be going on surrounding the new school year.

Make sure of all the paperwork
Take careful notice on the fact that you have all the paperwork organized and ready to go. At the last moment you won’t have any time to organize them and fill them out and there will be a high chance that you forget any such important paperwork. So start filling them out early and make notes on what are needed and what you have. Take a calendar and mark the important dates of orientation, admission and other such stuffs, which will help you to follow through easily. This sis one of the most effective way to stay organized.

Keep a log of the important stuffs
Maintain a log of all the phone calls, emails, notes, and meetings and conferences. Write down what were discussed, what are important issues that needs your attention, how much attendance and grades does your child needs to have and similar notions like that. Jot down the dates, time, etc to be more specific and attentive.

Review the IEP of your child
IEP is the most important aspect of your child’s educational program, so make sure that you have a thorough understanding of it. Note down the date when the IERP expires and make sure whether your child is up for reevaluation this year or not. The thing that needs your attention is to check whether the IEP fits your child’s needs. If you are unsure in any way, immediately contact the school for a review of the IEP.

Make your child comfortable and prepared
Thinking about new school, new students and new teacher is enough to incite anxiety in your child. So now you will have to take precautionary steps top comfort him or her and relieve him or her off the stress. There are certain ways in which you can do that. You can take your child to the school before hand and make him aware of the environment. Take him or her to the playground or the classes, just to accustom him with the atmosphere. This will come in handy when he will actually start the school as it will become a familiar place to him by then. You can also take him to meet the teachers and get to know them.

Meet the teacher/s
It is advisable teat you make an appointment and meet the teacher or teachers who will be taking classes for your child beforehand. Familiarize them with your child’s condition and inform them about any specific information about your child that you feel your child’s teacher must know. Build a credible acquaintance with the teacher as it will help you in the future.

Attend school events
Most schools organize events before the beginning of the new school year. It is a kind of orientation for parents. Take advantages of these events that include Open House, Back-to-School Night, and parent-teacher conferences. Talk with the teachers and share your experiences in dealing with a child of special needs.
Going for Educational therapy at Leapfrogs Children Therapy Center for children helps for them to communicate more freely. These tips will help you to be on top of things at the beginning of a school year.

WHY SENSORY INTEGRATION IS IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN

Sensory integration is the process by which we receive information through our senses, organize this information, and use it to participate in everyday activities.

Most people are familiar with five senses sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, we also receive input through two additional senses:

The vestibular sense, or movement and balance sense, gives us information about where our head and body are in space. It allows us to stay upright while we sit, stand, and walk.

Proprioception, or body awareness sense, tells us where our body parts are relative to each other. It also gives us information about how much force to use in certain activities, allowing us to crack open an egg without crushing it in our hands.

Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound, smell, taste and the pull of gravity. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called Sensory Integration. Sensory Integration (SI) provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behaviour.

For most Children, Sensory Integration for children is developed during the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of this process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. But, for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When this process is disordered, some problems in learning, development, and behaviour may become evident.

Not all children with learning, developmental or behavioural problems have underlying sensory integration difficulties. There are certain indicators, however, that can signal a parent that such difficulties may be present.

Sensory motor skills acquisition is based on a child’s ability to integrate and process sensory information to elicit a physical response to the environment. Sensory integration and processing is a complex function of the nervous system. Imbalances or dysfunctions in any of these systems may result in sensory integration difficulties. For instance, the impaired ability to visually scan the environment successfully or process tactile information correctly may result in a child lacking the ability to move about safely at home or school.

Children could have sensory integration difficulties for a variety of reasons. Children who have cerebral palsy, are classified as cognitively delayed and are autistic frequently have sensory integration difficulties. Indicators of sensory integration difficulties include over or under sensitivity to movement or physical contact, abnormally high or low activity levels, difficulty learning new motor tasks, and delays in language acquisition or cognitive abilities

A bright child may know that some tasks are more difficult than others but may not know why. This child can often present as bored, lazy or unmotivated. Some children develop strategies to avoid those tasks that are hard or embarrassing. When this happens, the child may be considered troublesome or stubborn. When a problem is difficult to understand, parents and children may blame themselves.

