Tag Archive for: best independent nursery

Maths Concepts for Under-5s — & Why They're Important

Maths Concepts for Under-5s — & Why They're Important

Introducing under-5s to simple maths concepts early will benefit them hugely and lay the foundations for future learning.Once babies have transformed into toddlers, it’s never too early to introduce them to maths-based concepts and language. Indeed, introducing under-fives to such concepts in the earliest years will benefit them hugely as it lays the foundations for future learning. That’s one of the main reasons it is a part of the EYFS curriculum. Continuing this learning at home will also help them instinctively understand that mathematics is a normal and integral part of everyday life. As such, there is no need for it to be perceived as a daunting topic. With all that in mind, today’s guide explores why the early introduction of mathematics is so beneficial to under-fives and how parents and caregivers play a vital role in encouraging their mathematical curiosity, knowledge, and confidence.

The Benefits of Understanding Maths Concepts in the Early Years

As well as the obvious advantage of improving numeracy skills, learning mathematical language and concepts at an early age has several key benefits for under-fives.

Enhanced Vocabulary Development & Language Skills

Children exposed to rich mathematical language will naturally have stronger vocabularies. This, in turn, will facilitate enhanced communication skills, for example, through the mastering of such things as descriptive, comparative, and positional words.

Improved Cognitive Skills

Learning numeracy skills is like a subtle workout for the mind. Such activity is known to stimulate brain development and improve memory, attention, and critical thinking skills. Each of these benefits will allow children to make connections and solve problems more easily.

Stimulated Creativity & Imagination

Mathematics isn’t just about numbers; it also involves creativity. For example, children can explore patterns, shapes, and spatial relationships, each of which has maths at their heart. Indeed, maths is integral to design, art, music, dance, and many other creative areas that children can immerse themselves in.

“Studies show a direct correlation between early mathematical skills and later educational achievement.”

A Foundation for School Success

Familiarity with mathematical terms and concepts also helps to prepare children for school.Familiarity with mathematical terms and concepts also helps to prepare children for formal education, including in many areas other than pure mathematics. Understanding maths concepts from an early age will allow them to confidently engage in number-related exercises and discussions, greatly enhancing their school readiness across multiple topics. Such preparation will allow them to take maths-based challenges in their stride right from the moment they begin Reception Year in primary school. What’s even more striking is that studies show a direct correlation between early mathematical skills and later educational achievement.

What Kind of Maths Concepts Can Parents Teach Tots?

As you’ll see below, there are many different types of maths-related words and concepts that parents can help children grasp. As we said before, maths is all around us, so there are many opportunities to help little ones master mathematical concepts and language — even from an early age. Aside from learning the actual numbers, some examples include the following:

  • Counting fingers, toes, and objects like building blocks is an obvious way to help children master the most simple maths-related vocabulary.Counting is the most obvious example. Counting can be introduced and practised by your little one in many, many situations, from counting how many more mouthfuls of food a child should eat, to the number of Lego blocks in a tower they’re creating.
  • Size is another maths-based concept where, given some parental guidance, little ones can soon begin to understand whether something is tiny, medium-sized, big, gigantic, tall, short, thin, or wide.
  • Measurement is another maths-related concept for children to grasp, so encouraging them to learn when something is full, empty, long, heavy, light, etc., will stand them in good stead both linguistically and in terms of mathematics.
  • Similarly, comparatives will be useful for children to understand. It’s essential for them to grasp concepts and language like more, less, equal, different, the same, identical, and so on.
  • Maths concepts can be found by children in shapes, sizes, measurements, comparatives, positions, patterns, time and, of course, numbers.Shapes also have roots in maths, so children should get familiar with 3-sided triangular shapes, 4-sided shapes like squares and rectangles, and so on.
  • Positions are also founded in mathematics, so children should be encouraged to recognise when something is on, off, inside, outside, up, down, and suchlike.
  • Finally, time also has its roots in numbers and mathematics. Therefore, it will help children to not only tell the time eventually but also understand the meaning behind words like early, late, now, later, soon, etc.

How to Go About It

Parents, caregivers and relatives can help children under five learn about these mathematical concepts and the language that surrounds them. Games, books, and even songs, for example, often include facets of maths and maths language that adults can draw children’s attention to and get them involved in. Counting fingers, toes, and objects like building blocks is another obvious example and one which can be extended to include much of the maths-related vocabulary that we mentioned earlier (numbers, comparatives, positions, shapes, etc.). Mathematics language and concepts can be learned through everyday activities like games, reading books, cooking, playing with building blocks, helping with shopping, and so much more.Creative endeavours can also be vehicles through which supervising adults can highlight elements of mathematics that are built into designs and creations that children may generate. Patterns and shapes are obvious examples of that. Last but not least, parents can involve children in maths facets which are integral to everyday life, for instance, counting items when out shopping, or measuring when putting ingredients together for a meal. Children will love being more involved in such activities and will learn about maths in a fun, natural, and engaging way. Doing so will create the strongest foundations for their future learning.

We may follow up at a later date with some in-depth activity ideas that will help children learn more about maths and the language surrounding it, so watch this space!

Little Acorns: an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Award-Winning Childcare in Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns gives babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life at their Clayton-le-Woods nursery near Chorley. That’s backed up by being rated an Outstanding Provider by Ofsted and a prestigious National Nursery Award too. So, if you want the very best for your child, choose Little Acorns Day Nursery for their weekday childcare and we’ll ensure they absolutely thrive and are prepared for success.

Get in touch today to register your child for a nursery place, set a date for a guided tour of the setting, or ask any questions:

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and preschool located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

 

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Today's activity is a perfect opportunity for young children to get closer to nature, and learn about some of it's incredible wildlife.Children and parents, let’s go minibeast spotting! Whether you have a garden, neighbourhood park, or just a few potted plants, there are bound to be minibeasts visiting or living there. What’s more, summer is the perfect time to spot them. Spending time in nature is hugely important for children and there are many benefits to children simply playing outdoors too. Today’s minibeast activity is therefore the perfect opportunity for young children to reap all those benefits, get closer to nature, and learn about some of its incredible wildlife.

Minibeasts

Minibeasts are fascinating little creatures that come in many shapes and sizes. Each is a unique little character and many are simply enchanting. Take bumble bees, for example, with their adorable furry bodies, stripes and antennae, little ladybirds with their cute spots, or stick caterpillars that look just like twigs! There are so many different types, so we’ve put together a free identification poster showing 30 of our favourite minibeasts that are likely to be lurking nearby if families take the time to look. The poster is free to download and share. Print it out in colour at full size (A3) or reduce it to A4 for children to take outdoors. There are little tick boxes too, so children can mark which minibeasts they’ve seen as time goes by.

Our minibeast poster is a nice companion to our previous article that showcased a British Birds poster and a bird-spotting activity, which was published here back in May (follow the bold green link). We’ll also be adding more nature-themed posters in this series over the coming months, so keep an eye out for those, to add to your child’s collection.

Poster Preview:

Poster preview — click to download or view online (PDF format).

Poster Download Instructions

Click the large preview image above (or this link) to view or download the poster in Acrobat PDF format. Whether you left-click or right-click will depend on your own specific browser settings, so try both if in doubt.  You will need to have Acrobat Reader to view the file. Print in colour from Acrobat Reader ideally using high-quality A3 paper, or ‘reduce to fit’ if printing to A4. Alternatively, viewing on a screen will allow you/your child to zoom in to see all the lovely detail, for example using a tablet or smartphone.

Once you/your children have the poster, see how many of the little critters you can spot. Try looking in different kinds of places to see where the little creatures are. Compost heaps are great places to look for some types of minibeast, while flowers, plants, trees, tree trunks and even rotting logs will attract many others. However, be mindful around health, safety, well-being and hygiene (more about that later). What’s more, try not to unduly disturb the minibeasts and be very gentle around them so they don’t get harmed in any way.

