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Posts from category "Childcare "

The Benefits of Animals for Children

The Benefits of Animals for Children

The majority of us had pets at home when we were growing up, but do you know why our furry (or in some cases, scaly) friends are so popular in a family home? It’s doubtful our parents over-analysed the benefits of animals for children but, thanks to recent research we can now clearly see that a house with a pet under its roof is definitely a happier, healthier and possibly brighter one than a house without.

Why pets are good for children

We know having a pet can be nice, but it’s much more than just that. There are many benefits in teaching a child the skill of caring for, and interacting with, animals. It’s widely recognised that close relationships with family pets teaches a child to be more responsible, compassionate and caring.

Furthermore, owning a pet provides children with significant educational and therapeutic benefits. Those regularly interacting with animals are also seen to have higher levels of self-esteem, better social skills and much greater empathy.

For those parents with children who have emotional, learning, social or behavioural issues, or special needs, pet ownership can sometimes be nothing short of a miracle. Shyness can be overcome, problems are more easily vocalised and friendships can be more effectively formed in the context of animal care and interaction – and these are just a few benefits of animals for children. Children who are withdrawn often become more confident and engaged and, on the flip-side, those who display hyperactivity can become more focused, happy and absorbed in day-to-day life.

Owning a pet, especially a dog or cat, can also provide a wonderful alternative to the more sedentary favoured pastimes of computer gaming and watching TV. It will encourage a child to walk more or even get up and play more. Some studies have even shown that children in a household that has a dog have more traditional values, greater respect for their parents and higher academic achievement – what’s not to love?

How can your child get involved?

At home…

Before you go to buy your pet, involve your child in the research process – this can help them feel involved and let them know what level of care your chosen animal is likely to need. Not all animals are suitable pets for little ones though – try to avoid anything too small or too exotic.

Children caring for pets at home can take more responsibility for the welfare of their little companions from morning to night. As soon as the animal is welcomed into your home, let them help with feeding, cleaning and watering and all should be plain sailing as you watch the benefits of animals for children unfold.

Away from home…

If caring for a pet at home is not for you then there are many ways in which you can still expose your child to animal care. Very young children will relish the thought of making their own ‘pretend pet’ which they can look after. For slightly older children, look out for places that offer interaction with animals such as local farms, petting zoos and even stables – some will offer regular slots to come along and help to care for the animals.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even have a nursery setting near you like Giant Leap which has pets such as rabbits, fish and a giant snail and truly acknowledges the benefits of animal care among children. In addition, by linking with many organisations like Smythills Farm, Zoolab and Thornton Hill Farm, Giant Leap has managed to give its children the opportunity to see, handle and learn about lots of different creatures and animals – opening their eyes to where the animals came from, what they eat, how to look after them and where they like to live.

So, whether you choose to invite a new pet into your house or help your child learn about them away from home – the benefits of animals for children are truly plain to see.

 

 

Additional 15 hours of Early Education Funding (30 hours) The Story so far...

Additional 15 hours of Early Education Funding (30 hours) The Story so far...

We have had lots of parents asking so here is a quick Q&A to hopefully answer your questions. Please remember, the scheme is only in its trial stage at the moment in a few selected areas across the UK. Lancashire is not one of them.

The answers below may change as the trial moves forward and we will update you before September 2017. This is when it is expected to be rolled out across the country.

So for now……

Q. Do Early Years Providers/nursery schools/childminders have to accept eligible children for the extra 15 hours?

A. No. Our Local Authority has not yet revealed the hourly rate of funding yet. Many providers across the country are already very concerned that the hourly funding rate offered will not be enough to cover the true cost of delivering that place. Typically childcare costs (on average) in Lancashire are £4.50 per hour. Base Rate Funding payments from the Lancashire LA are £3.92 per hour. In some Counties providers are receiving as little as £3.24 per hour. Providers not in the trial scheme are waiting for the offer from their LA and will then decide whether they want to be part of the 30 hour scheme or stick with 15 hours only. No provider is under any obligation.

 

Q. Are all children aged three and four eligible for the 30 hour offer?

A. No

 

Q. How will I know if I am eligible?

A. The Local Authority should make contact with potentially eligible and childcare providers who agree to the scheme can also help to identify eligible families that already attend their settings. There will also be a dedicated website with HMRC which will include an eligibility checking system.

Those who apply will be checked by HMRC and will be based on actual income earned. Parents who provide false information about their eligibility can be fined between £300 - £3000

 

Q. How do parents apply?

A. Parents wishing to access the additional 15 hours (30 hours) from September 2017 will be required to return an application and declaration form to confirming they meet the national and local eligibility criteria

 

Q. Can the additional 15 hours be delivered outside of term time?

A. Eligible parents will be entitled to an additional 15 hours (30 hours) of early education funding per week over 38 weeks (term time only) The Government has said that it wants to ensure that parents are given the choice of a ‘stretched offer’ so that the additional hours are available outside of term time. This will only be available at settings open all year round.

