A Beautiful Make-Over for Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

A Beautiful Make-Over for Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

The start of 2024 saw the commencement of a wonderful new refurbishment at the nursery. Little Acorns Nursery’s owners and management organised some significant improvements, which are already well-progressed upstairs and will continue on the ground floor of this Hindley Green childcare setting. Today we take a closer look and share with you some images of the progress and remarkable facelift that’s taking place. We’ll update you again in later months when the work is complete. Enjoy!

Why the Refurbishment?

As many will know, we took on the existing premises fairly recently and, before that, it had not been significantly updated in probably 20 years or more. In view of this, a refurbishment project was designed to update the overall aesthetics of the setting, tidy things up, and give the nursery a more modern, fresh look. While doing so, lighting, storage, flooring and other facilities are also being improved.

Work Started Early in January

Following a thorough risk assessment, work began right at the start of January this year. Initially, the focus has been on the classrooms upstairs. The structure to the ceiling there was totally renewed to both improve it and create extra storage in the loft area above. A method of easy access was installed to facilitate the use of this new storage space by staff. While working on the new ceiling structure, downlighters were spaced around the new ceilings and these vastly improved the lighting. Walls have been freshly plastered, skirtings were renewed and all painted in a lovely, fresh white. The spaces now have a lovely light, spacious and open feel about them.

For the flooring, luxury vinyl tiling was laid and, as you can see in some of the photographs, this is a high-quality floor that gives the rooms a modern, warm, and spacious feel. It will also be easy to keep clean. We’re also aiming for the spaces upstairs to be clutter-free once complete.

As you can see, the upstairs classrooms are already looking calming and inviting. We’re sure it will look even more fabulous once it’s all decked out with new furniture. In addition, resources and other enhancements will be added for the children. These will be things that they will find exciting, engaging and, in turn, will promote development. We can’t wait to see it all finished and it’s going to be wonderful for the children!

New Bathroom, New Hallway

The bathroom for the children was also renewed completely to bring things up to date.

In addition, the hallway and stairwell were completely overhauled with a lovely new carpet to the stairs, newly plastered walls and fresh new paint on all surfaces.

Next Steps

We’re currently sourcing new furniture in readiness for the newly refurbished nursery, particularly now that the upstairs is so far advanced. Some of the photographs also hint at some of the lovely interior design elements that are already beginning to bring the spaces to life.

Next on the agenda is an equally thorough refurbishment of the downstairs areas. We will have new flooring, a lovely new downstairs bathroom, spotlights throughout, new plastering, fresh paint, and refreshed skirting boards.

The ‘archways’ will also be sealed off and essentially removed. This will minimise noise ingress from one room to another.

An existing flat roof will be completely taken down and replaced with a new one. That will occur during the forthcoming Easter break, so as to avoid disruption to the day-to-day workings of the nursery. We will also install modern bi-fold doors that will give flexible and free-flowing access to the outdoor areas when appropriate.

Eventually, we’ll also renew the external signage, although this is likely to follow after the more involved improvements to the interiors are complete.

The Nursery Remained Open Throughout!

Incredibly, the childcare nursery remained – and will continue to remain – open, right through the refurbishment process. That’s accomplished through careful planning, regular health and safety risk assessments with sign-off by all relevant parties, and careful control over which areas children and workmen have access to. It’s rather like conducting a well-practised orchestra! Families were and still are, of course, also kept informed via verbal communication, signage, and also through updates sent out to families via our “Famly” smartphone app. Rest assured, the health, safety and well-being of our children is our topmost priority throughout all changes occurring at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green. Once complete, the day-to-day lives of both staff and children will be hugely enhanced.

We’ll publish updates on the further progress of the refurbishments over the coming months, so watch this space!

About Little Acorns Nursery School, Hindley Green, near Wigan

The best start for babies and children under 5 with a comprehensive Early Years education

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.

At Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green, babies and children under five receive a high-quality early years education in a wonderful nursery and preschool. Here, they are nurtured, feel valued, and are exceptionally well cared for. The setting is warm and inviting too — a real home-from-home for little ones — with highly professional childcare practitioners on hand to bring out the very best in them. We have fabulous facilities and resources too, both inside and out, and are a ‘good provider‘ — and that’s official according to Ofsted. We also support many Government-funded childcare schemes, thereby being able to supply free childcare hours for eligible local families.

Contact Little Acorns Nursery today and we’ll be delighted to explore with you the opportunity for your child to attend the nursery:

As a nursery/preschool located in Hindley Green, Wigan, WN2, we may also suit families looking for childcare services conveniently close to Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, and Bolton.

 

Tips for a Smooth Transition to Reception Class

Tips for a Smooth Transition to Reception Class

A smooth transition from nursery/preschool to primary school requires careful planning, practical strategies and emotional support.The transition from preschool to Reception marks a significant milestone in any child’s life. It can be emotional for parents and, for children, it can be a period filled with excitement, curiosity, and perhaps a bit of apprehension. Ensuring a smooth transition involves a combination of careful planning, practical strategies and emotional support. With that in mind, today’s guide outlines more than twenty simple, actionable ways to ensure your child has a seamless transition and a positive start to school life.

Emotional Support Strategies

Talk About Feelings

Discuss emotions related to starting school. Encourage questions, answer honestly, and address any concerns your child may have. Doing so will reassure your child and create a more positive perception of the upcoming experience.

Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement to create a positive association with the idea of school.Use positive reinforcement to create a positive association with the idea of school. For example, highlight the exciting aspects of learning, making friends, playing new games, and discovering new things.

Celebrate Small Achievements

Acknowledge and celebrate small achievements. Whether it’s successfully completing a puzzle or putting on shoes independently, recognising these accomplishments builds a positive mindset and boosts children’s confidence.

Visit the School Together

Arrange visits to the school — take a guided tour together and explore the classrooms and play areas. This will make the environment less intimidating and more welcoming and familiar when the time comes.

Building Skills

Build Social Skills & Make Play Dates

Organise play dates with future classmates to build social connections before the first day.Organise play dates with future classmates to build social connections before the first day. Encourage interactions with other children to develop essential social skills. Attending a nursery, preschool, or playgroup will provide excellent opportunities for this.

Practise Listening Skills

Engage in activities that enhance your child’s listening and attention skills. These will be essential once they begin at school.

Promote Independence & Responsibility

Promoting independence in your child will help them adjust once they start school.Foster self-reliance by allowing your child to perform simple tasks like dressing themselves, tidying up, using the toilet, and organising themselves. Also, assign small responsibilities to them at home to instil a sense of accountability and responsibility. Such skills will serve them well once at school.

Encourage Decision-Making

Provide simple choices to empower your child and foster decision-making skills. You can perhaps teach them how to weigh up the pros and cons of each choice they face, so they get a feel for how best to approach a final decision.

Read Together

Instil a love for reading in your child through interactive reading sessions. This will pay dividends.Read age-appropriate books together, particularly those that introduce topics they’ll be introduced to in Reception class. This not only sparks excitement and teaches them new things but also helps children understand what to expect. Instil a love for reading through interactive reading sessions. Visit the library too and explore a variety of books.

Educational Games

Incorporate fun and interactive learning activities into daily routines. Simple mathematics games, storytelling, and creative arts and crafts can enhance cognitive skills and nurture a love for learning.

Fine Motor Skill Development

Strengthen fine motor skills through activities like drawing, cutting, and building with blocks. These activities not only aid in academic readiness but also contribute to overall coordination.

Nearer the Time

Introduce the Concept of Time

A consistent daily schedule that mirrors that of the school will help children become familiar with the structure of the day and adjust more easily.Ensure that your child understands basic time concepts, such as morning, afternoon, and evening. This, in tandem with our next tip below, will help your child better understand the structure of the school day.

Establish a Consistent Routine

In the run-up to leaving nursery/preschool to begin at school, introduce a consistent daily schedule that mirrors the school routine. This will help your child become familiar with the structure of the day and help them to adjust more naturally.

Create a Homework Station

Designate a comfortable and quiet area at home where your child can engage in reading and other learning activities. This can later transition to become a natural place for school homework and be a tool to promote a positive attitude towards learning.

Introduce Uniforms

If applicable, gradually introduce your child to the concept of wearing a school uniform and get them used the the process of getting dressed.

Teach Basic Self-Care

Familiar faces at the start of Reception will help children settle in.Ensure your child can manage basic self-care tasks independently. Such skills will be invaluable to them once they have started school.

Practise Sharing

Emphasise the importance of sharing and taking turns through play. This is not only good manners but will also help them make and keep friends.