What has Northern WoodHeat done?

The key issue that has been constraining woodfuel market developing in this country is confidence: users lack confidence in existing supply chains, but these will not expand or proliferate until there is further evidence of demand. Northern WoodHeat has been able to utilise the experience and strengths of project partners from all three countries to develop sustainable local supply chains by researching and demonstrating woodfuel production techniques that integrate with and complement existing natural resource management goals and methods to meet local needs.

At the same time it has been able to design training programmes and produce and circulate literature to improve woodfuel expertise in addition to raising awareness and understanding of the benefits that woodfuel markets can deliver to users, producers, the wider community and the environment.

The main issues that have been addressed by Northern WoodHeat are:

Economics – The project has trialed trialed different woodfuel harvesting, production and transport techniques to determine which are economically viable at the small/medium scale, and which are most beneficial to long term forest development. Unmerchantable timber can be used for woodfuel and well developed, efficient woodfuel supply chains can greatly improve the financial viability of thinning operations. Woodfuel markets provide an opportunity to recover biomass that would otherwise be lost to competition-based mortality by providing a market for tending and early pre-commercial thinning.

Rural development – Different business models for woodfuel supply have been encouraged including those based on the estate/farm, community and co-operative formats, in order to open up woodfuel markets to as many potential suppliers as possible.

Implementation – The project has helped stimulate active long term support for woodfuel markets amongst key interest groups, such as policy makers, forest resource managers, architects, builders and housing managers, through carefully planned and co-ordinated PR strategies.

Building expertise – The findings from the project trials have been and will continue to be widely disseminated and educational material and training courses, such as the online training course, have been developed through international co-operation. This will help ensure further market development after the end of the project.

Sustainability – Through integrating woodfuel development with natural resource management, local energy markets and local socio-economic structures the project will improve the sustainability of woodfuel.

Why use Woodfuel?

Wood is a plentiful and under-exploited resource

As energy-producing technology has become increasingly sophisticated, the level of reliance on wood as a fuel in the developed world has fallen.

However, the need for renewable and sustainable energy sources is now widely accepted, and the use of wood as fuel has increased significantly in several parts of Europe. Woodfuel now accounts for 19% of primary energy production in Finland, 22% of rural domestic heating energy in Austria with plans to increase this to 40% by 2010, and approximately 35% of the Danish timber harvest is for woodfuel. As a result of this expansion, there are now well tested wood-burning technologies suitable for a range of different applications and scales.

A fundamental aspect of bioenergy systems such as woodfuel is that they must be locally centred to be economically viable. Such an approach is ideally suited to rural Northern Europe where both the resource and the population is scattered; this is particularly true of peripheral areas. It enables supply and demand sides of the market to be matched to meet local energy, timber market and employment needs. Timber prices in peripheral areas of Northern Europe are currently low and are unlikely to rise significantly in the foreseeable future. This has created a large surplus of low grade timber, much of which is very remote from current markets. A well-developed woodfuel market could make good use of this currently under-exploited resource.

Thus in terms of available technologies, resources and geography, woodfuel energy systems are an ideally suited to use in Northern Europe.

Woodfuel is environmentally sound and sustainable

Unlike other forms of renewable energy, biomass can be used to generate heat directly, rather than as electricity. This is a way of avoiding both the grid imposed limitations on energy generation in peripheral areas, and the transport costs associated with the wide fuel catchment areas required by large combined heat and power developments.

Woodfuel is effectively carbon neutral because the carbon released during combustion is equivalent to that absorbed by the tree while it was growing. Therefore, in addition to having a proven technology, a resource, and a potential market, woodfuel is also an environmentally sound energy source.