Teach Kindness to Kids

Parents can help with this. Be sure that children learn to treat other creatures nicely and with great care; minibeasts are only small and, as such, are very fragile. If you spot any, teach kids to look but not touch, as each little minibeast has a life and feelings — just like you and your child — and won’t want to be disturbed or taken away from its home. Children will learn lessons about empathy, ethics, personal responsibility and much more by using this caring approach.

A Focus on Nature at Little Acorns Nursery’s Forest School

Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope that families and little ones can make the most of the free minibeasts poster and this nature-based activity. At Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, we understand the huge positive impact that nature and outdoor play can have on children. That’s why we encourage them to play and explore outdoors (under supervision, of course). It’s also why we have our own Forest School, which you can learn about here.

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery/preschool that’s located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire. Ofsted agrees and also rates us ‘outstanding’ and we also won a major National nursery award, beating every other nursery in the country to the top spot. Parents/caregivers can therefore rest assured that we offer the very best childcare and early years education service available.

Please use an appropriate button below to register your child for a nursery place, ask us any questions, or to book a guided tour of the setting with your child. We’d love to welcome you.

Little Acorns nursery/preschool is also conveniently near to Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Safety Note

It goes without saying that the child’s parent or supervising adult should be mindful of the health, well-being and safety of children, especially when they are playing outside or taking part in outdoor activities. There are many hazards outdoors, so please be vigilant. This includes, but is not limited to, avoiding stings, potentially poisonous flora and fauna, trip hazards, bodies of water (however small), changes in levels (for the avoidance of falls), choking hazards, sharp objects, stranger danger, traffic and so on. Do your own risk assessments and also teach children to learn about safety and hygiene considerations themselves.

Wildlife-Friendly Flower Growing Fun for Under-Fives

This wildflower-growing activity gets children outdoors, closer to nature, as well as doing some good for conservation and wildlife.Today’s flower-growing children’s activity follows on nicely from last month’s butterfly-counting activity. Once again, it focuses on getting children outdoors, closer to nature, and doing some good for conservation and local wildlife — including butterflies. Also, as we know, outdoor play is important and getting closer to nature is hugely beneficial to children.

This time, it’s all about growing wildflowers that help to feed pollinators and encourage them to come to gardens, balconies, patios, plant pots, and window boxes where children live. As well as butterflies, the pollinators include bees, hoverflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and some non-flying insects like beetles. What’s more, you may well find that wildflowers attract birds and sometimes even bats too!

Pollinators are not only beautiful and adorable, but they’re essential for a healthy environment and to pollinate food crops. So, all in all, this is another hugely worthwhile activity for under-fives and older children to get involved in. It’s also great fun and educational. So, without further delay, here is our simple guide explaining how children and families can start growing wildlife-friendly flowers to support and attract these magical little creatures. Enjoy!

When Children Should Sow Wildflower Seeds

Wildflower seeds sown in March and April will generally flower in late spring/early summerIt’s possible to sow wildflower seeds from March right through to mid-October or, at a push, early November so long as snow or frost is not forecast. Those sown closer to March and April will generally flower in late spring/early summer. Those sown very late in the year will flower the following year, from spring onwards. Any sown up to and including the middle period, for example during July, should still flower in the same year — wildflowers usually bloom some 60 to 80 or so days later if they’re timed to grow in the same year as they’re sown.

While pollen from the flowers is the main source of food for pollinators, the actual leaves of some late-growing varieties of wildflower plants are also useful as a food source, for example, for caterpillars. These will appear from around September followed by a second generation that will appear in April/May of the following year.

Given all of the above, the main message about timing is for parents and caregivers to plan ahead and also read seed packets and instructions carefully before sowing. In this way, children will know when to expect to see the plants, flowers, and resulting wildlife. Once the flowers and creatures appear, it’s sure to delight children!

Where to Get Wildflower Seeds

There are several easy ways for children and families to source wildflower seeds.There are several ways for children and families to source wildflower seeds. The most obvious way is to buy them commercially, in seed packets. These are available from any number of different outlets including nurseries, supermarkets, wildlife/nature charities, and countless websites online (here’s a good example).

A potentially cheaper way is to scour the Internet for free wildflower seeds and you may have some luck. Timing is important because some of the free wildflower seed schemes are likely to be early in the year — March/April for example. Some environment-centric organisations and companies may also provide free packets of wildflower seeds if you simply cover the cost of postage.

The best and totally free way to get hold of wildflower seeds, however, is to keep your – and your little one’s – eyes open when you’re outdoors around nature and plants. If you time it right, you’ll spot the seed pods of naturally-occurring wildflowers and, so long as they’re ready to be harvested, you can save the seeds for your child to sow later. Perhaps use small paper envelopes, so you can write the name or description of the wildflower being saved. If children help with harvesting seeds, ensure you adhere to our health and safety guidelines at the end of this article.

What Flowers to Grow

There are several ways to decide which wildflowers to grow.

  • Look out for bee, butterfly, and pollinator-friendly wildflower seed packets if buying commercially.If you buy your child commercially-available wildflower seeds, the information on the packet will often say if the resulting flowers are bee-friendly, butterfly-friendly, good for pollinators, and so on. So, if you’re sourcing seeds that way, much of the decision-making criteria around which actual flowers to grow is made clear and therefore the choice is easy.
  • Additionally, of course, the visual appeal of any flower photographs on the packets will help you with your choice. You may like a mixture of colours, or perhaps you’d rather limit the colour palette to just one or two colours. Cornflowers are blue, for example, while poppies can be red, orange, or yellow, and so on. Choosing by colour also therefore makes selection easier and indeed your child will probably enjoy helping in the decision-making process. Prompting them to choose by colour and pollinator-friendliness will, however, also be educational for them, subtly teaching them the importance of helping wildlife and the environment through the power of their personal choices.
  • On the other hand, if you/your child want complete control over the exact species of wildflower you/they want to see growing, then some homework will be needed unless, of course, you are already knowledgeable. The RSPB’s article on growing wildlife-friendly flowers may be a useful place to start and lists several varieties along with details of their colours.

Where to Sow the Wildflower Seeds

By their very nature, wildflowers are not terribly picky about what type of soil they will grow in.By their very nature, wildflowers are generally not very picky in regard to the type of soil they are happy to grow in. Therefore you/your child will have a greater choice of where to sow the wildflower seeds. A fairly clear sunny area is good, whether that’s garden beds, flower pots, window boxes, grow bags on a balcony, or even the lawn itself if you want a wild ‘meadow’ type lawn. Whatever the choice, it’s best if it’s somewhere that won’t be disturbed by you/the family though, as you wouldn’t want the wildflowers trampled once they do arrive.

How Children Can Grow the Wildflowers

Before sowing the seeds, ensure that the soil is free of weeds. Your child may enjoy helping with the weeding process or, if you are using pots and starting from scratch, you can avoid the weeding stage by using peat-free compost afresh. Either way, the topmost layer of soil will need to be loosened and raked neatly so there is somewhere for the seeds to fall and eventually embed. Again, children may enjoy getting involved in this part. If using pots or containers, ensure water can drain at the bottom, so the earth or compost will not become waterlogged later on.

Children will love it when their seeds have sprouted flowers and pollinators like bees and butterflies come to visit.With regard to sowing the seeds, follow any seed-specific instructions on packets in relation to timing and spacing. If you’re using self-harvested seeds or there are no instructions, simply sprinkle the seeds so they’re spaced, fairly evenly, i.e. not too densely sown. This will avoid the wildflower plants having to compete with one another once they start growing. A tip is to sprinkle from a height as this will naturally scatter them more widely. Once scattered, your child can help* to pat the soil surface down, either by hand or using the back of a tool like a spade or a trowel, so that the seeds are secured in the soil. Children can even ‘walk’ them in if they prefer. Once complete, ensure that you/your child keep the soil damp over the coming weeks. The preparation stage really is as simple as that!