Encourage Expressing Needs

Teach your child to communicate their needs effectively. Good communication is an essential tool for any child. Explaining their needs to teachers and peers will ultimately result in happier outcomes and contribute to children’s well-being.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Give children lots of reassurance when they begin at Primary School.Ensure sufficient sleep by establishing a calming bedtime routine. This not only gets them used to a pattern but will also help them to maintain focus and energy levels once at school.

Create a Visual Schedule

Use visual aids to help your child understand and anticipate daily activities. This could be a simple colour-coded timetable, or a series of drawings depicting activities they will be undertaking during their school day.

Create a Consistent Drop-off Ritual

Develop a consistent and reassuring routine for dropping off and picking up. This will foster a sense of security for the child and be key to minimising any separation anxiety that may otherwise occur.

Reception & Compulsory School Age

Reception is the first year of primary school in England, coming after nursery but before Year One. Children joining Reception class usually begin there in the September after their 4th birthday. Compulsory School Age, however, begins later — at the end the December, March or August that follows their 5th birthday (whichever is soonest).

By incorporating strategies into your family's daily routine, you can help to ensure the most successful start to their school journey.The journey from preschool to the first day of school is a significant milestone for both parent and child. Preparing children for school involves a holistic approach that addresses emotional, social, and practical aspects. By incorporating these strategies into your family’s daily routine, you can contribute to a positive and confident transition for your child and set the stage for the most successful start to their school journey.

School-Readiness at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.Here at Little Acorns in Hindley Green, we also follow comprehensive strategies to build children’s skills, knowledge, independence and confidence in the run-up to beginning primary school. Indeed, we ensure they have hit personal bests in every area and are school-ready by the time they leave us for Reception. It’s magical to see how each and every child grows, in so many ways, during our time with them. It’s always sad to see them go when they leave to begin school but, when that time comes, we wish them every success in the knowledge that they leave superbly well-equipped for their journey.

A High-Quality Childcare Nursery for Your Child in Hindley Green

Are you looking for a really good childcare nursery in Hindley Green, near Wigan? Please get in touch with us at Little Acorns Nursery if so. We offer a superb childcare service and early years education to babies, toddlers and preschoolers aged under five. We support many Government-funded ‘free childcare’ schemes too, meaning childcare will be more affordable for eligible families.

Little Acorns is also near Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester, so may additionally suit families in those areas.

Under-5 to Superchild — the Power of Reading With Your Child.

Under-5 to Superchild! The Power of Reading With Your Child

Reading with children is a powerful tool that supercharges learning, imagination and even life outcomes.In the journey of childhood development, there is a simple yet powerful tool that supercharges learning, imagination and even life outcomes: reading with your child. While a magical connection with books is a cherished tradition in many families, it is also a proven way to optimise a child’s cognitive and emotional development — and even to give some a social boost. With that in mind, we explore today the incredible benefits of reading with children in the early years and learn how study after study has proven how transformational it is to their lives.

Enhanced Cognitive Development

Numerous studies have demonstrated the profound impact of reading on cognitive development in young children. The studies found that reading with children between the ages of 3 and 5 results in significantly improved cognitive skills, including attention span, memory, language development, logical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

This cognitive enrichment is not just confined to early childhood. Long-term studies have revealed that children who are read to regularly during their early years are more likely to perform well academically throughout their school years. We’ll explore more about how reading in the early years prepares children for school later in this article.

Transformed Language, Vocabulary, Spelling & Literacy

Children who are exposed to a diverse range of words in books tend to perform better in language assessments, spelling, and overall literacy development.One of the most notable benefits of early reading is the rapid expansion of a child’s vocabulary. Indeed, research suggests that children who are exposed to a diverse range of words in books tend to perform better in language assessments, spelling, and overall literacy development. With reading to children opening up whole new worlds of information and vocabulary to them, this positive outcome makes total sense.

Academic Preparedness

Early reading provides a substantial head start in academics. A 40-year study by the Nuffield Foundation in the UK tracked the development of children from birth to age 7. Results revealed that children who were read to several times a week at a young age had a significant advantage in literacy skills when they started school.

The language skills of children aged just 3¼ years old were found to receive a 20% boost when they were regularly read to by a parent or carer. That’s an 8-month improvement!

Children who experience shared reading activities with their parents in their early years also tend to have a more positive attitude towards learning. They therefore perform better in school. Indeed, many enter formal education with increased confidence and a love for learning.

Advanced Emotional Intelligence

Reading with children also contributes to the development of enhanced empathy and emotional intelligence.Reading with children also contributes to the development of enhanced empathy and emotional intelligence. Stories often feature characters experiencing a variety of emotions, and by engaging with these stories, children learn to empathise and connect with the feelings of others. That’s because exposure to complex characters and their emotional experiences in books helps children better understand and relate to the emotions of people in their real lives.

Social Mobility

Remarkably, the benefits of reading with young children also have the potential to break the cycle of socio-economic disadvantage. Several studies have found a strong correlation between early reading habits and positive socio-economic outcomes later in life. Specifically, children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds were found to be more likely to surpass the usual limitations of their circumstances when exposed to regular reading sessions with adults at an early age. This positive effect was found to extend well into adulthood. Individuals who were avid readers during their childhood were found to be more likely to achieve higher levels of professional success, with better job prospects, higher incomes, and greater job stability.

Read our tips for effective reading sessions.

Tips for Effective Reading Sessions

Note that, at the start of this article and throughout, we have talked about reading with your child as opposed to simply reading to them. That’s an important differentiation because reading with children means involving them, so they’re fully engaged throughout. That’s another huge factor in unlocking the most potential for the child. So, how do we go about that?

Make it Fun!

Reading in a monotone voice is a sure way to get children to switch off and disengage from your reading sessions. Instead, make it fun by immersing yourself, as the reader, into the different characters and situations, using different volumes, voices, accents, cadences and tones as appropriate. This will naturally captivate your child, bring the story to life, and make it fun!

Encourage Interaction

Engage your child in the reading process. Ask your child questions about the storyline and characters. See if they can guess what happens next and discuss the story generally. This interaction enhances their attention, comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Encourage Questions

When your child asks questions or wants to talk about the story, embrace those moments. It shows their active engagement and curiosity. Encouraging discussions will help to deepen their understanding in so many ways.

Quality Time Spent Together

Reading is also about quality time spent together.Reading is not just about the words on the page; it’s also about the quality time you spend together. The connection you build during reading sessions is priceless, fostering stronger bonds between you and your child.

A Positive Example

Children often mimic their parents’ behaviour. By showing them that you value reading, they are more likely to embrace it as a positive and enjoyable activity. So, why not become a reading role model and let your child see your enthusiasm for books? It’ll not only be fun and engaging for them but is also likely to result in a love for learning and a huge number of profoundly positive benefits.

Quality Childcare & a Good Early Years Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.As we’ve said before, parental engagement with children’s education is incredibly beneficial to little ones and that’s particularly true in the case of reading with them. So, we take every opportunity to read with children and encourage interaction at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green. Reading with children is not only giving the gift of knowledge but also a key to unlocking future opportunities and even social mobility. As such, it is an incredibly powerful tool that effectively supercharges children’s education and future prospects. And don’t forget, of course — children simply love it!

If you are seeking the best childcare nursery in Hindley Green for your child, please get in touch. We offer a first-class weekday childcare service and early years education for babies and children under five. We also support all Government-funding childcare options, making childcare more affordable for eligible families. Please select an option below to further explore a place for your child at Little Acorns Nursery:

Little Acorns is a nursery near Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Ofsted Report: Little Acorns Nursery is a Good Childcare Provider

Ofsted Report: Little Acorns Nursery is a Good Childcare Provider
Little Acorns Nursery passed its first Ofsted Inspection with flying colours, following the inspection in April 2023.We’re delighted to announce that Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green, has passed its first Ofsted Inspection — and with flying colours! The Ofsted Report was published recently following the Ofsted inspection in late April this year. It is our first since we took over the nursery from Kate’s Kindergarten in 2022. So, it’s now official — Little Acorns Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early-years education. Let’s take a look at the Inspector’s findings and some of her lovely comments. We’ll see why the nursery/preschool achieved such consistent, positive feedback and good ratings in every area. Doing so is incredibly important to the children under our care and, of course, to their parents and caregivers.

Great Ofsted Report Ratings for Little Acorns Nursery

Little Acorns Nursery was judged by Ofsted to be ‘Good’ in every category:

Little Acorns Nursery was judged by Ofsted to be ‘Good’ in every category.Overall effectiveness — Good
The quality of education — Good
Behaviour and attitudes — Good
Personal development — Good
Leadership and management — Good

We’ll cover some more detail and commentary from the Ofsted Inspector below.