 

Q. How much is the minimum wage?

A. A parent will need to be earning the equivalent of 16 hours at national minimum or living wage. At present, the living wage is £7.20 an hour; therefore, the minimum income requirement for a parent (over the age of 25) is £115.20 a week. The minimum wage for 21- to 24-year-old's is £6.70 an hour; therefore, the minimum income requirement for this group is £107.20 a week. You must also be earning less than £100,000 a year each. So if a parent works less than 16 hours a week they are still eligible. It is based on income earned, not hours worked but must be less than £100,000 a year each.

 

Q. What if a parent works a zero hour's contract?

A. A parent who is on a 'zero-hours contract' will get work some weeks, but not others, and may not know in advance if they will have work in any given week. If, on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage, their child will qualify for the additional 15 hours (30 hours) of childcare.

 

Q. What if a parents earnings change from week to week?

A. A parent will be eligible if they expect (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months. The eligibility criteria have been designed this way to accommodate parents with fluctuating incomes and those who are about to start working or increase their hours.

 

Q. What does the term 'parent' mean in relation to the additional 15 hours?

A. ‘Parent’ means a person who has parental responsibility for the child or care of the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earnings threshold.

 

Q. Do both parents have to be in employment?

A. Yes. Both parents have to be in employment unless you are a lone parent. Lone parents are eligible if working.

 

Q. Do parents need to be UK resident's to apply?

A. The person applying for the childcare (usually the parent but could be their partner) is ‘resident in the UK’. This means that they must have recourse to public funds.

 

Q. What evidence will be required?

A. Payslips from the last 3 months; or, an SA250 form or other HMRC document showing a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) from within the last year for those who are self-employed.

 

Q. Can parents use funding at more than one provider?

A. Eligible parents accessing the extended entitlement will be able to take up their 30 hours of childcare across two providers in order to support their childcare needs. This may change to three.

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how the Government and Early Year’s professionals describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5.

This is an extremely important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. The early years’ experiences we offer children at Giant Leap ensure they are happy, active, exciting, fun and secure, and support their development, care and learning needs.

As a registered provider of Early Years Care and Education Giant Leap are required to follow a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. The framework explains how and what your child will be learning and supports Early Years professionals to promote healthy development.

Your child will be learning skills, developing new knowledge and showing their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development. Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are: 

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development; and
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development. 

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning. 

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design.

At Giant Leap we use these 7 areas to plan your child’s learning and activities. The key people supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary schools but it is suitable for very young children.

Please follow the link below. This booklet has been written to help you as a parent know what to expect during these vitally important years.

Children_ParentsGuide_2015_WEB.pdf

The role of the Early Years Teacher

The role of the Early Years Teacher

Early Years Teachers are graduate leaders specialising in early childhood development, trained to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage for children from birth to five years of age. The significant role of the Early Years Teacher brings in-depth knowledge, skills and experience which are all powerful contributory factors to improving outcomes for children. 

Giant Leap Childcare and Learning Centre benefits’ from employing a trained graduate who adds value to the nursery team as she shares her leadership, skills and expertise whilst at the same time bringing in fresh and innovative ideas.  Being an Early Years Teacher involves reflecting on current practice and re-thinking ways of doing things to improve procedures which in turn ensures we are always offering the best possible service to our children and families. 

Young children’s brains are like sponges, absorbing knowledge and making new connections faster than any other time in life. We have got to challenge the misconception that learning can wait for school; pre-school years are a critical time for the brain to develop key skills such as speech and language. Understandably at Giant Leap we consider having an Early Years Teacher on board our team as an absolute essential to support and inspire team members, act as a fantastic role model and monitor the teaching and learning we offer to all our children from birth to five years as well as the impact our teaching has on each individual child’s development.

Additionally having an Early Years Teacher in our setting also helps considerably with children’s transitions from nursery to school. Training involves a school placement; as a result our Early Years Teacher has direct experience of how a school works and how children can be best supported to make this important educational transition from Giant Leap to school.

 

 

 

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how the Government and Early Year’s professionals describe the time in your child’s life between birth and age 5.

This is an extremely important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. The early years’ experiences we offer children at Giant Leap ensure children are happy, active, exciting, fun and secure, and support their development, care and learning needs.

As a registered provider of Early Years Care and Education Giant Leap are required to follow a legal document called the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. The framework explains how and what your child will be learning and supports Early Years professionals to promote healthy development.

Your child will be learning skills, developing new knowledge and showing their understanding through 7 areas of learning and development. Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development; and
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

These prime areas are those most essential for your child’s healthy development and future learning.

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design.