Enjoy the Magic of Nature!

Ensure children know that they have now started a natural chain reaction that will result first in tiny shoots, then plants, then later beautiful flowers along with all the visiting pollinators, insects, birds and maybe more.

Don’t forget; following the flowering stage, the wildflowers are likely to ‘seed’ themselves at the end of their flowering season. That’s unless, of course, you/your child harvest the seeds yourselves, ready to sow at a place of your choosing next time. Some varieties of wildflowers will also naturally regrow next year — those are called perennials. — in contrast to those that only live for one year, which are called annuals. That said, even annual plants may self-seed, so their offspring appear next time, and such is the circle of life.

Nature & Forest School at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope today’s nature-based activity gives children, whether under five or older, an enjoyable time while also learning and helping to nurture the natural world. Nature teaches children a huge amount and that’s one of the many reasons why Little Acorns is a Forest School setting.

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods and the winner of an important National Nursery award. These are some of the many reasons why Little Acorns Nursery represents the very best early years childcare and education for babies and children under five in Central Lancashire. We also support Government childcare funding schemes, making it easier to afford for eligible families. To register your child for a nursery/preschool place, ask a question, or arrange a free guided tour of the setting, please select an option below:

For those not actually living in Clayton-le-Woods itself, we may also be a suitable choice if you live or work in nearby towns and villages including Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

* Health & Safety of Little Ones

Parents/caregivers should supervise and accompany children, especially the very young, at all times to ensure their safety and well-being. For example, special care should be given near hazards including garden ponds, trip hazards and unhygienic areas. Children should be taught good practices around hygiene and self-care including the avoidance of poisonous plants, care around unhygienic soil, non-ingestion of seeds, avoidance of germs and so on. Keeping hands and fingers away from faces during outdoor activities, perhaps even wearing protective gloves when touching natural things like earth and plants, and washing hands with soap and water after outdoor activities, are also good examples to set for children.

 

The Big Butterfly Count takes place in July and early August each year, when most butterflies have reached adulthood.Many will have heard of the Big Garden Birdwatch that takes place every year in January. However, fewer are aware of a similar activity called The Big Butterfly Count that takes place in July and early August. As well as being extremely worthwhile, it’s a wonderful activity for both children and adults to get involved in as citizen scientists. The activity helps with butterfly conservation, is educational for those taking part, and encourages families to get outdoors, closer to nature. And, as we know, getting closer to nature is very good for children and people of all ages. Today, we take a look at this wonderful butterfly-spotting activity and explain how children and families can get involved, help these beautiful little pollinators, contribute a little time to the conservation initiative and benefit themselves at the same time.

The Big Butterfly Count

On 'Big Butterfly Count' day, families with smartphones can use the free smartphone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android.Organised by the charity Butterfly Conservation, the long-term aim of the Big Butterfly Count is for butterflies and moths to thrive and be enjoyed by everyone. That’s important because populations of butterflies have really suffered in recent decades, with some species of butterfly even becoming extinct in the UK and elsewhere. Changes in their numbers are also very good indicators of wider problems in pollinators of all types, including bees for example.

The key requirement of the Big Butterfly Count is simply for families across the UK to spend just a little time outdoors, during a very specific time of the year, to record how many different species they see during that time. The findings of thousands of families throughout the UK will then help Butterfly Conservation to understand what species are living in the different UK regions. Data submitted will allow a comparison of reported data from year to year, so Butterfly Conservation can see trends in butterfly populations and spot any significant increases, reductions and areas of concern.

“Help take the pulse of nature.”

When is the Big Butterfly Count?

For 2023, the Big Butterfly Count is any daylight time from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August. The reason this period is chosen is because that’s when most butterflies have reached adulthood, so people should be able to spot more of them. This ‘peak adult’ period is essentially at the same approximate period every year.

How Can Families Get Involved?

Getting involved in the Big Butterfly Count is easy and takes very little time. All that’s needed is a 15-minute period of time during daylight hours, between 14th July and 6th August. Bright, sunny weather conditions are preferred. Families simply need to find a good spot* outdoors and watch carefully, just for a quarter of an hour, and record which types of butterflies they spot. They can then submit their sightings any time up until 31 August. The count focuses on specific species within each area of the UK. These are mainly butterflies but they also include a few daytime-flying moths that Butterfly Conservation are interested in monitoring.

*Another alternative, by the way, is for children and families to monitor butterflies during a 15-minute walk i.e. you do not necessarily have to stay in one spot.

  • The Big Butterfly Count app shows the results of butterfly counts all over the UK. This image shows the number of counts in Clayton-le-Woods for 2022's count.If you are counting butterflies from  a static spot, count up how many of the same species you see at the same time. For example, if there are three Large Whites visible at the same time, count that as three. If you see only one at a time, but see it on three separate occasions during the 15 minutes, that counts as only one. That’s so that we can be sure it’s not the same one visiting three times!
  • If you’re counting while on a walk, however, simply count the number of each species you see during the entire 15-minute time frame.
  • You may do as many counts as you like; then simply submit the separate records, through the app, for each different location and/or date.
  • As well as having a section for your own submissions, an interactive map can be found on the smartphone app to show you results from other people across the entire UK. Zoom in for more detail. Shown in the image is the butterfly counts for 2022 in Clayton-le-Woods. In the app itself, each is clickable so you can find out which species were spotted and the number of them.

Where is a Good Spot to See Butterflies?

The 'Big Butterfly Count' smartphone app has a useful section to help you identify which butterflies and daytime-flying moths you see.A good spot, by the way, would be either somewhere outdoors with lots of flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators, or somewhere you’ve left out some very ripe fruit e.g. pieces of ripe orange, apple, nectarine, grapefruit, banana, or strawberry— butterflies love sweet fruit even when it’s a little over-ripe! Whether that’s in your own garden, near potted flowers on a patio, school grounds, in a park, or out in the countryside is entirely up to you and your family. Even if you spot no butterflies during your 15-minute count, you should still submit your results, by the way, as that might indicate a problem with the butterfly population — and potentially other types of wildlife loss — in that area.

“Numbers of butterflies and moths in the UK have decreased significantly since the 1970s. This is a warning that cannot be ignored.”

How Can You Identify the Types of Butterflies?

Help is on hand to help children/families more easily identify which butterfly species they spot on the day — and at any other time. On the day, families with smartphones can use the free Big Butterfly Count phone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android. Below are the links to download them, free of charge, and they seem pretty fast to download too.

Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Apple IOS   Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Android.

Detail pages include information like the difference between males and females and their distribution in the UK. Photos show wings both open and closed.For the youngest of children, an adult will need to supervise the use of the app but many older children will no doubt take to the technology like ducks to water. The app includes several sections including an excellent guide to up to about 21 species that the Big Butterfly Count is particularly interested in this year. Shown are details about each type along with photographs for reference and ID purposes. Details of each type of butterfly — or daytime-flying moth — include information like the difference between males and females, their distribution in the UK, and whether their populations have increased or decreased. Photos show each type with wings both open and closed, making identification even easier.

What if you Spot a Butterfly Species You Can’t Identify?

If you happen to spot a butterfly that’s not included in the species of interest shown in the Big Butterfly Count phone app for your area, you can instead submit them using the free iRecord Butterflies app, details of which are available here. That alternative app can be used any time of year and features many more types of butterflies and moths. It still, however, allows you to submit your sightings to help with conservation and monitoring efforts. Indeed, you could argue that it’s a more permanent way of children helping to both monitor and report butterfly sightings as little citizen scientists.

What If You Don’t Have a Smartphone?