Glowing Feedback About What it’s Like Attending the Nursery

We're way more than just a crèche, playgroup or a group of nannies or childminders.Opening comments in the Ofsted Report are particularly positive. Not only are the findings welcomed by nursery staff, who work so hard and so professionally — as evidenced in the report — but they’ll also be welcomed by parents/caregivers of children attending the setting. After all, it’s good to know children are in good hands and that their choice of childcare provider was a good one.

Our High-Quality Staff Positively Impact Children

Here are a few of the comments from the Ofsted Inspector, describing how professional staff are and what it’s like for children who attend the nursery:

“The stable and highly skilled staff team promotes children’s care and learning effectively. Many long-standing relationships help staff to know the needs of the children and their families very well.”

It’s good to note the words, “stable” and “highly skilled” in reference to the staff. Our staff are exactly that and it’s good to see those qualities recognised. More importantly, though, such qualities clearly benefit the children, their parents, and families as a whole.

The Ofsted Report then goes on to describe how, “Staff’s gentle, nurturing approaches” help children to “settle and fully engage in what the nursery has to offer.” That, too, is incredibly important.

“Children arrive confidently and they are ready to play and learn.”

The confidence and enthusiasm to learn extends to babies and toddlers too and Ofsted’s comments make the reason for this clear:

“Babies and toddlers explore with intrigue. They are inspired by items which stimulate their senses and are provided in response to things which specifically interest them. Staff build on children’s interests well to provide meaningful activities which enable them to practise their skills and extend learning further.”

Children are happy at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green.As you can see from the comment above, staff are methodical and strategic in their approach to activities organised for the children. Activities are tailored to each child’s individual interests, making playing, development of skills and learning of new knowledge all come naturally.

Happy Children

The Ofsted inspector recognised that children are happy at the nursery. The nurturing of good social, communication and language skills clearly leads to deep friendships being formed and enjoyable play taking place.

“Children develop firm friendships. They collaborate and have fun together as they play.”

Good Progress for Children with SEND

Ofsted recognised the expertise of our Special Educational Needs Coordinator (‘SENCo’) and provisions for children with special educational needs and disabilities (‘SEND’) in their report:

“The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) successfully uses her comprehensive knowledge of local arrangements for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). She links closely with other supporting professionals, accurately assesses need and identifies precise targets for learning. Through strong relationships with staff, children with SEND progress well”

Good Relationships with Parents

Ofsted recognised that staff have good relationships with children’s parents/caregivers and remarked, in their report, on the cooperation between them:

“Staff work closely with parents right from the start to assess and plan how to meet children’s individual needs.”

Ofsted said that this works particularly well when children have health or medical needs, commenting “Leaders use what parents know to establish specific care plans, training for staff and detailed risk assessments.”

Parents are also encouraged to come “into the nursery to experience the curriculum in action.”

“Parents speak highly of the staff at the nursery and develop high levels of trust.”

Effective Safeguarding Arrangements

Comments in the Ofsted report about safeguarding were particularly positive and confirmed that measures at the setting are effective ones.

“Leaders have ensured that staff are well trained and knowledgeable about matters relating to child protection. They have provided clear procedures for staff to report any concerns that they may have about children’s welfare.”

They went on to confirm that, “Leaders and staff use their strong relationships with parents and other professionals to help ensure that the children and families who need it, get the right support.”

Staff Plan Well for the Future

Staff are methodical and strategic in their approach and activities are tailored to each child's individual interests.Ofsted also recognised that leaders and staff plan improvements for the future. In their report, they describe how leaders “plan how they can make the quality of education even better […] working closely with staff to design building improvements that will have the most benefit for the children”.

They also ensure that they too are learning and improving all the time:

“The high priority given to continuing professional development has resulted in a team of many skilled and experienced staff. This has a positive impact on the quality of education for all children, including those who are disadvantaged.”

Full Marks for School Readiness

One of the key goals of any good nursery, preschool or childcare provider is to ensure that every child is prepared, equipped and ready to begin school by the time they leave the early years setting. Little Acorns Nursery’s approach to the curriculum, activities and tailored learning and development plans, ensure this outcome. Ofsted’s comments, in their latest report for Little Acorns Nursery, totally back this up:

“The carefully thought out curriculum helps children to gain the kinds of knowledge and skills they need in readiness for their future move to school.”

A Place for Your Child at our Hindley Green Nursery, near Wigan

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.If you have a young family that needs high-quality childcare in Hindley Green or close to Wigan and Greater Manchester, we’d love to hear from you. As you can see from the latest Ofsted Report, we offer a wonderful weekday childcare service for babies and children aged up to five. Come and take a look by arranging a free tour of the setting. We’ll show you around and answer any questions that you may have. Be sure to bring along your child and you’ll be able to see how well they fit in!

Little Acorns Nursery offers a great start for little ones and also supports free childcare through Government childcare funding schemes for those who are eligible. Please choose an option below to get started:

Little Acorns is now officially a good nursery & preschool in Hindley Green. We’re located near Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

The Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument in the Early Years

The Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument in the Early Years

Today, we look at the profound benefits of learning a musical instrument for young children.With free tutorials available on YouTube and inexpensive instruments available in charity shops, phone apps and online marketplaces, there has never been a better time for children to start learning a musical instrument. It’s something for every parent to consider because such a pastime will benefit their child in an incredible variety of ways. Not only will they learn a new skill that will stay with them for life, but their lives will be enriched in many additional ways too. So, today, we take a look at the often profound benefits of learning a musical instrument, especially for young children. We’ll start with the three most obvious benefits before coming to many others that may surprise you.

Playing Music is Great Fun

Firstly, let’s not forget the obvious: learning to play a musical instrument can be great fun. It’ll give children hours of entertainment and sensory enrichment. That’s a good enough reason to learn to play music all on its own!

More Opportunities

The ability to play music is also a skill that often stays with children for life. So, once they grow older, the skill may well lead to participation in bands, orchestras, theatrical performances or even a career in entertainment. Composers, stars of the screen, pop stars and theatrical entertainers all started somewhere. Indeed, many such careers will have roots in having learnt to play a musical instrument as a child.

Boosted Coordination & Fine Motor Skills

Playing notes, chords, rhythm and progressions will do wonders for a child's coordination and fine motor skills.Playing all these notes in a certain order, sometimes in isolation and at other times as chords and progressions, will do wonders for a child’s coordination and fine motor skills. Although perhaps tricky at first, with practice and ‘muscle memory’, children’s ability to master the playing of musical sequences, chords, melodies and rhythms will gradually become easier and easier. Before long, it’ll become second nature to them.

As well as those very obvious benefits to learning to play a musical instrument, children will benefit in other, perhaps less obvious, ways. We’ll take a look at those next.

Enhanced Maths Skills

Music, the structure of songs and rhythm are all rooted in mathematics. So, when learning to play music, children will give their brains a maths workout, ensuring that note length, tempo and rhythm all sound correct and combine correctly. It’s also a great way for children to learn real-world applications of things like fractions (for example, half notes, quarter notes, double note length and so on). At the same time, each musical bar usually remains the same length overall. There’s real-world addition in practice for you!

Enhanced Reading Skills

Learning to play music helps children improve reading and mathematics too.In a similar way, children who learn a musical instrument will usually, of course, also be learning to read printed music. While this comes in different forms, it all encourages children to concentrate on the reading process. Specifically, they’re learning to read from left to right, to analyse the printed music detail and to make sense of it. It’s another great workout for the brain, and we’ll say more about that next.

“…there is little doubt that regular exposure to music, and especially active participation in music, may stimulate development of many different areas of the brain. Takako Fujioka and her colleagues, for example, looking at children with a single year of violin training (compared to children with no training), recorded striking changes in activity in the brain’s left hemisphere. In terms of brain development, musical performance is every bit as important educationally as reading or writing.” (Oliver Sacks, Neurologist & Writer)

Boosted Cognitive Function

All this attention to detail, concentrated effort and intricate movement will also have a profound effect on the child’s developing brain. Reading and playing music is a complete, cognitive workout that’ll deeply exercise the brain, in particular boosting the development of the left side. This will spark the generation of millions of new neural connections, or ‘brain synapses’, which will permanently empower the child going forwards. With the left part of the brain also influencing skills like language and reasoning, these are also going to be boosted.

“Research shows that at least some musical education has a positive impact on [the] social and cognitive development of children. And these effects are long-lasting – better hearing, better motor skills, improved memory, better verbal and literacy skills.” (Alan Harvey, Musician and Neuroscientist)

A Boost for Social Skills

Collaboration instinctively comes from playing music, so it's a natural socialiser, bringing children of all ages together.Playing a musical instrument often goes hand-in-hand with collaboration. Whether it’s forming a band, taking part in a school orchestra, writing songs with friends or simply jamming out together, children of all ages will naturally play together given the opportunity. As such, it’s a natural socialiser and one that brings children of different ages together, with new friendships being formed through a common interest. That is a very healthy thing. It also teaches children a wide variety of social skills including communication (e.g. speaking and listening at appropriate times), collaboration, being mindful of the needs of others, waiting your turn and so on.