Aside from energy production, using woodfuel has wider positive effects in terms of forestry practice, employment and biodiversity. Forest thinning is often delayed or abandoned due to lack of markets for the produce. Unthinned crops can result in lower grade timber, more appropriate for large scale industrial fibre using industries than for local added value processing. The lower timber incomes from such crops are frequently exacerbated by high haulage costs to distant markets and can result in negative returns to timber growers. However, thinnings and low grade timber can be used as woodfuel. Establishing woodfuel heating schemes in peripheral areas would use this resource locally cutting the economic costs of haulage while increasing local forestry incomes and improving the value of timber crops.

Furthermore, research has shown that high stocking densities are optimal for woodfuel harvests. This gives flexibility in terms of restocking, allowing use of silviculturally beneficial mixtures of native and exotic conifer species such as spruce/birch. There is a future option to remove one or the other in response to future changes in forest management prioties and in response to changing timber markets. For instance if softwood markets deteriorated or landscape and biodiversity issues gained in importance the spruce could be removed as woodfuel leaving a native woodland to develop. Alternatively if there was a shortfall in softwood supply and biodiversity imperatives were being met adequately elsewhere the birch could be removed as woodfuel having served its purpose as a nurse crop. There is also a middle “multi-purpose” option where an intimate mix could be thinned to produce discrete single species blocks of spruce or birch.

Local employment and business opportunities can be created through operating woodfuel energy schemes at the local scale. Small scale supply chains require less specialist equipment and therefore provide opportunities for local contractors, community woodland groups and farmers to enter the market. Moreover, the improved quality of the remaining timber resource will further increase options for local added value processing.

Finally, more mixed woodlands, and increased thinning and felling will improve the biodiversity of woodlands and forests. For example, thinning is a vital part of a major project aiming to recreate woodland habitats suitable for Capercaillie. Such management techniques will also improve landscape values and recreational values.

Types of woodfuel

Woodfuel is extremely versatile, existing in a variety of forms compatible with different combustion technologies and end users, ranging from small scale domestic heating to district heating schemes and large-scale combined heat and power generation schemes.

Logs

Logs are often regarded as an inefficient, inconvenient and dirty fuel compared with the convenience of mains utilities. However, automated, highly efficient log burning stoves have been developed with a magazine that can be filled with logs. The entire magazine is burnt within a few hours, but the heat is stored in an accumulator, which in summer mode, can provide up to 14 days of hot water supply. Whilst log fires rarely exceed 15% efficiency, wood-burning stoves can reach 70-80%.

Logs are straightforward to produce. At a very small scale fuel can be gathered by hand and processed using hand tools. More usually chainsaws and agricultural tractors, or Land Rovers, and trailers are used. For the woodfuel contractor there is a range of firewood processors powered by tractor PTO/hydraulics. These range from simple log splitters to machines that will saw lengths into logs, split them and load them into a trailer.

Much of the current log market is dependent on suppliers working on a casual basis with minimal equipment. Quality is very variable, often poor, and fuel is often overpriced as a result of inefficient production methods. Also, potential customers frequently have difficulty in locating supplies. Despite these problems, well targeted support measures, focused on raising log quality, increasing mechanisation and improving customer service could yield rapid gains in this sector.

Woodchips

Woodchips are utilized at an extremely wide range of scales from the individual household to large district heating and CHP schemes. They are generally produced from poor quality final crop timber, thinnings, harvesting residues and arboricultural arisings. Equipment for producing wood chips is available at a range of operational scales. Roundwood is harvested using conventional techniques and then chipped in small hand fed, tractor mounted or self powered chippers, or large hammer mills.

The biggest limitations on chip use are variations in quality. The most important of these are inconsistencies in size and moisture content. Variations in size are often cured by correct matching of raw material and chipping technology. Moisture content has a direct effect on the available calorific value in woodfuel as part of the heat released during combustion is lost as latent heat during evaporation of the moisture.

Pellets

Pellets are usually made by compressing the sawdust and small shreds of wood produced from industrial manufacturing waste rather than from round wood or harvest residues. They are about 8 mm in diameter and look like animal feed. They are well suited to small scale auger fed systems because they are clean, dry (8-10% moisture content), easy to store, and easy to use in automated systems due to their consistent size. Pellets also have greater bulk density than other wood fuels and reduce transport costs through reducing load size.