If you don't have a smartphone or can't use the app, downloadable charts of the butterflies in your area are available from the Big Butterfly Count website. This is the one for England for the Big Butterfly Count in 2023.You/your child can still get involved in the Big Butterfly Count even if you/they don’t have a smartphone. Instead of using an app, download charts of the butterflies in your area from the Big Butterfly Count website. You’ll need to fill in a very short form to access the chart links, but they are free of charge and obligation. Choose the most appropriate download link for your region and download the chart. You/your child can then view it on screen and zoom in for the best detail, or print it out on paper. Once you’ve ticked off any that you/your child have seen in the 15-minute period, you will need to ask a friend or family member who has the app if you want them to submit your count for you, however. That’s because paper, email and phone submissions cannot be accepted. Spotting butterflies is a wonderful activity for children, though, whether or not their results are submitted.

Safety & Well-Being of Children & Butterflies

Safety is paramount, of course, so young children should be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult. It’s also important, of course, not to disturb or interfere with the butterflies. They are extremely delicate little creatures and their wings and bodies are too fragile for handling. Please do not try to catch them — you will do more harm than good.

“Butterfly declines are also an early warning for other wildlife losses … if their numbers are falling, then nature is in trouble. That’s why taking part in this massive citizen science enterprise is of great importance.”

A Focus on Nature at our Outstanding Nursery/Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

At Little Acorns Nursery, we know how important it is to get children involved with nature, so will always encourage worthwhile, educational activities like this one. As a Forest School setting, we encourage them to appreciate the natural world and all the flora and fauna within it, so this butterfly-spotting activity is a perfect fit. We also encourage children elsewhere and at home to get involved — it’ll do them, their families, butterflies and the natural environment great good.

Ofsted rate Little Acorns Nursery as an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, and we’re also the winner of a National Nursery award. It simply doesn’t get any better than that and you therefore know your baby, toddler or child under five will be in good hands at Little Acorns. All Government childcare funding schemes are also supported for eligible families. To register your child for a place or to enquire about the possibility, please choose an option below:

Although Little Acorns is located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire, we will also be a convenient option for those looking for high-quality childcare near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Quotations in this article are from Butterfly Conservation.

Significant Childcare Funding Announced for Families

Significant New Childcare Funding Announced for Families.

A Guide to the Game-Changing Childcare Funding Initiatives Announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2023

Generous and far-reaching childcare funding reforms were announced in the Spring Budget 2023 last month. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s new funding plans should give more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs going forwards. The new initiatives will:

  • allow Generous childcare funding was announced in the Spring Budget 2023, giving more parents, including those of even younger children, access to significant help with childcare costs.parents to return to the workplace sooner after the birth of their child if they so choose;
  • help fill vacant jobs in the workplace;
  • allow parents (particularly women) to progress their careers sooner after starting a family;
  • help to boost the UK economy, and;
  • perhaps most importantly give more children access to a good early years education, starting potentially at a younger age. Beginning no later than the age of 2 has been shown to better prepare children for the transition to school, boost children’s education overall, improve GCSE grades, improve career prospects and even increase earning potential once they reach adulthood. Learn more about the benefits of a good early years education here.

So, the new childcare funding should make a huge difference for those families that are eligible. Let’s take a look at the 3 key childcare funding initiatives announced…

Significant New Childcare Funding for Children Aged 9 to 36 Months

Many parents will already be aware of the existing, free, Government-funded childcare hours available to all 3 and 4-year-olds in England (plus some disadvantaged 2-year-olds). Well, in the biggest news from the Spring Budget, free childcare funding will soon extend to much younger children, aged from just 9 months of age if they suit eligibility requirements. Here’s how the free childcare will be rolled out:

  1. From April 2024,Significant new childcare funding has been announced for children aged from 9 to 36 months. children aged 2 from eligible working families will be able to claim 570 hours of free childcare each year. This is typically taken as 15 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks, although exactly how it’s taken may be agreed otherwise between the family and the childcare provider.
  2. From September 2024, just five months later, the same free childcare scheme will be extended to eligible children aged from just 9 months of age. This comes later so that childcare providers have time to adapt to the extra capacity.
  3. A year later, from September 2025, eligible children aged from 9 to 36 months will be able to claim double the amount of free childcare hours, taking their annual free childcare allowance up to 1140 hours. These will typically be taken as 30 free hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, but it may vary if childcare providers can offer flexibility.

In each case, eligibility for children aged from 9 to 36 months will use the same criteria as for those 3- and 4-year-olds receiving 30 hours of free childcare for 38 weeks of the year in the existing scheme. That scheme will continue to run too, meaning that children from 9 months to the age of four (inclusive) are all supported, right up until they start school. It should make a huge difference to working families and particularly benefit women, who have commonly found it difficult to return to careers following maternity leave.

Significant Improvements to Childcare Funded Through Universal Credit

Significant improvements have been unveiled for childcare funding through Universal Credit.Until now, 87% of those eligible to claim childcare support through Universal Credit were not doing so. One of the main reasons for this was that it’s geared towards low-income families yet required them to pay childcare fees in advance — and later claim them back. Paying in advance is not so easy when household income is low, as is typically the case for households that would otherwise be eligible. For this reason, another of the Chancellor’s initiatives announced in the Spring Budget 2023 is to roll out the following improvements:

  1. The Government will pay for childcare costs, subsidised through Universal Credit, in advance and;
  2. They will increase the amount eligible families can claim in childcare costs, through Universal Credit, by almost 50%. This will increase the amount of free childcare funding available through the scheme from £646 to £951 per month for a single child, and from £1,108 to £1,630 per month for two children. The increase will take effect from July 2023 and the rates paid may be linked to the Consumer Price Index until 2027/28.

The two measures combined should make a tangible difference to cash-strapped parents who would like to get back into the workplace, increase existing working hours, or boost household income. It will also mean, of course, that more children have access to an all-important early years education.

Significant Improvements to Funded Childcare Hours for Children at School

The Wraparound ‘Pathfinder’ Scheme

The Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school and up to 6 pm after the school day ends.The final childcare-related initiative in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget aims to fix another key problem for parents: how to juggle their own longer working hours with their child’s shorter school hours. When a child attends school, they often finish their school day several hours before their parent is finished at work, for example. There is therefore a childcare requirement to bridge the gap and this may be required both at the start and end of the child’s school day. In view of this, the Chancellor announced the piloting of a new Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme, which would fund childcare hours from 8 am until the start of the school morning and, later in the day, fund childcare for the mismatched afternoon hours up to 6 pm. The pilot will test the scheme to see how well it works. If successful, the Chancellor aims to roll it out to the whole of the UK from September 2024.

A Good Early Years Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding nursery and, with its incredible national award for childcare, offers babies and children possibly the best childcare provision available in Lancashire. So, if you are looking for the best nursery or preschool for your baby, toddler or child under five in Clayton, Chorley or Central Lancashire, please get in touch. We support all Government childcare funding and free childcare hours for eligible families and are a Forest School setting too. We’d love to show you and your little one around, register your child for a place or answer any questions that you may have. Please select an option below to take the next step and we’ll be happy to help.

Little Acorns Nursery is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Follow for Nursery News, Expert Insights & Early Years Information

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on Social Media – for Nursery News, Early Years Information & Expert Insights.

Keep up-to-date with everything happening at Little Acorns Nursery and in early years news and research - subscribe to our social media channels.Are you are a parent or carer of a child under five? If so, you could learn a lot about childcare, parenting and early years learning and development by following Little Acorns Nursery on social media. We’re active across multiple social channels including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram and share high quality content useful to parents of under-fives. That includes parents of children at Little Acorns although, actually, parents anywhere will find the content educational and useful. Our high quality content includes unusually informative ‘early years’ articles and information. For example, a whole range of guides, the findings from various studies, suggested activities for kids and overviews of things like childcare funding schemes with eligibility guidelines. Also, of course, the social media channels include posts relating to the exciting activities happening at the nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley.