Creative Self-Expression

Playing a musical instrument is a wonderful outlet for children’s creativity. Give them just about any instrument and they’re sure to express themselves in some way. Their musical or rhythmic expression is also likely to vary depending upon the instrument being played, showing just how powerful a tool it is. Playing an instrument opens up all kinds of creative possibilities to children and they can experiment however they choose. It can also lift their mood or give them the means to express it. Creating music is hugely empowering.

Greater Self-Confidence

With abundant new skills and even new friendships forming because of their musical endeavours, children will naturally get a healthy boost of confidence. Praise and encouragement from adults and peers around them will naturally help boost their self-esteem too. That’s important, especially when they’re very young and unsure of themselves and their place in the world.

Improved Listening Skills

When children learn to play music on a musical instrument, they learn quickly the importance of listening intently at the right time. Through attentive listening, children will learn to compute and formulate the appropriate response to important information, instructions and requests. This is an essential skill and one that will benefit them at home, in nursery, preschool, at school and ultimately in the workplace. Indeed, knowing when to be quiet and listen is one of the key skills of any good consultant!

Enhanced Well-Being

Music is not only great fun but also a great antidote to stress and anxiety.Music itself is also a great antidote to stress and other emotions. Giving children the tools to appreciate music — and even involve themselves in it — will help with their mental well-being as it can calm them when they’re stressed, relax them when they’re tired or even give them an energy boost when they need to get active. Ask any runner! All they need is the right piece of music and half the mental battle is already complete.

Insights into Different Cultures

Music is the common language of the whole world and, as such, is a great bridge between different cultures. Hearing and playing different types of music, from different cultures, countries and even eras will give children an insight into those other people, places and beliefs. Different music genres (rock, blues, pop, etc.) will also be something they’ll find interesting as they grow older, teaching them even more about their own country. For example, the music history of Britain has been hugely influential over the fashion and culture of the nation and this influence is integral to our identity in the world — amazing when you think about it.

The Teaching of Life Lessons

Through learning to play a musical instrument, children learn so many important life lessons; the importance of persistence, for example, and the value of trial and error. Children learn about teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, collaboration and so much more. The following quotation brings the value of this into perspective:

“The things I learned from my experience in music in school are discipline, perseverance, dependability, composure, courage and pride in results… Not a bad preparation for the workforce!” (Gregory Anrig, President, Educational Testing Service)

It Supports Children’s Education

With all of the above benefits, learning to play a musical instrument is clearly going to help many areas of children’s education. For the youngest, all 7 key areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum will be supported through musical endeavours. For example, it’ll help boost creativity, communication, language, reading, maths, social development, personal development, physical coordination and so much more. This can only stand them in good stead as they progress from nursery, through preschool, into school and beyond. It’s amazing when you take a closer look like we have done today.

Starting Children Young

With so many benefits, it's worthwhile for children to start learning a musical instrument as young as possible.With all these benefits, it’s highly worthwhile for children to start learning a musical instrument as young as possible. It’s easy to start them, for example with simple instruments like drums, triangles, and tambourines initially. With these simple instruments, very young children can learn to keep time to music or a beat a rhythm demonstrated by adults. They can then progress to more advanced instruments such as recorders, keyboards, and stringed instruments. They have to start somewhere, though, but it’s never too early to start! Mozart was just 3 when he began to learn piano playing. By 5 he had composed a whole concerto! Who knows; perhaps your child could be a star in the making!

Your Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterIf you have a child under five and require weekday childcare in the Hindley Green area near Wigan, do consider Little Acorns Nursery. We give babies and under-fives the very best start in life. At Little Acorns, they’ll receive a wonderful early years education and a personalised learning and development programme that includes sensory and creative activities through music and rhythm. It’s a wonderful, safe, loving, home-from-home environment for little ones too. We also support a wide range of childcare funding options for those that are eligible. Get in touch to register your child for a place, arrange a guided tour or simply ask a question. We’ll be happy to assist.

Little Acorns is a wonderful nursery & preschool in Hindley Green near Wigan. We’re also suitably close to those in Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Why Send Your Child to Nursery & Pre-School?

Little Acorns Nursery is far more than just a crèche, playgroup or a group of nannies or childminders.Some may be surprised to learn that nurseries/pre-schools like Little Acorns are not simply “childcare services”. We’re way more than just a crèche, playgroup or a group of nannies or childminders. In reality, our services extend way beyond simply looking after children while parents go to work, although of course we do that too. The truth is that we benefit little ones and their families in a whole range of additional, often profound, ways and that’s what we look at today.

So, if you’re not sure whether to send your baby, toddler or under-five to nursery/pre-school, or whether to send them to Little Acorns rather than somewhere else, do read on. Your choice for your little one’s childcare setting is incredibly important, for your child’s short-, medium- and long-term outcomes. The choice therefore needs to be right. Let’s set the record straight today and clarify some of the many benefits offered through childcare settings like Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green.

A Key Person for Your Child

The Key Person is a childcare professional that will look out for the child's wellbeing in all manner of different ways.First of all, a Key Person will be allocated to your child on Day 1 when they start at the nursery. The Key Person is a childcare professional that will look out for the child’s wellbeing in all manner of different ways. One of the most important is in the monitoring of the little one’s progress in terms of learning and development. From the day they help to settle the child into the nursery to the day they leave for school, the child’s Key Person will be there to ensure that all the child’s individual needs are being met and that they are fulfilling their fullest potential in every area. Part of that will be the oversight of the bespoke early years education programme, which we’ll come to next.

A Bespoke Early Years Education Programme for Each Child

A bespoke early years learning and development programme is tailored to suit the strengths and any challenges for each individual child.At Little Acorns Nursery, a bespoke early years learning and development programme will be designed and implemented to suit the strengths and any challenges for each individual child. This is orchestrated by the child’s Key Person and nursery staff and, where needed, through cooperation with any external professionals, e.g. for children that have any special educational or developmental needs. The learning and development programme is tailored to them and them only. Using this approach bolsters the child’s stronger areas, so they can be further strengthened, and addresses any weaker areas that may require extra focus. It is also adapted as time goes by, as progress is made by the child. In this way, every child gets to achieve personal bests and optimal outcomes in every area of their learning and development.

Our Full EYFS Curriculum, Covers, Well … Everything!

There is a whole early years education curriculum at Little Acorns Nursery. As we said before, we’re not just looking after them — we’re educating and nurturing children too. And what a comprehensive education it is! We use the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ (EYFS) framework as a basis for our curriculum (and much more). What that basically means is that all the important areas of learning and personal development are covered so that every child gets a good grounding in all topics and areas. It’s rather like setting up good foundations for them, both educationally and personally. The key areas covered include overall literacy, communication and language, physical development, personal, social and even emotional development, maths, self-expression through art and design, and understanding the world. As you can see, it covers everything they need to absolutely thrive as individuals.

We Prepare Children to Flourish When They Begin at School

A good early years education gives children all the tools needed to absolutely thrive once they start school.All of this nurturing, education and facilitation of their personal development does one other crucial thing too; it sets them up well for when they leave us around the age of five to start at primary school. By giving them the skills and tools they will need in every area, they are in a better position to absolutely thrive once they start school, right from day one. Indeed, many studies have shown that children who receive a good early years education go on to be higher achievers both at school and in their working lives. That’s gold dust, right there. Let’s take a closer look …

The Many Benefits That a Good Early Education Brings

Studies over the years have highlighted many profoundly important benefits that a good early years education will bring to both children and their families. In fact, even society as a whole has been shown to benefit. Just a few examples of the benefits of a good early years education include:

  • An greater number of GCSEs later attained by the child.
  • Improved exam grades, including in those all-important GCSEs.
  • Improved academic results in the crucial topics of maths and English.
  • An improvement in children’s behaviour.
  • A greater ability to appropriately self-regulate.
  • The nurturing of better, deeper friendships and relationships.
  • A reduced propensity for hyperactivity.
  • Improved likelihood of further learning via higher education courses.
  • Many benefits continuing into adulthood, including statistically higher incomes than those who didn’t receive a good early years education.
  • A more level playing field for disadvantaged children.
  • For society, studies have indicated lower levels of crime, prison rates, poverty, depression, child neglect and even substance abuse for children who received a good education in their early years. That is remarkable when you think about it.

Our sister nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Lancashire has more details about the various studies into the benefits of a good early years education, and their incredible findings.