At Giant Leap we use these 7 areas to plan your child’s learning and activities. The key people supporting your child will make sure that the activities are suited to your child’s unique needs. This is a little bit like a curriculum in primary schools but it is suitable for very young children.

Please follow the link below. This booklet has been written to help you as a parent know what to expect during these vitally important years.

http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2015/03/4Children_ParentsGuide_2015_WEB.pdf

 

 

Building Partnerships with Parents

Parents play a very important role in their child’s learning. Research shows that the home learning environment is the single biggest influence on a child’s development. Children who receive close interaction with their parents through activities such as singing, playing and looking at books together generally have higher levels of child development. Early Years settings play a vital role in working with parents to promote a positive home learning environment, and how they can make a difference.

At Giant Leap Childcare and Learning Centre our current vision is to build strong partnerships with our parents. We want to involve each parent in their child’s learning as much as possible. We want to share next steps in each child’s learning with activities, songs, rhymes and games that can be easily carried out at home. We aspire for parents to share regular home news which can be embedded into our daily planning and reflected throughout our setting. Most of all we want to support every parent to fulfil their critical role as their child’s first and most important educator.

It is fundamental for Early Years settings to engage parents from the start and this requires each individual member of their staff team to have the confidence and skills to provide a warm welcome and work with parents so that they are involved in their child’s learning in the long-term.

At Giant Leap we endeavour to greet each parent as they enter our setting; with a smile and a friendly ‘hello’. We offer parents help with their children to and from the car park. Additionally we offer take away tea and coffee facilities for those parents who are rushing to get to work. We aim to relieve the morning pressures from our parents and therefore ease the transition into nursery for their children, making their home a stress free and gratifying environment.

Early Years settings should offer a variety of ways for parents to get to know more about their child’s learning and development, the setting, the team and their child’s key person in a comfortable and non-pressured environment.

Giant Leap do this through formal events such as parents’ evenings and informal ways including many stay and play sessions. We celebrate particular events with parents such as Mothers’ Day through inviting our Mummy’s to have Mothers’ Day Breakfast and Fathers’ Day through inviting our Daddy’s to join a Forest School session. We take into consideration the varying needs and times parents can access these. Our motto is; ‘the more options we can offer, the more parents we will engage with’.

Effective relationships take time to develop but are significant both in terms of benefits to children and the ability to provide outstanding care and education for each and every child. At Giant Leap we intend to keep up the ambition to engage our parents and encourage those who are participating to share the benefits with others.

Choosing the right childcare for you and your child

Choosing the right childcare for you and your child

Finding good quality childcare can be an extremely difficult task for all parents. There are lots of things to look out for and remember to ask when you visit a childcare setting. How do I know if my child will be happy? Will they cater for my child's needs? Do they provide feedback about how my child is doing? What if my child doesn't like it? What play and learning opportunities do I want my child to have? Can I access free early education?

Here at Giant Leap we have provided a list of things we find important to share with parents who are looking around our setting for the first time.

  • We have trained and experienced staff, ready to learn and respond to your child's individual needs. 
  • We have busy, but relaxed, children who are happy and purposeful. 
  • We have a safe and clean environment which is extremely welcoming and friendly with an abundance of outdoor play space. 
  • We are culturally sensitive and exceptionally responsive to children's home life. 
  • We plan fun activities each day in accordance to the children’s current interests and individual stages of development.

Check quality

There are many ways of checking the quality of a setting. First and fore-most check the setting's latest Ofsted report at www.ofsted.gov.uk. What are the settings strengths? What were the recommendations made by Ofsted? How has the setting actioned those recommendations?

Other parents' experiences of a childcare provider can also be very useful. Parents and service users have reviewed Giant Leap on Netmums, daynurseries.co.uk and on our Facebook page. We are very happy to put you in contact with other parents so that you can take up references about the service we provide. However, it is important to remember; what works for one family may not be suitable for your needs.

Healthy Food

If the setting has a food plan, find out what it serves at meal and snack times. Who prepares and cooks the meals? Where is the food sourced from? Does it encourage healthy eating habits and cover all the food groups? How does the setting provide for children with allergies and special dietary needs?

Giant Leap provide a full weaning menu. All meals are freshly prepared onsite by our very own Head Chef. All ingredients are of high quality and under no circumstances are any artificial ingredients used. We provide for all dietary requirements and provide unlimited amounts of fruit to all children attending our setting both at nursery and for your journey home. Our mealtimes are relaxed and fun; the children are encouraged to self-serve meals all the way through nursery and can help themselves to drinks and snacks.

Wherever possible, involve your child in the process. Remember that children process their experiences and environments differently to the way adults do. It may take repeat visits or settling in sessions before your child is confident and happy with their new childcare provider.

 

No matter what your working hours are, you are still your child's essential caregiver; the most consistent source of love and support in their life. Under your care and guidance, along with the help of your well-chosen childcare, your child will flourish and grow into a happy, healthy child.