Following is an overview of where you can find — and follow — Little Acorns Nursery and what you can expect to see if you do …

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on Twitter

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on TwitterFollow Little Acorns Nursery on Twitter. There, you’ll see links to some great topics that relate to early years education. You’ll also see regular tweets and posts showing the exciting play and activities that children are taking part in at the nursery.

Follow Us on Facebook

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on FacebookOn Facebook, we share our ‘bigger’ guides and articles from our blog as well as showing interesting content from third parties. Also, of course, we post regular photos and updates for all the goings-on at Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods.

Follow our Pinterest Pins & Boards

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on PinterestWe love Pinterest! Its simple, pictorial approach makes it easy to just pick out something that interests you and save it to your own Pinterest pin board, so you can simply save it or share with others. We’ve got lots of pin ‘boards’ on our Pinterest profile, where we’ve pinned images and links to articles that interest us as early years practitioners. We think you’ll like them too. Board topics include nature activities, sensory activities for under-5s, early years parenting, Forest School, outdoor play, preschool, nursery school activities and, of course, Little Acorns Nursery itself.

Follow Us on Instagram

Follow Little Acorns Nursery on InstagramIf you’re on Instagram, check out our photo gallery on our own Instagram profile. It shows images of the children playing and learning at the nursery as well as featured images that link to our highly interesting blog posts.

Our Google Profile

See photos of the childcare setting, view a location map, read about us, find links to our blog posts and check out our customer reviews. Speaking of which …

Review Us

Review and rate Little Acorns Nursery on Google or FacebookIf you have used our childcare service and were pleased, please review and rate us on Google, or alternatively rate us on Facebook. Of course, though, if there’s anything at all that you’re not happy with, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation right away. We’re here to help!

Bookmark our Blog

Bookmark Little Acorns Nursery's blogWe’re active here on our Little Acorns blog too. Here, you’ll find larger articles that tend to cover the ‘bigger’ topics that parents and carers of children under five will find useful. These are well-researched, detailed and often very educational articles that will keep parents well-informed. For example, we cover topics like childcare funding schemes, help available to children with special educational needs or disabilities, educational food growing activities for under-fives, a myriad of ways parents can super-charge children’s reading and education, wonderful outdoor activity ideas for little ones, and a whole host of guides, how-to articles, activity ideas and useful information relating to parenting or early years learning and development. We’re adding to these great articles and guides regularly each month. So, if you haven’t already done so, bookmark our main blog page and come back regularly — our blog is a real treasure trove of information for parents! Follow the bold links for more information.

Little Acorns Nursery may add more social channels in the future, so watch this space.

An Outstanding Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyIt’s official, say Ofsted: Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and pre-school. We provide exceptional, award-winning childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire (PR6). We are also conveniently located for those in the following towns and villages nearby: Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham. If you would like your child to have the very best start in life, Little Acorns Nursery represents the ultimate childcare choice for families in Central Lancashire.

To register your child for a place, ask a question or to see the nursery in action, please click an appropriate button below:

Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

Today, we look at how early years childcare providers can help children under five if they have special educational needs or disabilities.Today, we look at how early years childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery can help children under five if they have special educational needs and disabilities. This is often referred to as ‘SEND’ or in longer forms like ‘SEN and disabilities’. Let’s explore the topic to get an overview of some of the help available.

Childcare Help for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

Early years and childcare providers can support children under five in a variety of ways if they have special educational or developmental needs, and/or a disability. Indeed, helping affected children as early as possible in their lives is of paramount importance:

“Early identification of needs and the timely provision of appropriate support, together with high aspirations, can help ensure that the vast majority of children who have SEN or disabilities can achieve well and make a successful transition into adulthood.” (DfE)*

The specific strategies used will depend on the child’s individual needs and the resources available to any particular provider. That said, typical examples of ways that early years childcare providers — and others — can support children with special needs include the following:

Identifying Children with Special Needs

If an area of special need is suspected, early years providers can work with parents and sometimes other professionals to get an assessment and support if needed.Actually identifying an area of special need or disability is, of course, the first, crucial step in being able to help a child. If an area of special need is suspected, early years providers can work with parents and sometimes other professionals, for example health visitors, speech and language therapists, paediatricians and so on. Involving such professionals will help with any diagnosis.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the presence of a special need may not be crystal clear in many cases, especially when children are very young. As an example, it would not be possible to diagnose dyslexia until a point when a child’s understanding of language is sufficiently developed to actually begin the process of reading text. However, the involvement of such external expertise may make the initial identification of a child’s special need or disability more feasible.

Following such a diagnosis, the various parties surrounding the child can then, together, develop a plan of how best to support that child during their early years and potentially beyond. For our part as a nursery and childcare provider, we will also ensure that we regularly review the support that an affected child receives, making adjustments and taking further actions etc. when appropriate. 

Creating an Inclusive and Supportive Environment

It's important for early years providers to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports children of all abilities.This is important. Early years providers can create an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports children of all abilities. Encouraging the inclusion of children in social groups and in the making of friends, for example, is of huge benefit to children’s well-being. Childcare settings can also provide special equipment or adapt the environment to make it more accessible for children with specific physical needs.

Creating a positive and responsive culture is also crucial, so that children feel comfortable to express themselves, irrespective of any differences or abilities/disabilities that they may have.

Additional Support and Resources Through Funding

In some circumstances, childcare providers can access special funding in order to provide additional support and resources to children with special educational needs or disabilities. Examples include the hiring of additional staff to provide one-to-one support, providing extra resources to support learning, or offering additional activities to extend children’s experiences. Access to the specific funding will, though, require eligibility criteria to be met. Often, such funding applications may require a team effort between parents/carers, childcare settings and potentially other types of early years professional mentioned above.

Tailoring Learning & Development Plans & Activities to Meet Individual Needs

Learning and development plans and activities are tailored to suit each child. This is designed to meet the needs of every child individually, including those with special needs.Early years providers like Little Acorns Nursery adapt the individual learning and development plans and activities to suit each child. In this way, they’re custom-designed to meet the needs of every child individually, including those with special needs. This is done as a matter of course as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) approach to early years education and development. The tailored approach helps to level-up the playing field and, in effect, encourage equal opportunities for each child. It also helps them to reach their own personal bests in every area of their learning and development.

Progress Checks

The EYFS approach means that our early years practitioners use a continuous assessment approach in regard to every child’s progress, whether or not they have special needs or any disabilities. However, for those affected by SEN or disabilities, such an approach is even more crucial.

Special education provision for children, including those with SEN or disabilities, follows four stages of action: “Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

In tandem with this, all children receive a Progress Check at 2 and this will highlight whether progress is on track, additional support is appropriate and indeed whether there is a SEND-related issue. Either way, tailored activities and strategies will be planned and put in place to address any issues and help optimise every child’s progress.

Special education provision for children, including those with SEN or disabilities, follows four stages of action: “Assess, Plan, Do and Review.Later, each child will similarly have an ‘EYFS profile’ completed during the final term of reception year. However, as we’re focusing this article on children under five, we’ll not go into detail about that here.

The SENCo

As well as having a ‘Key Person’ allocated to each child, early years providers like Little Acorns have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). The SENCo oversees the setting’s tailored support for children, under their care, who have special educational needs or disabilities. Similarly, the local authority will have an Area SENCO. They will advise and help coordinate support for children with special needs between the local authority itself, the child’s parents, early years and education settings, health and social care services and so on. The Area SENCO will also help when the time comes to transition the under-five child to school.

Communicating with Parents and Other Professionals

Communication is key. Childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery will communicate regularly with parents/carers and, when appropriate, local authorities, health visitors, paediatricians and other healthcare professionals. This is to ensure that everyone is aware of the child’s progress and any additional support that may be needed. Ensuring that all parties are pulling in the same direction is crucial to outcomes for each child, particularly if they have special needs and/or disabilities.