All the Benefits of ‘Forest School’

One of the exciting things we have planned for Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is the introduction of our own Forest School.One of the exciting things we have planned for Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is the introduction soon of our own Forest School. Once up and running, it’ll give our nursery and pre-school children unparalleled access to nature and the natural world. They’ll be able to learn and benefit from nature in an incredible array of ways (and that’s important). So, watch this space for more details in due course.

A Homely ‘Hygge’ Environment

‘Hygge’ is another exciting initiative happening at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green.‘Hygge’, pronounced ‘Hue-gah’, is another exciting initiative happening at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green. If you’ve not heard of it, rest assured that it’s something that children will absolutely love and will benefit them in many ways. It’s also something that we’ll be pioneering in the area, so you may not find it in other nurseries and pre-schools around Wigan right now.

Hygge is a little bit like a lifestyle and will make the nursery and pre-school even more like a cosy home-from-home once fully implemented. It has been described as ‘a hug, except without the physical touch’ and involves warmth, cosiness and homeliness through the use of things like soft furnishings, cushions, rugs and music. It can also involve scents and often ‘mood’ lighting along with snug nooks for children to play or study in. There is also a focus on nature, natural materials, calmness and friendliness. Learn more about Hygge and its positive effects here.

A Purpose for Everything at the Nursery

Everything at Little Acorns Nursery is there for a reason and has been carefully pre-planned and implemented with utmost care.Everything at Little Acorns Nursery is there for a reason. It’s all been carefully brainstormed, pre-planned and implemented with utmost care. Whether it’s the introduction of Hygge, the opening of our Forest School, the addition of a new piece of equipment or the purchasing of a specific toy or learning device, everything at Little Acorns has a purpose and is there to benefit the children.

Outstanding Leadership

At Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green we, and the children we look after, are fortunate to have an outstanding management team and nursery owners. They’re perfectly adept at delivering outstanding levels of childcare provision and are professional in every sense. Having already achieved a National award and ‘outstanding’ Ofsted status at our sister nursery in Chorley, we look forward to welcoming Ofsted inspectors when the time comes for them to make their first visit to Little Acorns in Hindley Green.

What Other Parents Say

Parents of children at Little Acorns Nursery give us wonderful feedback about the childcare provision at the setting.Parents of children at Little Acorns Nursery also give us great feedback about the wonderful childcare provision at the setting. Browse the site for full examples of parent feedback received (it’s scattered around the site) but, to give you a taster, comments include, “My girls absolutely adore this nursery but most of all they adore the staff”, “thank-you for the bottom of my heart for what you have done for my girls”, “I couldn’t recommend this nursery enough, they care and love the children like their own and I couldn’t of ever felt more comfortable leaving my children with a nicer set of girls.”, “I would not hesitate to recommend this nursery to anyone!”, “You should all be very proud of the work you do. It really means so much to us every time we see those small steps forward and we appreciate it.”, and “If I ever had any more children, without a doubt they will be coming to this nursery even if I moved 500 miles away!”.

Still Not Sure? Come and Visit!

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterIf you’re still not convinced, why not come along with your baby or child and see the nursery in action for yourself. You can either book in for a specific date and time, or simply turn up during our working hours (we just ask that you please avoid the busy drop-off and pick-up times). We’ll give you a guided tour and you can see the setting running on a normal nursery day — and see how well your little one fits in. We can also arrange settling-in sessions should you decide you’d like to enrol your child and would like to help them ease in gently. Please arrange a guided visit below, ask any questions or register your child for a place using any of the buttons below. We’ll be happy to help and also offer a variety of childcare funding options for eligible families.

Little Acorns is a high quality nursery & pre-school in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

20 Ways to Prepare Under-5s for Nursery or Pre-School

20 Ways to Prepare Under-5s for Nursery or Pre-School

The transition to nursery school will be smoother for children if parents prepare them well.Starting nursery or pre-school is a real milestone for children and parents alike. As well as being exciting, though, transitioning to nursery or pre-school can be daunting for the little ones. The researching of childcare settings, checking Ofsted reports and appraising recommendations from friends is all very well, but that’s only the first step. The transition will be smoother for the children themselves if a few golden rules are followed. That’s precisely where today’s guide comes in, with our 20 Ways to Prepare Under-5s for Nursery. Take a look.

20 Ways to Prepare Under-5s for Nursery or Pre-School.

1. Plan Well Ahead

One of the greatest tips is to plan well ahead. By planning ahead you can iron out many, if not all, of the things that may otherwise cause your child — or yourself — anxiety. Indeed, most of the tips that follow this one involve aspects of this pre-planning approach.

2. Arrange a Visit

Arrange a visit of your chosen nursery with your child.Arrange a visit of your chosen or short-listed nurseries/pre-schools. Good settings (like Little Acorns Nursery) will be happy to give you and your child a guided tour. It’s best to go during an actual session, so that you can both see the setting in action on a standard day. Bear in mind that it can also be a chance for your child to become more familiar with the setting. If they later go on to start at the nursery, they will then already be aware of what the rooms look like, where the toilets are, who their carers are, and so on. Show them the play areas inside and out and let them see the other children having fun.

3. Stay for Lunch

When you visit, find out — and show your child — where they will eat lunch. Some nurseries allow prospective new children to stay over lunchtime and have lunch with their future classmates. It will be a good introduction to other children but also, for the parent, it is handy to know what sort of items other parents include in their children’s packed lunch or snack box. Or, if all meals and snacks are provided by the setting (they are at Little Acorns), ask for the weekly menu so you can explain to your child about the different types of meals they may receive.

4. Preparations Around Food & Eating

There are several things you can do around preparing your child for eating at nursery/pre-school.There are several things you can also do around preparing your child for eating at nursery/pre-school. For starters, get your little one used to eating in a group of other children — perhaps with friends or related children at first. Also practise cutlery skills with your child, so they’re more able to eat independently when they start.

If your child is having a packed lunch, they can give lots of valuable input into this and will then be more ‘at home’ with the foods on the actual day — because they partly chose it.

If the nursery supplies all meals, they may be able to provide you with either the menu plan or typical sample menus. Maybe practise some of the meals at home and then your child will be more familiar with the foods.

Make sure you have told the nursery setting about any food allergies or special dietary requirements that your child may have. That’s incredibly important.

Find out the setting’s policy for refrigerated food should you have to supply an item yourself, that needs refrigeration. That’s particularly important if supplying your own food/snacks/drink for children that require a special diet.

5. Settling In Sessions

Taking all of the above a stage further, some settings allow prospective new children to come for settling-in sessions, perhaps long before they officially start at the setting. They’ll get to know the staff, facilities and other children even better this way. They’ll also become accustomed to daily life at the setting and what to expect once they start.

6. Make Some Early Friends & Encourage Socialisation

Seeing a friend on the first day of nursery will really help children settle in.Pre-joining visits and settling-in sessions are a great way for children to make friends at the setting, but parents can also orchestrate this outside of the nursery or pre-school. For example, by finding out which friends and neighbours send their children to the setting, they can then suggest some play dates with those children. Little ones will then see one or more friendly little faces welcoming them, right from the outset, once they start at the setting. It’s a good opportunity for children to learn the art of socialising. It’s also good for parents to network in this way, so they can compare notes and perhaps pool information they might otherwise have missed.

7. Ask Questions

Whether on visits, on the phone or via enquiry forms on nursery websites, it’s always a good idea for parents to ask staff questions that they may have. At Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green, for example, we’re always happy to answer questions, whether it’s about daily life, the curriculum, childcare funding, special diets or just about anything else. We’re here to help!

8. Talk With Your Child

Talk to your child about nursery, well ahead of them actually starting there. Discuss a visit you’ve made to the setting and ask your child if they have any questions, or concerns, and then address those. As the time to start gets closer, keep talking about nursery in the lead-up to it. This will get the little one used to the idea of being away from Mum or Dad and their home. Perhaps you have some photographs, a prospectus or even the setting’s website, which shows children at the nursery. Show your child these. Talk about what the children in the photos are doing, playing with or learning from. Make it all sound fun and exciting — because it really is!

Oh … and remember to talk with your child once they’ve started at the nursery. Ask them about their day and be sure to address any concerns they may have. Praise all their achievements too, no matter how small.

9. Toilet Training

Being potty trained as soon as possible will stand children in better stead once they start at nursery/pre-school.Whether your child is potty/toilet trained or still in nappies, teach them to help themselves in this type of area. If they are not yet toilet trained and are ready for it, begin to teach them. It’ll stand them in better stead once they start at nursery/pre-school. If they are newly toilet trained, though, reinforce that accidents do happen and that the childcare staff are used to it and will help change them if so.

If they’re not yet ready for potty or toilet training and are still in nappies, get them to practise pulling up underwear garments, clothing etc.

