Tag Archive for: outstanding nurseries

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.

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.

Hygge at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Today we explain why Hygge is a very good thing for both children and staff at early years childcare settings.At Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green, we’re embracing Hygge (pronounced “Hue-gah”), which is becoming very popular around the globe. But what is Hygge and why are we embracing it? This article explains everything and you’ll soon see why Hygge is a very good thing for everyone at the nursery, including both children and staff. Take a look …

What is Hygge?

The word Hygge is a Danish word, although is also used in the Norwegian language to refer to the same thing. It describes a feeling, mood and lifestyle of cosiness, wellbeing and contentment. It’s also about a lifestyle that’s more simple, where you live more in the moment and are closer to nature. Hygge has been described as “the pursuit of everyday happiness … basically like a hug, just without the physical touch.”Hygge has been described as resulting in “comfortable conviviality” i.e. friendliness and warmth that makes everyone feel welcome and happy. It’s also been described as “the pursuit of everyday happiness … basically like a hug, just without the physical touch.”

What Does a Hygge Lifestyle Look Like?

To understand Hygge more, it may help to know what it looks like. So, with a Hygge lifestyle, you would expect to see a particularly warm and cosy kind of environment. Rooms that embrace Hygge have a lovely homely feel about them with blankets, cushions, rugs and soft furnishings that make the atmosphere warm and reduce noise and echoes. There will be cosy corners, dens and even teepees where people can ‘nest’ while they read, play or converse.There will be twinkly ‘mood’ lighting instead of harsh fluorescent lighting. Rooms will have real plants that bring nature indoors, natural materials and objects like wood, wicker, pine cones and pebbles. There will be calming music and perhaps even scent in the air. There will be cosy corners, dens and even teepees where children can ‘nest’ while they read, play or converse. Hygge gives a room a lovely atmosphere, often with flickering candles (or, at the nursery, the warm-coloured LED equivalents, for safety purposes).

What Does Hygge Feel Like?

The Hygge lifestyle is a very pleasant, comfy and pleasurable one. It’s as much about warmth, cosiness and friendliness as it is about harmony, togetherness, sharing, equality and mutual respect. As such, it minimises conflict and leads to calmness and harmonious play. It’s also about living in the moment (‘presence’) with aspects of mindfulness. Hygge also encourages individuals to reflect on things they can be grateful for. All in all it’s a very pleasurable atmosphere and approach to daily life.

Why Embrace Hygge at Our Early Years Childcare Setting?

Embracing Hygge will make children feel really at home, safe, relaxed, cosy and content.Embracing all these aspects of Hygge will make children feel really at home, safe, relaxed, cosy and content. Their day will feel fulfilling and enriched. It will be calm and peaceful whilst also embracing nature both outside and indoors. Friendships will deepen as small groups of children play, converse, read or simply ‘be’ in the many cosy nooks and dens available to them. They are also free to have some solo time where they can explore a particular interest, relax with a book or engage in an activity in a calm and comfortable corner. Whatever they’re doing, children will enjoy and benefit from the mood lighting, calming surroundings, relaxing music and suchlike.

Hygge instinctively appeals to a child’s very heart and soul.

All in all, Hygge is a far cry from the traditional bright and often sterile surroundings that so many youngsters have to tolerate in early years settings. In contrast to those, Natural materials, atmospheric lighting and nature are all part of the Hygge lifestyle.Hygge is like a warm cloak that softly embraces every child, allowing him or her to quietly blossom, learn and develop in the most homely and relaxed of atmospheres. With Hygge, they can embrace and naturally absorb everything that’s so good about the Hygge lifestyle, including it’s almost magical effects that will bring out the wonder in every child. Hygge instinctively appeals to a child’s very heart and soul, allowing their learning and development to blossom and thrive in the most natural of ways.

Hygge Accreditation at Little Acorns Nursery

Little Acorns is thoroughly embracing the Hygge lifestyle and approach to early years learning and development. As part of this, we will work towards official Hygge in Early Years accreditation over the course of 2022. We believe it will empower and enrich the lives of every child in deep-seated, profound ways.

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

Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green, WiganLittle Acorns nursery & pre-school in Hindley Green Hygge is a little magical and brings out the wonder in every child.gives babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life and in their early years education. If you are looking for the best childcare service in Hindley Green, Wigan or near Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton or Greater Manchester, please get in touch. We can arrange a guided visit for you and your little one, without obligation. Alternatively, simply fill in and submit an application for a nursery/pre-school place for your child — click the relevant button below to get started.  We’re also happy to answer any questions that you may have and to clarify any free childcare options that may be available to eligible families via Government-funded childcare schemes.