“When a child is very young, or SEN is first identified, families need to know that the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities, with the right support, can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)*

EHC Assessments and Plans

In the event that a child does not make the expected progress despite everyone’s best efforts and high quality support, there is recourse to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment via the local authority. If such a request is made by a childcare setting, it would only be done with the knowledge of the child’s parent(s) and after discussion with them. Basically, such an assessment may result in a brand new plan to support the child, if that’s deemed appropriate. It’s a big topic in its own right, so we may follow up separately to explain more about EHCs in due course.

The ‘Local Offer’ from the Local Authority

The 'Local Offer' from local authorities outlines the help available in the area for children with SEN or disabilities, including how to access that support.It may be useful for parents and carers to note that local authorities have a duty to publish what’s known as a ‘Local Offer’. This outlines the help available in the area for children with SEND, including how to access that support.

A good example is the Local Offer published by our own local authority (Lancashire County Council), which can be found here. (Note that the early years childcare section of that particular Local Offer can be found here). A quick search there for SEND services will indeed reveal Little Acorns Nursery as an outstanding provider of childcare services, including for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Free Funded Childcare Places for Children with SEND

While all 3- and 4-year-olds in England have access to free childcare provision each week, 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for a significant number of free childcare hours if they get a Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’), have a valid Education, Health and Care (‘EHC’) plan or have been referred through the local authority’s Portage service. Follow the bold links or speak to us at Little Acorns Nursery if you are local to Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, and would like to learn more more about the options.

Outstanding Childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyChildren get the very best start at Little Acorns Nursery. Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire (PR6). We are also close to Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village and Whittle-le-Woods. Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham, so may suit those living/working in any of those nearby locations. Trust your child’s early years education and childcare to an award-winning nursery/pre-school and a nursery recognised by Ofsted as an Outstanding Provider

To register your child for a place at Little Acorns Nursery, to ask a question or to see the nursery in action, please contact us:

* Quotation references: DfE, ‘Early Years: Guide to the 0 to 25 SEND Code of Practice’

A Quick Guide to Childcare Funding Options in England

A Quick Guide to Childcare Funding Options in England
We explain the various childcare funding schemes in England, including an at-a-glance overview of what's available, eligibility and how to apply.One of the first challenges when considering childcare for your little one is how to fund it. If you’re an affluent family, then great. However, if childcare costs will be a more significant hurdle to overcome, the good news is that there are lots of options available. Either way, it will help to be well-informed about the various childcare funding schemes on offer from the Government. There are quite a few of them and some are extremely generous and surprisingly easy to obtain. Today’s Quick Guide to Childcare Funding Options in England will give you an at-a-glance overview of what’s available, the key eligibility criteria and how to apply. Note, though, that they generally fund in-person childcare only from approved providers (like Little Acorns). Take a look at the many options …

Childcare Vouchers:

What are childcare 'vouchers' and how do you get them? We explain.You’ve no doubt heard of, or read about, childcare ‘vouchers’. They sound great, but what are they and how do you get them?

How To Get Childcare Vouchers

For those who are eligible, Childcare Vouchers are available through employers who participate in the ‘Employer-Supported Childcare’ scheme. In effect, it’s a salary sacrifice scheme, but with tax and National Insurance savings.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

Up to £55 of your earnings can be paid into the childcare scheme each week and the benefit is that the payments are free of income tax and National Insurance. If you’re eligible, your childcare costs you less, in effect.

Eligibility

Childcare Vouchers are not so widely available as they used to be because the scheme has closed to new applicants. However, they’re still available to those who enrolled before the 4th of October 2018. Your children must be no more than 15 (16 if disabled) and how much you are eligible for will depend on when you joined the scheme and how much you earn. They cannot be claimed if you are claiming Tax-Free Childcare (see below).

Find out more about Childcare Vouchers here.

Tax-Free Childcare:

Tax-Free Childcare is widely available to working families — even for those with relatively high earnings.Tax-Free Childcare is a great scheme which, in contrast to childcare vouchers, is widely available to working families — even for those with relatively high earnings.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

If eligible, you can get as much as £2,000 in free childcare funding for each child under 12, every year, or potentially twice that if they’re disabled and under 17.

How To Get Tax-Free Childcare

If eligible, you will need an online Childcare Account which you, or others on your behalf, deposit into. You’ll need to deposit 80% of the eligible childcare costs and the Government will top up the remaining 20%. The funds can then be drawn down by your childcare provider.

Eligibility Essentials

So long as working parents are earning at least £152 per week (lower if under 23), they can be earning up to £100,000 and still remain eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, even if their partner also earns up to that amount. You must not already be claiming certain benefits, a childcare bursary, nor Childcare Vouchers. Other caveats also apply.

More Information about Tax-Free Childcare is available here.

Free Childcare Hours for 2-Year-Olds:

Eligible 2-year-olds can get 15 hours of free childcare per week (570 per year).Certain 2-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare each week, through another Government scheme. This one is to help primarily those families on benefits.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

Eligible 2-year-olds can get 570 free childcare ‘hours’ per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours per week spread over 38 weeks of the year. However, some childcare settings allow a more flexible pattern. For example, they could be taken as less hours per week for more weeks of the year, or the reverse of that.

Eligibility Essentials

Rules around eligibility are strict and essentially require you (the parent/guardian) to be in receipt of certain Government benefits or the child to fall into an ‘additional needs’ category. Children can still be eligible, for example, if they are being cared for by the local authority, are subject to an Education, Health and Care (ECH) Plan, have left care under some types of order or are not citizens of the UK but fall into a certain category.

How To Get Free Childcare for 2-Year-Olds

Free childcare hours for 2-year-olds can be accessed via your local council or through your childcare provider. Let us know if that’s us and we’ll be happy to help you access the free childcare funding.

More Information is available here.
[UPDATE MARCH 2023: See our post about funding planned for children from the age of just 9 months following the Spring Budget 2023 here].

Free Childcare Hours for 3 & 4-Year-Olds:

Children aged between 3 and 4 who live in England can get 15 hours of free childcare each week, possibly up to 30 hours in some circumstances.3 and 4-year-olds in England are very well catered for when it comes to free childcare funding. This is aimed to help them receive that all-important early years education and to help those parents wishing to return to the workplace.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

All children aged between 3 and 4 who live in England can get at least 15 hours of free childcare each week, possibly up to 30 hours in some circumstances. It’s a very generous Government scheme resulting in between 570 and 1140 free childcare hours, per child, per year. It’s usually taken over 38 weeks of the year but some childcare settings allow a more flexible spread.

Eligibility Essentials

All 3 and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for the 15 hours scheme and it’s not means tested.

For the top-up to 30 hours per week, however, eligibility is affected by household income. You and your partner, if you have one, must earn at least £152 per week (lower if under 23) but less than £100,000 per annum. If eligible, though, you are usually also eligible for Tax-Free Childcare (or Childcare Vouchers) or childcare funding through Universal Credit. Other caveats also apply, but these are the main ones.

How To Get Free Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds

The ‘15 hours’ scheme for 3 & 4-year-olds can be accessed via your local council or through your childcare provider. (Let us know if that’s us and we’ll be happy to help with your application). For the ‘30 hours’ scheme, apply here.

More Information about both schemes is available here.
[UPDATE MARCH 2023: See our post about funding planned for children from the age of just 9 months following the Spring Budget 2023 here].

Tax Credits for Childcare:

Eligibility Essentials

Tax Credits for childcare are only available to existing claimants. New applications should instead be through Universal Credit.Tax Credits specifically for childcare are only available to existing claimants under the scheme, through ‘Working Tax Credits’. New claimants should instead refer to the ‘Childcare Funding through Universal Credit’ section below.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

If you’re eligible, you can reclaim as much as 70% of eligible childcare costs — up to £122.50 per week if you have one child, or it’s £210 if you have more than one.

How To Get Tax Credits for Childcare

Existing claimants in receipt of Working Tax Credits for childcare receive the funding direct to their bank/building society account. This is effectively a repayment of the eligible childcare costs already incurred.