10. Nurture Personal Hygiene

Ensure children know how and when to wash their hands. Explain the importance of handwashing and hygiene to them. This is important both from a social and health standpoint.

11. Nurture Independence

Leaning to be independent will help children thrive more easily.A little independence will go a long way for them once children start at nursery or pre-school. Personal hygiene and toilet training is just one of many things they can help themselves with if they’re shown how.

Get them used to doing the things they can do for themselves, like putting on and taking off coats and jumpers. Can your child take their socks and shoes off and put them back on again? This is handy for soft play or for spillages when socks or shoes are wet.

12. Prepare Clothing

Nearer the start date, plan outfits with your child, particularly for their first day and week. Perhaps your child has a favourite t-shirt or dress and wearing those on their first day may help them to be more confident in themselves. However, it’s important for your child to feel comfortable in their outfit too, so ensure outfits suit whatever is scheduled for the day at the nursery/pre-school — there may well be a variety of different activities lined up. Older children may indeed play outdoors as well as inside, so bear that in mind. They may need coats and even Wellington boots for outdoor play or external visits. They may need aprons for messy play. All such things need to be checked with the early years provider, well ahead. Also find out your childcare provider’s policy in regard to spare clothing should it be needed. Also, don’t forget to label your child’s clothing etc. with their name.

13. Introduce Educational Activities at Home

Introduce educational activities to children at home.Childcare providers are more than just babysitters or a crèche. Settings like Little Acorn Nursery and many others offer a full early years education too. It’s very high quality, covering pretty much every aspect of early years learning and development and the all-important EYFS curriculum. It would be a great idea, then, for parents to get little ones used to some of the many learning, play and discovery activities associated with the EYFS while at home — before they start at their early years setting. Even just an introduction to the many different activities that they’ll encounter will help them once they start. In effect, they’ll have a little head-start and will find tasks easier. So, encourage practising at home. Introduce nursery rhymes, puzzles, building blocks, colouring and painting. Read them stories so they practise listening, concentrating and sitting still. Explain why we use an apron during messy or wet play. Introduce letter and number concepts if they’re advanced enough — and so on.

14. Embed the Routine

An appropriate bedtime routine is important, so your child is energised and not tired once they begin nursery.In the month or weeks leading up to your child’s start date, it’s a great idea to try to mimic the timings at the nursery, so that the routine is pre-embedded. So, try to get them used to getting up and getting dressed etc. at the same time as the nursery and they can even have a restful nap at the same time as nap sessions at the setting. An appropriate bedtime routine is also important, so that your child is energised and not tired once they begin at the nursery.

15. Confirm Any Medical Issues

Have you advised the nursery about any medial issues, food allergies or disabilities that your child has? It’s important that they know.

16. Know Your Nursery Contacts

Have you the correct contact telephone numbers handy for the nursery? You need to know them (and they yours) and it’s best to add them to your mobile contacts list before your child starts. Ensure your mobile has sufficient battery each day in case you are held up or in case the nursery needs to contact you for any reason.

17. Drop-Off & Pick-Up

Ensure that you are familiar with the pick-up and drop-off times.Ensure that you are familiar with the pick-up and drop-off times as well as the nursery’s security arrangements should someone else be picking your child up instead of you.

18. Test the Route

Plan your journey before your child’s start date. It’s best to do this at the same time you’ll eventually be dropping off/picking up so that you know the correct timings. You don’t want to be late, especially on their first day, as that would simply cause stress for both you and your little one. Find out if there is there parking on site too.

19. Get Everything Packed The Night Before

You don’t want the first day to be stressful, so you and your child need to be ready to leave home in good time. Another way to ensure this is to pack their things the night before. As well as any spare clothing, perhaps include their favourite small cuddly toy or comforter in case they need it during their first day.

20. On the First Day, Be Calm

When the first day of nursery arrives, don't let on if you're anxious or sad otherwise your child may pick up on it and become upset.When the big day arrives for your child, don’t let on if you’re anxious or sad otherwise your child may pick up on it and become upset. So, keep it casual and don’t make a fuss when you drop them off for the first time. Staff and any friends they’ve previously made as part of your planning above are sure to welcome them. Chances are, they’ll run off into the nursery with a friend and have great fun right away anyway!

All in all, planning ahead with all these things will help to make this a fun, positive experience for both you and your little one. Chances are, your child will have an amazing first day at nursery!

A Warm Welcome at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & Manchester

If you’re child is joining Little Acorns Nursery, our friendly, caring staff will be on hand to give your child a warm welcome and make them feel at home right away. If you have any doubts or concerns, we’re here at the end of a phone line, so you can always contact us with any queries or to check how they’re getting on. Little Acorns is a wonderful nursery & pre-school in Hindley Green and really will give your little one the very best start.  We’re also located near to Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

If you’re considering sending your child to Little Acorns Nursery, let us show you and your child around, so that you can see the nursery in action and witness, first hand, how happy and well cared-for children and babies are here. Please arrange a guided tour or register for a place below. We are also happy to answer any questions including those relating to the many childcare funding options that we support at the setting.

A Quick Guide to the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)

A Quick Guide to the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)

EYFS stands for the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ learning and development framework..Parents* of under-fives may have heard nurseries, pre-schools, childcare professionals and other parents referring to “the EYFS”. However, what is it, and how does it affect your children? Well, the full description of the EYFS is over 50 pages long — but few of us have time for that. So today, we give you our Quick Guide to the EYFS, so you can get a good overview of it and learn how it applies to your child — all in just five minutes or so.

What is the EYFS?

Firstly, EYFS stands for Early Years Foundation Stage. In essence, it’s a carefully-specified ‘framework’ or ‘methodology’ around which the entire approach to early years learning, development and care is built. It covers babies, from birth, and children aged up to 5. We explain what the framework covers in more detail, together with its aims, later in this guide.

Is the EYFS Optional?

The EYFS ensures that high standards of early years education, childcare provision and safeguarding are maintained.For early years practitioners in England, following the EYFS framework is not optional. It is actually enshrined in law in England, via Section 39 of the Childcare Act 2006, so is an important and binding entity. (Other parts of the UK have similar equivalents).

Nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and other early years providers have to abide by the rules and approach outlined, in detail, within the EYFS guidance. This is a way to ensure that high standards of early years education, childcare provision and safeguarding are followed and maintained, for the well-being of the children.

Where Does Ofsted Come Into It?

Adherence of childcare and early years providers to the rules, methodologies, guidance, recommendations and measures specified in the EYFS framework is monitored by Ofsted, the UK Government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted monitors all early years providers in England, each of which must be registered with them and follow the EYFS rules. Regular visits and inspections take place and, indeed, this is where ‘Ofsted reports’ for early years settings come from.

What are the Main Aims of the EYFS?

The EYFS framework recognises that every child is unique and aims to maximise their well-being, skills, knowledge and life-long potential. This is done by:

  • The EYFS framework recognises that every child is unique and aims to maximise their well-being, skills, knowledge and life-long potential.Ensuring high levels of safeguarding, welfare and happiness for every child at an early years setting;
  • Ensuring that every child feels valued and experiences equal opportunities;
  • Ensuring that the early years education and care for each child is consistent and of high quality;
  • Helping children achieve personal bests, in a wide variety of skills;
  • Helping them to build their knowledge of a wide range of topics and of the world;
  • Giving them every opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the transition to school once they leave their early years setting;
  • Encouraging a close partnership and common aims between early years practitioners and the parents of the children. Read more about the importance of parental involvement in early years education here.

By close and careful nurturing of every aspect of children’s early learning and development, those children build the foundations for the very best start in life. It is then that they are they likely to reach their fullest potential, in the short, medium and long term.

What Form Does the EYFS Framework Take?

The EYFS framework consists of 4 key components:

  1. A programme governing every aspect of every child’s unique learning and development — effectively being their own bespoke curriculum;
  2. Learning goals, tailored to every child, to bring out their best in every area;
  3. Continuous assessment of every child, to ensure they progress towards their goals, through the learning and development plan that’s tailored to each of them;
  4. A safeguarding and welfare framework i.e. statutory requirements and guidelines designed to ensure the safety and well-being of children at early years settings.

We’ll take each in turn to give a bit more detail …

1. The EYFS Learning & Development Programmes

This element is, in effect, the curriculum and covers 7 areas of their learning and development:

  1. The EYFS curriculum element covers 7 areas of their learning and development.Communication and Language;
  2. Physical Development;
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development;
  4. Literacy;
  5. Mathematics;
  6. Understanding the World;
  7. Expressive Arts and Design.

The 7 core areas are designed for each child in a very structured way and approached through play, exploration, active learning, creativity and critical thinking. We’ll go into much more detail about the 7 areas of the EYFS curriculum in a separate, future post in due course.

2. The EYFS Goals

A set of goals, tailored for each child, is generated for each of the 7 areas of their learning and development. Childcare professionals – and ideally parents at home too – will help children work towards those goals.

3. EYFS Child Assessments

Assessments are made for each child, against a set of goals, on a continuous basis.As they work towards their individual goals, assessments will be made, for each child, on a continuous basis. By assessing the children, the learning and development programme and the goals themselves can be tailored and fine-tuned along the way, as required. This will optimise each child’s progress and achievements.

Children also receive a ‘Progress Check at 2’ report as part of this, the age of two being an important developmental milestone when it comes to learning and development. Similarly, each child will have an ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Profile’ (EYFSP) compiled for them as they approach the age of five. This will be useful information ready for when the child leaves the early years setting to begin school.

We’ll perhaps write separate, more detailed posts about some of the above in due course.

4. EYFS Safeguarding & Welfare Specifications

Another key and crucial element of the EYFS relates to the safeguarding and welfare of each child. The EYFS specifies statutory requirements for early years settings in this regard. In essence, early years and childcare providers have to do everything they can to keep children safe, happy and well — of course. For example, specifications within the EYFS framework require settings and providers to:

  • Another key element of the EYFS governs children's safeguarding and welfare.Ensure those who have access to children are suitable, safe, pre-vetted people;
  • Ensure staff are trained and suitably qualified;
  • Appoint a ‘Key Person’ to oversee and monitor the learning and development of each child;
  • Maintain minimum staff-to-child ratios;
  • Promote good health at the setting, including the administration of medicines;
  • Foster a good approach to children’s eating and drinking;
  • Provide adequately in regard to instances of injury, accident or illness;
  • Provide a safe premises with appropriate Health & Safety levels and protocols all in place;
  • Provide sufficient levels of space and activity opportunities both indoors and outside;
  • Ensure only the ‘right’ people can enter the premises and access the children;
  • Provide appropriate levels of support for children with special educational needs or disabilities;
  • and more!

Overall, the EYFS is a framework that is designed to provide a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment for children to learn and develop in their early years. It recognises that children learn best through play and practical, hands-on experiences. It focuses on the individual needs and interests of each child and provides a complete, holistic approach to their learning and development. Learn more about what to expect for your child from the EYFS here (Acrobat PDF document).

A High Quality Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & Manchester

We wholeheartedly support the aims and implementation of the EYFS at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green. If you are considering enrolling your child at our nursery or pre-school, we would be happy to give you and your child a tour and answer any questions you may have. We can also provide information on the various childcare funding options that are available to eligible families. You can register your child, schedule a visit, or contact us using the buttons below.

Little Acorns is a wonderful nursery & pre-school in Hindley Green and may also suit those looking for the best childcare service near Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

* We use the term ‘parents’ for the sake of brevity. In the context of this article and website, it is also a placeholder for the main carer(s) or guardian(s) of children.

 

Parents: How to Boost Your Child's Success

Did you know that children are significantly more successful if their parents* are actively involved in their education? It’s proven too; study after study concludes that parental involvement in a child’s education boosts their achievements and outcomes enormously. Studies show that children are significantly more successful if their parents are actively involved in their education.What’s more, the boost in the child’s success is clear to see at all stages — in the short term, medium term and long term — right into adulthood. When parents are actively involved in a child’s education, that child will do better at nursery and pre-school, achieve better grades at school and go on to have more success in higher education and, ultimately, in their careers. It’s incredible, therefore, just how powerful proactive parental involvement in a child’s education can be. Let’s take a closer look at the findings.

What Did the Studies Say About Parental Involvement in Education?

There have been many studies into the role of parents in children’s education and they reach the same kinds of conclusions. We highlight some of the key findings to illustrate the point:

“Students with parents operating in supportive roles are 52% more likely to enjoy school and get straight A’s than students whose parents are disengaged with what’s going on at school. This is especially the case during the earliest years of schooling, in Kindergarten through the 5th grade, when students with active parents are almost twice as likely to succeed.” (Pinantoan 2013)

“During the earliest years of schooling […] students with active parents are almost twice as likely to succeed.”

“The most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home.”

“Family involvement in education helps children to grow up to be productive, responsible members of the society.”

“Parents’ involvement in their child’s learning process offers many opportunities for success [including] improvements on child’s morale, attitude, … academic achievement across all subject areas … it also promotes better behaviour and social adjustment”

“The importance of [the] support system that a student gets from home is equally important as his brain power, work ethics and genetics, which all work in the accomplishment of his goal in life.”

“We found that schools would need to increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 in order to achieve the same results that are gained with parental involvement.”

So, How Can Parents Get Involved in a Child’s Education?

Creating a home environment that encourages learning will benefit children.The studies conclude that parents can help children — and boost their potential for success — in several impactful ways. We have picked out a few of the most powerful and easy-to-accomplish ways below.

“The most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student’s family is able to: (1) Create a home environment that encourages learning; (2) Express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers; and (3) Become involved in their children’s education” (Henderson and Berla, 1994)

Parents can help children thrive by assisting with their learning at home. This may take the shape of reading with them, helping them with homework, encouraging learning through everyday activities (e.g. counting, using phonics and letters, problem-solving etc.) and so on. This activity is, on its own, extremely powerful.

According to studies, reading with your under-five child can boost their language skills by a staggering 20%.

Reading with children regularly can boost their language skills by a staggering 20%.To illustrate that point, just reading with them regularly can boost their language skills by a staggering 20% (we’ll write a separate post about the benefits of reading with children in due course).

“It has been proven time and time again that parents who invest time and place value on their children’s education will have children who are more successful” (Meador, 2010)

Parents can really help to enhance children’s educations through two-way communication with the child’s nursery, pre-school, school or other education setting. Through collaboration and regular communication, parents and education professionals, including childcare practitioners, can all ensure they are supporting the child in the best possible way. For example, through appropriate focus on any areas of strength or weakness that have been identified. In this ‘joined-up’ way, children can achieve personal bests in every topic.

The fostering of closer links between parents and education settings will generally improve the success of children still further. Parents get more involved with the child’s education setting (nursery, school etc.) even more closely if they regularly visit and chat with staff, or even volunteer from time to time. If they go a step further and become trustees or sit on the board or equivalent, they can then get actively involved in the actual decision-making process. This could positively impact what and how their own child studies.

“When parents come to school regularly, it reinforces the view in the child’s mind that school and home are connected and that school is an integral part of the whole family’s life.” (Mapp K. and Henderson A. 2002)

The EYFS Agrees & So Do We

The EYFS actively encourages parental involvement, two-way communication and cooperation between childcare settings and parents.This is all backed up by the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework that Ofsted-registered childcare services like Little Acorns adhere to. The EYFS actively encourages parental involvement, two-way communication and cooperation between childcare settings and parents. That’s simply because it works. Children will do better and achieve more throughout their lives using this parallel, cooperative approach, starting in their early years. That’s one of the reasons we also keep a progress journal for every child, which both parents and childcare practitioners have access to.

We’re keen to work with our parents for the overall good and success of their children. By working together, we can identify both stronger and weaker areas in their children’s learning and development. This will allow us, jointly, to use joined-up strategies that will support their child both at the nursery/pre-school and while at home. In this way, the child’s strengths are further enhanced and any weaker areas are strengthened so that, ultimately, they’re no longer weaknesses. With this holistic approach, children will absolutely thrive, achieve personal bests in every area and be school-ready by the time they leave us to begin school. With such positive foundations, they will hit the ground running and be set for success.

Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green, near Wigan

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & Manchester

Little Acorns is a wonderful nursery & pre-school in Hindley Green and, with other National award-winning nurseries under the same management, we aim for it to be the very best in the area. We are located near to Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester, so may appeal to anyone nearby if they want the very best start for their child. If you’re interested in a possible nursery/pre-school place here, we’d love to show you and your little one around and to answer any questions that you may have. We can also help to clarify the many childcare funding options that we support at the nursery, so please do get in touch. You can register your child for a place, book a guided visit or simply get in touch using the buttons below.

* We use the term ‘parents’ for the sake of brevity. In the context of this article, it is also a placeholder for carers or guardians of children.

A Guide to Childcare Funding Schemes

A Guide to Childcare Funding Schemes

There are lots of free or assisted funding schemes for childcare in England and the UK.There are lots of free or assisted funding schemes for childcare and these are especially useful to parents looking to keep childcare costs down. With increased inflation and the cost of living crisis in Britain, such schemes have probably never been more welcome. Today we’ll take a condensed look at the main childcare funding options available to parents, particularly those of children under five, although many schemes also help children substantially older.