More Information is available here

Childcare Funding through Universal Credit:

How Much Funding Can You Get?

Childcare funding through Universal Credit is quite a generous scheme that allows eligible families to reclaim up to 85% of their childcare costs.For those who are eligible, this is quite a generous scheme that allows them to reclaim* as much as 85% of their childcare costs. The maximum available, however, is £646.35* each month for one child, or it’s £1108.04* for more than one.
* [UPDATE MARCH 2023: See our post about the increases and improvements to this scheme following the Spring Budget 2023 here].

Eligibility Essentials

You/your partner (if applicable) need to be working, claiming Universal Credit and claiming for a child under 17. Other caveats apply. Note that you cannot claim this funding if you’re already claiming for childcare funding through Tax Credits nor through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Your earnings and the amount of any savings and/or investments may also affect your claim.

How To Get Childcare Funding via Universal Credit

This scheme allows you to reclaim eligible childcare costs going back up to 3 months at any given point. So, you need to pay first and then claim eligible costs back within that time frame – otherwise you could miss out.

More Information is available here [and see our post about improvements to this scheme, including increased funding, following the Spring Budget 2023].

Childcare Funding Options for Students

Students are quite well supported in terms of childcare, with 3 key funding schemes that may help them with childcare costs.

The Student Childcare Grant:

The Student Childcare Grant does not need to be repaid and is in addition to any undergraduate Student Finance.This is a grant that does not need to be repaid and is in addition to any undergraduate Student Finance.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

The Student Childcare Grant can cover up to 85% of childcare costs. The maximum covered is £183.75 per week for 1 child, or that’s £315.03 for more than one (academic year 22/23).

Eligibility Essentials

As well as having a dependent child under 15 (17 if they have special needs), students must live permanently in England and be studying full-time in higher education. They must be eligible for undergraduate student finance based upon their income, but not have a postgraduate loan. Other caveats also apply including that it’s not available if the student is already claiming other specific funding for their childcare.

How To Get a Student Childcare Grant

The Student Childcare Grant can be applied for in tandem with the Student Finance application and is accessed, if successful, through a Student Finance Account.

More Information is available here

The ‘Learner Support’ Scheme:

Learner Support, designed for students who are suffering financial hardship, can be used to fund childcare.Learner Support is a type of financial support designed for students who are suffering financial hardship. It can be used to fund childcare for eligible students who are also parents.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

How much financial assistance you receive for childcare under the Learner Support Scheme will depend very much upon your particular circumstances.

Eligibility Essentials

To be eligible for the childcare element of Learner Support, you must be a parent over 20 (otherwise it’s 19). You must be facing financial hardship while studying on a further education course (Level 3 or over).

How To Get ‘Learner Support’ for Childcare

Learner Support applications must be made through the education setting that’s running the course. The financial assistance you receive, if eligible, can take the form of a repayable loan, a free grant or, in the case of childcare, payment direct to an Ofsted-registered childcare provider.

More Information is available here

The ‘Care to Learn’ Scheme:

Care to Learn may suit if you are a parent who is not yet 20 and are studying on a publicly-funded course.Care to Learn may suit if you are a parent who is not yet 20 and are studying on a publicly-funded course, although see caveats below.

How Much Funding Can You Get?

If eligible, you could get £160 for childcare, per week, for each child. That figure increases to £175 if you’re living in London. It can cover registration and deposit fees for your child’s childcare and to retain your child’s place over summer holidays. The scheme can also be used to fund childcare taster days (up to 5) at the childcare provider setting, and cover associated travel to/from the setting.

Eligibility Essentials

You must live in England and be the main carer for the child you are claiming for. You should be under 20 when the course starts and it must be a publicly-funded one at certain types of education setting. A few examples include schools, some colleges and sixth form schools/colleges plus others. It must not be a higher education course at a university. Other caveats also apply.

How To Get ‘Care to Learn’ Childcare Funding

Apply for Care to Learn funding here.

More Information is available here

Outstanding Childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyLittle Acorns Nursery supports all the Government childcare funding options for eligible families. Please do ask us if you need any help clarifying your childcare funding options or with your application — we’ll be happy to help. Little Acorns Nursery and pre-school provides an outstanding, award-winning childcare service in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire (PR6). We’re also conveniently close for those in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village and Whittle-le-Woods. Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham are also nearby.

To make an enquiry about a possible place for your child at Little Acorns Nursery, please get in touch:

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens: A Fun Food Growing Activity for Under-Fives

Microgreens can be grown in trays, egg cartons, used yoghurt pots or any shallow pot or dish that has drainage.As promised in our recent Educational Food Growing post for kids, we’ve got another wonderful food-growing activity for children today. Whether you have a toddler, preschooler or older child, they’ll love this activity and it also has a huge range of benefits. It is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in the miraculous growth of delicious food that children and the whole household can eat! What’s not to love, therefore, about our growing microgreens activity! Today, we explain just how easy it is.

First: What Are Microgreens?

Children can get really creative with what they sow their microgreen seeds in!Microgreens, also known as micro leaves, are the young shoots of growing plants that are edible. Examples include the seedlings of herbs like basil and coriander, red cabbage micro leaves and the shoots from root vegetables like beetroot. When growing, the seedlings form a thick and rich ‘carpet’ of shoots that, when ready, can be snipped off en masse and used in meals as salads or garnishes. What’s more, they’re delicious, highly nutritious and make meals look amazing. The entire activity can also be accomplished indoors in any home. You do not need to have a garden because a well-lit windowsill or counter top will more than suffice.

Growing Microgreens is a fun, educational, easy and inexpensive activity that gives children an enormous feeling of achievement. It also results in delicious food that children and the whole household can eat!

Additional Benefits of Children Growing Microgreens

Getting children directly involved in growing microgreens can also encourage them to try new foods, enjoy new flavours and to get much needed vitamins and minerals at the critical time when they are developing. Teaching them to grow food will also teach them a huge number of lessons, for example about nature, the circle of life, how to care for another living thing responsibly, where food comes from and even meal preparation, nutrition and balancing diets. Growing microgreens is a doorway to all of this and more, yet is so simple as an activity.

 

There is a huge variety of different microgreens

What You’ll Need to Start Growing Microgreens

You/your child will need a few things to get started in the growing activity:

  • Microgreen seeds in a seed tray being sprayed gently with water.Microgreen seeds. These are available inexpensively online or at places like garden centres and even some supermarkets. You can buy microgreen mixed seeds or choose seeds for rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish or mustard. Each has a distinctive look, when growing, and flavour, when eaten. Read the packets for more detail or just have fun and experiment!
  • One or more shallow seed trays – also available inexpensively from garden centres or online. Alternatively, you can use any shallow tray left over from a ready meal, or use used yoghurt pots, egg cartons, cut down kitchen roll ‘cores’ or similar. Whatever you use will need to have drainage holes underneath, so parents will need to help any piercing, for safety purposes.
  • As the main pots or tray require drainage holes, you will need another tray, cut-down pot or saucer to catch drips underneath. This is known as a drip tray and simply protects your surface from moisture.
  • Lastly, you’ll need some light soil to sow the seeds in. This can be from the garden if you have one and are on a low budget (sieve first), or buy peat-free compost. Multi-purpose compost or a compost specifically for seeds and cuttings will be perfect. If you’re on a really low budget, another alternative is to simply sow microgreens directly onto layers of dampened tissue paper e.g. horizontal sheets torn from a kitchen towel.

That’s all you and your little one need, apart from water, natural light and some care and patience.

What to Do

Once you’ve got the above items together, your child can take the following steps:

Step 1: Fill the seed tray, pots or cartons almost to the top with compost or whatever is being used as ‘soil’ (see the tissue option above if the budget is low).
Step 2: If using soil or compost, this needs to be tamped down gently to flatten and level the surface.
Step 3: The microgreen seeds can now be sprinkled lightly and evenly (best done from a little bit of a height), or manually spaced if your child enjoys that alternative approach. Clumping should be avoided.
Step 4: A light sprinkling of additional compost (or sieved soil) can then go on top to keep seeds in place. It may be best to do this outdoors.
Step 5: An additional layer of kitchen towel or tissue can be placed on top of the seeds, but only until the seeds start to germinate later on.
Step 6: Lightly sprinkle water or spray the seeds gently with a water spray, taking care not to disturb or wash away the seeds.
Step 7: Place the trays or pots, with their drip trays underneath, onto a well-lit windowsill or counter top. A little ventilation will also not be a bad thing for the seeds.
Step 8: Your child will need to check that the seeds/soil/tissue are damp each day and watered lightly to ensure they don’t dry out. Watering can either be done from above (ideally using a mister or water spray so as to not disturb the seeds) or from below by simply pouring water into the drip trays. This will be slowly drawn up into the soil naturally, particularly if it’s not too deep.
Step 9: As soon as shoots begin to appear, your child should remove any covering (from Step 5), taking care not to disturb the seedlings, and continue to water lightly each day as the seedlings grow.

TIP: Don’t forget to get your child to wash their hands after touching soil and seeds etc.

Harvest Time!

For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury.Different microgreen seeds grow at different rates but usually a dense carpet of growing shoots and tiny leaves will cover the trays or pots within one or two weeks. Generally speaking, when you can see small, immature leaves at the top of shoots about 1 to 1¼ inches tall, they are about ready to be harvested. For young children in particular, snipping them off is best done by parents, to avoid injury. The carpet of microgreens can be snipped off, using scissors, low down near where the shoots begin. It’s best to snip them off rather than to pull them up by the roots because then they have the chance to regrow and give you/your child a second crop later on. The microgreens can then be washed in a fine colander, under a cold tap, to remove any remnants of soil.

And Eat!

Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers.Your child can then continue the fun by helping with meal preparation (with adult supervision for safety). Microgreens make wonderful garnishes, are lovely in salads and sandwiches and can also be added to things like soup, risotto, pasta, baked potatoes and burgers. They are incredibly attractive to look at, jazzing up any meal and also giving children extra nutrients to consume. They are also a great way to encourage children to try new tastes and food textures.

By growing microgreens themselves, children will have had great fun and will have learned so much along the way. It’s a fabulous and educational activity, any time of year!

A Place for your Child at our Outstanding Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare providerLittle Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Are you searching for outstanding nurseries or pre-schools in Clayton-le-Woods (PR6), Chorley, or near to Clayton Green and Clayton Brook in Central Lancashire?

Little Acorns is in Clayton-le-Woods and is rated by Ofsted as an outstanding nursery. It is also an award-winning nursery, having won an important National award. Our childcare service is simply unrivalled in the area.  So, if you’d like your child to experience the very best childcare, register for a nursery place at Little Acorns Nursery. You can also request a guided tour or ask any questions using the buttons below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Are You Due £2,000 in Help for Childcare? Rough Guide to Tax-Free Childcare

Each year, around 1 million families miss out on thousands of pounds in free childcare funding, despite being eligibleEach year, around 1 million families miss out on thousands of pounds in free childcare funding — despite being eligible through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Are you one of them?

In today’s guide, we take a look at Tax-Free Childcare, which could effectively contribute anywhere from £2,000 to £4,000 per child, per year, towards childcare costs for eligible families. Those are significant sums, which could really help families, especially with the rising cost of living. The funding is there for for the taking if you’re eligible So, don’t miss out!

Let’s take a look.

What is Tax-Free Childcare?

In effect, the Tax-Free Childcare scheme subsidises childcare costs by utilising the tax that eligible families would ordinarily have pre-paid on the taxed income they use to pay for childcare. Specifically, the Government will add an extra £2 for every £8 that eligible families pay into a special account used childcare costs — even more if the child has disabilities. We’ll explain more about the childcare account later, but the good news is that you can get as much as £2,000 per child per annum if you’re eligible, or up to twice that if your child has disabilities. That’s a lot of money!

Who is Eligible for Tax-Free Childcare?

We explain who is eligible for Tax-Free Childcare.Families, including single parent families, are usually eligible for tax-free childcare scheme if they meet the following criteria:

  • The claimants are working (employed or self-employed) in the UK;
  • They each earn under £100,000 per annum;
  • They each earn at least £152 per week, which is £1,976 over the next 3 months (the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage at time of writing);
  • They are not in receipt of childcare vouchers (which are closed to new applicants anyway), Universal Credit, Tax Credits or a childcare bursary/grant;
  • Parents/carers/guardians are over 16;
  • Children for whom they are claiming tax-free childcare is/are no older than 11 years of age or, if they have disabilities, no older than 16;
  • They should usually be living with the parent/carer/guardian(s) making the claim.

The above list represents the key rules governing eligibility for most families. However, there are some additional rules around eligibility — and some welcome exceptions to the above. Immigration and citizenship status may affect eligibility, for example, and some who are not working may still be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare under certain circumstances. Learn about eligibility rules for Tax-Free Childcare in more detail here.

Many will also be pleased to learn that families can also claim for the 30 Hours of free childcare scheme for 3 and 4-year-olds if they’re also eligible for that.

Which Providers Can Provide Childcare Under the Scheme?

Childcare providers using the Tax-Free Childcare funding must be registered with the Early Years Register, the Childcare Register or Ofsted.The Tax-Free Childcare contribution from the Government can only be used to pay for childcare provided by approved childcare providers that have signed up to the scheme. Such providers must be registered with either the Early Years Register, the Childcare Register or Ofsted in order to be approved. However, they can be nurseries, childminders, nannies, play schemes or even after school clubs. Little Acorns Nursery is, of course, such an approved childcare provider and would be happy to assist families to make the most of this very useful, free childcare funding opportunity.

How to Apply for Tax-Free Childcare

If you think you are eligible, you can apply for Tax-Free Childcare here. Applications usually take only twenty minutes or so and you will need:

  • Your Government Gateway User ID (or set one up if you don’t yet have one);
  • An email address and mobile phone at the ready;
  • Your own National Insurance number and that of your partner if you have one;
  • Your Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) if self-employed;
  • One or more of the following (for you and your partner, if you have one): UK passport, P60, recent pay slip if you are working, Tax Credits confirmation from HMRC.

The application for Tax-Free Childcare will usually confirm right away whether you are eligible for tax-free childcare. It will also confirm if you’re eligible for 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds, which is an added bonus.

How is it Paid?

A successful application results in the generation of a Childcare Account, held jointly by you and your partner if you have one. You will then need to credit your account with your own payments for childcare provision and the Government will top this up with their contributions, equivalent to 20% of childcare costs worth up to £2,000 per annum (paid as £500 max. per quarter) or £4,000 (paid as £1,000 max. per quarter) if your child has disabilities. Paying your contributions specifically by Bank Transfer will apparently speed up payment of the Government contributions, by the way.

Once funds are showing as available, your childcare provider can be paid for childcare services direct from your childcare account, as either one-off, or regular payments. It cannot be used to pay for anything else and you’ll be required to confirm that your details are still up-to-date each quarter (a reminder will be sent when this is required).

Good luck and do let us know if you need any help or advice in regard to your application.

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, ChorleyLittle Acorns: the Best Nursery & Pre-School in Clayton, Chorley & Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare providerOur amazing National nursery award and outstanding Ofsted rating prove that we are probably the best nursery and pre-school for babies and under-fives in Clayton-le-Woods, Clayton Green, Clayton Brook, Chorley, Central Lancashire and even beyond. Give your baby, toddler or under-five child the best start in life by choosing the exceptional childcare service from Little Acorns Nursery. For more information or to register for a nursery place, please get in touch. Choose a button below to get started …

Arrange a Nursery Visit Send Us a Message Call: 01772 696 288