The Key Childcare Funding Schemes Available to Parents

Following are the key schemes that effectively result in free or at least partly-funded childcare for children in England — some also across the entire UK. Let’s take a look …

Childcare Vouchers

Childcare vouchers are still available to those who enrolled into the scheme before 4 October 2018.Although the Childcare Vouchers Scheme closed to new applicants on 4th October 2018, childcare vouchers are still available to those who enrolled before the deadline, so long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements. For those that do, childcare vouchers help to cut the cost of childcare for children aged up to 15, or 16 if they are disabled.

The scheme is also known as ‘Employer-Supported Childcare’ because, as the name suggests, it is supported by a person’s employer. Childcare vouchers are National Insurance and tax efficient to a degree as they can be administered via a flexible salary sacrifice approach. However, if you’re using the scheme, you should use the Government’s calculator to check whether you’d be better off switching to the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, which we cover next. Note that you cannot continue to claim childcare vouchers once you have switched to the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme, so be sure to use that calculator tool before applying.

Learn more about Childcare Vouchers here.

The Tax-free Childcare Scheme

Tax-Free Childcare is a UK-wide childcare funding scheme that many working families are eligible for.Tax-Free Childcare is a great, UK-wide, scheme that many working families will be eligible for, even including relatively high earners. What’s more, it could save them as much as £2,000 in childcare fees each year, per child, rising to £4,000 if their child has a disability.

Roughly speaking, how it works is that, for those that are eligible, the family pays 80% of the childcare fees into a special Childcare Account and the Government chips in the remaining 20%. The registered childcare provider simply draws down the requisite funding from the Childcare Account as and when appropriate. The scheme is rather like a tax rebate but one that’s earmarked specifically for childcare. The resulting saving for UK families could equate to as much as £500 per child every 3 months, or up to twice that every quarter if the child is disabled.

Various rules around eligibility apply, of course. In essence, though, Tax-Free Childcare Funding is available for children up to the age of 11, or 16 if they’re disabled. The child’s parent and their partner, if they have one, can even be earning up to £100k each per annum and still be eligible. Even grandparents or other family members can chip into the Childcare Accounts in order to reduce the burden on parents. So, don’t be one of the million or more families who have not claimed, despite being eligible.

Learn more about the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme here.

15 Hours of Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

15 hours of free childcare are available each week for eligible 2-year-olds.Certain children aged 2 in England* are eligible for 570 hours of totally free childcare per year. This is a great opportunity for them to begin their early years education relatively young and indeed the age of 2 is a crucial age to do so, according to studies. The substantial free funding is usually taken as 15 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year, although some childcare settings allow it to be spread out in a different way. Not all 2-year-olds are eligible, however, and basically it comes down to the fact that the parent(s) must be in receipt of Government benefits of some kind. Other 2-year-olds are eligible for additional reasons, for example because they are looked after by the local authority or are subject to an Education, Health and Care (ECH) Plan. Even some non-UK citizens who do not claim benefits have eligible 2-year-olds although, as with all these scenarios, various rules around eligibility apply.

Learn more about 15 hours of free childcare for 2-tear-olds here.

15 Hours of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

15 hours of free childcare are available each week to virtually all 3 & 4-year-olds living in England.In contrast to the above, 15 hours of free funding is available for all families in England* with a child aged 3 to 4 requiring childcare. As with the above, the children can get 570 hours of free childcare per year except this time only while they’re 3 or 4. This is again usually spread out as 15 hours per week over the course of 38 weeks, however some childcare providers will allow a different pattern. It really is a no-brainer and is a great way to get children into early years education and perhaps parents back into the workplace. Children are eligible to start from the term following their 3rd birthday until they start in Reception Year at school, or reach ‘compulsory school age’ if that’s later.

Learn more about 15 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds here.

30 Hours of Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

30 hours of free childcare are available to some 3 & 4-year-olds each week.The “30 Hours” childcare scheme for 3 and 4-year-olds is a little harder to obtain because families are not eligible where one partner earns £100k or more. Additionally, the parent and their partner, if they have one, must usually expect to earn at least £152 per week, on average, in order to qualify, although the figures are lower for parents younger than 23. You may still qualify for the free childcare funding if you are on maternity leave, paternity leave, shared leave, adoption leave, or are a carer. Rules apply. As with the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, you have to ensure your details are kept up-to-date every quarter in order to check that you’re still eligible. Your child must usually live with you too, in order to qualify. However, as with all these things, there are some exceptions to the core rules.

For those that are eligible, you can claim 30 hours per week of free childcare for your 3/4-year-old for as many as 38 weeks of the year. Some providers, however, allow you to spread out the free hours in a different way, for example less than 30 hours per week spread over more weeks of the year, so long as it doesn’t total more than 1140 hours for the year.

As with the “15 Hours” scheme, this scheme is only for families living in England, although a similar scheme is available in Wales and different schemes are in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Interestingly, if you qualify for the “30 Hours” funding scheme, you can usually claim it at the same time as claiming Tax-Free Childcare (or childcare vouchers) or Universal Credit — if eligible. It really is a great childcare funding scheme for those who fit the required criteria.

Learn more about 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds here.

Childcare Support for Students

Student parents may be eligible for some childcare support through a variety of funding schemes.If you are a student as well as being a parent, you may be eligible for some childcare support through a variety of funding schemes.

  • If you are a student studying full-time in higher education, you may be eligible for a Student Childcare Grant if your child is under 15 (under 17 if they have special needs). The grant does not need to be repaid and is in addition to standard student finance. At time of writing for the academic year 2022-23, you can get up to 85% of your childcare costs covered by the grant, up to a maximum of £183.75 per week for one child or £315.03 for two or more. Learn more about Childcare Grants for students here.
  • Over-20s who are parents, studying on a further education course (Level 3 or below) and facing financial hardship may be eligible for funding called ‘Learner Support’. Whilst this support is not specifically aimed at those with children, it can be used to fund childcare provision. How much you get and how it’s paid very much depend upon your circumstances, but it’s worth checking to see if you are eligible. Learn more about Learner Support for students here.
  • Although students under 20 do not qualify for Learner Support funding, they may qualify for the ‘Care to Learn’ scheme. This can cover childcare costs while they study, although they must be under 20 when they first start the course. They should be the main carer for the child and live in England. For those who qualify, the childcare funding could be worth as much as £160 per child per week for those living outside London, or £175 per child per week for those living in London. Eligibility relies on strict attendance of both the course by the parent and the childcare setting by the child. The course must also be a publicly-funded one at set types of education establishment like schools, sixth forms and various types of college, but not a higher education course at a university. Learn more about the Care to Learn scheme here.

Childcare Funding via Universal Credit

If you claim Universal Credit, are working and have a child under 17, you may be able to claim back 85% of your childcare costs.If you and your partner, if you have one, claim Universal Credit, are working and have a child under the age of 17, you may be able to claim back as much as 85% of your childcare costs if eligible. In order to claim, various rules apply and there are even some exceptions to the above. For example, those not working through ill health or disability may still be eligible in some circumstances. You must not, however, be claiming Tax-Free Childcare nor Tax Credits in order to receive childcare funding through Universal Credit.

The good news is that you can claim back as much as £646.35 per month in childcare costs for one child, or £1108.04 if it’s for more than one (correct at time of writing, October 2022). Exactly how much you get can be affected by how much you earn and how much savings/investments you have, however. Either way, it is a case of claiming it back, though; first you pay for the childcare fees, then apply to have them reimbursed by the Government scheme. It’s important to keep on top of your claims, however, because they can only go back 3 months in time.

Learn more about claiming childcare costs through Universal Credit here.

Tax Credits for Childcare

Childcare funding through Universal Credit replaced Tax Credits, which closed to new applicants in 2019.Childcare funding through Universal Credit has replaced the Tax Credits system, which closed to new applicants in February 2019. If you are not an existing Tax Credits customer, you will therefore need to claim under the Universal Credit scheme instead. However, for existing families who can still claim Tax Credits, they are able to claim as much as 70% of eligible childcare costs for a child under 16 (17 if disabled) up to a maximum of £122.50 per week for one child or £210 per week for more than one.

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School: an Outstanding Childcare Service in Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green, WiganLittle Acorns nursery & pre-school is in Hindley Green and offers babies and children under five a wonderful start in life as well as a great early years education. This includes funded places using the schemes above, subject to eligibility, of course. Our childcare setting is also very near Wigan, Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester, so may be convenient if you live or work in any of those nearby locations. Come for a guided tour with your little one, take a good look at our outstanding facilities and ask any questions that you may have. We’re here to help and would also be more than happy to talk you through the many childcare funding schemes that the nursery/pre-school supports.

* Similar schemes are available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.